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Names. It is also called Setter-wort, Setter-grass, Bear's-foot, Christmas-herb, and Christmas-flowers.

Description. It hath sundry fair green leaves rising from the root, each of them standing about an handful high from the earth; each leaf is divided into seven, eight, or nine parts, dented from the middle of the leaf to the point on both sides, abiding green all the Winter; about Christmas-time, if the weather be any thing temperate, the flowers appear upon foot stalks, also consisting of five large, round, white leaves a- piece, which sometimes are purple towards the edges, with many pale yellow thumbs in the middle; the seeds are divided into several cells, like those of Columbines, save only that they are greater; the seeds are in colour black, and in form long and round. The root consists of numberless blackish strings all united into one head. There is another Black Hellebore, which grows up and down in the woods very like this, but only that the leaves are smaller and narrower, and perish in the Winter, which this doth not.

Place. The first is maintained in gardens. The second is commonly found in the woods in Northamptonshire.

Time. The first flowers in December or January; the second in February or March.

Government and virtues. It is an herb of Saturn, and therefore no marvel if it has some sullen conditions with it, and would be far safer, being purified by the art of the alchymist than given raw. If any have taken any harm by taking it, the common cure is to take goat's milk. If you cannot get goat's milk, you must make a shift with such as you can get. The roots are very effectual against all melancholy diseases, especially such as are of long standing, as quartan agues and madness; it helps the falling sickness, the leprosy, both the yellow and black jaundice, the gout, sciatica, and convulsions; and this was found out by experience, that the root of that which grows wild in our country, works not so churlishly as those do which are brought from beyond sea, as being maintained by a more temperate air. The root used as a pessary, provokes the terms exceedingly; also being beaten into powder, and strewed upon foul ulcers, it consumes the dead flesh, and instantly heals them; nay, it will help gangrenes in the beginning. Twenty grains taken inwardly is a sufficient does for one time, and let that be corrected with half so much cinnamon; country people used to rowel their cattle with it. If a beast be troubled with a cough, or have taken any poison, they bore a hole through the ear, and put a piece of the root in it, this will help him in 24 hours time. Many other uses farriers put it to which I shall forbear.


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