Henry Peacham (1638) The Valley of Varietie, Chapter XI, pp. 97-101.


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CHAP. XI.

Of Cinnamome.

Galen writes, lib. 1. Antidot. that in his time, Cinnamome was very rare, and hard to be found, except in the Store-houses of great Emperours and Princes. And Plinie reporteth, That a pound of Cinnamome was worth a thousand Denarii,1 which is answerable to the value of one hundred and fiftie Crownes of our money. Afterwards, when the Woods of Arabia and India were set on fire, and consumed, it was a great deale dearer. That which the Latines call Caßia lignea, it is comparable but to the worst sort of Cinnamome, which in Italy they call Cannella. For indeed, the true Cinnamome is utterly unknowne of us; as also of Xylocinnamome, which is onely the Wood of the Cinnamome Tree, but the true Cinnamome, the Barke thereof.

Of this Cinnamome, you shall find a large description in Plinie, lib. 12. cap. 19. but Solinus more briefly, thus: This shrub groweth in a short time, with low branches, bending downward; it is never above two Ells in height; if it grow up small and slender, it is esteemed the better, that which is thicke is the worser. It is gathered by the Indian Priests, they having first slaine certaine beasts for a Sacrifice, which when they have offered, they observe, that their harvest of this Cinnamome, shall not be before the Sunne-rising, nor endure after the Sun-setting. Whosoever is Lord of the Soile, or the principall man, hee divideth the heapes of the branches, or stickes of the same, gathered with a Speare, which is consecrated for the same purpose: and a portion of some handfuls is dedicated to the Sunne, which, if it be equally divided, enkindled by his beames, it presently taketh fire, and burneth. Thus farre Solinus, in his description of Africa, cap. 39. & 42. Of this Cinnamome, Salomon maketh mention, Proverbs 7. & 17. also Marcian the Civilian, in l. Cæsar 16. § Species. ff: de public. & Vectigal, where hee notes out of Plinie and Dioscorides, that the vertue of this Plant was in the Barke of the Tree; and that in Galens time it was most rare, and not be found, but in the Closets of Emperours: hereof is a very precious unguent made, called Cinnaminum, being in substance very thicke, whose chiefe commendation is, that the smell hereof (if you carry it about you) drawes any Woman, though passing by you, and minding other things, to draw neere unto you, saith Philip Beroaldus upon Apuleius, lib. 2. Milesiac. and which is affirmed also by manie others.

Notes

1 Pliny XII.93.


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