The Parsleys are botanically named Selinon, and by some verbal

accident, through the middle letter n in this word being changed

into r, making it Seliron, or, in the Italian, Celeri, our Celery

(which is a Parsley) obtained its title. It is a cultivated variety of

the common Smallage (Small ache) or wild Celery (Apium

graveolens), which grows abundantly in moist English ditches, or

in water. This is an umbelliferous he
b, unwholesome as a food,

and having a coarse root, with [95] a fetid smell. But, like many

others of the same natural order, when transplanted into the

garden, and bleached, it becomes aromatic and healthful, making

an excellent condimentary vegetable. But more than this, the

cultivated Celery may well take rank as a curative Herbal Simple.

Dr. Pereira has shown us that it contains sulphur (a known

preventive of rheumatism) as freely as do the cruciferous plants,

Mustard, and the Cresses. In 1879, Mr. Gibson Ward, then

President of the Vegetarian Society, wrote some letters to the

Times, which commanded much attention, about Celery as a food

and a medicament. Celery, said he, when cooked, is a very fine

dish, both as a nutriment and as a purifier of the blood; I will not

attempt to enumerate all the marvellous cures I have made with

Celery, lest medical men should be worrying me en masse. Let

me fearlessly say that rheumatism is impossible on this diet; and

yet English doctors in 1876 allowed rheumatism to kill three

thousand six hundred and forty human beings, every death being

as unnecessary as is a dirty face.

The seeds of our Sweet Celery are carminative, and act on the

kidneys. An admirable tincture is made from these seeds, when

bruised, with spirit of wine; of which a teaspoonful may be taken

three times a day, with a spoonful or two of water. The root of the

Wild Celery, Smallage, or Marsh Parsley, was reckoned, by the

ancients, one of the five great aperient roots, and was employed in

their diet drinks. The Great Parsley is the Large Age, or Large

Ache; as a strange inconsistency the Romans adorned the heads of

their guests, and the tombs of their dead with crowns of the

Smallage. Our cultivated Celery is a capital instance of fact that

most of the poisonous plants call, by [96] human ingenuity, be so

altered in character as to become eminently serviceable for food or

medicine. Thus, the Wild Celery, which is certainly poisonous

when growing exposed to daylight, becomes most palatable, and

even beneficial, by having its edible leaf stalks earthed up and

bleached during their time of cultivation.

Dr. Pereira says the digestibility of Celery is increased by its

maceration in vinegar. As taken at table, Celery possesses certain

qualities which tend to soothe nervous irritability, and to relieve

sick headaches. This herb Celery [Sellery] is for its high and

grateful taste, says John Evelyn, in his Acetaria, ever placed

in the middle of the grand sallet at our great men's tables, and our

Praetor's feasts, as the grace of the whole board. It contains some

sugar and a volatile odorous principle, which in the wild plant

smells and tastes strongly and disagreeably. The characteristic

odour and flavour of the cultivated plant are due to this essential

oil, which has now become of modified strength and qualities; also

when freshly cut it affords albumen, starch, mucilage, and mineral

matter. Why Celery accompanies cheese at the end of dinner it is

not easy to see. This is as much a puzzle as why sucking pig and

prune sauce should be taken in combination,--of which delicacies

James Bloomfield Rush, the Norwich murderer, desired that plenty

should be served for his supper the night before he was hanged, on

April 20th, 1849.