The Lemon (Citrus Limonum) is so common of use in admixing

refreshing drinks, and for its fragrancy of peel, whether for culinary

flavour, or as a delightful perfume, that it may well find a place

among the Simples of a sagacious housewife. Moreover, the

imported fruit, which abounds in our markets, as if to the manner

born, is endowed with valuable medicinal properties which

additionally qualify it for the domestic He
barium. The Lemons

brought to England come chiefly from Sicily, [301] through

Messina and Palermo. Flowers may be found on the lemon tree all

the year round.

In making lemonade it is a mistake to pour boiling water upon

sliced Lemons, because thus brewing an infusion of the peel, which

is medicinal. The juice should be squeezed into cold water

(previously boiled), adding to a quart of the same the juice of three

lemons, a few crushed strawberries, and the cut up rind of one


This fruit grows specially at Mentone, in the south of France; and a

legend runs that Eve carried two or three Lemons with her away

from Paradise, wandering about until she came to Mentone, which

she found to be so like the Garden of Eden that she settled there, and

planted her fruit.

The special dietetic value of Lemons consists in their potash

salts, the citrate, malate, and tartrate, which are respectively

antiscorbutic, and of assistance in promoting biliary digestion.

Each fluid ounce of the fresh juice contains about forty-four

grains of citric acid, with gum, sugar, and a residuum, which yields,

when incinerated, potash, lime, and phosphoric acid. But the

citric acid of the shops is not nearly so preventive or curative

of scurvy as the juice itself.

The exterior rind furnishes a grateful aromatic bitter; and our word

zest signifies really a chip of lemon peel or orange peel used for

giving flavour to liquor. It comes from the Greek verb, skizein,

to divide, or cut up.

The juice has certain sedative properties whereby it allays hysterical

palpitation of the heart, and alleviates pain caused by cancerous

ulceration of the tongue. Dr. Brandini, of Florence, discovered this

latter property of fresh Lemon juice, through a patient who, when

suffering [302] grievously from that dire disease, found marvellous

relief to the part by casually sucking a lemon to slake his feverish

thirst. But it is a remarkable fact that the acid of Lemons is harmful

and obnoxious to cats, rabbits, and other small animals, because it

lowers the heart's action in these creatures, and liquifies the blood;

whereas, in man it does not diminish the coagulability of the blood,

but proves more useful than any other agent in correcting that thin

impoverished liquidity thereof which constitutes scurvy. Rapin

extols lemons, or citrons, for discomfort of the heart:--

Into an oval form the citrons rolled

Beneath thick coats their juicy pulp unfold:

From some the palate feels a poignant smart,

Which, though they wound the tongue, yet heal the heart.

Throughout Italy, and at Rome, a decoction of fresh Lemons is

extolled as a specific against intermittent fever; for which purpose a

fresh unpeeled Lemon is cut into thin slices, and put into an

earthenware jar with three breakfastcupfuls of cold water, and

boiled down to one cupful, which is strained, the lemon being

squeezed, and the decoction being given shortly before the access of

fever is expected.

For a restless person of ardent temperament and active plethoric

circulation, a Lemon squash (unsweetened) of not more than half a

tumblerful is a capital sedative; or, a whole lemon may be made hot

on the oven top, being turned from time to time, and being put

presently when soft and moist into a teacup, then by stabbing it

about the juice will be made to escape, and should be drunk hot. If

bruised together with a sufficient quantity of sugar the pips of a

fresh Lemon or Orange will serve admirably against worms in [303]

children. Cut in slices and put into the morning bath, a Lemon

makes it fragrant and doubly refreshing.

Professor Wilhelm Schmole, a German doctor, has published a work

of some note, in which he advances the theory that fresh Lemon

juice is a kind of elixir vitae; and that if a sufficient number of

Lemons be taken daily, life may be indefinitely prolonged. Lemon

juice is decidedly beneficial against jaundice from passive

sluggishness of the biliary functions; it will often serve to stay

bleedings, when ice and astringent styptics have failed; it will prove

useful when swallowed freely against immoderately active monthly

fluxes in women; and when applied externally it signally relieves

cutaneous itching, especially of the genitals.

Prize-fighters refresh themselves with a fresh cut Lemon between

the rounds when competing in the Ring. Hence has arisen the

common saying, Take a suck of the Lemon, and at him again.

For a relaxed sore throat, Lemon juice will help to make a

serviceable gargle. By the heat of the sun it may be reduced to a

solid state. For a cold in the head, if the juice of a ripe Lemon be

squeezed into the palm of the hand, and strongly sniffed into the

nostrils at two or three separate times, a cure will be promoted.

Roast fillet of veal, with stuffing and lemon juice, was beloved by

Oliver Cromwell.

For heartburn which comes on without having eaten sweet things, it

is helpful to suck a thin slice of fresh Lemon dipped in salt just

after each meal.

The Chinese practice of rubbing parts severely neuralgic with the

wet surface of a cut Lemon is highly useful. This fruit has been sold

within present recollection at half-a-crown each, and during the

American war at five shillings.

[304] The hands may be made white, soft, and supple by daily

sponging them with fresh Lemon juice, which further keeps the

nails in good order; and the same may be usefully applied to the

roots of the hair for removing dandriff from the scalp.

The Candied Peel which we employ as a confection is got from one of

the citrons (a variety of the lemon); whilst another of this tribe is

esteemed for religious purposes in Jewish synagogues. These citrons

are imported into England from the East; and for unblemished

specimens of the latter which reach London, high prices are paid.

One pound sterling is a common sum, and not infrequently as much

as seventy shillings are given for a single Citron of Law. The fruit

is used at the Feast of Tabernacles according to a command given in

the Book of the Law; it is not of an edible nature, but is handed

round and smelt by the worshippers as they go out, when they

thank God for all good things, and for the sweet odours He has

given to men. This citron is considered to be almost miraculously

restorative, especially by those who regard it as the tappnach,

intended in the text, Comfort me with apples. Ladies of the Orient,

even now, carry a piece of its rind about them in a vinaigrette.

The citron which furnishes Candied Peel resembles a large juicy

lemon, but without a nipple.

Virgil said of the fruit generally:--

Media fert tristes succos, tardumque saporem

Felicis mali.

Fresh Lemon juice will not keep because of its mucilage, which

soon ferments.

Sidney Smith, in writing about Foston, his remote Country Cure in

Yorkshire, said it is twelve miles from a Lemon.