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
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
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  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
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
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.