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3.14. ¶ Of Engliſh Saffron. Cap. 14.

¶ Of Engliſh Saffron. Cap. 14.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 AS the Saffron of England is the most excellent of all other, (for it giueth place neyther to that of Cilicia, whereof Solinus speketh, neither to any that commeth from Etolia, Sicilia, Cirena, or Licia, in sweetenesse, tincture and continuance) so of that which is to be had amongst vs, the same that groweth about Saffron Walden in the edge of Essex, surmounteth all the rest, and therefore beareth worthily the heigher price, by sixe pence, or twelve pence most commonly in the pounde.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 The roote of the herbe that beareth this commoditie is rounde, much like vnto an in dyfferent Onion, and yet it is not cloued, as the lylly, nor flaked as the Scalion, but hath a sad substaunce inter bulbosa, as Orchis and Statyrion. The collor also of the rind is not much differing from the innermost shell of a chestnutte, although it be not altogither so blacke as the sayd shell, neither altogither so bricle as is the pill of the Onion.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 The leafe or rather the blade thereof is long and narrowe as Grasse, & in the winter times our Cattel delight very much to feede vpon the same, which come vppe alwaies in October after the flowres bee gathered and gone. The whole hearbe is named in greeke Crocos, but of some as Dioscorides saith Castor, Cynomorphos or Hercules bloud. Yet in the Arabian speach, from whence we take the name that we giue thereunto, I find that it is called Zahafaran, as Rembert doth here witnesse. The cause wherefore it was called Crocus was this as the Poetes feigne, especially from whome Galene hath borowed the hystorye which he noteth in hys ninth booke, de medicamentis secundum loca, where hee writeth after this maner. A certaine yong Gentleman called Crocus went to playe at coytes in the fielde with Mercury, and beyng hedelesse of himselfe, Mercuries coite happened by his mishappe to hit him on the heade whereby hee receyued a wounde, that ere long killed him altogither, to the great disco(m)fort of his friends. Finally in the place wher he bled, Saffron was after found to grow, whereupon the people seeyng the color of the chiue as it stoode, (although I doubt not but it grew there long before) adiudged it to coine to the bloude of Crocus, and therefore they gaue it his name.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 2 In déede the chiue while it remaineth whole vnbruſed reſembleth a darke redde, but being broken and conuerted into vſe, it yeldeth a yelow tincture. But what haue we to do wyth fables. The heads of Saffron are raiſed in Iuly either wyth plough or ſpade, and being ſcowred from theyr Roſe, and ſe|uered from ſuch heades as are ingendred of them ſince the laſt ſetting, they are enterred againe out of hand by rankes or rowes, and being couered wyth moulds, they reſt in the earth, where they caſt forth litle filets & ſmal EEBO page image 123 rotes like vnto a ſcalion vntill September; in the beginning of whych moneth ye ground is pared,Paring. and all weedes and graſſe that gro|weth vpon the ſame remoued, to the intents that nothing may annoy the flower when his time, doth come to riſe.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 GatheringTheſe things being thus ordered in the la|ter ende of the aforeſayd moneth, the flower beginneth to appeare of a whitiſh blewe co|lour, and in the ende ſhewing it ſelfe in the owne kinde, it reſembleth almoſte the Len|co [...]ion of Theophraſt,Sée Rem|bert. ſauing that it is lõger, and hath in middeſt thereof, either thrée or four chiues, very red and pleaſant to behold. Theſe flowers are gathered in the mornyng before the riſing of the Sunne, whyth would cauſe them to welke or flitter: and the chiues being picked from the flowers, theſe are throwne in to the dunghill, the other dry|ed vpon little kelles couered wyth ſtraigned canuaſſes ouer a ſoft fire: wherby and by the weight that is layed vpon thẽ, they are dried & preſſed into cakes, & then, bagged vp for ye benefite of theyr owners. In good yeares we gather an 100. poundes of the wette Saffron of an aker, which being dried doth yeld twentie pound of dry and more. Wherby and ſith the price of Saffron is commonly about twen|tie ſhillings in money, it is eaſie to sée what benefit is reaped by an acre of thys commo|ditie, toward the charges of the ſetter.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 Raiſing.The heads are raiſed euery third yeare a|bout vs, and commonly in the firſt yeare af|ter they be ſet they yéelde very litle increaſe, yet that which commeth is coũted the fineſt, and called Saffron du hort. The next crop is much greater, but the third excéedeth, and then they raiſe againe. In thys Periode of time alſo the heads are ſayd to childe, that is to yelde out of ſome partes of them dyuers other hedlets, wherby it hath bene ſéene that ſome one head hath bene increaſed to 3. or 4. or 5. or 6. whych augmentation is the onely cauſe whereby they are ſold ſo good cheape. For to my rẽembrance I haue not knowne a quarter of them to be valued much aboue two ſhillings eight pẽce, except in ſome odde yeres, when ouer great ſtore of winters wa|ter hath rotted ye moſt of them as they ſtood wtin the ground. It is thought that at euery raiſing they encreaſe cõmonly a third part.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 In Norffolke and Suffolke they raise but once in seuen yeres, but as theyr Saffron is not so fine as that of Cambridge shyre and about Walden: so it wil not tigne nor holde colour wyth all, wherein lieth a great part of the value of thys stuffe. Some craftie iackes vse to mixt it wyth the flower of Sonchus, whych commeth some what neare in deede to the hew of our good Saffron, but it is soone bewrayed both by the colour and hardnesse. Such also was the plenty of Saffron about 20. yeares passed, that some of the townes men of Walden not thankful for the aboundance of Gods blessing bestowed vpon them, (as wishing rather more scarcitie therof because of the keping vp of the price) in most contemptuous manner murmured agaynst him, saying that he did shite Saffron at that present, therwith to choke ye market. But as they shewed them selues no lesse then ingrat infidels in thys behalfe, so the Lord considering theyr vnthankfulnesse, gaue them euer since suche scarsitie, as the greatest murmurers haue now the least store, and moste of them are eyther worne out of occupying, or remaine scarse able to maintain their grou(n)ds wythout the helpe of other men. Certes it hath generally decayed about Walden since the sayd time, vntill now of late wyth in this two yeares, that men began againe to plant and renew the same. But to proceede, when the heads be raised and taken vp, they will remaine 16. or 20. daies out of the earth. And I know it by experience, in that I have caried some of them to London wyth me, and notwythstanding that they haue remayned there vnset by the space of. 15. daies, yet some of them haue brought forth 2. or 3. flowers a peece, and some flowers 4. or 5. chiues to the great admiration of such as haue gathered the same, and not bene acquainted wyth the countrey where they grew. The Crokers or Saffron men doe vse an obseruation a little before the comming vppe of the flower by opening of the heads, to iudge of plentye and scarcitie of thys commoditie to come. For if they see as it were many small heary vaines of Saffron to be in the middest of the bulbe, they pronounce a frutefull yeare: And to say truth, at the cleauing of each head a ma(n) shall discerne the Saffron by the colour, and see wherabouts it will issue out of the roote.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 Warme nights, ſwéete dewes, fat groũds (chiefly the chalky) and miſty mornings are very good for Saffron, but froſt and cold doe kill and kéepe backe the flower: And this much haue I thought good to ſpeake of En|gliſh Saffron whych is hote in the ſeconde and dry in the firſt degrée.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 Now if it pleaſe you to heare of any of the vertues thereof, I will note theſe inſuing at the requeſt of one who required me to touche a fewe of them wyth whatſoeuer breuitye I liſted. Therfore our Saffron is very profita|bly mingled with thoſe medicines whych we take for the diſeaſes of the breſt, of ye longes, of the liuer, and of the bladder. It is good al|ſo EEBO page image 114 for the ſtomacke if you take it in meate; for it comforteth the ſame and maketh good digeſtion: being ſodden alſo in wine, it not only kéepeth a man from dronkenneſſe, but encourageth alſo vnto procreation of iſſue. If you drinke it in ſwéete wine it enlargeth the breth and is good for thoſe that are trou|bled with the teſike and ſhortneſſe of ye wind. Mingled wyth milke of a woman and layed vpon the eyes it ſtayeth ſuch humors as de|ſend into the ſame, and taketh away the red wheales and pearles that oft groweth about them. It is verye profitably layde vnto all inflammations, painefull Apoſtemes, and the ſhingles, and doth no ſmall eaſe vnto dy|uers if it be mingled wyth ſuch medicines as are beneficiall vnto the eares. It is of great vſe alſo in riping of botches and al ſwellings proceding of raw humors. Or if it ſhal pleaſe you to drinke the roote therof with Malueſie it will maruellouſly prouoke vrine, diſſolue and expell grauell, and yéelde no ſmall eaſe vnto them that make theyr water by droppe meales. Finally, thrée drammes thereof ta|ken at once (whych is about the weighte of one ſhil. 9. pence halfepeny) is deadly poyſon as Dioſcorides doth affirme. There groweth ſome Saffron in many places of Almaine, and alſo about Vienna in Auſtria, whych la|ter is taken for ye beſt that ſpringeth in other quarters. In ſteade of thys alſo ſome doe vſe the Carthamus (called amongſt vs baſtarde Saffrõ) but neyther this is of any value, nor the other in any wiſe comparable vnto ours, whereof let this ſuffice as of a commoditye brought into this Ilande not long before the time of Edward the third, and not common|ly planted vnitll Richard ye ſecond did raign. It would grow very well as I take it about Chiltern hilles, & in all the vale of the whyte horſe.

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