Cowley, Abraham . The Third Part of the Works of Mr. Abraham Cowley
Being his Six Books of Plants
Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library
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TO know my Virtues briefly, you in vain
Desire, all which this whole Book can't contain.
O'er all the World of Man great I preside,
Where e'er red Streams though milky Medows glide; 60 [Latin: 60]
O'er all you see throughout the Body spread,
Between the distant Poles of Heel and Head.
But in the Head my chief Dominions are, 3
The Soul commits her Palace to my Care.
I all the Corners purge, refresh, secure,
Nor let it be, for want of Light, obscure.
That Soul, that came from Heav'n, which Stars adorn,
Her God's great Daughter, by Creation born,
Alas! to what a frail Apartment now,
And ruinated Cottage does she bow!
Her very Mansion to Infections turns, [image]
And in the Place, wherein she lives, she burns. [image]
When Falling-Sickness thunder-strikes the Brain,
Oft Men, like Victims, fall, as Thunder-slain.
Oft does the Head with a swift Whinsie reel,
And the Soul's turn'd, as on Ixion's Wheel.
Oft pains i' th'Head an Anvil seem to beat,
And like a Forge, the Brain-pan burns with heat.
Some parts the Palsie oft of Sense deprives 4
And Motion, (strange effect!) one side survives 80 [Latin: 80]
The other. This Mezentius fury quite 5
Outdoes; in this Disease dead Limbs unite
With live ones. Some with Lethargy opprest
Under Deaths weight seem fatally to rest.
Ah! Life, thou art Deaths Image, but that Thee
In nought resembles, save thy Brevity.
Vain Phantoms oft the Mind distracted keep, 6
And roving thoughts possess the place of Sleep.
Oft when the Nerves for want of Juice grow dry 7
(That Heavenly Juice, unknown to th'outward Eye)
Each feeble Limb as 'twere grows loose, and quakes,
Yea, the whole fabrick of the Body shakes.
These, and all Evils which the Brain infest
(For numerous, sawcy Griefs that part molest)
Me Phoebus bad, by constant War restrain;
Saying, my Kingdom (Child!) see, you maintain.
And straight he gave me Arms well forg'd from Heav'n,
Like those t'Æneas or Achilles giv'n.
One wondrous Leaf he wisely did create
'Gainst all the Darts of Sickness and of Fate, 100 [Latin: 100]
And into that a Soverign mystick Juice,
With subtile heat from Heav'n he did infuse.
'Tis not in vain, bright Sire! that you bestow
Such Arms on me, nor shall they rusty grow.
No; from that Crime not the just Head alone
Acquits me, but th'inferior Limbs will own,
I'm guiltless. When the Lungs with Phlegm opprest 8
Want Air, to fan the Heart, and cool the Brest,
A fainty Cough strives to expel the Foe,
But seeks the help of powerful Medicines too.
It comes to me, I my assistance lend,
Open th'obstructed Pores, and gently send
Refreshment to the Heart. Cool Gales abate
Th'internal Heat, and it grows temperate.
The Quartan Ague its dry Holes forsakes,
As Adders do; Dropsies like Water Snakes,
With liquid Aliment no longer fed,
By me are forc'd to fly their wat'ry Bed.
I loss of Appetite repair, and heat
The Stomach, to concoct the Food men eat. 120
Torturing Gripes I in the Guts allay,
And send out murmuring Blasts the backward way. [Latin: 120]
I wash the Saffron Jaundice of the Skin,
And ease the Kidneys of dire Stones within.
Thick Blood that stands in Womens veins I soon
Force to flow down, more powerful than the Moon.
But then th'unnatural Floods of Whites arise;
Ah me! that common Filth will not suffice.
I likewise stop the Current, when the Blood 9
Through some new Channel seeks a purple Flood.
I all the Tumults of the Womb appease,
And to the Head, which that disturbs, give Ease.
Womens Conceptions I corroborate, 10
And let no Births their time anticipate.
But in the sacred time of Labor I
The careful Midwifes Hands with help supply.
The lazy Gout my Virtue swiftly shuns, 11
Whilst from the Joynts with nimble heels it runs.
All Poysons I expel, that men annoy,
And baneful Serpents by my Power destroy. 12 140
My pointed Odor through its marrow flies,
And of a secret wound the Adder dies. [Latin: 140]
So Phoebus, I suppose, the Python slew, [image]
And with my Juice his arrows did imbrew.
From every limb all kinds of Ach and Pain
I banish, never to return again.
The wearied Clown I with new vigor bless,
And Pains as pleasant make as Idleness.
Nor do I only Lifes Fatigue relieve,
But 'tis adorn'd with what I freely give.
I make the colour of the Blood more bright,
And cloath the Skin with a more graceful White. 13
Spain in her happy Woods first gave me Birth,
Then kindly banish'd me o'er all the Earth;
Nor gain'd she greater Honor when she bore
Trajan to rule the World, and to restore
Romes Joys. 'Tis true, he justly might compare
With my Deserts; his Virtues equal were.
But a good Prince is the short Grant of Fate,
The World's soon robb'd of such a vast Estate. 160
But of my Bounty Men for ever taste,
And what he once was I am like to last. [Latin: 160]
 Betony is hot and dry in the second degree. [image] [image] Wine or Vinegar Impregnated with it, is excellent for the Stomack and Sight. The Smell alone refreshes the Brain. 'Tis an Italian Proverb. He has as many Virtues as Betony, i. e. innumerable.
 Virg. Æn.
 Betony is drunk as remedy against Madness, Plin. l. 26.11.
 This is according to Dr. Glisson's Opinion, which see in L. de Anatomia hepatis. And Plin. ut supra.
 Concerning these Diseases help'd by Betony, see Pliny and Fernelius.
 See Plin. l. 26. 19.
 It is every where made use of against the Gout and Sciatica.
 Betony is said to have so great a Virtue against Serpents, that if they are inclosed in a circle made thereof, they'll lash themselves to death. Plin. l. 25.8.
 It has a particular faculty to amend the dead colour of the skin, and to render it vivid and clear. Id. l. 26.11.