Joy, Musike, Cloves

Vintage Crocus Botanical - Google Search
Crocus speciosus M. Bieb.
Sarah Anne Drake (1803–1857)

 

A Briefe Epitome
Katarzyna Lecky

Unlike many large botanical herbals, which boasted elaborate frontispieces and pages filled with engraved plates of flora, whose size and preciousness made them objects to be admired and treasured, pocket herbals were everyday objects printed cheaply and scribbled in extensively by all sorts of people.

Rams little Dodeon: A briefe epitome of the new herbal, or history of plants, was published in London in 1606 by William Ram. The text is an abridged version of Henry Lyte’s popular A new herball, or historie of plants (1578).
It was a sound sales tactic: Lyte’s English translation of Rembert Dodoens’ 1554 Cruydeboeck had already seen four editions in as many decades, while Dodoens’ herbal would continue to be a seminal text for botanists for at least another century.
But whereas Lyte’s thick quarto was, like Dodoens’ Old Flemish original, an unwieldy reference for the typical herbalist (who in seventeenth-century England was more likely to be an unlicensed practitioner than an certified doctor or academic scholar), Ram claimed that his “briefe and short Epitome” is a “very small volume. 
So as where the geat booke at large is not to be had, but at a great price, which canot be procured by the poorer sort, my endeuor herein hath bin chiefly, to make the benefit of so good, necessary, and profitable a worke, to be brought within the reach and compass as well of you my poore Countrymen & women, whose liues, healths, ease and welfare is to be regarded with the rest, at a smaller price, then the greater Volume is”

Although he names Dodoens’ herbal as his source text, Ram qualifies that the structure of the book is more intertextual:
“the first page of euery leafe being opened, contayneth the practice of M. R. Dodeon:
And that the second opposite page, vnder the Title Incidenta, contayneth the practices of others for the same Physike helpes, collected and inserted by the Author of this Treatise”

Moreover, these cobbled-together recipes are not always strictly herbal.
Under “Good for heart” are listed “Saffron, Bourage, Laughing, Joy, Musike, Cloves”.
The things that encourage or signal delight are intermingled with heart-healthy simples– all are similarly remedies.
The things bad for the heart, meanwhile, include “Anger, Dread, Too much heauinesse”

 

https://collation.folger.edu/2018/03/small-format-herbals/
Katarzyna Lecky is an Assistant Professor of English at Bucknell University.

Her first book, Pocket Empire: Portable Maps and Public Poetry, 1590-1649 (forthcoming from Oxford UP), uses small-format cartography to study how poets writing for monarchs and magistrates drew from cheap print to chart Britain as the property of the commonwealth rather than the Crown.
She has also published in Exemplaria, The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Philological Quarterly, Reformation, Studies in English Literature, and Spenser Studies, as well as edited collections, and has earned fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Renaissance Society of America, and the Folger Shakespeare, Huntington, and Newberry Libraries, among others. 

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The Voynich Manuscript

voy brown

 

The Voynich manuscript has been studied by many professional and amateur cryptographers, including American and British codebreakers from both World War I and World War II. No one has yet succeeded in deciphering the text, and it has become a famous case in the history of cryptography.

Because the text cannot be read, the illustrations are conventionally used to divide most of the manuscript into six different sections: Herbal, Astronomical, Biological, Cosmological, Pharmaceutical, and — Recipes.

The first confirmed owner was Georg Baresch (1585–1662), an obscure alchemist from Prague.
Baresch was apparently just as puzzled as modern scientists about this “Sphynx” that had been “taking up space uselessly in his library” for many years.
On learning that Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680), a Jesuit scholar from the Collegio Romano, had published a Coptic (Egyptian) dictionary and “deciphered” the Egyptian hieroglyphs,
Baresch twice sent a sample copy of the script to Kircher in Rome, asking for clues. Baresch’s 1639 letter to Kircher is the earliest confirmed mention of the manuscript that has been found to date.

Upon Baresch’s death, the manuscript passed to his friend Jan Marek Marci (1595–1667; also known as Johannes Marcus Marci), then rector of Charles University in Prague.
A few years later Marci sent the book to Kircher, his longtime friend and correspondent.
The letter was written in Latin.

 

Reverend and Distinguished Sir, Father in Christ:

This book, bequeathed to me by an intimate friend, I destined for you, my very dear Athanasius, as soon as it came into my possession, for I was convinced that it could be read by no one except yourself.

The former owner of this book asked your opinion by letter, copying and sending you a portion of the book from which he believed you would be able to read the remainder, but he at that time refused to send the book itself.
To its deciphering he devoted unflagging toil, as is apparent from attempts of his which I send you herewith, and he relinquished hope only with his life. But his toil was in vain, for such Sphinxes as these obey no one but their master, Kircher.
Accept now this token, such as it is and long overdue though it be, of my affection for you, and burst through its bars, if there are any, with your wonted success.

Dr. Raphael, a tutor in the Bohemian language to Ferdinand III, then King of Bohemia, told me the said book belonged to the Emperor Rudolph and that he presented to the bearer who brought him the book 600 ducats.
He believed the author was Roger Bacon, the Englishman.
On this point I suspend judgement; it is your place to define for us what view we should take thereon, to whose favor and kindness I unreservedly commit myself and remain

At the command of your Reverence,
Joannes Marcus Marci of Cronland
Prague, 19th August, 1665

 

The book was then given or lent to Jacobus Horcicky de Tepenecz (died 1622), the head of Rudolf’s botanical gardens in Prague, probably as part of the debt Rudolf II owed upon his death.

 

 

Brigadier John Tiltman 1967
Zandbergen, René (May 19, 2016). “Voynich MS – 17th Century letters related to the MS”

Schuster, 2009
Hogenboom, Melissa (June 21, 2013). “Mysterious Voynich manuscript has ‘genuine message'”
Jackson, David (January 23, 2015) “The Marci letter found inside the VM”
Knight, Kevin (September 2009)
Ensanian, Berj N. (February 27, 2007). “Archive of communications of the Journal Of Voynich Studies
Santos, Marcelo dos. “El Manuscrito Voynich
Neal, Philip. “The letter of Johannes Marcus Marci to Athanasius Kircher (1665)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voynich_manuscript

Garden of Malabar

Hortus Malabaricus Palm Berries

Hortus Indicus Malabaricus is a comprehensive treatise that deals with the medicinal properties of the flora in the Indian state of Kerala.
The first volume was published in 1678, and the last in 1703.
Among the contributors and editors were physicians, professors of botany, amateur botanists, technicians, illustrators, and engravers. And assistance came from the King of Cochin and the ruling Zamorin of Calicut.

Much western lore was rejected, as was the Arabic classification of plants. And it was found that when questioned, the Brahmin scholars always depended on the field workers for precise answers.
So the book employs a system of classification based on the traditions adopted by the practitioners of that region, and the medical information presented in the work was extracted from palm leaf manuscripts passed down through the family of local ayurvedic doctor, Itty Achudan, in which were recorded names of medicinal plants, methods of preparation, the application of drugs, and the illnesses for which they were used.

A certificate states:
. . .  According to the Command of Commodore Henrik van Rheede, the trees, shrubs, twines and herbs and their flowers, fruits, seeds, juices and roots and their powers and properties described in the famed book of the Malayalee physician born at Carrapurram, of the Ezhava caste and of the name Colladan, have been dictated separately in Portuguese language and Malayalam language. Thus, for writing this truthfully, without any doubt, my signature . . . (attested 19th April I675)

Later, the plants were arranged at the University of Leiden garden exactly as prescribed by Achuden and his fellow Ezhavas.
Linnaeus subsequently adopted the same method of classification in 1740, as did many other scientists who followed.

http://historicalleys.blogspot.com/2010/01/itty-achutan-and-hortus-malabaricus.html

 

All the country around was diligently searched by the natives best acquainted with the habitats of plants; and fresh specimens were brought to Cochin where the Carmelite Mathaeus sketched them, with such striking accuracy, that there was no difficulty in identifying each particular species when you see his drawings. Names of each species is written in Malayalam as well as Konkani (Then known as Brahmananchi Bhas) A description of each plant was written in Malayalam and thence translated into Portuguese, by a resident at Cochin, named Emmanuel Carneiro. The Secretary to Government, Herman Van Douep, further translated it into Latin, that the learned in all the countries of Europe might have access to it. The whole seems then to have passed under the supervision of another learned individual named Casearius, who was probably a Dutch Chaplain and a personal friend of Hendrik van Rheede, who was the Governor of Dutch Malabar. The book confers honour, both on those who compiled it and the place where it was compiled.

 
T. Whitehouse, 1859, Historical Notices of Cochin on the Malabar Coast

 

What Bloom

Portrait-of-a-botanist-1603 AnonymousAnonymous, 1603
 
Portrait of a botanist standing behind a table on which a book with pictures of plants lies.
In his left hand a lily of the valley, in the right hand a hatchet.
Top right the family crest.
Top left:  QVID FLOS / + ÆTATIS: 25~ / Ao 1603. ~
(What Bloom / age: 25 ~ / Ao 1603. ~)
Book illustrations are clearly from The New Herbal of Leonhart Fuchs (1501 – 1566)
On the left-hand page:  Arum maculatum L, also known as Cuckoo Pint, Jack in the Pulpit, Lords and Ladies, and Wake Robin
On the right-hand page: Convallaria majalis L, Lily of the Valley,
[a perennial plant that forms extensive colonies by spreading underground stems called rhizomes. New upright shoots are formed at the ends of stolens in summer, and these upright dormant stems are often called pips. Pips grow in the spring into new leafy shoots that still remain connected to the other shoots under ground]

How Plants Think
by Richard Mabey

When the much-missed neurologist Oliver Sacks wrote that “there is nothing alive which is not individual”, he meant nothing which is alive.

Discoveries about intricate cross-species communication in plants have opened a new frontier in botany, revealing that the plant kingdom has more than 20 different senses, and examples of what can only be described as vegetal intelligence.
Beans locate their poles by echolocation.
A Patagonian vine can change the colour and shape of its leaves to match those of the trees it is climbing over.
Mimosa, the “sensitive plant”, can learn which stimuli are worth curling its leaves against in defence and which are not – and retain this knowledge for 10 times longer than the memory span of bees.
Entire forests are linked by an underground “wood wide web” of fungal “roots” that transport and balance nutrient flows and carry signals about disease and drought throughout the network.
Traditionalists have derided attempts to describe problem-solving and learning as “intelligent” in organisms that lack a brain.
The philosopher Daniel Dennett, in a neat parry, has mocked such views as “cerebrocentrism”, and lamented the fact that we find it difficult (and maybe humiliating) to conceive of intelligence as existing in any form other than our own brain-and-neurone variety.

But however they are defined, these new findings validate Sacks’s belief in plants as individuals – active and adaptive agents.
Some of the last pieces he wrote were enthralled appreciations of what is provocatively called “plant neurobiology”.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/oct/16/how-plants-think-the-cabaret-of-plants-richard-mabey

The Word Calling Forth the World

giottoGiotto di Bondone (1266 – 1337)

 

Jubilate Agno, Fragment

For TEA is a blessed plant and of excellent virtue. God give the Physicians more skill and honesty!

For nutmeg is exceeding wholesome and cherishing, neither does it hurt the liver.

For The Lightning before death is God’s illumination in the spirit for preparation and for warning.

For Lavender Cotton is exceeding good for the teeth. God be gracious to Windsmore.

For the Fern is exceeding good and pleasant to rub the teeth.

For a strong preparation of Mandragora is good for the gout.

For the Bark was a communication from God and is sovereign.

For the method of curing an ague by terror is exaction.

For Exaction is the most accursed of all things, because it brought the Lord to the cross, his betrayers and murderers being such from their exaction.

For an Ague is the terror of the body, when the blessing of God is withheld for a season.

For benevolence is the best remedy in the first place and the bark in the second.

For, when the nation is at war, it is better to abstain from the punishment of criminals especially, every act of human vengeance being a check to the grace of God.

For the letter ל [Hebrew character lamed] which signifies GOD by himself is on the fibre of some leaf in every Tree.

For ל is the grain of the human heart and on the network of the skin.

For ל is in the veins of all stones both precious and common.

For ל is upon every hair both of man and beast.

For ל is in the grain of wood.

For ל is in the ore of all metals.

For ל is on the scales of all fish.

For ל is on the petals of all flowers.

For ל is upon on all shells.

For ל is in the constituent particles of air.

For ל is on the mite of the earth.

For ל is in the water yea in every drop.

For ל is in the incomprehensible ingredients of fire.

For ל is in the stars the sun and in the Moon.

For ל is upon the Sapphire Vault.

For the doubling of flowers is the improvement of the gardners talent.

For the flowers are great blessings.

For the Lord made a Nosegay in the meadow with his disciples and preached upon the lily.

For the angels of God took it out of his hand and carried it to the Height.

For a man cannot have publick spirit, who is void of private benevolence.

For there is no Height in which there are not flowers.

For flowers have great virtues for all the senses.

For the flower glorifies God and the root parries the adversary.

For the flowers have their angels even the words of God’s Creation.

For the warp and woof of flowers are worked by perpetual moving spirits.

For flowers are good both for the living and the dead.

For there is a language of flowers.

For there is a sound reasoning upon all flowers.

For elegant phrases are nothing but flowers.

For flowers are peculiarly the poetry of Christ.

For flowers are medicinal.

For flowers are musical in ocular harmony.

For the right names of flowers are yet in heaven. God make gard’ners better nomenclators.

For the Poorman’s nosegay is an introduction to a Prince.


Christopher Smart (1722 – 1771)

Red Orach

Johann Wilhelm Weinmann (1683-1741), apothecary & botanist

Johann Wilhelm Weinmann (1683-1741), apothecary & botanist