For Meate or Medicine

The Fourth Book of Distillations containing many singular and secret recipes.

While sorting through the old books at the Horticultural Center, I picked up a musty old tome which I thought was a history of gardening. It turned out to be a book about alchemy and the construction of various types of stills. Most chapters focus on use of plants by the Puritans of New England for herbal medicines and tonics. However, it does occasionally veer off into herbal lore and “the chemical art” of the early alchemists. The book was in rough shape, water damaged and falling apart so the scans are not so nice. Of course, I had to offer up a few bits of it, since this blog threads together the subjects of my fascination – art, old books, gardening, and alchemy. Included among these tattered pages, is a hand drawn map from the 1600s of the area where I now live and work. Sadly, it was too faded and ink smeared to scan well.

Three Bees

“The fifth chapter deals with the sum total of background knowledge applied by the settlers to their task of growing, distilling, and preserving all they would need for both meate and medicine. The sixth deals with ‘the meate’ and the seventh with ‘the medicine’ for which they felt sure so many plants were intended”. – Anne Leighton

The embattled Alchymia among her limbecks and furnaces.

These mix diligently together in a glass.

Solar Distillation

A retort illustrated in 'The Countrie Farme'

The Vain Englishman

“A satirical portrait of the vain Englishman of the time, Henry VIII, so keen on being in the latest style that he strides along with a length of woolen cloth over his arm, unable to decide what rayment to wear”.

1648 Plan for Governer Spotswood's Orchard and Gardens

In William Lawson’s ‘New Orchard and Garden’ the "falling gardens" are shown below 2 large squares devoted to fruit trees, one for an elaborate design of garden knots, and two for the kitchen gardens.

4 thoughts on “For Meate or Medicine

    • I’m in a good location for collecting old books. This town has been around since the Puritans landed here and it seems no one ever throws anything away.

  1. What a fabulous book – any indication of a precise publication year or where it was printed? Love Henry VIII (though this must have been written after his time … ) I want to live in a town where nobody ever throws books away! Bliss.

  2. I’m not sure of the publication date. I don’t think it’s nearly as old as it’s contents which seem to be reprinted. It’s patina was due mostly to damage and interesting content. An abundance of old books and historical architecture are two of the nicer features of living here.

Comments are closed.