I. We pretend not here to an universal History of Plants, but chiefly to such as are most Known and Virtuous, most Experimented, and Useful in Physick. 'Tis a Work highly of Use for Physicians, Chyrurgians, and Apothecaries, and for their Sakes, and the Public Good it was principally Designed and Intended.
II. As to the Authors made use of in this Undertaking, we shall not be so vain as to enumerate them all, it would to be no Purpose; and yet it will be Necessary for the Credit of the Book, to give you an Account of the Chief of those, in Treating of each Plant, whose Leaves we were obliged continually to turn over.
III. The Authors we made most use of in Composing this Herbal, were these following, viz. Bauhinus, Brunfels, Caesalpinus, Camerarius, Clusius, Dioscorides, Dodonaeus, Durantes, Fuchsius, Johnson on Gerard, Lobel and Pena, Lonicerus, Lugdunensis, Matthiolus, Parkinson, Ruellius, Schroder, Tabernaemontanus, Theophrastus and Tragus. These, I say, were those which were chiefly consulted, and without whom, we passed not off from the Discourse of any plant: But we cannot say these were all, for occasionally as it fell in our way, and were some particular Occurrences required it, we had recourse to many others, more than twice that number besides, without the Help of which we could not have so completely performed what we here Present you withal.
IV. As to the Historical Part, we could not much deviate, but were obliged to follow the most celebrated Authors of this Subject, viz. in their Names, Kinds, Descriptions, Places of Growth, and Times of Flowering and Seeding. In their Names, we have given you the most usual, and those chiefly by which Plant (in all Ages) has been most known and called, whether Arabic, Greek, Latin or English; in doing of which, we hope we have in some measure rectified the Latin nomenclature, which, even in all our Dictionaries, has hitherto been very Faulty and Imperfect.
V. As to the Kinds of any Plant, we own we have not given you all that you will find in Parkinson, and many other Authors, because those which we have omitted, an English reader, may not possibly come to the Knowledge or Sight of in many Ages, they growing in Foreign and Far-distant Countries, as Turkey, Persia, East India, the Moluccas, China &c. Besides, having no known Virtues or Uses assigned to them, but only their Names and Descriptions, we thought they would only take up room, and rather encumber the Book, than add any real Excellency or Advantage to it; considering it was chiefly design'd for the Benefit and Use of the Practical Physician.
VI. As to the Descriptions, we say they are the same as in other Authors, little or nothing differing from those in Bauhin, Clusius, Dodonaeus, Fuchsius, Gerard, Johnson, Lugdunensis, Matthiolus, Parkinson, Tabernaemontanus, and Tragus: But we have almost every where revers'd the Order Describing; for whereas they many times begin at the top or the upper parts of a Plant, and so go downwards to the Root, we have on the contrary, generally begin at the Root, first Describing it, and so ascend upwards to its Stalks, Leaves, Branches, Flowers and Seed, or Fruit, which we take to be the most natural Order or Method.
VII. As to the Places of the Growth of Plants, they may be very uncertain, because, where they have been found to Grow in great plenty, in former Ages or Times, the footsteps of the same Plant is not to be found now. In some places where I have found several Plants to grow as Natives of the same, when I was a Youth, now in my present declining Years, there are no remainders of them to be found. The Egyptian Arum, or Pseudocolocasia, which we now call Carolina Eddo, (because there every where planted) did formerly Grow plentifully in Egypt, which I suppose was its Native place of Growth, and was there planted for their use in Meats, and for Food: Now our late Travellers say, it has not for some Ages been known to Grow there at all. But 'tis possible that it has been neglected and disused: Yet I am of Opinion, that if it were diligently sought after, some remains of it might be found again. It grows in vast plenty in Carolina, where it is a great part of their Food and Living; but it prospers only as under the Planters Hands; for should they neglect it, it would quickly be totally lost in that Country too.
VIII. We have every where given the various Qualities of each Plant, by which an Estimate may be given in Gross, of their Virtues, and to what Diseases they may be properly applyed, or may be helpful against: The consideration of which alone, is of mighty a Use to the Practical Physician; because they indicate to the Mind or Understanding, to what various Purposes and Intents they may be converted, and in what Diseases they may be specifically useful.
IX. How these Qualities are to be applyed to Diseases, may be easily exemplified: I know it may be objected by such as are Ignorant of Medical Qualities and Indications, that a great many Virtues are ascribed to most Plants, for the Curing of Diseases, which they can never perform, nor any Author before ever signified: To which I answer; That I do not affirm nor say, that every Herb is a Specific for the Cure of all Diseases, which in the particular Preparations and Virtues thereof, I may ascribe to it; but he that reads me, ought to read me with a Medical Mind, or Soul, and with a good Understanding; I will exemplify the Matter. Suppose it to be Rosemary. As to its first Qualities it is Hot and Dry in the third Degree; and that it is Cephalic, Neurotic, Stomachic, Alexipharmic: From these Qualities, we conclude that it must be helpful against all cold and moist Diseases of the Head, Brain, Nerves, Stomach, and Poison; then when we consider what Diseases are apt to afflict those parts, from a hot and dry Cause, we fix the Virtues to be such as may resist those Diseases, not to be an absolute and specific Cure for the same, but to be very helpful in those Cases, and so may be drawn into Compositions, with other Ingredients for the same purposes. And thus I desire every Genuine Son of Art to understand me. What I have said in this Paragraph, may be of admirable Use, if it be rightly understood and applyed.
X. Through the whole Book in every Chapter, we have given you the various Preparations of each Plant, both Galenic and Chymick, which may be made of them, which is a thing never performed by any other Author before me. This being rightly considered, gives you the whole Result of the Plant, and in a few Words teaches you how it is to be used and applyed, in all the Cases, and to all the Distempers to which it may be appropriated: But that this may be more perfectly understood, we particularly Exemplify the whole thereof, in this present Introduction; in those several Forms, both Galenic and Chymick, and that to the Capacities of such are Ignorant of the Medical Arts.
XI. Having done all this, when we come to explicate upon the virtues, we do not give you the virtues of the plant in Gross (for that is before done in Specification) but show you particularly, how all these several Preparations are (in every Disease) to be used and applyed, which as it never was done before me, by any other Author, so I think it is of universal Use in the Art and Practice of Physick: It is performed so as to answer every particular and singular Preparation, and in a Stile so full and plain, that the meanest Understanding cannot easily mistake me; by which means it is accommodated to the Use of the Vulgar, though they understand little or nothing of the Art of Physick.
XII. The last thing which I shall here take notice of, is more matter of Ornament, than any thing of Necessity, which I have done for the sakes of all such as are lovers of Flowers, and of a Flower-Garden: It is a complete Florilegium, of all or most of the Choice Flowers, which are Cultivated in England by our Florists: This is not done as a particular Work by itself, but is interspersed through the whole Book, each Flower in its proper place of the Alphabet; where you will have their Culture, Choice, Increase, and several ways of Management, as well for Profit as Delectation; a noble Subject it is, but never brought into any Herbal before this.
Botanologia, or The English Herbal, was written by William Salmon, M.D., in 1710.
This chapter was proofread by Nick Jones.