A POCKET HERBAL; Containing the medicinal virtues and uses of the most esteemed native plants; with some Remarks on Bathing, Electricity, etc. By John Chambers, M. D. of East Dereham, Norfolk.

Published: Printed for the Author, by P. Gedge, Bury, And to be had of T. Hurst, Paternoster-Row; C. Law, Ave-Maria-Lane, London; and W. Barker, Dereham.

Date: 1800

4 x 6 inches. xx + [iv] + 328 pp. With list of subscribers at beginning and indexes at end.

A rare and charming example of a locally produced Herbal and general receipt book, published by the author himself and printed in Bury. Contains local lore and a host of local names for plants. The list of some three hundred subscribers reveals a strong bias towards the eastern counties and itself provides an useful list of local notables. Chambers dedicates the work to the ladies, who are ‘exerting themselves in their natural sphere - to the care of their families, and the relief of the distressed,’ and in particular to ‘the fair Votaresses of Flora,’ now that botany has become a popular female study. He trusts that ‘my Lady Bountiful’ will find his collection of prescriptions ‘a valuable addition to her Family Receipt-book.’ Part I of the herbal contains entries for ailments and for the plants themselves. Part II describes the treatment of poisons and the use of non-herbal remedies, including a brief section on the recent fashionable treatments of bathing and the employment of electric shocks. It ends with a list of prescriptions and two recipes for cheap food and drink (treacle and spruce beer) for the poor. He comments on his soup of salep root, vegetables and free offal from the butchers, ‘I have recommended this broth to great numbers of the poor, who at first are very fond of it, but soon grow tired of washing the entrails.’ Little else is known of Dr John Chambers (c.1725-1801). A scarce example of a local publication; ESTC records only eight copies in British libraries and five in North America.

Slight foxing and occasional edge stains, otherwise a fine copy.

Bound in original calf, spine rebacked with gilt rules and black morocco label, gilt.


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