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Mandrake seeds for sale

fresh     organic     potent

5 Mandrake seeds
(Mandragora officinarum)
larger quantities available!
$10 USD
including postage, sent worldwide!
(note: it is your responsibility to comply with all national or local laws!)


Would you like to own a genuine Mandrake Root?

I doubt very seriously
if you will be able to buy one…

Of course, there are
lots of offers for
"Mandrake roots"
on the internet:

Mayapple roots?
ditto- but chopped up?
ditto- but ground to a powder?
how about a Bryony?
or a Harry Poter reject?

here is a genuine one:

you can't buy it...

even if we would mail it to you-
I doubt that it would arrive alive...


5 Mandrake seeds
(Mandragora officinarum)
$10 USD
including postage, sent worldwide!
(note: it is your responsibility to comply with all national or local laws!)


Every winter we walk the ancient hills of the Holyland, folowing the trails of the deer and goats, searching for the elusive and extremely rare wild Mandrake plants.

It is a good day when we find one or two of the plants, and we carefully mark their location on a map, before returning home to celebrate.

Perfect weather conditions are needed for the plants to flower, be pollinated, and set fruits.

We pick only the fully ripened fruits in order to provide potent, fertile seeds- but for this we must compete with the wild birds and animals.

We return in the Spring, between Passover and Pentecost, relocating each plant and checking what bounty nature has provided us with this year. Sometimes there are no fruits (dry winds killed the flowers off), sometimes birds have pecked holes in the fruits and spoiled them, sometimes the deer have eaten the ripest ones... We pick only the ripe and undamaged, and return every 2 days to check each plant until we have gathered all the goodness.

We set the harvested fruits out in the sun in open glass jars, and their incredibly sweet aroma fills our homestead, telling all that the the season of the Mandrakes has truly arrived! (we immediately set aside the most perfectly ripened fruits, and contact those who want the complete fruits themselves, which are the essence of the secret of the Matriarchs... but that is another story...)

When the fruits are all soft, we slip the skins and carefully wash the meat free of the seeds, then spread them out to dry in the sun.

After a month, we store the seeds in a deepfreeze, to preseved freshness and vitality.

And send them to our friends around the world, with blessings for fertility!

all photo and text rights reserved to: wizard@mandrakeseeds.com

5 Mandrake seeds
(Mandragora officinarum)
$10 USD
including postage, sent worldwide!
(note: it is your responsibility to comply with all national or local laws!)


Mandrake (plant) Mandrake Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae (unranked): Angiosperms (unranked): Eudicots (unranked): Asterids Order: Solanales Family: Solanaceae Genus: Mandragora L. Species

Mandragora autumnalis Mandragora officinarum Mandragora turcomanica Mandragora caulescens

Mandrake is the common name for members of the plant genus Mandragora belonging to the nightshades family (Solanaceae). Because mandrake contains deliriant hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids such as hyoscyamine and the roots sometimes contain bifurcations causing them to resemble human figures, their roots have long been used in magic rituals, today also in neopagan religions such as Wicca and Germanic revivalism religions such as Odinism.

The mandrake, Mandragora officinarum, is a plant called by the Arabs luffa^h, or beid el-jinn ("djinn's eggs"). The parsley-shaped root is often branched. This root gives off at the surface of the ground a rosette of ovate-oblong to ovate, wrinkled, crisp, sinuate-dentate to entire leaves, 5 to 40 centimetres (2.0 to 16 in) long, somewhat resembling those of the tobacco-plant. A number of one-flowered nodding peduncles spring from the neck bearing whitish-green flowers, nearly 5 centimetres (2.0 in) broad, which produce globular, succulent, orange to red berries, resembling small tomatoes, which ripen in late spring. All parts of the mandrake plant are poisonous. The plant grows natively in southern and central Europe and in lands around the Mediterranean Sea, as well as on Corsica.

The Old Testament

In Genesis 30, Reuben, the eldest son of Jacob and Leah finds mandrakes in a field. Rachel, Jacob's infertile second wife and Leah's sister, is desirous of the mandrakes and barters with Leah for them. The trade offered by Rachel is for Leah to spend the next night in Jacob's bed in exchange for Leah's mandrakes. Leah gives away the plant to her barren sister, but soon after this (Genesis 30:14-22), Leah, who had previously had four sons but had been infertile for a long while, became pregnant once more and in time gave birth to two more sons, Issachar and Zebulun, and a daughter, Dinah. Only years after this episode of her asking for the mandrakes did Rachel manage to get pregnant. There are classical Jewish commentaries which suggest that mandrakes help barren women to conceive a child though.[citation needed]

Mandrake in Hebrew is ăĺăŕéí (du^da~'im), meaning “love plant”. Among certain Asian cultures, it is believed to ensure conception.[citation needed] Most interpreters[who?] hold Mandragora officinarum to be the plant intended in Genesis 30:14 ("love plant") and Song of Songs 7:13 ("the mandrakes send out their fragrance"). A number of other plants have been suggested such as blackberries, Zizyphus Lotus, the sidr of the Arabs, the banana, lily, citron, and fig.

Magic, spells, and witchcraft

Mandragora, from Tacuinum Sanitatis (1474). Mandragora plant

According to the legend, when the root is dug up it screams and kills all who hear it. Literature includes complex directions for harvesting a mandrake root in relative safety. For example Josephus (c. 37 AD Jerusalem – c. 100) gives the following directions for pulling it up:

A furrow must be dug around the root until its lower part is exposed, then a dog is tied to it, after which the person tying the dog must get away. The dog then endeavours to follow him, and so easily pulls up the root, but dies suddenly instead of his master. After this the root can be handled without fear.

Extract from Chapter XVI, Witchcraft and Spells: Transcendental Magic its Doctrine and Ritual by Eliphas Levi. A Complete Translation of Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie by Arthur Edward Waite. 1896

... we will add a few words about mandragores (mandrakes) and androids, which several writers on magic confound with the waxen image; serving the purposes of bewitchment. The natural mandragore is a filamentous root which, more or less, presents as a whole either the figure of a man, or that of the virile members. It is slightly narcotic, and an aphrodisiacal virtue was ascribed to it by the ancients, who represented it as being sought by Thessalian sorcerers for the composition of philtres. Is this root the umbilical vestige of our terrestrial origin ? We dare not seriously affirm it, but all the same it is certain that man came out of the slime of the earth, and his first appearance must have been in the form of a rough sketch. The analogies of nature make this notion necessarily admissible, at least as a possibility. The first men were, in this case, a family of gigantic, sensitive mandragores, animated by the sun, who rooted themselves up from the earth ; this assumption not only does not exclude, but, on the contrary, positively supposes, creative will and the providential co-operation of a first cause, which we have reason to call God. Some alchemists, impressed by this idea, speculated on the culture of the mandragore, and experimented in the artificial reproduction of a soil sufficiently fruitful and a sun sufficiently active to humanise the said root, and thus create men without the concurrence of the female. (See: Homunculus) Others, who regarded humanity as the synthesis of animals, despaired about vitalising the mandragore, but they crossed monstrous pairs and projected human seed into animal earth, only for the production of shameful crimes and barren deformities. The third method of making the android was by galvanic machinery. One of these almost intelligent automata was attributed to Albertus Magnus, and it is said that St Thomas (Thomas Aquinas) destroyed it with one blow from a stick because he was perplexed by its answers. This story is an allegory; the android was primitive scholasticism, which was broken by the Summa of St Thomas, the daring innovator who first substituted the absolute law of reason for arbitrary divinity, by formulating that axiom which we cannot repeat too often, since it comes from such a master: " A thing is not just because God wills it, but God wills it because it is just. The real and serious android of the ancients was a secret which they kept hidden from all eyes, and Mesmer was the first who dared to divulge it; it was the extension of the will of the magus into another body, organised and served by an elementary spirit; in more modern and intelligible terms, it was a magnetic subject.

It was a common folklore in some countries that mandrake would only grow where the semen of a hanged man had dripped on to the ground; this would appear to be the reason for the methods employed by the alchemists who "projected human seed into animal earth". In Germany, the plant is known as the Alraune: the novel (later adapted as a film) Alraune by Hanns Heinz Ewers is based around a soulless woman conceived from a hanged man's semen, the title referring to this myth of the Mandrake's origins.

The following is taken from "Paul Christian".[1] pp. 402–403, The History and Practice of Magic by Paul Christian. 1963: Would you like to make a Mandragora, as powerful as the homunculus (little man in a bottle) so praised by Paracelsus? Then find a root of the plant called bryony. Take it out of the ground on a Monday (the day of the moon), a little time after the vernal equinox. Cut off the ends of the root and bury it at night in some country churchyard in a dead man's grave. For thirty days water it with cow's milk in which three bats have been drowned. When the thirty-first day arrives, take out the root in the middle of the night and dry it in an oven heated with branches of verbena; then wrap it up in a piece of a dead man's winding-sheet and carry it with you everywhere.

In literature

* In the Bible

In Genesis 30:14, Leah gives Rachel mandrakes in exchange for a night of sleeping with their husband. During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, "Please give me some of your son's mandrakes."

In the Song of Songs, it is used as a symbol of fragrance: "The mandrakes send out their fragrance, and at our door is every delicacy, both new and old, that I have stored up for you, my lover."

In its more sinister significance:

* Machiavelli wrote a play Mandragola (The Mandrake) in which the plot revolves around the use of a mandrake potion as a ploy to bed a woman. * Shakespeare refers four times to mandrake and twice under the name of mandragora. "...Not poppy, nor mandragora, Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world, Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep Which thou owedst yesterday." Shakespeare: Othello III.iii "Give me to drink mandragora... That I might sleep out this great gap of time My Antony is away." Shakespeare: Antony and Cleopatra I.v "Shrieks like mandrakes' torn out of the earth." Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet IV.iii "Would curses kill, as doth the mandrake's groan" King Henry VI part II III.ii * Thomas Lovell Beddoes uses the name of mandrake for a character in his play, Death's Jest Book. * John Webster in The Duchess of Malfi: Ferdinand "I have this night digged up a mandrake..." * John Donne's song: "Go and catch a falling star Get with child a mandrake root Tell me where all past years are, Or who cleft the devil's foot..." (This poem can be heard set to music by John Renbourn [of Pentangle fame] on his eponymous CD [Transatlantic TRA 135, 1965]) * D. H. Lawrence referred to Mandrake as that "weed of ill-omen". * Ezra Pound used it as metaphor in his poem "Portrait d'une femme": "You are a person of some interest, one comes to you And takes strange gain away: [...] Pregnant with mandrakes, or with something else That might prove useful and yet never proves, [...]" * Samuel Beckett, in Act I of Waiting for Godot the two attendants discuss hanging themselves and reference is made to the belief that mandrake is seeded by the ejaculation of hanged men. * John Steinbeck in The Winter of Our Discontent writes that Ethan Hawley has a mandrake root in his family heirlooms which he describes as "a perfect little man, sprouted from the death-ejected sperm of a hanged man". * In J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the mandrake root is cultivated by Professor Sprout to cure the petrification of several characters who had looked indirectly into the eyes of the Basilisk; the author makes use of the legend of the mandrake's scream (see above), and anyone tending mandrakes wears earmuffs to dull the sound of the scream, if the plant must be transplanted. * Mandrake the Magician is an American comic strip created in 1934 by Lee Falk (also creator of The Phantom) and mainly appearing in syndication in newspapers. * In Yasuhiro Kano-'s manga Mx0, Lucy is a magical mandrake that covertly aids the main character. * William S. Burroughs' novel Naked Lunch reads "Johnny scream like a mandrake" * Salman Rushdie's novel The Enchantress of Florence reads "[...] mythical plant the locals called ayi"q oti", otherwise known as the mandrake root. The mandrake – or “man-drag-on” [...] screamed when you pulled them up into the air just as human beings would scream if you buried them alive." Then the novel tells a story of boys trying to grow mandrake using hanged archbishop's semen. The mandrake has very powerful healing powers and is exclusively used to help cure illnesses. * Cormac McCarthy's novel Outer Dark — in reference to a corpse hung from a tree branch — reads "Black mandrake sprang beneath the tree as it will where the seed of the hanged falls and in spring a new branch pierced his breast and flowered in green boutonnie`re perennial beneath his yellow grin." * In David McRobbie's novel Mandragora four cursed mandrake dolls are accidentally taken aboard a boat being used for person transport from Scotland to Australia. These dolls and their curses reap havoc aboard the vessel by possessing passengers and this ends in eventual disaster. A mandrake doll is also taken as good luck by the ships captain to ward off all evil, and this doll alone tries to destroy the four other curses. * In a description from Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow a hanged man's "drop of sperm [...] changes into a mandrake root" under the cover of the night. * Sadeq Hedayat in his novel The Blind Owl writes "Her air of mingled gaiety and sadness set her apart from ordinary mankind. Her beauty was extraordinary. She reminded me of a vision seen in an opium sleep. She aroused in me a heat of passion like that which is kindled by the mandrake root." (Trans. D.P. Costello, pg 10) * In Margit Sandemo Saga of the Ice People (47 parts) as a plant in many parts, then as a human in last few parts * In the Iron Maiden song "Moonchild" on the album "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son", there is the phrase "Moonchild, hear the mandrake scream", a reference to the screaming of the mandrake when pulled out of the ground. * Mercyful Fate, whose lead singer King Diamond was very interested in and highly supportive of occult and pagan practices, released a song titled "Mandrake" on the 1998 album Dead Again (Mercyful Fate album), which discussed the plant's manlike qualities and its importance in ritualistic activities.

In film

* In Pan's Labyrinth, the main character Ofelia places a baby-shaped mandrake root in a bowl of fresh milk under her pregnant mother's bed to cure her mysterious illness. * In The Serpent's Kiss, Richard E. Grant's character adds powdered mandrake root to Meneer Chrome's (played by Ewan McGregor) snuff box in an attempt to poison him. * In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets the students have to repot Mandrake seedlings while wearing earmuffs to protect against the deadly screams. A potion concocted using mandrake root is used to cure several victims petrified by a basilisk. In the film, the Mandrakes are small, wrinkly, dark brown monstrosities that are extremely ugly. * In Flesh & Blood, the characters Agnes (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Steven (Tom Burlinson) eat the mandrake root in order to fall in love with each other. * In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout refers to "half-remembered tales of changelings and mandrake roots." * In New Tricks, Mandrake root is used to anesthetize dogs that are the victims of a serial killer. It is also in connection with the Egyptian gods Anubis and Wepwawet. * In Excalibur, Merlin tests Morgana's knowledge of the properties of mandrake. * In an episode of The X-Files, "Terms of Endearment", agent Fox Mulder works on a case where a woman is said to have been given mandrake and hallucinates the abduction of her child.

MANDRAKE (Mandragora officinarum), a plant of the potato family, order Solanaceae, a native of the Mediterranean region. It has a short stem bearing a tuft of ovate leaves, with a thick fleshy and often forked root. The flowers are solitary, with a purple bell-shaped corolla; the fruit is a fleshy orange-coloured berry. The mandrake has been long known for its poisonous properties and supposed virtues. It acts as an emetic, purgative and narcotic, and was much esteemed in old times; but, except in Africa and the East, where it is used as a narcotic and antispasmodic, it has fallen into well-earned disrepute. In ancient times, according to Isidorus and Serapion, it was used as a narcotic to diminish sensibility under surgical operations, and the same use is mentioned by K.azwi-ni-, i. 297, s.v. “Luffa-h..” Shakespeare more than once alludes to this plant, as in Antony and Cleopatra: “Give me to drink mandragora.” The notion that the plant shrieked when touched is alluded to in Romeo and Juliet: “And shrieks like mandrakes torn out of the earth, that living mortals, hearing them, run mad.” The mandrake, often growing like the lower limbs of a man, was supposed to have other virtues, and was much used for love philtres, while the fruit was supposed, and in the East is still supposed, to facilitate pregnancy (Aug., C. Faust. xxii. 56; cf. Gen. xxx. 14, where the Hebrew ăăřŕî is undoubtedly the mandrake). Like the mallow, the mandrake was potent in all kinds of enchantment (see Maimonides in Chwolson, Ssabier, ii. 459). Dioscorides identifies it with the ???????, the root named after the enchantress Circe. To it appears to apply the fable of the magical herb Baaras, which cured demoniacs, and was procured at great risk or by the death of a dog employed to drag it up, in Josephus (B. J. vii. 6, § 3). The German name of the plant (Alraune; O. H. G. Alru^na) indicates the prophetic power supposed to be in little images (homunculi, Goldma"nnchen, Galgenma"nnchen) made of this root which were cherished as oracles. The possession of such roots was thought to ensure prosperity. (See Du Cange, s.vv. “Mandragora” and Littre'.)

Mandrake Latin name: Mandragora Other names: Mandegloire, Mandragloire A plant with human-shaped roots, that shrieks when it is pulled from the earth

General Attributes

The mandrake is a plant; its roots grow in human form, male and female, and shriek when torn from the ground. It is of great use in medicine, but anyone who hears the plant's cry dies or goes mad. It was therefore a custom to tie a hungry dog to the plant by a cord and place a piece of meat beyond its reach. To get at the meat the dog tugged at the cord and dragged up the plant, while its master remained safely out of hearing. The mandrake grows in the East, near Paradise. In order to conceive, the female elephant must eat some mandrake root.

The mandrake is also described in medieval herbals, such as British Library Harley MS 4986 (twelfth century) (The Elephant in Medieval Legend and Art (London, 1919) Druce translation, adapted): 'If you want to gather the mandrake because of its great health-giving qualities, you shall gather it in this wise. It shines at night like a lamp, and when you see it mark it round quickly with iron lest it escape you. For so strong is this power in it, that if it sees an unclean man coming to it, it runs away. So for this reason mark it round with iron and dig about it, taking care that you do not touch it with the iron; but remove the earth from it with the utmost care with an ivory stake, and when you have seen the foot of the plant and its hands, then you shall at once bind the plant with a new rope, and you shall tie the same round the neck of a hungry dog, and in front of it place food at a little distance, so that in its eagerness to get the food it may pull out the plant. Again you may get it out in another way. Make an apparatus like a mangonel instead and fix in it a tall rod, to the top of which you shall tie a new rope to which also the plant is tied; and you shall make it work as a kind of mousetrap from a distance, when the rod springing back pulls out the plant by its own force. And when you have got it unbroken in your hands, presently store the juice of the leaves in a glass jar, and so will you keep it as a remedy for human beings.' ... There are six cures described. The first is for a head-ache which prevents sleep. For this a salve is made with the juice and applied to the forehead as a plaster, 'when the pain in the head is soon relieved, and sleep will come again quickly.' The second is for pain in the ears. The juice must be mixed with oil of nard and the mixture poured into the ears, 'when the patient will be cured with wonderful quickness.' The third is for a severe attack of gout. You must take of the right hand and the right foot of the mandrake a scruple each and grind it to powder, and administer in wine for seven days, when the patient will be quickly cured; and it causes not only the swelling but also the contraction of the muscles to recover themselves, and so 'both these troubles are cured in a wonderful way as has been proved by the author's experiments.' The fourth cure is for epileptics, that is for persons who have fallen in fits or who suffer from spasms. One scruple of the body of the plant is ground up and given to the patient in hot water, 'as full as the vessel can hold, and immediately he will be cured.' The fifth is for cramp and contraction of the muscles. 'Make a powder, very fine, of the body of this plant and mix it with sweet oil, and smear it upon those persons who have the troubles mentioned.' The sixth cure is interesting. 'If a cold in the head, of a particularly virulent kind, has appeared in the house, the mandrake plant-however little they have of it inside the house-drives away all the infection.'

The source of the plant has been described thus: "The human shape of the mandrake root has probably helped to foster, if it did not originate, the weird notion that the plant springs from the drippings of a man hanged on a gallows. Hence in Germany the plant bears the popular name of the Little Gallows Man. It is, or used to be, believed in that country that when a hereditary thief, born of a family of thieves, or one whose mother stole while he was in her womb, is hanged on a gallows, and his seed or urine falls on the ground, the mandrake or Little Gallows Man sprouts on the spot. Others, however, say that the human progenitor of the plant must be, not a thief, but an innocent and chaste youth who has been forced by torture falsely to declare himself a thief and has consequently ended his days on a gallows. Be that as it may, the one thing about which all are agreed is that the Little Gallows Man grows under the gallows tree from the bodily droppings of a hanged man." (Jacob and the Mandrakes (Oxford, 1917) Frazer, p. 9)

Sources (chronological order)

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 25, 94): Pliny says that there are two varieties, the white mandragora which is generally thought to be the male plant, and the black, which is considered to be the female. It has a leaf narrower than that of the lettuce, a hairy stem, and a double or triple root, black without and white within, soft and fleshy, and nearly a cubit in length. Both kinds bear a fruit about the size of a hazel-nut. . . . The leaves of the female plant are broader than those of the male. (from The Elephant in Medieval Legend and Art (London, 1919) Druce, 1919)

Dioscorides [1st century ce] (De materia medica, 4-76): Mandagoras has a root that seems to be a maker of love medicines. There is one sort that is female, black, called thridacias, with narrower, longer leaves than lettuce, with a poisonous, heavy scent, scattered on the ground. Among them are apples similar to serviceberries - pale, with a sweet scent - in which is seed like a pear. The two or three roots are a good size, wrapped within one another, black according to outward appearance, white within, and with a thick bark; but it has no stalk. The male is white, and some have called it norion. The leaves are bigger, white, broad, smooth like beet but the apples are twice as big - almost saffron in colour, sweetsmelling, with a certain strength - which the shepherds eat to fall asleep. The root is similar to that above, yet bigger and paler, and it is also without a stalk. The bark of the root is pounded and juiced while it is fresh, and placed under a press. After it is stirred the beaters should bottle it in a ceramic jar. The apples are also juiced in a similar way, but the juice from them becomes weakened. The bark from the root is peeled off, pierced with a thread, and hanged up in storage. Some boil the roots in wine until a third remains, strain it, and put it in jars. They use a winecupful of it for those who cannot sleep, or are seriously injured, and whom they wish to anaesthetise to cut or cauterize. Twenty grains of the juice (taken as a drink with honey and water) expel phlegm and black bile upward like hellebore, but when too much is taken as a drink it kills. It is mixed with eye medicines, medications to ease pain, and softening suppositories. As much as five grains (applied alone) expels the menstrual flow and is an abortifacient, and put up into the perineum as a suppository it causes sleep. The root is said to soften ivory, boiled together with it for six hours, and to make it ready to be formed into whatever shape a man wants. Applied with polenta, the new leaves are good both for inflammations of the eyes and ulcers. (Tess Anne Osbaldeston translation)

Philippe de Thaun [12th century] (Bestiaire) (Adapted from The Elephant in Medieval Legend and Art (London, 1919) Druce -- The account follows immediately after the elephant and is contained in twenty-three lines, with three headings in Latin. Two manuscripts, British Library Cotton Nero A. v and Merton College MS. 249, have been used.): Heading: De mandragora et ejus natura et quid valet et quomodo cognoscitur. / He says of the mandrake -- that it has two roots; / Which have the forms -- that man and woman are. / The female root -- for a woman is medicine; / The female has leaves -- like the lettuce, / The male has leaves -- like the beet. / By craft it is gathered -- hear in what manner. / Heading: Homo qui eam vult colligere. / 'The man who will gather it -- must dig about it / Softly and gently -- so that he does not touch it. / Let him take a chained dog -- let it be tied to it, / Which is right ravenous -- and three days fasted. / Let bread be shown it -- from far let it be called; / The dog will pull it -- the root will break, / And will utter a shriek -- the dog will fall dead / Through the shriek which it heard -- such force has this plant / That no one can hear it -- but at once he must die. / And if the man hear it -- on the spot will he die; / Therefore he must stop -- his ears and take care / That he hear not the cry -- lest he die just the same / As the dog will do -- if it hear its cry. / Heading: Radix mandragore contra omnes infirmitates valet. / Whosoever has this root -- it is potent as medicine, / For every sickness -- it can bring healing, / Except only for death -- then it has no force.

Guillaume le Clerc [c. 1200 CE] (Bestiaire divin) (Adapted from The Elephant in Medieval Legend and Art (London, 1919) Druce -- In the main the text of British Library Cotton Vespasian A. vii has been followed.): The mandrake is a precious plant, / None other of its kind there is; / And I tell you that of its root / One may make many a medicine. / If you regard the root with care, / You will find there a form / Like the form of a man. / Its rind is most useful; / When it is boiled in water / It is right good for many a malady. / When this plant is thirty years old, / It is plucked by those who practice medicine; / They say when it is plucked / That it moans and shrieks and cries, / And if any one hear its cry / Dead he will be and come to grief. / But they who pluck it do so / So wisely that they take no hurt. / When from the earth it is taken up, / For many a thing is the body good; / If a man suffer in his head, / Or in his body, which should give him pain; / Or in his foot or in his hand; / By this plant shall he be cured. / There where the man should feel the pain / Shall he put on that very spot / Of the plant when well bruised; / And when the man has drunk of it / Full softly shall he fall asleep / And feel the pain no more / Of this plant which is so potent / There are always two kinds; / The one is male, the other female. / The leaves of both are beautiful, / The female is thickly leaved / Like the wild lettuce.

Bodleian Library MS. Bodley 764 [c. 1225-50 CE] (The Elephant in Medieval Legend and Art (London, 1919) Druce translation): 'The mandrake is so called because it has sweet-smelling fruit of the size of the Martian apple, and because of this the Latins call it "earth-apple." The poets (in some manuscripts erroneously "prophets") call this plant "man-shaped," because it has a root resembling the human form. The rind when mixed with wine is given as a drink to persons whose bodies are to be operated on for a cure, so that under its soporific influence they may not feel the pain (variant: is given as a drink in different cases of sickness. And its stem when thirty years old is carefully gathered for the healing of many complaints). There are two varieties of this plant, the female with leaves resembling those of the lettuce, and producing fruit like plums, and the male with leaves like the beet.' Then follows the Sermo, which is based on the allusions to the mandrake in Canticles (vii, 13) and Genesis (xxx, 14): 'In the song of songs the bride says of the mandrake: The mandrakes have given forth a smell in our gates. The mandrake for its manifold uses in medicine is comparable with the virtues of holy men. The gates of the church are the holy doctors. In gates of this kind the mandrakes give a smell when spiritually minded men, one and all, scatter far and wide the fame of their virtues. And one may read in Genesis how Reuben the son of Leah went out into the field and found mandrakes and gave them to his mother Leah; which signifies the good reputation which every diligent person acquires amongst men of this world. This may be applied to our mother church; as the apostle says of one about to be ordained bishop: he ought to be well testified of by those without; who, although they have had little learning, yet generally shed the lustre of praise and the odour of good opinion on the efforts of those from whom they obtain counsel.'

Bartholomaeus Anglicus [13th century] (De proprietatibus rerum, book 17): [Mandragora] sodden in wine cause sleep, and abate all manner of soreness, and so that time a man feeleth unneth though he be cut, but yet Mandragora must be warily used: for it slayeth if men take much thereof.... They that dig Mandragora be busy to beware of contrary winds while they dig, and make three circles about with a sword, and abide with the digging unto the sun going down, and trow so to have the herb with the chief virtues. (Mediaeval Lore from Bartholomew Anglicus (London, 1893/1905) Steele edition of 1905)

The mandrake is usually depicted as a huminoid plant, sometimes as a tiny human with roots or leaves. The scene of the dog being used to uproot the mandrake is shown in British Library, Harley MS 1585 (f. 57r); in British Library, Royal MS 2 B. vii (f. 119v) a male and a female mandrake hang by leafy feet from a rope attached to a dog.


Some OBSERVATIONS on the Egyptian, Grecian, and Roman Literature, Botany, and Medicine. In a LETTER to a FELLOW of the College of PHYSICIANS. Admiranda canunt sed non credenda Cato. Distich L O N D O N : Printed by T. Gardner, for W. BICKERTON, at Lord Bacon's Head without Temple Bar and at his Shop at Eton College. 1737.

A CRITICAL DISSERTATION ON THE MANDRAKE, &c. S I R, THE uninterrupted Course of Friendship that has always subsisted between us, join'd to the good Opinion you are pleased to entertain of me, puts it out of my Power to disobey your Commands : And I think I can't give you a stronger Proof of that Influence you have over me, than in complying to give you my Sentiments on the Mandrake of the Antients. But in the mean time I can't help accusing you of an unfriendly Piece of Severity, in im- [4-5] posing upon me a Task so unequal to my present Situation, in which I can neither have Access to Books, nor indeed enjoy that uninterrupted Freedom of Thought which the Intricacy of the Subject seemsto require. However, as all Considerations ought to give Place to that of Friendship, I shall endeavour to satisfy your Request: and if the Method in which I treat the Subject will afford you the least Satisfaction, I shall think my time very happily employ'd. The most antient Book now in the World is that of the Old Testament, preserved by a particular Providence through a Series of Accidents by which Millions have perished; and I believe it is owing to some whimsical Notions about the Mandrakes of Reuben mention'd Gen. xxx. that so many absurd and ridiculous Opinions have been advanced at different times relating to this Plant. But as that History has given no Foundation upon which they could possibly build such wild Conjectures, it would be unreasonable as well as unjust to suspect the Veracity of it. ___ Moses, the most excellent of all Historians, relates this History with a Ca ndor, so agreeable to that native Pu-rity which adorns his Writings, that it is [5] impossible to conceive that he had the least Design of imposing upon Posterity.___ If a Cheat or Imposition of this kindhad once got footing in the World, we should have met with heavy Accusations against him in all the Writings of Antiquity; but the contrary is evident, as they all mention him, as a Writer of great Eminence and Veracity, a most famous Lawgiver, and an excellent Man. † If we consider how little we know ofthe Antiquities of those Nations, who flourished nearest the Times in which Moses wrote, it will appear no great Wonder that we are now perfectly ignorant of the Nature and Species of a Plant, whose original Name is hardly known. We have only some Fragments of the Chaldaic Philosophy preserved by different Writers, and their Botany, if it were still extant, would in all Probability afford us no great Satisfaction. The Egyptian Learning is that from which we might have expected the greatest Assistance in determining the present Enquiry. Antiquity [EDGENOTE:] † The Author is not ignorant of what Longinus, Apion, &c. have said, but as their Accusations have been already fully answered by the most eminent Writers, it is not worth while to regard them. [6-7] mentions their Learning with the utmost Veneration. Macrobius says, that they were the most learned People in the World, and calls them in one Place, Omnium Philosophi? Disciplinarum Parentes (a), and in another Place, Solos omniumrerum divinarum conscios (b). But that which raises in us the grandest Ideas of the Egyptian Literature, is that Testimony given of it in Scripture, where in order to display the Wisdom of Solomon, it is said to have exceeded all the Wisdom of theChildren of the East, and all the Wisdom of Egypt. (c) Tho' these are sufficient Testimonies of the Learning of this People, it is evident that there is nothing of it remaining that in any degree comes up to those Encomiums conferr'd upon it by the best Writers in Antiquity. ___ We know nothing of their Theology till it was sunk to the lowest Degree of Stupidity, and render'd them justly the Jest and Contempt of all other Nations. Rome itself, the Seat of all Idolatry and Superstition, had so mean an Opinion of their religious Rites and Ceremonies, that Alexand. ab Alexandro tells us, the States had even prohibited their Introduction a- [ENDNOTE:] (a) In Somn. Scipion p. 74. (b) Saturnal. p. 222. (c) I King. Ch. iv. ver. 29. [7] mong them ; (a) And Fuvenal, in order to display the contemptible Opinion he had of their Wisdom in paying Adoration to such low Object as Garlick and Onions, addresses then with this Satyrical Expression: O Sanctas Gentis ! quibus h?c nascuntur in hortis Numina. (b) Their Hieroglyphical Learning, which has made so great Noise in the World, is the only remaining Proof of that Science for which they were so eminently distinguish'd. The Learned Pierius has with great Diligence and Application endeavour'd to vindicate the Importance ofthose mysterious Representations, and collected under their several Figures, all that the Egyptians meant to express by them, but notwithstanding all his Labour, it is greatly to be feared, that the utmost degree of their Probability amounts only to Conjecture. Pierius (c) accordingly takes Notice, that the Mandrake repres ented a mong the Egyptians a sleepy Person, and an amorous Potion. He also observes that it was used for the Hieroglyphick of Joy, and quotes Xenophon, who in his Sympo- [ENDNOTE:] (a) Genial Dierum, Lib. 2. p. 88. (b) Satyr. vi (c) De Sacris AEgypt. Lit. Lib. 58. cap. 37, &c. [8-9] siums makes Socrates say, Vinum non alitern Merori mederi, quam Mandragora hominibus, letitiamque non aliter excitare, quam Olium inspersum igni flammam. But that which gain'd the Egyptians the most universal Esteem was their Knowledge in Medicine. Manctho says, that several of their Kings of the first Dynasty composed several Books of Anatomy. __Pliny ascribes to them the Invention of Medicine, (a) which it is certain, they knew long before the Grecian ?sculapius, on whom that vain-glorious People have conferr'd the Honour, and according to Custom enroll'd him among the Number of their Gods. __ It is upon this Account that Lactantius very justly censures the Greeks, when he says of ?sculapius, Quid fecit aliud divinis honoribus Dignum, nisi quod Sanavit Hyppolytum? (b) Diogen. Laertius says, [pantas anthropos aigbitios idtrois einai] (c) that all the Egyptians were Physicians; and Pliny tells us that the Physicians of that Nation were employ'd at Rome, in the time of Claudius, to cure a Disease which till then was un- [ENDNOTE:] (a) Hist. Nat. Lib. 29. cap. z. (b) Lact. de. Falf. Religion. p. ii. Cant. (c) In Vit. Platon. [9] known to the Romans. (c) He calls it the Mentagra, from the manner of its Invasion, and seems to be the same with the modern Tetter or Ring-worm. The Kings of Egypt were great Encouragers of Learning, but those of the Ptolemean Race exceeded all their Predecessors in this Particular. ___ The Alexandrian Library was a most magnificent Monument of their Affection for Letters, and if that most valuable Collection of Books had not been destroy'd by the Saracens, we had been by this time perfectly acquainted with all the Learning in the World. ___ A Library consisting of 700,000 Volumes must have contained all the Writings which were then extant ; and with them we have lost that Light into Antiquity, which would have determined not only this, but many other Difficulties, which it is likely we shall ever be unable to unfold. ___ The religious Zeal of this barbarous illiterate People has done irreparable Injury to the Republick of Letters. It has render'dour Knowledge of the most ancient Account of Things imperfect, uncertain, and obscure, and has been the main Cause of [ENDNOTE:] (c) Hist. Nat. lib. xxvi. Cap 1. [10-11] all that Passion and Animosity which has subsisted among the Learned in all Ages. As to the Mathematical Learning of Egypt, it is not to be questioned. The most ancient Greek Writers ingenuously confess that all that Knowledge in Geometry, which overspread Greece, and rende r'd them the most illustrious Mathematicians in the World was at different times imparted to them by the Egyptian Priests. And it is demonstrably true that Greece was indebted to other Nations for all that Knowledge which for many Years made it the Scene and Theatre of Arts and Sciences. ___ It is from this Source that we must derive all that can illustrate the present Subject, the Greeks being the only Writers now remaining that have left us any Account of the Mandrake. Yet if we consider how long it was before that polite Nation made any tolerable Advances in Letters, it will appear evident that their Authority alone is not sufficient to determine the Point. However we shall give you an Account of their Botanick Writers, and make such Observations on them as the nature of the of the Subject seems to require. Let us then begin with their most ancient Poet Orpheus, whom Eusebius makes cotemporary with Gideon, Judge of Israel [11] (a). This Man is celebrated through a Antiquity for his extraordinary Skill in Poetry and Musick, and hence is said to have moved not only Men and Beasts, but even the very Stones themselves. Horace alludes to his Excellency therein, when he says, Unde Vocalem temere insecut?. Orphea Sylv?. Arte Materna rapidos morantem Fluminum Lapsus, celeresque Ventos, Blandum et auritas fidebus canoris, Ducere quercus (b) Pausanias (c), Diodorus Siculus, and others (d) say expresly that he travelled into Egypt, and brought from thence all those Rites and Superstitions which afterwards overspread Greece. Aristophanes the Comedian mentions Orpheus as the first who taught the Greeks to abstain from killing of Beasts, and instructed them in their religious Rites. Orphus medgar teletas themin ?atedixe, phonon t' apechesthai] Equidem Orpheus ritusme Docuit & c?dibus abstinuisse. (e) This doctrine no doubt Orpheus learn'd from the Egyptians, during his Residence [ENDNOTE:] (a) Pr?parat. Evangel. lib. I. (b) Od. xii. lib. I. (c) In Attic. (d) Diod. Sic. lib. iv. (e) [footnote in Greek]. Act.iv. Scen. 2. [12-13] among them, and is the first upon Record that recommended the same to the Practice of his Countrymen, who according to ancient Custom worshipped their Gods with all kinds of Sacrifices. The ancient Egyptians were you know averse to bloody Sacrifices, and could never be induc'd to follow the Practice of other Nations in this Point, tho' many Attempts had been made by the Ptolemies to introduce it among them. They worshipped their Gods as Macrobius observes Precibus & Thure solo, only with their Prayers and Frankincense. (a) Orpheus is not only famous in Antiquity for introducing new Rites and Ceremonies into the Worship of the Gods, but what is most for our purpose, is said to be the first who wrote on the Virtues of Plants. Pliny says that he was Primus omnium quos Memoria novit, qui de herbis curiosius aliqua Prodidit. (b) However Le Clerc (c) observes that Pliny in this place, does not mean to signify that Orpheus writ with Accuracy and Judgement, but rather intimates that he wrote with a deal of Superstition, to [ENDNOTE:] (a) Saturnal lib. Prim. Cap. 7. (b) Hist. Nat. lib. xxv. Cap. 2. (c) Hist. de la Medicin. Cap. 24. [13] which the Genius of those early times, was extreamly addicted, and we have Reason to credit this Conjecture, because Pausanias informs us that Orpheus pass'd for a great Magician (a). There are some Pieces ascrib'd to him still extant, out of which Mr. Le Clerc has quoted some Passages relating to the Virtues of certain Plants, and the Cure of particular Diseases: But we have been long ago fully assur'd that these and other such like Compositions are spurious, tho' they be very Ancient, being ascrib'd to him in the time of Cicero, who fathers them upon Cercops. And we have the Authority of Aristotle on our side, who says that it was universally believ'd in his time, that there were none of his genuine Writings in the World. The next ancient Writer in Botany after Orpheus was his Scholar Mus?us, whom some Authors will have to be his Son. (b) Aristophanes in the place already mention'd ascribes to him, the teaching Men Remedies for Diseases, and Pliny mentions him with Hesiod for celebrating the Polion of the Ancients. (e). ___ Homer has also in many places of his Poem treat- [ENDNOTE:] (a) In Eliac. (b)[footnote in Greek] (c) Hist. Nat lib. xxv. Cap. z. [14-15] ed of the Nature of Plants, and describes with great Accuracy the Grecian Heroes applying proper Remedies to the Wounds of their Followers, and particularly mentions the Molly as an effectual Preservative against Inchantments, and Savin as capa ble of Causing Barrenness. Tis true Homer has wrote nothing professedly on the Subject, but as a Poet brings these Things occasionally into the Body of his Poem, in order to describe the Manners and Customs of those early times. The next eminent Person that claims a Place here is Pythagoras, whom Pliny says was the first, qui Volumen de earum effectu composuit. (a) This Philosopher appears to have been a very inquisitive Person, and fond of every Opportunity to render his Knowledge universal. With this Design he travell'd into Egypt (b) the Seat of Arts and Sciences, and there instructed himself in all their Mysteries.___He convers'd also with the Magi from whom he seems to have borrow'd manyof his Opinions. ___ As to his Knowledge in Physick, it is not to be doubted but he deriv'd that intirely from the Egyptians, [ENDNOTE:] (a) Hist. Nat. lib. xxv. Cap. 2. (b) Diog. Laer. in Vita Pythag. [15] who were particularly famous for their extraoardinary Skill therein. But if we may judge of the Extent of his Knowledge in Physick by the small Fragments still remaining, there will be no great Reason to admire him for the Progress he made in it. There is no thing which more evidently shews the gross Superstition of the Physicians in those early Ages than the Notions of this Philosopher ; Some of which, I shall give You here in the words of Laertius. (a) He says, [to de spthµa einai zagthna egnephali] &c. Semen esse Cerebri Stillam, qu? in se calidum contineat vaporem. H?c vero dum infunditur Utero, ex Cerebro Saniem et humorem Sanguinemq. profluere. Ex quibus, Caro Nervi Ossa, pili totumq. consistat Corpus : Ex eo autem Vapore, Sensum atque animum constare. And speaking of the Formation of the Fetus, he affirms that it became solid in 40 Days, but that eleven, or nine, or more generally, ten Months, according to the Rules of Harmony were requisite to make the Fetus intirely compleat. (b) As to the Causes of Distempers, he learnt without question all that he has [ENDNOTE:](a) in Vit. Pythag. (b) ib. [16-17] said, concerning them from the same Masters, his Notions in this Point being equally ridiculous with the other. He says that the Air is fill'd with Souls, Demons and Heroes, that send Dreams, Signs, and Diseases to Men and Beasts, and that it is on their Account that Lustrations, and Expiations are preform'd. (a) However, tho' Pythagoras seems to have had little of the true Knowledge of Physick, Cornelius Celsus mentions him with Honour, and says that he and his Scholars were the first that brought Reasoning into Physick, and added that part to it call'd Phyhology, which treats of the Human Body in its several Parts, and whatsoever relates to it (b). Pliny (c) whose Authority in this Respect cannot well be question'd, says that Pythagoras compos'd a Book on the Magical Vertues of Plants, which he says was ascribed by some to Cleemporus a Physician. (c) [ENDNOTE:] (a) Totum Aera plenum esse eosque & D?mones, & Heroes existimari, atque ab his Hominibus immmitti Som- nia & Signa atque Morbos, neque solum hominibus, ve- rum & Pecudi bus ac Jumentis reliquis : Atque ad hos re- ferri Lustrationes & Expiationes, Divinationem omnem, & Vaticinia & c?tera id genus, Diog. Laert. Vit. Pythag. (b) De Re Medica. llb. i. (c) Hist Nat. lib. xxiv. Cap. 17. [17] He also relates some extraordinary Powers ascribed to certain Plants by Pythagoras himself, and in particular mentions the Coriacesia, the Callicea, two Plants capable of turning Water into Ice, and also the Corinthas and Aproxis, the former as an effectual Cure for the Bite of a Serpent, and the latter as remarkable for kindling Fire at a considerable Distance, like the Naphtha or Babylonish Bitumen. (a) What these Plants are we know not, nor is it easy to form Conjectures about them, having lost all knowledge of the superstitious Learning of the Magi, from whom it is certain our Philosopher had learned all that he knew relating to the Magical Virtues of Plants. His Followers are also recorded in Antiquity for joining Magic to Physick ; Diogenes Laertius has writ their Lives, whom if you like to consult you will find a great deal more relating to theirMedicine in the Life of Empedocles the most emmient of all his scholars. Pythagoras, is said to be the first who confer'd on the Mandrake the name of Anthropomorphon, but upon what Foundation we know not. Yet I believe it is upon his Authority alone, that such a [ENDNOTE:] (a) Hist. Nat. lib. xxiv. cap. 17. [18-19] Number of strange Conceits have been currently related about it; and in all probability gave birth to that common practice of imposing upon the Ignorant the Briony and other Roots cut by Art into such a Form: And no doubt the Mandrakes now at London, are such a knavish piece of Imposture, because we are sure that the Mandrake has no more Title to that of Anthropomorphon, than the common Carrot, and Parsnip, or any other Plant whose Root is bifurcated. After Pythagoras and his Disciples comes Democritus, who having spent his Estate in travelling to see the most learned Men, and instruct himself in all the curious Learning of the East, compos'd a Bookon the Nature of Vegitables, which is of ten mention'd by Pliny, and censur'd by him as containing very monstrous and incredible Stories. (a) This Author in another place (b) gives us a Remedy or Composition of Democritus's to have five Children. It consists of Pine-apples bruis'd with Honey, Myrrh, Saffron and Palm wine, adding afterwards a Simple, which he calls [ENDNOTE:] (a) Hist. Nat. lib. xxv. cap. 2. (b) Hist. Nat. lib. xxiv. cap. 17. [19] (a) Theombrotion, and Milk. From these and other things related by Pliny, it is evident that the Writings of Democritus were full of such trifles and ridiculous Stories, and seems to have given himself little trouble in examining into the natural Properties of Vegitables. However many eminent writers mention his Name with Honour. Petronius says, that he drew Juices from all manner of Herbs, and spent his Life in making Experiments upon Stones and Plants; (b) and Celsus calls him, Vir jure magni Nominis, (c) a person that had deservedly a great Repu tation. Diogenes Laertius has given us the titles of several of his Books concerning Philosophy, Physick, and Geometry, which are all now lost. ___ There are still extant some Pieces concerning natural Magick ascrib'd to him, but they are universally look'd upon as spurious. [ENDNOTE:] (a) Caussinus says, that this Plant is call'd Semnion a potenti? majestate, that it was frequently eat by the Kings of Persia against all Disorders of the Body and Infirmities of the Mind, and that it is of a most fragrant Smell. De Symbol. ?gypt. Scient. lib. x. p. 594. (b) Herbarum omnium Succos expressit, & ne Lapidum Virgultorumq. vis lateret, ?tatem inter experimenta consumpfit. Petron. in Satyra. (c) De re Medic. lib. i. C 2 [20-21] The next Writer we are to mention as suitable for our purpose is Aristotle who flourish'd above 350 Years before Christ. He was a very eminent Person, and had by means of his Scholar Alexander the Great, more Opportunities than any man of searching into the Nature of Vegitables. He was supply'd with all the Productions of Aha at a very considerable Expence (a) and no doubt made many curios Ob- servations on the nature of Plants, but as he has consider'd them more as a Philosopher than a Physician we can expect no great things from the Writing of this eminent Author, even if we had them intire. Of all that he writ concerning Plants there are only two Books remain- ing, which fall short of that Accuracy and Exactness in which it is reasonable to suppose Aristotle left them. ___ They have pass'd so many Translations, suffer'd so many considerable Alterations, thro' the Ignorance and Pedantry of their Transcribers, that you must not expect to meet wit the Knowledge and exact Judgment of one whom Macrobius says was ignorant of nothing. (b) [ENDNOTE:] (a) Plin. Hist. lib. viii. cap. 16. (b) Videtur mihi vir tantus ignorare potuisse. InSomnium Scipion. p. 146. [21] You know very well how many Years the Works of this Philosopher lay bury'd under ground, and what Injuries they suffer'd by this Means. Hence it is that they abound with many Contradictions and Difficulties that have perplex'd his Readers to this very Day; and for these Reasons it is that some learned Men have ascrib'd this Work of Aristotle's to his Scholar Theophrastus who is justly censur'd for his Credulity in ascribing the Virtues of Plants to Magical Powers. (a) To Aristotle succeds his Scholar Theophrastus, who has great Ecomiums conferr'd upon him by the Ancients. (b) Pliny calls him Hominem in Eloquentia tantumut nomen divinum inde invenerit, and Alexander ab Alexandro says that he was Vir pr?stabeli Sapientia, & in Rebus Physicis & Mathemaricis Magna Doctrina & Estimatione. (c) He w rote ten Books on Plants which are come to our Hands, but as he considers them chiefly as a Naturalist with respect to their Growth, Termination, and the Parts whereof they consist, there will be no [ENDNOTE:] (a) Gesner. Bibliothec. (b) Hist. Nat. in prefat. ad Vespasian. (c) Genial. Dierum. lib. ii. p, 80. [22-23] great Foundation to build any lasting Superstructure on which he has said of the Mandrake. There are only four places in his Historia Plantarum, where he makes mention of this Plant, and in one only considers the Medicinal Properties of it; the Leaves as a Remedy for Ulcers, and the Roots sliced and beat up with Vinegar as useful in Diseases of the Joints, to procure Sleep, and to be given in Love Potions (a) In other places he describes this Plant, but very inacurately, yet in particular takes notice of some superstitious Ceremonies which were wont to be perform'd at the time of gathering or cutting of it. (b) This Ceremony is too remarkable not to deserve a place here; It is as follows : The Mandrake was circumscrib'd three times with a Sword whilst another cut it down towards the West. They were also to dance round it, and to talk many things [peri aphodision]. However we must acknowledge that Theo- [ENDNOTE:] (a) [footnote in Greek] . Hist. Plant. Lib. IX. cap. 10. (b) Lib. IX. chap. ix. sub sinem, [footnote in Greek] [23] phrastus is far from giving credit to suchidle Conceits, and plainly tells us that he relates them as such; yet it is a very convincing Proof that the Botany of those Times was wholly built upon Magical whimsies. It is true our Author in the place already cited asserts the Efficacy of the Mandrake in procuring of Sleep, and as a neccessary Ingredient in all Philtres or Love Potions. What Reason the Ancients had to imagine that the Leaves or Roots of this Plant were really necessary in such Circumstances, is no where to be found among their Writings, but as the Greeks, who are the only People that have left us any Account of the Mandrakes, reciev'd all their medical Knowledge from the most phantastical Nation in the World, we may reasonably suppose that this Notion was deriv'd from the same Fountain. Theophrastus is the first Writer who has ascrib'd these Properties to the Mandrake, and they have been ever since continu'd by his Successors in Botany upon his Authority alone, yet many more have been added by Dioscorides whose Account of the Mandrake you will see by and by, How far the Authority of Theoprastus is sufficient to determine the matter will admit [24-25] admit of some Dispute, that part of his Writings being now lost, which would have been of considerable Service in adjusting the Difficulty: Besides it is evident that his Historia Plantarum is not the same with that which render'd Theopharastus so universally esteem'd among all the Writers in Antiquity. ___ The Injuries of Time and Ignorance of Transcribers have let in innumerable Errors into this Book, which the famous Daniel Heinsius has with great Judgement endeavour'd to amend in his elaborate Edition of Theophrastus. ___ All that can be establish'd on the Authority of Theophrastus is this, that the Mandrake in his time was generally used for those Purposes already mention'd, and grounded upon no better Foundation than that of the Tradition of former times. The last of the Grecian Writers we have to consult on this Point is Dioscorides who was Physician to Cleopatra, the great Queen of Egypt. (a) He has left us Six Books on the Materia Medica, wherein he [ENDNOTE:] (a) Tho' Salmasius opposes this Opinion, there is good reason to think that he has carry'd the Point too far, having no other Foundation to sup- port his Hypothesis, than that founded upon the Opinion he had of Pliny's Candor. [25] has given a particular Relation of all the Virtues ascrib'd to the Mandrake in his Time. His Book is not without very pal- pable Errors, many of which have been corrected by his Commentator Mathiolus; But let that be as it will, we are sure of one thing, that he is the first ancient Writer that we now have, that has ex professo enumerated the several Virtues of this Plant, and I think it is upon his Authority chiefly, that the same have been continued, at least ascrib'd to it, by many Botanick Writers since his time. The account which Dioscorides gives us of the Mandrake is as follows. "Mandragoram, aliqui Antimalum, alii Circ?am vocant, quoniam videatur "Radix ad Amatoria conducere. Duo ejus genera: Niger qu? f?mina "existimatur, Thridacias appellatus, angustiorib us foliis, ac Minor- "ibus quam Lactuc?,virosis ac graveolentibus in terra Sparsis, "Mala gerit Sorbis Similia, pallida, odorata, in quibus Semen veluti "Pyrorum:Radicibus inherit bene magnis, binis ternisve interse convolutis, "nigris foris,intus albis, crasso cortice vestitus, caule viduus est.. "___ Alter candidus qui mas dicitur, nonnullis Norion Vocitatus: "Hujus Folia magna, alba l?ta, l?via ut Bet?. [26-27] "Bet?. Mala quam alterius duplo majora, colore in Crocum inclinante, (a)jucunde cum gravitate quadam olentia quorum Pomorum cibo Opiliones aliquantum Soporantur. Radix alterius Similis, major & candidior, orbata et h?c caule." (b) This Description of Dioscorides Mandrake appears to be very full and complete, and fixes the Genus to which it properly belongs, tho I find Mr. Ray has without sufficient Foundation changed its Place, and transplanted it among those of the Bacciferous kind. (c) Surely there is a very remarkable Difference to be made between Plants of the Pomiferous and Bacciferous kind, the one bearing Fruit of a very large, and the other of a very small Size. ___ It is true Mr. Ray acknowledges that there are some of these pretty large, and particularly mentions the Pomum Amoris and the Mala Insana as such. But the Mandrake of Discorides is evidently of the Pomiferous kind, and ought to be restor'd to that species to which it [ENDNOTE:] (a) Here Ruellius has render'd Dioscorides inconsistent with himself by translating the word [en ode] in this Sense, which ought to have been translated Valde whiche? in Composition often Signifies. (b) Lib. iv. Cap. Edit. Ruellian. (c) Hist. Plant. Lib. xiii. Cap. 16. [27] more properly belongs, as Mr. Ray's Observation about the different Dispositions of the Bark does not appear to be universally true, tho it was upon this Account that he was led to place this Plant among those of the Bacciferous kind. Dioscorides having in this accurate manner describ'd the Male and Female Mandrake, goes on to enumerate their Virtues, of which he has given a very large Account, and plainly shews that is was a Plant of general use among the Medicine of the Ancients, tho the present Practice knows nothing of it. Our Author as follow'd Theophrastus in ascribing to the Mandrake a Narcotick Quality, and tells us that the juice of it boil'd in Wine was us'd in obstinate Watchfulnes, and to deaden the sense of Pain in Amputations by stupifying the Patient. ___ I believe it is upon their Authority that the ancient Writers in Botany have almost unanimously agreed in placing the Mandrake among the Number of Soporiferous Remedies. Yet I find that the famous Lync?us, Professor of Botany at Rome, eat a large Mandrake in the Presence of a numerous Audience without being in the least dispos'd to sleep. The same Experiment was afterwards often try'd by [28-29] Terrentius with the same Success. (a) And we are pretty sure by the Description he has given of the Mandrake he eat, that it was the same with that describ'd by Dioscorides. But perhaps one may object that the Difference of the Climate might have occasion'd the Loss of its narcotick Qualities. It must be granted that different Digrees of heat will very considerably heighten or abate the Virtues of Plants, yet I can't think this Objection will prove of great Force in the persent Case, as some late Experiments and Observations on the Nature of Vegitables are incontestable Proofs of the contrary. ___ I am rather inclin'd to believe that Dio- Scorides was ignorant of the true Virtues of this Plant, and mention'd its narcotick Qualities in Compliance to current Tradition, not as a Truth to which he himself gave any Manner of Credit. If we allow the Mandrake to be such a powerful Narcotick as to deaden Pain and stupify the Senses according to Dioscorides, it will appear very strange that Rachel should so eagerly importune Leah for a Plant that would have prov'd of per- nicious Consequence to her. ___ Give [ENDNOTE:] (a) Terrent, Not, in Hernand. de Plant. Mexican. Lib. viii. Cap. 28. [29] me I pray thee of thy Sons Mandrakes. (a)Here Rachel asks them with a kind of Impatience and Desire, like one who is extravagantly fond and eagerly covetous of satiating his Appetite with some delicious Morsel. Dioscorides also ascribes an Emetic Property to the Mandrake, and says that one Scruple of the Juice, will like Hellibor bring up by Vomit black Bile and viscid Humours, and that it will kill in greater Quantities. (b) ___ If so small a Quan- tity of the Juice of this Plant is capable of producing such surprising Effects, it is something strange that the Eastern Nations should account it among the Number of their most delicious Fruits, as it appears to be in the Case of Rachel just now mention'd. ___ But as we have only the Authority of Dioscorides in this Point there is great Reason to question its Veracity, and may possibly be one of those tradio- nary Virtues ascrib'd to it in his time, which his Observations could not then perhaps contradict. You know that Dioscorides is not the only Writer on the Materia Medica, who [ENDNOTE:] (a) Gen. Ch. xxx. v. 14. &c. (b) Succus duobus obolis ex Mulso potus ut Veratrum, per Vomitiones, bilem atram, Pituitam extrahit : verum potu largiore Vita adimitur. 16. [30-31] may be justly censur'd for the Crime of Credulity. It is a Vice that has spread it self far and near, and got such deep Root among the Writers of this Class, that it is a very common thing with them to ascribe innumerable Virtues to Plants, which after repeated Trials have been found absolutely false. However, I must say that I know of no modern Writer whatsoever that has been so credulous as to follow Dioscorides in this Point, tho they have been too ready to copy after him in many other. Among other Virtues ascrib'd to the Mandrake by our Author there is one, which has always been allow'd ; that is, of being a great Cooler, for which Reason the College have very wisely given it a Place in the Ungent Populneum of the Shops, and Dioscorides tells us that it was of frequent Use in Inflammations of the Eryhpilatous kind, for which he commends it as an excellent Remedy, and is no doubt as suitable a Medicine in these Cases as the Housleek and Cream of the present Age.a) Having in this cursory Manner examin'd the Grecian Writers of Botany, and after all our Labour found nothing upon which [ENDNOTE:] (a) Ib. [31] we can build any tolerable Superstructure; it remains that we should search into other channels for the Discovery of the Point in Question. ___ If Greece, Polite Greece, once the Scene and Theatre of all the Learning in the World, is unable to supply us with proper Materials to ground our Enquiries upon, where are we to ex- pect them? ___ The Romans who engross'd all the Learning of that Nation, were for many Years after the building of their City, so intent about the Affairs of Government, that they gave themselves no Time to study the Politer Sciences of Grecee. ___ Their Government was founded upon Violence, and requir'd another kind of Knowledge to support it. ___The Studies and Employments of that warlike People, consisted in Fighting and Routing their Enemies. Ovid frankly confesseth the Aversion of his Country-men to Letters, and gives us a beautiful Description of the Characters of his Ancestors in the following Lines. Qui bene pugnavit, Romanas noverat Artes Mittere qui potuit Pila, disertus erat. (a) [ENDNOTE:] (a) Fast. Lib. iii. v. 203. Besides, [32-33] Besides, it is evident from Pliny that the most rigid and severe among the Ro- mans were really afraid of the Grecian Arts. ___ They thought that they would let in Luxury and Effeminacy among them, corrupt the Manners of their Youth, and impair that Strictness of Virtue, and Severity of Morals, to which they ow'd the Extent of their Conquests. ___ Cato the Elder declaims bitterly against the Grecian Letters, and tells his Country-men that whenever they are introduc'd, they will spoil and corrupt all, (a) therefore advises his Son Marcus only to look into the Grecian Letters, but not to learn them. (b)This rigid old Roman had contracted so strong an Aversion to the Learning of Greece, that he even extended it so far as to caution his Country-men against the Admission of Grecian Physicians into the Common Wealth, and in order to gain his Point with as little Opposition as possi- ble, had barely propagated a Report that [ENDNOTE:] (a) Quandocunq. ista Gens suas literas dabit omnia corrumpet. Plin. Hist. Lib. xxix. Cap I. (b) Bonum sit eorum Literas insoicere non perdiscere Plin. ib. [33] they had sworn to kill all the Romans with their Medicine. (a) But tho Cato was at first thus strangely prejudic'd against the Learning of Greece, we are assur'd by Quintilian that he learn'd Greek in his old Age, (b) and Lord Bacon very jsutly calls it a Judgement upon him for his former Blasphemy. (c) The Romans had for many Years no Knowledge of the true Art of Healing. ?? Their Medicine consisted of Charms and Fascinations, Incantations and Amulets. We have still remaining a very remarkable Instance of the state of Physick among the Romans in that famous Book of Cato's de re Rustica, which is also an irrefraga- ble Proof of the gross Superstition and Ignorance of these times. ___ This great Patriot in order to render himself in all manner of ways serviceable to the Com- mon wealth, compos'd a Treatise of Physick for the Benefit of himself and Family, in which he recommends the constant Repetition of these Words fro the Cure of a Luxation ; Motas, v?ta, daries dardaries, dissunapiter usq. dum coeant. In [ENDNOTE:] (a) Jurarunt inter se Barbaros necare omnes Medicina. Plin. Hist. Nat. Lib. xxix. Cap. I. (b) Inst. Lib. xii. Cap. I I. (c) Advancement of Learning, Book I. [34-35] a Fracture he would have the Limb bound up, and the following Words sung every Day. Huat hanat, ista, pista, fista, dominabo, damnastra, & Luxata. The other part of his Practice seems as extraordinary as the former ; for he blames Diet, and Abstinence in Diseases, and upon every Occasion prescribes, Pidgeons, Ducks and Hare's Flesh, because easy of Digestion, but adds, that they are apt to make the sick Man dream. (a) Pliny says that he liv'd to the Age of 85, (b) and Plutarch, who has no great Opinion of his Medicine, says that his long Life was intirely owing to a Course of Exercise and Temperance, and very justly laughs at those who would ascribe it to his skill in Physick. (c) If the grave Cato, whom Pliny distinguishes with the Title of Omnium honarum Artium Magister, (d) makes so ridiculous a Figure in the Art of Healing, what must we expect amongst his Contemporaries, who had neither his Masculine Parts, nor the same Opportunities of examining ito the truth of things? The only Botanick Writers among the Romans, as appears from Pliny, (e) were [ENDNOTE:] (a) Cat. de re Rustica, Cap. 60. (b) Hist. Nat. Lib. xxix. Cap. I. (c) In Vit. Caton. (d) Hist. Nat. Lib. xxv. Cap. 2. (e) Ib. [35] Cato, C. Valgius, and Lenaus, Pompey's Freed-Man. As to the Writings of Cato I refer you to his Book de re Rustica, and to Pliny who cites his Opinions in many Places of his Natural History. What Valgius did towards the Improvement of Botany we can't certainly judge at this distance of time, but if Pliny may be cre- dited, there is good Reason to think that he carry'd his Knowledge therein to no great Perfection : Lenus was a Man of great Eminence, and a learn'd Gram- marian. He was employ'd by Pompey the Great to translate the Writings of Mithri- dates King of Pontus,who had made Physick his chief Study the greater part of his Life, in which he made so great Progress, that Pliny remarks, that the Con- quest of this Prince did not only serve to aggrandize the Roman Name, but to preserve their Health and Lives; (a) and in particular takes Notice that till then the Ro- mans had no Knowledge of this Science.(b) ___ If it was so late before the Romans apply'd themselves to the Study of Medicine it is no wonder that we find not the least Mention in all their Writings of this [ENDNOTE:] (a) Vit?que ita prosuit non minus quam Reipubl. Victoria illa. Hist. Nat. Lib. xxv. Chap. 2. (b) Quo primum tempore hanc Scientiam ad nostros per- venisse animadverto. Ib. [36-37] Plant before the time of Pliny, who has only transcrib'd what Theophrastus and Dioscorides have said long before him. Pliny makes mention of the Mandrak in seven different places of his Natural History. ___ In the first he almost lite rally transcribes what Theophrastus and Dios- corides have left us upon the Subject, which I think cannot well be denied notwith- standing all that the Learn'd Salmasius (a) has said to the contrary. ___ I shall tran- scribe here the words of Pliny, and leave you to form what Judgement you please: " Mandragoram, alii Circeam Vocant. " Duo ejus genera, candidus qui & mas, " niger qui femina existimatur, angusti- " oribus foliis quam Lactuc?, hisutis & " (b) caulibus, radicibus binis ternisve ru- " fulis, intusalbis, carbosis tenerisque, pene " & cubitalibus. Ferunt mala avellanarum " Nucum Magnitudine, & iis femen feu " Pyrorum. ___ Album hoc alii Arfen, alii " Morion alii Hypophlomon vocant. Hujus " Folia alba, quam alterius latiora, (c) La- " pathi Sativ?. Cavent effosuri contrarium " ventum & tribus Circulis ante gladio cir- " cumscribunt ; postea fodiunt ad Occa- " sum Spectantes. [ENDNOTE:] (a) Pr?fat. ad Homonyma Hyles Iatric?. (b) Sine caulibus. Dios. (c) Ut Bet?. Dios. "Od or [37] " Odor gravis ejus : Sed Radicis & " mali gravior (a) Potu quidem largiore " etiam moruntur. Bibtur et contra Ser- " pentes, & ante Sectiones Punctiones- " que ne Sentiantur. Bibitur et pro He- " lieboro duobus obolis in Mulso. " (b) It will appear evident to any one, that will give himself the Trouble to compare this Description of Pliny's Mandrake with that of Dioscorides, that it is the same in effect, and only differs in those places mark's in the Margin. He also ascribes the same Virtues to it that Dioscorides and Theophrastus have done, and takes Notice of that superstitious Ceremony which the Ignorance of those early times had introduc'd, relating to the manner of cutting or gathering of it, in almost the same words with the latter (c) Lavent effossuri contrarium Ventum, & tribus Circulis ante gladio circumscribunt, postea fodiunt ad occasum spectantes. (d) We have now consider'd the State of Botany amongst those Nations who were the most considerable for Arts and Sciences, and made such Observations [ENDNOTE:] (a) Dios. says nothing of the Smell of the Root. (b) Hist. Nat. Lib. xxv. Chap. 13. (c) Vid. p. 30. (d) Plin. Hist. Nat. Lib. xxv. Chap. 13. [38-39] thereupon as the Nature of the Subject requir'd. ___ We come next to enquire, First, Whether the Mandrake of Dioscorides is the same with that which we now have. Secondly, Whether it is the same with that which Rachel so eagerly requested of Leah. (d) Thirdly, Whether she desir'd it on the Account generally suppos'd by Interpreters of this Text of Scripture, that is, to render her capable of Conception. As to the first Enquiry, I think it will be universally granted, that the Man- drake of Dioscorides answers in every respect to the Description of that which we commonly have in our Physick Gardens. ___ This will appear evidently true to any one who will give himself the trouble to compare the Descriptions of this Plant, drawn by Gerara, Bauhine, Parkinson and others,with that of Dioscorides. ___ Tis true he has ascrib'd a great many Vertues to his Mandrake, which neither of these writers have so much as mention'd. But the Reason of this is plain. Dioscorides wrote on the Materia Medica at a time wherein Authors were too ready to report Things upon the Credit of others, who had no -better Foundation so support what they [ENDNOTE:] (d) Gen. Chap. xxx. v. 14, 15, & c. [39] asserted than that of common Tradition : But the Case was quite the reverse with those eminent Men. ___ They had all the Advantages of a truer Philosophy, and many Experiments and Observations, which the other could not in all proba- bility pretend to, I would not be thought to detract from the Merit of Dioscorides. I have great Esteem for his Book, and think that he justly deserves the Character confer'd upon him by Galen, (a) of being the first Writer who treated the Materia Medica with any tolerable Exactness : But there is no reason why we should implicitly give up all to the Authority of Dioscorides. He has had his day, and perhaps been more follow'd in points of Botany than any other ancient Writer whatsoever. ___ We are willing to give Dioscorides that Rank in Authority which he justly deserves ; this is all that his greatest Admirers can expect, both in Respect of him, and in respect of that Regard which we ought always to pay to Truth. 'Tis indeed very surprising to find all the Botanick Writers for many Years after Dioscorides unanimously concur in ascribing to the Mandrake all these Virtues conferr'd [ENDNOTE:] (a) De Simpl. Medic. Facultat. Lib. vi. [40-41] upon it by him. Hence no doubt it is, that the Commentators upon that Text in Scripture, which relates the History of Ruben's Mandrake, were led into an Error in imagining that Rachel requested those Mandrakes of Leah in order to render her capable of Conception. But I shall clearly prove that the Mandrake mention'd in Scripture could not be that mention'd by our Author. This is the second Proposition we have to disscuss, which we shall endeavour to prove by considering the Virtues of this Plant according to Dioscorides, and then by examining how far a Plant possessing those Properties is capable of answering such Intentions. ___ We have already taken notice of several Vertues ascrib'd to the Mandrake by Dioscorides, and made such Remarks upon them as appear'd then necessary. (a) And I think if there were no stronger Arguments to prove our Asser- tion than those already mention'd, they would be sufficient to any one who will allow himself to be convinc'd. But in order to render this as clear as the Nature of the subject will admit, we shall now examine the other Properties ascrib'd to the Mandrake by Dioscorides, which he de- [ENDNOTE:] (a p. 37. [41] delivers in the following Words, " Medicamentis Ocularibus, et his qui do- " lores finiunt, Pessis quoq ; emolientibus, " admiscetur : Semioboli pondre inditus " per se menses & partus expellit ; Subdi- " tus Sedi pro Balano, Somnificus est. " Radix ebur emollire fertur, qu? Senis " horis cum eo decocta sit : & ad accipi- " endam, quam effingere optaveris, for- " mam, ipsum facile pr?stat. ___ Folia " recentia convcnienter Oculorum Inflam- " mationibus, & Collectionibus, quas " Ulcera citarunt, cum polenta illinuntur. " Durities omnes, Suppurationes, Stru- " mas & Tubercula discutiunt. . ___ Trita " Radix Ignibus Sacris ex Aceto, & " Serpentium ictibus ex Melle et Oleo " Midetur. Strumas atque tubercula cum " aqua dissipat : Articulorum cruciatus " cum polenta Sedat. ___ Mala Soporem " afferunt olfactu, & etiam si mandan- " tur : item expressus ex iis Succus, ni- " mio tamen odore percussi, obmutescunt. " ___ Semen malorum potum Vulvas pur- " gat, appositumque cum Sulphure ignem " non experto rubra Feminarum profluvia " Sistat (a.") &c. He afterwards gives us the description of another kind of Mandrake call'd Mo- [ENDNOTE:] (a) Dios. Lib. iv. [42-43] rion, which according to Tradition will deprive one of his Reason if taken to the Quantity of a Dracham in any Vehicle whatsoever. (a) Here we have an Account of a Plant possessing very extroardinary, and very opposite Virtues, yet the Experience of many Ages has not been able to discover any other remarkable Efficacy in the Mandrake, than that arising from its cooling Properties. ___ But supposing the case to be quite the Reverse, it will appear evident, that the Mandrake of our Author could not be that which Rachel so eagerly requested of Leah. For by the account given of it in the writings of Dios- corides,it appears to be a Plant of a very deletirious Nature ; and he himself in another place, ranks it among the Number of such noxious Plants, and expressly tell us thatit will occasion a Paralysis, and such a profound Sleepiness as differs little from a Lethargy. Dioscorides in the Account already given, seems to have been very little ac- quainted with the true Vertues of the Mandrake ; or that which he knew must be very different from that which we have in [ENDNOTE:] (a) Tradunt eam in Pane, Offa. Obsoniove drachm? poncere devoratam usum Rationis intercipere. Dios. Ib. [43] these parts of the world. But as there is no Foundation to think that it was diffe- rent from ours, we may fairly conclude that all those Vertues ascrib'd to it by Dioscorides were merely grounded upon the current Tradition of the times ; other- wise we must conceive a very mean opinion of Dioscorides's candor. ___ It has been remark'd in the course of this Dissertation, that the Greek writers in Botany were always fond of ascribing supernatural powers to Plants, and it is perhaps owing to this whimsical Notion, that so many ridiculous things have been recorded of the Mandrake. (a) Dioscorides himself seems to have fallen into this absurd way of thinking, or how shall we able to defend him when says the Root of the Mandrake will by 6 Hours boiling turn Ivory soft, so as to render it susceptible of any form? Or how shall we be able to account for what he says concerning the Seeds of the Mandrake, which he assures us, will, being apply'd, stop the rubra Feminarum profluvia with the addition of Sulphur, ignem non experto? Pliny tells us the same almost in the same words. (b) [ENDNOTE:] (a) Mandr agora Si bibatur, confestim Sopor insequitur, exolutio ac vehemens Veternus, nihil temere distans a Lethargo. Lib. vi. Cap. 16. (b) Nimia rursus Profluvia Sistet Semen cum vino & Sulphure. Hist. Nat. Lib. xxvi. Bap. 15. [44-45] We have now consider'd the Medicinal Virtues of this Plant according to Diosco- rides, and shewn how inconsistently he has enumerated them ; but there is still re- maining one particular Vertue ascrib'd to it, which requires a very strict Exami- nantion : That is, whether the Mandrake really possesses such Virtues as are necessary in Cases of Sterrility, and whether Rachel purchas'd them of Leah upon this account. This is the last thing we propos'd to examine, and that in which we are likely to meet with the Strongest Opposition, having the concurrent Testimony of many learned Men against us, especially those who have oblig'd the World with their Comments upon the Bible. But as they seem to have been over-rul'd by the Autho- rity of Great Names, they will not be found so formidable Antagonists as might well be imagin'd. ___ They seem to have over look'd the plain Meaning of Scrip- ture, and stumbled upon Solutions much more obscure and uncertain than that which they attempted to explain. ___ They rely intirely upon the uncertain Accounts of Theophrastus, Dioscorides and Pliny, who have only transmitted the Opinions of each other, without considering upon what Degree of Certainty they [45] advanc'd them ; and seem rather inclinable to err with those Great Men, than question the Veracity of any thing they have left us. ___ It is this Attachment to Great Names that blinds the Understanding, and slackens our Inquiries into the truth of things : Authority may incline the Will, but can never convince the Understanding. It is, Sir, owing to this blind Fondness for Antiquity that so many and ridi- culous things have been recorded of the Mandrake, some of which are even unworthy to be nam'd. But what surprises me still more is to find, that the Learned Grotius (from whose extraordinary parts we might have expected better things) has said so little on the subject, and like one lead away with the current Notion, only quotes this Sentence of Pliny to prove the Affirmative, Semen Mandragor? potum Vulvam purgat : (a) Which plainly shows that he was of opinion that the Mandrake really possess'd those Virtues appropriated to it by the Ancients. ___ Pliny in this particular has certainly copied after Dioscorides,who has verbatim asserted the same (b)long before him. It is true Grotius knew [ENDNOTE:] (a) Hist. Nat. Lib. xxvi. Cap. 15. (b) Vid. p. 51. [46-47] very well all that the Greeks have wrote on the subject, but tells us that there are many Plants of that Name, and that their Virtues are variable according to the Cli- mate, and different ways of Culture. (a)Hence it appears what Sentiments Grotius had of the Mandrake, and how unwilling he was to dissent from the Authority of the Ancients. ___ We have already allow'd that the difference in Climates may considerably highten or abate the Vertues of Plants, and daily Experience plainly shews it. But what have the Followers of Grotius in this point, to answer for themsleves, when it can be clearly prov'd that in Spain and Italy, (hot Climates) the Mandrake grows to great Perfection, enjoys all the Advantages of Soil and Heat, yet never was known in these Countries to answer the Purposes alledg'd by him. As to what he says relating to the different Species of this Plant, I thin it is without any Foundation, for Dioscorides only mentions the Male and Female, and that call'd Morion which according to him is a Plant of very deleterious Nature, and we have already shewn that neither of these could [ENDNOTE:] (a) Eadem in alio nat? Solo, & alio paratu, aliued Valent. Annotat. ad Cant. Cantic. Cap. vii. v. 13. be [47] be the Mandrake purchas'd by Rachel: And the Moderns have no other Mandrake than the Male and Female commonly describ'd by Writers in Botany. It appears to me a kind of Paradox to imagine that a Plant so eminently remar- kable for its cooling Properties should in any Degree promote Conception. Galen (a) calls it cold in the third Degree, and Sennertus (b) gives it a place among poisonous Plants, and Bestows a whole Chapter about the Method of Cure, in which he differs little from that laid down by Dioscorides. ___ It is true, Philosophy leaves us here, and all our Reasonings however fine, and artfully spun out, are at best but lame and imperfect Guides ; and stand as evident Proof of the shallowness of Human Understanding. We know little of those dark and mysterious Causes which con- cur towards the Formation of the Embryo. These are Secrets only known to him, from whom nothing is hid. Leminus observing the insuperable Difficulties that attend Conjectures of this kind, endeavours to solve them by Reasons drawn [ENDNOTE:] (a) De Simpl. Mid. Facult. Lib. vii. (b) Lib. vi. Vol. 3. pag. 1095. Ed. Paris. [48-49] from the Difference of Climates. (a) He supposes that Rachel, residing in a Country where the Influence of the Sun is extreamly great, might possibly labour under a calida Uteri Intemperies, and in order to correct that Indisposition very reasonably had re- course to the Mandrake. ___ This would have been no good Solution of the point in Question, if we had any reason to suspect that Rachel was otherwise than is common to the Sex. But it is evident that Rachel labour'd under no Distempe- rature of the Uterus, much less that of Sterrility ; because the Scriptures mention soon after the birth of Joseph. Besides we have the same Authority to produce, that Leah's Mandrakes were of no Service to Rachel in promoting Conception, as she did not conceive thereupon ; for Leah bare Issachar, Zabulon and Dina before the birth of Joseph, which makes an Interval of about three Years at least. [ENDNOTE:] (a) In frigidis Humidisque Regionibus, atq ; in Utero humecto & Algido, tali quiddam perficere nequcat. sed in torrido ?ftuantique & exusto. Sic in Africa Hispania, Jud? &c. in quibus fere Regionibus mulieris adustos arentesque habent Uteros ac fervidos, tum squalidos ac Strigosos, non incommode hoc pomum adhibere posse crediderim, Herb. Bibl. Explicat. Cap. 2. In [49] Levinus Lemnius, having laid considerable Stress upon the hot and cold Intemperatures of the Ancients, is at great Pains to shew the Probability of his Supposition, that Rachel really labour'd under a Calida Uteri Intemperies : But as there is no foundation upon which he could possibly build so remote a Conjecture, we may very reasonably look upon it as mere Chim?ra, and the idle Invention of his own Brain. ___ If Men were allow'd the Liberty of inventing Hypotheses to solve Difficulties, there is nothing in Nature, however latent and obscure, that would not be explain'd and illustrated upon the Hypothesis of some luxuriant Fancy or other. ___ This plainly appears to be the Case of our Author, who finding the different opinions of learn'd Men in this Point very uncertain and perplex'd, resolv'd with himself to reject them all at once, in order to make way for this imaginary Intemperature of his own. It must be allow'd that the Ancients have talk'd very largely of their hot and cold Intemperatures, and have erected one in almost every part of the Body ; in the Liver, Spleen, Kidneys, Womb, Brain, &c. For my own part, I know of no other Intemperature, than that arising from a quicker or slower circulation of [50-51] the Blood, which by encreasing or diminishing the Animal Secretions, may very probably produce such Indispositions as they without any manifest reason express'd by their Intemperatures. ___ But even in this Sense the Arguments of Lemnius will be of small Force to support his Hypothesis, as he strongly asserts the Narcotick Virtues of the Mandrake, and tells us, in what manner he himself was affected with te Effluvia of one lying in his Study, which render'd him so drowsy that he cou'd not recover himself out of it, till it was remov'd into another Place (a.) Now it is evident, that Lemnius must signify by his Intemperature some particular State of the Solids and Fluids, or it is a Word that carries along with it no Idea of the Thing meant. And if we allow that he understood by this Expression, allthat the Ancients have represented under it, the Whole amounts only to this, that [ENDNOTE:] (a) Cum autem ?stivis Mensibus (nam eo tempore Poma Mandragor? se proferunt) Semel atwue iterum in Musco nost o amabilem ac Speciosum ejus Stirpis fructum negligenter collocassem, ita Somnolentus sum affectus, ut ?gre sopor excuti posser. Cum autem obnixe obtinui, nec reationem tanti Veterni inire potui ; tandem cum quaquaversum demovissem Oculos, obulit se a tergo Pomum Mandragor?, quo amoto, atque in alium locum translato, factus sum alacrior, atque torporem depuli, monemque Osciantiam discussi. Herbar. Bibl : Ex- plicat, cap. 2. Rachel [51] Rachel was of a hot Constitution, or to speak more Philosophically, that the Contractions of her Solids were elevated above the Ballance of Nature. ___ This is all that can reasonably be inferr'd, or justly concluded from the Calida Intem peris of Lemnius, taken in its full force, and utmost extent, which, when truly consider'd, is enough to overthrow his whole Hypothesis (even tho' we allow that it was with Rachel as he has imagin'd) while he asserts the Narcotick Qualities of the Mandrake. ___ You see, by the History just now mention'd, how much this Plant possesseth all the Virtues of Opium, and consequently most necessarily produce all its effects. What these would be in such a Constitution as is here suppos'd, is easily to be apprehended by those, who have been taught to reason justly on the Animal Oeconomy, or are acquainted with what one of the Ornaments of his Profession has writ, upon the Nature and Modus Operandi of Medicinal Simples of this kind. ___ It is true, some Apology may be made for Lemnius, as he liv'd in an Age, wherein Philosophy, and reasoning upon just and indisputable Principles, were hardly known. Sympathies, Antipathies, Occult Qualities, Subtile Matter, and such like unintellig ible Jargon, were the Foundation upon which the Writers [52-53] Writers of these times built and explain'd all the Ph?nomena of Nature. ___ But it is the peculiar Happiness of the present Age, to see it self rescu'd from the Bon- dage of such Enthusiastick Principles, and to have Philosophy grounded and illus- trated upon that which can only support it, viz. Experiments carefully made, and faithfully related. ___ Had our Author been acquainted with the Nature of Soporiferous Medicines, and their ways of acting, he would have soon discover'd the Improba- bility of his Hypothesis, and no doubt employ'd his thoughts in pursuit of one more agreeable to truth, or at least, one that cou'd have been supported by better and more forcible arguments. As to that account he gives of the Manner, in which he was affected, with the Effluvia of a Mandrake-Apple, I must declare, that I have no faith enough to believe, that his Sleepiness was occasion'd by means of Effluvia arising from it. There is no Man that does not find himself at times, without any evident cause, inclinable to fall into such agreeable Slumbers ; and it is not at all unlikely to imagine, that this was the Case of Lemnius. Who, recollecting what the Ancients have writ on the Narcotick Virtues of the Mandrake, immediately concluded that this [53] Lethargic Fit (as he calls it) was intirely owing to Effluvia arising from this pre- tended Soporiferous Apple. ___ It must indeed be granted, that Lemnius has the Authority of the Ancients in this Point, to produce in his Defence, but the greatest Authority must yeild, when Experiments often repeated, and carefully made, shew that it has no evident grounds to support it. We have already taken Notice of some Experiments made by Lync?us Professor of Botany at Rome, and by Terrentius af- ter him, in order to ascertain the Narcotick Qualities of the Mandrake, and after all their attempts, were never able to discover any of those Effects, which Plants of the soporiferous kind constantly produce. And I think the Authority of these dili- gent and inqusitive Botanists, can't well be call'd in question, as their Experiments were made in publick, in the Presence of a numerous Audience, with all the Care and Caution imaginable. But in order to satifsy my self more fully about the Nar- cotic Virtues of the Mandrake, I made several Trials with the Root, Infusion and Tincture of that, which is commonly distinguish'd into Male and Female, and tho it was exhibited to different Animals in all these different forms, in pretty large Quantities, nothing ensued that could possibly. [54-55] sibly incline us to think that the Mandrake really possesseth any of those Properties resident in Plants of the Narcotic kind. It would take up too much Room to insert in this place the Remarks and Observations that occur'd to me during these several Trials, otherwise I had submitted them to the Judgment of the Publick at this very time ; however you shall soon see them in the same order in which they were made. The Case of Deusingius is almost Parallel to that of Lemnius. He exploded all the different Notions that had been set on foot to solve the Difficulties that attend an Explication of that Text in Scripture which relates the History of Rubens Man- drakes, and then gives his own Opinion in the following ludicrous Manner. "Sane, " si nugari in re Seria esset Animus, di- " cerem potius (Siquidem Poma Mandra- " gor? voce Doudaim intelligenda forent) " Rachelem pr? t?dio, quod ex amplexu " Mariti non conciperet Prolem, maluisse " quoque omne Desiderium concubitus " sibi perire, atque humc in finem Poma " illa Desiderasse, ad extinguendos Vene- " ris igniculos." Fasiculus Dissertationum Select. page 578. This is a Notion so very ridiculous and inconsistent, that it would be only distroy- ing of time to bestow one Moment in Confutation [55] Confutation of it, and deserves our Regard upon no other account than the Oddity of it, for which reason we have given it a Place here. In short, Commentators laying considerable Stress upon that Eagerness where- with Rachel desir'd Children, and finding all Antiquity concur in ascribing to the Mandrake such Virtues as are capable of promoting Conception, have almost una- nimously run into an Opinion, that Rachel could desire this Plant upon no other Account. ___ It cannot be deny'd, but Rachel's Passion for Children had carry'd be- yond all the Bounds of Modesty and Decorum. ___ Give me Children or else I die, is a full and convincing Proof of that Sorrow and Dispair into which her sterrility had thrown her ; and Jacob whom she had thus unreasonably reproach'd on that account, was at last oblig'd to give way to his Passion, and chastise her Impatience in the following pathetick Manner : Am I in Gods Place ? who hath withheld from thee the Fruit of the Womb ? Tho a Conduct like this of Rachels would appear very preposterous among the Women of any other Nation, yet it will admit of some degree of Alleviation among the Jews, who look'd upon the Want of Issue as the heaviest of all Cures, And Rachel upon [56-57] the Birth of Joseph was so sensible of the great Favours she had receiv'd from the Bounty of Heaven, that she immediately express'd her Acknowledgements in a Mixture of Gratitude and Transport, because God had taken away her Reproach. These arguments being fully weigh'd and consider'd, evidently shew, that Com- mentators have egregiously err'd, in explaining this Text of Scripture in the Sense I have mention'd. ___ It is true, the Septuagint have render'd the Word Dudain us'd in the Original by the Greek Word [Mandragoras], but what Affinity the one has to the other it not as yet agreed upon among those who are acquainted with the Oriental Languages. ___ All I can say is this, that upon examining several Versions of the Pentateuch, I find the Word Dudaim express'd by one, which in these dif- ferent Languages signifies some delicious and fragrant Fruit ; which is a Circum- stance that does not at all belong to the Mandrake of the Ancients, for Dioscorides and Pliny both affirm that it has a disagreeable Flavour. ___ This Conjecture is still further confirm'd from the Song of Solomon (a) wherein it is expressly said, the Mandrakes give a smell, &c. These are the only Places in Scripture where the [ENDNOTE:] (a) Chap. vii. Ver. 13. [57] Word Dudaim occurs in the Original, and if we may be allow'd to alter the Translation in one Place upon the Evidence and Authority of the other, the Sense will be ob- vious, natural and plain. St. Augustin was intirely of this Opinion, and strenu- ously asserts that Rachel did not purchase Ruben's Mandrakes in order to promote her Conception, but on Account of their Fragrancy and Smell. (b) These, Sir, are the Reasons that have ade me d[i]ffer in opinion from all other Writers on this Subject, and I think not without manifest and cogent Reasons. It is true, the distance of Time, together with the Loss of ancient Monuments of Learning, has render'd the Point difficult to be determin'd. We have lost the ?gyptian Botany, and the Grecian is not to be depended upon. Aristotle and Theo- phrastus are the most ancient Botanic Writers they have, and Dioscorides, who flourished many Years after, has in the Main follow'd their Steps, tho he has in many things improv'd upon them. ___ The Romans have left us nothing on the Subject, but what we have in Pliny, who seems to have transcrib'd from the Greeks all that he has said. ___ It is owing to these Misfortunes that learned Men, after all [ENDNOTE:] (b) August. lib. xxii. contra Faust. cap. 56. [58] their Enquiries, have not been able to determine what kind of Plant the Mandrake of the Ancients really was, nor discover any Modern one analogous to it. Many eminent Men and learn'd Critics have offer'd their Conjectures, but none have pre- tended to advance any thing with absolute Certainty. ___ The famous Ludolfus (a) has produc'd several plausible arguments to shew, that it is the Musa or Mauz of Syria. The Rabbins will have it to be the Fessamin, or Lilly: Others the Pala of Pliny upon account of its delicious Fruit. And Deusingius (b) is at great Pains to prove it to be a delicious kind of Melon, frequent on Syria and ?gypt. How far these different opinions will satisfy the Curious I know not, yet I think many Arguments might be advanc'd to prove their Uncertainty: However I hope that I have in some Measure answer'd your request, and if you think that I have treated the Subject with any tolerable degree of accuracy, I give you full liberty to dispose of it as you think proper, being indifferent about the Cen- sure of the World, whilst I meet with the Approbation of a Person of your emi- nent Merit among the Learned. I am &c [ENDNOTE:] (a) Comment. in Hist. ?thiop. page 141. (b) Fascicul. Differt. de Dudaim. F I N I S.

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