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Emory Women Writers Resource Project

The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex, an electronic edition

by Hannah Woolley [Woolley, Hannah, fl. 1670]

date: 1675
source publisher: Printed by A. Maxwell for Edward Thomas
collection: Early Modern through the 18th Century

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An Introduction to Physick and Chyrurgery.

| | 161 As it is very commendable quality in Gentlewomen, whether young or old, to visit the sick; so it is impossible to do it with that charity some stand in need of, without some knowledg in Physick, and the several operations of Herbs and Spices: But since it will take up too much room to insert here what may make you a compleat Herbalists I shall refer you to such who have largely treated on that Subject; viz. Mr. Gerhard, and Mr. Parkinson, with many more expert in the knowledg of Vegetables. Wherefore, since the knowledg of sundry sort of Spices is very requisite both for persons diseased, and in health, I shall begin with them.

Pepper is a spice of the most common use, hot and dry to the fourth degree almost. The black is that which is generally coveted; but inconsiderately by the younger sorts of people, it being hurtful to them, though comfortable to old Age. When you use it, beat it not too small for fear of inflaming the blood, otherwise it cutteth gross stegm, dispelleth Crudities, and helpeth Digestion.

The next thing, which is hotter than Pepper, is Ginger; not that it is really so, but because the biting heat of Ginger is more lasting and durable. This spice is not so much used in | | 162 dressing meat, as the other; however it is very good for concoction, and opens obstructions, and is very expedient for the expulsion of Wind. Green ginger in the Indies preserved, is excellent good for a watry and windy stomack, if taken tasting; the better sort is unfleaky, and so clear you may almost see through it; but there is little good made in England.

Cloves is an excellent spice for the head, heart, stomack, and the eyes, which are much benefited thereby, and Nature strengthned. In Swoonings and Fainting-fits they are very good, or against the Plague, or any other infectious disease whatsoever, or fluxes of the belly proceeding from cold humors. They are good against strengthning the retentive faculty, and sweetning the breath; but let young Sanguine and Cholerick Complexions use them and all other spices very sparingly.

Nutmeg is hot and dry in the second degree, and is accounted a spice of the like nature and property, with what are before mention'd. It is astringent, and good for Flegmatick Constitutions, cold Diseases and Fluxes. Nutmegs whist green and covered over with an husk or shell like our Walnuts, are preserved in the Indies as Ginger is, and are very comfortable to the Head and Stomack.

The covering of the Nutmg is the Mace, which partakes of the same nature with it, strengthning the animal parts, and it is good against fluxes and spitting of blood.

Cinamon is the inward bark or rind of a Tree growing in the Indies, and is accounted to be hot and | | 163 dry in the third degree. This spice by reason of its fragrancy and palatable taste, may justly challenge the precellency of most other Spices; it comforteth the Spirits, and opens obstructions both in Men and Women; it helpeth a Woman in her delivery, furthereth Urine, and is good for Concoction.

We have a spice growing here at home called Saffron, which need not give place to any of the former; it is hot in the second, and dry in the first degree: It is a great Cordial, and a help against obstructions; it is good against the Jaundies, and unstuffs the pipes of the Lungs: It is good to bring down the Menstruum, and facilitates the Birth, if taken moderately. And since I have spoken of a thing of our own growth, let me add another, which is Honey, hot and dry in the second degree, and is better boiled than raw; it is very restorative, and therefore good against Comsumptions, and Phlegmatick Constitutions, but dangerous to be used much by hot Complexions, for thereby it is soon converted into Choler. The best is very sweet, pleasant of smell, of a cleer and yellowish colour, pretty stiff and firm, and yieldeth but little scum on the top when boiled. Garden-honey is the best and is clarified by adding a little water to it, about the fourth part, and so scum it whilest any sroth ariseth, or till the water be evaporated, which is known by the bubbles rising from the bottom, if you will have it more pure, put into every ound of Honey the white of an Egg, and afterwards scum it again in the boiling; then use it against all pectoral infirmities, as the Cough, | | 164 shortness of breath, the Pleurisie & c.Sugar is the next thing we treat of which is generally esteemed and used, and more now than ever; since the Ancients knew not the right way, of preparing it as it is done now-a-days.

Sugar is neither so hot and dry as Honey; the brownest or coarsest is most cleaning, and is good for abstersions in diseases of the Breast or Lungs; but as it is opening and cleansing , so the immoderate use thereof is dangerous; for it will rot the Teeth, and taint the Breath, ingender Jaundies and Consumptions; and Physicians verily believe, that the major part of those who die of the Consumption in the City (the constantly great numbers whereof may be seen in the Weekly Bills of Mortality) are such who eat Confections, and such-like sweet things immoderately.

And since I have spoken of Sugar, pray take special notice of this remark, That the most part of our finest Sugar, and which is most coveted, is refined and whitened by the means of the Lee of Lime; how prejudicial that may be to the body, I will leave it to the Rational to consider.

Thus I have given you a small touch of the nature of spices; I think I need not acquaint you, that we have here at home in our own Gardens many excellent Aromatical Plants, such as Rosemary, Lavender, Time, Savory, Sage, Mint, Penny-royal, Basil, sweet Cersuel, Avens, Angelica, with many more which you may find in Culpepers English, Physician, with their nature, use, and disposition.

The great plenty we have of these excellent Plants hath made many judicious persons admire, that being supplied at home with such admirable Simples, we should hint so eagerly after Outlandish Spices, which by difficulty of transportation, length of way, and carelesness of the Merchant, are frequently imported rotten, or worm-eaten; or so long before they come to our hands, that they have lost half their virtue.

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