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Gerard's Herball
" ... what greater delight is there than to behold the earth apparelled with plants ..?"
CHAP. 37.  Of Saint James his Wort.

The Kindes.
The herb called Saint James his Wort is not without cause thought to be a kind of Groundsel: of which there be sundry sorts, some of the pasture, & one of the sea; some sweet smelling, and some of a loathsome savor. 

The Description.
Saint James his wort or Rag-wort is very well known every where, and bringeth forth at the first broad leaves gashed round about like to the leaves of common Wormewood,  but broader, thicker, not whitish or soft, of a deep green colour, with a stalke which riseth up above a cubit high, chamfered, blackish, and somwhat red withall. The armes or wings are set with lesser leaves like those of Groundsell or wilde Rocket. The floures at the top be of a yellow colour like Marigolds, as well the middle button, as the small floures that stand in a pale round about, which turne into downe as doth Groundsel. The root is threddy. 

The Place.
Land Rag-wort groweth every where in untilled pastures and fields, which are somewhat moist especially, and neare unto the borders of fields. 

The Time.
They floure in July and August, at which time they are carried away with the Down. 

The Names.
In Latine, Herba S. Jacobi: in English, S. James his Wort; the countrey people doe call it Stagger-wort, and Staner-wort, and also Rag-wort, and Rag-weed. In Holdernesse in York4hire they call it Seggrum. 

The Vertues.
It is commended by the later Physitians to bee good for greene wounds; it also healeth them, with the juyce heereof tempered with honey and May Butter, and boiled together unto the forme of an Unguent or salve. 

It is much commended, and not without cause, to helpe old aches and paines in the armes, hips, and legs, boiled in hogs grease to the forme of an ointment. 

Moreover, the decoction hereof gargarised is much set by as a remedy against swellings and impostumations of the throat, which it wasteth away and throughly healeth. 

The leaves stamped very small, and boiled with some hogs grease unto the consumption of the juyce, adding thereto in the end of the boyling a little Masticke and Olibanum, and then strained, taketh away the old ache in the huckle bones called Sciatica.

*  *  *

CHAP. 133. Of Violets.

The Kindes.
There might be described many kindes of floures under this name of Violets, if their differences should be more curiously looked into than is necessarie; for we might joine hereunto the stock Gillofloures, Wall-floures, Dames Gillofloures, Marian violets, & likewise some of the bulbed floures, because some of them by Theophrastus are termed Violets. But this was not our charge, holding it sufficient to distinguish and divide them as neere as may be in kindred and neighbourhood; addressing my selfe unto the Violets called the blacke or purple violets, or March Violets of the garden, which have a great prerogative above others, not only because  the mind conceiveth a certain pleasure and recreation by smelling  and handling those most odoriferous floures, but also for that very many by these violets receive ornament and comely grace; for there be made of them garlands for 
the head, nosegaies and poesies, which are delightfull to looke on and pleasant to smel to, speaking nothing of their appropriat vertues; yea gardens themselves receive by these the greatest ornament of all, chiefest beauty, and most ex- cellent grace, and the recreation of the minde which is taken hereby cannot be but very good and honest; for they admonish and stirre up a man to that which is comely and honest; for floures through their beauty, variety of colour, and exquisit forme, do bring to a liberal! and gentle manly minde, the remembrance of honestie, comlinesse, and all kindes of vertues: for it would be an unseemly and filthy thing (as a certain wise man saith) for him that doth looke upon and handle faire and beautiful things, to have his mind not faire, but filthy and deformed.

The Description.
1     The blacke or purple Violet doth forthwith bring from the root many leaves, broad, sleightly indented in the edges, rounder than the leaves of Ivy; among the rnidst wherof spring up fine slender stems, and upon every one a beautifull flour sweetly smelling, of a blew darkish purple, consisting of five little leaves, the lowest whereof is the greatest: after them do appeare little hanging cups or knaps, which when they be ripe do open and divide themselves into three parts. The seed is smal, long, and somwhat round withall: the root consisteth of many threddy strings.
  2     The white garden Violet hath many milke white floures, in forme and figure like the precedent; the colour of whose floures especially setteth forth the difference.
  3     The double garden Violet hath leaves, creeping branches, and roots like the garden single Violet; differing in that, that this Violet bringeth forth most beautifull sweet double floures, and the other single.
  4     The white double Violet likewise agrees with the other of his kinde, differing onely in the colour; for as the last described bringeth double blew or purple flours, contrariwise this plant beareth double white floures, which maketh the difference. 

The Place
The Violet groweth in gardens almost every where: the others which are strangers have beene touched in their descriptions.

The Time.
The floures for the most part appeare in March, at the farthest in Aprill.

The Names.
The Violet is called in Greeke, Ion: in Latine, Nigra viola or blacke Violet, of the blackish purple colour of the floures. The Apothecaries keepe the Latine name Viola, but they call it Herba Violaria, and Mater Violaram: in Spanish, Violeta: in English, Violet. Nicander in his Geoponicks beleeveth (as Hermolaus sheweth) that the Grecians did call it Ion, because certain Nymphs of Iönia gave that floure first to Jupiter. Others say it was called Ion because when Jupiter had turned the young damosell , whom he tenderly loved, into a Cow, the earth brought forth this floure for her food; which being made for her sake, received the name from her: and thereupon it is thought that the Latines also called it Viola, as though they should say Vitula, by blotting out the letter t.

The Vertues.
The floures are good for all inflammations, especially of the sides and lungs; they take away the hoarsenesse of the chest, the ruggednesse  of the wind-pipe and jawes, and take away thirst.
There is likewise made of Violets and sugar certaine plates called Sugar violet, Violet tables, or Plate, which is most pleasant and wholesome, especially it comforteth the heart and the other inward parts.
Reproduced from
The General Historie of Plants, 1597
Edited by Thomas Johnson, 1633
John Gerard