The book is dedicated to The King’s Most Excellent Majesty, and in his lengthy introduction the author briefly explains his motive:
“I confess I made it but for the superficial satisfaction of a friend’s curiosity, according as it is set down; and if it might now serve to give aim to your Majesty how to make use of my poor endeavours, it would crown my thoughts, who am neither covetous nor ambitious … ”
The book certainly covers a wide range of topics including animal husbandry, the domestic arts and crafts (including beauty therapy), and home remedies for a variety of terrifying conditions such as apoplexy, canker, carbuncles, cholic, dropsy, felons, fistulas, stinking breath and stinking feet, the griefs and pains of the bladder, and “the fundament that goeth forth”. If you want to know how many children (if any) you will have, and “if they shall live or die, [or] if they will die in Prison”, how to dye bones red, make shoes that will never wear out, catch weasels, interpret dreams, or determine when there will be wars, famine or plague – then this is the book for you. Another interesting aspect of this book is that, unusually for his time, the author takes pains to credit his sources.
I have chosen an alcohol theme for today’s selection from this lovely book.
Cure for Inebriation: Dr Petier, a German physician, states that he has found the spirit of hartshorn (in the dose of a small teaspoonful in a glass of water) to counteract the inebriating effects of strongly fermented liquors and spirits, and to recover a person from an apparently lifeless state, from an excess of wine, in an hour or two.
Prevention of course is always better than cure, so here is some rather double-handed advice:
Drunkenness, to prevent: A large draught of Salad Oil drunk first, will prevent Drunkenness, and so will New Milk, but it will make you sick, and I think it best not to try the experiment. Plat’s Jewel House, p. 59
Drunkenness is sometimes useful however:
If you will make Birds drunk, that you may catch them with your hands, take such meat as they love, as Wheat or Beans, or such like, and lay them to steep in the Lees of Wine, or the in the Juice of Hemlock, and sprinkle them in the place where the Birds use to haunt; and if they do eat the thereof, straightways they will be so giddy, that you may take them with your hands. I wrote this out of an old written book, wherein I know many true things were written.
And an appropriate recipe from the book, which makes the piece of lime wedged in the neck of the beer bottle look a bit lame is this:
How To Make Forty Sorts Of Changes Of Ale Drawn Out Of One Barrel.
Take Ale of a good body, and when it has worked well, bottle it off, but fill not the bottle within three spoonfuls, and being ripe, as you use it fill it up with the syrup of any fruit, root, flower, or herb you have by you, for that purpose; or drop in chemical oils or waters of them, or spices, and with a little shaking the whole mass will be tinctured, and taste pleasantly of what you put in; and so you may make all sorts of physical Ales with little trouble, and no incumbrance, morehealthful and proper than if herbs were soaked in it, or drugs, which in the pleasant entertainment, will make your friends wonder how you came by such variety on a sudden.
Quotation for the Day.
The best cure for drunkenness is whilst sober, observe a drunken person.