Robert Boyle (1627-91): Work-diary VIII ('Memorialls Philosophicall Beginning this First day of the Yeare 1651/2')

Content: Medical recipes from 1652-4; sources include George Starkey, Gerard Boate, Daniel Cox, William Butler, Nicholas Davies, Lady Ranelagh, et al.

General Information

Work-diary entries

/original pagination, p. 1/

/BP 25, p. 343/

[Authorial heading]:
Beginning this First day of the Yeare
1651/52. And by God's Assistance to
be constantly continued during my life.

Entry 1: Editorial notes:

Dr George Stirke makes his Vitriolum {iron} after this Manner. {Rx} of Crocus {iron} {ounce} 1. of strong Oleum Vitrioli {ounce} 6. Distill these in arenâ (in a Head & Body) till the Phlegma acidum be all come over. The remaining Matter separat[e] from the Crocus by warme Water; which filter & evaporate ad Cuticulam, & some what beyond, & then let it shoote in frigid[o]. NB. 1. The Crocus remain[es u]ndissolv'd; & communicating but an Odor to filx' the Sal Vitrioli; remaines fere eodem pondere quo prius: & may suffice sæpius to repeate the same Operation, with fresh Oyle of Vitriol. 2. This the Dr tells me he gives in a Decoction of Oculi Cancr. à gr. 5. ad 25. in the Green Sicknesse & Hystericall Passions: & some 15 gr. with 8 or 10 gr. of Sal alcali Hypericonis, in Quartane Agues, in Decoct. Oculi Cancrorum in the Beginning of the Fit.

Entry 2: Editorial notes:

{Rx} of that Brine that hath salted Swine's-flesh, & is so exhausted that it is able to salt no more; & hath been boyl'd up almost to a Salt (that it will more then beare an Egge;) {ounce} 6. of Fine Flower, {ounce} 1. of good Yest a good Spoonfull; Misce diligentèr. For an Ordinary /BP 25, p. 344/ Barrel of Dead, flat, or sowre Beere, or Prick't Wine, in which it must be well stirr'd with a sticke. NB. 1. This Salt is an excellent Preservative against the Stone. 2. The Beere will be Drinkable in or Dayes.

Entry 3: Editorial notes:

Opii vera Correctio.

Omnis Opii vis Narcotica in Alcali amittitur, quare ad eum verè corrigendum ita procedo

Accipio Salis Tartari puri unciam unam. Vini optimi (puta Hispanici) {ounce} 6 aut 8. impono salem vino & liquari permitto.

Dein accipio Opii Thebaici {ounce} 1. impono Alcali huic in vino liquato; in eodemque igne leni dissolvo, agitando ferè horâ quavis donec frangatur: postea dec quo per dies 3 quatuorve igne lento, deinceps [terræ] committo inhumando per dies decem; postea filtro & ad usum servo. miscendo prius cum vini recentis quadruplo. Huius sic præparati, Cochlear unum ad summum, aut eius quartam partem præbeo [...] in vini quadruplo, quum itur cubitum. Hauriatur Calide ac deinceps sudetur moderatè. NB. 1. There is yet a Nobler Way of Correcting Opium; but not yet so credited by Cures. 2. The Dissolution mention'd before Decoction is done in lesse then a Day; the Liquor in the Glasse will be high-colored almost to Blacknesse; but pour'd upon the hand will not be obscure. The signe of the Dissolution's being accomplish't, is the residence of Vegetable fibres & Jagges at the Bottome; & that residence after Decoction will wholly loose it's tincture & become a light gray.

Entry 4: Editorial notes:

Ad Apostema in Capite resolvendum.

Ad hoc requiritur Oleum Philosophorum sic factum,

{Rx} Olei Laterini ter rectificati {ounce} 8. Opopon. Serapini. Ammoniaci, Galbani, ana - {ounce} 1. mixta distillentur, [...] [a]na, cum terræ figuli, vinetaque ad extractione[m] omnis Oleositatis: Egredientur Aqua acida & Oleum; separetur Oleum, & iterum a fæcibus suis rectificetur; tertiò a duplâ quantitate Cinerum Clavellatorum (vel potius, Salis Tartari) rectificetur.

Huius olei imponantur guttulæ aliquot in aurem dolentem; calidè immittantur, manè ac vesperi; hoc continuetur per tres dies.

Dein accipe Cæpam mediocris magnitudinis; assetur, & media pars auri calida apponatur, alligeturque ne decidat, idque cum itur cubitum. Extraheturque Cæpæ vi pus copiosum; & repetendo hanc applicationem tandem follicula instar tunicæ egredietur; ultimò per mustum cum melle maritatum, per syringam auris quotidiè lavetur per Hebdomadam.

Entry 5: Editorial notes:

Dr. Boate's Receipt for Bleeding.

{Rx} Seminis Papaveris albi & Hyosciami ana {drachm} 2 Conservæ Rosarum {ounce} 1 Misce. F. Elect. secundum artem he gives about the Quantity of a Nutmeg, whensoever & as often as, necessity requires. Sæpius probatum, both by him & me.

Entry 6: Editorial notes:

/BP 25, p. 345/{Rx} Stellæ {iron} signati optimi, modo Philosophico præparati, & {sal ammoniac} ana {tartar} bene Calcinati, extracti, filtrati, & ad salem album redacti, partem tertiam respectu Stellatis. Contunde simul Exactè omnia ac Sublimam, cohobando quater. NB. 1. This is done in a glasse Retort igni nudo. 2. He perfects each sublimation in about an houre, in an indifferent Fire. 3. This Sublimate may be dulcify'd by the Affusion of warme water which having stood upon it till it have acquir'd a saltnesse, is to be decanted, & fresh pour'd on, till the Water can extract no more saltnesse; then the Sulphur is to be dry'd & kept for use. 4. He sometimes to one part of this Sulphur addes foure parts of Colcotar, which he sublimes together, cohobating it thrice. (The fæces runne per deliquium into an Oyle.)

Entry 7: Editorial notes:

Sir Ed. Stafford's Ball,

Which cures all Plagues, feavers, smal Pox, Collick, stone, suffocations of the Mother, staying the course of women, dropsy, Distillation, paines in the joynts, is a greate cordiall & may be [...] in all diseases; the Dose is from [half] a Drachme to a whole Drachme, in warme sacke or Posset-drinke, Sweate upon it, The Composition, Take Juniper berryes foure ounces, carduus benedictus seeds, rue seeds, angelica roots, tormentill roots, contra-yerva roots, <snake-roots> bistort roots, gentian roots, long Aristolochia roots, round Aristolochia roots, carline thistle roots, master woort roots, that is Imperatoria roots, rhaponticum hartshorn, comfry roots which is Consolida major, valerian roots, Calami aromatici roots, scordium leaves, yarrow that is mille folium, St. John's woort that is flowers & top, camomil flowers & top, sage the leaves, rue the leaves, fumitory the top & flowers, bugloss, which is lingua bovis tops & flowers, adder-grass root alias vipergrass or viperina, scorzonera roots, yellow Monk's hood that is Anthora, saffron, Marigold flowers, of each one ounce, Speciei diamargariti frigidi two ounces, all these being reduced into a fine powder are to be made up in a masse with the gelly of hart-shorne / It will keepe Good Thirty yeare.

Entry 8: Editorial notes:

Dr Coxes Elect. for me, in Spu-
to Sanguinis.

{Rx} Conserv. ros. rub. per setaceum traject. {ounce} 4 corall. rub. præparati succin. alb. præparati [Lapid.] hæmatit. præparati et boli Armeni ana {drachm} 1. Syr. Sumphyti I[...]lii, satis quantum ut Fiat Electuarium molle de quo capiat sæpius in die qu. fabæ pro vice sen[...] dissolvendo & deglutiendo.

Entry 9: Editorial notes:


In case of spitting of Blood take every Morning & about 5 in the afternoone a good large spoonfull of the Juyce of the stinging Nettle, in about 8 or 10 spoonfulls of some Pectorall Decoction, blood-warme. You may make the Decoction with an Handfull of Scabious, an ounce of Cumfry roote, sixe figs sliced, & halfe an ounce of [liquorise] boyled in a pint & halfe of water or posset-drinke, till halfe is consumed. then strayne it.

Entry 10: Editorial notes:

Dr. Butler's Cordiall.

Take 8 ounces of Wood Sorrell, beate it to a Conserve by it selfe for halfe an howre; then take 3 pound of loafe-sugar, beate them together for 3 howres; Lastly adde to them two ounces of Methridat, & beate that with them for halfe an howre. - The Dose is the Bignesse of a Nutmegge or small Walnut; it's good in Plague Smal-pox, measles & Feavers; & makes one sweate extreamly.

/BP 25, p. 346/

Entry 11: Editorial notes:

May the 26 For a Fluxe. Dr Davies.

Take a quart of Milke, & a Pint of ordinary distill'd Plantane Water; boyle them away to a quart: (which You may afterwards sweeten if You please with Sugar of Roses or some such thing.) & let the Patient use it for his ordinary Drinke - Given me to-day by Dr Davis, & by him very often prov'd.

Entry 12: Editorial notes:

For Cancrous Ulcers. Eiusdem.

Take common undulcify'd Præcipitate well made; grind it to an impalpable Powder; & with as much Egyptiacum as will suffice (for that's all the rule) make it into an Ointment (which if You would moderate You may qualify with a little Mel rosarum) with which anoint lightly th[e] Lips of the Sore.

Entry 13: Editorial notes:

Ad Pl[...]tid. Eiusdem.

About a Dram of Bores Tuske, in powder often cures it without Blood-Letting.

Entry 14: Editorial notes:

The Blacke Cere-cloth.

Take to one quart of Oyle-olive 12 ounces of finely beaten & searced Red Lead; mingle them well together, & set them over the Fire in a good large Bell-mettle skillet; it must be a soft fire, & it must never do more then simper, (for if it should boyle it would fly dangerously;) & be stirr'd with a broad sticke or Paddle continually, till at that rate it grow blacke: Then dip Your Cloathes (which are best if they be new,) & when they are dry rowle them up in Papers. If You would make any of Your stuffe into Rowles for Salve, let it stand longer on the Fire to grow stiffer then it need be for Your seare-clothes. - It's excellent for Aches, Bruses, Spraines, wounds or cuts; applyed warme to the Place; it may be wiped & applyed againe, & turned one side after another, till the Vertue be all gone; that is, till the stuffe be worne off. My sister Ranalagh.