suggests that originally, like ophite, it may have owed its reputation in part to its spotted appearance resembling the markings of a snake. In part, no doubt, the adhesive and absorbent qualities of the earth, which were palpable to the touch, suggested and maintained the belief in its efficacy as an agent which sucked poison out of the patient.
Stones of this type, which by their shape or markings resemble snakes, are naturally thought to be curative in virtue of homoeopathy. Just as the application of the body or fat of a dead snake or a draught of viper wine are sovereign against snake-bite or poison, so the application of a stone resembling a snake or the drinking of a concoction, in which it has been steeped, will produce similarly desirable results. Analogous is the use of the herb dracunculus, which, being spotted like a viper's skin, enjoyed a reputation as a specific against snake-bite.
- ↑ Thus in a letter written between 1603 and 1607 a Yorkshire squire is recommended to put a local earth on the market as a rival to the expensive Terra Silligata. (The revival of the use of Lemnian Earth in sixteenth century was followed by the exploitation of substitutes in many countries of Europe (Hasluck, op. cit. pp. 226 foil.), and they were eagerly sought in the New World. Thomas Heriot, Report of Virginia, 1588, in Hakluyt, Voyages (Glasgow, 1904), viii. p. 354). It "might in my conceyte be imployed in makinge of such red pottes as come from Venice, which are sold very deare, by reason of the vertue ascribed unto them, what secret operatyon is in these pottes I know not, but I am well assured that this earth, both the white and the red, beinge put to one's lippes, will stycke fast to them, even as those pottes doe." "A Description of Cleveland in a Letter addressed by H. Tr. to Sir T. Chaloner," quoted in Gutch, County Folk-Lore, II., The North Riding, etc., p. 176. Cf. Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia, ii. cap. iii. The Palestinian earth from which the body of Adam was supposed to have been formed was exported to the East in the seventeenth century on account of its magical and medicinal qualities. This too was reddish in colour and like wax to handle. Zuallardo, Il Devotissimo Viaggio di Gierusalemme, Rome, 1587, pp. 262-263.
- ↑ Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxix. (22), 71; Hunt, Romances and Drolls of the West of England, 2nd series, p. 215; Folk-Lore, xxii. p. 305.
- ↑ Pliny, loc. cit.; Skeat, Folk-Lore, xxxiii. p. 48.
- ↑ Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxv. (6), 18. Cf. the similar use of Viper's Bugloss (Echium Vulgare), the seed of which resembles a serpent's head. Bilson, County Folk-Lore, III., Leicester and Rutland, p. 33.