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Description. This has divers tender, round, whitish green stalks, with greater joints than ordinary in other herbs as it were knees, very brittle and easy to break, from whence grow branches with large tender broad leaves, divided into many parts, each of them cut in on the edges, set at the joint on both sides of the branches, of a dark blueish green colour, on the upper side like columbines, and of a more pale blueish-green underneath, full of yellow sap; when any part is broken, of a bitter taste, and strong scent. At the flowers are four leaves a-piece; after which come small long pods, with blackish seed therein. The root is somewhat great at the head, shooting forth divers long roots and small strings, reddish on the outside, and yellow within, full of yellow sap.

Place. They grow in many places by old walls, hedges and waysides, in untilled places; and being once planted in a garden, especially some shady places, it will remain there.

Time. They flower all the summer.

Government and virtues. This is an herb of the Sun, and under the celestial Lion: it is one of the best cures for the eyes: for the eyes are subject to the luminaries; let it then be gathered when the Sun is in Leo, and the Moon in Aries, applying to this time; let Leo arise, then may you make into an oil or ointment, which you please, to anoint your sore eyes with: I can prove it doth both by my own experience, and the experience of those to whom I have taught it, that most desperate sore eyes have been cured by this only medicine; and then I pray, is not this far better than endangering the eyes by the art of the needle? For if this does not absolutely take away the film, it will facilitate the work, that it may be done without danger. The herb or root boiled in white wine, and drank, a few anniseeds being boiled therewith, opens obstructions of the liver and gall, helps the yellow jaundice; and often using it, helps the dropsy and the itch, and those that have old sores in their legs, or other parts of the body. The juice thereof taken fasting, is held to be of singular good use against the pestilence: The distilled water, with a little sugar and a little good treacle mixed therewith (the party upon the taking being laid down to sweat a little) has the same effect. The juice dropped into the eyes, cleanses them from films and cloudiness which darken the sight; but it is best to allay the sharpness of the juice with a little breast-milk. It is good in all old, filthy, corroding, creeping ulcers wheresoever, to stay their malignity of fretting and running, and to cause them to heal more speedily: the juice often applied to tetters, ring-worms, or other such like spreading cankers, will quickly heal them; and rubbed often upon warts, will take them away, the herb with the roots bruised, and bathed with oil of camomile, and applied to the navel, takes away the griping pains in the belly and bowels, and all the pains of the mother; and applied to women's breasts, stays the overmuch flowing of the courses. The juice or decoction of the herb gargled between the teeth that ach, eases the pain; and the powder of the dried root laid upon any aching, hollow, or loose tooth, will cause it to fall out. The juice, mixed with some powder of brimstone, is not only good against the itch, but takes away all discolourings of the skin whatsoever; and if it chance that in a tender body it causes any itchings or inflammations, by bathing the place with a little vinegar, it is helped.

Another ill-favoured trick have physicians got to use to the eye, and that is worse than the needle; which is to take away the films by corroding or gnawing medicine. This I absolutely protest against.

1. Because the tunicles of the eyes are very thin, and therefore soon eat asunder:

2. The callus or film that they would eat away, is seldom of an equal thickness in every place, and then the tunicle may be eaten asunder in one place before the film be consumed in another; and so be a readier way to extinguish the sight, than to restore it.

It is called chelidonium, from the Greek word chelidon, which signifies a swallow, because they say, that if you put out the eyes of young swallows when they are in the nest, the old ones will recover their eyes again with this herb. This I am confident, for I have tried it, that if we mar the very apple of their eyes with a needle, she will recover them again: but whether with this herb, I know not.

Also I have read (and it seems to be somewhat probable) that the herb being gathered as I have shewed before, and the elements being drawn apart from it by the art of the alchymist, and after they are drawn apart rectified, the earthy quality, still in rectifying them, added to ther terra damnata (as alchymists call it) or terra sacratissima (as some philosophers call it) the elements so rectified are sufficient for the cure of all diseases, the humours offending being known, and the contrary element given: it is an experiment worth the trying, and can do no harm.

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