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The Queen’s Physik IV


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 learn how to cure stuffing f the stomach and meet Dr. Bassa who specialised in breaking stones.

Title Page of The Queen's PhysikPage 5
[6] A Cordial Electuary for stuffing of the stomach, or shortness of breathTake a pint of he best honey, set it on the fire and scum it clean, then put to a bundle of hyssop bruised small before you tie it up; let it boil well, till the honey taste of the Hyssop, then strain out the Honey very hard, and put to it the powder of Angelica root, the weight of six pence, powder of Elicampane root the weight of six pence, Ginger and Pepper, of each the weight of two pence. Liquorice and Aniseed of each the weight of eight pence, all beaten very small severally: put all these into the strained Honey, and let them boil a little space, stirring them well together all the time, then take them from the fire, and pour all into a clean gallypot, stirring it always till it be through cold, and keep it close covered for your use. When any are troubled with stuffing of the stomach, or shortness of breath, let them take this Electuary with a bruised Liquorice stick and they Page 6shall sensibly find much good by it. This was Queen Elizabeth’s Electuary for these infirmities.[7] Mr Covets Medicine for the PalsieTake a pint of he strongest mustard, set it in an Oven for two or three times till it be as thick as a hasty pudding, the Oven must not be too hot to burn it: then set it on a chafing dish of coals, till it be dry enough to make into powder. Take half an ounce of Betony powder, and sweeten it with Sugar-candy to your taste. Take of this every morning for ten days. [Approved].[8] A Receipt to help Digestion.Take two quarts of small Ale, put to it mints one handful, as much of red Sage, a little cinnamon, let it boil softly till half be wasted, sweeten it with Sugar to your taste, and drink thereof a draught morning and evening. Page 7A singular Cordial take two ounces of dried red Gillyflowers, and put them into a pottle of Sack, put to it three ounces of fine sugar in powder, and a half scruple of Ambergrease in powder; put all these in a stone bottle, and shake it oft. After it hath stood ten days, pass it through a jelly bag, and give two or three spoonfuls of it for a great Cordial. This way you may also make lavender wine for the Palsie and other diseases.[9] Dr Bassa an Italian. An approved Receipt to break the Stone in the Kidneys.In the month of May distil Cow dung, then take two live Hares, and strangle them in their Blood, then take the one of them, and put it into an earthen vessel or pot, and cover it well with a mortar made of horse dung and hay, and bake it in an Oven with household bread, and let it still in an Oven two or three days, baking anew with anything, until the Hare be baked or dried to powder, Page 8(der,) then beat it well, and keep it for your use. The other Hare you must flea and take out the guts only, then distil al the rest, and keep this water: then take at the new and full of the Moon, or any other time, three mornings together as much of this powder as will lie on a sixpence, with two spoonfuls of each water, and it will break any stone in the kidneys.[10] Dr. Bassa. Remedy for a bloody Urine, or to break a stone in the Bladder.Take the distilled water of Saxifrage, Coriander, Parsley, and cod of broom when they be green, the berries of white Thorn, stilled when they be ripe; they must be stamped stones and all, and then distilled: the green hulls of Walnuts when they be ripe stilled, Raisins of the sun stilled; every one of these waters must be stilled by it self. Then take an equal quantity of each, as a pint of Aqua Spirita; put them all together, and still them in an ordinary still, or in B. after scum the water nine or ten days: and take of this water for ten or fifteen days, five or six spoonfuls Page 9 (-fuls) atime n the morning fasting, and use to take it after a day or two once in a month.[11] Syrup of Turnips.First bake the Turnips n a pot with household bread, then press out the Liquor between two platters; put a pint of this liquor to half a pint of hyssop water, and as much brown sugar-candy as will sweeten it; and boil it to the consistency of a syrup. tis very good for a Cold or Consumption.[12] Syrup of Citron PeelsTake the outermost fresh peels of Citrons and cut in small pieces, and pour on them two quarts of water, then wring it through a cloth; put to the liquor one pound of powder sugar, boil it to a syrup, and when it is sodden, put four grains of Musk to it, dissolved in Damask Rose water. This syrup cools not. It defends from the Plague.Page 10
[13] A Cordial Syrup to cleanse the blood, open Obstructions, prevent a Consumption, etc.Take Rosemary flowers, Betony, Clove-gilly-flowers, Borrage, Broom, Cowslip flowers, Red-rose-leaves, Melilot, Comfrey, Clarey, Pimpinel flowers, of each two ounces, red currants four pounds: infuse all these into six quarts of Claret Wine, put to it fourteen pounds of ripe Elder berries, cover the pot, and paste it very close, set it in a kettle of warm water to infuse forty-eight hours, till the virtue of the ingredients be all drawn out, then press it out hard, and put to every pint of the liquor one pound and three quarters of powder sugar, boil and scum it till you find the syrup thick enough, when it is cold bottle it, and keep it for your use. Take two spoonfuls in a morning and so much in the afternoon, fasting two hours after it.