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Friday, September 28, 2007


Friday afternoon in the archives. I'm reading a manuscript collection of medical recipes (or 'receipts') from 1638: ‘A Booke of Receits for Diuers uses.' If Michael Moore had taken a look at this, he'd have a very different sense of British attitudes to health. Among other prescriptions, we find: ‘To destroye An Impostume in a daie or A Night’; ‘To draw out A Nayle or Thorne’; ‘An Excellent water for the Itch’; ‘for the payne in the head’; ‘ffor the winde of the splene or flatus hypocondriacus’; and ‘A medisine for a sore legge'. There seem to have been a lot of sore legs in the Renaissance. Perhaps horses were wider. Something for Notes and Queries? Anyway: here is the full text for ‘A playn and approued Medicine for Skald or Burne' ...

‘Take a new Pipkin, putt in a good handful of stone hors dung, with halfe a pound of unsalted butter, lett it boyl till it be well mingled, then strayn it through a cours cloth, and annoynt the sore place so often as it may not bee dry.’

This can also double as quite a tasty pasta sauce.

To the weekend.

  • At 9/28/2007 12:18:00 PM, Blogger Liza Blake wrote…

    Yum! I'd be interested to know the technique for nails or thorns. My favorite is advice about how to get out iron objects that have been lodged in the skin: get one of those magnetic stones and sort of hold it up to where you think the object has settled in the body ...


  • At 9/28/2007 06:24:00 PM, Blogger Hieronimo wrote…

    You see, this is why we needed Bardolph on our team.


  • At 9/28/2007 08:24:00 PM, Blogger Pamphilia wrote…

    This makes Hugh Plat look like Bambi. Good work, Bardolph!


  • At 9/28/2007 08:33:00 PM, Blogger Bardiac wrote…

    I ran across a paper once on recipes for "bringing on flowers." Fascinating all the way around.

    I remember reading about another family recipe book with a series of recipes to relieve breast pain. The interpretation was that a woman in the family (maybe the writer) had breast cancer. Chilling and horrifying.


  • At 9/29/2007 06:07:00 AM, Blogger Bardolph wrote…

    liza: yes, i've seen lots of those removing-iron-objects-lodged-under-skin recipes. what the hell was going on back then? is this the early modern equivalent of swallowing the tv remote?


  • At 9/29/2007 09:58:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…

    The thing that always gets me is the nature and extent of the specifics. A large handfull of horse dung works as well as a small, but the butter had better be unsalted.


  • At 10/01/2007 08:10:00 PM, Blogger Pamphilia wrote…

    Check out the drawers in the Mutter Museum if any of you ever happen to visit the Philadelphia area. Like the drawers in Oxford's Pitt Rivers, only instead of containing random and diverse objects, they contain random and diverse objects removed from people's orifices and insides. It's a hoot.


  • At 10/09/2007 12:53:00 PM, Blogger Liza Blake wrote…

    Bardolph: I can only conclude body piercings gone wrong. What the Chandos portrait doesn't show


    is that Shakespeare also had a belly-button ring.


 Scribble some marginalia

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