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country as an article of merchandise, which circumstance seems to ascertain it to have been the true Nardus, for the Phoenicians who even in war appear to have retained their genius for commerce, could without doubt distinguish the genuine Nardus from that which was spurious.*

Since this curious and valuable Paper was communicated by Sir Gilbert Blane to the Royal Society, not any additional information appears to have been obtained respecting the plant, nor of the Oil and Ointment of Spikenard so much valued by the ancients, for the purposes of medicine and luxury, until my friend Samuel Swinton, Esq. arrived in this country, after an uninterrupted residence in India of thirty-four years, during which, he had rendered most important services to the East India Company, which services have been repeatedly acknowledged.

This gentleman in the year 1830, presented me with some Oil of Spikenard, the first ever brought to this country, and at the same time communicated to me the following information.

During Mr. Swinton's residence in Malvah, he was attacked most severely by rheumatism, and after much suffering, was advised by some of the principal natives to seek relief by using as an embrocation a precious oil called by them Rhonsee Ke Teel (Oil of Grass) which proved to be Oil of Spikenard, and having become satisfied of its efficacy, he was induced to send some of it to his cousin George Swinton, Esq. the Government Secretary at Calcutta, who put it into the hands of Dr. (now Sir William Russell) and another eminent Physician, for the purpose of making farther trial of its medicinal properties, and these gentlemen having so done, corroborated the account given of its efficacy by the natives of Malvah, and the beneficial effects which Mr. Swinton himself had experienced.

This Oil appears to have been little if at all known beyond the * Arrian: Lib. 6, Cap. 22, pp. 453, 454.

District in which it is prepared, so that either from accident or from secrecy purposely observed by the natives, it seems to have been unknown at the seat of Government until Mr. Swinton made. the communication to his cousin at Calcutta.

Upon my showing the engraved plate of the plant which accompanies Sir Gilbert Blane's Paper in the Philosophical Transactions to Mr. Swinton, he immediately declared it to be the same as that from which the Oil is obtained, and stated that although the plants are found in other parts of India as well as in Malvah, yet those which grow about the Jaum Ghaut are preferred, and are gathered in the month of October, when the seeds forming the ears or spikes have become fully ripe. At that season, however, in the places where this gigantic grass is produced, the jungle fever is so prevalent, that the peasantry who collect it will not expose their health and lives to imminent danger, unless tempted by very high remuneration; this, and not the scarcity of the plant, seems to be the cause of the high price which the Oil bears, and which consequently precludes it from being used by any excepting the superior class of natives.

Mr. Swinton was informed by them that it has been prepared in and about Malvah time immemorial, at first probably by the Parsees, although at present it is entirely in the hands of the Borahs, a very commercial people, forming a sect of Moslems whose chief resides at Surat. The Oil is obtained from the spikes, which when ripe, are cut with a portion of the stem about one foot in length, and are then subjected to distillation.

Only a small comparative quantity of the Oil is consumed by the natives, the greater part being now as was the case in very remote times (according to tradition) sent as an article of commerce to Arabia, from whence no doubt it found its way to Tarsus, to Laodicea, and other places in Syria and Asia Minor, where the celebrated Ointment was prepared. This Ointment is described to have been

a thin fragrant liquid variously prepared, but in which Spikenard was always the principal ingredient. Whether the plant Spikenard was digested in any sort of expressed oil like that of olives or whether the distilled oil was employed cannot at this distance of time be determined, but which ever might have been the oil, it appears to have been formed into the ointment by the addition of other fragrant substances such as Costus Orientalis, Amomum, Myrrh, and Balsam of Gilead.

It seems that the Ointment was prepared at few places, chiefly Tarsus and Laodicea, the knowledge of the ingredients and of the process being probably confined to a small number of persons, which will account (the high price of the Oil being also considered) for the great value of the Ointment, which indeed was such as Horace observes, that as much as could be contained in a small box of Onyx or Agate was considered as equivalent to a large vessel of wine* and regarded as a handsome quota for a guest to contribute at an entertainment according to the custom of antiquity; larger quantities were kept in boxes or vases of Alabaster. The Oil of Spikenard was not only in great request as an article of luxury amongst those who could afford to purchase it, but was also in great estimation on account of its valuable medicinal properties.

All the ancient writers on medicine and surgery such as Hippocrates, Celsus, and Galen recommend the internal and external use of it for pains in the stomach and bowels; but Sir Gilbert Blane when he wrote his valuable paper, was evidently unacquainted with any essential Oil of Spikenard, such as Mr. Swinton has ascertained had so long been known and prepared in India; for Sir Gilbert observes" It may here be remarked, that as its sensible qualities do not depend on a principle so volatile as essential oil like most

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other aromatic vgeetables, this would be a great recommendation to the ancients, as its virtues would be more durable, and they were not acquainted with the method of collecting Essential Oils being ignorant of the art of distillation ;" yet after this remark, Sir Gilbert goes on to mention a circumstance which proves that the Oil of Spikenard was well known to the ancients, for having mentioned the names of Celsus and of Galen, he observes "that the first occasion on which the latter (Galen) was called to attend Marcus Aurelius, was when that Emperor was severely afflicted with an acute complaint in the bowels, answering by description to what we now call cholera morbus, and the first remedy he applied was warm Oleum Nardinum on wool to the stomach; he was so successful in the treatment of this illness, that he ever afterwards enjoyed the highest favor and confidence of the Emperor."

At the present time, the natives of that part of India where it is known, not only regard the Oil as a valuable external remedy, but likewise consider the plant to be highly efficacious in fevers when given internally, for which purpose (according to Mr. Blane of Lucknow) they infuse about a dram of it in a pint of hot water with a small quantity of black pepper; this infusion serves for one dose, and is to be repeated three times during the day. It is esteemed a powerful medicine in all kinds of fevers whether continued or intermittent.*

The odour of the plant is so powerful, that although camels will eat almost any vegetable, yet they will not browse on this, nor will insects approach the Oil, which is highly fragrant. The perfume of the Ointment is thus described by St. John (Chap. 12 Verse 3) "Then took Mary a pound of Ointment of Spikenard very costly

• A considerable part of this little tract, as far as concerned the history of Spikenard, was expressly written by the author for that most excellent woman the Right Honorable Lavinia late Countess Spencer, and the manuscript (now probably at Althorp) was presented to her Ladyship in February 1831.

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and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair, and the house was filled with the odour thereof."-The following passage also enables us to ascertain, what at that time was the value of the Ointment. Then saith one of his disciples Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who should betray him, why was not this Ointment sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor." St John. chap. 12 verse 3, 4, 5. Hence we learn that at the time in question, a pound of this precious Ointment was valued at three hundred pence according to the translation in the English New Testament, for I must here observe that whenever the coin called Denarius happens to occur, as in St. John above mentioned, in Matthew, chap. 20 and 22, and in Luke, chap. 10, the English translators have invariably employed the term penny, having evidently in these, as well as in some other instances, been induced to do so by following that which is called Luther's Bible.*

* The first English Bible allowed by Royal Authority, and in fact the first translation of the whole Bible printed in our language, is that which Miles Coverdale (afterwards Bishop of Exeter in the reign of Edward VIth) translated, printed, and dedicated to Henry VIIIth in the year 1535, being the year after the King's Supremacy had been settled by Parliament.

In setting forth this, which he calls a special translation, Coverdale says, that he humbly and faithfully followed his interpreters, of which he states that he had recourse to five who had translated the Scriptures not only into Latin but into Dutch, by which no doubt he means German. It is quite evident that he principally looked to this, and that his translation was made almost word for word with that which bears the name of Luther, who then was living in the height of his celebrity, and was no longer regarded as a Heresiarch by that capricious tyrant Henry VIIIth, for had it been otherwise, the head of Coverdale would have been in no small danger.

Whenever the coin Denarius occurs in the New Testament, it is invariably by Luther translated Groschen, and Coverdale following him, first sets the example to the subsequent English translators by translating Groschen, into Peny according to his Orthography.

Matthew. Chap. 20.


Matthew. Chap. 22.

"And whan he had agreed with his labourers for a peny a

"Shewe me tribute money, and they toke hi a peny."

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