1. Seymar, William. (William Seymar is a pseudonymous anagram for William Ramsey.) Cf. Halkett and Laing

Conjugium conjurgium: or, some serious considerations on marriage. Wherein (by way of caution and advice to a friend) its nature, ends, events, concomitant accidents, &c. are examined. By William Seymar Esquire.

London: printed for John Amery at the Peacock over against St. Dunstan’s Church in Fleet-Street 1675.                         $2,300    

Duodecimo: 15 X 9 cm. A-G12H8  Second Edition (the 1674 edition is a title page cancel)  Bound in Modern full calf. 

This book gives an interesting insight into the actual practice of marital relationships.  The book begins by advocating an ideal, and emphasizes the need for the wife to submit herself totally to her husband, however, the main argument of his book seems to be to discourage men from entering the state of matrimony. For they be often deceived in this point, because if anything dislike them in their own husband, whom they have, they call to remembrance only such points as pleased them in their first husband.”  William Ramsey was much blunter about the dangers of a widow taunting her second husband with the exaggerated virtues of the first: he warned any man that must marry a widow to “choose one whose first husband was hanged.”

Wing R-229; Macdonald’s Bibliography of Dryden # 172B; Arber’s Term cat.; I 208;  ESTC (RLIN),; R015779


The Cure of Wounds By The Powder Of Sympathy. 1658

445J Digby, Kenelm, 1603-1665.

A late discourse made in a solemne assembly of nobles and learned men at Montpellier in France; by Sr. Kenelme Digby, Knight, &c. Touching the cure of wounds by the powder of sympathy; with instructions how to make the said powder; whereby many other secrets of nature ar unfolded. Rendred faithfully out of French into English by R. White. Gent  { Translation of “Discours fait en une célèbre assemblée, touchant la guérison des playes par la poudre de sympathie”.}

London : printed for R. Lownes, and T. Davies, and are to be sold at their shops in St. Pauls Church yard, at the sign of the White Lion, and at the Bible over against the little north door of St. Pauls Church, 1658.                 Price  $2,900

Duodecimo:  122.5 x 8.5 cm.  Signatures: A-G¹² H⁶./ Adverstisement: “Books printed for, and to be sold by, Thomas Davis”, p. [1] at end. The Second edition [same year as the first] corrected and augmented, with the addition of an index. This is boud in modern full calf in an appropriate style.

This remarkable book is one of the most imaginative attempts to add a mechanistic development to the pharmacopeia.  The Powder of Sympathyis the substantive manifestation of Sympathetic magic which is based on the metaphysical belief that like affects like.   Not a far step from the eating the heart of a brave but defeated warrior foe, throwing spears at painted animals on cave walls, or wearing the reindeer’s antlers before the hunt. But with Digby’s ‘discovery’ of  The Powder of Sympathywhich facilitates an extra-perceptible connection between a wound and its cause; specifically rapier wounds. Expanding the concepts of healing, and for that matter weapons.

 Digby’s discovery is depicted in Umberto Eco’s novel The island of the day before.Where Dr. Byrd, the scientist on board a lost ship ,  can tell the time at the ship’s port of departure and can then calculate accurately how far they have traveled west. Byrd then uses The Powder of Sympathy, in the attempt to solve the problem of longitude. A dog’s wound is kept open on a ship in the South Pacific. At an agreed upon hour the knife that opened that wound is touched in London. The dog howls and whimpers. The seamen then know London time, and from that they can determine longitude.

In 1687 The Royal Navy tested the notion of sympathetic powder. A dog was wounded and sent off to sea while its bandage remained in London. At a predetermined time, the bandage was to be treated with the powder and the dog was to feel the effect. After this experiment the navy did not pursue the practice.

The Duke of Buckingham testified that Digby had healed his secretary of a gangrenous wound by simply soaking the bloody bandage in a solution of the powder (possibly due to the oligodynamic effect see the Recipe below). Digby claimed to have got the secret remedy from a Carmelite monk in Florence and attributed its potency to the fact that the sun’s rays extracted the spirits of the blood and the vitriol, while, at the same time, the heat of the wound caused the healing principle thus produced to be attracted to it by means of a current of air .

Wing (CD-ROM, 1996), D1435; ESTC; R27859; Zeis Index,; 40

While well represented in institutions it is not commonly on the market.


1. Take good English Vitriol, dissolve it in warm water, using no more water than will dissolve it, leaving some of the imperfect part at the bottom undissolved.2. Pour it off and filter it, which you may do so by a Coffin of fine gray paper put into a Funnel, or by laying a sheet of gray paper in a sieve, and pouring your water or Dissolution of Vitriol into it by degrees, setting the sieve upon a large pan to receive the filtered Liquor.3. When all your Liquor is filtered, boil it in an earthen Vessel glazed, till you see a thin scum upon it. 4. Set the scum in a Cellar to cool, covering it loosely, so that nothing may fall in. 5. After two or three days standing, pour off the Liquor, and you will find at the bottom and on the sides large and fair green Christals like Emerauds. 6. Drain off all the water clean from them, and dry them. Then spread them abroad, in a large flat earthen dish, and expose them to the hot sun in the Dog-days, taking them in at Night, and setting them out in the Morning, securing them from the Rain. 7. When the Sun has calcined them to whiteness, beat them to Powder, and set this Powder again in the Sun, stirring it sometimes, and when you see it perfectly white, powder it, and sift it finely, and set it again in the Sun for a day. 8. You will have a pure white Powder, which is the Powder of Sympathy.

How to preserve

9. Put it up in a Glass, and stop it close [seal it]. The next year when the Dog days come, and if you still have any of this Powder left, you may expose it again in the Sun, spreading it abroad to renew its Virtue by the influence of the Sunbeams.

How to Use – the Way of Curing Wounds

10. Take some of the Blood upon a Rag, and put some of the Powder upon the Blood. 11. Then keep only the Wound clean, with a clean Linnen [sic] about it, and in a moderate Temper betwixt hot and cold, and wrap up the Rag with the Blood, and keep it either in your Pocket or in a Box, and the Would will be healed without any Ointment or Plaster, and without any pain.

*But if the would is somewhat old, and hot, and inflamed, you must put some of this Powder into a Porringer or Basin full of cold Water, and then put anything into it that has been upon the wound, and has some of the Blood or Matter upon it, and it will presently take away all Pain and Inflammation.** To staunch the Blood either of a Wound or Bleeding at the Nose, take only some of the Blood upon a Rag, and put some powder upon it, or take a Basin with fresh water, and put some of the Powder into it, and bathe the Nostrils with it