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
ngly sweet

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

bunioned feet.

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.