Richard Hall liked to jot down helpful remedies and cures – here, a recipe to prevent a miscarriage.
Given that Richard’s first wife had at least half a dozen miscarriages, and just three live births, one suspects that there may have been frequent visits to Mr Godfrey the Chymist at his premises in Southampton Street. I will leave it to others to clarify what was meant by ‘spirit of clary’ – I can trace an essential oil with the botanical name “Salvia sclarea” otherwise known as Sage Clary, which may (or may not) have its origins with spirit of clary. The site for Spiritual Oils gives this as its history:
“History: Descriptions of the medicinal use of Clary sage date back to the writings of Theophrastus (4th century BCE), Dioscorides (1st century CE), and Pliny the Elder (1st century CE). It was particularly popular during the Middle Ages, when it was known as “clear eye,” “Oculus Christi” (the eyes of Christ), and “muscatel sage,” due to its resemblance to muscatel wine grape vines. In modern times, it is used to enhance the flavor of commercial tobacco.”
Anyway, mix it with “Mountain” (i.e. mountain wine, which generally meant any wine which did not come from France and which probably came either from Malaga in Spain, or from Portugal), some oak bud water, a pint of best wine, and flavour it with saffron and sugar’d carraway, and if you knock back a quarter pint of the gloop morning and evening all will be well. And if it isn’t, then please take the matter up with Mrs Stringer, not me!
My only concern: how do you get hold of oak bud water at any other time of the year except the Spring? What if you are foolish enough to get pregnant in high summer? Oh well, back to the drawing board…..