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Story Of London

The Queen’s Physik III


The publication, for profit, of intimate details of the British Royal Family by their former servants is at least 350 years old. What may be the first example of this exploitation of “insider knowledge,” was published in 1658 by a former servant of Henrietta Maria, Queen Consort to Charles I. The book details the “Receipts” – recipes for medicinal cures and favourite foods of the Royal Family – contained in the Queen’s Closet. Some of the medicinal recipes are quackery indeed, and all the more interesting for that. We come at last to the recipes themselves. In this instalment we have cures for the plague, small pox, consumption and melancholy, courtesy of Drs. Butler and Gifford. We also have an excellent Purging Ale from Dr.Butler!

A woodcut of Henrietta Maria from the original publication.Page 1
[1] Doctor Butler’s preservative against the plagueTake wood sorrel, and pick it from the stalk, and pound it very well in a stone Mortar, then take to every pound of beaten Sorrel a pound of sugar finely beaten and two ounces of Mithridate, beat them very well together, and put them in pots for your use, take every morning before Page 2 and after the infection for some time together of this conserve, as much as a Walnut.[2] Dr. Butler’s Cordial WaterTake pimpernel, Carduus, Angelica, Scordium, Scabinous, Dragon and still these severally in a Rose still, and when you have a pint of the water of every of these sorts of Herbs, then mingle all these very well together, and dissolve in it half a pound of Venice Treacle, then still all these together, and mingle the stronger water with the small, six spoonfuls of this water, made blood warm, given to one sick of the Plague, drives all venom from the heart. It is excellent, soused, for the Small Pox, or for any pestilent Fever.[3] Dr. Butler’s Purging Ale.Take of Sarsaparilla two ounces, of Polypody of the Oak, and Senna, of each four ounces, Caraway seed and Aniseed, of each half an ounce, Liquorice two ounces, Maidenhair and Agrimony, of each one llittle handful, Scurvey half a bushel; beat all these grosly, and put them into a Canvas bag Page 3 and hang it into three gallons of strong Ale; when it is three days old drink it.[4] Dr. Giffords Amber Pills for a ConsumptionTake of Venice Turpentine one ounce washed, and six grains of the powder of white amber, mix them together, and set them in a clean pot upon embers, and let it not stand too hot; t try whether it be enough, take a drop, and let it cool, if after it is cold it be stiff, and will not cleave to the finger, it is enough; then take off the powders of Pearl, White Amber, and Coral, of each a quantity, as a quarter of an ounce, of the inner bark of an Oak a quarter of an ounce, of cinnamon and Nutmeg of each as much, and three ounces of hard white sugar; make all these into a powder, and feeth? them, and put the pills into them; before you take them, you must be well purges, after which you must take three of the aforesaid Pills wrapped up n the powder, what else you will, and in the morning take the yolk of a new laid Egg, warmed a little, and put into it as much of the powder as will lie on a shilling, Page 4 and sup it off; let this be used from time to time together, and there will be great benefit found by it.[5] To comfort the Heart and Spirits, and to suppress MelancholyTake the juices of Borage and Buglosse, of each one pint and a half, juice of Pippins, or Queen Apples one pint, juice of balm half a pint, clarify them, then take Cochineal made into powder four drams; infuse it in the said juices being cold in an earthen pan for two days, stirring it often, then strain it, and with four pound of powder Sugar, (or two pound if you mean not to keep it long) boil it into a syrup, then take it off, and when it is almost cold, put to it Diamargaritum Frigidum one dram and a half, Diambra four scruples. Take thereof a spoonful or two for many mornings together, and when you wake in the night, if there be cause you may also add to some part of it Saffron to make it more cordial, by putting some powder of Saffron in a linen cloth tied up, and so milking it out into the syrup, let the substance thereof remain in the cloth, and take thereof sometimes. [Approved].