The trouble with Innerpeffray Library is that there are simply so many fascinating ancient books that it is almost impossible to stay single-minded about what you are going to look at. Yesterday was no exception. I had intended to stick to the Treatise of Specters and possibly one or two of the more salacious passages from Scott's The Discovery of Witchcraft, but Librarian Lara Haggerty showed me another book, The General Practise of Physicke from 1617, and of course it was impossible not to take a closer look!
The frontispiece describes it as "CONTEYNING ALL INWARD and outward parts of the body, with all the accidents and infirmities that are incident unto them, even from the crowne of the head to the sole of the foote." A quick peek amongst the yellowing pages revealed some morbidly fascinating descriptions of bladder complaints and other nasties.
As I was really at the library to work on the Hallowe'en material, I didn't have time to transcribe very much from this book. However, I did note down some short and interesting extracts from the section dealing with The Haire of the Head!
"To take away haire.
Take a pinte of wine, drowne twenty greene frogs therein, or as many as can be drowned therein, then set the pot forty daies in the warme sunne: afterwards straine it hard throw a cloth, annoint the place therewith where you will take away the haire."
If this remedy does not appeal, or if you simply cannot find enough frogs, there are some alternative suggestions:
"Take Ants egs and rub the place therewith, wherein you would have the haire taken away, it will fall off and growe no more againe. Item annoint the hairie place with the juice of sloes, and it will make the hairie place balde and smoothe."
I feel sure that the frogs would be ultimately efficacious. Certainly, if someone offered to make me a nice poultice of frogs in wine, fermented for forty days in the warm sun, I should probably decide to pluck all the unwanted hairs out with tweezers instead, post haste. Job done!