Page:Notes and Queries - Series 12 - Volume 6.djvu/361

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12 s. vi. JUNE 12, i92o.] NOTES AND QUERIES.


AMBER. (12 S. vi. 271.)

AMBEB has been in use as a medicine since the time of Hippocrates, and in the form of the oil obtained from it by destructive distillation still is so. The properties of this oil resemble those of turpentine. It is occasionally prescribed for internal administration in asthma and whooping cough, but more frequently as a stimulant and rubefacient in liniments for the chest. I do not remember to have met with an instance of its use as an amulet for any particular disease, but its very extensive use from the earliest times in necklaces (witness the amber beads dis- covered at Mycenae and the electron that is to say, amber necklace mentioned in 'The Odyssey') point distinctly in this direction. Among the virtues he attributes to the drug (for it is as such that he treats it) Lemery includes this, which, he says, is or has been common everywhere in China, in Persia, and in Europe. Doubt has, I understand, been thrown upon the opinion that the necklace of ' The Odyssey ' was really of amber, but the fact that it is said to have been a gift from Phoenicia is significant, the Phoenicians being admitted to have introduced amber into the East. The principal medicinal uses of amber are thus described in Culpeper's ' Dispensatory ' of 1654 :

"Amber heats a'nd dries, therefore prevails aeainst most diseases of the head ; it helps violent coughs, helps consumption of the lungs, spitting of

blood, the whites in women it stops bleeding at

the nose, helps difficulty of urine : you may take ten or twenty grains at a time."

G. C. B.

I think there must be some property in amber which acts on the mucous membrane when brought into proximity with it. I have known at any rato one case where a cold in the head, which had refused to yield to any other treatment, was cured by wearing an amber necklace. It is an excellent palliative for hay fever either worn as a necklace or; as is sometimes more convenient, carried in the pocket and held up to the nose or mouth when required. H. J. B. CLEMENTS.

Killadoon, Celbridge.

Pliny says that an amber necklace will jure fevers and diseases : " hoc collo adalligatum mederi febribus et morbis 'H.N.,' xxxvii 13). Story, ' Roba di. Roma,' ii. 329, says it is still used in Italy as a child's amulet. According to Pliny it. is also useful for ear troubles, powdered andi mixed with honey and oil of roses ; with. Attic honey it is good for dim sight.

G. G. L.

Walsh in his 'Handy Book of Curious^ Information,' Lippincott (1913), says that

he ancients held that amber was a cure for

insanity, fever, and other disorders when-' taken as a drink, or worn around the neck as an amulet. Another authority says that it had formerly a high reputation as a medicine, and another that "It is still believed to possess certain medicinal value," whilst Budge's ' Syriac Book of Medicines ' (1913) mentions it thrice as a remedy.


EMERSON'S 'ENGLISH TRAITS' (12 S. v. 234, 275 ; vi. 9, 73, 228, 257, 276). 5. The passage in Bishop Berkeley required to explain no. 5 of MR. FLETCHER'S third, batch of puzzles, on p. 228, is this :

" Whether, if there was a wall of brass a thousand cubits high round this kingdom, our natives might not nevertheless live cleanly and comfortably, till the land, and reap the fruits of it?"

Query 134 in 'The Querist, containing several queries proposed to the consideration of the public,' vol. iv. p. 434, in A. C. Fraser's edition of 'The Works of George Berkeley.' The ' Querist ' was written when the author was Bishop of Cloyne and pub- lished in its original form in Dublin (1735- 1737). " This kingdom " is Ireland.

23. The Bohan Upas. See Skeat, 'Ety- mological Dictionary of the English Lan- guage,' where we are told that the Malay. " upas " " a milky juice extracted from certain vegetables, operating when mixed with the blood as a deadly poison," and the-, " puhn " in the same language a tree.


5. The notion of a wall of brass about England is Roger Bacon's, from whom Berkeley may have copied it. Spenser,. ' Fairy Queen,' iii. 3, st. 9-11, tells of Merlin's projected wall of brass round Car- marthen. Drayton, ' Poly-Olbion,' vi. 331, mentions it too. G. G. L.