« PreviousContinue »
which I am sure is as infallible for making a complete modern antiquary, as Mrs. Stephen's dissolvent for the stone, or Dr. James's powder for a fever. I send it in English, because your wife may put it into her family receipt-book, for the benefit of your son who is just going to the University. It is in the taste of the last Dispensary, the like of which, according to the general opinion never was, nor ever will be seen.
Conserve of hoary legendary tales . . . . 2 Ounces. Probably's preserved . . . . . . . . 6 Drachms. Flowers of Monkhood ....... Ounce. Seems to be, may be, sprinkled over the whole of ea. 2 drms. Roots of Hebraic, Celtic, Saxon, all finely
powdered but not searched . . . . . of ea. 1 drm. Species of Reasons . . . . . . . . . 1 Scruple.
Syrup of sweet credulity, as much as will make it into an Electuary. Take the quantity of an owl's egg every morning fasting, and at nine at night, drinking after each dose, a bottle of Cerevisia Celtica, i.e. Barley-Wine. The morning dose will create an easy digestion, and the night one, pleasing and romantic dreams—There must be added to it a careful diet of roots, and a constant course of riding through all winds, weathers and roads, in the way, or out of the way. Mr. Wise will furnish you with a horse, &c.” I acknowledge an owl's egg is an unusual magnitude for a medicinal dose, but it was thought here not too large, because all students who are formed by nature for antiquities, are furnished with large swallows. I would have them like the family of the Stuke. leys. You must be informed that there were two Williams, one was a physician at Grantham, the other a divine at Stamford and London. They both descended from the ancient house of Stevekele, both their christian and surnames were the same, and though they were both as like as Virgil's twins ;
'.. .. .. .. .. proles Indiscreta suis gratusque parentibus error ;'
Yet there were very different men. The Physician believed nothing but the most incredible things of the Celtic Gods ; the other as appears by a late sermon preached before the College of Physicians avowedly believes in .... and all his works. The Physician had a particular affection for an aged owl, probably because it was a symbol of one of his goddesses, whom he adored by this representative ; though he often prayed to her, his prayers, like his practice, vanished into air. This owl was a present from a noble Dutchess (Ancaster,) whether as a curiosity or a reproof; by way of civility or satire, is a point not determined to this day. However, the master made the bird the companion of his studies and the confidant of his soliloquies. He perpetually gazed at the eyes of his bird, as if it had been his looking glass, and indeed that was the only one he ever used. This rara avis was his bona avis, always stood fixed upon a perch on his right hand; but the master was unfortunately cursed, as Virgil says, with a left handed mind. An oil extracted from the fæces of the auspicious bird, was given to his apothecary at Stamford, as a nostrum for the gout. The Doctor, from the sacred gravity or lulling composure in the countenance of his friend, commenced instantly an errant Antiquary; but it cannot be asserted whether from inspiration, intuition, or ab oro.
“I must ingenuously confess,” that the above “Recipe was not entirely my own. I think nevertheless that I have some share in the property, as I have taken immense pains to decypher an hieroglyphical hand, and used the utmost caution and precision to whittle the medicine into the present fashionable taste. I met with the original in a manuscript of brother Symons, a monk of the Abbey of St. James in Northampton. He had collected a great many receipts from Hippocras, Gallienus, and Kelsus, authors I imagine now lost; but this probably was taken out of some Arabian Physician. In the original there were several nuts, as chesnuts, cypress, walnuts, &c.: these I threw away, as all kernels may be suspected to be poison, and no antidote is left in the present Dispensary to expell it. To make the medicine efficacious, I ejected all simples heterogeneous to my own private opinion; to render it palatable, I banished a few efficacious ingredients; to make the remaining efficacious ones creep securely into the offices of digestion, chylification, and sanguification, I doubled the quantities of some, as the probable—seem to be—may be; which have very little taste, yet serve as sheaths to carry the others down, and dark-lanterns to light them through all the alleys to their places of destination. I pre. served the spices in the species in a moderate quantity, enough I hope for the hysterical ladies, the whetters, the slipslops and the freethinkers—I put in but a small quantity, lest they should fly to the head, to which I would have nothing aimed but the two bottles of barley wine. I think I have now adapted it to the applauded simplicity of the very last Dispensary. Simplicity, sir, is the beauty of architecture;—the delicacy of gardening ;—the expression of music; the soul of painting; the true basis of morality; in philosophy it is experiment; in geometry, demonstration :-in medicine, longevity :-in composition, sublimity ;- but in metaphysics, a chimæra.”
James Davies, M.D., practised as a physician in this town during the middle of the last century. The late William Hughes, Esq., used to speak of him as the friend of his father, Solomon Hughes. His work on the antiquities of Devizes was written in 1750 and 1751, in the form of familiar letters, and republished in 1783 in Charles Dilly's 'Repository of Wit and Humour.' From a note in the latter issue, it appears that he travelled on one occasion as far as Greece; and at the eminent peril of his life, stole from a library at Mount Athos, a Greek MS. of Soranus on medicine. Among the additional MSS. in the British Museum, are a few other letters of Davies antecedent to the above, addressed to Pro
fessor Ward, of Oxford, with a view to aid him in a projected supplement to Horseley's 'Britannia. He intended to publish other letters after writing the Origines, but failed in obtaining the requisite number of subscriptions. He also, says his publisher, “left a large book about Stonehenge, not quite finished. He seems only certain that is was written by some of the sons of Adam, but whether by Danes, Saxons, Romans, Britons, or Antediluvians he left undetermined, till he had perused Geoffrey of Monmouth.” An anecdote illustrating the reputation he bore as an antiquary, is given in the ‘Hist. of Marlborough, p. 405.
THE reign of the first Henry is described by William of
Malmesbury as a period of great outward prosperity to England. Many a Saxon thane, no doubt, still winced under the galling yoke of his Norman master, but even the national prejudices were in great measure allayed by the two-fold fact, that the King himself was English-born, and his Queen a descendant from Edmund Ironside. Foreigners resorted hither for security of traffic, towns and abbeys arose, and the royal treasury could boast of, what the historian terms “a boundless store,” £100,000 in coin, besides cups of gold