Original Epistle To the Reader

TAKE Notice, That in this Edition I have made very many Additions to every sheet in the book: and, also, that those books of mine that are printed of that Letter the small Bibles are printed with, are very falsely printed: there being twenty or thirty gross mistakes in every sheet, many of them such as are exceedingly dangerous to such as shall venture to use them: And therefore I do warn the Public of them: I can do no more at present; only take notice of these Directions by which you shall be sure to know the True one from the False.

The first Direction.--The true one hath this Title over the head of every Book, THE COMPLETE HERBAL AND ENGLISH PHYSICIAN ENLARGED. The small Counterfeit ones have only this Title, THE ENGLISH PHYSICIAN.

The second Direction.--The true one hath these words, GOVERNMENT AND VIRTUES, following the time of the Plants flowering, &c. The counterfeit small ones have these words, VIRTUES AND USE, following the time of the Plants flowering.

The third Direction.--The true one is of a larger Letter than the counterfeit ones, which are in Twelves, &c., of the Letter small Bibles used to be printed on. I shall now speak something of the book itself.

All others Authors that have written of the nature of Herbs, give not a bit of reason why such an Herb was appropriated to such a part of the body, nor why it cured such a disease. Truly my own body being sickly, brought me easily into a capacity, to know that health was the greatest of all earthly blessings, and truly he was never sick that doth not believe it. Then I considered that all medicines were compounded of Herbs, Roots, Flowers, Seeds, &c., and this first set me to work in studying the nature of simples, most of which I knew by sight before; and indeed all the Authors I could read gave me but little satisfaction in this particular, or none at all. I cannot build my faith upon Authors' words, nor believe a thing because they say it, and could wish every body were of my mind in this,--to labour to be able to give a reason for every thing they say or do. They say Reason makes a man differ from a Beast; if that be true, pray what are they that, instead of reason for their judgment, quote old Authors? Perhaps their authors knew a reason for what they wrote, perhaps they did not; what is that to us? Do we know it? Truly in writing this work first, to satisfy myself, I drew out all the virtues of the vulgar or common Herbs, Plants, and Trees, &c., out of the best or most approved authors I had, or could get; and having done so, I set myself to study the reason of them. I knew well enough the whole world, and every thing in it, was formed of a composition of contrary elements, and in such a harmony as must needs show the wisdom and power of a great God. I knew as well this Creation, though thus composed of contraries, was one united body, and man an epitome of it: I knew those various affections in man, in respect of sickness and health, were caused naturally (though God may have other ends best known to himself) by the various operations of the Microcosm; and I could not be ignorant, that as the cause is, so must the cure be; and therefore he that would know the reason of the operation of the Herbs, must look up as high as the Stars, astrologically. I always found the disease vary according to the various motions of the Stars; and this is enough, one would think, to teach a man by the effect where the cause lies. Then to find out the reason of the operation of Herbs, Plants, &c., by the Stars went I; and herein I could find but few authors, but those as full of nonsense and contradiction as an egg is full of meat. This not being pleasing, and less profitable to me, I consulted with my two brothers, DR. REASON and DR. EXPERIENCE, and took a voyage to visit my mother NATURE, by whose advice, together with the help of DR. DILIGENCE, I at last obtained my desire; and, being warned by MR. HONESTY, a stranger in our days, to publish it to the world, I have done it.

But you will say, What need I have written on this Subject, seeing so many famous and learned men have written so much of it in the English Tongue, much more than I have done?

To this I answer, neither GERRARD nor PARKINSON, or any that ever wrote in the like nature, ever gave one wise reason for what they wrote, and so did nothing else but train up young novices in Physic in the School of tradition, and teach them just as a parrot is taught to speak; an Author says so, therefore it is true; and if all that Authors say be true, why do they contradict one another? But in mine, if you view

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