Over the past month I’ve been updating a few of my earlier posts on Res Obscura to reflect new information or add new links and images. Since these updates don’t register as new posts, I thought I’d make a handy list:
• Poorly-written poems about nature by 17th century apothecary James Petiver. These poems are written on scraps of paper in the British Library’s Sloane collection, a group of documents amassed by the antiquarian, physician and Royal Society president Sir Hans Sloane (that’s his stern visage at left). The February 2011 update included more info on Sloane and some extra images. The poems themselves are worth a look. I like “Of the Pine Apple” myself: “Doe not yr Palates much provoke/ With this sweete Indian Artichoke…”
• Pierre Pomet, druggist to Louis XIV, and his Compleat History of Druggs. This is one of the more interesting and best-illustrated guides to drugs and medicines produced in the eighteenth century. My favorite sections have to do with unicorn horns and the edible medicine made from Egyptian and Arabian mummies known as mumia (mummies from Yemen are apparently best for this). The January 2011 update added some new images and links to academic articles on the subject.
• Witches and their familiar animals in 17th century Europe. This is a piece on witches’ familiars inspired by an account in the witch-finder Mathew Hopkins’ bizarre tract A Discovery of Witches (1647). Also includes a short account of the magical war-poodle that accompanied the English Civil War cavalier Prince Rupert of the Rhine into battle. This fearsome dog was finally felled by a “Valiant Souldier, who had skill in Necromancy.” The February 2011 update added some new images and links.