Simples proper to Melancholy, against Exotic Simples.

Simples proper to Melancholy, against Exotic Simples.

     Medicines properly applied to melancholy, are either simple or compound. Simples are alterative or purgative. Alteratives are such as correct, strengthen nature, alter, any way hinder or resist the disease; and they be herbs, stones, minerals, &c. all proper to this humour. For as there be diverse distinct infirmities continually vexing us,

"Νουσοι δ'ανθρωποισι εφ ημερη ηδ' επι νυκτι
Αυτοματοι φοιτωσι κακα θνητοισι φερουσαι
Σιγη, επει φωνην εζειλετο μητιετα Ζευς."

"[Noysoi d' anthropoisi eph emere ed' epi nykti
Aytomatoi phoitosi kaka thnætoisi pheroysai
Sige, epei phonen exeileto metieta Zeus.]"

"Diseases steal both day and night on men,
For Jupiter hath taken voice from them."

     So there be several remedies, as he saith, "each disease a medicine, for every humour;" and as some hold, every clime, every country, and more than that, every private place hath his proper remedies growing in it, peculiar almost to the domineering and most frequent maladies of it, As one discourseth, "wormwood grows sparingly in Italy, because most part there they be misaffected with hot diseases: but henbane, poppy, and such cold herbs: with us in Germany and Poland, great store of it in every waste." Baracellus Horto geniali, and Baptista Porta Physiognomicæ, lib. 6. cap. 23, give many instances and examples of it, and bring many other proofs. For that cause belike that learned Fuchsius of Nuremberg, "when he came into a village, considered always what herbs did grow most frequently about it, and those he distilled in a silver alembic, making use of others amongst them as occasion served." I know that many are of opinion, our northern simples are weak, imperfect, not so well concocted, of such force, as those in the southern parts, not so fit to be used in physic, and will therefore fetch their drugs afar off: senna, cassia out of Egypt, rhubarb from Barbary, aloes from Socotra; turbith, agaric, mirabolanes, hermodactils, from the East Indies, tobacco from the west, and some as far as China, hellebore from the Anticyrae, or that of Austria which bears the purple flower, which Mathiolus so much approves, and so of the rest. In the kingdom of Valencia, in Spain, Maginus commends two mountains, Mariola and Renagolosa, famous for simples; Leander Albertus, Baldus a mountain near the Lake Benacus in the territory of Verona, to which all the herbalists in the country continually flock; Ortelius one in Apulia, Munster Mons major in Istria; others Montpelier in France; Prosper Altinus prefers Egyptian simples, Garcias ab Horto Indian before the rest, another those of Italy, Crete, &c. Many times they are over- curious in this kind, whom Fuchsius taxeth, Instit. l. 1. sec. 1. cap. 1. "that think they do nothing, except they rake all over India, Arabia, Ethiopia for remedies, and fetch their physic from the three quarters of the world, and from beyond the Garamantes. Many an old wife or country woman doth often more good with a few known and common garden herbs, than our bombast physicians, with all their prodigious, sumptuous, far-fetched, rare, conjectural medicines:" without all question if we have not these rare exotic simples, we hold that at home, which is in virtue equivalent unto them, ours will serve as well as theirs, if they be taken in proportionable quantity, fitted and qualified aright, if not much better, and more proper to our constitutions. But so 'tis for the most part, as Pliny writes to Gallus, "We are careless of that which is near us, and follow that which is afar off, to know which we will travel and sail beyond the seas, wholly neglecting that which is under our eyes." Opium in Turkey doth scarce offend, with us in a small quantity it stupefies; cicuta or hemlock is a strong poison in Greece, but with us it hath no such violent effects: I conclude with I. Voschius, who as he much inveighs against those exotic medicines, so he promiseth by our European, a full cure and absolute of all diseases; a capite ad calcem, nostræ regionis herbæ nostris corporibus magis conducunt, our own simples agree best with us. It was a thing that Fernelius much laboured in his French practice, to reduce all his cure to our proper and domestic physic; so did Janus Cornarius, and Martin Rulandus in Germany. T. B. with us, as appeareth by a treatise of his divulged in our tongue 1615, to prove the sufficiency of English medicines, to the cure of all manner of diseases. If our simples be not altogether of such force, or so apposite, it may be, if like industry were used, those far fetched drugs would prosper as well with us, as in those countries whence now we have them, as well as cherries, artichokes, tobacco, and many such. There have been diverse worthy physicians, which have tried excellent conclusions in this kind, and many diligent, painful apothecaries, as Gesner, Besler, Gerard, &c., but amongst the rest those famous public gardens of Padua in Italy, Nuremberg in Germany, Leyden in Holland, Montpelier in France, (and ours in Oxford now in fieri, at the cost and charges for the Right Honourable the Lord Danvers Earl of Danby) are much to be commended, wherein all exotic plants almost are to be seen, and liberal allowance yearly made for their better maintenance, that young students may be the sooner informed in the knowledge of them: which as Fuchsius holds, "is most necessary for that exquisite manner of curing," and as great a shame for a physician not to observe them, as for a workman not to know his axe, saw, square, or any other tool which he must of necessity use.

 

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