Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How to Defend Your Garden from Pests, 1824

George Shaw, Zoological Lectures (1809), NYPL
"With respect to caterpillars, snails, and slugs, they can only be gathered by hand, and the way to do this effectually is to begin as soon as they appear, employing women or children to look them over daily early in the morning. Poultry, and especially ducks and sea-gulls, are sometimes of use in keeping these and other insects under; a hen and chickens will devour caterpillars and aphides greedily, but are apt to scratch the soil afterwards, if not timely removed; turkey fowls are better." 
John Claudius Loudon, An Encyclopaedia of Gardening
For pest control, try keeping a flock of women and children in your garden this year.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

How to Spend Your Summer, 1465

Walters Art Museum W.175, f. 8r
"Choler rises from May 8 to August 6. Then we should use cold and moist foods, work sparingly and use roast meat in small amounts as we often do before a meal. Drink should be diluted as much as possible so as to take away thirst and not let the body be hot, but we should totally avoid sex." 
Bartolomeo Platina, De honesta voluptate et valetudine
Recipe for a choleric summer: weak drinks, micro-barbecues, and celibacy.

Monday, May 11, 2015

How to Compliment a Lady, 1737

A Group of Figures, c. 1750, Lewis Walpole Library (Yale University)
Amorous compliments endorsed by Wits Cabinet: Or, a Companion for Young Men and Ladies: 
Lady, the Magazine of all rich Treasure is contained in your Perfections.  
Lover, Lady, Those Divine Beams proceeding from your Eyes, are able to thaw the frozen Earth without another Sun.  
Your Voice is such a one, that should the Holy Churchmen use it, it would without the Addition of more Exorcisms, disinchant Houses, and tie up the Night Ghosts that haunt the solitary Groves. 
Turn back your Comet Eyes, or I shall perish in the Flames. 
Her Forehead is a goodly Prospect, that shows like a Castle commanding some goodly Country.   
Her Breasts are two Mountains of Snow, from the two Fountains of which Cupid himself sucks Nectar.
What woman doesn't secretly want to hear that her voice could drive ghosts from a house and her forehead looks like the headquarters of a provincial government? 

More inspiration: How to Compliment a Lady, 1663

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

How to Protect Against Disease, c. 1470

British Library, Burney 275, f. 379v
"Anyone who can ride a bear the distance of nine paces without faltering will be immunized against nine kinds of sicknesses." 
The Distaff Gospels
Vaccinations or a bear rodeo: I think you know which is more fun.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

How to Cure Bad Breath, 1664

Allegories of the Senses (1651), Wellcome Library
"The Breathing is faulty when it stinketh. As when the Breath smells of Excrements or of dead fish, or rotten Cheese or the like... This is troublesome, and better known to the standers by then the Patient... the Breath that comes forth at the Nose, when it stinks, causeth the Disease called the Stink of the Nose, which is intolerable to the Standers by, and makes them that are troubled therewith to be shunned... 
You must hold sweet things in the mouth, and chew, and sometimes swallow them... Citron peels, Roses, Bayes, Marjoram, Smallage of Parsley chewed, taketh away the stink of Garlick and the like, and conceals that which is from the mouth... We use such things to be snuffed, or poured into the Nose to cause a sweet Scent, as Spanish Wine in which Basil, Marjoram, Calamints, Bayes, Lavender-flowers, Cinnamon, and Cloves have been infused." 
Platerus Golden Practice
If the Past offers you a citron peel, take it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How to Avoid Melons, 1565

Jacques le Moyne de Morgues, Study of a Melon (c. 1575)
"When you consider the small size of the root, and the great size of the stalk, and how close to the ground it is, and that it lies perpetually on the earth, and that it is influenced by every quality of the air, and that its growth is so fast, you will be compelled to admit that the melon is nothing other than the putrid moisture of the earth, colored by changing and harmful qualities, having every vice, harmful to the stomach, liver, spleen, intestines, lungs, kidneys, bladder, causing not only putrid humors but poisonous fluxes.  
Therefore my advice is that it should not only be renounced, but even banished from human use by the decrees of rulers. For what pestilence is more pernicious, from which many thousands of men have perished for so long?" 
Girolamo Cardano, De methodo medendi
How much longer must we wait for our politicians to confront the pernicious pestilence of melons?

Friday, April 24, 2015

How to Grow Hair, 1660

Jacob Ferdinand Voet, Portrait of a Young
Man of the Chigi Family
(17th c.)

"Of Ointments to restore the Hair... The shells of Sea Hedge-hogs burnt, and wrought together with Bears-grease, lay upon the places, being first rubbed... Take of Mouseturd, Frankincense, each two ounces, dissolve them in the sharpest Vinegar, and anoint the place, first shaved."

Johann Jacob Wecker, Arts Master-piece

Every well-coiffed gentleman's secret weapon: a medicine cabinet full of sea urchins and mouse turds.