Peach





The Peach (Amygdabus Persica), the apple of Persia, began to be

cultivated in England about 1562, or perhaps before then. Columella

tells of this fatal gift conveyed treacherously to Egypt in the first

century:--



Apples, which most barbarous Persia sent,

With native poison armed.



The Peach tree is so well known by its general characteristics as not

to need any particular description. Its young branches, flowers, and

seeds, after maceration in water, yield a volatile oil which is

chemically identical with that of the bitter almond. The flowers are

laxative, and have been used instead of manna. When distilled, they

furnish a white liquor which communicates a flavour resembling the

kernels of fruits. An infusion made from one drachm of the dried

flowers, or from half an ounce of the fresh flowers, has a purgative

effect. The fruit is wholesome, and seldom disagrees if eaten when

ripe and sound. Its quantity of sugar is only small, but the skin is

indigestible.



The leaves possess the power of expelling worms if applied outside

a child's belly as a poultice, but in any medicinal form they must be

used with caution, as they contain some of the properties of prussic

acid, as found [419] also in the leaves of the laurel. A syrup

of Peach flowers was formerly a preparation recognised by

apothecaries. The leaves infused in white brandy, sweetened with

barley sugar, make a fine cordial similar to noyeau. Soyer says the

old Romans gave as much for their peaches as eighteen or nineteen

shillings each.



Peach pie, owing to the abundance of the fruit, is as common fare in

an American farm-house, as apple pie in an English homestead. Our

English King John died at Swinestead Abbey from a surfeit of

peaches, and new ale.



A tincture made from the flowers will allay the pain of colic caused

by gravel; but the kernels of the fruit, which yield an oil identical

with that of bitter almonds, have produced poisonous effects with

children.



Gerard teaches that a syrup or strong infusion of Peach flowers

doth singularly well purge the belly, and yet without grief or

trouble. Two tablespoonfuls of the infusion for a dose.



In Sicily there is a belief that anyone afflicted with goitre, who eats

a Peach on the night of St. John, or the Ascension, will be cured,

provided only that the Peach tree dies at the same time. In Italy

Peach leaves are applied to a wart, and then buried, so that they and

the wart may perish simultaneously.



Thackeray one day at dessert was taken to task by his colleague on

the Punch staff, Angus B. Reach, whom he addressed as Mr.

Reach, instead of as Mr. (Scottice) Reach. With ready

promptitude, Thackeray replied: Be good enough Mr. Re-ack to

pass me a pe-ack.





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