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Macer, Grieve and Marigolds

November 22 2010 at 10:37 AM
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The excellent Cloisters blog http://blog.metmuseum.org/cloistersgardens/
has just done a piece on marigolds. It quotes a poem purportedly by Macer found in Mrs Grieve. I found it in the Modern Herbal, but not in my Macer suggesting that Mrs G used some version of Macer other than the standard Frisk edition of 1949. Does anyone know which one she used and where she found it?

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Peter Leyel

Re: Macer, Grieve and Marigolds

November 30 2010, 3:52 PM 

If you checkhttp://botanical.com/ it seems she used the 1971 Dover edition.
This Dover edition, first published in 1971, is an unabridged republication of the work originally published by Harcourt, Brace & Company in 1931

International Standard Book Number: 0-486-22798-7
Libary of Congress Catalog Card Number: 72-169784
The poem , exactly as quoted in the Cloisters Blog, is given on this web page.

Re: Macer, Grieve and Marigolds

December 7 2010, 9:23 AM 

That's really helpful Peter, many thanks

Re: Macer, Grieve and Marigolds

December 10 2010, 9:51 AM 

Morning chaps

I'm confused! Doesn't take much these days I know happy.gif Are we saying that Mrs Grieve used the 1971 edition or the person who has done the botanical.com website used it? Mrs Grieve died on the 20th December 1941, so she couldn't have used the version of Macer Anthony mentioned either.

Dover publications did a reprint of a Modern herbal in 1971 of the 1931 Harcourt, Brace & Company version of A Modern Herbal. H, B & C published the New York version, the UK version was done by Jonathan Cape also in 1931. The originally was printed in 2 volumes, which Dover replicated when they did their reprint. Tiger Books in the 90's put the two volumes together into 1 package which people on Amazon are currently selling for the same price as you pay for both volumes of the 1931 AMH.

Making a mental leap I wondered where Mrs Grieve could have got the information from so checked the books I had from her peers and low and behold the same section of the poem is in Eleanour Sinclair Rohde's book 'The Old English Herbals' first printed in 1922 by Longmans, Green & Co, and subsequently reprinted by Dover. I'm not sure if this will help you identify the copy of Macer being used at all Anthony but Rohde's says the following in Chapter 11 of her book ...

"The vast majority of herbal MSS.[manuscripts for those not in the know] are merely transcriptions of Macer's herbal, a medieval Latin poem on the virtues of seventy-seven plants, which is believed to have been written in the tenth century. The popularity of this poem is shown in the number of MSS. still extant. It was translated into English as early as the twelfth century with the addition of 'A fewe herbes wyche Macer tretyth not.' In 1373 it was translated by John Lelamoure [also referred to as Johannes Lelamoure] ..." she then goes on to say

"Macer's herbal is also the basis of a treatise in rhyme of which there are several copies in England and one in the Royal Library in Stockholm. This treatise which deals with twenty-four herbs"... [she then goes on to quote the first few lines of the poem prior to the Marigold bit quoted in A Modern Herbal] ...

My understanding may be incorrect here, but is Rohde's saying that the poem is inspired by Macer's herbal and not actually by Macer? If so that would explain why you can't find it in your copy of Macer. That said under the entry for Periwinkle in AMH Grieve references Macer's herbal from the early 16th century, having never had the chance to examine of Macer's herbal yet I'm not sure of the actual contents, I haven't seen any modern versions either.

Peter sent me a copy of a pdf file which will be added to the HS members area from an exhibition held by the Society of Herbalists "In 1953 sixty-seven Flower Books from the Library of the Society of Herbalists were exhibited at Londonderry House, Park Lane, London, under the auspices of the Arts Council." Peter has managed to get images from each of the books, Macer's isn't in there, but it's possible that Hilda Leyel had a copy of Macer's in her library. Peter may have a list of the books that were sold, I'm certain I've seen one but I can't recall where or when, if Hilda had a copy of Macer, Mrs Grieve could well have borrowed it whilst compiling her book?

Hope the above is of some help...


Re: Macer, Grieve and Marigolds

December 13 2010, 7:12 PM 

Oh dear, silly me, I put it all down to senility and the cold weather. I admit that I misinterpreted Peters message as saying that Dover had published an edition of Macer in 1971 based on the same text as the one used by Mrs Grieve. Being distracted by frozen pipes and the familiar greenhouse heating crises, It was not until I read Debs message, thanks for that Debs, - that I tried to locate the non-existent Dover Macer and realised the reference was to ESR (I think; Dover seemed to publish Grieve and Rohde almost simultaneously) rather than Macer. I agree that Mrs G almost certainly used ESR (1922) as her base, she was never a great one for acknowledging her sources, but I have treated Rohde with a certain circumspection since I realised her enthusiasms were inclined to over-rule her objectivity and therefore wonder from where she could have obtained the 'marigold text'. The Rodhe reference 'there are several copies in England and one in the Royal Library in Stockholm. This treatise which deals with twenty-four herbs, begins thus quaintly
'of erbs xxxiiij, I woll tell you by and by'... is misleading. The Stockholm edition known as X commences with 'Mogworte or moderwort is clepid arthemisia' and deals with 77 herbs plus 27 in the supplementary section. It certainly doesnt contain Rohdes 'marigold rhyme' . Gosta Frisk who prepared the 1949 edition which everyone seems to use, acknowledges his debt to the Choulant edition published in Leipzig in 1832. However he says that the plants are ordered differently and that X is not based on any of the MS that go to make up the Choulant edition.
On page 16 of his edition, Frisk writes 'E S Rohde, The Old English Herbals, London 1922 p 42 states that Macers herbal was translated in to English as early as the twelfth century'. I have found no justification for this statement' He then goes on to comprehensively trash Lelamoures (fictitious) version and ends up asking 'How have these 'false' Macer translations arisen? The explanation is most probably to be found in the desire of the authors and translators to give their books a good start'. Looks like poor old Rohde fell in to the trap and Mrs G tumbled in after her.
On the other hand Rohde could have got her hands on a Choulant or one of the copies that were advertised on the web today going for $12,500. The blurb going with the latter suggests that this is one of the texts on which Choulant is based. Unless someone has deeper pockets than me, we will never know if the marigold rhyme has a Teutonic origin or not. The mystery continues to tantalise. I really should get out more!

On Vinca, I think its presence in a post-medieval 'Macer' owes its existence to one of those dodgy over-enthusiastic authors referred to by Frisk above, because there is no evidence of it in "X" As for the Grieve text, referring to Periwinkle as 'Joy of the ground', Harvey (Page 131) writes that this is a misreading of the word 'Juy' and 'it is a sad commentary on the prevalence of error that most of this literary chain of nonsense has been forged since R.C.A. Prior in 1863 published the correct reading.'

Peter Leyel

Re: Macer, Grieve and Marigolds

December 15 2010, 9:25 AM 

On the 13th March 1967, the Society of Herbalists sold the item below from their library (as collected by Hilda)
lot 188 Macer Floridus. De Viribus Herbarum, 52 leaves, 33 lines, gothic letter, 66 WOODCUTS of plants, some contempory manuscript notes with names of plants, etc. 4to. Geneva, printer of the 1495 Fasciculus temporum, about 1500.
The Sotheby's catalogue has a full page illustration of one of the woodcuts from this book. It shows the learned medico writing at his work desk. (perhaps the marigold poem??)
Happy Christmas,

Re: Macer, Grieve and Marigolds

December 16 2010, 6:53 PM 

Hi Peter
I momentarily thought that you had cracked it until I realised that the old bloke sitting at his desk in Geneva was more likely to be writing a poem (or something) in High German than Middle English. In fact I suspect the De Viribus Herbarum above, with its Gothic lettering may have been one of the German recensions that went to make up the Choulant edition. Coincidentally the one (De Herbarum Virtutibus Aemilii Macri Veronensis elegantissima poesis, cum succincta admodum difficilium & obscurorum locorum, D. Georgii Pictorii.expositione.& in lucem edita. Cum Carmine de Herba quadam exotica.D. Georgio Pictorio Villingano autore) currently being offered in NY has 52 woodcuts, but 206 pages and is referred to as being a second edition possibly dating from as late as the Seventeenth century. Perhaps the Society of Herbalists had the first edition. I hope they got a lot of money for it.
Of those listed in ESR at the top of page 198, Frisk reckons Sloane 963 to be a fake, but more interestingly the second one listed by Rohde possesses the same incipit mugworte or brotherworte is clepid Arthemisia as the X recension in Stockholm. Frisk in fact describes seven parallel English texts, but of Rohdes first commencing This booke ys drawe be fesyke sounds identical to the one of which Friske writes The text in the Trinity College MS 0.1.13 Cambridge, which is titled "On the Virtues of Herbs and which begins "This booke ys drawe be fesyke is quite different from that of our Macer when it deals with the same plants" This makes me wonder if this is the one that Rohde used, even though she wrote that it was only "seemingly" out of Macer. Also she references it as Sloane 963 in the British Museum whilst Frisk writes that it is in Trinity, as above. So are there two copies of this dubious text around with Frisk unaware of the Sloane 963 (although he mentions Sloane 2269 and Sloane 2527 amongst the parallel English texts) or was it moved and recatalogued between the writing of the Rohde and Frisk books? Hardly seems likely
I am sure a lot of people will be asking the obvious third question "who gives a toss anyway"? Faced with frozen pipes and Christmas shopping, this seems a perfectly valid question but then where would we be without these wild goose-chases to take us away from the world of governmental cutbacks and pots of herbs frozen rock solid? My cats and I agree that it is more fun sitting here in the warm study than outside clearing up tunnels. Happy Christmas everyone

Incidentally is the above incomprehensible? the formatting of this message board seems to apply and eradicate inverted commas with a happy capriciousness with which I have been totally unable to come to grips.


Re: Macer, Grieve and Marigolds

December 17 2010, 5:29 PM 

It seems probable that the S of H incanabulum was actually printed with a Latin text. The first illustrated printed book of De Viribus Herbarum was made in 1477 and is in Naples. The website
shows the identical woodcut to the one given in the Sotheby's catalogue for the S of H copy, and as you see on the website, the text is Latin. The website above also shows a number of other pages with their woodcut illustrations, and all the text is Latin. Which does not bring us any futher in finding out where Mrs Grieve found her old English marigold poem! Christies New York sale in 2009 realised $32,000 for a second edition of the book and does refer to an earlier edition printed in Geneva in ca. 1500.
This second edition contains the same revisions of the text that were employed in the first
edition of 1477. The first illustrated edition seems to be a Geneva edition ca. 1500 (Goff's
"Gensus", M-3), with a large title woodcut of a physician writing in his library (repeated on
verso) and 66 woodcuts of flowers and herbs.
The reference given in the Sotheby's 1967 catalogue is indeed Goff Census M3.

Re: Macer, Grieve and Marigolds

December 19 2010, 9:32 AM 

Gosh, it makes the currently available NY edition look quite cheap, however if I had a choice today I think I would spend the money on a 4-wheel drive so that I could get out of this place.Thanks anyway Peter.

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