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Title: The Book of Herbs
Author: Northcote, Rosalind
Language: English
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Handbooks of Practical Gardening--XII

Edited by Harry Roberts


[Illustration: JOHN PARKINSON

(_From the statue erected by Mr. H. Thompson at Sefton Park,





John Lane: The Bodley Head
London and New York. MCMIII

Turnbull & Spears, Printers, Edinburgh



  HISTORY OF THE CRIES OF LONDON                                      xi

  INTRODUCTION                                                         1

  OF THE CHIEF HERBS USED IN THE PRESENT TIME                          7

  Anise -- Balm -- Sweet Basil and Bush Basil -- Borage -- Bugloss
  -- Burnet -- Caraway -- Celery -- Chervil -- Ciboules, Chiboules
  or Chibbals -- Cives, or Chives, or Seives -- Coriander -- Cumin
  -- Cresses -- Dandelion -- Dill -- Endive -- Fennel -- Goat’s
  Beard -- Horse-Radish -- Hyssop -- Lamb’s Lettuce or Corn Salad
  -- Marjoram -- Mint -- Mustard -- Parsley -- Sage -- Savory --
  Sorrel -- Tarragon -- Thyme -- Viper’s Grass or Scorzonera --

  OF HERBS CHIEFLY USED IN THE PAST                                   47

  Alexanders -- Angelica -- Blites -- Bloodwort -- Buck’s-horne --
  Camomile -- Cardoons -- Clary -- Dittander -- Elecampane --
  Fenugreek -- Good King Henry -- Herb-Patience -- Horehound --
  Lady’s-smock -- Langdebeefe -- Liquorice -- Lovage -- Mallow --
  Marigold -- Pennyroyal -- Purslane -- Ram-ciches -- Rampion --
  Rocambole -- Rocket -- London Rocket -- Stonecrop -- Saffron --
  Samphire -- Skirrets -- Smallage -- Sweet Cicely -- Tansy --

  PERFUMES                                                           102

  Bergamot -- Costmary -- Germander -- Gilliflower -- Lavender --
  Lavender Cotton -- Meadow-Sweet -- Rosemary -- Rue --
  Southernwood -- Wood-ruff -- Wormwood -- Bay.

  OF THE GROWING OF HERBS                                            145

  OF HERBS IN MEDICINE                                               158

  OF HERBS AND MAGIC                                                 175

  OF HERBS AND BEASTS                                                188

  TUSSER’S LIST                                                      201

  AUTHORS REFERRED TO                                                207

  INDEX OF PLANTS                                                    209



  1. JOHN PARKINSON (from the statue erected at Sefton Park,
  Liverpool, by Mr H. Thompson)                           _Frontispiece_

  2. INITIAL LETTERS FROM TURNER’S “HERBAL”           _To face page_  16

  3. SWEET CICELY AND OTHER HERBS                        „      „     22

  4. POT MARJORAM (from a drawing by Ethel Roskruge)     „      „     32

  by F. Mason Good)                                      „      „     40

  6. ANGELICA                                            „      „     48

  & SONS, AMPTHILL                                       „      „     60

  8. TITLE-PAGE OF GERARD’S “HERBAL”                     „      „     86

  9. THE ARMS OF SAFFRON WALDEN                          „      „    100

  10. OLD STILLS AT MR HOOPER’S, COVENT GARDEN           „      „    102

  11. BERGAMOT                                           „      „    120

  12. ROSEMARY                                           „      „    130

  SONS, AMPTHILL                                         „   „       150

  14. CHELSEA PHYSIC GARDEN                              „      „    158

  STAFFORD ALLEN & SONS, AMPTHILL                        „      „    166

  SONS, AMPTHILL                                         „      „    172

  17. RAMPION                                            „      „    180

  18. FENNEL (Photograph by Dr Banfield Vivian)          „      „    194


  Here’s fine rosemary, sage and thyme.
  Come, buy my ground ivy.
  Here’s featherfew, gilliflowers and rue.
  Come, buy my knotted marjoram, ho!
  Come, buy my mint, my fine green mint.
  Here’s fine lavender for your cloaths,
  Here’s parseley and winter savory,
  And heartsease which all do choose.
  Here’s balm and hyssop and cinquefoil,
  All fine herbs it is well known.
  Let none despise the merry, merry cries
  Of famous London Town.

  Here’s penny royal and marygolds.
  Come, buy my nettle-tops.
  Here’s water-cresses and scurvy grass,
  Come buy my sage of virtue, ho!
  Come, buy my wormwood and mugworts.
  Here’s all fine herbs of every sort.
  Here’s southernwood that’s very good.
  Dandelion and houseleek.
  Here’s dragon’s tongue and wood sorrel,
  With bear’s-foot and horehound.
  Let none despise the merry, merry cries
  Of famous London Town.

  _Roxburghe Ballads._



What is a Herb? I have heard many definitions, but never one that
satisfied the questioner, and shall, therefore, take warning by the
failures of others and make no attempt to define the word here. It is,
however, fairly safe to say generally that a herb is a plant, green, and
aromatic and fit to eat, but it is impossible to deny that there are
several undoubted herbs that are not aromatic, a few more grey than
green, and one or two unpalatable, if not unwholesome. So no more space
shall be devoted to discussing their “nature,” but I will endeavour to
present individual ones to the reader as clearly as possible, in order
that from their collective properties he may form his own idea of a
herb. The objection may be raised that several plants included in this
book are outside the subject. To answer this, I would point out that the
boundaries of a herb-garden are indefinite, and that the old writers’
views of them were liberal. Besides this, every garden must have an
outside hedge or wall, and if this imaginary herb-garden has a row of
elder bushes on the East, barberry trees on the West, some bay trees on
the South, and a stray willow or so on the North, who can say that they
are inappropriately placed? The bay and barberry hold an undisputable
position, and the other trees have each an interesting history in
folk-lore, magic and medicine. Herbs have been used in all countries and
from the earliest times, but I have confined myself, as a rule, to those
spoken of by British authors, and used in the British Isles, though not
scrupling to quote foreign beliefs or customs where they give weight or
completeness to our own or our forefathers’ practices, or are themselves
of much interest. We have forgotten much that would be profitable to us.

Mr Dillon, writing in the _Nineteenth Century_, April, 1894, on “A
Neglected Sense”--the sense of smell--describes a Japanese game, the
object of which was that while one of the players burned certain kinds
of incense or fragrant woods, singly or in combination, the others
ventured opinions from the odours arising, and recorded their
conjectures by means of specially marked counters on a board. The
delicate equipment for it included a silver, open-worked brazier; a
spatula, on which the incense was taken up, also of silver, sometimes
delicately inlaid with enamel; and silver-framed mica plates (about one
inch square), on which the incense had been heated, were set to cool on
“a number of medallions, mother-of-pearl, each in the shape of a
chrysanthemum flower or of a maple leaf.”

Both Mr Dillon and Miss Lambert (_Nineteenth Century_, May 1880)
attribute the importance early attached to odours to religious reasons.
He says that it was believed that the gods, being spirits, neither
required nor desired solid offerings, but that the ethereal nature of
the ascending fragrance was gratifying and sustaining to them. Miss
Lambert quotes an account of the tribes of Florida “setting on the tops
of the trees, as offerings to the sun, skins of deer filled with the
best fruits of the country, crowned with flowers and sweet herbs.” Among
the Aztecs of Mexico the festival of the goddess of flowers, Coatlicue,
was kept by Xochenanqui, or traders in flowers. Offerings of “curiously
woven garlands” were made, and it was “forbidden to everyone to smell
the flowers of which they were composed before their dedication to the
goddess.” The Tahitians had the idea that “the scent was the spirit of
the offering and corresponded to the spirit of man,” and therefore they
laid sweet-scented offerings before their dead till burial, believing
that the spirit still hovered near. These instances show clearly the
high regard in which delicate odours were once held.

Herbs and flowers were early used in rites and ceremonies of the Church.
Miss Lambert quotes from a poem of Fortunatus, Bishop of Poitiers. “When
winter binds the earth with ice, all the glory of the field perishes
with its flowers. But in the spring-time when the Lord overcame Hell,
bright grass shoots up and buds come forth.... Gather these first-fruits
and you bear them to the churches and wreath the altars with them till
they glow with colour. The golden crocus is mingled with the purple
violet, dazzling scarlet is relieved by gleaming white, deep blue blends
with green.... One triumphs in its radiant beauty, another conquers by
its sweet perfume; gems and incense bow before them.” In England, the
flowers for the Church were grown under the special care of the
Sacristan, and as early as the ninth century there was a “gardina
sacristæ” at Winchester.[1] Miss Amherst gives a most careful
description of the several gardens into which the whole monastery
enclosures were often divided, and herbs were specially grown in the
kitchen-garden and in the Infirmarian’s garden, the latter, of course,
being devoted to herbs for healing. Many herbs were introduced by the
Romans, among them Coriander, Chervil, Cumin, Featherfew, Fennel,
Lovage, Mallow, Mint, Parsley, Rue and Mustard. Some of these are
supposed to have died out after the Romans withdrew from England and
have been re-introduced, but it is certain that they have been for a
very long time cultivated in England. I cannot refrain from referring to
a miracle, an account of which is quoted by Miss Amherst from Dugdale’s
“Monasticon” (vol. i. p. 473, new ed.), which was wrought at the tomb of
St Etheldreda:--

A “servant to a certain priest was gathering herbs in the garden on the
Lord’s Day, when the wood in her hand, and with which she desired to
pluck the herbs unlawfully, so firmly adhered (to her hand) that no man
could pluck it out for the space of five years.” At the end of this time
she was miraculously healed at the tomb, which was much revered by the

Banks and benches of mould, fronted with stone or brick, and planted on
the top with sweet-smelling herbs, were made in all fifteenth-century
gardens. Later, again, Bacon recommends alleys to be planted with “those
which perfume the air most delightfully being trodden upon and
crushed... to have the pleasure when you walk or tread.” In his “Pastime
of Pleasure” (1554) Stephen Hawes speaks of:--

  In divers knottes of marveylous greatnes
  Rampande lyons, stode by wonderfully
  Made all of herbes, with dulset sweetnes
  With many dragons, of marveylous likenes
  Of divers floures, made full craftely.

More modern still is the delightful notion of a sun-dial made of herbs
and flowers, that will mark the time of day by the opening and closing
of their blossoms. Linnæus had such a dial, with each plant so placed
that at each successive hour a flower should open or fold up. Ingram[2]
gives an appropriate list for this purpose, beginning with Goats’ Beard,
which he says opens at 3 A.M. and shuts at 9 A.M., and ending with
Chickweed whose stars are not disclosed till 9.15 A.M., when they
display themselves for exactly twelve hours. Andrew Marvell wrote these
pretty lines on this device:--

    How well the skilful gardener drew
    Of flow’rs and herbs this dial new;
    Where, from above the milder sun,
    Does through a fragrant zodiack run,
  And, as it works, th’ industrious bee
  Computes its time as well as we!
  How could such sweet and wholesome hours
    Be reckon’d but with herbs and flow’rs!

  _The Garden._

The _Quarterly_ for June 1842 quotes this charming description of a
garden in which herbs were not disregarded. “Quaint devices of all kinds
are found here. Here is a sun-dial of flowers arranged according to the
time of day at which they open and close. Here are peacocks and lions in
livery of Lincoln green. Here are berceaux and harbours, and covered
alley and enclosures containing the primest of the carnations and cloves
in set order, and miniature canals that carry down a stream of pure
water to the fish ponds below.... From thence (the shrubbery) winds a
path, the deliciæ of the garden, planted with such herbs as yield their
perfume when trodden upon and crushed.... It were tedious to follow up
the long shady path not broad enough for more than two--the lovers’
walk.” The reviewer himself continues in a less sentimental strain, and
his observations make a very proper introduction to a book on Herbs.

“The olitory or herb-garden is a part of our horticulture now
comparatively neglected, and yet once the culture and culling of simples
was as much a part of female education as the preserving and tying down
of ‘rasps and apricocks.’ There was not a Lady Bountiful in the kingdom
but made her dill-tea and diet-drink from herbs of her own planting; and
there is a neatness and prettiness about our thyme, and sage, and mint
and marjoram, that might yet, we think, transfer them from the patronage
of the blue serge to that of the white muslin apron. Lavender and
rosemary, and rue, the feathery fennel, and the bright blue borage, are
all pretty bushes in their way, and might have a due place assigned to
them by the hand of beauty and taste. A strip for a little herbary
half-way between the flower and vegetable garden would form a very
appropriate transition stratum and might be the means, by being more
under the eye of the mistress, of recovering to our soups and salads
some of the comparatively neglected herbs of tarragon, and French
sorrel, and purslane, and chervil, and dill, and clary, and others whose
place is now nowhere to be found but in the pages of the old herbalists.
This little plot should be laid out, of course, in a simple, geometric
pattern; and having tried the experiment, we can boldly pronounce on its
success. We recommend the idea to the consideration of our

  [1] “History of Gardening in England.”

  [2] “Flora Symbolica.”



  J’ai des bouquets pour tous les goûts;
  Venez choisir dans ma corbeille:
  De plusieurs les parfums sont doux,
  De tous, la vertu sans pareille.

  J’ai des _soucis_ pour les galoux;
  La _rose_ pour l’amant fidèle;
  De _l’éllebore_ pour les tous
  Et pour l’amitié l’immortelle.

  _La petite Corbeille de fleurs._

  Herbs, too, she knew, and well of each could speak
  That in her garden sip’d the silv’ry dew;
  Where no vain flow’r disclos’d a gaudy streak;
  But herbs for use, and physic, not a few,
  Of grey renown within those borders grew;
  The tufted basil, pun-provoking thyme,
  Fresh baum, and mary-gold of cheerful hue;
  The lowly gill,[3] that never dares to climb;
  And more I fain would sing, disdaining here to rhyme.

  Yet euphrasy[4] may not be left unsung,
  That gives dim eyes to wander leagues around;
  And pungent radish, biting infant’s tongue;
  And plantain ribb’d, that heals the reaper’s wound;
  And marj’ram sweet, in shepherd’s posie found;
  And lavender, whose spikes of azure bloom
  Shall be, ere-while, in arid bundles bound
  To lurk amidst the labours of her loom,
  And crown her kerchiefs clean with mickle rare perfume.

  _The Schoolmistress._--SHENSTONE.

John Evelyn once wrote an essay called “Acetaria: a Discourse of
Sallets,” and dedicated it to Lord Somers, the President of the Royal
Society. The Dedication is highly laudatory and somewhat grandiloquent,
comparing the Royal Society to King Solomon’s Temple, and declaring it
established for the acquirement of “solid and useful knowledge by the
_Investigation_ of _Causes_, _Principles_, _Energies_, _Powers_ and
_Effects_ of Bodies and _Things visible_; and to improve them for the
Good and Benefit of Mankind.... And now, _My Lord_, I expect some will
wonder what my Meaning is, to usher in a _Trifle_ with so much
magnificence, and end at last in a fine _Receipt_ for the _dressing_ of
a _Sallet_ with an handful of Pot-herbs! But yet, my Lord, this Subject
as low and despicable as it appears challenges a Part of _Natural
History_; and the Greatest Princes have thought it no disgrace, not only
to make it their _Diversion_, but their _Care_, and to promote and
encourage it in the midst of their weightiest Affairs.” This
disquisition casts an unlooked-for air of dignity over the Salad-bowl!
The discourse itself is very practical, and begins with the _Furniture_
and _Materials_ of which a Salad may be composed. Eighty-two items are
mentioned, but all cannot be called strictly in order, as Oranges,
Turnips, Rosemary, and Judas Tree flowers, and Mushrooms are amongst

In the table at the end of this list Evelyn, “by the assistance of Mr
_London_, His Majesty’s Principal Gardener, reduced them to a competent
number, not exceeding thirty-five,” though he suggests that this may be
“vary’d and enlarg’d by selections from the foregoing list.”

The essay finishes with philosophical reasoning on the subject of
vegetarianism. History is called upon to furnish examples of sages, of
all times, favourably inclined to it, but Noah is allowed to differ on
account of the “humidity of the atmosphere” after the Deluge, which must
have necessitated a generous diet. Most people would think thirty-five
different kinds a liberal allowance for salad herbs alone, but
Abercrombie, writing in 1822, gives forty-four, and it is worthy of
notice, that within the last eighty years, ox-eye daisy, yarrow,
lady’s-smock, primrose and plantain were counted among them.

In this chapter, the herbs mentioned are those chiefly used nowadays; in
the next chapter, these that were favourites _au temps jadis_. It is a
difficult line to draw, for the popularity of many of them is, like
themselves, evergreen, but I have tried to put in the second chapter
those that have passed the zenith of their fame, though they may still
ride high in public estimation.

  [3] Ground-ivy.

  [4] Eye-bright.

ANISE (_Pimpinella Anisum_).

                      His chimney side
  Could boast no gammon, salted well and dried
  And hook’d behind him; but sufficient store
  Of bundled anise and a cheese it bore.

  _The Salad._ Trans. from “Virgil.”--COWPER.

In Virgil’s time Anise evidently must have been used as a spice. It is a
graceful, umbelliferous plant, a native of Egypt, but the seeds will
ripen in August in England if it is planted in a warm and favourable
situation. Abercrombie[5] says “its chief use is to flavour soups, but
Loudon[6] includes it among confectionery herbs.”

  [5] “Every Man his own Gardener.”

  [6] “Encyclopædia of Gardening,” 1822.

BALM (_Melissa officinalis_).

  The several chairs of order look you scour
  With juice of Balm and every precious flower.

  _Merry Wives of Windsor_, V. v. 65.

  Then Balm and Mint helps to make up
  My chaplet.

  _The Muses Elysium._--DRAYTON.

  My garden grew Self-heal and Balm,
  And Speedwell that’s blue for an hour,
  Then blossoms again, O, grievous my pain,
  I’m plundered of each flower.

  _Devonshire Song._

The lemon-scent of Balm makes it almost the most delicious of all herbs,
and it is for its fragrance that Shakespeare and Drayton have alluded to
it in these passages. In the song it is mentioned for another reason,
for the flowers here are used as emblems. The first verse describes a
garden of fair blossoms stolen, alas! from their owner. This verse of
the song shows she has planted flowers whose nature is to
console--Self-heal, Balm and the Speedwell, which, after every shock,
hasten to bloom again, but she is again bereft of her treasures, and
finally despairs and tells us that she grows naught but weeds and the
symbols of desolation. There was once a “restorative cordial” called
Carmelite water, which enjoyed a great reputation, and which was
composed of the spirit of Balm, Angelica root, lemon-peel and nutmeg. In
the early part of the last century, Balm wine was made, and was
described as being “light and agreeable,” but now Balm is seldom used,
except when claret-cup is improved by its flavour. A most curious legend
is told by Aubrey[7] of the Wandering Jew, the scene being on the
Staffordshire moors. “One Whitsun evening, overcome with thirst, he
knocked at the door of a Staffordshire cottager, and craved of him a cup
of small beer. The cottager, who was wasted with a lingering
consumption, asked him in, and gave him the desired refreshment. After
finishing the beer, Ahasuerus asked his host the nature of the disease
he was suffering from, and being told that the doctors had given him up,
said, ‘Friend, I will tell thee what thou shalt do.’ He then told him to
go into the garden the next morning on rising, and gather three Balm
leaves, and to put them into a cup of small beer. He was to drink as
often as he needed, and refill the cup when it was empty, and put in
fresh Balm leaves every fourth day, and, ‘before twelve days shall be
past, thy disease shall be cured and thy body altered.’ So saying, and
declining to eat, he departed and was never seen again. But the cottager
gathered his Balm-leaves, followed the prescription of the Wandering
Jew, and before twelve days were passed was a new man.”

  [7] “Miscellanies.”

SWEET BASIL (_Ocymum basilium_) AND BUSH BASIL (_O. minimum_).

  Madonna, wherefore hast thou sent to me
    Sweet basil and mignonette?
  Embleming love and health which never yet
    In the same wreath might be.

  _To Emilia Viviani._--SHELLEY.

Basil is beloved of the poets, and the story of Isabella and the
Basil-pot keeps the plant in memory, where it is itself never, or very
rarely, seen. The opening lines of Drayton’s pretty poem beginning with
Claia’s speech:--

  Here damask roses, white and red,
  Out of my lap first take I--

are well known, and it is a pity that the whole of it is not oftener
quoted. Two maidens make rival chaplets, and then examine the store of
simples just gathered by a hermit. Claia chooses her flowers for beauty,
Lelipa hers for scent, and Clarinax, the hermit, plucks his for their
“virtue” in medicine. Lelipa says:--

  A chaplet, me, of herbs I’ll make,
  Than which, though yours be braver,
  Yet this of mine, I’ll undertake,
  Shall not be short in favour.
  With Basil then I will begin,
  Whose scent is wondrous pleasing.

and a goodly number of sweet-herbs follows.

Parkinson[8] says of it, “The ordinary Basill is in a manner wholly
spent to make sweete, or washing waters, among other sweet herbes, yet
sometimes it is put into nosegays. The Physicall properties are to
procure a cheerfull and merry hearte, whereunto the seede is chiefly
used in powder.” With such “physicall properties” Basil is too much
neglected nowadays. He also refers to the extraordinary but very general
idea that it bred scorpions. “Let me, before I leave, relate unto you a
pleasant passage between Francisius Marchio, as Advocate of the State of
_Genoa_ sent in embassage to the Duke of Milan, and the said Duke, who,
refusing to heare his message or to agree unto the conditions proposed,
brought an handfull of Basill and offered it to him, who, demanding of
him what he meant thereby, answered him, that the properties of that
hearbe was, that being gently handled, it gave a pleasant smell, but
being hardly wrung and bruised, would breed scorpions, with which witty
answer the Duke was so pleased that he confirmed the conditions, and
sent him honourably home. It is also observed that scorpions doe much
rest and abide under these pots and vessells wherein Basill is planted.”
Culpepper,[9] too, had suspicions about it. “This is the herb which all
authors are together by the ears about and rail at one another (like
lawyers). Galen and Dioscorides hold it not fitting to be taken
inwardly, and Chrysippus rails at it with downright Billingsgate
rhetoric; Pliny and the Arabians defend it. Something is the matter,
this herb and rue will not grow together, no, nor near one another, and
we know rue is as great an enemy to poison as any that grows.”
Tusser[10] puts both Basils in his list of “strewing herbs,” and also

      Fine basil desireth it may be her lot,
  To grow as the gilliflower, trim in a pot;
  That ladies and gentles, to whom ye do serve,
  May help her, as needeth, poor life to preserve.

  _May’s Husbandry._

To which (in Mavor’s edition, 1812) is appended this prim note, “Garden
basil, if stroked, leaves a grateful smell on the hand, and the author
insinuates that it receives fresh life from being touched by a fair
lady.” Both basils are annuals, though Bush Basil may occasionally live
through the winter. They are small plants with oval leaves and white,
labiate flowers. A modern gardener writes that sweet basil has the
flavour of cloves, that it is always demanded by French cooks, and that
it is much used to flavour soups, and occasionally salads. M. de la
Quintinye,[11] director of the gardens to Louis XIV., shows that over
two hundred years ago French cooks were of the same mind about basil as
they are to-day; besides mentioning it for the uses just named, he adds,
“It is likewise used in ragouts, especially dry ones, for which reason
we take care to keep some for winter.” An Italian name for it is

  [8] “Earthly Paradise,” 1629.

  [9] English Physitian, popularly known as Culpepper’s Herbal, 1652.

  [10] “Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry.”

  [11] The Complete Gardener. Trans. by T. Evelyn, 1693.

BORAGE (_Borago officinalis_).

      Here is sweet water, and borage for blending,
  Comfort and courage to drink to your fill.


This reference to Borage touches a long-lived belief--

  I, borage,
  Give courage--

briefly states one reason of its popularity, which has lasted ever since
Pliny praised the plant; besides this, it was supposed to exhilarate the
spirits and drive away melancholy. De Gubernatis[12] only found one
charge against it, amid universal praise, and this is in a Tuscan
_ninnerella_, a cradle song, where it is accused of frightening a baby!
But this evidence is absolutely unsupported by any tradition, and he
considers it worthless. Borage was sometimes called Bugloss by the old
writers.[13] In 1810 Dr Thornton calls it “one of the four grand cardiac
plants,” but shows a lamentable lack of faith himself. Dr Fernie[14]
finds that Borage has a “cucumber-like odour,” and that its reputed
powers of “refreshing” and “invigorating” are not all due to the
imagination; “The fresh juice,” he says, “affords thirty per cent. of
nitrate of potash. Thornton had already commented on the nitre it
contains, and to prove this he advises that the dried plant be thrown on
the fire, when it emits a sort of coruscation, with a slight
detonation.” Personal experience teaches that this is easier to observe
if the plant is set on fire and burned by itself. Borage might be grown
for the sake of its lovely blue flowers alone, and Parkinson gives it a
place in his “Earthly Paradise,” because, though it is “wholly in a
manner spent for Physicall properties or for the Pot, yet the
flowers have alwaies been interposed among the flowers of women’s
needle-work”--a practice which would add to the beauty of modern
embroidery. He adds that the flowers “of gentlewomen are candid
for comfits,” showing that they did not allow sentiment to soar
uncontrolled! Bees love borage, and it yields excellent honey, yet
another reason for growing it. In the early part of the nineteenth
century the young tops were still sometimes boiled for a pot-herb, but
in the present day, if used at all, it is put into claret-cup. Till
quite lately it was an ingredient in “cool tankards” of wine or cider.

  [12] _La Mythologie des Plantes._

  [13] _Family Herbal_, 1810.

  [14] _Herbal Simples_, 1895.

BUGLOSS (_Anchusa officinalis_).

      So did the maidens with their various flowers
  Deck up their windows, and make neat their bowers;
  Using such cunning as they did dispose
  The ruddy piny (peony) with the lighter rose,
  The monkshood with the bugloss, and entwine
  The white, the blue, the flesh-like columbine
  With pinks, sweet williams.

  _Britannia’s Pastorals, Book II._--W. BROWNE.

  A spiny stem of bugloss flowers,
  Deep blue upon the outer towers.

  _Winchester Castle._--N. HOPPER.

Gerarde put Bugloss in one chapter, and Alkanet or Wild Bugloss in
another, but nowadays Bugloss or Alkanet are names for the same plant,
_Anchusa officinalis_. The drawings of his Bugloss resemble our Alkanet
much more closely than they do any other plant called Bugloss, such as
_Lycopsis arvensis_, small Bugloss, or _Echium vulgare_, Viper’s
Bugloss. The old herbalists, however, were most confusing on the
subject. They apply the name Bugloss alternately to _Borago officinalis_
and to different varieties of _Anchusa_, and then speak of _Buglossum_
as if it were a different species! Evelyn describes it as being “in
nature much like Borage but something more astringent,” and recommends
the flowers of both as a conserve, for they are “greatly restorative.”
As Hogg says that _Anchusa officinalis_ had formerly “a great reputation
as a cordial,” Evelyn’s description applies to this plant; we may take
it that this is the Bugloss he was thinking of. It is a good plant for a
“wild garden,” but has a great tendency to spread. I have found it
growing wild in Cornwall. Gerarde tells us that the roots of _Anchusa
Tinctoria_ were used to colour waters, syrups, and jellies, and then
follows a line of scandal--“The gentlewomen of France doe paint their
faces with these roots, as it is said.” Rouge is still made from

BURNET (_Poterium Sanguisorba_).

  The even mead, that erst brought sweetly forth
  The freckled Cowslip, Burnet and green Clover.

  _Henry V._, V. ii. 48.

Burnet has “two little leives like unto the winges of birdes, standing
out as the bird setteth her winges out when she intendeth to flye....
Y^{e} Duchmen call it Hergottes berdlen, that is God’s little berde,
because of the colour that it hath in the toppe.” This is Turner’s[15]
information. He has a pleasant style, and tells us out-of-the-way facts
or customs in a charming manner. Burnet is the first of the three plants
that Sir Francis Bacon desired to be set in alleys, “to perfume the air
most delightfully, being trodden upon and crushed.” The others were wild
thyme and water-mint. It was a Salad-herb, and has (like Borage) a
flavour of cucumber, but it has, most undeservedly, gone out of fashion.
The taste is “somewhat warm, and the leaves should be cut young, or else
they are apt to be tough. Culpepper and Parkinson advise that a few
leaves should be added to a cup of claret wine because” it is “a helpe
to make the heart merrie.” Canon Ellacombe[16] says it was “and still is
valued as a forage plant that will grow and keep fresh all the winter in
dry, barren pastures, thus giving food for sheep when other food was
scarce. It has occasionally been cultivated, but the result has not been
very satisfactory, except on very poor land, though, according to the
Woburn experiments, as reported by Sinclair, it contains a larger amount
of nutritive matter in the spring than most of the grasses. It has brown
flowers from which it is supposed to derive its name (Brunetto).”

  [15] Turner’s Herbal is beautifully illustrated; five initial letters
  from it are here reproduced.

  [16] “Plant-lore and Garden-Craft of Shakespeare.”


CARAWAY (_Carum carvi_).

  _Shallow._ Now, you shall see my orchard, where, in an arbour we will
  eat a last year’s Pippin of my own grafting, with a dish of Caraways,
  and so forth.

  _II. Henry IV._ v. 3.

In Elizabethan days, Caraway Seeds were appreciated at dessert, and
Canon Ellacombe says that the custom of serving roast apples with a
little saucerful of Caraway Seed is still kept up at some of the London
livery dinners. It was the practice to put them among baked fruits or
into bread-cakes, and they were also “made into comfits.” In cakes and
comfits they are used to-day, and in Germany I have seen them served
with potatoes fried in slices. The roots were boiled and “eaten as
carrots,” and made a “very welcome and delightful dish to a great many,”
though some found them rather strong flavoured. “The[17] Duchemen call
it Mat kumell or Wishenkumel and the Freses, Hofcumine. It groweth in
great plentye in Freseland in the meadows there betweene Marienhoffe and
Werden, hard by the sea banke.”

  [17] “Turner’s Herbal,” 1538.

CELERY (_Apium graveolens_).

This is quite without romance. The older herbalists did not know it and
Evelyn says: “Sellery... was formerly a stranger with us (nor very long
since in _Italy_ itself).... Nor is it a distinct _species_ of
_smallage_ or Macedonian Parsley, tho’ somewhat more hot and generous,
by its frequent transplanting, and thereby render’d sweeter scented.”
For its “high and grateful taste, it is ever plac’d in the middle of the
_grand sallet_, at our great men’s tables, and Proctor’s Feasts, as the
grace of the whole board.” But though Parkinson did not know the plant
under this name, he did see some of the first introduced into England,
and gives an interesting account of this introduction to “sweete Parsley
or sweet Smallage.... This resembles sweete Fennell.... The first that
ever I saw was in a Venetian Ambassador’s garden in the spittle yard,
near Bishop’s Gate Streete. The first year it is planted with us it is
sweete and pleasant, especially while it is young, but after it has
grown high and large hath a stronger taste of smallage, and so likewise
much more the following yeare. The Venetians used to prepare it for
meate many waies, both the herbe and roote eaten rawe, or boyled or
fryed to be eaten with meate, or the dry’d herb poudered and strewn upon
meate; but most usually either whited and so eaten raw with pepper and
oyle as a dainty sallet of itselfe, or a little boyled or stewed... the
taste of the herbe being a little warming, but the seede much more.”

CHERVIL (_Scandix Cerefolium_).

  Chibolles and Chervelles and ripe chiries manye.

  _Piers Plowman._

Chervil was much used by the French and Dutch “boyled or stewed in a
pipkin. De la Quintinye recommends it to give a ‘perfuming rellish’ to
the salad, and Evelyn says the ‘_Sweete_ (and as the _French_ call it
_Musque_) _Spanish_ Chervile,’ is the best and ought ‘never to be
wanting in our sallets,’ for it is ‘exceeding wholesome and charming to
the spirits.’... This (as likewise Spinach) is used in tarts and serves
alone for divers sauces.”


  Acorns, plump as Chibbals.

  _The Gipsies Metamorphosed._--BEN JONSON.

Ciboules are a small kind of onion; De la Quintinye says, “Onions
degenerated.” From the reference to them in _Piers Plowman_, they were
evidently in common use here in the time of Langlande. The French
gardener adds that they are “propagated only by seeds of the bignes of a
corn of ordinary gun-powder,” and Mr Britten identifies them with
Scallions or Shallot (_A. ascalonium_).

CIVES, OR CHIVES, OR SEIVES (_Allium Schænoprasum_).

                  Straightways follow’d in
  A case of small musicians, with a din
  Of little Hautbois, whereon each one strives
  To show his skill; they all were made of seives,
  Excepting one, which puff’d the player’s face,
  And was a Chibole, serving for the bass.

  _Britannia’s Pastorals_, Book III.

Cives and Ciboules are often mentioned together, as in this account of
King Oberon’s feast. The leaves are green and hollow and look like
rushes _en miniature_, and would serve admirably for elfin Hautbois.
Miss Amherst[18] says that they are mentioned in a list of herbs (Sloane
MS., 1201) found “at the beginning of a book of cookery recipes,
fifteenth century.” She also tells us that when Kalm came to England
(May 1748) he noticed them among the vegetables most grown in the
nursery-gardens round London. They were “esteemed milder than onions,”
and of a “quick rellish,” but their fame has declined in the last
hundred years. Loudon says that the leaves are occasionally used to
flavour soup, salads and omelettes--unlike ciboules, the bulb is not
used--but the chief purpose for which I have heard them required is to
mix with the food for young guinea-fowls and chickens.

  [18] “History of Gardening in England.”

CORIANDER (_Coriandrum sativum_).

  And Coriander last to these succeeds
  That hangs on slightest threads her trembling seeds.

  _The Salad._--COWPER.

The chief interest attached to Coriander is that in the Book of Numbers,
xi. 7, Manna is compared to the seed. It was originally introduced from
the East, but is now naturalised in Essex and other places, where it has
long been cultivated for druggists and confectioners. The seeds are
quite round, like tiny balls, and Hogg remarks that they become fragrant
by drying, and the longer they are kept the more fragrant they become.
“If taken oute of measure it doth trouble a manne’s witt, with great
jeopardye of madnes.”[19] Nowadays one comes across them oftenest in
little round pink and white comfits for children.

  [19] Turner.

CUMIN (_Cuminum cyminum_).

  Cummin good for eyes,
  The roses reigning the pride of May,
  Sharp isope good for greene woundes remedies.[20]

Cumin is also mentioned in the Bible by Isaiah; and also in the New
Testament, as one of the plants that were tithed. It is very seldom met
with, but the seeds have the same properties as caraway seeds. Gerarde
says it has “little jagged leaves, very finely cut into small parcels,”
and “spoky tufts” of red or purplish flowers. “The root is slender,
which perisheth when it hath ripened his seed,” and it delights in a hot
soil. He recommends it to be boyled together with wine and barley meale
“to the forme of a pultis” for a variety of ailments. In Germany the
seeds are put into bread and they figure in folklore. De Gubernatis says
it gave rise to a saying among the Greeks: “Le cumin symbolisait, chez
les Grecs, ce qui est petit. Des avares, ils disaient, qu’ils auraient
même partagé le cumin.”

  [20] _Muiopotmos._--Spenser.


  Darting fish that on a summer morn
  Adown the crystal dykes of Camelot,
  Come slipping o’er their shadows on the sand....
  Betwixt the cressy islets, white in flower.

  _Geraint and Enid._

  To purl o’er matted cress and ribbed sand,
  Or dimple in the dark of rushy coves.

  _Ode to Memory._--TENNYSON.

                    Valley lilies, whiter still
  Than Leda’s love and cresses from the rill.


  Cresses that grow where no man may them see.


  I linger round my shingly bars,
  I loiter round my cresses.

  _The Brook._--TENNYSON.

Cresses have great powers of fascination for the poets, and “the cress
of the Herbalist is a noun of multitude,” says Dr Fernie. Of these now
cultivated, St Barbara’s Cress (_Barbarea vulgaris_) has the most
picturesque name, and is the least known. It was once grown for a winter
salad, but American Cress (_Erysimum præcox_) is more recommended for
winter and early spring. Indian Cress (_Tropæolum majus_), usually known
as nasturtium, is seldom counted a herb, although it is included in some
old gardening lists, for the sake of the pickle into which its unripe
fruits were made. Abercrombie adds that the flowers and young leaves are
used in salads, but this must be most rare in England; though, when once
in Brittany, I remember that the _bonne_ used to ornament the salad on
Sundays with an artistic decoration of scarlet and striped nasturtium
flowers. Garden Cress (_Lepidium sativum_), the tiny kind, associated in
one’s mind since nursery days with “mustard,” used to be known as
_Passerage_, as it was believed to drive away madness. Dr Fernie
continues, that the Greeks loved cress, and had a proverb, “Eat Cresses
and get wit.” They were much prized by our poor people, when pepper was
a luxury. “The Dutchmen[21] and others used to eate Cresses familiarly
with their butter and breade, as also stewed or boyled, either alone or
with other herbs, whereof they make a Hotch-Potch. We doe eate it mixed
with Lettuce and Purslane, or sometimes with Tarragon or Rocket with
oyle, vinegar, and a little salt, and in that manner it is very

Water-Cress (_Nasturtium officinale_) is rich in mineral salts and is
valuable as food. The leaves remain “green when grown in the shade, but
become of a purple brown because of their iron, when exposed to the
sun,” says Dr Fernie. “It forms the chief ingredient of the _Sirop
Antiscorbutique_, given so successfully by the French faculty.”
“Water-Cress pottage” is a good remedy “to help head aches. Those that
would live in health may use it if they please, if they will not I
cannot help it.” This is Culpepper’s advice, but he relents even to
those too weak-minded to avail themselves of a cure, salutary but
unpalatable. “If they fancy not pottage they may eat the herb as a

  [21] Parkinson.

DANDELION (_Leontodon taraxacum_).

  Dandelion, with globe and down,
  The schoolboy’s clock in every town,
  Which the truant puffs amain,
  To conjure lost hours back again.


Dandelion leaves used to be boiled with lentils, and one recipe bids one
have them “chopped as pot-herbes, with a few Allisanders boyled in their
broth.” But generally they were regarded as a medicinal, rather than a
salad plant. Evelyn, however, includes them in his list, and says they
should be “macerated in several waters, to extract the Bitterness. It
was with this Homely Fare the _Good Wife Hecate_ entertain’d _Theseus_.”
A better way of “extracting the Bitterness” is to blanch the leaves, and
it has been advised to dig up plants from the road-sides in winter when
salad is scarce, and force them in pots like succory. He continues that
of late years “they have been sold in most _Herb Shops_ about _London_
for being a wonderful Purifier of the Blood.” Culpepper, whose fiery
frankness it is impossible to resist quoting, manages on this subject to
get his knife into the doctors, as, to do him justice, he seldom loses
an opportunity of doing. “You see what virtues this common herb hath,
and this is the reason the French and Dutch so often eate them in the
spring, and now, if you look a little further, you may see plainly,
without a pair of spectacles, that foreign physicians are not so selfish
as ours are, but more communicative of the virtues of plants to people.”
The Irish used to call it Heart-Fever-Grass. The root, when roasted and
ground, has been substituted for coffee, and gave satisfaction to some
of those who drank it. Hogg relates a tale of woe from the island of
Minorca, how that once locusts devoured the harvest there, and the
inhabitants were forced to, and did subsist on this root, but does not
mention for what length of time.


DILL (_Anethum graveolens_).

  The nightshade strews to work him ill,
  Therewith her vervain and her dill.


  Here holy vervayne and here dill,
  ’Gainst witchcraft much availing,

  _The Muses Elysium._

  The wonder-working dill he gets not far from these.

  _Polyolbion._ Song xiii.

Dill is supposed to have been derived from a Norse word “to dull,”
because the seeds were given to babies to make them sleep. Beyond this
innocent employment it was a factor in working spells of the blackest
magic! Dill is a graceful, umbelliferous plant--not at all suggestive of
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde--and the seeds resemble caraway seeds in flavour,
but are smaller, flatter and lighter. There is _something_ mysterious
about it, because, besides being employed in spells by witches and
wizards, it was used by other people to resist spells cast by
traffickers in magic, and was equally powerful to do this! Dill is very
like fennel, but the leaves are shorter, smaller, and of a “stronger and
quicker taste. The leaves are used with Fish, though too strong for
everyone’s taste, and if added to ‘pickled Cowcumbers’ it ‘gives the
cold fruit a pretty, spicie taste.’” Evelyn also praises ‘_Gerckens
muriated_’ with the seeds of _Dill_, and Addison writes: “I am always
pleased with that particular time of the year which is proper for the
pickling of dill and cucumbers, but, alas! his cry, like the song of the
nightingale, is not heard above two months.”[22]

  [22] _Spectator_, xxv. 1.

ENDIVE (_Cichorium Endivia_).

  The Daisy, Butter-flow’r and Endive blue.


  There at no cost, on onions rank and red,
  Or the curl’d endive’s bitter leaf, he fed.

  _The Salad._--COWPER.

Endive is a plant of whose virtues our prosaic days have robbed us. Once
upon a time it could break all bonds and render the owner invisible, and
if a lover carried it about him, he could make the lady of his choice
believe that he possessed all the qualities she specially admired!
Folkard quotes three legends of it from Germany, one each from Austria
and Roumania, and an unmistakably Slav story--all of them of a romantic
character--and _we_ regard it as a salad herb! “There are three sorts:
Green-curled leaved; principal sort for main crops, white-curled leaved,
and broad Batavian” (Loudon). The green-curled leaved is the hardiest
and fittest for winter use. The Batavian is not good for salads, but is
specially in demand for stews and soups. All kinds must, of course, be
carefully blanched. Mrs Roundell[23] reminds one that endive is a
troublesome vegetable to cook, as it is apt to be crowded with insects.
The leaves should be all detached from the stem and carefully washed in
two or three salted waters. She also gives receipts for endive, dressed
as spinach, made into a purée or cooked alone. Parkinson said: “Endive
whited is much used in winter, as a sallet herbe with great delighte.”

_Succory, Chicory, or Wild Endive_ may be mentioned as making an
excellent salad when forced and blanched, and it is popular in France,
where it is called _Barbe de Capucin_. Its great advantage is, as Loudon
says, that “when lettuce or garden-endive are scarce, chicory can always
be commanded by those who possess any of the most ordinary means of
forcing.” He adds that it has been much used as fodder for cattle, and
that the roots, dried and ground, are well known--only too well known,
“partly along with, and partly as a substitute for coffee.”

  [23] “Practical Cookery Book.”

FENNEL (_Fæniculum vulgare_).

  _Ophelia._ There’s fennel for you and columbines.

  _Hamlet_, iv. 5.

  Fenel is for flatterers,
    An evil thing it is sure,
  But I have alwaies meant truely
    With constant heart most pure.

  _A Handfull of Pleasant Delightes._--C. ROBINSON.

  _Christopher._ No, my good lord.
  _Count._ Your _good lord_! Oh! how this smells of fennel!

  _The Case Altered_, ii. 2.--BEN JONSON.

  “Hast thou ought in thy purse?” quod he.
      “Any hote spices?”
  “I have peper, pionies,” quod she, “and a pound garlike
  A ferdyng worth of fenel-seed for fastyng dayes.”

  _Piers Plowman._

  Oh! faded flowers of fennel, that will not bloom again
  For any south wind’s calling, for any magic rain.

  _The Faun to his Shadow._--N. HOPPER.

  “Sow Fennel, sow Sorrow.”--_Proverb._

Few realise from how high an estate fennel has fallen. In Shakespeare’s
time we have the plainest evidence that it was the recognised emblem of
flattery. Ben Jonson’s allusion is almost as pointed as Robinson’s. It
is said that Ophelia’s flowers were all chosen for their significance,
so, perhaps, it was not by accident that she offers fennel to her
brother, in whose ears the cry must have been still ringing,

  “Choose we; Laertes shall be king!”

with the echo:--

  “Caps, hand, and tongues, applaud it to the clouds,
    ‘Laertes shall be king, Laertes king!’”

Nor was it only in our own land that Fennel had this significance, for
Canon Ellacombe quotes an Italian saying: “Dare Finocchio” (to give
fennel), meaning “to flatter.” As to the reason that fennel should be
connected with sorrow, the clue is lost, but the proverb is said still
to live in New England. The conversation which takes place in “Piers
Plowman,” between a priest and a poor woman, illustrates a use to which
fennel was put in earlier days. The poor got it, Miss Amherst says, “to
relieve the pangs of hunger on fasting days.” But it was by no means
despised by the rich, for “As much as eight and a half pounds of Fennel
seed was bought for the King’s Household (Edward I., 1281) for one
month’s supply.” She quotes from the Wardrobe Accounts. Our use either
of Common Fennel, or Sweet Fennel, or Finocchio is so limited that the
practice of Parkinson’s contemporaries shall be quoted. “Fenell is of
great use to trim up and strowe upon fish, as also to boyle or put among
fish of divers sorts, Cowcumbers pickled and other fruits, etc. The
rootes are used with Parsley rootes to be boyled in broths. The seed is
much used to put in Pippin pies and divers others such baked fruits, as
also into bread, to give it the better relish. The Sweet Cardus Fenell
being sent by Sir Henry Wotton to John Tradescante had likewise a large
direction with it how to dress it, for they used to white it after it
hath been transplanted for their uses, which by reason of sweetnesse by
nature, and the tendernesse by art, causeth it to be more delightfull to
the taste.” “Cardus Fenell” must have been Finocchio.

GOAT’S BEARD (_Tragopogon pratensis_).

  And goodly now the noon-tide hour,
  When from his high meridian tower,
  The sun looks down in majesty,
  What time about the grassy lea
  The Goat’s Beard, prompt his rise to hail
  With broad expanded disk, in veil
  Close mantling wraps his yellow head,
  And goes, as peasants say, to bed.


The habits of Goat’s Beard, or as it is often called,
John-go-to-bed-at-noon, are indicated by the latter name. It is less
known as Joseph’s Flower, which Mr Friend[24] says “seems to owe its
origin to pictures in which the husband of Mary is represented as a
long-bearded old man,” but Gerarde gives the Low-Dutch name of his time,
“Josephe’s Bloemen,” and says “when these flowers be come to their full
maturity and ripeness, they grow into a downy blow-ball, like those of
the Dandelion, which is carried away by the winde.” Evelyn praises it,
and is indignant with the cunning of the seed-sellers. “Of late they
have Italianiz’d the name, and now generally call it _Salsifex_... to
disguise it, being a very common field herb, growing in most parts of
_England_, would have it thought (with many others) an Exotick.” He
does not give the full Latin name, so one cannot tell whether it is our
Salsify (_Tragopogon porrifolius_) that he means, or _T. pratensis_, the
variety once more generally cultivated. The latter seems the likeliest,
as its yellow flowers are far more common than the purple ones of
salsify. _T. porrifolius_ is extremely rare in a wild state, but _T.
pratensis_ grows in “medows and fertil pastures in most parts of
England.” _T. pratensis_ is never cultivated now, and “Salsify” applies
exclusively to Purple Goat’s Beard (_T. porrifolium_). The old
herbalists praised it very highly.

  [24] “Flowers and Flower-lore.”

HORSE-RADISH (_Cochlearia Armoracia_).

Dr Fernie translates its botanical name, _Cochlearia_, from the shape of
the leaves, which resemble, he says, an old-fashioned spoon; _ar_, near;
_mor_, the sea, from its favourite locality. “For the most part it is
planted in gardens... yet have I found it wilde in Sundrie places... in
the field next unto a farme house leading to King’s land, where my very
good friend Master _Bredwell_, practitioner in Phisick, a learned and
diligent searcher of Samples, and Master _William Martin_, one of the
fellowship of Barbers and Chirugians, my deere and loving friend, in
company with him found it and gave me knowledge of the plant, where it
flourisheth to this day.... Divers think that this Horse-Radish is an
enemie to Vines, and that the hatred between them is so greate, that if
the roots hereof be planted neare to the Vine, it bendeth backward from
it, as not willing to have fellowship with it.... Old writers ascribe
this enmitie to the vine and Brassica, our Colewortes.” Both he and
Parkinson think, that in transferring the “enmitie” from the cabbage to
the horse-radish, the “Ancients” have been mistranslated. The Dutch
called it Merretich; the French, Grand Raifort; the English, locally,
Red Cole. Evelyn calls it an “excellent, universal Condiment,” and says
that first steeped in water, then grated and tempered with vinegar, in
which a little sugar has been dissolved, it supplies “Mustard to the
Sallet, and serving likewise for any Dish besides.”

HYSSOP (_Hyssopus officinalis_).

  Hyssop, as an herb most prime,
  Here is my wreath bestowing.

  _Muses Elysium._--DRAYTON.

  _Iago._ “Our bodies are our gardeners; so that if we will plant
  nettles, or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up thyme... why the power
  and corrigible authority of this lies in our wills.”

  _Othello_, i. 3.

Parkinson opens his “Theatre of Plants” with the words: “From a Paradise
of pleasant Flowers, I am fallen (_Adam_ like) to a world of Profitable
Herbs and Plants... and first of the Hisopes.... Among other uses, 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.” It is a hardy, evergreen shrub,
with a strong aromatic odour. The flowers are blue, and appear more or
less from June till October. The _Ussopos_ of Dioscorides was named from
_azob_, a holy herb, because it was used for cleansing sacred places,
and this is interesting when one thinks of Scriptural allusions to the
plant, although the hyssop of the Bible is most probably not our hyssop.
The identity of that plant has occasioned much divergence of opinion,
and a decision, beyond reach of criticism, has not yet been reached.
Mazes were sometimes planted with “Marjoram and such like, or Isope and
Time. It may eyther be sette with Isope and Time or with Winter Savory
and Time, for these endure all the Winter thorowe greene.”[25]

It was more often used for “Broths and Decoctions” than for salads, but
the tops and flowers were sometimes powdered and strewn on the top of
one. It is not much used nowadays, but I once saw an excitable Welsh
cook seize on a huge bunch of “dear Hyssop” with exclamations of joy. In
the East, “some plants diverted fascination by their smell,”[26] and
hyssop was one of these, and as a protection against the Evil Eye, was
hung up in houses.

  [25] “Art of Gardening,” Hill, 1563.

  [26] Friend.

LAMB’S LETTUCE or CORN SALAD (_Valeriana Locusta_).

Lamb’s Lettuce is variously known as _mâche_, _doucette_, _salade de
chanoine_, _poule-grasse_, and was formerly called “Salade de Prêter,
for their being generally eaten in Lent.” It is a small plant, with
“whitish-greene, long or narrow round-pointed leaves... and tufts of
small bleake blue flowers.” In corn-fields it grows wild, but Gerarde
says, “since it hath growne in use among the French and Dutch strangers
in England, it hath been sowen in gardens as a salad herbe,” and adds
that among winter and early spring salads “it is none of the worst.” The
fact of its being “recognised” at a comparatively late date, by the
English, and even then through the practices of the French, perhaps
accounts for the lack of English “pet” names, conspicuous beside the
number bestowed on it on the other side of the Channel. De la Quintinye
is not in accord with his countrymen on the subject, for he calls it a
“wild and rusticall Salad, because, indeed, it is seldom brought before
any Noble Company.” Despite this disparaging remark, it is still a
favourite in France, and it is surprising that a salad plant that stands
cold so well should not be more cultivated in this country. Lettuce is
so much more recognised as a vegetable than a herb that it will not be
mentioned here.

MARJORAM (_Origanum_).

  _Lafeu._ ’Twas a good lady, ’twas a good lady. We may pick a thousand
  salads ere we light on such another herb.

  _Clown._ Indeed, Sir, she was the Sweet Marjoram of the Salad, or
  rather the herb of grace.

  _All’s Well that Ends Well_, iv. 5.

  Not all the ointments brought from Delos’ Isle,
  Nor that of quinces, nor of marjoram,
  That ever from the Isle of Coös came,
  Nor these, nor any else, though ne’er so rare,
  Could with this place for sweetest smells compare.

  _Britannia’s Pastorals._

  O, bind them posies of pleasant flowers,
  Of marjoram, mint and rue.

  _Devonshire Song._

The scent of marjoram used to be very highly prized, and in some
countries the plant is the symbol of honour. Dr Fernie says _Origanum_
means in Greek the “joy of the mountains,” so charming a name one wishes
it could be more often used. Among[27] the Greeks, if it grew on the
grave it augured the happiness of the departed; “May many flowers grow
on this newly-built tomb” (is the prayer once offered); “not the
dried-up Bramble, or the red flower loved by goats; but Violets and
Marjoram, and the Narcissus growing in water, and around thee may all
Roses grow.”

Parkinson writes it was “put in nosegays, and in the windows of houses,
as also in sweete pouders, sweete bags, and sweete washing waters....
Our daintiest women doe put it to still among their sweet herbes.”
Pusser mentions it among his “herbs for strewing,” and in some recipes
for _pot pourri_ it is still included. _Origanum vulgare_ grows wild,
and the dry leaves are made into a tea “which is extremely grateful.”
The different kinds of marjoram are now chiefly used for soups and
stuffings. Isaac Walton gives instructions for dressing a pike, and
directs that among the accessories should be sweet marjoram, thyme, a
little winter savoury and some pickled oysters!

  [27] Friend.

[Illustration: POT MARJORAM]

MINT (_Mentha_).

    The neighb’ring nymphs each in her turn...
  Some running through the meadows with them bring
        Cowslips and mint.

  _Britannia’s Pastorals_, book i.

  In strewing of these herbs... with bounteous hands and free,
  The healthful balm and mint from their full laps do fly.

  _Polyolbion_, Song xv.

  Sunflowers and marigolds and mint beset us,
  Moths white as stitchwort that had left its stem,
  ... Loyal as sunflowers we will not swerve us,
  We’ll make the mints remembered spices serve us
        For autumn as in spring.


“Mint,” says De la Quintinye, “is called in French Balm,” which sounds
rather confusing; but Evelyn says it is the “Curled Mint, _M. Sativa
Crispa_,” that goes by this name. Mint was also called “Menthe de Notre
Dame,” and in Italy, “Erba Santa Maria,” and in Germany, “Frauen Münze,”
though this name is also applied to costmary. This herb used to be
strewn in churches. All the various kinds of it were thought to be good
against the biting of serpents, sea-scorpions, and mad dogs, but
violently antagonistic to the healing processes of wounds. “They are
extreme bad for wounded people, and they say a wounded man that eats
Mints, his wound will never be cured, and that is a long day! But they
are good to be put into Baths.”[28] The “gentler tops of Orange Mint”
(_Mentha citrata_?) are recommended “mixed with a Salad or eaten alone,
with the juyce of Orange and a little Sugar.”

The mint we commonly use is _Mentha Viridis_ or Spear Mint. “Divers
have held for true, that Cheeses will not corrupt, if they be either
rubbed over withe the juyce or a decoction of Mints, or they laid among
them.” It has been said, too, that an infusion of mint will prevent the
rapid curdling of milk. Being dried, mint was much used to put with
pennyroyal into puddings, and also among “pease that are boyled for
pottage.” The last is one of the few uses that survives. Parkinson
complains of all sorts of mints, that once planted in a garden they are
difficult to get rid of!

_Cat Mint, or Nep_ (_Nepeta Cataria_) is eaten in Tansies. “According to
Hoffman the root of the Cat Mint, if chewed, will make the most gentle
person fierce and quarrelsome.”[29]

_Pepper Mint_ is still retained, as is Spear Mint, in the British
Pharmacopœia. “The leaves have an intensely pungent aromatic taste
resembling that of pepper, and accompanied with a peculiar sensation of
coldness” (Thornton).

  [28] Culpepper.

  [29] Folkard.

MUSTARD (_Sinapis_).

  _Bottom._ Your name, I beseech you, sir?

  _Mustardseed._ Mustardseed.

  _Bottom._ Good Master Mustardseed, I know your patience well: that
  same cowardly, giant-like ox-beef hath devoured many a gentleman of
  your house: I promise you your kindred hath made my eyes water ere
  now. I desire your more acquaintance, good Master Mustardseed.

  _Midsummer-Night’s Dream_, iii. 1.

In 1664 Evelyn wrote that mustard is of “incomparable effect to quicken
and revive the Spirits, strengthening the Memory and expelling
Heaviness.... In _Italy_, in making _Mustard_, they mingle _Lemon_ and
_Orange_ Peels with the seeds.” In England the best mustard came from
Tewkesbury. It is a curious instance of the instability of fashion that
only twenty-four years before Evelyn made these remarks, Parkinson
wrote: “Our ancient forefathers, even the better sort, in the most
simple, and as I may say the more healthful age of the world, were not
sparing in the use thereof... but nowadayes it is seldom used by the
successors, being accounted the clownes sauce, and therefore not fit for
their tables; but is transferred either to the meyny or meaner sort, who
therefore reap the benefit thereof.” He adds it is “of good use, being
fresh for Epilepticke persons... if it be applyed both inwardly and
outwardly.” There were some drawbacks to being sick or sorry in the
“good old days.” It was customary in Italy to keep the mustard in balls
till it was wanted, and these balls were made up with honey or vinegar
and a little cinnamon added. When the mustard was required, the ball was
“relented” with a little more vinegar. Canon Ellacombe says: “Balls were
the form in which Mustard was usually sold, till Mrs Clements of Durham,
in the last century, invented the method of dressing mustard flour like
wheat flour and made her fortune with Durham Mustard!” We cultivate
_Sinapis nigra_ for its seed and _Sinapis alba_ as a small salad herb.

PARSLEY (_Petroselinum sativum_).

  The tender tops of Parsley next he culls,
  Then the old rue bush shudders as he pulls.

  _The Salad._

  Quinces and Peris ciryppe (syrup) with parcely rotes,
      Right so begyn your mele.

  RUSSELL’S _Boke of Nature_.

  Fat colworts and comforting perseline,
  Cold lettuce and refreshing rosmarine.


Parsley has the “curious botanic history that no one can tell what is
its native country. Probably the plant has been so altered by
cultivation as to have lost all likeness to its original self.”[30]
Superstitions connected with it are myriad, and Folkard gives two Greek
sayings that are interesting. It was the custom among them to border the
garden with parsley and rue, and from this arose an idiom, when any
undertaking was talked of, but not begun, “Oh! we are only at the
Parsley and Rue.” Parsley was used, too, to strew on graves, and hence
came a saying “to be in need of parsley,” signifying to be at death’s
door. Mr Friend quotes an English adage that “Fried parsley will bring a
man to his saddle and a woman to her grave,” but says that he has heard
no reason given for this strange and apparently pointless dictum.
Plutarch tells of a panic created in a Greek force, marching against the
enemy, by their suddenly meeting some mules laden with parsley, which
the soldiers looked upon as an evil omen; and W. Jones, in his “Crowns
and Coronations,” says, “Timoleon nearly caused a mutiny in his army
because he chose his crown to be of parsley, when his soldiers wished it
to be of the pine or pitch tree.” In many parts of England it is
considered unlucky, and I quote from a paper read before the Devon and
Exeter Gardeners’ Association in 1897. “It is one of the longest seeds
to lie in the ground before germinating; it has been said to go to the
Devil and back again nine times before it comes up. And many people have
a great objection to planting parsley, saying if you do there will sure
to be a death in the Family within twelve months.” It is only fair to
add that this delightful lapse into folk-lore comes in the midst of most
excellent and practical advice for its cultivation. “Quite recently (in
1883) a gentleman, living near Southampton, told his gardener to sow
some Parsley seed. The man, however, refused, saying that it would be a
bad day’s work to him if ever he brought Parsley seed into the house. He
said that he would not mind bringing a plant or two and throwing them
down, that his master might pick them up if he chose, but he would not
bring them to him for anything.”[31]

The “earliest known, really original work on gardening, written in
English,” is, Miss Amherst says, “a treatise in verse,” by Mayster Ion
Gardener. It consists of a prologue and eight divisions, and one of
these is devoted to “Perselye” alone. The manuscript in the Library of
Trinity College, Cambridge, that she quotes from, was written about
1440, but it is thought that the poem is older. Parsley was “much used
in all sortes of meates, both boyled, roasted and fryed, stewed, etc.,
and being green it serveth to lay upon sundry meates. It is also shred
and stopped into powdered beefe.... The roots are put into broth, or
boyled or stewed with a legge of Mutton... and are of a very good
rellish, but the roots must be young and of the first year’s

The seeds of parsley were sometimes put into cheese to flavour it, and
Timbs (“Things not generally Known”) tells this anecdote: “Charlemagne
once ate cheese mixed with parsley seeds at a bishop’s palace, and liked
it so much that ever after he had two cases of such cheese sent yearly
to Aix-la-Chapelle.”

In the edition of Tusser’s “Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry,”
edited by Mavor, it is noted, “Skim-milk cheese, however, might be
advantageously mixed with seeds, as is the practice in Holland.” Though
not strictly relevant, these lines taken by Mrs Milne-Home (“Stray
Leaves from a Border-Garden”) from the family records of the Earls of
Marchmont, must find place. They were written by a boy of eight or nine,
on the occasion of his elder brother’s birthday.

  This day from parsley-bed, I’m sure,
  Was dug my elder brother, Moore,
  Had Papa dug me up before him,
  So many now would not adore him,
  But hang it! he’s but onely one
  And if he trips off, I’m Sr John.

_Horse-radish_ was treated here as a seasoning, but _radish_ is counted
among vegetables proper.

  [30] Plant Lore and Garden Craft of Shakespeare.

  [31] Friend.

  [32] Parkinson.

SAGE (_Salvia officinalis_).

  Sage is for sustenance
    That should man’s life sustaine,
  For I do stil lie languishing
    Continually in paine,
  And shall doe still until I die,
    Except thou favour show,
  My paine and all my grievous smart,
    Ful wel you do it know.

  _Handful of Pleasant Delights._

  And then againe he turneth to his playe,
  To spoyle the pleasures of the Paradise,
  The wholesome saulge and lavender still gray.


Sage is one of those sympathetic plants that feel the fortunes of their
owners; and Mr Friend says that a Buckinghamshire farmer told him his
recent personal experience. “At one time he was doing badly, and the
Sage began to wither, but, as soon as the tide turned, the plant began
to thrive again.” Most of the Continental names of the plant are like
the botanical one of _Salvia_, from “_Salvo_,” to save or heal, and its
high reputation in medicine lasted for ages. The Arabians valued it, and
the medical school of Salerno summed up its surpassing merits in the
line, _Cur morietur homo cui Salvia crescit in horto?_ (How can a man
die who grows sage in his garden?) Perhaps this originated the English

  He that would live for aye
  Must eat Sage in May.

Parkinson mentions that it is “Much used of many in the month of May
fasting,” with butter and parsley, and is “held of most” to conduce to
health. “It healeth the pricking of the fishe called in Latine
_pastinaca marina_, whych is like unto a flath, with venomous prickes,
about his tayle. It maketh hayre blacke; it is good for woundis.”[33]
The “Grete Herball” contains a remedy for Lethargy or Forgetfulness,
which consists of making a decoction “of tutsan, of smalage and of
sauge,” and bathing the back of the head with it.

Pepys notes that in a little churchyard between Gosport and Southampton
the custom prevailed of sowing the graves with sage. This is rather
curious, as it has never been one of the plants specially connected with

Evelyn sums up its “Noble Properties” thus: “In short ’tis a Plant
endu’d with so many and wonderful Properties, as that the assiduous use
of it is said to render Men _Immortal_. We cannot therefore but allow
the tender _Summities_ of the young Leaves, but principally the Flowers
in our Sallet; yet so as not to domineer.... ’Tis credibly affirmed,
that the _Dutch_ for some time drove a very lucrative Trade with the
dry’d Leves of what is called _Sage of Vertue_ and _Guernsey Sage_....
Both the Chineses and Japaneses are great admirers of that sort of Sage,
and so far prefer it to their own Tea... that for what _Sage_ they
purchase of the _Dutch_, they give triple the quantity of the choicest
_Tea_ in exchange.”

“Frytures” (fritters) of Sage are described as having place at banquets
in the Middle Ages (Russell’s “Boke of Nurture”). Besides these other
uses the seeds of sage like parsley seeds were used to flavour cheese.
Gay refers to this:--

        Marbled with Sage,
  The hardening cheese she pressed,

and to “Sage cheese,” too, and Timbs says, “The practice of mixing sage
and other herbs with cheese was common among the Romans.”

  [33] Turner.

SAVORY (_Satureia_).

  Some Camomile doth not amiss,
  With Savoury and some tansy.

  _Muses Elysium._

        Here’s flowers for you,
  Hot Lavender, Mints, Savory, Marjoram.

  _Winter’s Tale_, iv. 4.

  Sound savorie, and bazil, hartie-hale,
  Fat Colwortes and comforting Perseline,
    Cold Lettuce and refreshing Rosmarine.


Savory, satureia, was once supposed to belong to the satyrs. “Mercury
claims the dominion over this herb. Keep it dry by you all the year, if
you love yourself and your ease, and it is a hundred pounds to a penny
if you do not.” Culpepper follows this advice with a long list of
ailments, for all of which this herb is an excellent remedy. Summer
savory (_S. hortensis_) and winter savory (_S. Montana_) are the only
kinds considered in England as a rule, though Gerarde further mentions
“a stranger,” which, “because it groweth plentifully upon the rough
cliffs of the Tyrrhenian Sea in Italie, called Saint Julian rocke,” is
named after the saint, _Satureia Sancti Juliani_. In other countries
summer savory used to be strewn upon the dishes as we strew parsley, and
served with peas or beans; rice, wheat and sometimes the dried herb was
“boyled among pease to make pottage.” Winter savory used to be dried and
powdered and mixed with grated bread, “to breade their meate, be it fish
or flesh, to give it a quicker rellish.” Here Parkinson breaks off to
deliver a severe reproof to “this delicate age of ours, which is not
pleased with anything almost that is not pleasant to the palate,” and
therefore neglects many viands which would be of great benefit. Both
savories are occasionally used more or less in the way he suggests,
winter savory being the favourite. In Cotton’s sequel to the “Complete
Angler,” a “handful of sliced horse-radish-root, with a handsome little
faggot of rosemary, thyme and winter savoury” is recommended in the
directions for “dressing a trout.” One of the virtues attributed to both
savories by the old herbalists is still agreed to by some gardeners: “A
shoot of it rubbed on wasp or bee stings instantly gives relief.”

SORREL (_Rumex_).

  Simplest growth of Meadow-sweet or Sorrel
  Such as the summer-sleepy Dryads weave.


  Cresses that grow where no man may them see,
  And sorrel, untorn by the dew-claw’d stag;
  Pipes will I fashion of the syrinx flag.


  There flourish’d starwort and the branching beet
  The sorrel acid and the mallow sweet.

  _The Salad._

  Here curling sorrel that again
  We use in hot diseases
  The medicinable mallow here...

  _Muses Elysium._

Sorrel and mallow seem to have been associates anciently, perhaps
because it was thought that the virtues of the one would counterbalance
those of the other. “From May to August the meadows are often ruddy with
the sorrel, the red leaves of which point out the graves of the Irish
rebels who fell at Tara Hill in the ‘Ninety-eight,’ the local tradition
asserting that the plants sprang from the patriots’ blood.”[34] The
Spaniards used to call sorrel, Agrelles and Azeda, and the French
Aigrette and Surelle. In England it used to be “eaten in manner of a
Spinach tart or eaten as meate,” and the French and Dutch still do, I
believe, and at anyrate did quite lately, use it as spinach. Sorrel was
often added by them to herb-patience when that was used as a pot-herb,
and was said to give it an excellent flavour. The same recipe has been
tried and approved in England as well as (a little) sorrel cooked with
turnip-tops or spinach; the former of these dishes is said to be good
and the second certainly is. Evelyn thought that sorrel imparted “so
grateful a quickeness to the salad that it should never be left out,”
and De la Quintinye says that in France besides being mixed in salads it
is generally used in Bouillons or thin Broths. Of the two kinds, Garden
Sorrel, _Rumex Acetosa_, and French Sorrel, _R. Scutatus_, either may be
used indifferently in cooking, though some people decidedly prefer the
French kind. Mrs Roundell says that sorrel carefully prepared can be
cooked in any of the ways recommended for spinach, but that it should be
cooked as soon as it is picked, and if this is impossible must be
revived in water before being cooked.

  [34] Folkard.


TARRAGON (_Artemisia Dracunculus_).

“Tarragon is cherished in gardens.... Ruellius and such others have
reported many strange tales hereof scarce worth the noting, saying that
the seede of flaxe put into a radish roote or sea onion, and so set,
doth bring forth this herbe Tarragon.” This idea was apparently still
current though discredited by the less superstitious in Gerarde’s time.
Parkinson mentions a great dispute between ancient herbalists as to the
identity of the flower called Chysocoma by Dioscorides. After quoting
various opinions and depreciating some of them he approves the decision
of Molinaus that Tarragon was the plant. He describes it “in leaves...
like unto the ordinary long-leafed Hisope... of the colour of _Cyperus_,
of a taste not unpleasant which is somewhat austere with the
sweetnesse.” It is a native of Siberia, but has long been cultivated in
France, and the name is a corruption of the French _Esdragon_ and means
“Little Dragon.” Though no reason for this war-like title is obvious,
the name is practically the same in several other countries. The leaves
were good pickled, and it is altogether a fine aromatic herb for soups
and salads. Vinegars for salads and sauce used often in earlier days to
be “aromatized” by steeping in them rosemary, gilliflowers, barberries
and so forth, but the only herb used for this purpose at the present
time is tarragon. Tarragon vinegar can still be easily obtained. “The
volatile essential oil of tarragon is chemically identical with that of
anise” (Fernie).

Thyme (_Thymus vulgaris_).

  The bees on the bells of thyme

         *       *       *       *       *

  Were as silent as ever old Timolus was
  Listening to my sweet pipings.

  _Pan’s Music_--SHELLEY.

  In my garden grew plenty of thyme,
  It would flourish by night and by day,
  O’er the wall came a lad, he took all that I had,
      And stole my thyme away.

  O! And I was a damsel so fair,
  But fairer I wished to appear,
  So I washed me in milk, and I dressed me in silk,
      And put the sweet thyme in my hair.

  _Devonshire Songs._

                              Beneath your feet,
  Thyme that for all your bruising smells more sweet.


  Some from the fen bring reeds, wild thyme from downs,
  Some from a grove, the bay that poets crowns.

  _Br. Pastorals_, book ii.

                Here, dancing feet fall still,
  Here, where wild thyme and sea-pinks brave wild weather.


  O! Cupid was that saucy boy,
  Who furrows deeply drew.
  He broke soil, destroyed the soil
  Of wild thyme wet with dew.
  Before his feet, the field was sweet
  With flowers and grasses green,
  Behind, turn’d down, and bare and brown
  By Cupid’s coulter keen.

  _Devonshire Songs._

“Among the Greeks, thyme denoted graceful elegance of the Attic style,”
and was besides an emblem of activity. “‘To smell of Thyme’ was
therefore an expression of praise, applied to those whose style was
admirable” (Folkard). In the days of chivalry, when activity was a
virtue very highly rated, ladies used “to embroider their knightly
lovers’ scarves with the figure of a bee hovering about a sprig of
thyme.”[35] In the south of France wild thyme or _Ferigoule_ is a symbol
of advanced Republicanism, and tufts of it were sent with the summons to
a meeting to members of a society holding those views. Gerarde, in his
writings, plainly shows that he and his contemporaries did _not_
indiscriminately call all plants “herbs,” but distinguished them with
thought and care. “_Ælianus_ seemeth to number wild time among the
floures. _Dionysius Junior_ (saith he) comming into the city Locris in
Italy, possessed most of the houses of the city, and did strew them with
roses, wild time and other such kinds of floures. Yet Virgil, in the
Second Eclogue of his Bucolicks doth most manifestly testifie that wilde
Time is an herbe.” Here he translates:--

  Thestilis, for mower’s tyr’d with parching heate,
  Garlike, wild Time, strong smelling herbs doth beate.

Modern opinion confirms the view that _Thymus capitatus_ was the thyme
of the ancients. The affection of bees for thyme has often been noticed,
and the “fine flavour to the honey of Mount Hymettus”[36] is said to be
due to this plant. Evelyn speaks of it as having “a most agreeable
_odor_,” and a “considerable quantity being frequently, by the
Hollanders, brought from _Maltha_, and other places in the _Streights_,
who sell it at home, and in _Flanders_ for strewing amongst the
_Sallets_ and Ragouts; and call it _All-Sauce_.” Gerarde divides the
garden thyme (_T. vulgaris_) and Wild Thyme or Mother of Thyme (_T.
serpyllum_) into two chapters, but Parkinson takes them together and
describes eleven kinds, including Lemmon Thyme, which has the “sent of a
Pomecitron or Lemmon”; and “Guilded or embrodered Tyme,” whose leaves
have “a variable mixture of green and yellow.” Abercrombie’s information
is always given in a concentrated form. “An ever-green, sweet-scented,
fine-flavoured, aromatic, under-shrub, young tops used for various
kitchen purposes.”

  [35] “Flora Symbolica.” _Ingram._

  [36] Hogg, “The Vegetable Kingdom and its Products.”

VIPER’S GRASS or SCORZONERA (_Scorzonera Hispanica_).

The virtues of this herb were known, but not much regarded, before
“Monardus,[37] a famous physician in _Sivell_,” published a book in
which was “set downe that a Moore, a bond-slave, did help those that
were bitten of that venomous beast or Viper... which they of Catalonia,
where they breed in abundance, call in their language _Escuersos_ (from
whence _Scorsonera_ is derived), with the juice of the herb, and the
root given them to eate,” and states that this would effect a cure when
other well-authorised remedies failed. “The rootes hereof, being
preserved with sugar, as I have done often, doe eate almost as delicate
as the Eringus roote.” Evelyn is loud in its praise. It is “a very
sweete and pleasant _Sallet_, being laid to soak out the Bitterness,
then peel’d may be eaten raw or _condited_; but, best of all, stew’d
with _Marrow_, _Spice_, _Wine_.... They likewise may bake, fry or boil
them; a more excellent Root there is hardly growing.” As “Spanish
Salsify” it is much recommended by other writers.

  [37] _Parkinson._

WOOD-SORREL (_Oxalis Acetosella_).

  Who from the tumps with bright green masses clad,
  Plucks the Wood-Sorrel with its light green leaves,
  Heart shaped and triply folded; and its root
  Creeping like beaded coral.


The Wood-Sorrel has many pretty names: Alleluia, Hearts, _Pain de
Coucou_, _Oseille de Bûcheron_; in Italy, _Juliola_. Wood-Sorrel is a
plant of considerable interest. It has put forward strong claims to be
identified with St Patrick’s shamrock, and it has been painted, Mr
Friend says, “in the foreground of pictures by the old Italian painters,
notably Fra Angelico.” For the explanation of the names: “It is called
by the Apothecaries in their shoppes _Alleluia_ and _Lugula_, the one
because about that time it is in flower, when _Alleluja_ in antient
times was wont to be sung in the Churches; the other came corruptly from
_Juliola_, as they of Calabria in Naples doe call it.” By the “Alleluja
sung in the churches,” Parkinson means the Psalms, from Psalm cxiii. to
Psalm cxvii. (and including these two), for they end with “Hallelujah,”
and were specially appointed to be sung between Easter and Whitsuntide.

“It is called Cuckowbreade, either because the Cuckowes delight to feed
thereon, or that it beginneth to flower when the Cuckow beginneth to
utter her voyce.” Another name was Stubwort, from its habit of growing
over old “stubs” or stumps of trees, and in Wales it was called Fairy
Bells, because people thought that the music which called the elves to
“moonlight dance and revelry” came from the swinging of the tiny bells.
The Latin name is a reminder that oxalic acid is obtained from this

As Evelyn includes it amongst his salad herbs, I mention it here, though
feeling bound to add that anyone must be a monster who could regard the
graceful leaves and trembling, delicately-veined bells of this plant,
full of poetry, with any other sentiment than that of passive



  The wyfe of Bath was so wery, she had no wyl to walk;
  She toke the Priores by the honde, “Madam, wol ye stalk
    Pryvely into the garden to se the herbis growe?”
          . . . And forth on they wend
    Passing forth softly into the herbery.

  _Prologue to Beryn_--URRY’S Edition.

ALEXANDERS (_Smyrnum Olusatrium_).

Alexanders, Allisanders, the black Pot-herb or Wild Horse-Parsley, as it
is variously called, grows naturally near the sea, and has often been
seen growing wild near old buildings. The Italians call it _Herba
Alexandrina_, according to some writers, because it was supposed
originally to have come from Alexandria; according to others, because
its[38] old name was _Petroselinum Alexandrinum_, or _Alexandrina_,
“so-called of _Alexander_, the finder thereof.” The leaves are “cut into
many parcells like those of Smallage,” but are larger; the seeds have an
“aromaticall and spicy smell”; the root is like a little radish and good
to be eaten, and if broken or cut “there issueth a juice that quickly
waxeth thicke, having in it a sharpe bitterness, like in taste unto
Myrrh.” The upper parts of the roots (being the tenderest) and leaves
were used in broth; the young tops make an “excellent Vernal Pottage,”
and may be eaten as salad, by themselves or “in composition in the
Spring, or, if they be blanched, in the Winter.” They were chiefly
recommended for the time of Lent, in a day when Lent was more strictly
kept than it is now, because they are supposed to go well with fish.
Alexanders resemble celery, by which it has been almost entirely
supplanted, and if desired as food should be sown every year, for though
it continues to grow, it produces nothing fit for the table after the
second year. Pliny says it should be “digged or delved over once or
twice, yea, and at any time from the blowing of the western wind
Favonius in Februarie, until the later Equinox in September be past.”
The reference to Favonius reminds one of those lines of exquisite
freshness translated from Leonidas.

  ’Tis time to sail--the swallow’s note is heard!
  Who chattering down the soft west wind is come.
  The fields are all a-flower, the waves are dumb,
  Which ersts the winnowing blast of winter stirred.

  Loose cable, friend, and bid your anchor rise,
  Crowd all your canvas at Priapus’ hest,
  Who tells you from your harbours, “Now, ’twere best,
  Sailor, to sail upon your merchandise.”

  [38] Britten, “Dictionary of English Plant-Names.”

[Illustration: ANGELICA]

ANGELICA (_Archangelica officinalis_).

  Contagious aire, ingendring pestilence,
  Infects not those that in their mouths have ta’en,
  Angelica that happy Counterbane,
  Sent down from heav’n by some celestial scout,
  As well the name and nature both avow’t.


  And Master-wort, whose name Dominion wears,
  With her, who an Angelick Title bears.

  _Of Plants_, book ii.--COWLEY.

As these lines declare, Angelica was believed to have sprung from a
heavenly origin, and greatly were its powers revered. Parkinson says,
“All Christian nations likewise in their appellations hereof follow the
Latine name as near as their Dialect will permit, onely in Sussex
they call the wilde Kinde Kex, and the weavers wind their yarne on the
dead stalkes.” The Laplanders crowned their poets with it, believing
that the odour inspired them, and they also thought that the use of it
“strengthens life.” The roots hung round the neck “are available against
witchcraft and inchantments,” so Gerarde says, and thereby makes a
concession to popular superstition, which he very rarely does. A piece
of the root held in the mouth drives away infection of pestilence, and
is good against all poisons, mad dogs or venomous beasts! Parkinson puts
it first and foremost in a list of specially excellent medicinal herbs
that he makes “for the profit and use of Country Gentlewomen and
others,” and writes: “The whole plante, both leafe, roote, and seede is
of an excellent comfortable sent, savour and taste.” No wonder with such
powers that it gained its name. Angelica comes into a remedy for a wound
from an _arquebusade_ or arquebuse, called _Eau d’Arquebusade_, which
was first mentioned by Phillippe de Comines in his account of the battle
of Morat, 1476. “The French still prepare it very carefully from a great
number of aromatic herbs. In England, where it is the _Aqua Vulneria_ of
the Pharmacopœias, the formula is: Dried mint, angelica tops and
wormwood, angelica seeds, oil of juniper and spirit of rosemary
distilled with rectified spirit and water (Timbs).” It must be borne in
mind that Timbs wrote some time ago, and that the knowledge of modern
French scientists, like that of our own, has increased since then.

Although it is of no value in medicine (it is next to none when
cultivated) our garden angelica also grows wild, and can be safely
eaten. Gerarde is amusing on this point. He says it grows in an “Island
in the North called Island (Iceland?). It is eaten of the inhabitants,
the barke being pilled off, as we understand by some that have travelled
into Island, who were sometimes compelled to eate hereof for want of
other food; and they report that it hath a good and pleasant taste _to
them that are hungry_.” The last words are significant! Formerly, the
leaf-stalks were blanched, and eaten as celery is, but now they are
chiefly used, candied, for dessert. The art of candying seems to have
been brought closer to perfection abroad than at home in Turner’s time,
for he says: “The rootes are now condited in Danske, for a friend of
mine in London, called Maister Aleyne, a merchant man, who hath ventured
over to Danske, sent me a little vessel of these, well condited with
honey, very excellent good. Wherefore they that would have anye Angelica
maye speake to the Marchauntes of Danske, who can provide them enough.”
The fruit is used to flavour _Chartreuse_ and other “cordials.”

BLITES (_Blitum_).

Dr Prior confirms Evelyn, in calling _Bonus Henricus_ Blites, but the
older herbalists seem to have given this name to another plant of the
same tribe, the _Chenopodiaceæ_, because they treat of _Blites_ and
_Bonus Henricus_ in separate chapters. Parkinson is very uncomplimentary
to them. “Blitum are of the species Amaranthum, Flower Gentle. They are
used as arrach, eyther boyled of itself or stewed, which they call
Loblolly.... It is altogether insipid and without taste. The
unsavouriness whereof hath in many countries grown into a proverb, or
by-word, to call dull, slow or lazy persons by that name.” The context
points to the nickname coming from “Blites,” but no such term of
reproach now exists, though the contemptuous _sobriquet_ “Loblolly-boy”
is sometimes seen in old-fashioned nautical novels. Blites were said to
be hurtful to the eyes, a belief that draws a scathing remark from
Gerarde, “I have heard many old wives say to their servants, ‘Gather no
Blites to put in my pottage, for they are not good for the eyesight’;
whence they had those words I know not, it may be of some doctor that
never went to school.” Culpepper mentions that wild blites “the fishes
are delighted with, and it is a good and usual bait, for fishes will
bite fast enough at them if you have but wit enough to catch when they
bite.” Altogether this insipid vegetable gives scope for a good many
sharp things to be said.

_Blitum capitatum_, usually known as strawberry-spinach, is sometimes
grown in flower gardens.

BLOODWORT (_Lapathum Sanguineum_).

The modern Latin name for this dock is _Rumex Sanguineus_, but Gesner
had a more imposing title, _Sanguis draconis herba_ (Dragon’s blood
plant). These names are, of course, derived from the crimson colour of
its veins, and are the finest thing about it. The little notice it does
get is not unmixed praise. “Among the sorts of pot-herbes, Blood-worte
hath always been accounted a principall one, although I _doe not see any
great reason therein_.” This is Parkinson’s opinion, but the italics are

BUCK’S-HORNE (_Senebiera Coronopus_).

  As true as steel,
  As Plantage to the moon.

  _Troilus and Cressida_, iii. 2.

  And plantain ribb’d that heals the reaper’s wound,
  And marg’ram sweet, in shepherds’ posies found.

  _The School-Mistress._--SHENSTONE.

Buck’s-horne is distinct from Buckshorn Plantain (_Plantago Coronopus_),
but it is the latter which is chiefly interesting, and which is meant
here. In Evelyn’s day the Latin name was _Cornu Cervinum_, and other
names are _Herba Stella_, Herb Ivy and _Corne de Cerf_. Some kinds of
plantain were considered good for wounds, but the saying that “plantage”
is true to the moon is hard to solve. Buck’s-horne is a plant that has
gone altogether out of fashion. In 1577 Hill wrote, “What care and skil
is required in the sowing and ordering of the Buck’s-horne, Strawberries
and Mustardseede,”--and how odd it looks now to see it coupled with the
two other names, as a cherished object to spend pains upon! Le Quintinye
says that the leaves, when tender, were used in “Sallad Furnitures...
and the little Birds are very greedy of them.” It used to be held
profitable for agues if “the rootes, with the rest of the herb,” were
hung about the necke, “as nine to men and seven to women and children,
but this as many other are idle amulets of no worth or value... yet,
since, it hath been reported to me for a certaintie that the leaves of
Buck’shorne Plantane laid to their sides that have an ague, will
suddenly ease the fit, as if it had been done by witcherie; the leaves
and rootes also beaten with some bay salt and applied to the wrestes,
worketh the same effects, which I hold to be more reasonable and
proper.” Parkinson is very ready to lay down the law as to the limits of
empiricism. He is very severe about a superstition connected with
Mugwort, but though the same tradition exists of plantain, and (under
Mugwort) he quotes Mizaldus as mentioning it, he says nothing about this
folly here. Aubrey, however, gives an account of it in his
“Miscellanies.” “The last summer, on the day of St John Baptist, I
accidently was walking in the pasture behind Montague House; it was
twelve o’clock. I saw there about two or three and twenty young women,
most of them well habited, on their knees, very busie, as if they had
been weeding. I could not presently learn what the matter was; at last a
young man told me that they were looking for a coal under the root of a
plantain, to put under their heads that night, and they should dream
who would be their husbands. It was to be found that day and hour.”
This miraculous “coal” also preserved the wearer from all sorts of

CAMOMILE (_Anthemis nobilis_).

  Have I (to make thee crowns) been gathering still,
  Fair-cheek’d Eteria’s yellow camomile?

  _Br. Pastorals._

  Flowers of the field and windflowers springing glad
  --In airs Sicilian, and the golden bough
  Of sacred Plato, shining in its worth.
  . . . With phlox of Phœdimas and chamomile,
  The crinkled ox-eye of Antagoras.

  _Trans. from Meleager._

  The healthful balm and mint from their full laps do fly,
  The scentful camomile.

  _Polyolbion_, Song xv.

  _Falstaff._ Though the Camomile the more it is trodden on the faster
  it grows, yet youth the more it is wasted the sooner it wears.--_I.
  Henry IV._ ii. 4.

The camomile is dedicated to St Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary, and Mr
Friend thinks that the Latin name of wild camomile, _Matricaria_, comes
from a “fanciful derivation” of this word, from _mater_ and _cara_, or
“Beloved Mother.” The name camomile itself is derived from a Greek word
meaning “earth-apples,” and its pleasant, refreshing smell is rather
like that of ripe apples. The Spaniards call it _Manzanilla_, “a little
apple.” It was grown “both for pleasure and profit, both inward and
outward diseases, both for the sicke and the sound,” and was “planted of
the rootes in alleys, in walks, and on banks to sit on, for that the
more it is trodden upon and pressed down in dry weather, the closer it
groweth and the better it will thrive.” This was a common belief in
earlier days, as Falstaff’s remark shows.

Culpepper is as trenchant as usual on the subject. “Nichersor, saith
the Egyptians, dedicated it to the sun, because it cured agues, and they
were like enough to do it, for they were the arrantest apes in their
religion I have ever read of.” Why his indignation is so much excited is
not clear, but probably it is because Agues (being watery diseases) were
under the moon, and therefore they should have dedicated a herb that
cured agues to the Moon. However, he holds to the view that camomile is
good for all agues, although it is an herb of the sun--who has nothing
to do with such diseases, as a rule. Turner criticises Amatus Lusitanus
with some shrewdness. This writer, who had apparently taken upon him to
teach “Spanyardes, Italians, Frenchmen and Germans the name of Herbes in
their tongues, writeth that Camomile is commonlye knowne,” and with this
bald statement contented himself. “Wherefore it is lykely he knoweth
nether of both [kinds of Camomile]. Wherefore he had done better to have
sayde, ‘I do knowe nether of both, then thus shortly to passe by them.’
Camomile is still officinal, and is used for fomentations. ‘If taken
internally it should be infused with cold water, as heat dissipates the

_Feverfew_ is so nearly related to camomile that it may be mentioned
here. Indeed some writers call it “a Wild Camomile,” and give it
_Matricaria Parthenum_ for a Latin name. Most botanists, however, place
it “in the genus _Pyrethrum_.” Mr Britten calls it _Pyrethrum
Parthenium_. “Feverfew” comes from “febrifuge,” for it was supposed to
have wonderful power to drive away fevers and agues; and it is still a
favourite remedy with village people. Nora Hopper brings it in among the

  There’s many feet on the moor to-night,
  And they fall so light as they turn and pass,
  So light and true, that they shake no dew,
  From the featherfew and the Hungry-Grass.

  _The Fairy Music._

CARDOONS (_Cynara Cardunculus_).

This plant is also called Spanish Cardoon or Cardoon of Tours. It is a
kind of artichoke “which becomes a truly gigantic herbaceous vegetable.
The tender stalks of the inner leaves are sometimes blanched and stewed,
or used in soups and salads”; but it is much less used in England than
on the Continent. Cardoons are said to yield a good yellow dye.

CLARY (_Salvia Sclarea_).

  Percely, clarey and eke sage,
  And all other herbage.


“Clary, or more properly Clear-eyes,” which indicates one of its
supposed chief virtues plainly enough. Wild Clary was called _Oculus
Christi_, and was even more valued than the garden kind. Clary was once
“used for making wine, which resembles Frontignac, and is remarkable for
its narcotic qualities.”[39] It was also added to “Ale and Beere in
these Northern regions (I think the Netherlands are meant here) to make
it the more heady.” The young plant itself was eaten, and an approved
way of dressing it was to put it in an omelette “made up with cream,
fried in sweet butter” and eaten with sugar and the juice of oranges or
lemons. It is now sometimes used to season soups, and Hogg tells us that
it was used “in Austria as a perfume; in confectionery, and to the
jellies of fruits, it communicates the flavour of pine-apple.” The
herbalists speak of a plant called Yellow Clary or “Jupiter’s Distaff,”
and Mr Britten suggests that this was _Phlomus fruticosa_.

  [39] Timbs.

DITTANDER (_Lepidium Latifolium_).

Dittander or Pepperwort grows wild in a few places in England, but was
once cultivated. It was sometimes used as “a sauce or sallet to meate,
but is too hot, bitter and strong for everyone’s taste.” These qualities
have gained it the names of Poor Man’s Pepper, and from Tusser, Garden
Ginger. Culpepper’s opinion is briefly expressed: “Here is another
martial herb for you, make much of it.” It is so “hot and fiery sharpe”
that it is said to raise a blister on the hand of anyone who holds it
for a while, and _therefore_ (on homœopathic principles) it was
recommended “to take away marks, scarres... and the marks of burning
with fire or Iron.”

ELECAMPANE (_Inula Helenium_).

  Elecampane, the beauteous Helen’s flower,
  Mingles among the rest her silver store.


“Some think it took the name from the teares of _Helen_, from whence it
sprang, which is a fable; others that she had her hands full of this
herbe when _Paris_ carried her away; others say it was so called because
Helen first found it available against the bitings and stingings of
venomous beasts; and others thinke that it tooke the name from the
Island Helena, where the best was found to grow.” Parkinson gives a wide
choice for opinions on the origin of Elecampane, the two first “fables”
are very picturesque. The radiant gold of the flowers would be gorgeous
but beautiful, in a loose bunch, in a meadow, though in-doors they would
be apt to look big and glaring. Gerarde speaks of them being “in their
braverie in June and July,” and adds that the root “is marvellous good
for many things.” Since the days of Helen the fairies have laid hold of
the plant, and another name for it (in Denmark) is Elf-Dock. Elecampane
has had a great reputation since the days of Pliny, and was considered
specially good for coughs, asthma and shortness of breath. Elecampane
lozenges were much recommended, and the root was candied and eaten as a
sweetmeat till comparatively lately. It is said to have antiseptic
qualities, and according to Dr Fernie has been used in Spain as a
surgical dressing.

FENUGREEK (_Trigonella fœnum græcum_).

Fenugreek “hath many leaves, but three alwayes set together on a
foot-stalke, almost round at the ends, a little dented about the sides,
greene above and grayish underneath; from the joynts with the leaves
come forth white flowers, and after them, crooked, flattish long hornes,
small pointed, with yellowish cornered seedes within them.” This
description is very exact, and, indeed, the conspicuous horn-like pods,
singularly large for the size of the plant, are its most marked
characteristic. Turner says: “This herbe is called in Greek Keratitis,
y^{t} is horned, aigō keros y^{t} is gotes horne, and ŏ onkeros, that is
cows horne.” Fenugreek was a Favourite of the “antients,” and Folkard
gives an account of a festival held by Antiochus Epiphanus, the Syrian
king, of which one feature was a procession, where boys carried golden
dishes containing frankincense, myrrh and saffron, and two hundred
women, out of golden watering-pots, sprinkled perfume on the assembled
guests. All who went to watch the games in the gymnasium were anointed
with some perfume from fifteen gold dishes, which held saffron,
amaracus, lilies, cinnamon, spikenard, fenugreek, etc. In England it was
used for more prosaic purposes, “Galen and others say that they were
eaten as Lupines, and the Egyptians and others eate the seedes yet to
this day as Pulse or meate.” The herb, he continues, he has never heard
of as being used in England, because it was very little grown, but the
seed was used in medicine. Gerarde gives us one of its pleasantest
preparations as a drug. In old diseases of the chest, without a fever,
fat dates are to be boiled with it, with a great quantitie of honey. In
1868 Rhind[40] writes that the seeds are no longer given in medicine,
and but rarely used in “fomentations and cataplasms.” Since that date, I
should imagine, it is even more rarely used. Fenugreek was at one time
prescribed by veterinary surgeons for horses.

  [40] “History of the Vegetable Kingdom.”

GOOD KING HENRY (_Chenopodium Bonus Henricus_).

This plant is otherwise known as Fat Hen, Shoemaker’s Heels, English
Mercury, or as Evelyn says, Blite. He begins with praise: “The Tops may
be eaten as Sparagus or sodden in Pottage, and as a very salubrious
Esculent. There is both a white and red, much us’d in Spain and Italy”;
but he finishes lamely for all his praise: “’tis insipid enough.”
Gerarde says: “It is called of the Germans _Guter Heinrick_, of a
certaine good qualitie it hath,” and its name is much the most
interesting thing about it. Various writers have tried to attach it to
our successive kings of that name, with a want of ingenuousness and
ingenuity equally deplorable. Grimm[41] traces it back till he finds
that this was one of the many plants appropriated to Heinz or
Heinrich--the “household goblin,” who plays tricks on the maids or helps
them with their work, and asks no more than a bowl of cream set
over-night for his reward--who, in fact, holds much the same place as
our Robin Goodfellow holds here.

  [41] Teutonic Mythology.

HERB-PATIENCE (_Rumex Patienta_).

                Sequestered leafy glades,
  That through the dimness of their twilight show
  Large dock-leaves, spiral fox-gloves, or the glow
  Of the wild cat’s-eyes, or the silvery stems
  Of delicate birch trees, in long grass which hems
    A little brook.


  La _tulipe_ est pour la fierté,
  Pour le malheur la _patience_.

  _La Petite Corbeille._

  The Herb-Patience does not grow in every man’s garden.


Herb-Patience was also called Patience-Dock or Monk’s Rhubarb. The
French call Water-Dock, _Patience d’eau_ and _Parelle des Marais_, so
the name of the quality that is, in nursery rhyme, a “virtue,” and a
“grace,” clings to this dock! Parkinson compares it unfavourably with
Bastard Rhubarb, though he says the root is often used in “diet beere”;
but Gerarde calls it an “excellent, wholesome pot-herbe,” and relates a
tale, in which responsibilities are treated with such delightful
airiness that it must be repeated here. He begins by saying that he
himself is “no graduate, but a country scholler,” but hopes his “good
meaning will be well taken, considering I doe my best, not doubting but
some of greater learning will perfect that which I have begun, according
to my small skill, especially the ice being broken unto him and the wood
rough-hewed to his hands.” Nevertheless, he (who dictates on these
matters, to a great extent, through his Herbal) thinks that the learned
may gain occasionally from his knowledge. “One _John Bennet_, a
chirurgion, of Maidstone in Kent, a man as slenderly learned as
myselfe,” undertook to cure a butcher’s boy of an ague. “He promised him
a medicine, and for want of one for the present (he himselfe confessed
unto me) he tooke out of his garden three or four leaves of this plant”
and administered them in ale, with entire success. “Whose blunt attempt
may set an edge upon some sharper wit and greater judgment in the
faculties of plants.” Any anticipation that his experiment might lead to
disaster does not seem to have troubled him! The root of Patience-Dock
“boiled in the water of _Carduus Benedictus_” was also given at a
venture for an ague, and this experiment was tried by “a worshipfull
gentlewoman, mistresse Anne Wylbraham, upon divers of her poore
Neighbours, with good success.” Mistress Anne Wylbraham must have been a
woman of temerity!

Garden-patience used to be a good deal cultivated as spinach, but is now
very much ignored, partly because few people know how to cook it. The
leaves should be used early in the spring while they are still tender,
and the flavour will be very much improved if about a fourth part of
common sorrel is added to them. This way of dressing patience-dock was
very popular in Sweden, and is described as “forming an excellent
spinach dish.” Patience is sometimes spoken of as “passions,” but this
name properly belongs to _Polygonum Bistorta_, the leaves of which were
the principal ingredient in a herb-pudding, formerly eaten on Good
Friday in the North of England. Parkinson also speaks in this chapter of
the “true rhubarb of Rhapontick,” which has “leaves of sad or
dark-greene colour... of a fine tart or sourish taste, much more
pleasant than the garden or wood sorrell.” Dr Thornton, however, says
that Parkinson was mistaken, and that the first seeds of true rhubarb
were sent “by the great Boerhaave to our famous gardener, Miller, in
1759”--more than a hundred years later. Very soon after Miller had it,
rhubarb was cultivated in many parts of England and in certain
localities in Scotland.


HOREHOUND (_Marrubium vulgare_).

  Here hore-hound ’gainst the mad dog’s ill
  By biting, never failing.

  _Muses Elysium._

  Pale hore-hound, which he holds of most especiall use.

  _Polyolbion_, Song xiii.

Folkard says that horehound is one of the five plants stated by the
Mishna to be the “bitter herbs,” which the Jews were ordered to take for
the Feast of the Passover, the other four being coriander, horse-radish,
lettuce and nettle. The name _Marrubium_ is supposed to come from the
Hebrew _Marrob_, a bitter juice. De Gubernatis writes that horehound was
once regarded as a “contre-poison magique,” but very little is said
about it on the whole, and it is an uninteresting plant to look at, and
much like many others of the labiate tribe. Long ago the Apothecaries
sold “sirop of horehound” for “old coughs” and kindred disorders, and
horehound tea and candied horehound are still made to relieve the same
troubles. Candied horehound is made by boiling down the fresh leaves and
adding sugar to the juice thus extracted, and then again boiling the
juice till it has become thick enough to pour into little cases made of

LADY’S-SMOCK (_Cardamine pratensis_).

  Then comes Daffodil beside
    Our ladye’s smock at our Ladye-tide.

  _An Early Calendar of English Flowers._

  When daisies pied and violets blue
    And lady-smocks all silver white
  And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
    Do paint the meadows with delight.

  _Love’s Labour Lost_, v. 2.

                          And some to grace the show,
  Of lady-smocks do rob the neighbouring mead.
    Wherewith their looser locks most curiously they braid.

  _Polyolbion_, Song xx.

  And now and then among, of eglantine a spray,
  By which again a course of lady-smocks they lay.

  Song xv.

  The honeysuckle round the porch has wov’n its wavy bowers,
  And by the meadow-trenches blow the faint, sweet cuckoo flowers,
  And the wild march-marigold shines like fire on swamps and hollows

  _The May Queen._--TENNYSON.

“Cuckoo-flower” is a name laid claim to by many flowers, and authorities
differ as to which one Shakespeare meant by it. Certainly not the plant
under discussion, which is the one we most generally call Cuckoo-flower
to-day, for there can be no doubt that this is the “lady’s-smocks” of
the line above,--letting alone the fact that the “cuckoo-buds” in the
song being of “yellow hue” put the idea out of court. Lord Tennyson’s
lines point equally clearly to the _Cardamine pratensis_. Lady’s-smock
is said to be a corruption of “Our Lady’s Smock,” and to be one of the
plants dedicated to the Virgin, because it comes into blossom about
Ladytide; though as a matter of fact the flower is seldom seen so early.
It is remarkable how many attentions this graceful, but humble and
scentless flower has received; and besides all the poets Isaac Walton
mentions it twice: “Look! down at the bottom of the hill there, in that
meadow, chequered with water-lilies and lady-smocks.”[42] And later:
“Looking on the hills, I could behold them spotted with wood and
groves--looking down in the meadow, could see there a boy gathering
lilies and lady’s-smocks, and there, a girl cropping culverkeys and
cowslips, all to make garlands suitable to this present month of May.”
It is difficult to be positive about culverkeys. Columbines, bluebells,
primroses and an orchis have all been called by this name at different
times. The primrose is cut out of the question here by its colour, for
in the poem which has been quoted a little while before Davors sings of
“azure culverkeys.” The columbine is rarely found in a wild state and
flowers later in the year, the orchis is hardly “azure,” so on the whole
it looks as if the likeliest flower would be the wild hyacinth. To
return to the lady’s-smocks, Gerarde says they are of “a blushing, white
colour,” and like the “white sweet-john.” In the seventeenth century
their titles were various and he gives some of them, and in doing so he
shows an ingenuous, very pleasing clinging to the names familiar to his
youth. “In English, cuckowe flowers, in Northfolke, Canterbury bells, at
Namptwich in Cheshire, where I had my beginning, ladiesmocks which hath
given me cause to christen it after my country fashion.” Parkinson finds
that “these herbes are seldom used eyther as sauce or sallet or in
physick, but more for pleasure to decke up the garlands of the
country-people, yet divers have reported them to be as affectuall in the
scorbute or scurvy as the water-cresses.” The plant was regarded as an
excellent remedy for these evils by the inhabitants of those northern
countries where salted fish and flesh are largely eaten. The leaves are
slightly pungent and somewhat bitter; and in the early part of the
nineteenth century it was regarded as an ordinary salad herb, so that
its reputation in that respect must have risen since Parkinson’s days.

  [42] Complete Angler.

LANGDEBEEFE (_Helminthia echoides_).

Langdebeefe is mentioned with scanty praise. “The leaves are onely used
in all places that I knew or ever could learne, for an herbe for the pot
among others.” It is difficult to be absolutely certain as to the
identity of the plant, for Gerarde places it with Bugloss, and
Parkinson, among the Hawkweeds. Mr Britten says, however, that both
writers referred to _Helminthia echoides_, but that _Echium vulgare_,
Viper’s Bugloss, is the plant that Turner called Langdebeefe, and
Viper’s Bugloss is still called Langdebeefe in Central France. Near
Paris, however, _Langue de bœuf_ means _Anchusa Italica_. “The leaves,”
says Gerarde, “are like the rough tongue of an oxe or cow, whereof it
took its name,” and he gives another instance of the _insouciance_ of
contemporary physicians. They “put them both into all kindes of
medicines indifferently, which are of force and vertue to drive away
sorrow and pensiveness of the minde, and to comfort and strengthen the
heart.” “Both” refers to Bugloss and “little wilde Buglosse,” which he
has just informed us grows upon “the drie ditch bankes about
Pickadilla.” Times change!

LIQUORICE (_Glycyrrhiza glabra_).

Gerarde describes two kinds of Liquorice: the first has “woody
branches... beset with leaves of an overworne greene colour, and small
blew floures of the colour of an English Hyacinth.” From the peculiar
shape and roughness of the seed-pods it was distinguished by the name of
“Hedge-hogge Licorice.” This kind was very little used. Common Liquorice
resembles it very closely, but has less peculiar seed-vessels.

The cultivation of _licorish_ in England began about the year of Queen
Elizabeth’s reign, and it has been much grown at Pontefract (whence
Pontefract lozenges are named), Worksop, Godalming and Mitcham. It must
have been once an extremely profitable crop. “There hath been made from
fifty Pound to an hundred Pound of an Acre, as some affirm.” The caution
expressed in the last three words is rather nice. “I. W.,” the author of
this bit of information (he gives no other signature), published his
book in 1681, and was evidently of a very patriotic disposition. He is
indignant that “although our English Liquorice exceeds any Foreign
whatsoever,” yet we “yearly buy of other Nations,” and Parkinson is of
much the same opinion: “The root grown in England is of a fame more
weake, sweete taste, yet far more pleasing to us than Licorice that is
brought us from beyond Sea,” which is stronger and more bitter. A later
writer prefers English roots on the ground that those imported are often
“mouldy and spoiled.” “With the juice of Licorice, Ginger and other
spices there is made a certaine bread or cakes called Gingerbread, which
is very good against the cough.” It is not the light in which
Gingerbread is usually looked upon. Liquorice administered in many ways
was a great remedy against coughs. Boiled in faire water, with
Maiden-haire and Figges, it made a “good ptisane drinke for them that
have any dry cough,” and the “juice of Licoris, artificially made with
Hyssoppe water,” was recommended against shortness of breath. Extract of
Liquorice is to be found in the Pharmacopœia, and it is imported as
“Spanish juice.” The extract must be made from the _dried_ root, or else
it will not be so bright when it is strained. Dr Fernie says that
Liquorice is added to porter and stout to give thickness and blackness.

LOVAGE (_Ligusticum Scoticum_).

Mr Britten says: In Lyte and other early works, this [name] is applied
to _Levisticum officinale_, but in modern British books it is assigned
to _Ligusticum Scoticum_. It grows wild near the sea-shore in Scotland
and Northumberland. Lovage “has many long and great stalkes of large,
winged leaves, divided into many parts, ... and with the leaves come
forth towards the toppes, long branches, bearing at their toppes large
umbells of yellow flowers. The whole plant and every part of it smelleth
somewhat strongly and aromatically, and of an hot, sharpe, biting
taste. The _Germans_ and other Nations in times past used both the roote
and seede instead of Pepper to season their meates and brothes, and
found them as comfortable and warming.”[43] Turner mentions Lovage
amongst his medical herbs and Culpepper says: “It is an herb of the Sun,
under the sign Taurus. If Saturn offend the throat... this is your

  [43] Parkinson.

MALLOW (_Malva_).

  With many a curve my banks I fret,
    By many a field and fallow
  And many a fair by foreland set,
    With willow, weed and mallow.

  _The Brook._--TENNYSON.

  The spring is at the door,
    She bears a golden store,
  Her maund with yellow daffodils runneth o’er.

         *       *       *       *       *

  After her footsteps follow
    The mullein and the mallow,
  She scatters golden powder on the sallow.

  _Spring Song._--N. HOPPER.

Parkinson praises mallows both for beauty and virtue. “The double ones,
which for their Bravery are entertained everywhere into every
Countrywoman’s garden. The Venice Mallow is called Good-night-at-noone,
though the flowers close so quickly that you shall hardly see a flower
blowne up in the day-time after 9 A.M.” Some medical advice follows, in
which “All sorts of Mallowes” are praised. “Those that are of most use
are most common. The rest are but _taken upon credit_.” The last remark
comes quite casually, and apparently those that were “but taken upon
credit,” would be comprehended in the “all sorts” and administered
without hesitation. French Mallows (_Malva crispa_) is most highly
recommended as an excellent pot-herb! indeed all wild mallows may be
used in that capacity, and the Romans are said to have considered them a

Marsh Mallow (_Althæa officinalis_) has very soothing qualities, and
was, and is, much used by country people for inflammation outwardly and
inwardly. It contains a great deal of mucilage, in the root
particularly. Timbs says: “Dr Sir John Floyer mentions a posset (hot
milk curdled by some infusion) in which althœa roots are boiled”; and it
must have been a “comforting” one. In France, the young tops and leaves
are used in spring salads. “Many of the poorer inhabitants of Syria,
especially the Fellahs, the Greeks, and the Armenians, subsist for weeks
on herbs, of which the Marsh Mallow is one of the most common. When
boiled first, and then fried with onions and butter, they are said to
form a palatable dish, and in times of scarcity, consequent upon the
failure of the crops, all classes may be seen striving with eagerness to
obtain the much desired plant, which fortunately grows in great
abundance.”[44] In Job xxx. 3, 4 we read: “For want and famine they were
solitary, fleeing into the wilderness in former time desolate and waste.
Who cut up mallows by the bushes.” Smith’s “Dictionary of the Bible,”
however, casts doubt on this mallow being a mallow at all, and though
admitting that it would be quite possible, decides that the evidence
points most clearly to _Atriplex Halimus_.

Gerarde says the Tree Mallow “approacheth nearer the substance and
nature of wood than any of the others; wherewith the people of Olbia and
Narbone in France doe make hedges, to sever or divide their gardens and
vineyards which continueth long;” and these hedges must have been a
beautiful sight when in flower.

The Hollyhock, of course, belongs to this tribe, and was once
apparently eaten as a pot-herb, and found to be an inferior one. It has
been put to other uses, for Hogg says that the stalks contain a fibre,
“from which a good strong cloth has been manufactured, and in the year
1821 about 280 acres of land near Flint in Wales were planted with the
Common Holyhock, with the view of converting the fibre to the same uses
as hemp or flax.” It was also discovered in the process of manufacture,
that the plant “yields a blue dye, equal in beauty and permanence to
that of the best indigo.” This experiment however successful in results,
cannot have been justified from a commercial point of view, and was not
often repeated, and there is now no trace of its having been ever tried.

In other languages, the Hollyhock has very pretty names; “in low Dutch,
it was called _Winter Rosen_, and in French, _Rose d’outremer_.”

  [44] Hogg.

MARIGOLD (_Calendula Officinalis_).

  Hark! hark! the lark at heaven’s gate sings
  And Phœbus ’gins to rise,
  His steeds to water at those springs
  On chalic’d flowers that lies;
  And winking Mary-buds begin
  To ope their golden eyes.

  _Cymbeline_, ii. 3.

  The marigold that goes to bed wi’ the sun,
  And with him rises weeping.

  _Winter’s Tale_, iv. 3.

  The purple Violets and Marigolds
  Shall, as a carpet, hang upon thy grave
  While summer days do last.

  _Pericles_, iv. 1.

  Marigolds on death-beds blowing.

  _Two Noble Kinsmen._ Introd. Song.

  The Marigold observes the sun,
  More than my subjects me have done.
  So shuts the marigold her leaves
  At the departure of the sun;
  So from the honeysuckle sheaves
  The bee goes when the day is done.

  _Br. Pastorals_, book iii.

  But, maiden, see the day is waxen old,
  And ’gins to shut in with the marigold.

  _Br. Pastorals_, book i.

  Open afresh your round of starry folds
    Ye ardent marigolds!
  Dry up the moisture from your golden lids
    For great Apollo bids
    That in these days your praises should be sung.
                    I stood tiptoe, etc.--KEATS.

  The marigold above, t’ adorn the arched bar,
  The double daisy, thrift, the button batchelor,
  Sweet William, sops-in-wine, the campion.

  _Polyolbion_, Song xv.

  The crimson darnel flower, the blue bottle and _gold_.
  Which though esteemed but weeds, yet for their dainty hues
  And for their scent not ill, they for this purpose choose.


  The yellow kingcup Flora then assigned.
    To be the badges of a jealous mind,
      The orange-tawny marigold.

  _Br. Pastorals._

The Marigold has enjoyed great and lasting popularity, and though the
flower does not charm by its loveliness, the indomitable courage, with
which, after even a sharp frost, it lifts up its hanging head, and shows
a cheerful countenance, leads one to feel for it affection and respect.
In the end of January (1903) here in Devon there were some flowers and
opening buds, though ten days before the ice bore for skating. The Latin
name refers to its reputed habit of blossoming on the first days of
every month in the year, and in a fairly mild winter this is no
exaggeration. Marigolds are dedicated to the Virgin, but this fact is
not supposed to have had anything to do with the giving of their name,
which had probably been bestowed on them before the Festivals in her
honour were kept in England, “Though doubtless,” says Mr Friend, “the
name of Mary had much to do with the alterations in the name of
Marigold, which may be noticed in its history.” There is an idea that
they were appropriated to her because they were in flower at all of her
Festivals; but on this notion other authorities throw doubt. In ancient
days Marigolds were often called Golds, or Goules, or Ruddes; in
Provence, a name for them was “_Gauche-fer_[45] (left-hand iron)
probably from its brilliant disc, suggestive of a shield worn on the
left arm.” Chaucer describes Jealousy as wearing this flower: “Jealousy
that werede of yelwe guides a garland”; and Browne calls the
“orange-tawny marigold” its badge.

There was a very strong belief that the flowers followed the sun, and
many allusions are made to this; amongst them, two melancholy lines
which are said to have been drawn from some “Meditations” by Charles I.,
written at Carisbrooke Castle.

  “The marigold observes the sun,
  More than my subjects me have done.”

Shakespeare refers often to this idea, and the flower was obviously “to
earlier writers the emblem of constancy in affection and sympathy in joy
and sorrow, though it was also the emblem of the fawning courtier who
could only shine when everything is bright.” (Canon Ellacombe).
Marigolds have figured in heraldry, for Marguerite of Valois,
grandmother of Henri IV., chose for her armorial device a marigold
turning towards the sun, with the motto, _Je ne veux suivre que lui
seul_. About the fifteenth century the Marigold was called _Souvenir_,
and ladies wore posies of marigolds and heartsease mingled, that is, a
bunch of “happiness stored in recollections,” a very pretty allegorical
meaning. But it has been the symbol of memories anything but happy, for
curiously enough, this sun’s flower means Grief in the language of
flowers, and in many countries is connected with the idea of death. This
thought occurs in Pericles and in the song in “Two noble Kinsmen.” In
America, one name for them is death-flowers, because there is a
tradition that they “sprang upon ground stained by the life-blood of
these unfortunate Mexicans who fell victims to the love of gold and
arrogant cruelty of the early Spanish settlers in America.”[46] However,
to restore the balance of happiness, one learns that to dream of
Marigolds augurs wealth, prosperity, success, and a rich and happy
marriage! In Fuller’s “Antheologia, or the Speech of Flowers”--a most
amusing tale--the Marigold occupies a prominent place. The scene opens
with a dispute in the Flowers’ Parliament between the Tulip and the
Rose. “Whilst this was passing in the _Upper House of Flowers_, no less
were the transactions in the _Lower House_ of the _Herbs_; where there
was a general acclamation against _Wormwood_. Wormwood’s friends were
casually absent that day, making merry at an entertainment, her enemies
(let not that sex be angry for making Wormwood feminine) appeared in
full body and made so great a noise, as if some mouths had two tongues
in them.” Wormwood and the Tulip were eventually both cast out of the
garden, and lying by the roadside addressed themselves to a passing Wild
Boar, telling him of a hole in the hedge, by which he may creep into the
garden and revenge them, and amuse himself by destroying the flowers. At
the moment he enters, “Thrift, a Flower-Herb, was just courting Marigold
as follows: ‘Mistress of all Flowers that grow on Earth, give me leave
to profess my sincerest affections to you.... I have taken signal notice
of your accomplishments, and among other rare qualities, particularly
of this, your loyalty and faithfulness to the Sun, ... but we all know
the many and sovereign virtues in your leaves, the _Herb Generall_ in
all pottage.” He then proceeds to praise himself, “I am no gamester to
shake away with a quaking hand what a more fixed hand did gain and
acquire. I am none of those who in vanity of clothes bury my quick
estate as in a winding sheet.” The Marigold demurely hung her head and
replied, “I am tempted to have a good opinion of myself, to which all
people are prone, and we women most of all, if we may believe your
opinions of us, which herein I am afraid are too true.” But she is not
deceived by his flattery. “The plain truth is you love me not for
myself, but for your advantage. It is _Golden_ the arrear of my _name_,
which maketh _Thrift_ to be my suitor. How often and how unworthily have
you tendered your affections even to a _Penny royal_ itself, had she not
scorned to be courted by you. But I commend the girl that she knew her
own worth, though it was but a _penny_, yet it is a _Royal_ one, and
therefore not a match for every base _Suitor_, but knew how to value
herself; and give me leave to tell you that _Matches_ founded on
_Covetousness_ never succeed.” At this point in her spirited reply the
Boar approached. “There is no such teacher as extremity; necessity hath
found out more Arts than ever ingenuity invented. The Wall Gillyflower
ran up to the top of the Wall of the Garden, where it hath grown ever
since, and will never descend till it hath good security for its own
safety.” Other thrilling scenes follow, and finally the Boar is put an
end to by the gardener and “a _Guard_ of Dogs.”

Marigolds stood as a standard of comparison, and Isaac Walton uses the
common saying, “As yellow as a Marigold.” Among the various titles of
different kinds of Marigold Gerarde gives the oddest, for he calls one
variety Jackanapes-on-horseback; Fuller calls it the “Herb-Generall of
all pottage,” and it was much esteemed in this capacity. Gay says:

  Fair is the gillyflour, for gardens sweet,
  Fair is the marigold, for pottage meet.

  _The Squabble._

“The yellow leaves of the flowers are dried and kept throughout
Dutchland against winter, to put into broths, in physical potions, and
for divers other purposes in such quantity that in some Grocers or Spice
Sellers houses are to be found barrels filled with them and retailed by
the penny more or less, insomuch that no broths are well made without
Marigolds.” One is reminded of the childish heroine in Miss Edgeworth’s
charming story “Simple Susan” and how she added the petals of Marigolds,
as the last touch, to the broth she had made for her invalid mother!
Parkinson observes that the flowers “green or dryed are often used in
possets, broths and drinks as a comforter to the heart and spirits,” and
that Syrup and Conserve are made of the fresh flowers; also “the flowers
of Marigold pickt clean from the heads and pickled up against winter
make an excellent Sallet when no flowers are to be had in a garden,
which Sallet is nowadays in the highest esteem with Gentles and Ladies
of the greatest note.” There is a tone of patronage in this last remark
which is rather irritating. “Some used to make their heyre yellow with
the floure of this herbe,” says Turner, and severely censures the
impiousness of such an act. A hundred years ago, according to
Abercromby, the flowers were chiefly used to flavour broth and to
adulterate Saffron, but they must be even less employed now than then.

Dr Fernie says that the flowers of Marigold were much used by American
surgeons during the Civil War, in treating wounds, and with admirable
results. “_Calendula_ owes its introduction and first use altogether to
homœopathic practice, as signally valuable for healing wounds, ulcers,
burns, and other breaches of the skin surface.” Personal experience
leads me to suggest that it is an excellent household remedy.

THE CORN MARIGOLD (_Chrysanthemum segetum_) used to be called Guildes,
and it was once so rampant that a law was passed by the Scottish
Parliament to fine negligent farmers who allowed it to overrun their
lands. Hence the old Scots saying--

  The Gordon, the Guild, and the Watercraw
  Are the three worst ills the Moray ever saw.

  [45] Ingram, “Flora Symbolica.”

  [46] Folkard.

PENNYROYAL (_Mentha pulegium_).

  Peniriall is to print your love,
    So deep within my heart,
  That when you look this nosegay on
    My pain you may impart,
  And when that you have read the same,
    Consider wel my woe.
  Think ye then how to recompense
    Even him that loves you so.
  A Handful of Pleasant Delites.


  Then balm and mint helps to make up
    My chapter, and for trial,
  Costmary, that so likes the cup,
    And next it, pennyroyal.

  _Muses’ Elysium._

  Lavender, Corn-rose, Pennyroyal sate,
  And that which cats[47] esteem so delicate
  After a while slow-pac’d with much ado,
  Ground pine, with her short legs, crept hither too.

  _Of Plants_, book ii.--COWLEY.

In France, Italy, and Spain, the children make a _crêche de noël_ at
Christmas time; that is, they make a shed with stones and moss, and
surround it with evergreens powdered with flour and cotton-wool, to make
a little landscape. In and about this shed are placed the _gens de la
crêche_; little earthen figures representing the Holy Family, and the
Three Kings with their camels, and the Shepherds with their flocks, the
sheep being disposed among the miniature rocks and bushes. On Christmas
eve, or else sometimes on Twelfth Night, I think, these are saluted with
the music of pipes and carol singing. De Gubernatis says that the
children of Sicily always put pennyroyal amongst the green things in
their _crêches_, and believe that exactly at midnight it bursts into
flower for Christmas Day.

Other names for it are Pulioll Royal and Pudding-grasse, “and in the
west parts, as about _Exeter_, Organs.” It is still called organs in the
“West parts,” and organ-tea used to be a favourite drink to take out to
the harvesters. In Italy pennyroyal is a protection against the Evil
Eye, and in Sicily, they tie it to the branches of the fig-tree,
thinking that this will prevent the figs falling before they are ripe.
It is there also offered to husbands and wives who are in the habit of
“falling out” with each other. “The Ancients said that it causeth Sheepe
and Goates to bleate when they are eating of it.” To produce all those
wonderful effects, it must have a great deal of magic about it. Gerarde
says it grows “in the Common neare London, called Miles End, about the
holes and ponds thereof in sundry places, from whence poore women bring
plentie to sell in London markets.” Would that it could be found at
“Miles End” now! He gives in passing a sidelight on the comfort in
travelling, in the good old days: “If you have when you are at the sea
Penny Royal in great quantitie, drie and cast it into corrupt water, it
helpeth it much, neither will it hurt them that drinke thereof.” This
inevitable state of things, in making a voyage, is faced with
philosophic calm. “A Garland of Pennie Royal made and worne on the head
is good against headache and giddiness.”

  [47] Cat-mint.

PURSLANE (_Portulaca_).

  The worts, the purslane and the mess
  Of water-cress.


De la Quintinye thought Purslane “one of the prettiest _plants_ in a
_kitchen-garden_, the _red_ or _golden_ being the most agreeable to the
eye and the more delicate and difficult to raise than the green. The
thick stalks of Purslain that is to run to seed, are good to pickle in
Salt and Vinegar for Winter Sallads.” I do not agree with him; the
leaves are pretty enough, but thick, fleshy, and of no special charm.
The graceful Coriander or the lace-like leaves of Sweet Cicely are far
more to be admired. But even Purslane, which looks quite prosaic, was
mixed up with magic long ago, for strewn about a bed, it used[48] “in
olden times to be considered a protection against evil spirits.” Among a
vast number of diseases, for all of which it is highly recommended,
“blastings by lightening, or planets, and for burning of gunpowder” are
named and Turner says, “It helpeth the teeth when they are an edged,” so
it had many uses!

Evelyn finds that “familiarly eaten alone with Oyl and Vinegar,”
moderation should be used, but remarks that it is eminently moist and
cooling “especially the golden,” and is “generally entertained in all
our sallets. Some eate of it cold, after it has been boiled, which Dr
Muffit would have in wine for nourishment.” Not a tempting dish, by the
sound of it! The Purslanes are found from the Cape of Good Hope and
South America to the “frozen regions of the North.” The root of one
variety _Leuisia redeviva_, called Tobacco root (because it has the
smell of tobacco when cooked), has great nutritive qualities. It is a
native of North America, and is boiled and eaten by the Indians, and on
long journeys it is of special use, “two or three ounces a day being
quite sufficient for a man, even while undergoing great fatigue.”

  [48] Folkard.

RAM-CICHES (_Cicer Arietinum_).

Ram-ciches, Ramshead, or Chick Pea, gains the two first names from the
curious shape of the seed pods which are “puffed up as it were with
winde in which do lie two, or at the most three seeds, small towards the
end, with one sharp corner, not much unlike to a Ram’s head.” Turner
says that the plant is very ill for newe fallowed ground and that “it
killeth all herbes and most and sounest of all other ground thistel,”
which seems a loss one could survive. According to Parkinson the seeds
are “boyled and stewed as the most dainty kind of Pease there are, by
the Spaniards,” and he adds that in his own opinion, “they are of a very
good relish and doe nourish much.” They are still eaten and appreciated
by the country people in the south of France and Spain. Like Borage,
Ram-ciches is particularly interesting to students of chemistry; for it
is said that “in very hot weather the leaves sparkle with very small
tears of a viscous and very limpid liquid, extremely acid, and which has
been discovered to be oxalic acid in its pure state.”[49]

  [49] Hogg.

RAMPION (_Campanula Rapunculus_).

  The Citrons, which our soil not easily doth afford,
    The Rampions rare as that.

  _Polyolbion Song_, xv.

De Gubernatis tells a most curious story from Calabria almost exactly
that of Cupid and Psyche, but it begins by saying that the maiden,
wandering alone in the fields, uprooted a rampion, and so discovered a
stair-case leading to a palace in the depths of the earth.

One of Grimm’s fairy tales is called after the heroine, _Rapunzel_
(Rampion), for she was given this plant’s name, and the whole plot hangs
on Rampions being stolen from a magician’s garden. There is an Italian
tradition that the possession of a rampion (as that of strawberries,
cherries, or red shoes), would excite quarrels among children, which
would sometimes go as far as “murder.” Even in a land of quick passions
and southern blood, it can hardly be thought that this tradition had
much ground to spring from, and I have not heard of it as existing
further north. Parkinson says that the roots may be eaten as salad or
“boyled and stewed with butter and oyle, and some blacke or long pepper
cast on them.” The distilled water of the whole plant is excellent for
the complexion, and “maketh the face very splendent.” Evelyn thought
Rampions “much more nourishing” than Radishes, and they are said to have
a “pleasant, nutty flavour”; in the winter the leaves as well as the
roots make a nice salad. Even if it is not grown for use, it might well,
with its graceful spires of purple bells, be put for ornament in
shrubberies. Parkinson has said of Honesty, that “some eate the young
rootes before they runne up to flower, as Rampions are eaten with
vinegar and oyle”; but Evelyn warns us _apropos_ of this very plant
(with others) how cautiously the advice of the Ancient Authors should be
taken by the sallet gatherer (Parkinson was probably quoting from the
“Ancients” when he said this); “for however it may have been in their
countries, in England _Radix Lunaria_ is accounted among the deadly
poisons!” One cannot help wondering if Parkinson or Gerarde ever knew
those hardy individuals they allude to as “some,” and who tried the

ROCAMBOLE (_Allium Scorodoprasum_).

Rocambole is a kind of garlic, but milder in flavour, and it is a native
of Denmark. De la Quintinye seems to confuse it with Shallots (_Allium
ascalonium_), as he writes of “Shallots or Rocamboles, otherwise Spanish
Garlick.” Evelyn, speaking of Garlic as impossible--one cannot help
feeling with a smothered wistfulness--says: “To be sure, ’tis not fit
for Ladies’ Palates, nor those who court them, farther than to permit a
light touch in the Dish, with a _Clove_ thereof, much better supplied by
the gentler _Rocambole_.”

ROCKET (_Eruca sativa_).

Various plants claim the name of Rocket, but it was _Eruca sativa_ that
was used as a salad herb. Parkinson explains the Italian name _Ruchetta_
and _Rucola Gentile_ thus: “This Rocket Gentle, so-called from the
_Italians_, who by that title of Gentle understand anything that maketh
one quicke and ready to jest, to play.” It is certainly not specially
gentle in the ordinary sense of the words, for it has leaves “like those
of Turneps, but not neere so great nor rough”; and if eaten alone, “it
causeth head-ache and heateth too much.” It is, however, good in Salads
of Lettuce, Purslane, “and such cold herbes,” and Turner observes that
“some use the sede for sauce, the whiche that it may last the longer,
they knede it with milke or vinegre, and make it into little cakes.” It
has a strong peculiar smell, and is no longer used in England; though
Loudon says that in some places on the Continent it makes “an agreeable
addition to cresses and mustard in early spring.” Culpepper found that
the common wild Rocket was hurtful used alone, as it has too much heat,
but to “hot and choleric persons it is less harmful” (one would have
imagined that it would have been the other way) and “for such we may
say, a little doth but a little harm, for angry Mars rules them, and he
sometimes will be rusty when he meets with fools.” This is altogether a
dark saying, but it gives little encouragement to those who would make
trial of Rocket.

LONDON ROCKET (_Sisymbrium Irio_).

This plant gained its name in a singular way. It is said to have first
appeared in London in the spring following the Great Fire, “when young
Rockets were seen everywhere springing up among the ruins, where they
increased so marvellously that in the summer the enormous crop crowding
over the surface of London created the greatest astonishment and

  [50] Folkard.

SAFFRON (_Crocus sativus_).

  Nor Cyprus wild vine-flowers, nor that of Rhodes,
  Nor Roses oil from Naples, Capua,
    Saffron confected in Cilicia.
  Nor that of Quinces, nor of Marjoram,
    That ever from the Isle of Coös came,
    Nor these, nor any else, though ne’er so rare
  Could with this place for sweetest smells compare.

  _Br. Pastorals_, Book I.

  _Clown._ I must have Saffron to colour the Warden pies.

  _Winter’s Tale_, iv. 2.

  You set Saffron and there came up Wolf’s bane. (Saying to express an
  action which has an unexpected result.)

Saffron has been of great importance since the earliest days, and it is
mentioned in a beautiful passage of the Song of Solomon. “Thy plants are
an orchard of Pomegranates, with pleasant fruits, Camphire with
Spikenard, Spikenard and Saffron, Calamus and Cinnamon, with all trees
of Frankincense, Myrrh and Aloes, with all the chief spices,” iv. 13,

Canon Ellacombe says that the Arabic name, _Al Zahafaran_ was the
general name for all _Croci_, and extended to the _Colchicums_, which
were called Meadow Saffrons. It is pointed out by Mr Friend that,
further, the flower has given its name to a colour, and had given it in
the days of Homer, and he remarks how much more exactly the expression
“Saffron-robed” morning describes the particular tints seen sometimes
before sunrise (or at sunset) than any other words can do. Saffron
Walden in Essex, whose arms are given on page 101, and Saffron Hill in
London (which once formed part of the Bishop of Ely’s garden), are also
obviously named after it, and as is seen in the former case it has given
arms to a borough. As to its introduction into England Hakluyt writes
(1582): “It is reported at Saffron Walden that a pilgrim proposing to do
good to his country, stole a head of Saffron, and hid the same in his
Palmer’s Staffe, which he had made hollow before of purpose, and so he
brought the root into this realme with venture of his life, for if he
had been taken, by the law of the countrey from whence it came, he had
died for the fact” (“English Voyages,” vol. ii.). Canon Ellacombe thinks
that it was probably originally brought here in the days of the Romans,
and found “in a Pictorial Vocabulary of the fourteenth century, ‘Hic
Crocus, An^{ee} Safryn,’ so that I think the plant must have been in
cultivation in England at that time.” In the work of “Mayster Ion
Gardener,” written about 1440, one of the eight parts into which it is
divided is wholly devoted to a discourse, “Of the Kynde of Saferowne,”
which shows that Saffron must have been a good deal considered in his
day. The Charity Commission of 1481 mentions two Saffron-gardens; and in
the churchwarden’s accounts at Saffron Walden, in the second year of
Richard III.’s reign, there is an entry, “Payd to John Rede for pyking
of V unc Saffroni, xii.” The town accounts of Cambridge show that in
1531 Saffron was grown there; and at Barnwell in the next parish the
prior of Barnwell had ten acres.

Some old wills, too, throw some light on the subject. In the will of
Alyce Sheyne of Sawstone, in 1527, “a rood of Saffron” is left to her
son. In 1530 (1533?) John Rede, also of Sawstone, leaves his godson a
“rood of Saffron in Church Field,” and William Hockison of Sawstone,
bequeathed in 1531, “to Joan, my wife, a rood of Saffron, and to my
maid, Marger, and my son, John, half an acre.” As may be easily inferred
from these legacies, Saffron was very largely grown at Sawstone, and the
two adjoining parishes, as well as at Saffron Walden. The first man to
introduce it into Saffron Walden to be cultivated on a really large
scale was Thomas Smith, Secretary of State to Edward VI., and in 1565,
it was grown in abundance. In 1557 Turner speaks of Saffron-growing, as
if this was very general, but it must be remembered that he started life
in Essex, farmed successively in Suffolk and Norfolk, and returned to
his native county to a farm at Fairstead, and having never moved very
far from the special home of the industry, he naturally took as an
ordinary proceeding, what would have been very unusual in other parts of
the country. It can never have been very widely cultivated; for Turner,
whose “Herbal” gives an immense deal of information, and who wrote when
the industry was in full swing, omits all mention of Saffron, though he
speaks of, and evidently knew Meadow Saffron.

This is a strong sign that cultivation must have been confined to
certain localities, chiefly in the eastern counties, though in the west
it was grown at Hereford and surrounding districts to a very
considerable extent. I do not mean to imply that none was grown in
neighbouring counties, but the evidence is not easy to get, and I have
not gone deeply enough into the subject to find it, but the Saffron of
Hereford was famed.

At Black Marston in Herefordshire, in 1506 and again in 1528, leave was
granted by the Prioress of Acornbury, to persons to cultivate Saffron

In 1582, in spite of a continued demand for it, the cultivation of
Saffron seems to have decreased, for Hakluyt writes in his “Remembrances
for Master S.” [what to observe in a journey he is about to undertake].
“Saffron groweth in Syria.... But if a vent might be found, men would in
Essex (about Saffron Walden) and in Cambridgeshire, revive the trade for
the benefit of setting the poore on worke. So would they do in
Herefordshire by Wales, where the best of all Englande is, in which
place the soil yields the wilde “Saffron” commonly.” The soil there
still yields the wilde Saffron so commonly that at the present moment it
is regarded with disfavour, as being quite a drawback to some pasture
lands, but it is no longer grown there for commercial purposes. Neither
Gerarde (1596) nor Parkinson (1640) mention Saffron-growing as an
industry, but in 1681 “I. W.” gives directions for cultivating and
drying it. “English Saffron,” he says, “is esteemed the best in the
world; it’s a plant very suitable to our climate and soil.” At Saffron
Walden it continued to be grown for commerce for over two hundred years,
but has now been uncultivated in that locality for more than a century.
In Cambridgeshire, however, it flourished to a later date, and the last
Saffron grower in England was a man named Knot, who lived at Duxford in
Cambridgeshire, and who grew Saffron till the year 1816.

This is Turner’s advice for cultivating it.

  When harvest is gone,
  Then Saffron comes on.
  A little of ground,
  Brings Saffron a pound.

  The pleasure is fine,
  The profit is thine.
  Keep colour in drying,
  Well used, worth buying.

And also:--

  Pare Suffron between the two St Mary’s days[51]
  Or set or go shift it, that knoweth the ways...
  In having but forty foot, workmanly dight
  Take Saffron enough for a lord or a knight.

  _August’s Husbandry._

From old records it seems to have been grown in small patches of less
than an acre, and to have been a most profitable crop. “I. W.,” in his
directions says, for drying it, “a small kiln made of clay, and with a
very little Fire, and that with careful attendance,” is required. “Three
Pounds thereof moist usually making one of dry. One acre may bear from
seven to fifteen Pound, and hath been sold from 20s. a Pound to £5 a
Pound.” The last price sounds as if it existed only in his imagination,
and one cannot really think that it was given often! But on one
occasion, Timbs says, an even higher sum was reached, for when Queen
Elizabeth paid a visit to Saffron Walden, the Corporation paid five
guineas for one pound of Saffron to present to her. Though this was
exceptional, the usual prices for it were very high; and to show this,
and also the enormous amount that was used in cooking, Miss Amherst
quotes from some old accounts of the Monastery of Durham: “In 1531, half
a pound of ‘Crocus’ or Saffron was bought in July, the same quantity in
August and in November, a quarter of a pound in September, and a pound
and a half in October.” So much for the quantity; as to the price, a
merchant of Cambridgeshire charged them in 1539-1540 for 6½ lbs. Crocus,
£7, 8s.

Saffron used to be much employed to colour and to flavour pies and
cakes, and it was this reason that Perdita sent the “Clown” to fetch
some, when she was making “Warden” (Pear) pies for the sheep-shearing.
Saffron cakes still prevail in Cornwall, and come over the border into
the next county, and a chemist, in Somerset, said quite lately, that
thirty years since, he used to sell quantities of Saffron at
Easter-time, but that much less is asked for now. It seems to have been
specially used in the materials for feasting at this season. Evelyn
tells us that the Germans made it into “little balls with honey, which
afterwards they dry and reduce to powder, and then sprinkle over salads”
for a “noble cordial.” For medicinal purposes Saffron is imported, for
in spite of “I. W.’s” praise, that grown in England is far from
equalling that of Greece and Asia Minor, though in any case it is only
now used as a colouring matter. The saying which survives, “So dear as
Saffron,” to express anything of worth, is a proof of how great its
value once was; and it is true that the plant was credited with powers
nothing short of miraculous. Perhaps Fuller tells us the most startling
news: “In a word, the Sovereign Power of genuine _Saffron_ is plainly
proved by the Antipathy of the _Crocodiles_ thereunto. For the
_Crocodile’s tears_ are never _true_ save when he is forced where
_Saffron_ groweth (whence he hath his name of γξοκό-ςτπλθ or the
Saffron-fearer) knowing himselfe to be all Poison, and it all

After this, Gerarde’s assertion that for those whom consumption has
brought “at death’s doore, and almost past breathing, that it bringeth
breath againe,” sounds moderate. On the doctrine of Signatures, Saffron
was prescribed for jaundice and measles, and it is also recommended to
be put into the drinking water of canaries when they are moulting. Irish
women are said to dye their sheets with Saffron, that it may give
strength to their limbs. Saffron has long been much esteemed as a dye,
and Ben Jonson tells us of this use for it in his days in lines that
literally rollick:--

  Give us bacon, rinds of walnuts,
  Shells of cockles and of small nuts,
  Ribands, bells, and saffron’d linen,
  All the world is ours to win in.

  _The Gipsies Metamorphosed._

Gerarde says: “The chives (stamens) steeped in water serve to illumine
or (as we say) limme pictures and imagerie,” and Canon Ellacombe quotes
from an eleventh century work, showing that it was employed for the same
purpose then. “If ye wish to decorate your work in some manner, take
tin, pure and finely scraped, melt it and wash it like gold, and apply
it with the same glue upon letters or other places which you wish to
ornament with gold or silver; and when you have polished it with a
tooth, take Saffron with which Silk is coloured, moistening it with
clear of egg without water; and when it has stood a night, on the
following day, cover with a pencil the places which you wish to gild,
the rest holding the place of silver.”--_Theophilus_, HENDRIE’S

Meadow-Saffron, or _Colchicum_, yields a drug still much prescribed, of
which Turner uttered a caution in 1568. He says it is a drug to
“isschew.” He warns those “syke in the goute” (for whom it was, and is,
a standard remedy) that much of it is “sterke poyson, and will strongell
a man and kill him in the space of one day.” Drugs must, indeed, have
been administered in heroic measures at that time--if he really ever
heard of such a case at first hand. It is from the corm, or bulb, of the
plant that _Colchicum_ is extracted.

  [51] July 22nd and August 15th.


SAMPHIRE (_Crithium maritimum_).

  _Edgar._ Half way down
  Hangs one that gathers Samphire, dreadful trade!
  Methinks he seems no bigger than his head.

  _King Lear_, iv. 6.

Samphire is St Peter’s Herb, and gains the distinction either because
it grows on sea-cliffs, and so is appropriate to the patron of
fishermen, or more probably, because it flourishes on rocks, and its
roots strike deep into the crevices. The French call it _Herbe de St
Pierre_ and _Pierce-Pierre_, from its peculiar way of growing; and the
Italians have the same name, but call it _Finocchio marino_ as well; and
this title, translated to Meer-finckell, was also the German and Dutch
name, according to Parkinson. It is strongly aromatic, “being of smell
delightfule and pleasant, and hath many fat and thicke leaves, somewhat
like those of the lesser Purslane... of a spicie taste, with a certaine
saltness.” Gerarde praises it pickled in salads. Edgar’s words show that
it must have been popular in Elizabethan days, and so it was for more
than a hundred years after as “the pleasantest Sauce”; and Evelyn
considered it preferable to “most of our hotter herbs,” and “long
wonder’d it has not long since been cultivated in the _Potagère_ as it
is in France. It groweth on the rocks that are often moistened, at the
least, if not overflowed with the sea water,” a verdict which tallies
with the saying that Samphire grows out of reach of the waves, but
within reach of the spray of every tide. I have found it growing in much
that position on rocks on the seashore in Cornwall. Two other kinds of
Samphire, Golden Samphire (_Inula Crithmifolia_) and Marsh Samphire
(_Salicornia Herbacea_), are sometimes sold as the true Samphire, but
neither of them have so good a flavour.

SKIRRETS (_Sium Sisarum_).

  The Skirret and the leek’s aspiring kind,
  The noxious poppy-quencher of the mind.

  _The Salad._--COWPER.

“This is that siser or skirret which _Tiberius_ the Emperour commanded
to be conveied unto him from Gelduba, a castle about the river of
Rhine,” and which delighted him so much “that he desired the same to be
brought unto him everye yeare out of Germanie.” Evelyn found them “hot
and moist... exceedingly wholesome, nourishing and delicate... and so
valued by the Emperor Tiberius that he accepted them for tribute”--a
point that Gerarde’s statement hardly brought out. “This excellent root
is seldom eaten raw, but being boil’d, stew’d, roasted under the Embers,
bak’d in Pies whole, slic’d or in Pulp, is very acceptable to all
Palates. ’Tis reported they were heretofore something bitter, see what
culture and education effects.” On the top of these congratulations,
perhaps it is unkind to say the reported bitterness has a very mythical
sound, for long before Evelyn’s time, the Dutch name for skirret was
Suycker wortelen (sugar root), and that Marcgrave has extracted “fine
white sugar, little inferior to that of the cane” from it. But from
Turner’s account there seems to have been formerly some confusion as to
the identity of the plant, and one claimant to the title was somewhat
bitter, so perhaps this was the cause of the remarks in _Acetaria_. In
Scotland, Skirrets were called Crummock. Though few people seem to have
appreciated them so much as did our ancestors, they were till lately
sometimes boiled and sent to the table, but are now hardly ever seen.

SMALLAGE (_Apium graveolens_).

Smallage is merely wild celery, and all that is interesting about it is
Parkinson’s description of his first making acquaintance with sweet
smallage--our celery, which has been already quoted. He merely says of
ordinary smallage that it is “somewhat like Parsley, but greater,
greener and more bitter.” It grows wild in moist grounds, but is also
planted in gardens, and although “his evil taste and savour, doth cause
it not to be accepted unto meats as Parsley,” yet it has “many good
properties both for inward and outward diseases.”

STONECROP (_Sedum_).

Stone-crop, Stone-hot, Prick-Madam or Trick-Madam is a _Sedum_, but
which _Sedum_ the old Herbalists called by these names is not absolutely
clear, it was probably _Sedum Telephium_ or _Sedum Album_. Evelyn speaks
of “Tripe-Madam, _Vermicularis Insipida_,” which seems to point to the
latter, as that used to be called Worm-grass. He says Tripe-madam is
“cooling and moist,” but there is another Stone-crop of as pernicious
qualities as the former are laudable, Wall-pepper, _Sedum Minus
Causticum_ (most likely our _Sedum Acre_). This is called by the French,
Tricque-Madame, and he cautions the “Sallet-Composer, if he be not
botanist sufficiently skilful” to distinguish them by the eye, to
“consult his palate,” and taste them before adding them to the other

SWEET CICELY (_Myrrhis odorata_).

Sweet Cicely or Sweet Chervil was apparently less of a favourite than
its romantic name would seem to warrant, for I can find no traditions
concerning it. “Chervil” (of which this is a variety) says Gerarde, “is
thought to be so called because it delighteth to grow with many leaves,
or rather that it causeth joy and gladness.” There does not seem much
connection between these two interpretations. He continues that “the
name _Myrrhus_ is also called Myrrha, taken from his pleasant flavour of
Myrrh.” Sweet Cicely has a very pleasant flavour, with this peculiarity,
that the leaves taste exactly as if sugar had just been powdered over
them, but personally I have never been able to recognise myrrh in it.
It is a pretty plant, with “divers great and fair spread wing leaves,
very like and resembling the leaves of Hemlocke... but of sweet pleasant
and spice-hot taste. Put among herbes in a sallet it addeth a marvellous
good rellish to all the rest. Some commend the green seeds sliced and
put in a sallet of herbes. The rootes are eyther boyled and eaten with
oyle and vinegare or preserved or candid.” Sweet Cicely is very
attractive to bees, and was often “rubbed over the insides of the hives
before placing them before newly-cast swarms to induce them to enter,”
and in the North of England Hogg says the seeds are used to polish and
scent oak floors and furniture.

TANSY (_Tanacetum vulgare_).

  _Lelipa_--Then burnet shall bear up with this
            Whose leaf I greatly fancy,
            Some camomile doth not amiss
            With savory and some tansy.

  _Muses’ Elysium._

  The hot muscado oil, with milder maudlin cast
  Strong tansey, fennel cool, they prodigally waste.

  _Polyolbion_, Song xv.

The name Tansy comes from _Athanasia_, Immortality, because its flower
lasts so long, and it is dedicated to St Athanasius. It is connected
with various interesting old customs, and especially with some observed
at Easter time. Brand quotes several old rhymes in reference to this.

  Soone at Easter cometh Alleluya.
  With butter, cheese and a tansay.

  From _Douce’s Collection of Carols_.

  On Easter Sunday be the pudding seen
  To which the Tansey lends her sober green.

  _The Oxford Sausage._

  Wherever any grassy turf is view’d,
  It seems a tansie all with sugar strew’d.

  From _Shipman’s Poems_.

The last lines occur in a description of the frost in 1654. None of
these quotations refer to the plant alone; but to that kind of cake or
fritter called taansie, and of which Tansy leaves formed an ingredient.
Tansy must be “eaten young, shred small with other herbes, or else, the
juiyce of it and other herbes, fit for the purpose beaten with egges and
fried into cakes (in Lent and in the Spring of the year) which are
usually called Tansies.” Though Parkinson speaks of their being eaten in
Lent (as they no doubt were), the special day that they were in demand
was Easter Day, and of this practice Culpepper has a good deal to say.
Tansies were then eaten as a remembrance of the bitter herbs eaten by
the Jews at the Passover. “Our Tansies at Easter have reference to the
bitter herbs, though at the same time ’twas always the fashion for a man
to have a gammon of bacon, to show himself to be no Jew.” This little
glimpse of an old practice comes from Selden’s _Table Talk_ and the idea
of taking this means to declare one’s self a Christian is really
delightful. I must quote again from Brand to show another very
extraordinary Easter Day custom. “Belithus, a ritualist of ancient
times, tells us that it was customary in some churches for the Bishops
and Archbishops themselves to play with the inferior clergy at
hand-ball, and this, as Durand asserts, even on Easter Day itself. Why
they should play at hand-ball at this time rather than any other game,
Bourne tells us he has not been able to discover; certain it is,
however, that the present custom of playing at that game on Easter
Holidays for a tansy-cake has been derived from thence.” Stool-ball was
apparently a most popular amusement and Lewis in his _English
Presbyterian Eloquence_ criticises the tenets of the Puritans, and
observes with disapproval that all games where there is “any hazard of
loss are strictly forbidden; not so much as a game of stool-ball for a
tansy is allowed.” From a collection of poems called “A Pleasant Grove
of New Fancies,” 1657, Brand extracts the following verses:--

  At stool-ball, Lucia, let us play
    For sugar, cakes and wine
  Or for a tansey let us pay,
    The loss be thine or mine.

  If thou, my dear, a winner be,
    At trundling of the ball,
  The wager thou shalt have and me,
    And my misfortunes all.

Let us hope that the stake was handsomer than it sounds! Brand quotes
another very curious practice in which Tansies have a share, once
existing in the North. On Easter Sunday, the young men of the village
would steal the buckles off the maidens’ shoes. On Easter Monday, the
young men’s shoes and buckles were taken off by the young women. On
Wednesday, they are redeemed by little pecuniary forfeits, out of which
an entertainment, called a Tansey Cake, is made, with dancing. One
cannot help wondering how this cheerful, if somewhat peculiar custom
originated! In course of time Tansies came to be eaten only about
Easter-time and the practice seems to have acquired at one period the
lustre almost of a religious rite in which superstition had a
considerable share. Coles (1656) and Culpepper (1652) rebel against this
and show with force and clearness the advantages of eating Tansies
throughout the spring. Coles ignores the ceremonial reasons and says
that the origin of eating it in the spring is because Tansy is very
wholesome after the salt fish consumed during Lent, and counteracts the
ill-effects which “the moist and cold constitution of winter” has made
on people... “though many understand it not and some simple people take
it for a matter of superstition to do so.” This shows plainly that the
idea of eating Tansies only at Easter, was pretty widely spread.
Culpepper as usual is more incisive. He first gives the same reason
that Coles does for eating Tansies in the spring; then: “At last the
world being over-run with Popery, a monster called superstition pecks up
his head, and... obscures the bright beams of knowledge by his dismal
looks; (physicians seeing the Pope and his imps, selfish, began to do so
too), and now, forsooth, Tansies must be eaten only on Palm and Easter
Sundays and their neighbour days. At last superstition being too hot to
hold, and the selfishness of physicians walking in the clouds; after the
friars and monks had made the people ignorant, the superstition of the
time, was found out by the virtue of the herb hidden and now is almost,
if not altogether left off. Scarcely any physicians are beholden to none
so much as they are to monks and friars; for wanting of eating this herb
in spring, maketh people sickly in summer, and that makes work for the
physician. If it be against any man or woman’s conscience to eat Tansey
in the spring, I am as unwilling to burthen their conscience, as I am
that they should burthen mine; they may boil it in wine and drink the
decoction, it will work the same effect.” “The Pope and his imps” is a
grand phrase! A more militant Protestant than Culpepper it would be
difficult to find, even in these days.

From other writers, it seems that the phase of associating Tansies
exclusively with Easter, must have worn itself out, for we find many
descriptions of them on distinctly secular occasions. At the Coronation
Feast of James II. and his Queen, a Tansie was served among the 1445
“Dishes of delicious Viands” provided for it, and I must quote some of
the others:--“Stag’s tongues, cold; Andolioes; Cyprus Birds, cold and
Asparagus; a pudding, hot; Salamagundy; 4 Fawns; 10 Oyster pyes, hot;
Artichokes; an Oglio, hot; Bacon, Gammon and Spinnage; 12 Stump Pyes; 8
Godwits; Morels; 24 Puffins; 4 dozen Almond Puddings, hot; Botargo;
Skirrets; Cabbage Pudding; Lemon Sallet; Taffeta Tarts; Razar Fish; and
Broom Buds, cold.”[52] These are only a very few out of an immense
variety that are also named.

Many recipes for a “Tansy” exist, and very often have only the slightest
resemblance to one another, but this is rather a nice one and is
declared by its transcriber to be “the most agreeable of all the boiled
Herbaceous Dishes.” It consists of: “Tansey, being qualify’d with the
juices of other fresh Herbs; _Spinach_, _green Corn_, _Violet_,
_Primrose Leaves_, etc., at entrance of the spring, and then fry’d
brownish, is eaten hot, with the Juice of Orange and Sugar.” Isaac
Walton speaks of a “Minnow Tansy,” which is made of Minnows “fried with
yolks of eggs; the flowers of cowslips and of primroses and a little
tansy; thus used they make a dainty dish of meat.” Our ancestors seem to
have had a great love of “batter,” for it is a prominent part in very
many of their dishes. Mrs Milne Home says, “In Virginia the Negroes make
Tansy-tea for colds and at a pinch, Mas’r’s cook will condescend to use
it in a sauce,” but in English cookery, it has absolutely disappeared.

Tansy had many medicinal virtues. Sussex people used to say that to wear
Tansy-leaves in the shoe, was a charm against ague.

Wild Tansy looks handsome when it grows in abundance on marshy ground;
and, indeed, its feathery leaves are beautiful anywhere, and it has a
more refreshing scent than the Garden-Tansy. “In some parts of Italy
people present stalks of Wild Tansy to those whom they mean to
insult,”[53] a proceeding for which there seems neither rhyme nor
reason. Turner tells tales of the vanity of his contemporaries,
masculine as well as feminine, for he says:

“Our weomen in Englande and some men that be sunneburnt and would be
fayre, eyther stepe this herbe in white wyne and wash their faces with
the wyne or ellis with the distilled water of the same.”

  [52] Complete Account of the Coronations of the Kings and Queens of
  England, J. Roberts.

  [53] Folkard.

THISTLE (_Carduus Marianus and Carduus Benedictus_).

  _Margaret._ Get you some of this distilled Carduus Benedictus, and lay
  it to your heart, it is the only thing for a qualm.

  _Hero._ There thou prick’st her with a thistle.

  _Beatrice._ Benedictus! why Benedictus? you have some moral in this

  _Margaret._ Moral! no, by my troth, I have no moral meaning; I meant
  plain holy thistle.

  _Much Ado about Nothing_, iii, 4.

  That thence, as from a garden without dressing
  She these should ever have, and never want.
  Store from an orchard without tree or plant...
  And for the chiefest cherisher she lent
  The royal thistle’s milky nourishment.

  _Br. Pastorals_, Book i.

The history, legends, and traditions surrounding Thistles in general,
make far too large a subject to be entered on here, and only these two
varieties can be considered. _Carduus Marianus_, the Milk or Dappled
Thistle, has sometimes been called the Scotch Thistle, and announced to
be the Thistle of Scotland. As a matter of fact, I believe, that after
long and stormy controversy, that honour has been awarded to _Carduus
Acanthioides_, but the Milk Thistle’s claims have received very strong
support, and so it seems most probable, considering the context, that
when Browne referred to the “Royal Thistle,” it was this one that he
meant. This supposition is borne out by Hogg, who writes: “As Ray says,
it is more a garden vegetable than a medicinal plant. The young and
tender stalks of the root leaves when stripped of their spiny part, are
eaten like cardoon, or when boiled, are used as greens. The young
stalks, peeled and soaked in water to extract their bitterness, are
excellent as a salad. The scales of the involucre are as good as those
of the artichoke, and the roots in early spring are good to eat.” The
seeds supply food to many small birds, and it is from the gold-finch
feeding so extensively on them that it has been called _Carduelis_. This
partiality of the gold-finch must have been observed in several lands,
for the same name occurs in different tongues. In England, it has been
called Thistlefinch; in French, _Chardonneret_, and in Italian,
_Cardeletto_, _Cardeto_ being a waste covered with thistles. One cannot
help remembering the charming line:--

                “As the thistle shakes,
  When three gray linnets wrangle for the seed,”

with the reflection that other birds besides gold-finches have a deep
appreciation of it.

But to go back to the Thistle itself, after all these uses made of every
part, no wonder that Browne called it a “chiefest cherisher of vital
power!” Although, latterly, its reputation in medicine has fallen, in
old days, on account of its numerous prickles (Doctrine of Signatures),
it was thought good for stitches in the side. Culpepper has further
advice: “In spring, if you please to boil the tender plant (but cut off
the prickles, unless you have a mind to choke yourself), it will change
your blood as the season changeth, and that is the way to be safe.”

_Carduus Benedictus_, called the Holy, or the Blessed Thistle, was
considered a great preservative against the plague, and that it was also
given for a sudden spasm is shown in the delightful scene between
Beatrice and her friends in “Much Ado About Nothing.” It follows the
_ruse_ that they have just played upon her, to persuade her that
Benedict is already in love with her, in the hope that she may become
enamoured of him, and the play upon the name is very charming. Culpepper
says that _Carduus Benedictus_ was good against “diseases of
melancholy,” which is additional evidence that Shakespeare did not go
out of his way to find an imaginary remedy that would suit that
occasion, but with exquisite skill took a remedy that would have been
natural in his time, and surrounded it with wit. Less than a hundred
years ago a decoction used to be made from its leaves, which are
remarkable for their “intense bitterness,” and it was said to be an
excellent tonic; but, like the Milk Thistle, the Holy Thistle’s virtues
in medicine are now discredited. The thistle was once dedicated to Thor,
and the bright colour of the flower was supposed to come from the
lightning, and therefore lightning could not hurt any person or building
protected by the flower. It was used a good deal in magic, and there is
an old rite to help a maiden to discover which, of several suitors,
really loves her best. She must take as many thistles as there are
lovers, cut off their points, give each thistle the name of a man, and
lay them under her pillow, and the thistle which has the name of the
most faithful lover will put forth a fresh sprout! In East Prussia, says
Mr Friend, there is a strange but simple cure for any domestic animal
which may have an open wound. It is to gather four red thistle blossoms
before the break of day, and to put one in each of the four points of
the compass with a stone in the middle of them.

Here ends the list of Herbs, but before finishing the chapter I must add
a few names of buds and berries which, though not herbs, were often
employed as such, especially to garnish, or to flavour dishes. Evelyn
includes many of these in his _Acetaria_. “The Capreols, Tendrils and
Claspers of Vines,” very young, may be “eaten alone or mingled with
other sallet. So may the ‘buds and young Turiones of the Tendrils’ of
Hops, either raw, ‘but more conveniently being boil’d’ and cold, like
asparagus.” Elder Flowers, infused in vinegar, are recommended, and
“though the leaves are somewhat rank of smell, and so not commendable in
sallet... they are of the most sovereign virtue, and spring buds and
tender leaves excellent and wholesome in pottage at that season of the
year.” Evelyn experimented with “the large _Heliotrope_ or Sunflower
(e’er it comes to expand and show its golden face), which, being dress’d
as the artichoak, is eaten for a dainty. This I add as a new discovery:
I once made macaroons with ripe blanch’d seed, but the _Turpentine_ did
so domineer over all that it did not answer expectation.” This must have
been a disappointment to his adventurous spirit! Broom buds appeared on
three separate tables at King James II.’s Coronation feast, and seem to
have been popular, when pickled.

Violets were also used, and Miss Amherst quotes from an old cookery book
the recipe of a pudding called “Mon amy,” which directs the cook to
“plant it with flowers of violets and serve it forth.” Another recipe is
for a dish called “Vyolette!” “Take flowrys of vyolet, boyle hem, presse
hem, bray (pound) hem smal.” After this they are to be mixed with milk,
‘floure of rys,’ and sugar or honey, and finally to be coloured with
violets. Pine-kernels were sometimes eaten. Shelley says of _Marenghi_:

  “His food was the wild fig or strawberry;
  The milky pine-nuts which the autumn blast
  Shakes into the tall grass.”

And in England Parkinson writes, “The cones or apples are used of divers
Vintners in this city, being painted to express a bunch of grapes,
whereunto they are very like and are hung up on their bushes, as also to
fasten keyes unto them, as is seene in many places. The kernels with the
hard shels, while they are fresh, or newly taken out, are used by
Apothecaries, Comfitmakers, and Cookes. Of them are made Comfits,
Marchpanes and such like, and with them a cunning cook can make divers
kech-choses for his master’s table.” Barberries were used as a garnish
to salads and other dishes and sometimes as an ingredient. Evelyn
mentions them as an item in “Sallet All-sorts,” and Gervase Markham
describes the making of “Paste of Genoa,” a confection of Quince, and
adds, “In this sort you now make paste of Peares, Apples, Wardens,
Plummes of all kindes, Cherries, Barberries or whatever fruit you
please.” He adds this fruit to the ingredients required in making
aromatic vinegar, and also directs that a good quantity of whole
Barberries, both branches and others, be served with Pike “or any fresh
fish whatsoever.” Parkinson says, “The leaves are sometimes used in the
stead of Sorrell to make sauce for meate, and by reason of their
sournesse are of the same quality.” The “delicious _confitures d’épine
vinette_, for which Rouen is famous,” are prepared from them, says Dr
Fernie, and there is no doubt that they make an excellent jelly.
Formerly they were so much prized that, as Miss Amherst quotes from Le
Strange’s “Household Accounts,” in 1618, 3s. was paid for one pound of

Strawberry leaves were used as a garnish and for their flavour.
Parkinson tells us that they were “alwayes used among other herbes in
cooling drinks,” and Markham mentions both them and Violet leaves in his
directions to “Smoar a Mallard,” and “to make an excellent _Olepotrige_,
which is the only principall dish of boyled meate, which is esteemed in
all _Spaine_. “For dessert”: The berries are often brought to the table
as a rare service, whereunto Cleret wine, creame or milke is added with
sugar. The water distilled of the berries is good for the passions of
the heart, caused by the perturbation of the spirits being eyther drunk
alone or in wine, and maketh the heart mery.” Such a pleasant and easy
remedy against the evils arising from “perturbation of spirits” is worth
remembering! Gerarde and Parkinson both speak of the prickly strawberry;
a plant which is “of no use for meate” but which has “a small head of
greene leaves, many set thick together like unto a double ruffe, and is
fit for a gentlewoman to wear on her arme, etc. as a raritie instead of
a flower.” Gerarde has a curious little note on its discovery. “Mr John
Tradescant hath told me that he was the first that took notice of this
Strawberry and that in a woman’s garden at Plimouth, whose daughter had
gathered and set the roots in her garden, instead of the common
Strawberry, but she finding the fruit not answer her expectation,
intended to throw it away, which labour he spared her, in taking it and
bestowing it among the lovers of such vanities.” The custom of
transplanting wild strawberries was very general.

      Wife, unto thy garden and set me a plot,
  With strawberry rootes of the best to be got.
  Such growing abroade, among thorns in the wood,
  Wel chosen and picked proove excellent food.

  _September’s Husbandry._--TUSSER.

Miss Amherst says that in the Hampton Court Accounts there are “several
entries of money paid for strawberry roots, brought from the wood to the
King’s garden.” The fact that this is no longer the custom, may explain
the disappointment that some have experienced, who, in the hope of
enjoying “the most excellent cordial smell” described by Sir Francis
Bacon, have haunted their kitchen gardens when the strawberry leaves are
dying, and without reward. The strawberries grown there at present are
not, as in his day, natives, subjected to civilisation, but are chiefly
of American or Asiatic origin (the first foreign strawberry cultivated
in England was _Fragaria virginiana_, and was introduced from North
America in 1629; four years after the Essay on Gardens was first
published), and if their leaves have any fragrance, it must be of the
faintest possible description. Anyone, however, who passes through a
wood, towards evening, especially if it is a mild and slightly damp day
in October, may speedily realise how true and admirable was this counsel
given by the Great Lord Chancellor.




  Now will I weave white violets, daffodils,
              With myrtle spray,
  And lily bells that trembling laughter fills,
              And the sweet crocus gay,
  With these blue hyacinth and the lover’s rose,
              That she may wear--
  My sun-maiden--each scented flower that blows
              Upon her scented hair.

  Trans. from _Meleager_.--W. M. HARDINGE.

It is, perhaps, surprising in studying the history of common English
herbs to find how many were the uses to which they were put by our
forefathers. One reason of their eminence was that no doubt in
pre-hygienic days they were more to be desired, but, besides this,
something “delightful to smell to” seems to have been a luxury generally
appreciated for its own sake. In his poem of the “Baron’s Wars,” Michael
Drayton, by a casual reference, shows how much agreeable scents were
valued, and the pains taken to procure them. He is speaking of Queen
Isabella’s room.

  The fire of precious wood; the light perfume,
  Which left a sweetness on each thing it shone,
  As ev’rything did to itself assume
  The scent from them, and made the same their own,
  So that the painted flowers within the room
  Were sweet, as if they naturally had grown.
  The light gave colours which upon them fell,
  And to the colours the perfume gave smell.

And in describing the bewilderment of a “young, tender maid,” led
through the magnificent court of some prince, he says she was:--

                          Amazed to see
  The furnitures and states, which all embroideries be,
  The rich and sumptuous beds, with tester-covering plumes,
  And various as the sutes, _so various the perfumes_.




In a discourse, intended to prove that the magic number five is
perpetually appearing in all forms of nature, and that network is an
equally ubiquitous design, Sir Thomas Browne mentions _en passant_, the
“nosegay nets” of the ancients--that is, nets holding flowers, that were
suspended from the head, to provide continuously a pleasant odour for
the wearer. It is very nice to find a survival of the belief that scents
affect the spirits and may be beneficial to the health, and in “Days and
Hours in a Garden,” E. V. B. declares herself to be of that opinion.
“Sweet Smells... have a certain virtue for different conditions of
health,” she says. “Wild Thyme will renew spirits and vital energy in
long walks under an August sun. The pure, almost pungent scent of Tea
Rose, Maréchal Neil is sometimes invigorating in any lowness of... Sweet
Briar promotes cheerfulness... Hawthorn is very doubtful and
Lime-blossom is dreamy.... Apple-blossom must be added to my
pharmacopœia of sweet smells. To inhale a cluster of Blenheim orange
gives back youth for just half a minute after... it is a real, absolute

The sacristan’s garden, devoted to growing flowers and herbs for the
service of the church, has been already mentioned, and Henry VI.
actually left in his will a garden to be kept for this purpose to the
church of Eton College (Nichol’s “Wills of the Kings and Queens of
England”). After the Reformation the practice of laying fresh green
things about the churches was apparently not abandoned, for in 1618,
James I. set forth a declaration permitting “Lawfull recreations after
divine service, and allowed that women should have leave to carry rushes
to the church for the decoring of it according to old custome.”[54]
Rushes are still strewed on Whitsunday at the church of St Mary
Radcliffe, in Bristol, and the day is often called “Rush-Sunday” there
in consequence.

  [54] Fuller’s “Church History,” Book X. 1655.

In the accounts of St Margaret’s, Westminster, there is a payment made
for “herbs strewn in the church on a day of thanksgiving” in 1650. Coles
(1656) says: “It is not very long since the custome of setting up
Garlands in Churches, hath been left off with us, and in some places
setting up of _Holly_, _Ivy_, _Rosemary_, _Dayes_, _Yew_, etc., in
Churches at Christmas, is still in use.”[55] Later, the custom seems
almost entirely to have dropped, and in an article in the _Quarterly_
(1842), the writer is torn between pious aspirations and loyalty to the
church views of the day: “We cannot but admire the practice of the
Church of Rome, which calls in the aid of floral decorations on her
festivals. If we did not feel convinced that it was the most bounden
duty of the Church of England at the present moment to give no
unnecessary offence by restorations in indifferent matters, we should be
inclined to advocate, notwithstanding the denunciation of some of the
early Fathers, some slight exceptions in the case of our own

  [55] “Art of Simpling.”

The decorations of English houses were much admired by Dr Levinus
Lemmius in 1560, when he visited us. “And beside this, the neate
cleanliness, the exquisite finenesse, the pleasaunt and delightfull
furniture in every poynt for household, wonderfully rejoiced me; their
chambers and parlours strawed over with sweet herbes refreshed me.”[56]
Further on, he praises “the sundry sortes of fragraunte floures” about
the rooms. Parkinson mentions wall-flowers and “the greater-flag” being
used “in nosegayes and to deck up a house,” and Newton says they took
branches of willow to trim up their parlours and dining roomes in
summer, and did “sticke fresh greene leaves thereof about their beds for
coolnesse.”[57] Sir Hugh Platt (1653) advised that “for summer-time your
chimney may be trimmed with a fine bank of mosse... or with orpin, or
the white flower called everlasting.... And at either end one of your
flower or Rosemary pots.... You may also hang in the roof and about the
sides of the room small pompions or cowcumbers pricked full of barley,
and these will be overgrowne with greene spires, so as the pompion or
cowcumber will not appear.... You may also plant vines without the
walls, which being let in at quarrels, may run about the sides of your
windows, and all over the sealing of your rooms.”[58] Herbs in image
were sometimes hung round the room. Harrison mentions “arras worke, or
painted cloths, wherein either diverse histories, or hearbes, beasts,
knots, and such like are stained.” Of flowers thought specially suitable
indoors Tusser (1577) gives a list: “Herbes, branches, and flowers for
windows and pots,” and Bachelor’s Buttons, Sweet Briar, and “bottles,
blue, red, and tawney” are among the forty he mentions. A separate list
is set forth of twenty-one “Strewing Herbs,” and this includes Basil,
Balm, Marjoram, Tansy, Germander, and Hyssop. The practice of strewing
the floors with herbs and rushes, however, started long before his time.
“At the Court of King Stephen, which exceeded in magnificence that of
his predecessors ... and in houses of inferior rank upon occasions of
feasting, the floor was strewed with flowers.... Becket, in the next
reign, according to a contemporary author (Fitz-Stephen) ordered his
hall to be strewed every day, in the winter with fresh straw or hay, and
in summer with rushes or green leaves, fresh gathered; and this reason
is given for it, that such knights as the benches could not contain,
might sit on the floor without dirtying their cloaths.”[59] The contrast
between the pomp of so large a following, and the simplicity of their
accommodation affords an odd picture of the mingled stateliness and
bareness in the great man’s household.

  [56] Harrison’s “Description of England.” Ed. by Furnivall, 1877.

  [57] “Herbal of the Bible,” 1587.

  [58] “The Garden of Eden.”

  [59] “Pegge’s _Curalia_.”

In the reign of Edward I., “Willielmus filius Willielmi de Aylesbury
tenet tres virgatus terræ... per serjeantiam inveniendi stramen ad
lectum Domini Regis et ad straminandum cameram suam et etiam inveniendi
Domino Rege cum venerit apud Alesbury in estate stramen ad lectum suam
et procter hoc herbam ad juncandam cameram suam.”[60] (William, son of
William of Aylesbury, holds three roods of land... by serjeantry, of
finding straw for the bed of our Lord the King and to straw his
chamber... and also of finding for the King when he should come to
Aylesbury in summer straw for his bed, and, moreover, grass or rushes to
strew his chamber.) Though grass is the literal translation of _herbam_,
it is quite possible, judging from old customs generally, that hay or
sweet herbs, may be intended here. “It may be observed further that
there is a relique of this custom still subsisting, for at Coronations
the ground is strewed with flowers by a person who is upon the
establishment called the Herb-Strewer, with an annual salary.” From this
it appears that there were persons regularly appointed to strew herbs
for the royal pleasure, but for what length of time the Herb-Strewer was
an official actually living at Court, it is very difficult to discover.
At the time of the Coronation of James II. and his Queen, Mary Dowle was
“Strewer of Herbes in Ordinary to His Majesty,” and among the
instructions issued before the ceremony were the following: “Two
breadths of Blue Broad-cloth are spread all along the middle of the
Passage from the stone steps in the Hall, to the Foot of the Steps in
the Choir, ascending the Theatre, by order of the Lord Almoner of the
Day, amounting in all 1220 yards; which cloth is strewed with nine
Baskets full of sweet herbs and flowers by the Strewer of Herbs in
Ordinary to His Majesty, assisted by six women, two to a Basket, each
Basket containing two Bushels.” All the details of his Coronation were
most carefully considered and finally settled “in solemn conclave in the
presence of James II.,” says Roberts in his sketch of the _Approaching_
Coronation of George II., and “little variation has taken place in the
Ceremony since.” From a manuscript belonging to Mr Eyston, of East
Hundred, Wantage, dated 1702, W. Jones (“Crowns and Coronations”) quotes
an: “Order for a gown of scarlet cloth, with a badge of Her Majesty’s
Cypher on it, for the Strewer of Herbs to Her Majesty, as was provided
at the last Coronation.” This looks as if she played her part in the
ceremony of crowning King William and Queen Mary, and was also present
at the crowning of Queen Anne, though Roberts, in his “Complete Account
of the Coronations of the Kings and Queens of England” does not mention
her. In the State Archives is a “Warrant to the Master of the Great
Wardrobe for delivering of scarlet cloth to Alice Blizard, herb strewer
to Her Majesty,” dated 30th November 1713, showing that whether at that
date she was continually at Court, or whether her services were confined
to the day of Coronation, she was at anyrate officially recognised in
the ordinary course of things, and not only when any very great ceremony
was imminent. I cannot be sure if the Herb Strewer appeared at the
Coronation of George I., but she certainly did at that of George II.,
and in the full accounts of the Coronation of George IV., which was
celebrated with great magnificence, there are most elaborate
descriptions of her dress, badge, mantle, etc., and also portraits of
her in full attire. From among many applicants, the King chose Miss
Fellowes, sister of the Secretary to the Lord Great Chamberlain, for the
coveted distinction. “Miss Fellowes wore a gold badge suspended from her
neck by a gold chain, with an inscription indicative of her office on
one side, and the King’s arms beautifully chased on the other. Six young
ladies assisted her. Their costume was white, but Miss Fellowes wore, in
addition, a scarlet mantle trimmed with gold lace. They were very
elegantly dressed in “white muslin, with flowered ornaments. Three large
ornamented baskets of flowers were brought in and placed near the
ladies,”[61] who walked in the front of the Royal Procession. At ten
minutes before eleven Miss Fellowes, with her six tributary herb-women
heading the grand procession, appeared at the Western Gate of the
Abbey.... She and her maids and the serjeant porter came no further, but
remained at the entrance within the west door. In a beautiful series of
coloured plates depicting all the costumes worn at that Coronation,
there is one of Miss Fellowes and her “maids.” She has a small basket in
her left hand; from her right hand, raised high, she is letting a shower
of blossoms fall. Her hair is dressed in short ringlets. All the ladies
wore wreaths of flowers, and the “maids” have, as well, long garlands
falling over one shoulder and across their white dresses almost to the
hem. In a charming letter written by Hon. Maria Twistleton to her
cousin, Mrs Eardley Childers, there is one more detail of these ladies.
“Gold Baskets of Grecian shape, filled with choicest sweets were ranged
at their feet, and as they passed they presented a magnolia to us.”[62]
A claim to this office was put forward, before the last Coronation, but
alas! His Majesty decided to dispense with this picturesque adjunct to
the ceremony! Though the strewing of rushes and herbs was a part of the
preparations for any household festival, they were a special feature of
bridal ceremonies.

  [60] Blount’s “Jocular Tenures,” 1679.

  [61] “History of the Coronation of George IV.” R. HUISH.

  [62] Published _Nineteenth Century_, June 1902.

    As I have seen upon a bridal day,
    Full many maids clad in their best array,
    In honour of the bride come with their flaskets
  Fill’d full with flowers: others, in wicker-baskets
  Bring from the marish, rushes to o’erspread
  The ground whereon to church the lovers tread.

  _Br. Pastorals_, book i.

Drayton, too, alludes to this practice in the “Polyolbion.”

  Some others were again as seriously employ’d
  In strewing of those herbs, at bridals us’d that be
  Which everywhere they throw with bounteous hands and free.
  The healthful balm and mint from their full laps do fly.

  Song xv.

And gives a long list of wedding flowers, of which Meadow-sweet
(sometimes called bridewort) is one. Gilded Rosemary, or sprigs of
Rosemary dipped in sweet waters were used, and Brand gives an account of
a wedding where the bride was “led to church between two sweet boys with
bride-laces and rosemary tied to their silken sleeves.”[63] Nosegays,
too, were gathered for weddings, and Brand quotes a remarkable and
cynical passage from “The Plaine Country Bridegroom,” by Stephens: “He
shews neere affinitie betwixt marriage and hanging, and to that purpose
he provides a great nosegay and shakes hands with everyone he meets, as
if he were preparing for a condemned man’s voyage.” Herrick’s lines
beginning, “Strip her of spring-time, tender, whimpering maids,” are too
well known to repeat, but they tell very prettily which flowers were
appropriated to the married and which to the unmarried. Dyer tells us
that this custom of strewing them is still kept up in Cheshire, with
occasional sad results. Often, the flowers that were strewn were
emblematical, and if the bride chanced to be unpopular, she stepped her
way to church over flowers whose meanings were the reverse of

  [63] Popular Antiquities.

Drayton’s contemporaries were more amiable.

  Who now a posie pins not in his cap?
  And not a garland baldrick-wise doth wear,
  Some, of such flowers as to his hand doth hap
  Others, such as secret meanings bear.

  He, from his lass, him lavender hath sent
  Shewing her love, and doth requital crave,
  Him rosemary, his sweetheart whose intent,
  Is that he her should in remembrance have.

  Roses, his youth and strong desire express,
  Her sage, doth show his sovereignty in all;
  The July-flower declares his gentleness;
  Thyme, truth; the pansie, heartsease, maidens’ call.

  Eclogue ix.

Herbs have pointed proverbs; for instance: “He who sows hatred, shall
gather rue,”--a saying which some have found to be “ower-true”; and,
“The Herb-Patience does not grow in every man’s garden,”--a piece of
wisdom which may be proved only too often. Both these proverbs turn on a
pun, but some herbs are alluded to in a literal sense. The old
Herbalists used to count Pinks among herbs, and this flower’s name is
very commonly heard in the expression: “The pink of perfection.”
Mercutio says in _Romeo and Juliet_, “I am the very pink of courtesy”; a
phrase which is wonderfully expressive. Miss Amherst quotes an old
ballad to show that the periwinkle was used as a term of praise, for in
this, a noble lady, a type of excellence, is called, “The parwink of
prowesse.” The inelasticity of modern opinions (on herbs) forbids that I
should here go into the history of this most interesting flower,
beloved by Rousseau and endowed by the French with magic power. One of
their names for it is, _Violette de Sorcier_. I will only say that the
Italians call it the “Flower of the Dead,” and place it on graves; and
to the Germans it is the “Flower of Immortality.” In England it was much
used in garlands, and it was with Periwinkle that Simon Fraser was
crowned in mockery, when in 1306 (after he had been taken prisoner,
fighting for Bruce), he rode, heavily ironed, through London to the
place of execution.

Clove gillyflowers were admitted, till lately, into the herb-garden, so
I may mention that among several cases of nominal rent, land being held
on the payment of certain flowers or other trifles, “three clove
gillyflowers to be rendered on the occasion of the King’s Coronation,”
was once the condition of holding the “lands and tenements of Ham in
Surrey.” Roses were the flowers most often chosen for such a purpose,
and roses and gillyflowers together were paid as rent by St Andrew’s
Monastery in Northampton at the time of its dissolution under Oliver
Cromwell. Blount[64] mentions that Bartholomaus Peyttevyn, of
Stony-Aston in Somerset, held his lands on the payment of a “sextary” of
Gillyflower wine annually, at Christmastide. A “sextary” contained about
a pint and a half, sometimes more. “A still more whimsical tenure was
that of a farm at Brookhouse, Penistone, York, for which, yearly, a
payment was to be made of a red rose at Christmas and a snowball at
mid-summer. Unless the flower of the Viburnum or Guelder-rose, sometimes
called Snowball, was meant, the payment bill had been almost impossible
in those days when ice-cellars were unknown.”[65]

  [64] “Jocular Tenures.”

  [65] “History of Signboards.”

Clove gillyflowers found their way into Heraldry, and appeared as
heraldic emblems, and besides them, Guillim mentions “Rosemary, Sweet
Marjoram, Betony, Purslane and Saffron,” being borne in Coat Armour.
But, “because such daintiness and affected adornings better befit ladies
and gentlemen than knights and men of valour, whose worth must be tried
in the field, not under a rose-bed, or in a garden-plot, therefore the
ancient Generous made choice rather of such herbs as grew in the fields,
as the Cinque-foil, Trefoil,” etc.[66] It is an interesting explanation
of the reason that dictated the choice of these two last herbs, often
seen in heraldic bearings. One of Guillim’s corrections must specially
delight all west country people. The Coat of the Baskerviles of Hereford
was: Argent, a cheveron, Gules, between three Hurts. “These (saith
_Leigh_) appear light blue and come of some violent stroke. But, if I
mistake not, he is farr wide from the matter... whereas they are indeed
a kind of fruit or small round Berry, of colour betwixt black and
blue... and in some places called Windberries, and in others Hurts or
Hurtleberries.” Guillim knew the popular name of Whortleberries better
than did his fellow-author. The idea of choosing three bruises as a
“charge” does not seem to have struck _Mr Leigh_ as being at all odd.

  [66] Guillim. “Heraldry.”

In Saxony Rue has given its name to an Order. A chaplet of Rue borne
bendwise on “barrs of the Coat Armour of the Dukedom of Saxony” (till
then “Barry of ten, sable and or,”) was granted by the Emperor Frederick
Barbarossa to Duke Bernard of Anhalt (the first of his house to be Duke
of Saxony), at his request, “to difference his arms from his Brothers’,”
Otho, Marquis of Brandenberg, and Siegfrid, Archbishop of Breme. This
took place in the year 1181, but the Order was not founded till more
than six centuries had passed, and was then due to Frederick Augustus,
first King of Saxony, who created the Order of the _Rautenkrone_ on the
20th July 1807. In the newspapers of October 24th, 1902, it was
announced that the King of Saxony had conferred the Order of the Crown
of Rue on the Prince of Wales. Sprigs of Rue are now interlaced in the
Collar of the Order of the Thistle, but earlier it was composed of
thistles and knots. There is extreme uncertainty as to the origin or
this Order, and cold suspicion is thrown on assertions that it was, of
old, an established “Fraternity,[67] following the lines of other Orders
of Knighthood.” The first appearance of a collar is on the gold bonnet
pieces struck in 1539, where King James V. is represented with a collar
composed alternately of thistle heads and what seem to be knots or links
in the form of the figure 8 or of the letter S, and a similar collar is
placed round the Royal Arms in another gold piece of the same year.
Collars with knots of a slightly different shape appear on Queen Mary’s
Great Seal and on that of James VI. Ashmole says:[68] “It was thought
fit that the collars of both the Garter and Thistle of King Charles I.
should be used in Scotland, 1633”; but after that the Order seems to
have lapsed, for Guillim (Ed. 1679) puts the “Order of Knights of The
Thistle or of St Andrewe’s” between the Orders of The Knights of the
Round Table and the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and
speaks of all their rites and ceremonies in the past tense. This seems
as if at that period there was an absolute pause in its chequered
career. In 1685 it was “revived” by James II. of Great Britain, who
created eight knights, but during the Revolution it lapsed again and
“lay neglected till Queen Anne in 1703 restored it to the primitive
design of twelve Knights of St Andrew” (Every). “By a statute passed in
1827 the Order is to consist of the Sovereign and sixteen Knights”
(Burke). Sprigs of Rue do not make their earliest appearance in the
collar till about 1629 and then on doubtful authority. “Mirœus, however,
states that the Collar was made of Thistles and Sprigs of Rue; and the
Royal Achievements of Scotland in Sir George Mackenzie’s ‘Science of
Heraldry’ published in 1680, are surrounded by a Collar of Thistles
linked with Sprigs of Rue.” Very shortly before this Guillim had
described the collar as being “composed of thistles, intermixed with
annulets of gold.” So the publication of Sir George Mackenzie’s book
must be the approximate date of the introduction of the Rue; the present
collar, badge and robe of the Order are the same as those approved by
Queen Anne. André Favyn[69] gives the reasons for this choice of plants,
though as the Rue made its first appearance in the collar so much later
than the date he assigns (which is that of Charlemagne) one cannot help
fearing that he drew a little on his imagination. King Achaius took for
“his devise the Thistle and the Rewe. And for the Soule therof, Pour ma
deffence Because the Thistle is not tractable or easily handled...
giving acknowledgment thereby, that hee feared not forraigne Princes his
neighbours... as for the Rewe although it be an Herbe and Plant very
meane, yet it is (nevertheless full of admirable vertues)... and serveth
to expell and drive serpents to flight... and there is not a more
soveraigne remedy for such as are poisoned.” Guillim called _Hungus_,
King of the Picts, the founder, and says that he, “the Night before the
Battle that was fought betwixt him and _Athelstane_, King of England,
sawe in the skie a bright Cross in fashion of that whereon St Andrew
suffered Martyrdom, and the day proving successful unto _Hungus_ in
memorial of the said Apparition, which did presage so happy an omen, the
Picts and Scots have ever since bore in the Ensigns and Banners the
Figure of the said Cross, which is in fashion of a Saltier. And from
thence ’tis believed that this Order took its rise, which was about the
year of our Lord 810.” Both authors are quite positive as to their facts
regarding the origin of the Order, but they have hardly one fact in
common, not even the founder’s name!

  [67] Sir H. Nicholas. “History of the Orders of Knighthood of the
  British Empire.”

  [68] “History of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.”

  [69] “Theater of Honour.” 1623.

It is perhaps not very well known that there was once a French Order of
the Thistle, or, as it was sometimes called, “Order of Bourbon.” It was
instituted by Louis II., third Duke of Bourbon, surnamed the Good Duke,
and it consisted six and twenty knights,[70] each of whom “wore a Belt,
in which was embroydered the word _Esperance_ in capital letters; it had
a Buckle of Gold at which hung a tuft like a Thistle; on the Collar also
was embroydered the same word _Esperance_, with _Flowers_ de Luce of
Gold from which hung an Oval, wherein was the Image of the Virgin
_Mary_, entowered with a golden sun, crowned with twelve stars of silver
and a silver crescent under her feet; at the end of the Oval was the
head of a Thistle.”

  [70] Ross. “View of all Religions,” 1653.

There are other Orders called after flowers, or of which flowers form
the badge. Several of the “Christian Orders of Knighthood”--orders
instituted for some religious or pious purpose--bore lilies among their
tokens, and flowers-de-luce appeared in many. The Order of the Lily or
of Navarre was instituted by Prince Garcia in 1048. The Order of the
_Looking-Glass_ of the Virgin _Mary_ was created by “_Ferdinand_, the
Infant of _Castile_, upon a memorable victory he had over the _Moors_.
The Collar of this Order was composed of Bough-pots, full of Lillies,
interlaced with Griffons.” Ross and Favyn give most curious accounts of
the Order “De la Sainte Magdalaine.” This was instituted by a Noble
Gentleman of France, who is alternately called John Chesnil or Sieur de
la Chapronaye, “Out of a godly Zeal to reclaim the French from their
Quarrels, Duels and other sins.... The Cross of the Order had at three
ends, three Flowers-de-Luce; the Cross is beset with Palms to shew this
Order was instituted to encourage Voyages to the Holy Land, within the
Palms are Sunbeams and four _Flowers-de-Luce_ to shew the glory of the
French Nation.” They had a house allotted them near Paris, “wherein were
ordinarily five hundred Knights, bound to stay there during two years’
probation.... The Knights that live abroad shall meet every year at
their house called the lodging Royal on Mary Magdalene’s Festival Day.”
The Lay Brothers were to be of good family; the _Vallets des
Chevaliers_, of “honestes _Familles d’Artisans et Mecaniques_.” Their
garb was carefully ordered, and they were to take the same vows as their
master. Other elaborate arrangements were made--“But this Order, as it
began, so it ended in the person of Chesnil.” One’s breath is taken
away, as when, in a dream, one falls and falls to immense depths and
awakes with a sudden shock! Francis, Duke of Bretaigne, created the
Order of Bretaigne: “This Order consisteth of five and twenty Knights of
the _Ears of Corn_, so called to signifie that Princes should be careful
to preserve Husbandry.” Favyn, however, finds a much more romantic
origin for the name, and tells a long story of a dispute among the gods
as to the thing most essential to “les Humains.” After lengthy argument,
“de sorte que Jupiter toujours favorisant les Dames,” he declared
victory to rest with Ceres, to whose verdict that of Minerva was joined
(Minerva had pleaded the Ox), and so they both triumphed over the

In Amsterdam, a literary guild was once named after a herb, and was
called the White Lavender Bloom. Herbs have not appeared on many
signboards, but in 1638 the marigold was the sign of “Francis
Eglisfield, a bookseller in St Paul’s churchyard,”[71] as it still is of
Child’s Bank--and several signs of the “Rosemary Branch” have been

  [71] “The History of Signboards.”

The Blessed Thistle was a much prized herb, and its cousin, the Spear
Thistle, makes a game for Scotch children; it is sometimes called
“Marian,” and when the flower-heads have turned to “blow-balls” the
children puff away the down and call:--

  “Marian, Marian, what’s the time of day?
  One o’clock, two o’clock, it’s time we were away.”

Dandelions are still commoner toys.

Grimmer associations are tied up with the bouquet presented to Judges at
the Assizes, for originally this bouquet was a bunch of herbs, given to
him to ward off the gaol-fever, that was cheerfully accepted as a matter
of course for prisoners. Thornton, writing in 1810, says of Rue, that it
is “supposed to be antipestilential” and hence our benches of judges are
“regaled” with its unpleasing odour. Lupines are not properly to be
included here, but Parkinson must be quoted as to a curious use of their
seeds. In Plautus’ days, “they were used in Comedies instead of money,
when in any scene thereof there was any show of payment.” One is glad he
condescends to tell us this detail of ancient stage-plays. Among herbs
used for nosegays he mentions Basil, Sweet Marjoram, Maudeline and
Costmary, and evidently contemplates their being worn for ornament, and
speaking of the prickly strawberry remarks it is “fit for a Gentlewoman
to weare on her arme, etc., as a raritie instead of a flower.” Scents
were more perpetually to be obtained by carrying a pomander, which was
originally an orange stuffed with spices, and thought also to be good
against infection. Cardinal Wolsey is described as carrying a “very fair
orange, whereof the meat or substance was taken out and filled up again
with part of a sponge whereon was vinegar, and other confection against
the pestilential airs”; evidently some alexiphar-mick, which he “smelt
unto” when going into a crowded chamber. Drayton says, in speaking of a
well dedicated to St Winifred:--

  The sacred Virgin’s well, her moss most sweet and rare
  Against infectious damps, for pomander to wear.


The pomander developed into being a little scent-case, elaborately made.
Mr Dillon describes a silver one of the sixteenth century which he saw
in a collection. It was made to be hung by a chain from the girdle, and
though “no larger than a plum, contains eight compartments inscribed as
follows: ambra, moscheti (musk), viola, naransi (orange), garofalo
(gillyflowers), rosa, cedro, jasmins.” Sweet-scented plants were reduced
to “sweete pouthers,” and many were distilled into “sweete waters” and
“sweete washing waters,” or helped to make “washing balls.”
Orange-flower water is spoken of as “a great perfume for gloves, to wash
them, or instead of Rose-water,” and less expensive distillations must
have contented more economical housewives. Parkinson tells us of sweet
marjoram being put into “sweete bags,” and costmary flowers and lavender
tied up in small bundles for their “sweet sent and savour.” Regarding
“sweet water” there is a delightful description in Ben Jonson’s Masque
_Chloridia_, “Enter Rain, presented by five persons... their hair
flagging as if they were wet, and in the hands, balls full of sweet
water, which as they dance, sprinkle all the room.”

The following entry is made among “Queen Elizabeth’s Annual Expences”:--

  Makers of hearb bowres and planters of trees      Fee, £25
  Stillers of Waters                                 „    40
  John Kraunckwell and his wife, 1584.

  _Peck’s Desiderata._

These offices must have been of considerable importance, for when money
went much further than it does nowadays, an annual fee of £40 for
“stilling waters” was a high one.

  For never resting time leads summer on
  To hideous winter, and confounds him there;
  Sap check’d with frost, and lusty leaves quite gone,
  Beauty o’ershow’d, and bareness everywhere.
  Then, were not summer’s distillation left,
  A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass,
  Beauty’s effect with beauty were bereft,
  Nor it, nor no remembrance what it was.
  But flowers distill’d, though they with winter meet
  Lese but their show; their substance still lives sweet.


Among some charming recipes Mrs Roundell gives a charming one for
“Dorothea Roundell’s Sweet-Jar.” But, perhaps, even sweeter is the next
recipe, called simply Sweet-Jar.


“½ lb. bay salt, ¼ lb. salt-petre and common salt, all to be bruised and
put on six baskets of rose-leaves, 24 bay leaves torn to bits, a handful
of sweet myrtle leaves, 6 handfuls of lavender blossom, a handful of
orange or syringa blossoms, the same of sweet violets, and the same of
the red of clove carnations. After having well stirred every day for a
week, add ½ oz. cloves, 4 oz. orris root, ½ oz. cinnamon, and two
nutmegs all pounded; put on the roses, kept well covered up in a china
jar and stirred sometimes.” The recipe of a delicious _Pot Pourri_ made
in a country house in Devonshire has also been very kindly sent me:--

_Pot Pourri._

“Gather flowers in the morning when dry and lay them in the sun till the

  Orange flowers.
  Thyme.   }
  Sage.    }  In smaller quantities.
  Bay.     }

“Put them into an earthen wide jar, or hand basin, in layers. Add the
following ingredients:--

  6 lbs. vi. Bay Salt.
  ℥ iv.      Yellow Sandal Wood.
  ℥ iv.      Acorus Calamus Root.
  ℥ iv.      Cassia Buds.
  ℥ iv.      Orris Root.
  ℥ ii.      Cinnamon.
  ℥ ii.      Cloves.
  ℥ iv.      Gum Benzoin.
  ℈ i.       Storax Calamite.
  ℥ i.       ℈ Otto of Rose.
  ʒ i.       Musk.
  ℥ ss.      Powdered Cardamine Seeds.

“Place the rose-leaves, etc., in layers in the jar. Sprinkle the Bay
salt and other ingredients on each layer, press it tightly down and keep
for two or three months before taking it out.”

The following herbs are those which are chiefly valued for their perfume
or for their historical associations.

[Illustration: BERGAMOT]

BERGAMOT (_Monarda fistulosa_).

It is extraordinary how little comment has been made on the handsome red
flowers and fragrant leaves of Red Bergamot, or Bee-Balm--a name which
Robinson gives it. Growing in masses, it makes a lovely bit of colour,
and a very sweet border. Bergamot was a favourite flower in the posies
that country people used to take to church, as Mrs Ewing observes in her
story “Daddy Darwin’s Dove Cot.” The youthful heroine loses her posy of
“Old Man and Marygolds” on the way to Sunday school, and is discovered
looking for it by an equally youthful admirer. He at once offers to get
her some more Old Man. “But Phœbe drew nearer. She stroked down her
frock, and spoke mincingly but confidentially. ‘My mother says Daddy
Darwin has red bergamot i’ his garden. We’ve none i’ ours. My mother
always says there’s nothing like red bergamot to take to church. She
says it’s a deal more refreshing than Old Men, and not so common.” A
note gives the information that the particular kind of Bergamot meant
here was the Twinflower _Monarda Didyma_. There are several varieties of

The only superstition that I have ever heard in any way connected with
the plant is, that in Dorsetshire it is thought unlucky, and that if it
be kept in a house an illness will be the consequence.

COSTMARY (_Tanacetum Balsamita_).

  Coole violets and orpine growing still,
  Enbathed balme and cheerfull galingale,
  Fresh costmarie and healthfull camomile.


  Then balm and mint help to make up
  My chaplet and for trial
  Costmary that so likes the cup,
  And next it penny-royal.

  _Muses’ Elysium._

  Then hot muscado oil, with milder maudlin cast,
  Strong tansey, fennel cool, they prodigally waste.

  _Polyolbion_, Song xv.

Costmary or Alecost, and Maudeline (_Balsamita Vulgaris_), have so close
a semblance that they may be taken together. The German name for
Costmary, _Frauen münze_, supports the natural idea that it was
dedicated to the Virgin, but Dr Prior says that the Latin name used to
be _Costus amarus_, not _Costus Marie_, and that it was really
appropriated to St Mary Magdaleine, as its English name Maudeline
declares. Both plants were much used to make “sweete washing water; the
flowers are tyed up with small bundles of lavender toppes; these they
put in the middle of them, to lye upon the toppes of beds, presses,
etc., for the sweet sent and savour it casteth.”[72] They were also used
for strewing. In France Costmary is sometimes used in salads, and it was
formerly put into beer and negus; “hence the name _Alecost_.”

  [72] Parkinson.

GERMANDER (_Teucrium Chamœdrys_).

  Clear hysop and therewith the comfortable thyme,
  Germander with the rest, each thing then in her prime.

  _Polyolbion_, Song xv.

  Germander, marjoram and thyme,
    Which used are for strewing,
  With hisop as an herb most prime,
    Herein my wreath bestowing.

  _Muses’ Elysium._

Germander was grown as a border to garden “knots,” “though being more
used as a strewing herbe for the house than for any other use.”[73]
Culpepper says it is “a most prevalent herb of Mercury, and strengthens
the brain and apprehension exceedingly;” and Tusser includes it amongst
his “strewing herbs”; from which statements it may be gathered that the
scent was pungent but agreeable. It is more often mentioned by old
herbalists as “bordering knots” than in any other capacity, in spite of
Parkinson’s remark, and now is very seldom seen at all. It may, very
rarely, be found growing wild. Harrison, when he is declaiming against
the over-praising of foreigners, says: “Our common Germander, or thistle
benet, is found and knowne to bee so wholesome and of so great power in
medicine as any other hearbe,” but it is not clear whether he really
means Germander, or is not rather thinking of _Carduus Benedictus_.

  [73] Parkinson.

GILLIFLOWER (_Dianthus Caryophyllus_).

  Jeliflowers is for gentlenesse,
  Which in me shall remaine,
  Hoping that no sedition shal
  Depart our hearts in twaine.
  As soon the sun shall loose his course,
  The moone against her kinde,
  Shall have no light if that I do
  Once put you from my minde.


            Come, and I will sing you--
            “What will you sing me?”
            I will sing you Four, O,
            What is your Four, O?
  Four it is the Dilly Hour, when blooms the gilly-flower.

  _Dilly Song._--Songs of the West.

  I’ll weave my love a garland,
    It shall be dressed so fine,
  I’ll set it round with roses,
    With lilies, pinks and thyme.

  _The Loyal Lover._

  There stood a gardener at the gate
    And in each hand a flower,
  O pretty maid, come in, he said,
    And view my beauteous bower.

  The lily it shall be thy smock,
    The jonquil shoe thy feet,
  Thy gown shall be the ten-week-stock,
    To make thee fair and sweet.

  The gilly-flower shall deck thy head
    Thy way with herbs, I’ll strew,
  Thy stockings shall be marigold
    Thy gloves the vi’let blue.

  _Dead Maid’s Land._

Gillyflowers are, of course, now excluded from the herb-border, but once
housewives infused them in vinegar to make it aromatic, and candied them
for conserves, and numbered them among their herbs, though that is not
the reason that they are mentioned here. They have their place, because
the general ideas about them are too pretty to leave out. First, they
were the token of gentleness, as Robinson’s lover asserts most
touchingly, and Drayton confirms in his line,

  The July-flower declares his gentleness.

Then Gillyflowers (says Folkard) were represented in some old songs to
be one of the flowers that grow in Paradise. He quotes from a ballad
called “Dead Men’s Songs.” This verse:

  The fields about the city faire
    Were all with Roses set,
  Gillyflowers and Carnations faire
    Which canker could not fret.

  _Ancient Songs._--RITSON.

There have been great discussions as to what flower was the original
“Gillyflower” spoken of by early writers. Folkard says it was
“apparently a kind of pet-name to all manner of plants.” Parkinson seems
to have called Carnations, Clove-Gillyflowers, and Stocks, the
Stock-Gillyflowers, and Wall-flowers, Wall-Gillyflowers. It is generally
thought that the earlier writers called the Dianthus by this name, and
later ones, the _Cheiranthus cheiri_, or _Matthiola_. Some of the names
for them show how sadly imagination has waned since the seventeenth
century. Think of a new flower being called “Ruffling Robin” or “The
lustie Gallant,” or “Master Tuggie’s Princess,” or “Mister Bradshaw,
his dainty Lady.” Even “the Sad Pageant” has romance about it, but we
can match that by a name for _Hesperides_ which, I believe, still
survives, “The Melancholy Gentleman.” Culpepper calls Gillyflowers,
“gallant, fine and temperate,” but says, “It is vain to describe a herb
so well known.” So there we will leave them.

LAVENDER (_Lavandula vera_).

            Here’s flowers for you,
  Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram,
  The marigold that goes to bed wi’ the sun,
  And with him rises weeping.

  _Winter’s Tale_, iv. 3.

  The wholesome saulge and lavender still gray,
  Ranke smelling Rue, and cummin good for eyes.


        Opening upon level plots
  Of crowned lilies standing near
  Purple spiked lavender.

  _Ode to Memory._--TENNYSON.

  Lavender is for lovers true,
  Which evermore be faine,
  Desiring always for to have
  Some pleasure for their paine.


  _Piscator._ “I’ll now lead you to an honest ale-house; where we shall
  find a cleanly room, lavender in the windows and twenty ballads stuck
  about the wall.”

  _The Complete Angler._

Lavender is one of the few herbs that has always been in great repute
and allusions to it are legion. From the custom of laying it among
linen, or other carefully stored goods, a proverb has arisen--Timbs
quotes from Earle’s _Microcosm_: “He takes on against the Pope without
mercy and has a jest still _in Lavender_ for Bellarmine.” Walton’s
_Coridon_ mentions that “the sheets” smell of lavender in a literal
sense, and Parkinson says that it is much put among “apparell.” Oil of
Lavender is still to be found in the British Pharmacopœia, and some of
the old writers utter serious warnings against “divers rash and
overbold Apothecaries and other foolish women,” who gave
indiscriminately the distilled water, or composition that is made of
distilled wine in which flower seeds have been steeped. Turner suggests
using it in a curious manner. “I judge that the flowers of Lavander
quilted in a cappe and dayly worne are good for all diseases of the head
that come of a cold cause and that they comfort the braine very well.”
Dr Fernie says it is of real use in a case of nervous headache. Lavender
used to be called Lavender Spike or Spike alone, and French Lavender
(_L. Stæchas_) Stickadove or Cassidony, sometimes turned by country
people into Cast-me-down. _La petite Corbeille_ tells us that the juice
of Lavender is a specific in cases of loss of speech and adds drily,
“une telle propriété suffirait pour rendre cette plante à jamais
precieuse.” In Spain and Portugal it is used to strew churches and it is
burned in bonfires on St John’s Day, the day when all evil spirits are
abroad. In some countries it must still possess wonderful qualities!
Tuscan peasants believe that it will prevent the Evil Eye from hurting

The pretty delicately-scented spikes of White Lavender are less well
known than they should be, but like many other herbs they received more
admiration in former days as has been already said, at the close of the
sixteenth century, a literary guild was called after it. In the
Parliamentary Survey (November 1649) of the Manor of Wimbledon, “Late
parcel of the possessions of Henrietta Maria, the relict and late Queen
of Charles Stuart, late King of England”--an exact inventory is made of
the house and grounds (in which forty-four perches of land, called the
Hartichoke Garden is named), and among other things, “very great and
large borders of Rosemary, Rue and White Lavender and great varietie of
excellent herbs” are noticed.

LAVENDER COTTON (_Santolina_).

Lavender Cotton is a little grey plant with “very finely cut leaves,
clustered buttons of a golden colour and of a sweet smell and is often
used in garlands and in decking up of gardens and houses.” The French
called it _Petit Cyprez_ and _Guarde Robe_, from which it may be
inferred that it was one of the herbs laid in chests among furs and
robes. Tusser counts it among his “strewing herbes,” and it is now
chiefly used as an edging to beds or borders.

MEADOW-SWEET (_Spiræa Ulmaria_).

  Bring, too, some branches forth of Daphne’s hair,
  And gladdest myrtle for the posts to wear,
  With spikenard weav’d and marjorams between
  And starr’d with yellow-golds and meadows-queen.

  _Pan’s Anniversary._--BEN JONSON.

  Amongst these strewing herbs, some others wild that grow,
  As burnet, all abroad, and meadow-wort they throw.

  _Polyolbion_, Song xv.

  _She._ The glow-room lights, as day is failing
                Dew is falling over the field.
  _He._ The meadow-sweet its scent is exhaling,
                Honeysuckles their fragrance yield.
  _Together._ Then why should we be all the day toiling?
            Lads and lasses, along with me!
  _She._ There’s Jack o’ Lantern lustily dancing,
         In the marsh with flickering flame.
  _He._ And Daddy-long-legs, spinning and prancing,
         Moth and midge are doing the same.
  _Chorus._ Then why should we, etc.


  Where peep the gaping speckled cuckoo-flowers
  The meadow-sweet flaunts high its showy wreath
  And sweet the quaking grasses hide beneath.


  Shall I strew on thee rose or rue or laurel?
  Or quiet sea flower moulded by the sea,
  Or simples and growth of meadow-sweet or sorrel.

  _Ave Atque Vale._--SWINBURNE.

  Pale Iris growing where the streams wind slowly
  Round the smooth shoulders of untrodden hills,
  White meadow-sweet and yellow daffodils.

  _Phœcia._--N. HOPPER.

Queen of the Meadow and Bridewort are two of this flower’s most
appropriate names and a very pretty one is that which Gerarde tells us
the Dutch give it, _Reinette_. The Herbalists do not say much about the
“Little Queen,” but what they do say, is in the highest degree
complimentary. Gerarde decides: “The leaves and flowers excel all other
strong herbes for to deck up houses, to strew in chambers, hall and
banquetting houses in the summer time; for the smell thereof makes the
heart merrie, delighteth the senses, neither doth it cause headache” as
some other sweet smelling herbes do. Parkinson, who says it “has a
pretty, sharp sent and taste,” praises it for the same purpose and adds
the interesting bit of gossip that “Queen _Elizabeth_ of famous memory,
did more desire it than any other sweet herbe to strew her chambers
withal. A leafe or two hereof layd in a cup of wine, will give as quick
and fine a rellish therto as Burnet will,” he finishes practically.
Turner says that women, in the spring-time, “put it into the potages and
mooses.” I have known it used medicinally by a Herbalist, and can
strongly recommend it as an ingredient for _pôt pourri_. The scent is so
sweet and clinging that it is surprising that meadow-sweet is not
oftener in request when dried and scented flowers are wanted. The
Icelander says that if taken on St John’s Day and thrown into water, it
will help to reveal a thief, for if the culprit be a man, it will sink,
if a woman, it will float.

ROSEMARY (_Rosmarinus officinalis_).

  Here’s Rosemary for you, that’s for remembrance.--

  _Hamlet_, iv. 5.

  Rosemary’s for remembrance,
    Between us day and night,
  Wishing that I may always have
    You present in my sight.


  The double daisy, thrift, the button batchelor,
  Sweet William, sops-in-wine, the campion; and to these
  Some lavender they put, with rosemary and bays,
  Sweet marjoram, with her like sweet basil rare for smell,
  With many a flower, whose name were now too long to tell.

  _Polyolbion_, Song xv.

  Oh, thou great shepheard, Lobbin, how great is thy griefe?
    Where bene the nosegays that she dight for thee?
  The coloured chaplets wrought with a chiefe,
    The knotted rush-rings and gilt rosmarie?

  _November, Shepheard’s Calender._--SPENSER.

Rosemary has always been of more importance than any other herb, and
more than most of them put together. It has been employed at weddings
and funerals, for decking the church and for garnishing the banquet
hall, in stage-plays, and in “swelling discontent,” of a too great
reality; as incense in religious ceremonies, and in spells against
magic; “in sickness and in health”; eminently as a symbol, and yet for
very practical uses. It is quite an afterthought to regard it as a
plant. In “Popular Antiquities,” Brand gives such an admirable account
of it that one would like to quote in full, but must bear in mind the
warning, quoted from “Eachard’s _Observations_,” in those pages: “I
cannot forget him, who having at some time or other been suddenly cur’d
of a little head-ache with a Rosemary posset, would scarce drink out of
anything but Rosemary cans, cut his meat with a Rosemary knife.... Nay,
sir, he was so strangely taken up with the excellencies of Rosemary,
that he would needs have the Bible cleared of all other herbs and only
Rosemary to be inserted.” At weddings it was often gilded or dipped in
scented waters, or tied “about with silken ribbands of all colours.”
Sometimes for want of it Broom was used. Mr Friend quotes an account of
a sixteenth century “rustic bridal” at which “every wight with hiz blu
buckeram bridelace upon a branch of green broom--because Rosemary iz
skant thear--tyed on hiz leaft arm.” A wedding sermon by Robert Hacket
(1607) is also quoted: “Rosemary... which by name, nature, and continued
use, man challengeth as properly belonging to himselfe. It overtoppeth
all the flowers in the garden, boasting man’s rule. Another property of
the Rosemary is, it affecteth the hart. Let this Rosmarinus, this flower
of men, ensigne of your wisdom, love and loyaltie, be carried not only
in your hands, but in your heads and harts.” Ben Jonson says it was the
custom for bridesmaids to present the bridegroom with “a bunch of
Rosemary, bound with ribands,” on his first appearance on his wedding
morn. Together with an orange stuck with cloves, it often served as a
little New Year’s gift; and the same author mentions this in his
_Christmas Masque_. The masque opens by showing half the players
unready, and clamouring for missing properties; and _Gambol_, one of
them, says, of _New Year’s Gift_: “He has an orange and Rosemary, but
not a clove to stick in it.” A little later, _New Year’s Gift_ enters,
“in a blue coat, serving-man-like, with an orange and a sprig of
Rosemary, gilt, on his head.” _Wassel_ comes too, “like a neat sempster
and songster, her page bearing a brown bowl drest with ribands and
Rosemary before her.”

For less festive occasions it had other meanings: “As for Rosmarine, I
lett it runne all over my garden walls, not onlie because my bees love
it, but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance, and therefore to
friendship; whence a sprig of it hath a dumb language that maketh it the
chosen emblem of our funeral wakes and in our buriall grounds.” Sir
Thomas More thought this, but others beside him “lett Rosmarine run all
over garden walls,” though perhaps they had less sentiment about it;
Hentzner (_Travels_) (1598) says that it was a custom “exceedingly
common in England.” At Hampton Court, Rosemary was “so planted and
nailed to the walls as to cover them entirely.”[74] The bushes were
sometimes set “by women for their pleasure,[75] to grow in sundry
proportions, as in the fashion of a cart, a peacock or such things as
they fancy,” or the branches were twined amongst others to make an
arbour. Brown refers to this:--

  Within an arbour, shadow’d by a vine
  Mix’d with Rosemary and Eglantine.

  _Br. Pastorals_, book i.

[Illustration: ROSEMARY]

Rosemary was one of the chief funeral herbs. Herrick says:--

  Grow it for two ends, it matters not at all,
  Be’t for my bridall or my buriall.

Sprigs of it were distributed to the mourners before they left the
house, which they carried to the churchyard and threw on the coffin when
it had been lowered into the grave. In _Romeo and Juliet_ Friar Laurence

  Dry up your tears and stick your Rosemary
  On this fair corse

Brand quotes passages from Gay, Dekker, Cartwright, Shirley, Misson,
Coles, “The British Apollo” and “The Wit’s Interpreter,” which connect
Rosemary with burials; and it was also planted on graves.

Coles says it was used with other evergreens to decorate churches at
Christmas-time, and Folkard that, “In place of more costly incense, the
ancients often employed Rosemary in their religious ceremonies. An old
French name for it was _Incensier_. It was conspicuous on a very
remarkable occasion in history. In “A Perfect Journall, etc., of that
memorable Parliament begun at Westminster, Nov. 3, 1640,” is the
following passage, “Nov. 28. That afternoon Master Prin and Master
Burton came in to London, being met and accompanied with many thousands
of horse and foot, and rode with rosemary and bayes in their hands and
hats; which is generally esteemed the greatest affront that ever was
given to the courts of justice in England.” The “affront” lay in the
general rejoicing that attended this overthrowing of the sentence passed
by the Star Chamber, and the causes which led to this enthusiasm were
these: “Some years before,” Prynne, Burton, and Bastwick had written
against the Government and the Bishops, and for this offence had been
sentenced to pay a fine of £5000 each, to have their ears cut off, to
stand in the pillory and to be imprisoned for life. “All of which,” says
Clarendon, “was executed with rigour and severity enough.” “After being
first imprisoned in England, Mr Pyrnne was sent to a castle in the
island of Jersey, Dr Bastwick to Scilly, and Mr Burton to Guernsey.”
Bastwick’s wife seized the first moment that the Commons were assembled
(in Nov. 1640) to present a petition, with the result that on the fourth
day after Parliament met, orders for their release were sent to the
Governors of the respective castles. Clarendon, who, of course, had no
sympathy, but much dislike for them, admits: “When they came near
London, multitudes of people of several conditions, some on horseback,
others on foot, met them some miles from the town; very many having been
a day’s journey; and they were brought about two of the clocke in the
afternoon in at Charing Cross, and carried into the city by above ten
thousand persons with boughs and flowers in their hands, the common
people strewing flowers and herbs in the ways as they passed, making
great noise and expressions of joy for their deliverance and return; and
in those acclamations, mingling loud and virulent exclamations against
the bishops, “who had so cruelly persecuted such godly men.” An
appendix,[76] devoted to this incident, further describes their entry,
“The two branded persons riding first, side by side, with branches of
rosemary in their hands, and two or three hundred horse closely
following them, and multitudes of foot on either side of them, walking
by them, every man on horseback or on foot having bays or rosemary in
their hats or hands, and the people on either side of the street
strewing the way as they passed with herbs, and such other greens as the
season afforded, and expressing great joy for their return.” This
splendid reception must have revealed very plainly to the Government the
mind and temper of the people. Nowadays the exuberance of the mob in
greeting popular heroes is much what it seems to have been then, only
they do not generally express it in such a pretty way as strewing
rosemary and bays.

Culpepper writes that Rosemary was used “not only for physical but civil
purposes,” and among other uses, was placed in the dock of courts of
justice. The reason for this was that among its many reputed medicinal
virtues, “it was accounted singular good to expel the contagion of the
pestilence from which poor prisoners too often suffered. It was also
especially good to comfort the hearte and to helpe a weake memory,” and
was generally highly thought of. Rosemary is still retained in the
pharmacopœia and is popularly much valued as a stimulant to making hair
grow. _L’eau de la reine d’Hongrie_, rosemary tops in proof spirit, was
once famous as a restorative and is mentioned in Perrault’s fairy story
of “The Sleeping Beauty.” After the princess pricks her hand with the
spindle and falls into the fatal sleep, among the means taken to bring
back consciousness, “en lui frotte les tempes avec de l’eau de la reine
d’Hongrie; mais rien ne lui faisait revenir.” Rosemary is also an
ingredient in _Eau de Cologne_. Its efficacy in magic is mentioned in
another chapter. In the countries where it grows to a “very great
height”[77] and the stem is “cloven out into thin boards, it hath served
to make lutes, or such like instruments, and here with us carpenter’s
rules, and to divers other purposes.”

  [74] Hentzner’s “Travels.”

  [75] Barnaby Googe’s “Husbandry” (1578).

  [76] “History of the Rebellion.”

  [77] Parkinson.

RUE (_Ruta graveolens_).

                            Reverend sirs,
  For you there’s Rosemary and Rue; these keep
  Seeming and savour all the winter long,
  Grace and remembrance to you both.

  _Winter’s Tale_, iv. 3.

  Here did she fall a tear; here, in this place,
  I’ll set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace;
  Rue, even for ruth, here shortly shall be seen,
  In the remembrance of a weeping queen.

  _Richard II._, iii. 4.

  There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of
  grace o’Sundays O! you may wear your rue with a difference.

  _Hamlet_, iv. 5.

  Michael from Adam’s eyes the film ’emoved
  ... then purged with euphrasy and rue,
  The visual nerve; for he had much to see.

  _Paradise Lost_, book xi.

  He who sows hatred, shall gather rue.

  _Danish Proverb._

“Ruth was the English name for sorrow and remorse, and _to rue_ was to
be sorry for anything or to have pity, ... and so it was a natural thing
to say that a plant which was so bitter and had always borne the name
_Rue_ or _Ruth_ must be connected with repentance. It was therefore the
Herb of Repentance, and this was soon transformed into the Herb of
Grace.”[78] Canon Ellacombe’s explanation makes clear why rue was often
alluded to symbolically, especially by Shakespeare, to whom the thought
of repentance leading to grace seems to have been an accustomed one. It
has been often stated the actual origin of the name was the fact that
rue was used to make “the _aspergillum_, or holy-water brush, in the
ceremony known as the _asperges_, which usually precedes the Sunday
celebration of High Mass; but for this supposition there is no
ground.”[79] Rue was supposed to be a powerful defence against witches,
and was used in many spells, and Mr Friend describes a “magic wreath” in
which it is used by girls for divination. The wreath is made up of Rue,
Willow and Crane’s-bill. “Walking backwards to a tree they throw the
wreath over their heads, until it catches on the branches and is held
fast. Each time they fail to fix the wreath means another year of single
blessedness.” In the Tyrol, a bunch of Rue, Broom, Maidenhair, Agrimony
and Ground Ivy will enable the wearer to see witches. Lupton adds a
tribute to its powers of magic: “That[80] Pigeons be not hunted nor
killed of Cats at the windowes, or at every passage and at every
Pigeon’s hole, hang or put little Branches of Rew, for Rew hath a
marvellous strength against wilde Beasts. As Didymus doth say.” Milton
refers to a belief, very widely spread, that Rue was specially good for
the eyes, when he says:

  ... purged with Euphrasie and Rue,
        The visual nerve.

that Adam’s eyes should be made clear. (Euphrasie is Eyebright.) Rue was
also an antidote to poison, and preserved people from contagion,
particularly that of the plague, and was thought to be of great virtue
for many disorders. “Some doe rippe up a beade-rowle of the vertues of
Rue, as Macer the poet and others” who apparently declared it to be good
for almost every ill. Mr Britten remarks: “It was long, and probably
still is the custom to strew the dock of the Central Criminal Court at
the Old Bailey with Rue. It arose in 1750, when the contagious disease
known as jail fever, raged in Newgate to a great extent. It may be
remembered that during the trial of the Mannings (1849), the unhappy
woman, after one of the speeches of the opposing counsel, gathered up
some of the sprigs of Rue which lay before her, and threw them at his

Turner recommends Rue “made hott in the pyll of a pomegranate” for the
“ake of the eares.”

  [78] “Plant-lore and Garden-craft of Shakespeare,” Canon Ellacombe.

  [79] Britten.

  [80] “Book of Notable Things” (1575).

SOUTHERNWOOD (_Artemisa Abrotanum_).

  Lavender and Sweet Marjoram march away,
  Sothernwood and Angelica don’t stay,
  Plantain, the Thistle, which they blessed call,
  And useful Wormwood, in their order fall.

  _Of Plants_, book i.--COWLEY.

  I’ll give to him,
  Who gathers me, more sweetness than he’d dream
  Without me--more than any lily could.
  I, that am flowerless, being Southernwood.

          Shall I give you honesty,
          Or lad’s love to wear?
          Or a wreath less fair to see,
          Juniper and Rosemary?

          Rosemary, lest you forget,
          What was lief and fair,
          Lad’s love, sweet thro’ fear and fret,
          Lad’s love, green and living yet,

  _Finnish Bride Song._--N. HOPPER.

Southernwood has many _sobriquets_, among which are Lads or Boy’s Love,
Old Man, and Maiden’s Ruin; the last a corruption of _Armoise du Rône_,
Mr Friend says. The French have contracted the same title to _Auronne_
and also call the plant _Bois de St Jean_ and _Citronelle_. Dutch people
used to call it _Averonne_ (another form of the French contraction) and
the Germans, _Stab-wurtz_. The name _Bois de St Jean_ is given it,
because in some parts of France it is one of the plants dedicated to St
John the Baptist, and the German title came from their faith in it as a
“singular wound-hearb.” Turner considered that the fumes of it being
burned, would drive away serpents, and credits it with many valuable
properties, chiefly medicinal; and Culpepper calls it “a gallant,
mercurial plant, worthy of more esteem than it hath.” It has also been
supposed to have great virtue to prevent the hair falling out. In later
days Hogg has declared it to have an agreeable, exhilarating smell,” and
to be “eminently diaphoretic.” But Thornton, who loves to shatter all
favourite herbal notions, remarks that these good results are chiefly
because it “operates on the mind of the patient,” and that as a
fomentation it is hardly more useful “than cloths wrung out of hot
water.” So transitory is good report!

WOOD-RUFF (_Asperula Odorata_).

  The threstlecoc him threteth oo
  A way is huere wynter wo
  When woodrove springeth.

  _Springtide_, 1300.

  All that we say, and all we leave unsaid
    Be buried with her....
  Pansies for thoughts, and wood-ruff white as she,
    And, for remembrance, quiet rosemary.


The wood-ruff or wood-rowell has its leaves “set about like a star, or
the rowell of a spurre,” whereby it gains its name. English people also
called it Wood-rose and Sweet-Grass; the French, _Hépatique étoilée_,
and the Germans, _Waldmeister_ and _Herzfreude_, and they steep it in
“_Bohle_,” a kind of “cup” made of light wine.

In England it used to be “made up into garlands or bundles and hanged up
in houses in the heate of summer, doth very wel attemper the aire, coole
and make fresh the place, to the delight and comfort of such as are
therein.”[81] Wood-ruff was employed to decorate churches, and
churchwardens’ accounts still exist (at St Mary-atte-Hill, London)
including wood-ruff garlands and lavender in the expenses incurred in
keeping St Barnabas’ Day. Johnston says[82]: “The dried leaves are put
among linen for their sweet smell, and children put a whorl between the
leaves of their books with a like purpose, and many people like to have
one neatly dried laid in the case of their watch.” Sensible, as well as
pretty customs! It was one of the herbs recommended to “make the hart
merrye,” and Tusser puts it among his “stilling herbs,” thus:
“Wood-roffe, for sweet waters and cakes.” Country people used to lay it
a little bruised to a cut, and its odour of new made hay must have made
it a pleasanter remedy than many that they used.

  [81] Gerarde.

  [82] “Botany of the Eastern Borders” (1853).

WORMWOOD (_Artemisia Absinthium_).

  And none a greater Stoick is, than I;
  The _Stoa’s_ Pillars on my stalk rely;
  Let others please, to profit is my pleasure.
  The love I slowly gain’s a lasting treasure.

  _Of Plants_, book i.--COWLEY.

  What savour is better, if physic be true,
  In places infected than wormwood and rue
  It is as a comfort for heart and the brain,
  And therefore to have it, it is not in vain.

  _July’s Husbandry._--TUSSER.

  Here is my moly of much fame
    In magic often used;
  Mugwort and nightshade for the same,
    But not by me abused

  _Muses’ Elysium._--DRAYTON.

Traditions cluster round _Artemisia Absinthium_ and A. Vulgaris,
Mugwort. Canon Ellacombe says that the species are called after Diana,
as she was supposed to “find them and delivered their powers and
leechdom to Chiron the Centaur... who named these worts from the name of
Diana, Artemis;” and he thinks therefore that “Dian’s bud,” spoken of in
the _Midsummer Night’s Dream_ was one of them. The plant was of some
importance among the Mexicans, and when they kept the festival of
Huixtocihuatl, the Goddess of Salt, they began with a great dance of
women, who were joined to one another by strings of different flowers,
and who wore on their heads garlands of wormwood. This dance continued
all night, and on the following morning the dance of the priests began.
(_Nineteenth Century_, Sept. 1879.)

According to the ancients, Wormwood counteracts the effects of poisoning
by toadstools, hemlock, and the biting of the shrew mouse or sea-dragon;
while Mugwort preserves the wayfarer from fatigue, sun-stroke, wild
beasts, the Evil Eye in man, and also from evil spirits! Lupton says
that it is “commonly affirmed that, on Midsummer Eve, there is found at
the root of Mugwort a coal which keeps safe from the plague, carbuncle,
lightning, and the quartan ague, them that bear the same about them; and
Mizaldus, the writer hereof, saith that it is to be found the same day
under the Plantain, which is especially and chiefly to be found at
noon.”[83] Later writers have unkindly insisted that these wonderful
“coals” were no more nor less than old dead roots! Gerarde and Parkinson
are both dignified and contemptuous over these stories. Gerarde says,
“Many other fantasticall devices invented by poets are to be seen in the
works of ancient writers. I do of purpose omit them, as things unworthy
of my recording or your reviewing.” Parkinson is still more severe on
“idle superstitions and irreligious relations,” and abuses this special
“idle conceit,” which Gerarde has not deigned to repeat. It is told even
by “Bauhinus, who glorieth to be an eye-witnesse of this foppery. But
oh! the weake and fraile nature of man! Which I cannot but lament.”
Turner devotes a great deal of space to the disputes of writers as to
the identity of the “true Ponticke Wormwood,” and says that “he himselfe
is certainly accurate on the point, having been taught it by Gerhardas
de Wyck, at that tyme the Emperour’s secretary” at Cologne. “This noble
Clerk was afterwards sent by Charles the fyft, Embassator to the great

It is from wormwood that _Absinthe_ is made; and it has been used
instead of hops in making beer. It used to be laid among stuffs and furs
to keep away moths and insects--by its bitterness, ordinary folk
supposed, but Culpepper knew better, and gives an astrological reason:
“I was once in the tower and viewed the wardrobe and there was a great
many fine cloaths (I can give them no other title, for I was never
either linen or woolen draper), yet as brave as they looked, my opinion
was that the moths might consume them. Moths are under the dominion of
Mars; this herb Wormwood (also an herb of Mars) being laid among cloaths
will make a moth scorn to meddle with the cloaths as much as a lion
scorns to meddle with a mouse, or an eagle with a fly.” One would not
expect to find a moth a “martial creature,” but evidently he _is_, and
this explanation of the working of the law of “sympathies,” not only
tells us so, but kindly shows us a sure means of safeguarding our goods
from an ubiquitous enemy.

Mugwort has many reputed medical virtues, and Dr Thornton who usually
crushes any pretension to such claims, says it “merits the attention of
English physicians, in regard to gout.” It is with this plant that the
Japanese prepare the _Moxa_ that they use as a cautery to a great

Mugwort is said to be a good food for poultry and turkeys. De Gubernatis
tells a Russian legend about this plant which they call _Bech_. Once the
Evil One offended his brother, the Cossack Sabba, who seized and bound
him, and said he should not be released till he had done him some great
service. Presently, some Poles came close by and made a feast, and were
happy, leaving their horses to graze. The Cossack Sabba coveted the
horses and promised the Evil One his liberty if he could manage to get
them. The Evil One then sent other demons to the field and caused
Mugwort to spring up, whereupon the horses trotted away, and as they did
so, the Mugwort moaned “_bech, bech_.” And now when a horse treads on
it, the plant remembers the Pole’s horses and still moans “_bech,
bech!_” for which reason, in the Ukraine it is still called by that
name. It is left untold whether the flight of the horses was due to the
magical nature of the plants, or to their usual bitterness. The latter
is likely enough, as according to Dr Thornton, horses and goats are not
fond of it, and cows and swine refuse it.

Other well-known varieties of Wormwood are _H. pontica_, Roman wormwood
whose leaves are less bitter; and _A. Maritima_, sea-wormwood, and _A.
Santonica_, Tartarian wormwood.

  [83] “Notable Things.”

BAY (_Laurus Nobilis_).

  Then in my lavender I’ll lay,
  Muscado put among it,
  And here and there a leaf of bay,
  Which still shall run along it.

  _Muses’ Elysium._

  This done, we’ll draw lots who shall buy
  And gild the bays and rosemary.


  Down with the rosemary and bays,
  Down with the mistletoe,
  Instead of holly, now upraise,
  The greener box, for show.

  _Ceremonies for Candlemas Eve._--HERRICK.

A Bay-tree invites criticism, as it is certainly not a “herb,” but it is
so often classed with some of them, especially with rosemary (to whom
it seems to have been a sort of twin) that a brief extract from its
interesting history must be made. Herrick’s verses show that both for
weddings and decorations, rosemary and bays were paired together--bays
being also gilded at weddings--and Brand quotes some lines from the
“Wit’s Interpreter” to show that alike at funerals, they were fellows:--

  Shrouded she is from top to toe,
  With Lillies which all o’er her grow,
  Instead of bays and rosemary.

And Coles says, “Cypresse garlands are of great account at funeralls
amongst the gentiler sort, but rosemary and bayes are used by the
commons both at funeralls and weddings.” Parkinson’s testimony is
eloquent: “It serveth to adorne the house of God, as well as of man; to
procure warmth, comfort, and strength to the limmes of men and women by
bathings and anoyntings out, and by drinks, etc., inward: to season the
vessels wherein are preserved our meates, as well as our drinkes; to
crown or encircle as with a garland the heads of the living, and to
sticke and decke forth the bodies of the dead; so that from the cradle
to the grave we have still use of, we have still need of it.” No one
could give higher praise to its natural virtues, but in other countries,
it was endowed with supernatural ones. “Neyther falling sickness,
neyther devyll, wyll infest or hurt one in that place where a bay-tree
is. The Romans call it the Plant of the Good Angell.”[84] On the
contrary, the withering of bay-trees was a very ill omen, and a portent
of death. Canon Ellacombe says this superstition was imported from
Italy, but it seems to have taken root in England. Shakespeare mentions
it in _Richard II._, as if it were no new idea; and Evelyn tells us, as
if he were adding a fresh fact to a store of common knowledge, that in
1629, at Padua, before a great pestilence broke out, almost all the
Bay-trees about that famous University grew sick and perished.

Sir Thomas Browne deals with another belief: “That bays will protect
from the mischief of lightning and thunder is a quality ascribed
thereto, common with the fig-tree, eagle and skin of a seal. Against so
famous a quality Vicomeratus produceth experiment of a bay-tree blasted
in Italy. And, therefore, although Tiberius for this intent did wear
laurel upon his temples, yet did Augustus take a more probable course,
who fled under arches and hollow vaults for protection.” Sir Thomas is
very logical.

It is not always clear when Laurel and when Bay is intended, because our
Bay-tree was often called Laurel in Elizabethan days. For instance:--

  And when from Daphne’s tree he plucks more Baies,
  His shepherd’s pipe may chant more heavenly lays.

  Intro. to _Br. Pastorals_ by CHRISTOPHER BROOKE.

If one is airily told one may pluck _bays_ from a _laurel_ bush, it is
impossible to know which is really meant, and a certain confusion
between the two is inevitable. William Browne, who took, or pretended to
take, seriously the view that bays could not be hurt by thunder, brings
forward an ingenious theory to account for it. It is that “being the
materials of poets ghirlands, it is supposed not subject to any of
Jupiter’s thunderbolts, as other trees are.

  “Where Bayes still grow (by thunder not struck down),
  The victor’s garland and the poet’s crown.”

Besides being a prophet of evil, the Bay-tree was also a token of joy
and triumph. “In Rome, they use it to trim up their _Churches_ and
_Monasteries_ on Solemn _Festivals_ ... as also on occasion of Signal
_Victories_ and other joyful Tidings; and these _Garlands_ made up with
_Hobby-Horse Tinsel_, make a glittering show and rattling Noise when
the _Air_ moves them”; also, “With the _Leaves_ of _Laurel_ they made up
their _Despatches_ and Letters _Laurus involutoe_, wrapt in Bay-leaves,
which they sent the Senate from the victorious General.” Imagine a
“victorious General” now sitting down to label despatches with leaves,
signifying triumph! “Ere Reuter yet had found his range,” how much
better the art of becoming ceremonial was understood.

Finally, the Bay was regarded as a panacea for all ailments, and,
therefore, the statue of Æsculapius was crowned with its leaves.

I append to this book a copy of the List of Herbs that Tusser gives in
“March’s Abstract.” It will be seen that he has carefully classified
them according to their suitability for stilling, strewing, bough-pots
or kitchen.

  [84] “Book of Notable Things,” C. Lupton.



  In March and in April, from morning to night,
  In sowing and setting, good housewives delight;
  To have in a garden or other like plot,
  To trim up their house, and to furnish their pot.

  The nature of flowers, dame Physic doth shew;
  She teacheth them all, to be known to a few,
  To set or to sow, or else sown to remove,
  How that should be practised, pain if ye love.

         *       *       *       *       *

  Time and ages, to sow or to gather be bold,
  But set to remove, when the weather is cold.
  Cut all thing or gather, the moon in the wane,
  But sow in encreasing or give it his bane.

  Now sets do ask watering, with pot or with dish,
  New sown do not so, if ye do as I wish:
  Through cunning with dibble, rake, mattock and spade,
  By line, and by level, the garden is made.

  Who soweth too lateward, hath seldom good seed,
  Who soweth too soon little better shall speed,
  Apt time and the season, so diverse to hit,
  Let aiér and layer, help practice and wit.

  _Five hundred Points of Good Husbandry._--TUSSER.

The majority of herbs are not exacting in their requirements, but a few
foreigners thrive the better for a little protection as a start. This is
the opinion of a successful gardener on the Herb-Border in an ordinary
kitchen-garden: “As to soil and situation, I used to devote a border
entirely to Herbs, under a privet hedge, facing north-west, with a rough
marly bottom. I had a plant of most varieties I could get hold of, both
Culinary and Medicinal.”

Circumstances dictated that my own herbs should grow in a plot, rather
overshadowed, and I found that they flourished, though annuals, as a
rough rule, do best where they can get plenty of sunshine. In speaking
of their cultivation, I have divided them into three groups: Perennials,
Biennials and Annuals, and take the Perennials first.

_Tansy_ will grow in almost any soil and may be increased, either in
spring or autumn, by slips or by dividing the roots. _Lavender_ is not
always easy to please and likes a rather poor, sandy soil. When it is
rich and heavy, matters are sometimes improved by trenching the ground
and putting in chalk about a bushel to a land-yard (16 feet 6 inches by
16 feet 6 inches); lime from a kiln is also used in the same
quantity.[85] Broad-leaved and narrow-leaved are the varieties of the
purple Lavender usually sold, and, besides these, White Lavender. The
narrow-leaved is the hardiest kind and its scent is the strongest; but
the white-flowered has a very delicate fragrance. It requires care, but
is better able to stand cold in a poor, than in a rich soil. The best
way of propagating Lavender is by layering it, and this should be done
in the summer; the plants can then be taken off the spring following.
The narrow-leaved does not grow well from seed, and all kinds are shy of
striking. The best known varieties of _Artemisia_, are _Tarragon_,
_Wormwood_, and _Southernwood_, and they all prefer a dry and rather
poor soil. If Tarragon, especially, be set in a wet soil, it is likely
to be killed in the winter. Two kinds of Tarragon are usually found in
gardens; one has bluish-green, very smooth leaves and the true Tarragon
flavour, and is commonly known as French Tarragon. Russian Tarragon,
the other kind, lacks the special flavour, and bears less smooth leaves
of a fresher green shade. Runners should be taken from these plants in
the spring. Wormwood is satisfied with a shady corner and may be
propagated by seeds or cuttings. Southernwood is increased by division
of the roots in the spring.

  [85] Neither lime nor chalk must be repeatedly added or the soil will
  be impoverished.

_Horehound_ and _Rue_ may be coupled together as liking a shady border
and a dry, calcareous soil, and I have always heard that the latter
thrives best when the plant has been _stolen_! It is a good thing to cut
the bush down from time to time, when it will spring again with renewed
vigour. Rue may be grown from seeds or cuttings taken in the spring.
Horehound may be grown from seeds or cuttings, but is most usually
increased by dividing the roots.

_Hyssop_, _Rosemary_, and _Sage_ are natives of the south of Europe, and
the two first appreciate a light, sandy soil, and not too much sun.
Hyssop should be sowed in March or April; rooted off-sets may be taken
in these months or in August and September, or cuttings from the stems
in April or May, and these should be watered two or three times a week
till they have struck. Both Hyssop and Sage are the better for being cut
back when they have finished flowering. Loudon[86] says of Rosemary:
“The finest plants are raised from seed. Slips or cuttings of the young
shoots may be taken in the spring and summer and set in rows, two-thirds
into the ground and occasionally watered till they have struck. In the
autumn they may be transplanted.” There are four kinds of Sage: red,
green, small-leaved, or Sage of Virtue, broad-leaved or Balsamic.
Gardening books speak of the red variety as being the commonest, though
it seems to me that the common green sage is the one oftenest seen in
kitchen-gardens. Red Sage seldom comes “true” from seed but is easily
raised by cuttings, and it sometimes succumbs to a hard winter. The
other varieties are propagated by seed or by cuttings taken in May or
June; the outer shoots should be the ones chosen and they should be put
well into the ground and watered. After about three years the plants
begin to degenerate and new ones should be set. Three kinds of
_Marjoram_ are cultivated, _Winter_ (_Origanum Heracleoticum_), _Pot_
(_O. Onites_) and _Sweet Marjoram_ (_O. Marjorana_). The last-named is
not a perennial. Winter and Pot Marjoram like a dry, light soil and are
best propagated by off-sets, slipping or parting the roots in spring or
autumn, but they may be also raised from seed. _Bergamot_, sometimes
called Bee Balm, is, Robinson says, of the simplest culture, thriving or
flowering in any position or soil. “For its scent alone, or for its
handsome crimson flowers it would be well worth cultivating.”[87] He
adds that the different varieties of _Monarda_ are admirably suited to
being planted “for naturalization in woods and shrubberies.” Bergamot
may be increased by division of the roots in the spring or grown from

  [86] “Encyclopædia of Gardening.”

  [87] “English Flower Garden.”

_Balm_ grows almost too readily and has a terrible habit of spreading in
all directions unless severely checked. To propagate it, the roots
should be divided, or slips taken either in spring or autumn.

_Thyme._--Of the varieties of _Serpyllum_ there seems no end, and the
number of the species of _Thymus_ is still dubious. Twelve kinds of them
are offered for sale in an ordinary seed list sent to me the other day,
but of these, few are grown in the kitchen-garden. _Common Thyme_ or
_Lemon Thyme_ are the kinds most usually cultivated. Common Thyme has
long, narrow-pointed leaves and Lemon Thyme is easily recognised by its
scent from the wild Thyme, of which it has generally been considered a
variety. _Golden_ or _Variegated Thyme_ (also lemon-scented) makes a
pretty and fragrant edging to a flower-bed, but should be cut back when
it has done flowering, unless the seed is to be saved, as it becomes
straggling and untidy, and there is more danger of its being killed by
the frost than if the winter finds it compact and bushy. Thyme is
propagated by seed, by taking up rooted side-shoots, or by cuttings
taken in the spring. It thrives best in a light, rich earth, and should
be occasionally watered till well rooted.

There are two varieties of _Camomile_, the single and the
double-flowered; the first is the most valuable in medicine, but the
second is the most commonly met with. Camomile grows freely in most
soils, but seems naturally to choose gravel and sand. The roots may be
divided or, as the gardener before quoted, remarks: “Only let a plant of
it go to seed; it will take care of itself.” _Costmary_ is seldom grown.
Loudon says the whole plant has “a peculiarly agreeable odour”;
personally, the odour strikes me as exactly resembling that of mint
sauce. The plant is rather handsome, with large greyish leaves and small
deep-yellow flowers; it likes a dry soil and is increased by division of
the roots after the flowering time is over.

_Mint_, _Peppermint_ and _Penny-royal_, demand the same treatment, and
all like moisture. They are easily increased by dividing the roots in
the spring or autumn, by taking off runners in the autumn, or by
cuttings taken in the spring. The cuttings should be planted about half
way into the earth. To have really good mint, it should be transplanted
about every third year. _Green Mint_ is sometimes required in the winter
and early spring, and this may be provided by putting a few outside
runners in a pot and placing it in bottom heat. “Plant for succession
every three weeks, as forced roots soon decay.”

_Winter Savoury_ is “propagated by slips or cuttings in April or June,
planted in a shady border, and transplanted a foot apart and kept bushy
by cuttings.”[88]

  [88] Abercrombie, “Every Man his own Gardener.”

_Fennel_ has become naturalised and is sometimes found growing wild by
the sea; it is usually raised from seed or increased by side off-sets of
the roots which may be taken in spring, summer or autumn. _Bugloss_ or
_Alkanet_ grows freely anywhere, but seems to prefer moisture, and it
may be increased by division of the roots or grown from seeds.

Of _Mallows_ and _Marsh Mallows_, De la Quintinye says, “They ought to
be allowed a place in our Kitchen-Gardens... they grow of their own
accord,” but he admits that it is best to “sow them in some bye-place,”
because of their propensity to spread. They are raised from seed, but
cuttings may do well, and off-sets of the root, carefully divided, are
satisfactory. _Sweet Cicely_ may be increased by dividing the roots. It
is well suited to an open shrubbery or wild garden, as well as to a
herb-border. _Elecampane_ is propagated by off-sets, taken when the
plant has done flowering; it likes a moist soil or shade, and sends up
tall spikes of bright yellow flowers. This year some of mine were over
six feet high.

_Angelica_, Abercrombie tells us, is an annual-perennial, which means
that it must be taken up and newly planted every year to be at all good,
though off-sets from the plant would continue to come up of their own
accord. It delights in moisture, and flourishes on the banks of running
streams, but will do well almost anywhere. Angelica is best raised from
seed, which, if sown in August, will grow better than if sown earlier in
the year and it will sometimes grow from cuttings. _Liquorice_ is
“propagated by cuttings of the roots. On account of the depth to which
the root strikes when the plant has room to flourish, the soil should
have a good staple of mould thirty inches or three feet in depth. Taking
the small horizontal roots of established plants, cut them into sections
six inches long. Having traced out rows a yard asunder, plant the sets
along each row at intervals of eighteen inches, covering them entirely
with mould.”[89]

  [89] Abercrombie.


_Saffron_ will grow in any soil, but prefers a sandy one, and plenty of
sun. It is increased by seed, and by off-sets, which must be taken from
the bulb when the plant is in a state of rest. As Saffron is an
autumn-flowering plant, the time of rest is in the beginning of summer,
and the bulb should be taken up when the leaves (which appear in the
spring) begin to decay. The parent bulbs should be kept dry for a month
and then replanted, that they may have time to “establish themselves”
and flower before winter. This should be done once in three years.
_Skirrets_ are seldom eaten, but occasionally seen; they may be raised
from seed, or by off-sets from the roots taken in spring or autumn.
_Chives_ are propagated by dividing the roots either in spring or
autumn, and when the leaves are wanted they should be cut close, and
then new ones will grow up in their place.

_Sorrel_ of two kinds is cultivated, _Rumex Acetosa_ and _Rumex
Scutatus_ or _French Sorrel_; Garden Sorrel rejoices in a damp, French
Sorrel in a dry, soil. Both are most commonly increased by parting the
roots, which may be done either in spring or autumn, and the roots
planted about a foot apart and watered. Loudon says: “The finer plants
are propagated from seed,” which should be sown in March, though it may
be sown in any of the spring months, and the plants must be thinned out
when they are one or two inches high. When the stalks run up in the
summer they should be cut back occasionally.

_Herb Patience_ or _Patience Dock_ is raised from seed sown in lines and
thinned out and the leaves to be eaten must be cut young. _Burnet_ is
easily raised from seed, or increased by dividing the roots in the
spring. All the flower-stalks ought to be cut down, if they are not
required for seed. _Dandelion_, it is hardly necessary to say, is only
too easily raised from seed or by roots. Loudon says that when wanted
for the table, the leaves should be tied together and earthed up, which
will blanch them satisfactorily; otherwise, it may be grown blanched by
keeping it always in a dark place.

For obvious reasons there are obstacles to the cultivation of
_Water-cress_; a very little running water, however, will suffice, and
it may be grown from seeds or by setting roots in the shallow stream. It
should never be grown in stagnant water. Loudon quotes several
authorities on the subject of growing _Samphire_; it is difficult to
please, but this treatment was successful at Thames Ditton. The Samphire
was “placed in a sheltered, dry situation, screened from the morning
sun, protected by litter in the winter, and in the spring the soil was
sprinkled with a little powdered barilla, to console it for the lack of
its beloved sea-spray.” It is raised from seed which should be sown as
soon as it is ripe, or the roots may be divided.

In the early part of August, the young shoots should be cut back, and
the decayed flower-stems removed, on such plants as hyssop, sage,
lavender, and the like, and they will then send out new short shoots,
which will make a close, bushy head for the winter. If possible, this
should be done in damp weather. In October, the beds should be weeded;
if the plants stand at some distance from each other, the earth between
should be loosened, and if the beds are old, a little manure would be a
great advantage. Amongst close-growing herbs, digging is impossible,
but the ground must be hoed, raked and cleaned of weeds.

BIENNIALS.--_Parsley._--There are many kinds of parsley, and one
specially recommended is the triple-curled variety. All parsleys are
raised from seed, and it is a good thing to sow one bed in March and a
second in June, thus securing a continual supply all through the winter.
The plants want well thinning out, and if the weather be very dry, the
last sown should have two or three waterings with weak manure water. To
protect them from the frost, a reed-hurdle, or even a few branches of
fir, may be used, but, of course, a box-frame and light is the best.
Parsley likes a deep soil, not too rich; and a good quantity of soot
worked into it much improves the plants.

_Caraway_ is raised from seed, which should be sown in the autumn, and
it may also be sown in March or April, but the result will not be so
good. This plant likes a rich, light soil. _Dill_ should be sown in the
spring, either broadcast or in drills, six to twelve inches apart. It
may be sown in autumn, but this is not very advisable. _Clary_ is sown
in the end of March or in April, and should be transplanted to six to
twelve inches apart, when the plants are two or three inches high; it
may also be grown from cuttings.

_Rampions_ should be thinly sowed in April or May in shady borders. If
the plant is grown for use, it must not be allowed to flower, and in
this case, it should not be sown till the end of May. The plants should
be moderately watered at first (and later if the weather be very dry),
and when sufficiently grown, they should be thinned out to three or four
inches apart. The roots are fit for use in November. _Alexanders_ or
_Alisanders_, will send up shoots indefinitely, but must be sown afresh
every year if wanted for the table. The seed should be sown in drills
eighteen inches or more apart, and the plants thinned out to five or
six inches distance from each other. When they are well grown they
should be earthed up several inches on each side to blanch them.

ANNUALS.--_Anise_ and _Coriander_ like a warm, dry, light soil. If this
is not procurable, anise should be “sown in pots in heat, and removed to
a warm site in May.”[90] Coriander may be sown in February, if it be
mild and dry, and the seeds must be buried half an inch. _Cumin_ is
rarely seen; but it is advised that it should be sown in a warm, sunny
border in March or April.

  [90] Loudon.

_Sweet Marjoram_ and _Summer Savory_ must both be sowed in light earth,
either in drills nine inches apart, or broadcast, when they must be
thinned out later on. The plants thinned out may be planted in another
bed at six inches distance from each other, and must be watered. _Sweet
Basil_ and _Bush Basil_ are both raised from seed sown in a hot-bed in
the end of March, and the young plants should be set a foot apart in a
warm border in May. They may be sown in an open border, but there is a
risk of their coming up at all, and a certainty, that if they do, the
plants will be late and small. Sweet Basil (_Ocymum Basilicum_) is much
the largest plant, Bush Basil (_O. Mininum_) being scarcely half the
size; both like a rich soil.

_Borage_ is raised from seed, and, if let alone, will seed itself and
come up, year after year, in the same place. It likes a dry soil.
Gardening books recommend that it should be planted in drills and
thinned, but for the sake of the picturesque, it should be dotted about
among low-growing herbs in single plants or little clumps.

_Marigolds_ should be planted in light, dry soil; they may be “sowed in
the spring, summer, or autumn, to remain or be transplanted a foot
asunder.”[91] The outer edge (near the palings) of Regent’s Park, close
to Hanover Gate, testifies to their power of seeding themselves.
Authorities differ as to whether _Finocchio_ is an annual, but at
anyrate, in England, it must be treated as one. Finocchio should be
sowed in dry, light earth, and must afterwards be thinned, or the plants
transplanted to a distance of fifteen inches between each. The swelling
stems “of some tolerable substance” must be earthed up five or six
inches, and will be blanched and tender in a fortnight’s time, and if
sowed in successive sowings, it may be eaten from June till December.

  [91] Abercrombie.

_Endive_ must be sown in successive crops in July and the early part of
August, and this will produce “a sufficiency to last through the winter
and early spring. If sown earlier it runs to seed the same year; but if
early endive is required, a little white-curled variety is the best to
sow. The ground should be light and rich on a dry subsoil”; when
sufficiently grown, the plants should be thinned, and those taken out,
transplanted at a distance of ten or twelve inches apart, and watered
occasionally till they are well rooted. Endive is more easy to blanch if
sowed in trenches than in level ground. In wet weather, blanching is
best accomplished by putting a garden-pot over the plant; but, in
summer, it is better to tie the leaves together and earth them half way
up. The process will take from a week in dry weather to nearly three
weeks in wet, and the plant must be taken up soon after it is finished,
as after a few days it begins to decay. In severe frost the bed should
be covered with straw litter.

_Chervil_ is sown in August and September, and can be used in the same
autumn and through the winter; if successive crops are wanted, it may be
sown any time between the end of February and August. It should be sown
in shallow drills, and the plants left to grow as they come up. When the
leaves are two or three inches high they are ready to be used, and if
cut close, fresh leaves will shoot up in their place. _Lambs’ Lettuce_
is appreciated chiefly in the winter; it should be sown in August, and
again in September to last through the winter and early spring. Dry
fairly mellow soil will suit it, and it may be left to grow as it was

_Rocket._--“This is an agreeable addition to cresses and mustard, early
in spring. It should be sown in a warm border in February, and during
the next months if a succession is wanted. After the first rough leaf
has appeared, thin out the plants.”[92] The _Purslanes_ are both tender
annuals, Green Purslane (_Portulaca olerecea_) being rather hardier than
Golden Purslane (_P. sativa_). They should be sowed on hot-beds in
February or March; or in a warm border, they may be sowed in drills
during fine weather in May. They should be left as they grow, and when
the leaves are gathered they must be cut low, and then a fresh crop will
appear. Purslane must be watered occasionally in very dry, hot weather.

  [92] Loudon.

The above remarks pretend to being no more than bare outlines of the art
of growing certain herbs. Many of these have outlived their reputation,
and are now cultivated for no practical purpose, but for sentiment’s
sake, or for their aromatic grace, by those who “take a delight” in such
things. To these I hope these suggestions may be useful. Any person
desiring to bring a special herb to perfection is hardly likely to need
reference to one of the many admirable gardening dictionaries, for it is
not probable that he would look to an amateur for solid instruction on
such points. To conclude, Leonard Meager[93] gives some pithy directions
which it is well to bear in mind:--

“In setting herbs ever observe to leave the tops no more than a handful
above the ground, and the roots a foot under the earth.

  [93] “New Art of Gardening.”

“Twine the roots of the herbs you set, unless too brittle. Gather herbs
when the sap is full in the top of them. Such herbs as you intend to
gather for drying, to keep for use all the winter, do it about
Lammas-tide; dry them in the shade that the sun draw not out their
vertue, but in a clear air and breezy wind, that no mustiness may taint

Cut all herbs just before they flower, except where the flower heads are
wanted--lavender or camomile, for instance. These should be cut just
before the flowers are fully open.



  When bright Aurora gilds the eastern skies,
  I wake and from my squalid couch arise...
  Be this my topic, this my aim and end,
  Heav’n’s will to obey and seek t’oblige a friend...
  Some herbs adorn the hills--some vales below,
  Where limpid streamlets in meanders flow,
  Here’s Golden Saxifrage, in vernal hours,
  Springs up when water’d well by fertile showers:
  It flourishes in bogs where waters beat,
  The yellow flowers in clusters stand complete.
  Adorn’d with snowy white, in meadows low,
  White Saxifrage displays a lucid show:...
  Why should my friends in pining grief remain,
  Or suffer with excruciating pain?
  The wholesome medicines, if by heaven blest,
  Sure anodynes will prove and give them rest....
  Here’s Tormentilla, with its searching parts,
  Expels the pois’nous venom from our hearts...
  Wood-betony is in its prime in May,
  In June and July does its bloom display,
  A fine, bright red does this grand plant adorn,
  To gather it for drink I think no scorn;
  I’ll make a conserve of its fragrant flowers,
  Cephalick virtues in this herb remain,
  To chase each dire disorder from the brain.
  Delirious persons here a cure may find
  To stem the phrensy and to calm the mind.
  All authors own wood-betony is good,
  ’Tis king o’er all the herbs that deck the wood;
  A king’s physician erst such notice took
  Of this, he on its virtues wrote a book.

  _The Poor Phytologist._--JAMES CHAMBERS.

The old herbalists used so many herbs and found each one good for so
many disorders that one is filled with wonder that patients ever
died, till one examines into the prescriptions and methods generally,
and then one is more astonished that any of them recovered. I shall not
mention any prescriptions here, excepting the celebrated antidote to all
poison, Venice Treacle. This included seventy-three ingredients, and was
evolved from an earlier and also famous nostrum, the _Mithridaticum_,
originated by Mithridates, King of Pontus. Of course, this “treacle” was
in no way connected with the sugary syrup we call by this name, but is a
corruption of the Latin--_Theriaca_, a counter poison. Venice Treacle is
an extreme example of the multitude of conflicting elements that were
massed together and boldly administered in ancient remedies. The memory
of it still clings about a wayside plant, _Erysimum cheiranthoides_,
better known as Treacle-Mustard, which has gained its English name from
the fact that its seeds were used in this awe-inspiring compound.


Anyone who is interested in ancient remedies can easily gain much
information from Culpepper or Salmon. Either herbal can be procured at a
low price (in a cheap edition) from any second-hand bookseller, and
Salmon’s wild statements, especially about animals, and Culpepper’s
biting wit, make them amusing reading. It is more instructive to examine
the principles that animated the practice, and from one, the Doctrine of
Signatures took form--a doctrine widely believed in, and of great
influence. Coles[94] expounds it with great clearness: “Though Sin and
Sattan have plunged mankinde into an Ocean of Infirmities... yet the
mercy of God, which is over all His workes, maketh ... herbes for the
use of man, and hath not onely 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.... Viper’s Bugloss hath its stalks
all to be speckled like a snake or viper, and is a most singular remedy
against poyson and the sting of scorpions.... Heart Trefoyle is so
called, not onely because the leafe is triangular, like the heart of a
man, but also because each leafe contains the perfection of the heart,
and that in its proper colour, viz., in flesh colour. It defendeth the
heart.... The leaves of Saint John’s Wort seem to be pricked or pinked
very thick with little holes like the pores of a man’s skin. It is a
soveraigne remedy for any cut in the skin.” This was a view very
generally shared. William Browne says:

          In physic by some signature
  Nature herself doth point us out a cure.

  [94] “Art of Simpling.”

And again:

          Heaven hath made me for thy cure,
  Both the physician and the signature.

  _Br. Pastorals_, book iii.

Drayton’s _Hermit_ pursued a development of this theory. He merely
accepted the conclusions of earlier authorities who had made discoveries
about the properties of plants and had named them accordingly.

  Some (herbs) by experience, as we see,
  Whose _names express their natures_.

  _Muses’ Elysium._

It was, naturally, more simple to administer all-heal, for a wound;
hore-hound, for “mad dogge’s biting,” and so on, than to decipher the
signature from the plant, himself, and so he and many others, prescribed
the herbs, with more reference to their names, than unprejudiced
attention to results.

The planets were another determining factor in the choice of remedies.
Each plant was dedicated to a planet and each planet presided over a
special part of the body, therefore, when any part was affected, a herb
belonging to the planet that governed that special part must, as a
rule, be used. Thus, Mercury presided over the brain, so for a headache
or “Folly and Simplicity (the Epidemicall diseases of the Time)” one of
Mercury’s herbs must be chosen. Mercurial herbs were, as a rule,
refreshing, aromatic and of “very subtle parts.” The planets seem
usually to have caused, as well as cured the diseases in their special
province, and therefore their own herbs, brought about the cure “by
sympathy.” But sometimes, a planet would cause a disorder in the
province ruled by another planet, to whom the first was in opposition,
and in this case the cure must be made “by antipathy.” Thus the lungs
are under Jupiter, to whom Mercury is opposed, therefore in any case of
the lungs being affected, the physician must first discover whether
Jupiter or Mercury were the agent and if the latter, the remedy must be
“antipathetical”; it must be from one of Mercury’s herbs. Sometimes
where a planet had caused a disease in the part it governed, an
“antipathetical” cure, by means of an adversary’s herbs, was advised;
for instance Jupiter is opposed to Saturn, so Jupiter’s herbs might be
given for toothache or pains in the bones caused by Saturn, for the
bones are under Saturn’s dominion. An antipathetical remedy, however,
Culpepper does not recommend for common use, for “sympathetical cures
strengthen nature; antipathetical cures, in one degree or another,
weaken it.” Besides this, the position of the planet had to be
considered, the “House” that it was in, and the aspect in which it was
to the moon and other planets.

“A benevolent Planet in the sixth, cures the disease without the help of
a Physitian.

“A malevolent Planet there causeth a change in the disease, and usually
from better to worse.

“A malevolent in the Ascendant threatens death, and makes the sick as
cross-grained as _Bajazet_ the Turkish Emperor when he was in the Iron

This is from Culpepper’s “Astrological Judgment of Diseases”; in his
“Herbal” he gives definite directions:

“Fortify the body with herbs of the nature of the Lord of the Ascendant,
’tis no matter whether he be a Fortune or Infortune in this case.

“Let your medicine be something antipathetical to the Lord of the Sixth.

“If the Lord of the Tenth be strong, make use of his medicines.

“If this cannot well be, make use of the medicines of the Light of

Turning to the herbs appropriated to the special planets, we find that
those of Mars were usually strong, bright and vigorous, and cured ills
caused by violence, including the sting of “a martial creature, imagine
a wasp, a hornet, a scorpion.” Yellow flowers were largely dedicated to
the Sun or Moon, radiant, bright-yellow ones to the Sun; these of paler,
fainter hues to the Moon. Flowers dedicated to either were good for the
eyes, for the eyes are ruled by “the Luminaries.” Jupiter’s herbs had
generally, “_Leaves_ smooth, even, slightly cut and pointed, the veins
not prominent. _Flowers_ graceful, pleasing bright, succulent.” The
herbs of Venus were those with many flowers, of bright or delicate
colours and pleasant odours. Saturn, who is almost always looked upon as
being unfavourable, had only plants, whose leaves were “hairy, dry,
hard, parched, coarse,”[95] and whose flowers were “gloomy, dull,
greenish, faded or dirty white, pale red, invariably hirsute, prickly
and disagreeable.”

  [95] Folkard.

One does not know how much modern physicians care about propitiating
Jupiter, but certainly they make an effort in that direction every time
that they do, as did the Ancients, and write Rx--thus making his
sign--at the top of a prescription. The small attention paid by doctors
to herbs is often supposed to be a modern development, but hear
Culpepper in 1652! “Drones lie at home and eat up what the bees have
taken pains for. Just so do the college of physicians lie at home and
domineer and suck out the sweetness of other men’s labours and studies,
themselves being as ignorant in the matter of herbs as a child of four
years old, as I can make appear to any rational man by their last

It was not unnatural that the Herbalists should maintain the superiority
of vegetable over mineral drugs, and Gerarde expresses his opinions in
the introduction to his “Herbal.” “I confesse blind Pluto is nowadays
more sought after than quick-sighted Phœbus, and yet this dusty
metall,... is rather snatched of man to his own destruction....
Contrariwise, in the expert knowledge of herbes what pleasure still
renewed with varietie? What small expence? What security? And yet what
an apt and ordinary meanes to conduct men to that most desired benefit
of health?”

Many herbs have been expunged from modern Pharmacopœias. Perhaps we have
no use for them now that we, in England, no longer live in perpetual
terror of the bitings of sea-hares, scorpions or tarantulas, as our
forefathers seem to have done! In Harrison’s “Description of England,”
the habit of preferring foreign, to native herbs, is rebuked. “But
herein (the cherishing of foreign herbs) I find some cause of just
complaint, for that we extoll their uses so farre that we fall into
contempt of our owne, which are, in truth, more beneficiall and apt for
us than such as grow elsewhere, sith (as I said before) everie region
hath abundantly within his own limits whatsoever is needfull and most
convenient for them that dwell therein.” Probably there are to-day some
thinkers of this stamp, as well as others who will hold anything
valuable as long as it has been fetched from “overseas.”

Russell gives instructions, in his “Boke of Nurture,” how to “make a
Bath medicinable,” by adding herbs,--mallow, hollyhocks and fennel being
among the number. And he directs that herbs “sweet and greene” should be
hanged round the room “when the Master will have a bath”; a proceeding
which was evidently something of a ceremony.

To-day, there is an unfortunate tendency among the poor, to desert
herbs, _not_ for “doctor’s medicine,” but for any quackery they may
chance to see “on the paper” and some of these remedies are advertised
to cure nearly as many and diverse diseases, as any of the compounds
prescribed by the Ancients. Consequently, one usually hears of the uses
of herbs in the past tense. There is a curious poem (published at
Ipswich, 1796) called the “Poor Phytologist, or the Author Gathering
Herbs,” by James Chambers, Itinerant Poet, which gives the names and
virtues of the simples most prized at that date. He was a pedlar, who
wandered about the country, always accompanied by several dogs, and he
added to his “precarious mode of existence, the art of making nets and
composing acrostics.” I have quoted some of his lines at the beginning
of this chapter, but few of the herbs he mentions are in popular use
now, at least in the west of England. Betony occurs in some old village
recipes still employed, though its vaunted powers have been declared
vain by science. Amongst those that I have known, or have heard of,
through personal friends, as being still, or quite recently in use, are
the following:--Dandelion, Centaury, Meadow-Sweet and Wild-Sage are used
as “bitters.” By _Wild_-Sage, _Wood_-Sage is usually, if not always,
meant. Dandelion is, of course, in the British Pharmacopœia; and
Wood-Sage, though not officinal, is asked for by some chemists. Bear’s
foot (Hellebore) has five finger-like leaves, but one finger is bad and
must be torn off. Angelica is a wonderful herb; Parkinson put it in the
fore-front of all medicinal plants and it holds almost as high a place
among village herbalists to-day. Among many other virtues, the dried
leaves are said to have great power to reduce inflammation if steeped in
hot water and applied to the affected part. Mallows, especially
Marsh-Mallows, retain their old reputation for relieving the same ill
and the well-known _Pâtés de Guimauve_ are made from their roots. Elder,
beloved by all herbalists, still keeps its place in the British
Pharmacopœia, and the cooling effects of Elder-Flower Water, none can
deny. In the country, Elder leaves and buds are most highly valued and
are used in drinks, poultices and ointments. Hyssop, or as some call it
I-sop, is sometimes used. Primrose, Poor Man’s Friend, and Comfrey are
together made into an ointment, but White Comfrey should be used when
the ointment is for a woman, Red-flowered Comfrey when it is for a man.
“Poor Man’s Friend” in this case is Hedge-Garlic, but the name is
sometimes given to Swine’s Cress (_Lapsana Communis_). The juice of
House-Leek, mixed with cream, relieves inflammation and particularly the
irritation which follows vaccination in an arm “taking beautifully.”
_Probatum est._ Penny-pies or Penny-wort (_Cotyledon Umbilicus_) is said
to be equally efficacious, especially used with cream, and when simmered
with the “sides of the pan,” have been known to heal, where linseed
poultices failed to do good. When the leaf of Penny-wort is applied to a
wound, one side draws, the other side heals. Wormwood is often in
request by brewers. Marigold-tea is a widely administered remedy for the
measles, and is one of the few remedies which everybody seems to know.
Very often families appear to have their own special formula, and even
where the chief herbs in different prescriptions to relieve the same
ailment are identical, the lesser herbs vary. Saffron was also
recommended for measles; both probably on the “Doctrine of Colour
Analogy” referred to the rash. An old Herbalist told me that he
considered Marigolds nearly as good as Saffron and “more home-grown, so
to speak.” Dr Primrose, a physician in the reign of Charles II., who
wrote a book on “Popular Errors in Physick,” inveighs against the custom
then in vogue of covering “the sick [with measles or small-pox] with red
cloaths, for they are thought by the affinitie of the colour to draw the
blood out to them, or at least some suppose that it is done by force of
imagination. And not onely the people, but also very many physicians use
them.” Marigold-tea is at anyrate a better survival as “treatment” than
this system! Meadow-Saffron is still officinal, and is well known in the
form it is usually dispensed, Tincture of Colchicum. Broom has a place
in the pharmacopœia, and is also a popular remedy. Furze is not
officinal, but a preparation made from it, Ulexine, is mentioned in a
well-known medical dictionary. An infusion of Furze-blossom used to be
given to children to drink in scarlet fever. Camomile is officinal, and
the great authority, Dr Schimmelbusch recently recommended it as a
mouth-wash, for disinfecting the muscous membrane after cases of
operation in the mouth. In a fomentation Camomile heads are a recognised
anodyne; and Wild Camomile and Red Pimpernel are given locally for
asthma, it is said, with great success. Boy’s love, (Southernwood),
Plantain leaves, Black Currant leaves, Elder buds, Angelica and Parsley,
chopped, pounded, and simmered with clarified butter, make an ointment
for burns or raw surfaces. A maker of this particular ointment near
Exeter, died a year or two ago, but up to her death it was much in
request. Butter is always better for making ointments than lard, because
cows feed on herbs, and all herbs are good for something. Sage poultices
and sage gargle are very good for sore throats, better than some of
the gargles that “the gentlemen” prescribe (so a Herbalist told me), and
red sage is better than green. Rosemary has long been celebrated for
making the hair grow. Water-cress is very good for the blood, and the
expressed juice has been known to prove a wonderful cure for rheumatism.
A lady told me of a case she knew in Berkshire, where a man was
absolutely crippled till he tried this remedy, and afterwards quite
recovered his power to move and a very good degree of strength.
Water-cress was one of the plants from which Count Mattei extracted his
vegetable electricity. Parsley, freshly gathered and laid on the
forehead is good for a headache, and if put in a fold of muslin and laid
across inflamed eyes, it is said to be beneficial. Endive tea is cooling
and is given to “fever” patients, and the dry leaves of lovage infused
in white wine were good for ague. An infusion of Raspberry leaves,
Agrimony, and Barberry-bark was good for consumptive patients, and
Cowslip and Cucumber were made into a wash to make the complexion
“splendent,” to use an old expression. Coltsfoot is still given for
coughs; Sweet Marjoram was administered for dropsy, Alderberries for
boils; Arb-Rabbit (Herb-Robert) made into poultices for “inflammation;”
Brook-lime, given for St Anthony’s Fire, and Brown Nut, made into a
decoction, was taken hot just before going to bed, for a cold.
Groundsel, Docks, Hay-Maids (Ground-Ivy), Feather-Few, Chicken-Weed,
Hedge-Garlic or Hedge-Mustard, I have also heard recommended at
different times. The Blessed Thistle is a useless ingredient in a good
herb-ointment for burns. Amongst the last named plants are several not
strictly to be called “herbs,” but they and others I shall mention are
“simples,” and as such they fitly find a place among medicinal herbs.
Foxglove and Belladonna, of course, are among the most important drugs
in the Pharmacopœia, and both the fruits and leaves of Hemlock have
also a place there. Foxglove, called in Devonshire, Cowflop, is
recommended as an application to heal sores, and one woman told me that
it should always be gathered on the north side of the hedge. It is
interesting to note that the Italians have a proverb, “Aralda, tutte
piaghe salda” (Foxglove heals all sores). Cliders (Goose-grass, _Galium
aparine_) was much given for tumours and cancers, and is praised by
other than merely village sages. Dr Fernie quotes the testimony of
several doctors who used it with success, and adds, “some of our trading
druggists now furnish curative preparations made from the fresh herb.”

[Illustration: PLANTATION OF POPPIES (_P. Somniferum_)]

  No ear hath heard, no tongue can tell,
  The virtues of the pimpernel.

This most popular plant, amongst other uses, is put into poultices.
Bacon mentions it as a weather prophet. “There is a small red flower in
the stubble-fields, which country people call the wincopipe, which if it
open in the morning, you may be sure of a fine day to follow.”[96] The
virtues of Betony are set forth by the “Poor Phytologist,” and he is
quite right in saying that it was once esteemed a most sovereign remedy
for all troubles connected with the brain. It was, in fact, so far
extolled that an adage was once current:--

  “Sell your coat and buy betony.”

In Italy there are two modern sayings, one a pious aspiration, “May you
have more virtues than Betony”; and the other an allusion, “Known as
well as Betony.” Though the reputation of this plant has quite withered,
that of horehound is in a more flourishing state, and it is still, I
believe, considered of real use for coughs. Violet leaves are now
becoming a fashionable remedy in the hands of amateur doctors, who
prescribe them for cancer. In the Highlands, it is said, they were used
for the complexion, and a recipe is translated from the Gælic, “Anoint
thy face with goat’s milk in which violets have been infused, and there
is not a young prince on earth who will not be charmed with thy beauty.”
The Greater Celandine was once dedicated to the sun, and it is still
recommended as being good for the eyes, though not by members of the
faculty. The following advice was given me by an old Cornish woman, but
I am almost sure the flower she spoke of was the Lesser Celandine. This
probably arose from a confusion of the two flowers, as I have never
heard or seen the Lesser Celandine elsewhere commended for this purpose.
“Take celandines and pound them with salt. Put them on some rag, and lay
it on the inside of the wrist on the side of whichever eye is bad.
Change the flowers twice a day, and go on applying them till the eye is
well. Put enough alum to curdle it, into some scalded milk. Bathe the
eyes with the liquid and apply the curds to the place.”

  [96] “Natural History.” Cent. IX.

Green Oil made after the following recipe has often proved beneficial
for slight burns and scalds, and smells much nicer than the boracic
ointment usually ordered for such injuries. It is also recommended for
fresh wounds and bruises. “Take equal quantities of sage, camomile,
wormwood and marsh-mallows, pick them clean and put them into sweet oil
and as much of it as will cover the herbs; if a quart add a quarter of a
pound of sugar, and so on in proportion. Let them stand a week without
stirring, then put them into the sun for a fortnight, stir them every
day. Strain them with a strong cloth very hard, and set it on a slow
fire with some red rose-buds and the young tops of lavender, let them
simmer on a slow fire for two hours, strain off the oil, and put to it a
gill of brandy. (If some hog’s lard be poured upon the herbs, they will
keep and make an excellent poultice for any kind of sore.)

The oil should be applied _immediately_ to any kind of bruise or burn.
It will prevent all inflammation and heal the wound. The time to begin
making it is when the herbs are in full vigour, which depends much on
the season being early; in general the middle of May is about the time,
as the rose-buds and lavender would not be ready sooner than the middle
of June.

Mrs Milne Home gives the ingredients of the _Tisane de Sept Fleurs_,
which, she says, is often prescribed by French doctors for colds and

  “Bouillon blanc.   Mullein.
  Tilleul.           Lime.
  Violette.          Violet.
  Coquelicot.        Poppy.
  Pied de chat.      Tussilago.
  Guimauve.          Mallow.
  Mauve.             Another sort of mallow.”

I think Mauve means mallow, Guimauve, marsh-mallow. Beyond these simples
that I have mentioned as being in popular use, various English plants
and herbs are used not much (if at all) by country people, but by
medical men, and a few of those included in the British Pharmacopœia may
be remarked on here.

Hops are used in the form of _Infusum Lupuli_. They have long had the
reputation of inducing sleep, and George III. slept on a hop-pillow. To
prevent the hops crackling (and producing exactly the opposite effect)
it is advised that a little alcohol should be sprinkled on them. To eat
poppy-seed was thought a safe means of bringing drowsiness. “But,” says
Dr Primrose (about 1640), “Opium is now brought into use, the rest [of
soporifics] being layd aside. Yet the people doe abhorre from the use
thereof and avoyd it as present poyson, when notwithstanding being
rightly prepared, and administered in a convenient dose, it is a very
harmlesse and wholesome medicament. The Ancients indeed thought it to
bee poyson, but that is onely when it is taken in too great a quantity.”
One wonders what experiences “the people” went through to learn this
terror of the drug! Gerarde and Parkinson both commend it as a medicine
that “mitigateth all kinde of paines,” but say that it must be used with
great caution. Browne refers to the poppy’s power of soothing.

  “Where upon the limber grass
  Poppy and mandragoras,
  With like simples not a few
  Hang for ever drops of dew.
  Where flows Lèthe without coil,
  Softly like a stream of oil.
  Hie thee, thither, gentle Sleep.”

  In _The Inner Temple Masque_.

It is from the seed of the White Poppy (_Papaver somniferum_) that opium
is prepared, and that procured from poppies grown in England is quite as
good, and often purer, than opium imported from the East. The first
poppies that were cultivated in this country for the purpose were grown
by Mr John Ball of Williton about 1794. Timbs quotes: “‘Cowley
Plantarium. In old time the seed of the white poppy parched was served
up as a dessert.’ By this we are reminded that white poppy seeds are
eaten to this day upon bread made exclusively for Jews. The ‘twist’
bread is generally prepared by brushing over the outside upper crust
with egg and sprinkling upon it the seeds.” In Germany, _Mond-kuchen_, a
kind of pastry in which poppy seeds are mixed, is still a favourite
dish. _Mond-blumen_ (moon-flowers) is a name not unnaturally given to
poppies, as they have been emblems of sleep ever since the Greeks used
to represent their deities of Sleep, Death and Night as crowned with

  “The water-lily from the marish ground
  With the wan poppy,”

were both dedicated to the moon.

Gentian is greatly valued and largely prescribed by our doctors, but
Parkinson raises a curious echo from a time when, it is generally
supposed, people were less “nice” than they are to-day. “The wonderful
wholesomeness of Gentian cannot be easily knowne to us, by reason our
daintie tastes refuse to take thereof, for the bitternesse sake, but
otherwise it would undoubtedly worke admirable cures.” Valerian was, and
is officinal, but seldom finds its way into “pottage” nowadays. Gerarde,
however, writes: “It hath been had (and is to this day among the poore
people of our Northerne parts) in such veneration amongst them, that no
broths, pottage or physicall meats are worth anything if Setwall were
not at an end: whereupon some woman Poet or other hath made these

  “They that will have their heale,
  Must put Setwall in their keale (kail).”

The herbalist speaks of “Garden Valerian or Setwall” as if they were one
and the same, but Mr Britten says that Setwall was not _Valeriana
officinalis_ but _V. pyrenaica_. All varieties seem to have been used as
remedies, and in Drayton’s charming “Eclogue,” of which Dowsabel is the
heroine, he shows that it was used as an adornment.

  “A daughter, ycleapt Dowsabel,
  A maiden fair and free,
  And for she was her father’s heir,
  Full well she was ycond the leir,
          Of mickle courtesy.
  The silk well couth she twist and twine
  And make the fine march-pine,
  And with the needle-work;
  And she couth help the priest to say
  His mattins on a holy day
  And sing a psalm in kirk....
  The maiden in a morn betime,
  Went forth when May was in the prime.
  To get sweet setywall,
  The honeysuckle, the harlock,
  The lily and the ladysmock,
  To deck her summerhall.”


The summary of Dowsabel’s education is so delightful, that though it was
irrelevant, I could not refrain from quoting it. Aconite, Wolfsbane, or
Monkshood (_Aconitum Napellus_) was held in wholesome terror by the old
herbalists, who described it as being most venomous and deadly. Gerarde
says, “There hath beene little heretofore set downe concerning the
virtues of the Aconite, but much might be said of the hurts that have
come thereby.” Parkinson chiefly recommends it to “hunters of wild
beastes, in which to dippe the heads of their arrows they shoote, or
darts they throw at the wild beastes which killeth them that are wounded
speedily”; but, he says, it may be used in outward applications. Aconite
was first administered internally by Stoerck, who prescribed it for
rheumatism, with good results, and it is now known to be sedative to the
heart and respiratory organs, and to reduce temperature.

Other English-grown plants in the Pharmacopœia are: Anise, Artemisia
maritima (Wormwood), Uvæ Ursi (Bearberries), Coriander, Caraway, Dill,
Fennel, Flax (Linseed), Henbane, Wych-Hazel, Horse-Radish, Liquorice,
Lavender, Mint, Mezereon, Musk, Mustard, Arnica, Pyrethrum, Rosemary,
Squills, Saffron and Winter-green. In the making of Thymol, a
preparation in common hospital use, _Monarda punctata_ (Bergamot), Oil
of Thyme and _Carum copticus_ are used.

The following plants are not yet to be found in the Pharmacopœia, which
includes those only that have been tried by very long experience, but
leading physicians have prescribed these drugs with success.
_Convalleria_, from Lily of the Valley; _Salix nigra_, from the Willow;
_Savin_, Juniper; _Rhus_, Sumach; _Aletris_, Star-Grass; _Lycopodium_,
Club-Moss; _Grindelia_; from Larkspur, Oil of _Stavesacre_; and from
Broom, _Spartein_.

There are two plants that I do not like to omit, for their history’s
sake, though their power to do good is no longer believed in, Plantain
and Lungwort. The first was considered good for wounds in the days of
Chaucer, and Shakespeare mentions it.

  _Romeo._ Your plantain leaf is excellent for that.

  _Benvolio._ For what, I pray thee?

  _Romeo._ For your broken shin.

  _Romeo and Juliet_, I. 2, 51.

Lungwort (_Pulmonaria officinalis_) owes its name and its reputation to
the white spots on the leaves, which were thought to be the “signature,”
showing that it would cure infirmities and ulcers of the lungs. It is
remarkable how many popular names this flower has. Gerarde tells us that
the leaves are used among pot-herbes, and calls it Cowslips of
Jerusalem, Wild Comfrey and Sage of Bethlem; and other country names
are, Beggar’s Basket, Soldiers and Sailors, Adam and Eve, and in Dorset,
Mary’s Tears. The name Adam and Eve arose from the fact that some of the
flowers are red and others blue: red, in earlier days, being usually
associated with men and blue with women. One of Drayton’s prettiest
verses alludes to it.

  “Maids, get the choicest flowers, a garland and entwine;
  Nor pink, nor pansies, let there want, be sure of eglantine.
      See that there be store of lilies,
      (Call’d of shepherds daffadillies)
      With roses, damask, white, and red, the dearest fleur-de-lis,
  The cowslip of Jerusalem, and clove of Paradise.”

  _Eclogue III._



  “And first, her fern-seed doth bestow
  The kernel of the mistletow,
  And here and there as Puck should go,
            With terror to affright him.

  The nightshade straws to work him ill,
  There with her vervain and her dill,
  That hindreth witches of their will,
            Of purpose to dispight him.

  Then sprinkled she the juice of rue,
  That groweth underneath the yew,
  With nine drops of the midnight dew
            From lunary distilling.”


  “Trefoil, vervain, John’s wort, dill,
  Hinders witches of their will.”

  _Guy Mannering._

Amongst the account-books of the Physic Garden in Chelsea, there is one
on whose fly-leaf is scrawled a list of “Botanical Writers before
Christ.” It begins:


Names that one hardly expects to find grouped together, and especially
not under this heading. The vegetable world, however, has attracted
writers since the earliest times, and in the days when supernatural
agencies were almost always brought forward to account for
uncomprehended phenomena, it was not marvellous that misty lore should
lead to the association of plants and magic. The book of nature is not
always easy to read, and the older students drew from it very personal
interpretations. Some herbs were magical because they were used in
spells and sorceries; others, because they had power in themselves. For
instance, Basil, the perfume of which was thought to cause sympathy
between two people, and in Moldavia they say it can even stop a
wandering youth upon his way and make him love the maiden from whose
hand he accepts a sprig. The Crocus flower, too, belongs to the second
class, and brings laughter and great joy, and so it is with others.
Plants were also credited with strong friendships and “enmities” amongst
themselves. “The ancients” held strong views about their “sympathies and
antipathies,” and this sympathy or antipathy was attributed to
individual likes and dislikes. “Rue dislikes Basil,” says Pliny, “but
Rue and the Fig-tree are in a great league and amitie” together.
Alexanders loveth to grow in the same place as Rosemary, but the Radish
is “at enmetie” with Hyssop. Savory and Onions are the better for each
other’s neighbourhood, and Coriander, Dill, Mallows, Herb-Patience and
Chervil “love for companie to be set or sowne together.” Bacon refers to
some of these, but he took a prosaic view and thought these
predilections due to questions of soil!

Being credited with such strong feelings amongst themselves, it is
easier to understand how they were supposed to sympathise with their
“environment.” Honesty, of course, grew best in a very honest man’s
garden. Where Rosemary flourishes, the mistress rules. Sage will fade
with the fortunes of the house and revive again as they recover; and
Bay-trees are famous, but melancholy prophets.

  _Captain._--’Tis thought the king is dead; we will not stay,
             The Bay-trees in our country are all wither’d.

  _Richard II._ ii. 4.

From this, it is not a great step to acknowledge that particular plants
have power to produce certain dispositions in the mind of man. So, the
possession of a Rampion was likely to make a child quarrelsome: while,
on the contrary, eating the leaves of Periwinkle “will cause love
between a man and his wife.” Laurel greatly “composed the phansy,” and
did “facilitate true visions,” and was also “efficacious to inspire a
poetical fury” (Evelyn). Having admitted the power of herbs over mental
and moral qualities, we easily arrive at the recognition of their power
in regard to the supernatural. If, as Culpepper tells us, “a raging
bull, be he ever so mad, tied to a Fig-tree, will become tame and
gentle;” or if, as Pliny says, any one, “by anointing himself with
Chicory and oile will become right amiable and win grace and favour of
all men, so that he shal the more easily obtain whatsoever his heart
stands unto,” it is not much wonder that St John’s Wort would drive away
tempests and evil spirits, four-leaved Clover enable the wearer to see
witches, and Garlic avert the Evil Eye. Thus many herbs are magical “in
their own right,” so to speak, apart from those that are connected with
magic, from being favourites of the fairies, the witches, and, in a few
cases, the Evil One!

De Gubernatis quotes from a work on astrology attributed to King
Solomon, and translated from the Hebrew (?) by Iroé Grego (published in
Rome, 1750), with indignant comments on the “pagan” methods of the
Church in dealing with sorceries. Directions how to make an _aspersoir
pour exorcisme_ are given in it, which, teaching, he says, simply add to
the peasant’s existing load of superstition. Vervain, Periwinkle, Sage,
Mint, Valerian, Ash and Basil are some of the plants chosen. “Tu n’y
ajouteras point l’Hysope, mais le Romarin” (Rosemary). It is odd that
Hyssop should be excluded, because it has always been a special defence
against powers of darkness. In Palermo (again according to De
Gubernatis), on the day of St Mark, the priests mount a hill in
procession and bless the surrounding country, and the women gather
quantities of the Hyssop growing about, and take it home to keep away
from their houses the Evil Eye, and “toute autre influence magique.”
Rosemary is celebrated, from this point of view, as from others. It was,
say the Spaniards, one of the bushes that gave shelter to the Virgin
Mary in the flight into Egypt, and it is still revered. Borrow, in “The
Bible in Spain,” notices that, whereas in that country it is _Romero_,
the Pilgrim’s Flower, in Portugal it is called _Alecrim_, a word of
Scandinavian origin (from _Ellegren_, the Elfin plant), which was
probably carried south by the Vandals. Other authorities think that
“Alecrim” comes from the Arabians. The reference to Rosemary occurs in a
delightful passage. Borrow was staying at an inn, when one evening “in
rushed a wild-looking man mounted on a donkey.... Around his _sombrero_,
or shadowy hat, was tied a large quantity of the herb, which in English
is called Rosemary.... The man seemed frantic with terror, and said that
the witches had been pursuing him and hovering over his head for the
last two leagues.” On making inquiries, Borrow was told that the herb
was “good against witches and mischances on the road.” He treats this
view with great scorn, but says: “I had no time to argue against this
superstition,” and with charming _naïveté_ admits that, notwithstanding
his austerity, when, next morning at departure, some sprigs of it were
pressed upon him by the man’s wife for his protection, “I was foolish
enough to permit her to put some of it in my hat.” The Sicilians thought
that it was a favourite plant of the fairies, and that the young
fairies, taking the form of snakes, lie amongst the branches. Dill, able
to “hinder witches of their will,” was used in spells _against_ witches,
besides being employed by them. There was a strong belief that plants
beloved by magicians, and powerful for evil in their hands, were equally
powerful to avert evil when used in charms against witchcraft. Lunary,
or Honesty, is another plant with a double edge. In France it is
nicknamed _Monnaie du Pape_ and _Herbe aux Lunettes_, and its shining
seed-vessels have many pet names in English. “It has a natural power of
dispelling evil spirits,” quotes Mr Friend, and explains this verdict by
pointing that Lunary with its great silver disks, called after the moon,
is disliked and avoided by evil spirits, who fear the light and seek
darkness. Rue is used by witches and against them; in some parts of
Italy a talisman against their power is made by sewing up the leaves in
a little bag and wearing it near the heart. If the floor of a house be
rubbed with Rue it is certain that all witches must fly from it. In
Argentina grows the Nightmare flower, _Flor de Pesadilla_. The witches
of that region extract from it a drug which causes nightmare lasting all
night long, and they contrive to give it to whoever they wish to
torment. Besides these, Pennyroyal and Henbane, Chervil and Vervain,
Poppies, Mandrakes, Hemlock and Dittany were specially used by witches
in making spells. Valerian, Wormwood, Elder, Pimpernel, Angelica, and
all yellow flowers growing in hedgerows are antagonistic to them. Their
dislike to yellow flowers may have arisen from these being often
dedicated to the sun, and being therefore repellent to lovers of gloom
and mystery. Angelica preserved the wearer from the power of witches or
spells, and is, I think, the only herb quoted by Gerarde as a power
against witchcraft. He does not condescend generally to consider
superstitions other than medical. Of the herbs dedicated to the Evil One
are Yarrow, sometimes known as the Devil’s Nettle; Ground-Ivy, called
his Candlestick, and Houseleek, which he has rather unjustly
appropriated. Mr Friend explains that in Denmark, “Old Thor” is a polite
euphemism, and that the Houseleek really belonged to Thor, but has been
passed on through confusion between the two. Yarrow or Milfoil has been
used for divination in spells from England to China.

  “There’s a crying at my window, and a hand upon my door,
  And a stir among the Yarrow that’s fading on the floor,
  The voice cries at my window, the hand on my door beats on,
  But if I heed and answer them, sure hand and voice are gone.”


Johnston[97] says: “Tansy and Milfoil were reckoned amongst plants
averse to fascination; but we must retrograde two centuries to be
present at the trial of Elspeth Reoch, who was supernaturally instructed
to cure distempers by resting on her right knee while pulling ‘the herb
callit malefour’ betwixt her mid-finger and thumbe, and saying of, ‘In
nomen Patris, Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.’”

  [97] “Botany of the Eastern Borders” (1853).

Johnston gathers his information from Dalzell on the “Darker
Superstitions of Scotland.”

[Illustration: RAMPION]

Wormwood is in some parts of Europe called the “Girdle of St John,” it
has so much power against evil spirits. Cumin is much disliked by a race
of Elves in Germany, called the Moss-People. Dyer[98] tells us that the
life of each one is bound up with the life of a tree, and if the inner
bark of this is loosened, the elf dies. Therefore their precept is:--

  “Peel no tree,
  Relate no dream,
  Bake no cumin in bread,
  So will Heav’n help thee in thy need.”

  [98] “Folk-Lore of Plants.”

On one occasion when a loaf baked with Cumin was given as an offering to
a forest-wife, she was heard screaming--

  “They’ve baken for me Cumin bread
  That on this house brings great distress.”

The unhappy giver at once began to go downhill, and was soon reduced to
abject misery! Elecampane is in Denmark called Elf-Dock. Flax-flowers
are a protection against sorcery. “Flax[99] is supposed to be under the
protection of the goddess Hulda, but the plant’s blue blossom is more
especially the flower of Bertha, whose blue eyes shine in its calyx, and
whose distaff is filled by its fibres.... It was the goddess Hulda who
first taught mortals the art of growing flax, of spinning, and of
weaving it.... Between Kroppbühl and Unterlassen, is a cave which is
believed by the country people to have been the entrance to Queen
Hulda’s mountain palace. Twice a year she passed through the valley,
scattering blessings around her path--once in summer, when the blue
flowers of the Flax were brightening the fields, and again during the
mysterious “twelve nights” immediately preceding our Feast of Epiphany,
when, in ancient days, gods and goddesses were believed to visit the
earth.” The Bohemians have a belief that if seven-year-old children
dance among flax, they will become beautiful. From the little Fairy-Flax
“prepared and manufactured by the supernatural skill, the ‘Good People’
were wont in the olden time to procure their requisite supplies of
linen,” writes Johnston.

  [99] Folkard.

Wild Thyme is specially beloved by fairies and elves, and Fox-gloves and
Wood-sorrel are also favourites,--Fox-gloves, being called in Ireland,
Fairy-cap, and Wood-sorrel, known in Wales as Fairy-bells.

Among plants that have magic powers in themselves are two varieties of
Pimpinella; the Anise and the Burnet Saxifrage. The first averts the
Evil Eye, and the second is called in Hungary, “Chaba’s Salve,” because
it is said that its virtues were discovered by King Chaba, who after a
furious battle cured 15,000 of his soldiers with it. In Iroé Grego’s
book, it is advised that the sword of a magician should be bathed in the
blood of a mole, and the juice of Pimpinella. De Gubernatis says that in
Germany and in Rome, Endive-seed is sold as a love-philtre, and when
wanted for this reason, the plant must be uprooted not with the hand but
with a bit of gold, or stag’s horn (which symbolise the disk and rays of
the sun) on one of the _jours des Apôtres_, June 27th, St Peter’s Day,
or July 25th, St James’ Day.

The Mustard-tree is called in Sanscrit, the Witch, for when Hindus want
to discover a witch, they light lamps during the night, and fill vessels
with water,[100] into which they gently drop Mustard-seed oil,
pronouncing the name of every woman in the village. If, during the
ceremony, as they pronounce the name of a woman, they notice the shadow
of a female in the water, it is a sure sign that such a woman is a
witch. Mugwort laid in the soles of the boots, will keep a man from
weariness, though he walk forty miles. Wreaths of Camomile flowers hung
up in a house on St John’s Day will, it is said in Prussia, defend it
against thunder, and Wild Thyme and Marjoram laid by milk in a dairy
will prevent it being “turned” by thunder. The root of Tarragon held
between the teeth will cure toothache, and the name Réséda, the family
name of Mignonette, is supposed to be derived from the verb “to
assuage,” for it was a charm against so many evils. If a sprig of Basil
were left under a pot, it would, in time, turn to scorpions! It is a
strange plant altogether. The ancient Greeks thought that it would not
grow unless when the seed was sown railing and abuse should be poured
forth at the same time. Much blossom on the broom foretells a plentiful
harvest of corn. “Les anciens” according to _La petite Corbeille_
believed that a pot of Gilly-flowers, growing in a window, would fade if
the master of the house died; and similar curious sympathies in Sage and
Honesty and Rosemary have already been noticed.

  [100] Folkard.

There is a belief in the West Country that no girl who is destined to be
an old maid, can make a myrtle grow. Mr Friend does not mention this,
but he does tell us that a flowering myrtle is one of the luckiest
plants to have, and it is often difficult to grow; and he generously
presents us with the receipt that he had heard given to make sure of its
flowering. The secret is, while setting the slip, to spread the tail of
one’s dress, and _look proud_!

To transplant Parsley is very unlucky, and to let Rhubarb run to seed
will bring death into the family before a year is out. These beliefs are
still active. One hears also that no one will have any luck with young
chickens if they bring any blossom (of fruit-trees) into the house,
which is, indeed, an unlucky thing to do at any time.

There was a fairly recent case in Gloucestershire, which showed that the
idea still survives that if flower-seeds are sowed on Palm Sunday, the
flowers will come out double.

Though Elder is not a herb, it cannot be omitted here, for every inch of
an Elder-tree is connected with magic. This is especially the case in
Denmark. First of all there is the Elder-tree Mother, who lives in the
tree and watches for any injury to it. Hans Andersen tells a charming
story about her and the pictures that she sometimes brings. It may
happen, that if furniture is made of the wood, Hylde-Moer may follow her
property and haunt and worry the owners, and there is a tradition that,
once when a child was put in a cradle of Elder-wood, Hylde-Moer came and
pulled it by the legs and would give it no peace till it was lifted out.
Permission to cut Elder wood must always be asked first, and not till
Hylde-Moer has given consent by keeping silence, may the chopping begin.
He who stands under an Elder-tree at midnight on Midsummer-Eve will
chance to see Toly, the King of the Elves, and all his retinue go by.
“The pith of the branches when cut in round, flat shapes, is dipped in
oil, lighted, and then put to float in a glass of water; its light on
Christmas Eve is thought to reveal to the owner all the witches and
sorcerers in the neighbourhood.”[101] The Russians believe that
Elder-trees drive away evil spirits, and the Bohemians go to it, with a
spell, to take away fever. The Sicilians think that sticks of its wood
will kill serpents and drive away robbers better than any other, and the
Serbs introduce a stick of Elder into their wedding ceremonies to bring
good luck. In England it was thought that the Elder was never struck by
lightning; and a twig of it tied into three or four knots, and carried
in the pocket, was a charm against rheumatism. A cross made of Elder,
and fastened to cow-houses and stables, was supposed to keep all evil
from the animals. Canon Ellacombe, in the Tyrol, says: “An Elder bush,
trimmed into the form of a cross, is planted in a new-made grave, and if
it blossoms, the soul of the person lying beneath it is happy.” Sir
Thomas Browne takes the “white umbrella or medical bush of Elder as an
epitome of the order arising from five main stems, quincuncially
disposed and tolerably maintained in their sub-divisions.” The number
5, and its appearance in works of Nature, must have occupied his mind at
one time to a very great extent, judging from his writings. There is a
saying that:--

  An eldern stake and a black thorn ether (hedge)
  Will make a hedge to last for ever.

And it is a common tradition that an Elder stake will last in the ground
longer than an iron bar the same size. Several very different musical
instruments have been alike named “Sambuke,” because they were all made
out of Elder-wood. Elder-berries have also wonderful properties. In
Styria, on “Bertha Night (6th January), the devil goes about with
special virulence. As a safeguard persons are recommended to make a
magic circle, in the centre of which they should stand, with
Elder-berries gathered on St John’s night. By doing this, the mystic
Fern-seed may be obtained, which possesses the strength of thirty or
forty men. There are no instructions as to why or how the desired
Fern-seed should arrive, and all the proceedings are somewhat

  [101] Folkard.

The most extraordinary collection of charms and receipts is to be found
in an old book, called _Le petit Albert_; probably the contents are
largely gleaned from out the wondrous lore set forth by Albertus Magnus.
A charm--it must be a charm, for a mere recipe could hardly achieve such
results, “pour s’enrichir par la pêche des poissons” is made by mixing
Nettles, Cinquefoil, and the juice of Houseleek, with corn boiled in
water of Thyme and Marjoram, and if this composition is put into a net,
the net will soon be filled with fish. Cinquefoil appears in many
spells, particularly as a magic herb in love-divinations, and also
against agues! Some parts of the book shed a lurid light on the customs
of the day, as for instance, recipes “to render a man or woman
insensible to torture.” Here is a less ghastly extract. “Je quitte des
matières violentes pour dire un Mot de Paix. J’ai lû dans le très
curieux livre des Secrets du Roi Jean d’Arragon, que si aucun dans le
mois de septembre, ayant observé le temps que le soleil est entré au
signe de la Vierges a soin de cueillir de la fleur Soucy (Marigold) qu’a
été appellé par les Anciens, Epouse du Soleil, and si on l’enveloppe
dedans des feuilles de Laurier avec un dent de Loup, personne ne pourra
parler mal de celui qui les portera sur luy et vivra dans un profonde
paix et tranquillité avec tout le monde.” There is an odd, little
passage about the supernatural beings who inhabit the four elements,
Salamanders, Nymphs, Sylphs, and Gnomes, and the practices of Lapland
miners to obtain “la bienveillance des Gnomes.” This is managed through
observing their love of perfumes. Each day of the week a certain perfume
was burnt for them and these odours had an elaborate formula, compiled
with reference to the planets. Thus Sunday’s perfume is “sous les
auspices du soleil,” and contains Saffron and Musk; Monday’s is made of
the Moon’s special plants and includes the seed of the White Poppy; and
the ingredients for each are equally appropriate to the ruling planet.
Mars has Hellebore and Euphorbia in his perfume; Venus, dried roses, red
coral, and ambergris; and Saturn, black poppy seeds, Mandrake roots and
Henbane. In an English translation (there are many editions of _Le petit
Albert_) fifteen magical herbs of the Ancients are given, but I will
only quote two.

“The eleventh hearbe is named of the Chaldees Isiphilon... or
Englishmen, Centory... this hearbe hath a marvellous virtue, for if it
be joined with the blood of a female lapwing or black plover and put
with oile in a lamp, all they that compasse it about shall believe
themselves to be witches, so that one shall believe of another that his
head is in heaven and his feete on earth.”

“If ⁂ the fourteenth hearbe, smallage, be bounden to an oxe’s necke, he
will follow thee whithersoever thou wilt go.” The last instructions lead
one to agree with the poet:

  “I would that I had flourished then,
  When ruffs and raids were in the fashion,”

and when views of mine and thine were less rigid than they are to-day.



  Here may’st thou range the goodly, pleasant field,
  And search out simples to procure thy heal,
  What sundry virtues, sundry herbs do yield,
      ’Gainst grief which may thy sheep or thee assail.

  _Eclogue_ vii.--DRAYTON.

  And tryed time yet taught me greater thinges;
    The sodain rising of the raging seas,
  The soothe of byrdes by beating of their winges,
    The powre of herbes, both which can hurt and ease;
  And which be wont t’enrage the restless sheepe,
  And which be wont to worke eternal sleepe.

  _Shepheard’s Calendar._--SPENSER.

  And did you hear wild music blow
    All down the boreen, long and low,
  The tramp of ragweed horses’ feet,
    And Una’s laughter wild and sweet.

  _The Passing of the Shee._--N. HOPPER.

Herbs and animals may appear linked together in many aspects, but there
are two in which I specially wish to look at them--first, glancing at
the old traditions that tell of beasts and birds themselves having
preferences among herbs; secondly, the human reasoning, which decreed
that certain plants must benefit or affect special creatures. The
glamour of magic at times hovers over both. Ragwort is St James’s Wort
(the French call it _Jacobée_), and St James is the patron saint of
horses, therefore Ragwort is good for horses, and has even gained the
name of the Staggerwort, from being often prescribed for “the staggers.”
This is a good specimen of the reasoning, but there is romance about
the plant which is far more attractive. Besides being good for horses,
it is actually the witches’ own horse! There is a high granite rock
called the Castle Peak, south of the Logan Rock in Cornwall, where, as
tales run, witches were specially fond of gathering, and thither they
rode on moonlight nights on a stem of Ragwort. In Ireland, it is the
fairies ride it, and there it is sometimes called the Fairy’s Horse.

  Reach up to the star that hangs the lowest,
  Tread down the drift of the apple blow,
  Ride your ragweed horse to the Isle of Wobles.

Ragwort is specially beloved by the Leprehauns, or Clauricanes, the
little fairy cobblers, who are sometimes seen singing or whistling over
their work on a tiny shoe. They wear “deeshy-daushy” leather aprons, and
usually red nightcaps.

  Do you not catch the tiny clamour,
  Busy click of an elfin hammer,
  Voice of the Lepracaun singing shrill,
      As he merrily plies his trade.

  W. B. YEATS.

There is a very nice legend of the Field of Boliauns, which turns on the
belief that every Leprehaun has a hidden treasure buried under a
ragwort. And if anyone can catch the little man, and not for one second
take his eyes off him until the plant is reached, the Leprehaun must
show him exactly where to dig for it. In the Isle of Man, they used to
tell of another steed, not the fairies’ horse, but a fairy or enchanted
horse, ridden by mortals. If anyone on St John’s Eve, they said, trod on
a plant of St John’s Wort after sunset, the horse would spring out of
the earth, and carry him about till sunrise, and there leave him
wherever they chanced at that moment to be.

William Coles[102] speaks with great decision as to the various
remedies which animals find for themselves. “If the Asse be oppressed
with melancholy, he eats of the herbe _Asplenium_... so the wilde Goats
being shot with Darts or Arrows, cure themselves with Dittany, which
Herb hath the power to worke them out of the Body and to heale up the
wound.” Gerarde adds that the “Deere in Candie” seek the same remedy,
and Parkinson remarks of Hemp Agrimony, “It is sayd that hunters have
observed that Deere being wounded by the eating of this herbe have been
healed of their hurts.” Drayton’s _Hermit_ refers to dictam or dittany.

  And this is dictam which we prize
  Shot shafts and darts expelling.

Shelley is less definite. He only laments:

  The wounded deer must seek the herb no more
  In which its heart cure lies.

  [102] “Art of Simpling.”

Goats do not seek Sea-Holly as a remedy, but it has a startling effect
upon them if, by accident, they touch it. “They report that the herb
Sea-Holly (_Eryngium maritimum_), if one goat take it into her mouth, it
causeth her first to stand still, and afterwards the whole flocke,
untill such time as the Shepherd take it forth of her mouth, as Plutarch
writeth.”[103] However much these wild theories may exceed facts as to
animals curing themselves, they are not altogether without reason, for
the instinct of beasts leading them to healing herbs has often been
noticed. Evelyn says: “I have heard of one Signior _Jaquinto_, Physician
to Queen _Anne_ (Mother of the Blessed _Martyr_, Charles the First), and
was so to one of the _Popes_. That observing the _Scurvy_ and _Dropsy_
to be the Epidemical and Dominent Diseases of this Nation, he went
himself into the _Hundreds_ of _Essex_ (reputed the most unhealthy
County of this _Island_), and us’d to follow the Sheep and Cattell on
purpose to observe what Plants they chiefly fed upon; and of those
_Simples_ compos’d an excellent _Electuary_ of extraordinary Effects
against those Infirmities.

  [103] Gerarde.

“Thus we are told, that the Vertue of the Cophee was discover’d by
marking what the _Goats_ so greedily brutted upon. So _Æsculapius_ is
said to have restor’d dismember’d _Hippolitus_ by applying some simples,
he observ’d a _Serpent_ to have us’d another dead _Serpent_.” The last
instance sounds mythical! But goats have really more than once led
mankind to some useful bit of knowledge. There is a Chilian plant,
_Boldo_, a tincture of the leaves of which are frequently administered
in France for hepatic complaints, and this is the history of the
discovery of its virtues. “The goats in Chili had been for many years
subject to enlargement of the liver, and the owners of the flocks had
begun to despair of them as a source of revenue, until it was observed
that certain flocks were exempt from the complaint, whilst others in
adjacent districts continued subject to it. It was ultimately discovered
that the goats browsing in fields where _Boldo_ grew were never a prey
to hepatic diseases, and the herb became gradually known and used, first
by South American and then by French druggists.” _Boldo_ is little used
in England.

Sheep seek Dandelions; and Miss Anne Pratt quotes an agricultural
report, describing how some weakly lambs were moved into a field full of
Dandelions in flower, and how rapidly the conspicuous blossoms were
devoured. Finally, as the flowers grew fewer and fewer, the lambs were
seen pushing one another away from the coveted plants, and in this field
they speedily gained in health and strength. _Valerianella Olitaria_ is
said to be a favourite food of lambs, and so gains its name of Lambs’
Lettuce. Shepherds and flocks have always been favourite subjects for
poetry, and Drayton touches them very prettily:--

  When the new wash’d flock from the river side,
    Coming as white as January’s snow,
  The ram with nose-gays bears his horns in pride,
    And no less brave the bell-wether doth go.

Nep or Cat-mint is said to have a great attraction for cats. Of which
there is this old rime:--

  If you set it, the catts will eate it,
  If you sow it, the catts won’t know it.[104]

  [104] Coles.

The weasel, with a grand knowledge of counter-poisons, “arms herself
with eating of Rue,” _before_ fighting a serpent. Folkard says that in
the north of England there is a tradition that when hops were first
planted there, nightingales also made their first appearance, and he
adds that both have long since disappeared, north of the Humber. In
other parts of England there is an idea (quite a false one) that
nightingales will only sing where cowslips flourish. The cuckoo is
connected with both plants and minerals. In some parts of Germany, Mr
Friend writes, the call of the cuckoo is thought to reveal mines, and
the cuckoo’s bread, the purple orchis, grows most abundantly where rich
veins of metal lie beneath. There is a story about the plantain, a plant
with a most interesting legendary history, in which the cuckoo appears.
Once the Plantain or Waybread was a maiden, always watching for her
absent lover, and at last she was changed into the plant that almost
always grows by the road-side. And now every seventh year the plantain
becomes a bird, either the Cuckoo or the Cuckoo’s servant, the Dinnick.

The Yellow Rattle is sometimes called Gowk’s Siller, and Gowk may mean
either the Cuckoo or a fool, so they may quarrel for it. Johnston seems
to think that the siller belongs rather to the fool, for he remarks:
“the capsules rattle when in seed... being like the fool unable to
conceal its wealth.” The Swallow restored sight to the eyes of her
young, when any evil had befallen them, by the help of Celandine. And it
was for this reason, says Gerarde, that the flower gained its name,
_Chelidonium_, swallow-herbe, and not because it “first springeth at the
coming of the swallows or dieth when they goe away.”... Celsus doth
witnesse that it will restore “the sight of the eies of divers young
birds... and soonest of all of the sight of the swallow.” The eagle,
when he wishes his sight to be particularly keen, rubs his eyes with the
wild Lettuce, and the hawk follows his example, but chooses Hawkweed
with equal success. Doves and pigeons find that Vervain cures dimness of
vision and goldfinches and linnets and some other birds turn to
eyebright. “The purple and yellow spots which are upon the flowers of
eyebright very much resemble the diseases of the eyes or
bloodshot.”[105] There is a very wide belief in a magic plant called
Spring-wort or Spring-wurzel of which Folkard gives an interesting
description. “Pliny,” he says, “records the superstition concerning it,
almost in the same form in which it is now found in Germany. If anyone
touches a lock with it, the lock, however strong, must yield. In
Switzerland it is carried in the right pocket to render the bearer
invulnerable to dagger or bullet; and in the Hartz mountains it is said
to reveal treasures. One cannot easily find it oneself, but generally
the wood-pecker (according to Pliny also the raven, in Switzerland, the
Hoopoe, in the Tyrol, the swallow) will bring it under the following
circumstances. When the bird has temporarily left its nest this must be
stopped up with wood. The bird then flies away to find the Spring-wurzel
and will open the nest by touching it with the root. Meantime a fire or
a red cloth must be placed near by, which will so frighten the bird that
it will let the magical root fall.” _Le petit Albert_, to procure
Spring-wort suggests tying up a magpie’s nest with new cords, but merely
says that she brings _une herbe_ to release her nestlings, without
giving its name.

  [105] “Adam in Eden,” Coles.

Several legends are attached to the Wood-pecker. Amongst others there is
an idea that the root of the Peony is good for epilepsy, but should a
Wood-pecker be in sight when the patient tastes it he would be forthwith
struck blind! In Piedmont there is a little plant called the Herb of the
Blessed Mary, which is fatal to birds, and there it is said that when
young wild birds are caught and caged their parents bring them a sprig
of it, that death rather than imprisonment may be their lot. De
Gubernatis speaks of an oriental bird of greater resource, the
_Paperone_, for when _his_ little ones are imprisoned he seeks and
brings a root which breaks the iron bars and releases them. Parkinson
tells of an Indian herb which “cast to the birds causeth as many as take
it to fall downe to the ground as being stoned for a time, but if any
take it too greedily it will kill them, if they bee not helped by cold
water put on their heads, but Dawes above all other birds are soonest
kild thereby.” There is a suggestion of comedy in this picture of a
seventeenth century herbalist in a foreign land pouring cold water on
the heads of wild birds.

[Illustration: FENNEL]

“The raven, when he hath killed the chameleon, and yet perceiving he is
hurt and poisoned by him, flyeth for remedy to the Laurell,” which
“represseth and extinguisheth the venom,” says Pliny.[106] The elephant,
under the same circumstances, recovers himself by eating “wild Olive,
the only remedy he hath of this poison.... The storke, feeling himself
amisse, goeth to the herbe Organ for remedy,” and Parkinson quotes
Antigonas as saying that ring-doves cured their wounds with the same
plant. Stock-doves, jays, merles, blackbirds and ousels recover “their
appetite to meate,” by eating bay leaves; and ducks, geese and other
waterfowl seek endive or chicory. Of course, chickweed and goosegrass
have gained their names as the result of similar observations, more
modern, and possibly more accurate. Elder-berries are eaten by birds,
but they are said to have serious effects on chickens.

  [106] Philemon Holland’s Translation.

Lizards cure themselves of the biting of serpents with calaminth, and
the tortoise cautiously eats a “kind of sauorie or marjerome” before the
battle. Sir Francis Bacon mentions that, “the snake loveth fennel; that
the toad will be much under sage; that frogs will be in cinquefoil”;
though he unromantically doubts that the virtue of these herbs is the
cause of these preferences. Turner also remarks on the toad’s liking for
sage, and says: “Rue is good to be planted among Sage, to prevent the
poison which may be in it by toads frequenting amongst it, but Rue being
amongst it they will not come near it.” A toad recovers itself by means
of the plantain from the poison of the spider, and Bullein[107] tells us
of the frog’s fondness for the _Scabiosa_, under whose leaves they will
“shadow themselves from the heate of the daie, poppyng and plaiying
under these leaves, which to them is a pleasant Tent or Pavillion.” The
reputed venom of toads was sometimes said to be sucked from camomile, of
all plants!

  [107] Bullein’s “Bulwarke; or, Booke of Simples,” 1562.

Pliny wrote of the serpent, that waking in the spring, she finds that
during the winter her sight has become “dim and dark, so that with the
herbe Fennell she comforteth and anointeth her eies,” and having cast
her coat, “appeareth fresh, slick and yong again.”

If camomile furnishes venom for toads, it seems to provide nourishment
for fishes. William Browne says of some nymphs:--

  Another from her banks, in sheer good will,
  Brings nutriment for fish, the camomile.

Isaac Walton observes that, “Parsley and Garden earth recovers and
refreshes sick fish.” The Alder or Aul is indirectly connected with
trout in a Herefordshire rhyme:--

  When the bud of the Aul is as big as the trout’s eye,
  Then that fish is in season in the River Wye.

Among other counsels _Piscator_ speaks of the perch’s tastes. “And he
hath been observed by some not usually to bite till the mulberry-tree
buds--that is to say, till extreme frosts be past in the spring.... Some
think [of grayling] that he feeds on water-thyme, and smells of it at
his first taking out of the water.” A pike has a liking for lavender,
and the directions for trying for this fish with a dead bait begin:
“Dissolve gum of ivy in oil of spike [lavender], and then anoint the
bait with it. Wheat boiled in milk and flavoured with Saffron is a
choice bait for Roach and Grayling, and Mulberries and those
Blackberries which grow upon briars, be good baits for Chubs and Carps.”
Gerarde says that Balm rubbed over hives will keep the bees there, and
cause others to come to them, and Parkinson thought that the “leaves or
rootes of _Acorus_ (sweet-smelling Flagge) tyed to a hive” would have
the same effect.

To turn to the herbs prescribed by men for beasts, we find that Spenser
alludes to two of them:--

  Here grows _melampode_ everywhere
  And _terebinth_ good for gotes.

  July--_Shepheard’s Calendar_.

A marginal note suggests that the latter meant the “turpentine tree.”
“The tree that weepeth turpentine” is mentioned by Drayton, and we may
suppose that both poets referred to the same tree, the Silver Fir
(_Pinus picra_). Melampode was hellebore or bear’s foot, a very
important plant, and it was much used in magic. A cynical French verse

  L’ellébore est la fleur des fous,
  On l’a dédie a maints poètes.

Once people blessed their cattle with it to keep them from evil spells,
and “for this purpose it was dug up with certain attendant mystic rites:
the devotees first drawing a circle round the plant with a sword, and
then turning to the east and offering a prayer to Apollo and Æsculapius
for leave to dig up the root.”[108] In the old French romance, _Les
Quatre Fils Aymon_, the sorcerer, Malagis or Maugis, when he wishes to
make his way, unchallenged, through the enemy’s camp, scatters powdered
hellebore in the air as he goes. Both the Black and the White Hellebore,
Parkinson says, are known to be very poisonous, and the white hellebore
was used by hunters to poison arrows, with which they meant to kill
“wolves, foxes, dogs,” etc. Black Hellebore was used to heal and not to
hurt, and “a piece of the roote being drawne through a hole made in the
eare of a beast troubled with cough, or having taken any poisonous
thing, cureth it, if it be taken out the next day at the same houre.”
This writer believes that White Hellebore would be equally efficacious
in such a case, but Gerarde recommends the Black Hellebore only as being
good for beasts. He says the old Farriers used to “cut a slit in the
dewlap and put in a bit of Beare-foot, and leave it there for daies
together.” _Verbascum thapsis_ was called Bullock’s Lungwort, from the
resemblance of its leaf to a dewlap, and on the Doctrine of Signatures
was therefore given to cattle suffering from pneumonia.

  [108] Timbs.

_Samoclas_, or Marchwort, was a strange herb which used to be put in the
drinking-troughs of cattle and swine to preserve their health. But to
obtain this desirable result it had to be “gathered fasting, and with
the left hand, without looking back, when it was being plucked.”[109]
Gervase Markham mentions a curious evil among cattle. He says if a
shrew-mouse run over a beast “it feebleth his hinder parts and maketh
him unable to go. The cure is to draw him under, or beat him with a
Bramble, which groweth at both ends in the furrowes of corne lands.”
Markham was a noted authority on Husbandry and Farriery in the early
part of the seventeenth century, and he gives advice for the various
ills afflicting horses. For nightmare he prescribed balls composed of
Aniseed, Liquorice and Garlic, and other ingredients. For toothache, Ale
or Vinegar, in which Betony has been seethed; and loose teeth are to be
rubbed with the leaves of Elecampane, which will “fasten” them. Stubwort
(wood-sorrel), “lapped in red Dock leafe and roasted in hot cinders,
will eat away the dead flesh in a sore,” and any “splint, iron, thorne
or stub” may be drawn out by an application of Yarrow, Southernwood,
Cummin-seed, Fenugreek and Ditany, bruised with black soap. Horse Mint,
Wormwood and Dill are other herbs recommended by this author.

  [109] Timbs.

Gerarde says that the leaves of Arsmart (_Persicaria_) rubbed on the
back of a tired horse, and a “good handfull or two laid under the
saddle, will wonderfully refresh him;” and _Le petit Albert_ gives a
recipe for making a horse go further in one hour than another would go
in eight. You must begin by mingling a handful of “Satyrion” in his
oats, and anointing him with the fat of a deer; then when you are
mounted and ready to start “vous lui tournerez la têté du coté de soleil
levant et vous penchant sur son oreille gauche vous prononçerez trois
fois à voix basse les paroles suivantes et vous partirez aussi tôt:
_Gaspar_, _Melchior_, _Merchisard_. T’ajonte à cecy que si vous
suspenderez au col du cheval les grosses dents d’un loup qui aura étè
tué en courant, le cheval ne sera pas fatigue de sa course.” No doubt
these proceedings were carried out by the traveller with an air of
mystery, and must have impressed the bystanders, but one wonders what
the rider thought of them after an hour’s journeying? Satyrion is a kind
of orchis. There was a herb called _Sferro Cavallo_ which was supposed
to be able to break locks or draw off the shoes of the horses that
passed over it. Sir Thomas Browne speaks of it in his “Popular Errors,”
and laughs the idea to scorn, and “cannot but wonder at Matthiolus, who,
upon a parallel in Pliny, was staggered into suspension” [of judgment].
This plant was probably the Horse-shoe Vetch, whose seed-vessels, being
in the shape of horse-shoes, may have given rise to the superstition;
but Grimm thought it was the _Euphorbia Lathyris_. The same belief is
found in different countries, referred to other plants; the French
thought that Rest Harrow had this marvellous property, and Culpepper
tells the same tale about the Moonwort (_Botrychium Lunaria_), which had
the country name of Unshoe-the-Horse. “Besides, I have heard commenders
say that in White Down in Devonshire, near Tiverton, there were found
thirty horse-shoes, pulled off from the feet of the Earl of Essex’s
horses, being then drawn up in a body, many of them being but newly
shod, and no reason known, which caused much admiration, and the herb
described usually grows upon heaths.” One would hardly have thought that
“admiration” was the feeling evoked, but perhaps nobody concerned was
pressed for time!

Hound’s Tongue (_Cynoglossum officinale_) was believed to have the
remarkable property that it will “tye the tongues of Houndes, so that
they shall not bark at you, if it be laid under the bottom of your

In Markham’s advice about domestic animals, he alludes to a “certaine
stage of madnesse” which attacks rabbits, and says that the cure is
Hare-Thistle (_Sonchus oleraceus_). The “Grete Herbal” called this plant
the “Hare’s Palace.” “For yf the hare come under it, he is sure that no
best can touche hym.”

These statements lead one to feel that once upon a time, the world was
much more like the world of Richard Jefferies than it is, and that “wood
magic” was nearer to our forefathers than to ourselves. Nowadays, when
everything travels more quickly along the road of life, the eyes of
ordinary mortals get confused with the movement and the jostling and
they do not see the pretty by-play that goes on in the bushes by the
way, nor peer into the depths of the woodland beyond. In this they lose
a good deal, but no one can “put back the clock,” and one must feel
grateful that the idylls of the forest are still being acted, and that
there are still men whose vision is quick enough to catch sight of them,
and whose pens have the cunning to put before others the glimpses that
they themselves have caught.

A legend exists about the Cormorant, the Bat, and the Bramble--quite
inconsequent, but not wholly out of place here, so it shall serve as a

Once the Cormorant was a wool merchant and he took for partners the Bat
and the Bramble. They freighted a large ship with wool, but she was
wrecked and then they were bankrupt. Ever since that, the Cormorant is
diving into the deep, looking for the lost ship; the Bat skulks round
till midnight, so that he may not meet his creditors, and the Bramble
catches hold of every passing sheep to try and make up for his loss by
stealing wool. No doubt, you have often noticed their ways, but did you
ever before know their reasons?



   1. Avens.
   2. Betony.
   3. Bleets or beets, white or yellow.
   4. Bloodwort.
   5. Bugloss.
   6. Burnet.
   7. Borrage.
   8. Cabbages, remove in June.
   9. Clary.
  10. Coleworts.
  11. Cresses.
  12. Endive.
  13. Fennel.
  14. French Mallows.
  15. French Saffron, set in August.
  16. Lang de beef.
  17. Leeks, remove in June.
  18. Lettuce, remove in May.
  19. Longwort (_Lungwort_).
  20. Liverwort (probably _Agrimonia Eupatoria_).
  21. Marigolds, often cut.
  22. Mercury (_Chenopodium Bonus Henricus_).
  23. Mints, at all times.
  24. Nep (_Nepeta Cataria_).
  25. Onions, from December to March.
  26. Orache or arache, red and white (_Atriplex hortensis_).
  27. Patience.
  28. Parsley.
  29. Penny-royal.
  30. Primrose.
  31. Poret (_a leek or small onion according to some writers,
  32. Rosemary, in the spring time, to grow south or west.
  33. Sage, red or white.
  34. English Saffron, set in August.
  35. Summer Savory.
  36. Sorrell.
  37. Spinage.
  38. Succory.
  39. Siethes (_Chives_).
  40. Tansey.
  41. Thyme.
  42. Violets of all sorts.


   1. Alexanders at all times.
   2. Artichokes.
   3. Blessed Thistle, or Carduus Benedictus.
   4. Cucumbers, in April and May.
   5. Cresses, sow with lettuce in the spring.
   6. Endive.
   7. Mustard-seed, sow in the spring, and at Michaelmas.
   8. Musk, Mellion, in April and May.
   9. Mints.
  10. Purslane.
  11. Radish, and after remove them.
  12. Rampions.
  13. Rocket, in April.
  14. Sage.
  15. Sorrell.
  16. Spinage, for the summer.
  17. Sea-holy.
  18. Sparage, let grow two years and then remove.
  19. Skirrets, set these plants in March.
  20. Succory.
  21. Tarragon, set in slips in March.
  22. Violets of all colours.

  These buy with the penny
  Or look not for any.

  1. Capers.
  2. Lemons.
  3. Olives.
  4. Oranges.
  5. Rice.
  6. Samphire.


   1. Beans, set in winter.
   2. Cabbages, sow in March and after remove.
   3. Carrots.
   4. Citrons, sow in May.
   5. Gourds, in May.
   6. Navews, sow in June (_Brassica Napus_).
   7. Pompions, in May.
   8. Parsnips, in winter.
   9. Runcival Pease, set in winter.
  10. Rapes, sow in June.
  11. Turnips, in March and April.


   1. Basil, fine and busht, sow in May.
   2. Balm, set in March.
   3. Camomile.
   4. Costmary.
   5. Cowslips and Paggles.
   6. Daisies of all sorts.
   7. Sweet Fennell.
   8. Germander.
   9. Hyssop, set in February.
  10. Lavender (_Lavendula vera_).
  11. Lavender Spike (_L. spica_).
  12. Lavender Cotton.
  13. Marjoram, knotted, sow or set in the spring.
  14. Maudeline.
  15. Pennyroyal.
  16. Roses of all sorts, in January and September.
  17. Red Mints.
  18. Sage.
  19. Tansy.
  20. Violets.
  21. Winter Savory.


   1. Bays, sow or plant in January.
   2. Bachelor’s Buttons.
   3. Bottles, blue, red, and tawny.
   4. Columbines.
   5. Campions.
   6. Cowslips (_Tusser here meant Oxlips_).
   7. Daffodils or Daffodondillies.
   8. Eglantine or Sweet-Brier.
   9. Fetherfew.
  10. Flower Amour, sow in May (_Amaranthus_).
  11. Flower de Luce.
  12. Flower-Gentle, white and red (_Amaranthus_).
  13. Flower Nice.
  14. Gillyflowers, red, white, and Carnations, set in spring and at
      harvest in pots, pails, or tubs, or for summer, in beds.
  15. Holyoaks, red, white, and Carnations (_Hollyhocks_).
  16. Indian Eye, sow in May, or set in slips in March (_Dianthus
  17. Lavender of all sorts.
  18. Larksfoot (_Larkspur_).
  19. Laus tibi (_Narcissus Poeticus_).
  20. Lillium Convallium.
  21. Lilies, red and white, sow or set in March and September.
  22. Marigolds, double.
  23. Nigella Romana.
  24. Pansies, or Heartsease.
  25. Paggles, green and yellow (_Cowslips_).
  26. Pinks of all sorts.
  27. Queen’s Gilliflowers (_Hesperis Matronalis_).
  28. Rosemary.
  29. Roses of all sorts.
  30. Snapdragon.
  31. Sops in wine (Pinks).
  32. Sweet Williams.
  33. Sweet Johns (_Dianthus Barbatus_).
  34. Star of Bethlehem (_Ornithogalum Umbellatum_).
  35. Star of Jerusalem (_Tragopogon pratensis_).
  36. Stock Gilliflowers of all sorts.
  37. Tuft Gilliflowers.
  38. Velvet flowers, or French Marigolds (_Tagetes patula_).
  39. Violets, yellow and white.
  40. Wall Gilliflowers of all sorts.


   1. Blessed Thistle.
   2. Betony.
   3. Dill.
   4. Endive.
   5. Eyebright.
   6. Fennel.
   7. Fumitory.
   8. Hyssop.
   9. Mints.
  10. Plantane.
  11. Roses, red and damask.
  12. Respies (_Rubus Idæus_).
  13. Saxifrage (_Pimpinella saxifraga_ or _Saxifraga granulata_, or
      perhaps, _Carum Carvi_).
  14. Strawberries.
  15. Sorrel.
  16. Succory.
  17. Woodroffe, for sweet waters and cakes.


   1. Anise.
   2. Archangel (_Angelica_).
   3. Betony.
   4. Chervil.
   5. Cinquefoil (_Potentida reptans_).
   6. Cummin.
   7. Dragons (_Arum Maculatum_).
   8. Dittary or garden ginger (_Lepidium Latifolium_).
   9. Gromwell seed (_Lithospernum officinale_).
  10. Hart’s tongue.
  11. Horehound.
  12. Lovage.
  13. Liquorice.
  14. Mandrake.
  15. Mugwort.
  16. Peony.
  17. Poppy.
  18. Rue.
  19. Rhubarb.
  20. Smallage.
  21. Saxifrage.
  22. Savin.
  23. Stitchwort.
  24. Valerian.
  25. Woodbine.

  Thus ends in brief,
  Of herbs the chief,
  To get more skill,
  Read whom ye will;
  Such mo to have,
  Of field go crave.


  ABERCROMBIE, “Every Man his own Gardener.”
  AMHERST (Hon. Alicia), “A History of Gardening in England.”
  ASHMOLE, “History of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.”
  BACON, “Sylva Sylvarum; or, a Naturall Historie.”
  BLOUNT, “Fragmenta Antiquitatis; or Jocular Tenures.”
  BRAND, “Popular Antiquities.”
  BRITTEN, “A Dictionary of English Plant Names.”
  BROWNE (Sir Thomas), “Vulgar Errors.”
  CLARENDON, “History of the Rebellion.”
  COLES, “Art of Simpling.”
  CULPEPPER, “The English Physitian.”
  CULPEPPER, “Astrological Judgment of Diseases.”
  DE GUBERNATIS, _La Mythologie des Plantes_.
  DE LA QUINTINYE, “The Compleat Gard’ner.”
  DILLON, _Nineteenth Century_, April 1894.
  DYER (Thistleton), “The Folk-Lore of Plants.”
  ELLACOMBE (Canon), “The Plant-Lore and Garden-Craft of Shakespeare.”
  EVELYN (J.), “Acetaria, a Discourse of Sallets,” 1699.
  FAVYN (André), _Le Théâtre d’honneur et de Chevatries_, 1620.
  FAVYN (André), “Theatre of Honour.”
  FERNIE, “Herbal Simples.”
  FOLKARD, “Plant-Lore, Legends and Lyrics.”
  FRIEND, “Flowers and Flower-Lore.”
  FULLER, “Church History.”
  FULLER, “Antheologia; or, the Speech of Flowers.”
  GERARDE, “The Herball,” 1596.
  THE “Grete Herball,” 1516.
  GUILLIM, “Heraldry.”
  HAKLUYT’S Voyages, “Remembrances for Master S.,” 1582.
  HARRISON’S “Description of England.”
  “History of Signboards.”
  HOGG, “The Vegetable Kingdom and its Products.”
  HUISH, “History of the Coronation of George IV.”
  INGRAM, _Flora Symbolica_.
  I. W., _i.e._ John Worlidge, _Systema Agriculturæ_, printed (London)
  for Thos. Dring, 1681.
  JONES, “Crowns and Coronations.”
  LAMBERT (Miss), _Nineteenth Century_, September 1879, and May 1880.
  _Le Petit Albert_, from the “Secrets of Albertus Magnus, of the
  Virtues of Herbs, Stones and Certaine Beasts,” 1617.
  LOUDON, “Encyclopædia of Gardening.”
  LUPTON, “Book of Notable Things,” 1575.
  MARKHAM (Gervase), “The Complete Housewife.”
  MEAGER, “The New Art of Gardening,” 1697.
  NEWTON, “An Herbal of the Bible,” 1587.
  NICHOLAS (Sir N. H.), “History of the Orders of Knighthood of the
  British Empire.”
  PARKINSON, _Paradisi in Sole, Paradisus terrestris_, 1629.
  PARKINSON, “Theatre of Plants,” 1640.
  PECK, _Desiderata Curiosa_.
  PEGGE’S _Curalia_.
  PLATT (Sir Hugh), “The Garden of Eden,” 1653.
  PLINY’S “Natural History,” Trans. by Philemon Holland.
  _Quarterly Review_, June 1842.
  RHIND, “History of the Vegetable Kingdom.”
  ROBERTS (H.), “Complete Account of the Coronations of the Kings and
  Queens of England.”
  ROBINSON, “English Flower-Garden.”
  ROSS, “View of all Religions,” 1653.
  SELDEN, “Table Talk.”
  SMITH, “Dictionary of the Bible.”
  THORNTON, “Family Herbal.”
  TIMBS, “Things Not Generally Known.”
  TUSSER, “Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry,” 1577.
  WALTON (Isaac), “The Complete Angler.”


  ACONITE, 173
  _Acorus_, 196
  Agrimony, 135, 167
  ---- Hemp, 190
  Alder, 167, 196
  Alecost, 121, 122
  Alexanders, 47, 48, 153, 176
  Alkanet, 15, 150
  Angelica, 48, 49, 50, 150, 164, 166, 179
  Anise, 9, 154, 173, 182, 198
  Arnica, 173
  Arsmart, 198
  _Asplenium_, 190

  BALM, 9, 10, 11, 105, 148, 196
  Barberries, 99, 107
  Basil, Sweet, 11, 12, 13, 105, 117, 154, 176, 178, 183
  ---- Bush, 11, 12, 13, 154
  Bay, 132, 133, 141, 142, 143, 144, 177, 195
  Bearberries, 173
  Bearsfoot, 164, 196, 197
  Bella-Donna, 167
  Bergamot, 120, 121, 148, 173
  Betony, 111, 164, 168, 198
  Blites, 50, 51
  Bloodwort, 51
  Boldo, 190
  Borage, 13, 14, 154
  Boy’s Love, 136, 166
  Bridewort, 109, 128
  Brooklime, 167
  Broom, 98, 129, 134, 166, 174, 183
  Buckshorne, 51, 52
  Bugloss, 14, 64, 150
  ---- Viper’s, 15, 160
  Bullock’s Lungwort, 197
  Burnet, 15, 16, 152
  Burnet-Saxifrage, 182

  Camomile, 53, 54, 149, 166, 182, 195
  ---- Wild, 166
  Caraway, 16, 17, 153, 173
  Cardoons, 55
  Cassidony, 126
  Celandine, 168, 193
  Celery, 17, 18
  Centaury, 164, 187
  Chervil, 3, 18, 89, 155, 176, 179
  Chibbals, 18
  Chickenweed, 167, 195
  Chickweed, 4
  Chicory, 25, 177
  Chives, 19, 151
  Ciboules, 18, 19
  Cinquefoil, 112, 185, 195
  Cives, 19
  Clary, 55
  Cliders, 168
  Clove-Gillyflowers, 111, 124
  Club-Moss, 1, 174
  Colchicum, 86, 165
  Coltsfoot, 167
  Comfrey, 165
  Coriander, 3, 19, 144, 173, 176
  Corn-Salad, 36
  Costmary, 117, 118, 121, 122, 149
  Cowflop, 168
  Cowslip, 167, 192
  ---- of Jerusalem, 174
  Cresses, 20, 21, 22
  ---- Water, 22, 152, 167
  Cuckoo’s Bread, 192
  Cuckoo-flowers, 62, 63
  Cumin, 3, 19, 154, 181, 198

  DANDELION, 22, 23, 152, 164, 191
  Decoration of Churches, 103, 104
  ---- of Houses, 104
  Dial of flowers, 4, 5
  Dill, 23, 24, 153, 173, 176, 179
  Distillers to Queen Elizabeth, 118, 119
  Dittander, 56
  Dittany, 179, 190, 198
  Dock, 167, 198
  ---- Patience, 59, 60
  Doctrine of Signatures, 85, 96, 159

  Elder, 98, 165, 166, 179, 183, 184, 185, 195
  Elecampane, 56, 57, 150, 181, 198
  Endive, 24, 25, 155, 182, 195
  Eyebright, 35, 193

  Fairy-cap, 182
  Featherfew, 3, 54, 167
  Fennel, 25, 26, 27, 150, 173, 195
  Fenngreek, 57, 58, 198
  _Finocchio_, 27, 155
  Flax, 173, 181
  ---- Fairy, 181
  Flower Gentle, 50
  Foxglove, 167, 168, 181, 182
  Furze, 165

  GARLIC, 177, 198
  Gentian, 172
  Germander, 105, 122, 123
  Gilliflowers, 123, 124, 125, 183
  Goat’s Beard, 4, 27, 28
  Good King Henry, 58
  Goosegrass, 168, 195
  Ground-ivy, 135, 167, 180
  Groundsel, 167
  Green Oil (recipe), 169

  Hawkweed, 193
  Haymaids, 167
  Heart-fever-grass, 23
  Hedge-Garlic, 165, 167
  Hedge-Mustard, 167
  Hellebore, 164, 186, 196
  ---- Black, 197
  ---- White, 197
  Hemlock, 168, 179
  Henbane, 173, 179, 186
  Herbary, 6
  Herb-strewer, The King’s, 106, 107, 108
  Herb-strewing, 104, 105, 106
  ---- at Weddings, 109
  Herb of the Blessed Mary, 194
  ---- Patience, 41, 59, 60, 152, 176
  ---- Robert, 167
  Hollyhock, 67, 68
  Honesty, 78, 176, 179
  Hops, 97, 170, 192
  Horehound, 61, 147, 160, 168
  Horse-radish, 28, 173
  Horse-shoe Vetch, 199
  Hound’s Tongue, 199
  House-leek, 165, 180, 185
  Hyssop, 29, 30, 105, 147, 165, 176

  Juniper, 174
  Jupiter’s Distaff, 55

  LAD’S LOVE, 136
  Ladysmocks, 9, 61, 62, 63
  Lamb’s Lettuce, 30, 155, 191
  Langdebeefe, 63, 64
  Larkspur, 174
  Laurel, 195
  Lavender, 118, 125, 126, 138, 146, 173, 174
  ---- French, 126
  ---- White, 116, 126, 146
  ---- Cotton, 126
  Lettuce, Wild, 193
  Lily of the Valley, 173
  Liquorice, 64, 65, 150, 173, 198
  Lovage, 3, 65, 66
  Lunary, 179
  Lungwort, 174
  Lupines, 57, 117

  Mallow, 3, 66, 67, 150, 165, 176
  ---- French, 66
  ---- Marsh, 67, 150, 165
  Marchwort, 197
  Marigold, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 154, 165
  ---- Corn, 74
  Marjoram, 29, 31, 32, 105, 182, 185, 195
  ---- Pot, 148
  ---- Sweet, 111, 117, 118, 148, 154
  ---- Winter, 148
  Maudeline, 117, 121, 122
  Meadow-Sweet, 109, 126, 127, 164
  Melampode, 196
  Mezereon, 173
  Mignonette, 182
  Milfoil, 180
  Mint, 3, 32, 33, 149, 173, 178
  ---- Cat, 33, 192
  ---- Horse, 198
  ---- Pepper, 33, 149
  ---- Spear, 33
  ---- Water, 16
  Monk’s-hood, 173
  Moonwort, 198
  Mugwort, 52, 138, 139, 140, 141, 182
  Musk, 173, 186
  Mustard, 3, 33, 34, 173
  ---- Tree, 182
  Myrtle, 183

  NEP, 192

  OLD MAN, 136
  Olive, 195
  Orange, 6, 117, 130
  Orders of Knighthood, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116
  Organs, 17, 195
  Ox-eye Daisy, 9

  PARSLEY, 3, 34, 35, 36, 153, 166, 183, 195
  “Passions,” 60
  Penny Royal, 74, 75, 149, 179
  Penny Pies, 165
  Peony, 194
  Periwinkle, 110, 111, 177, 178
  Pimpernel, 166, 168, 179
  Pine Cones, 98
  Planets, Influence of the, 160, 161, 162
  Plantain, 9, 52, 166, 174
  Pomanders, 117, 118
  Poor Man’s Friend, 165
  Poppy, 170, 171, 179, 192
  ---- Black, 186
  ---- White, 171, 186
  Pot-Pourri, 119
  Primrose, 9, 165
  Proverbs, 110
  Purslane, 76, 111, 156
  ---- Golden, 156
  Pyrethrum, 54, 173


  RAGWORT, 188, 189
  Ram-ciches, 77
  Rampion, 77, 78, 153, 177
  Rest-Harrow, 198
  Rhubarb, 6, 183
  ---- Monk’s, 59
  Rocambole, 79
  Rocket, 79, 80, 156
  ---- London, 80
  Rosemary, 8, 109, 111, 116, 126, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 142,
  147, 167, 173, 176, 178
  Rue, 3, 112, 113, 114, 117, 126, 134, 135, 136, 147, 176, 178, 192,
  Rush-Strewing, 104

  SAFFRON, 57, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 111, 151, 165, 173, 186, 196
  ---- Meadow, 86, 166
  Sage, 37, 38, 39, 147, 166, 167, 176, 178, 195
  Sage, Wood, 164
  St John’s Wort, 160, 177, 189
  Salsify, 28
  Samoclas, 197
  Samphire, 86, 87, 152
  Satyrion, 198
  Savory, Summer, 39, 154
  ---- Winter, 29, 39, 40, 150, 176, 195
  _Scabiosa_, 193
  Scorzonera, 44
  Sea-holly, 190
  Set-wall, 172
  _Sferro Cavallo_, 199
  Skirrets, 87, 88, 151
  Smallage, 88, 187
  Sorrel, 40, 41, 151
  ---- French, 41, 151
  Southernwood, 136, 137, 146, 147, 198
  Springwort, 193, 194
  Squills, 173
  Staggerwort, 188
  Star-grass, 174
  Stickadove, 126
  Stonecrop, 89
  Strawberries, 99, 100
  ---- leaves, 99, 100
  Stubwort, 198
  Succory, 25
  Sumach, 174
  Sunflower, 96
  Sweet Cicely, 89, 90, 150
  Sweet Grass, 137
  Sweet Jar, 119
  Swine’s Cress, 165

  TANSY, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 105, 146, 180
  ---- Wild, 94
  Tarragon, 41, 42, 146, 147, 182
  Terebinth, 196
  Thistle, 97, 113, 114, 115
  ---- Blessed, or Holy, 95, 96, 167
  ---- Milk, 95, 96, 97
  ---- Spear, 117
  Thyme, 29, 42, 43, 44, 148, 149, 173, 185
  ---- Water, 196
  ---- Wild, 16, 181, 182
  _Tisane de Sept Fleurs_, 170
  Treacle-Mustard, 159
  Tripe-Madam, 89
  Turnip, 8

  Uvæ Ursi, 173

  VALERIAN, 172, 178, 179
  Venice Treacle, 159
  Vervain, 178, 179, 193
  Vine, 97, 105
  Violets, 98, 99, 168
  Viper’s-Grass, 44

  Whortleberries, 112
  Willow, 105, 134, 173
  Wincopipe, 168
  Winter-green, 173
  Wolfs-bane, 173
  Wood-rose, 137
  ---- rowell, 137
  ---- ruff, 137, 138
  ---- sorrel, 45, 181, 182, 198
  Wormwood, 138, 139, 140, 141, 146, 147, 165, 173, 179, 180, 198

  YARROW, 9, 180, 198
  Yellow Rattle, 192

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber’s uote:

  Inconsistent spelling (including of proper and botanical names, and
  including differences between the text and the index) and factual
  errors have been retained, except as listed below. Non-English phrases
  have not been corrected or individually commented upon either, except
  as listed below. The terms German and Dutch appear to be used

  In several places an opening or closing quote mark is missing. Where
  it was clear where the mark should go, it has been inserted (see under
  Changes made). In other instances the correction has not been made.

  Page 85, γξοκό-ςτπλθ: as printed in the source document; Fuller wrote
  χροκό-δειλος (possibly as an error for κροκό-δειλος).

  Page 122-123, Footnotes 72 and 73: the source document has two
  identical footnote markers and but a single footnote. Both appear to
  be quotes from Parkinson.

  Page 198-199, T’ajonte should be J’ajoute.

  Page 207: Le Théâtre d’honneur et de Chevatries should be Le Théâtre
  d’honneur et de Chevalerie.

  Changes made

  Footnotes have been moved to the end of the section or paragraph,
  illustrations have been moved outside text paragraphs.

  Minor obvious typographical an punctuation errors have been corrected

  Some ditto marks („) have been replaced with the dittoed text.

  Page ix: Illustration numbers added

  Page 2: ” inserted after ... flowers and sweet herbs.

  Page 5: the ‘lovers’ walk changed to the lovers’ walk

  Page 20: chez le Grecs changed to chez les Grecs

  Page 23: to “dull,” changed to “to dull,”

  Page 24: ... spicie taste.’ changed to ... spicie taste.’”; quote mark
  deleted after ... the seeds of Dill,

  Page 81: Vunc Saffroni changed to V unc Saffroni

  Page 85: when he hath changed to whence he hath

  Page 94, quote mark inserted before Tansey, being qualify’d ...

  Page 99, quote mark deleted after ... both branches and others

  Page 105: quote mark inserted before for summer-time your chimney ...

  Page 122: Stroing tansey changed to Strong tansey

  Page 124: they mentioned here changed to they are mentioned here

  Page 125: Hat lavender changed to Hot lavender

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