Chervil Or Beaked Parsley
There is found, writes Parkinson, during June and July, in almost
every English hedge, a certain plant called Choerophyllum,
in show very like unto Hemlockes, of a good and pleasant
smell and taste, which have caused us to term it 'Sweet Chervill.'
And in modern times this plant has taken rank as a pot herb
in our gardens, though its virtues and uses are not sufficiently
known. The root is great, thick and long, exceed
in smell, and tasting like unto anise seeds. This root is much
used among the Dutch people in a kind of loblolly or hotchpot,
which they do eat, calling it warmus. The seeds taken as a salad
whilst they are yet green, exceed all other salads by many degrees
in pleasantness of taste, sweetness of smell, and wholesomeness
for the cold and feeble stomach. In common with other camphoraceous
and strongly aromatic herbs, by reason of its volatile oil
and its terebinthine properties, the Scandix, or Sweet Chervil,
was entitled to make one of the choice spices used for composing
the holy oil with which the sacred vessels of the Tabernacle
were anointed by Moses. It belongs to the particular group
of umbelliferous plants which is endowed with balsamic gums,
and with carminative essences appealing powerfully to the
sense of smell.
The herb Chervil was in the mind of Roman Catullus when discoursing
sweet verses of old to his friend Fabullus:--
Nam unguentum dabo quod meoe puelloe
Donarunt veneres, cupidinesque.
Quod tu quum olfacies deo rogabis
Totum ut te faciat. Fabulle! nasum.
I will give you a perfume my damsels gave me,
Sweet daughters of Venus, sad hoydens are ye!
Which the moment you smell will incite you to pray
My Fabullus! to live as 'all nose' from that day.
Evelyn taught (1565) that the tender tops of Cherville should
never be wanting in our sallets, being exceeding wholesome, and
chearing the spirits; also that the roots boiled and cold are to be
much commended for aged persons. But in 1745 several Dutch
soldiers were poisoned by eating the rough wild Chervil, from
which the cultivated sweet variety is to be distinguished by its
having its stems swollen beneath the joints--much as our
blue-blooded patricians are signalised by gouty knuckles and
The botanical name of the Sweet Chervil (Choerophyllum)
signifies a plant which rejoices the heart--Kairei-phyllum. The
roots, said an old writer, are very good for old people that are
dull and without courage; they gladden and comfort the spirits,
and do increase their lusty strength. The juice is slightly aperient,
and abundantly lacteal when mixed with goat's milk, or in gruel.
Physicians formerly held this herb in high esteem, as capable of
curing most chronic disorders connected with the urinary
passages, and gravel. Some have even asserted that if these
distempers will not yield to a constant use of Chervil, they win be
scarcely curable by any other medicine. The Wild Chervil will
help to dissolve any tumours or swellings in all parts of the body
speedily, if applied to the place, as also to take away the spots and
marks in the flesh and skin, of congealed blood by blows or
bruises. The feathery leaves of Chervil, which are of a bright
emerald hue in the spring, become of a rich purple in the
autumn, just as the objectionably carroty locks of Tittlebat
Titmouse, in Ten Thousand a Year, became vividly green under
Cyanochaitanthropopoin, and were afterwards strangely empurpled
by Tetragmenon abracadabra, at nine and sixpence the bottle.