Jane Austen,  Research

Bring out the leeches

Sad to say I have caught a cold from my nearest and dearest. I am so glad that I do not live in the  Austen household in Chawton where dear Martha Lloyd would have dosed me with this concoction, courtesy of a certain Dr. Twiton:

Take volitile salt of ammonia 32 gms– salt of Petre 40 gms. Put them in a marble mortar to a fine powder, then add one oz of Syrup of Balsam and on oz of oyl of sweet almonds, add 6 ozs of pump water. The whole of the above will make four draughts, one of which should be taken three times in 24 hours and to the night one add one dram of paragoria.

I don’t even know what most of this stuff is, but then I look at the ingredients of my over the counter cold med and am equally mystified.

Hannah Glasse (The Art of Cookery, 1747) has this recipe for making lozenges which sounds a little more palatable although I’m not sure whether they’re meant to be eaten or burned to make the air more healthy:

Take two pounds of common white loaf-sugar, beat it well in a mortar, dissolve six ounces of Spanish liquorice in a little water; one ounce of gum-arabic dissolved likewise; add thereto a little oil of anise-seed; mix them well to a proper consistence, and cut them into small lozenges; let them lie in a band-box on the top of an oven a considerable time to dry, shaking the box sometimes.

More strange recipes at Travels and Travails in 18th-century England and The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies.

smallcoverAnd some good writing news: Hidden Paradise has finaled in both the Golden Quill and Booksellers’ Best Awards!

What are you up to?

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Diane Gaston
9 years ago

Janet! So sorry for your cold, but FABULOUS news about Hidden Paradise! Finals in both the Golden Quill and Bookseller’s Best. You are on a roll!

Isobel Carr
9 years ago

I believe the lozenge is to eat. If you burnt it, it would mostly just give off the scent of burnt sugar.

Elena Greene
9 years ago

Congrats on the contest finals, but sorry about that cold. Of those two remedies, the lozenges definitely sound better. Maybe not that different from cough drops we have now.

As for me, I am planning how to make the best use of this long weekend. The writing room is a wreck, so that’s a good place to start.

9 years ago

HUGE congrats on the contest finals. Hidden Paradise is a real gem. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Yuck on the cold, especially if the heat in your area is even close to the heat here. I would definitely go with the lozenges. The other sounds vile. Of course it is usually the truly vile concoction that does the most good! When I was singing in Germany a fellow singer took me to a chemist to buy one of the worst tasting gargles I have ever had in my life. But in twenty-four hours ever symptom of my sore throat and cold was gone.

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