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Story Of London

The Queen’s Physik VI


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. In this instalment we have the recipe for the water of life and Dr. Atkinson’s excellent perfume against the plague and Mr. provides us with a Pfecuous Water to revive the spirits!

Title Page of The Queen's PhysikPage 16[20] To make water of Life.Take balm leaves and stalks, Burnet leaves and flowers, Rosemary, red Sage, Taragon, Tormentil leaves, Rossolis, red Roses, Carnation, Hysop, Thyme, red strings that grow upon Savory, red Fennel leaves and roots, red Mints, of each one handful; bruise these herbs and put them in great pot, and pour on them as much white wine as will cover them, stop them close, and let them steep for eight or nine days, then put to it cinnamon, Ginger, Angelica seeds, Cloves and Nutmegs, of each one ounce, a little Saffron, Sugar one pound, Raysins, Solis stoned one pound, Dates stones and sliced half a pound, the loins and legs of an old Coney, fleshy running Capon, the red flesh of the sinews of a leg of Mutton, four young chickens, twelve Larks, the yolks of twelve eggs, a Loaf of white bread cut in sops, and two or three ounces of Mithridate or Treacle, and as much Bastard or Muscadines as will cover them all. Distll all with a moderate fire, and keep the first and second waters by themselves;Page 17 (selves;) and when there comes no more by distilling, put more Wine into the pot upon the same stuff, and distil it again, and you will have another good water. This water must be kept in a double glass close stopped very carefully: it is good against many infirmities, as the Dropsy, Palsy, Ague, Sweating, Spleen, Worms, Yellow and Black Jaundice; it strengthens the Spirits, Brain Heart, Liver, and Stomach. Take two or three spoonfuls when need is by itself or with Ale, Beer, or wine mingles with Sugar.[21] Dr. Atkinson’s excellent Perfume against the Plague.Take Angelica roots, and dry them a very little in an Oven, or by the fire; and then bruise them very soft, and lay them in Wine Vinegar to steep, being close covered three or four days, and then heat a brick hot, and lay the same thereon every morning; this is excellent to air the house or any clothes or to breathe over in the morning fasting.Page 18[22] To make Saffron WaterTake seven Quarts of white Wine, and infuse in it all night one ounce of Saffron dried, and in the morning distil it in a Limbeck or Glass body with a head, and put some white sugar-candy finely beaten into the Receiver for it to drop on.[23] Mr. Stepkin’s Water for the Eyes.Take four ounces of white Rose water, and two drams of Tutia in powder, shake them well together in a glass vial, and drop of it a little into the eyes evening and morning, it is very good for any hot Rheum.[24] A precious Water to revive the Spirits.Take four gallons of strong Ale, five ounces of ~Aniseeds, Liquorice scraped half a pound, sweet Mints, Angleica, Betony, cowslip flowers, Sage and Rosemary flowers, sweet Marjoram, of each three handfuls, Pelitory of the wall one handful. After it is for two or three Page 19 days, distil it in a Limbeck, and in the water infuse one handful of the flowers aforesaid, Cinnamon, and Fennel seed of each half an ounce, Juniper berries bruised one dram, Red-rose buds, roasted Apples, and Dates sliced and stones, of each a half pound, distil it again, and sweeten it with some Sugar-candy, and take of Ambergrease, Pearl, red Coral, Harts-horn powdered, and leaf Gold, of each half a dram, put them into a fine linen bag, and hang it by a thread in a glass.