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Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure

Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure

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Published by Kristina Sip
Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure
Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure

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Published by: Kristina Sip on May 24, 2013
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byW. T. FERNIE, M.D.Author of "Botanical Outlines," etc_Second Edition."Medicine is mine; what herbs and
growIn fields and forests, all their powers I know."DRYDEN.Philadelphia: Boericke & Tafel. 1897."Jamque aderat Phoebo ante alios dilectus lapisIasides: acri quondam cui captus amoreIpse suas artes, sua munera, laetus ApolloAugurium, citharamque dabat, celeresque sagittasIlle ut
proferret fata
Scire potestates herbarum, usumque medendiMaluit, et mutas agitare inglorius artes."VIRGIL,
: Libr. xii. v. 391-8."And now lapis had appeared,Blest leech! to Phoebus'-self endearedBeyond all men below;On whom the fond, indulgent GodHis augury had fain bestowed,His lyre-his sounding bow!But he, the further to prolongA fellow creature's span,
The humbler art of Medicine chose,The knowledge of each plant that grows,
Plying a craft not known to song,An unambitious man!"[vii]
It may happen that one or another enquirer taking up this book will ask, to begin with, "What is aHerbal Simple?" The English word "Simple," composed of two Latin words,
Singula plica
(a singlefold), means "Singleness," whether of material or purpose.From primitive times the term "Herbal Simple" has been applied to any homely curative remedyconsisting of one ingredient only, and that of a vegetable nature. Many such a native medicine found
favour and success with our single-minded forefathers, this being the "reverent simplicity of ancientertimes."In our own nursery days, as we now fondly remember, it was: "Simple Simon met a pieman going tothe fair; said Simple Simon to the pieman, 'Let me taste your ware.'" That ingenuous youth had butone idea, connected simply with his stomach; and his sole thought was how to devour the contents of the pieman's tin. We venture to hope our readers may be equally eager to stock their minds with thesound knowledge of Herbal Simples which this modest Manual seeks to provide for their use.Healing by herbs has always been popular both [xviii] with the classic nations of old, and with theBritish islanders of more recent times. Two hundred and sixty years before the date of Hippocrates(460 B.C.) the prophet Isaiah bade King Hezekiah, when sick unto death, "take a lump of Figs, andlay it on the boil; and straightway the King recovered."Iapis, the favourite pupil of Apollo, was offered endowments of skill in augury, music, or archery.But he preferred to acquire a knowledge of herbs for service of cure in sickness; and, armed with thisknowledge, he saved the life of AEneas when grievously wounded by an arrow. He averted the hero'sdeath by applying the plant "Dittany," smooth of leaf, and purple of blossom, as plucked on themountain Ida.It is told in
 Malvern Chase
that Mary of Eldersfield (1454), "whom some called a witch," famous forher knowledge of herbs and medicaments, "descending the hill from her hut, with a small phial of oil,and a bunch of the 'Danewort,' speedily enabled Lord Edward of March, who had just then heavilysprained his knee, to avoid danger by mounting 'Roan Roland' freed from pain, as it were by magic,through the plant-rubbing which Mary administered."In Shakespeare's time there was a London street, named Bucklersbury (near the present MansionHouse), noted for its number of druggists who sold Simples and sweet-smelling herbs. We read, in[ix]
The Merry Wives of Windsor 
, that Sir John Falstaff flouted the effeminate fops of his day as"Lisping hawthorn buds that smell like Bucklersbury in simple time."Various British herbalists have produced works, more or less learned and voluminous, about ournative medicinal plants; but no author has hitherto radically explained the why and where fore of their ultimate curative action. In common with their early predecessors, these several writers haverecognised the healing virtues of the herbs, but have failed to explore the chemical principles onwhich such virtues depend. Some have attributed the herbal properties to the planets which rule theirgrowth. Others have associated the remedial herbs with certain cognate colours, ordaining red flowersfor disorders of the blood, and yellow for those of the liver. "The exorcised demon of jaundice," saysConway, "was consigned to yellow parrots; that of inflammatory disease to scarlet, or red weeds."Again, other herbalists have selected their healing plants on the doctrine of allied signatures,choosing, for instance, the Viper's Bugloss as effectual against venomous bites, because of itsresembling a snake; and the sweet little English Eyebright, which shows a dark pupil in the centrewhite ocular corolla, as of signal benefit for inflamed eyes.Thus it has continued to happen that until the [x] last half-century Herbal Physic has remained onlyspeculative and experimental, instead of gaining a solid foothold in the field of medical science. Itsclaims have been merely empirical, and its curative methods those of a blind art:—"Si vis curari, de morbo nescio quali,
Accipias herbam; sed quale nescio; nec quâPonas; nescio quo; curabere, nescio quando."Your sore, I know not what, be not foreslowTo cure with herbs, which, where, I do not know;Place them, well pounc't, I know not how, and thenYou shall be perfect whole, I know not when."Happily now-a-days, as our French neighbours would say,
 Nous avons changé tout cela
, "Old thingsare passed away; behold all things are become new!" Herbal Simples stand to-day safely determinedon sure ground by the help of the accurate chemist. They hold their own with the best, and rank highfor homely cures, because of their proved constituents. Their manifest healing virtues are shown todepend on medicinal elements plainly disclosed by analysis. Henceforward the curtain of oblivionmust fall on cordial waters distilled mechanically from sweet herbs, and on electuaries artlesslycompounded of seeds and roots by a Lady Monmouth, or a Countess of Arundel, as in the Stuart andTudor times. Our Herbal Simples are fairly entitled at last to independent promotion from the shelvesof the amateur still-room, from [xi] the rustic ventures of the village grandam, and from the shallowpractices of self styled botanical doctors in the back streets of our cities."I do remember an apothecary,—And hereabouts he dwells,—whom late I notedIn tatter'd weeds, with overwhelming brows,
Culling of Simples
; meagre were his looks;And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,An alligator stuff'd, and other skinsOf ill-shap'd fishes; and about his shelvesA beggarly account of empty boxes,Green earthen pots, bladders, and musty seeds,Remnants of packthread, and old cakes of rosesWere thinly scattered to make up a show."
 Romeo and Juliet 
, Act V. Sc. 1.Chemically assured, therefore, of the sterling curative powers which our Herbal Simples possess, andanxious to expound them with a competent pen, the present author approaches his task with a zealouspurpose, taking as his pattern, from the
of Milton:—"A certain shepherd ladOf small regard to see to, yet well skilledIn every virtuous plant, and healing herb;He would beg me sing;Which, when I did, he on the tender grassWould sit, and hearken even to constancy;And in requital ope his leathern scrip,And show me
, of a thousand names,Telling their strange, and vigorous faculties."Shakespeare said, three centuries ago, "throw physic to the dogs." But prior to him, one Doctor Key,self styled Caius, had written in the Latin [xii] tongue (
Henry VIII.), a Medical History of the

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