Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How to Express Your Feelings, 1689

Facepalm Cupid, Andrea Alciato, Emblematum Liber (1534)
Excerpts from The Theatre of Compliments, Or, A Compleat New Academy: 
Expressions of Love and Friendship of Men towards Men.
Sir, I'le repay your love with usury.
Sir, When I contemplate your perfections, I begin to abhor my self for my deficiencies.
Sir, Your great Virtues conquer all hearts as irresistably, as Alexander the Great conquer'd Kingdoms.
Sir, You alone can conduct me to the highest pitch of accidental perfection.
Sir, You have deserv'd more Services from me, than I am ever able to perform.  
Complemental Expressions of Ladies to each other.
Madam, I am forcibly carried away, (I know not by what fate, against the bent of my own Genius).
Madam, You have blasted the harvest of my hopes.
Madam, Nothing shall have power to alien my love from you.
Madam, In the intercourse of affection my love surmounts your's. 
Amorous Expressions of Gentlemen to Ladies, Gentlewomen and Maidens, &c.
Madam, Let the showers of your pity mitigate the fires of my fancy.
Madam, There's a civil assault within me, by which I feel a certain restraint of my own liberty and affections.
Madam, You have no more beauty than will serve to excuse you from being extreamly ugly.
Madam, Your hair negligently dishevell'd, and careless attire, grace forth your beauty; which shines in the midst of so many obstacles, as the Sun in a winter day. 
Expressions of Ladies and Gentlewomen to Gentlemen.
Sir, You are the emblem of terror, and your furious looks are able to consume a woman.
Sir, an ounce of give me, is better than a pound of hear me. 
Sir, I am like a bed of Roses where flowers are mixt with prickles.
Sir, I am not like the Dolphin whom the sound of Musick bringeth to the shore.
Sir, Farewel, you'r grown rude, I dare not hear you further. 
Need a quick sentiment for that greeting card? One of these lines will be perfect for the intercourse of your affection. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

How to Encrypt a Message, 1641

Giambattista della Porta, De furtivis
litterarum notis
(1591), Folger
"The second way of secrecy in speech, is by an alteration of any knowne language... by augmenting words with the addition of other letters. Of which kind, is that secret way of discoursing in ordinary use, by doubling the vowels that make the syllables, and interposing G. or any other consonant... Thus, if I would say, Our plot is discovered, it must be pronounced thus, Ougur plogot igis digiscogovegereged. Which doe's not seeme so obscure in writing, as it will in speech and pronuntiation. And it is so easie to be learnt, that I have knowne little children, almost as soone as they could speake, discourse to one another as fast this way, as they could in their plainest English. But all these later kinds of secrecy in speech, have this grand inconvenience in them, that they are not without suspition...
There are likewise some other inventions to expresse any inward sence by barbarous words, wherein onely the first, and middle, and last letters shall be significant. As in this example. Fildy, fagodur wyndeeldrare discogure rantibrad. Which in its resolution is no more than this. Fly for we are discovered.
John Wilkins, Mercury, or, The Secret and Swift Messenger
Need to dial up your information security? These TOGOP SEGECREGET techniques will have your plot discovered in no time.

Friday, January 20, 2017

How to Cure Melancholy, c. 1303

J. Paul Getty Museum, MS 42, f. 1v
"The home must be bright, luminous, without pictures, and there should be many fragrant things there, and everyone in the home must be beautiful to behold... and they must say lighthearted things, and there should be musical instruments, and in short everything which gladdens the soul... also helpful are sleep, rest, leisure, and baths before food; helpful foods are hens, capons, and lamb; light, delicate wine; scaly fish from clean water; raw eggs; well-fermented and well-baked wheat bread with a reasonable amount of salt... one should avoid wine that is new, cloudy, coarse, or thick; lentils, beans, and other legumes; old cheese; beef; and other melancholy foods." 
Bernard de Gordon, Lilium medicinae
Feeling melancholy? No problem – just tell your beautiful family to play music and serve you some fine wine in bed.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

How to Interpret Small Hands, 1651

John Bulwer, Chirologia (1644), Folger Shakespeare Library
"The hands very short, doth signifie a gross and rude person: fat and fleshie, with the finger likewise, inclined to theft. Small hands, crafty men." 
Johannes ab Indagine, The Book of Palmistrie and Physiognomy
Well, that settles it. Short fingers = vulgarian.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

How to Cure Congestion, 1682

Giovanni Battista Ferrari, Hesperides (1646)
"For a Cold and stuffing in the Head, to draw Rheum from the Head, and comfort the Brain. Take an Orange, and pare off very thin the yellow Rind; rowl it up conveniently to thrust up into the Nostril, turning the inner moist side outward to be next your flesh within the Nose; put a rowl into each Nostril. It will cause sneesing, and will make much water run down at the Nose, and comfort the Brain."
G. Hartman, The True Preserver and Restorer of Health 
If you like your martini with a twist, try your head cold with a twist!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

How to Serve a Flaming Bird, c. 1465

Musée du Petit-Palais L.Dut.456, f. 86v (15th c.)
How to Dress a Peacock With All Its Feathers, So That When Cooked, It Appears To Be Alive and Spews Fire From Its Beak
     How to dress a peacock so that it appears to be alive: first, the peacock should be killed by stabbing it in the head with a sharp knife or by slitting its throat, as you would with a baby goat. Then slice the body from the neck all the way to the tail, cutting only the skin and delicately skinning it so that you do not ruin the feathers or the skin. When you have finished skinning the body, turn the skin inside out, from the neck down. Make sure not to detach the head from the skin of the neck; and similarly, make sure that the legs remain attached to the skin of the thighs. Then dress it well for roasting, and stuff it with good things and good spices, and take some whole cloves and use them to stud the breast, and cook the bird slowly on a spit; and place a wet cloth around the neck so that the heat does not overly dry it; and wet the cloth repeatedly. When it is done cooking, remove form the spit and dress it up in its skin.
     Prepare an iron device attached to a cutting board that passes through the feet and legs of the peacock so that the iron cannot be seen and so that the peacock stands up on its feet with its head erect and seems to be alive; and arrange the tail nicely so that it forms its wheel.
     If you want it to spew fire from its beak, take a quarter ounce of camphor with a little cotton wool around it, and put it in the beak of the peacock, and also put a little aqua vitae or good, strong wine.    
     When you serve it, light the cotton wool and it will spew fire for a good bit. And to make it even more magnificent, when the peacock is done, you can decorate it with leaves of hammered gold and place the peacock's skin over the gold after you have smeared the inside of the skin with good spices.
     The same can be done with pheasants, cranes, geese, and other birds, as well as capons and pullets.
Martino da Como, Liber de arte coquinaria 
Haven't you always fantasized about the holiday turkey spewing fire in the direction of your least favorite relative? Time to turn those dreams into fiery, delicious, gold-plated reality.

Friday, November 4, 2016

How to Cure a Stuffy Nose, 1658

Edward Topsell, The History of Four-Footed Beasts
"If any man shall but touch or kiss with his mouth the snowt or nostrils of a Mouse, and be troubled with the disease called the Rhume, which falleth down and stuffeth the nostrils, he shall in very short space be eased of the same." 
Edward Topsell, The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents
Cold season checklist: Tissues. Hot tea. The quivering snout of the vulgar little mouse.