Take the Milk of a red Cow

by Nick

If you had bought a copy of the newsbook Severall Proceedings on Thursday 1 February 1655, you would have found this advert on pages two, three and four. Its format and style is remarkably similar to advertorials in today’s newspapers.

I am desired to insert this following Advertisement for a generall good, by Mr Nathaniel Holeday.

Upon my thoughts touching the Small Pox, of which now many sicken and dye, and I having had experience for this 20 years, I discover this meerly for the publique good, and question not of using the means, as you love your life, though they seem never so weak, neither bee disswaded by the perswasion of others. Yet let not any put confidence in the means though never so probable, without seeking unto the Lord for a blessing.

The Causes of the Small Pox.

They are caused by overcharging the Stomack with meat, which quickly corrupteth there, or by too much bad blood.

Signes of the Small Pox.

Pain of the back, Itch of ears and Nose, pricking of the whole body, rednesse of Face and eyes, and somewhat swelling, and very sleepy, untill they bee out.

Remedies for this disease, before they come forth.

1 Let there bee a publique, or at least private humiliation, generally through the whole City, This (as far as we know) may bee but a warning peece from the Lord in mercy, to warn you and us of a greater judgement. If wee are not bettered by this gracious Visitation of Tryall, and this is Gods usuall course which hee hath formerly taken with his people, whom he loves, Amos 4. from vers. 6, to verse 12. But if neither you nor wee mend not this, fear left (the Plague) a worse thing come among you, and seize upon you. Yet if you humble you truly, you have a Promise 2 Chron 12.7.

2 Although I hope there are none of such a wicked spirit as Ahaziah had, 2 Kings 1.2. Yet take heed wee are not of the mind of Asa, that wee seek not to, nor look not upon the Phisitians or physick, rather, or more than unto God.

3 Now at this time a good order of diet is to be observed.

4 None ought to eate till hee feel and find his former meat digested.

5 Go not abroad into the City with an empty stomack, but first eate and drink.

Excellent Medicines to bring forth the small Pocks.

Take the Milk of a red Cow, and make a posset therewith of Ale, and take the curd off clean, then take the quantity of a spoonfull of red Fenell and seeth it in the posset Ale, and strain it, then put into it, the quantity of a Nutmeg of fine Treakle, and a little Sedwel, and twopenny worth of English Saffron, mingle it well together and give it warm to drink. Or use this.

Take Milk, Saffron and Hony, and seith them well together and give it to drink. Or give it to a little child but a spoonful of sweet sack, and it will drive them out.

Means to be used while the Pocks is on them.

1 Keep the party warm, not too hot nor too cold, but in a middle temper, but be sure you keep the clothes about him that hee be not naked.

2 Put a peice of cypris about the neck, to prevent the worst there.

3 Make this broth and give it. Boyle a peice of Veal or rather a Chick or young Pullet in water, then pound some great Oatmeale finely in a morter, and strain it through a fine cloth with some of the liquor, (but put in none of the husks) then put in a small handfull of red sage, a liitle Mace, a little Saffron. Some Currans and Raysons of the Sunne, with a Nutmege slised, and when you find it well boyled, drink the Brtoh only.

A Remedy if the Pocks be all struckin, and the party be as whise as your Band, or be distracted, and so bring them out again in the space of two hours or a little more at the furthest.

If this happen unto a child fill a spoonfull of sweet Sack, & mingle with it the quantity of a pease of the best Methridate, and give a clear spoonfull of Sack after. But if it be for a middle age body or some what antient, give a halfpenny worth in the same manner as before, in their bed. This was tryed by my self upon a Knight and effected.

But if the Pocks stick in the Throat, and the party be in danger thereby, this must be used by some Friend.

Chew some Cummin Seed in your mouth, and after they are chewed, breath your breath into the mouth of the party infected, and this cures in a short time, you will find ease, in a quarter of an houre.

A Principal Oyntment for the small Pocks.

When any Colt is killed take the Gall out of him, put it upon a clean Spit and rost it, but bast it very little with new Butter without Salt, and put underneath the Spit, some clean vessel, with a good quantity of Rosewater, and let the driping fall therein; and when it is rosted dry and no moysture left therein, take the dripping and beat it well with the Rose water wherein it first dropped, and as any froth tryeth scum it off clean, and so put it into a Pot, untill you have occasion to use it, and then let the party be annoynted therewith, and this will cause all the Scabs and Scales to shel off.

Your well wished Friend N Holiday living at Mr. Habbakuk Kerbys in the Parish of Edmonton in Middlesex 17 January 1654 [Old Style dating, ie 1655].

1655 was, as the start of the advert implies, a peak year for smallpox outbreaks in London.

Sadly I don’t know much about who Nathaniel Holiday or Habbakuk Kerby are, or why they would have wanted to place this advert. I can’t find any trace of Holiday at all. There is a record in the parish register St. Andrew’s, Enfield of a Habbakuk Kerby being baptised on 31 Janauary 1618. There is also a record from St. Dunstan’s, Stepney of a Habbakuk Kerby marrying Elizabeth Lewes on 29 June 1637. If it’s the same person, Habbakuk would have been twenty, which constituted marrying young by the standards of the times but is not implausible. That would make him thirty-seven in 1655. The couple seem to have had a son, Henry, who was baptised in St. Botolph’s in June 1638. Beyond that, I’ve drawn a blank.

I also wonder how much it would have cost to place this ad. In 1649 the standard price charged by editors for a short advert of a few sentences seems to have been 6d. In 1655 Marchamont Nedham seems to have charged up to half a crown, but that was in the context of a near monopoly of the press. Nevertheless three pages out of an eight-page quarto cannot have been cheap and one wonders what Holiday’s motive was: even though he gives his address, he doesn’t seem to be selling anything directly.