Page:In defense of Harriet Shelley, and other essays.djvu/353
A MAJESTIC LITERARY FOSSIL
Happen he would have Remov d it and Sat Down on it. Indeed, he would; and then how could it Choke him to Death? I don t believe the thing ever hap pened at all.
Paracelsus adds this effort : * I myself saw a Plaister which attracted as much Water as was sufficient to fill a Cistern ; and by these very Attractives Branches may be torn from Trees; and, which is still more surprising, a Cow may be carried up into the Air." Paracelsus is dead now ; he was always straining him self that way.
They liked a touch of mystery along with their medicine in the olden time; and the medicine-man of that day, like the medicine-man of our Indian tribes, did what he could to meet the requirement:
Arcanum. A Kind of Remedy whose Manner of Preparation, or singular Efficacy, is industriously concealed, in order to enhance its Value. By the Chymists it is generally defined a thing secret, incorporeal, and immortal, which cannot be Known by Man, unless by Experience; for it is the Virtue of every thing, which operates a thousand times more than the thing itself.
To me the butt end of this explanation is not altogether clear. A little of what they knew about natural history in the early times is exposed here and there in the Dictionary.
The Spider. It is more common than welcome in Houses. Both the Spider and its Web are used in Medicine: The Spider is said to avert the Paroxysms of Fevers, if it be apply d to the Pulse of the Wrist, or the Temples; but it is peculiarly recom mended against a Quartan, being enclosed in the Shell of a Hazlenut.
Among approved Remedies, I find that the distilPd Water of Black Spiders is an excellent Cure for Wounds, and that this wait- one of the choice Secrets of Sir Walter Raleigh.