Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 83.djvu/95

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91
VULGAR SPECIFICS

majority of cases, pass in spite of any medicament. The layman, however, suffers with aches, takes a reputed remedy, gets well, and firmly believes that it was the special mixture that he had taken which had cured him. For example, they applied in Germany a special concoction recommended by Dr. Christopher Guarnonius of the court of Rudolph II. of Bavaria (1576-1612). It is rather interesting to know how many people were able to obtain this remedy:

 
Recipe
The moss that had grown on the skull of a thief 2 ounces
Man's grease 2 ounces
Grease of Mummy 12 ounce
Man 's blood 12 ounce
Linseed oil 2 ounces
Oil of roses 1 ounce
Sole armoniack 1 ounce
Mix well and apply locally.
 

For blows, wound and sores in children, the kissing of the injured part was supposed to be efficacious. The ordinary intestinal colic had quite a number of "specifics" for it. One cure which must have been quite difficult of accomplishment, except by the professional clown, was to stand on one's head for a quarter of an hour.[1] Perhaps after the exertion of standing upon one's head not only the colic but more painful diseases might have been cured. Persons who were liable to the attacks of colicky pains sometimes carried about with them wolf's dung. In his "Diary," Pepy speaks about carrying about oneself a hare's foot. Pepy also gives a prescription, which I shall here repeat:

Balsam of sulphur 3 or 4 drops in a syrup of Coltesfotte, not eating or drinking two hours before or after. The making of this balsam was as follows: "two thirds of fine oyle, and one third of fine Brimstone, sett thirteen or fourteen hours on ye fire, simpering till a thicke stuffe lyes at ye Bottome, and ye Balsom at ye toppe. Take this off, etc.

For cramps they used coffin rings dug out of a grave, bone of hare's foot, the patella of a sheep or lamb, or the tying of a thread around the limb below the thigh. It was also thought that if a rusty old sword were hung near the bed, or if the shoes be placed T-or X-wise over the bed, or if a pan of clean water were kept under the bed, the cramp would leave the patient.

Brimstone and vervain are no honey yet bind them to thine hand and thou shalt have the cramp.[2]

Eating buns or bread baked on Good Friday was supposed to cure diarrhœa.[3]

Besides the cross bun, a small loaf of bread baked on Good Friday morning and carefully preserved as a medicine is good for diarrhœa. It is considered
  1. E. Hunt, "Popular Superstition," 1865.
  2. B. Melbancke, "Philotimus," 1583.
  3. G. F. Jackson, "Shropshire Folk Lore," 1883, p. 191.