Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/415

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Reviews. 365

and the herb-gardens of the monasteries, but there must also have been a popular and widespread love of flowers — a national characteristic which may still be recognised in the cottage gardens of.tne South of England. Along with this there went accurate observation and discrimination, so that these unlearned botanists were able to recognise and name a much larger number of native plants than they could have known through the translated Latin books. Their knowledge of botany was not only much more extensive than has been supposed, but it was original."

Passing over the subject of Anglo-Saxon surgery, we must devote a small space to the deeply interesting subject of charms in connection with the medicine of the period, a portion of the book particularly interesting to students of folklore and well worthy of their careful attention. In answering the question as to whether these Saxon charms — or a large part of them — are not derived from Teutonic or Celtic medical folklore, Dr. Payne lays stress on the difficulty of coming to a decision, since it is hard to know whether a charm may have originated in folklore or in borrowed learning, for a good " deal of so-called folk-medicine is old-fashioned medicine wliich has sunk down to the level of the unlearned, and has sometimes put on a rustic dress." Many of these charms can, in fact, be traced to Oriental, Greek or Latin sources. Some of the curious words used in some of these incan- tations — evidently without any knowledge on the part of the user as to their meanings — appear to be Irish, or perhaps Scotch GaeHc, of others the original language cannot even be guessed so changed have the words become. The spirit of the Leech-books is Christian, and hence everything in the nature of "rune-lays" is purposely omitted as being of heathen origin. The Church banned such incantations, and had her own blessings for herbs, potions, and unguents. Many directions as to the proper psalms and prayers to be said when gathering plants, as well as to the times when they should be sought, appear in the books of which Dr. Payne deals. On the whole, one obtains from this work a most vivid picture of the medical science of the time, and I confidently recommend it to all interested in the social history of the early days of England.

Bertram C. A. Windle.