How to Perfume a Glove

Adam Smyth

  • Recipes for Thought: Knowledge and Taste in the Early Modern English Kitchen by Wendy Wall
    Pennsylvania, 328 pp, £53.00, November 2015, ISBN 978 0 8122 4758 9

John Partridge’s The Treasurie of Commodious Conceits, and Hidden Secretes (1573) offers, to modern eyes, a bafflingly eclectic collection of what could loosely be called recipes, in the early modern sense of receipts, or texts received: ‘Fine Sauce for a roasted Rabbet: used to king Henry the eight’; ‘To comfort the heart, and take away Melancholy’; ‘To make red sealing Waxe’; ‘Marmalad of Quinces’; ‘To make Oile of Earth wormes … good for the sinews that are cold’; ‘To bake a Capon with yolks of Eggs’; ‘To know whether a Woman shall ever conceive or no’; ‘A Fumigation for a Presse, and clothes that no Moth shall breed therin’; ‘To heale leaperie faces, great swollen legs, or inflamed hands’; ‘A perfect way to cure the loathsome disease of the French Pockes’. The last of these is a labyrinthine, five-page prescription for ‘Chicken, Partridge, Fesant, Hen, Capon, Rabbet, Conie, Veale, Mutton, & none other, nor any salt, nor leavened breade, nor Rie bread’. There are nine different recipes for perfuming gloves (rosewater, musk, ambergreece, almond oil, ‘strewed thinly’ on the stretched leather), and a concluding litany of ‘all the Urines that betoken death’. ‘To strengthen the seed’ the reader is advised to ‘Take Succorie, Endiue, Plantin, Violet flowers & the leaves, Clarie, Sorrel, of each half a handful, with a peece of Mutton, make a good broth, and to eat it euening and morning.’

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