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Fungi are of a more humid nature than the last, and are divided into numerous kinds, all of which are derived solely from the pituitous humours1 of trees. The safest are those, the flesh of which is red,2 the colour being more pronounced than that of the mushroom. The next best are the white3 ones, the stems of which have a head very similar to the apex4 worn by the Flamens; and a third kind are the suilli,5 very conveniently adapted for poisoning. Indeed, it is but very recently that they have carried off whole families, and all the guests at a banquet; Linnæus Serenus,6 for instance, the prefect of Nero's guard, together with all the tribunes and centurions. What great pleasure, then, can there be in partaking of a dish of so doubtful7 a character as this? Some persons have classified these fungi according to the trees to which they are indebted for their formation, the fig, for instance, the fennel-giant, and the gummiferous trees; those belonging to the beech, the robur, and the cypress, not being edible, as already mentioned.8 But who is there to give us a guarantee when they come to market, that these distinctions have been observed?

All the poisonous fungi are of a livid colour; and the degree of similarity borne by the sap of the tree itself to that of the fig will afford an additional indication whether they are venom- oust or not. We have already mentioned9 various remedies for the poison of fungi, and shall have occasion to make mention of others; but in the mean time, it will be as well to observe that they themselves also have some medicinal10 uses. Glaucias is of opinion that mushrooms are good for the stomach. The suilli are dried and strung upon a rush, as we see done with those brought from Bithynia. They are employed as a remedy for the fluxes known as "rheumatismi,"11 and for excrescences of the fundament, which they diminish and gradually consume. They are used, also, for freckles and spots on women's faces. A wash, too, is made of them, as is done with lead,12 for maladies of the eyes. Steeped in water, they are applied topically to foul ulcers, eruptions of the head, and bites inflicted by dogs.

I would here also give some general directions for the cooking of mushrooms, as this is the only article of food that the voluptuaries of the present day are in the habit of dressing with their own hands, and so feeding upon it in anticipation, being provided with amber-handled13 knives and silver plates and dishes for the purpose. Those fungi may be looked upon as bad which become hard in cooking; while those, on the other hand, are comparatively innoxious, which admit of being thoroughly boiled, with the addition of some nitre. They will be all the safer if they are boiled with some meat or the stalks of pears: it is a very good plan, too, to eat pears directly after them. Vinegar, too, being of a nature diametrically opposed to them, neutralizes14 their dangerous qualities.

1 "Ex pituita." Fée thinks that under the name of "boleti," Pliny means exclusively agaries or mushrooms of the division Amanites, which contains both the best and the most noxious kinds—the oronge for instance, and the false oronge.

2 The Agaricus campestris of Linnæus, Feé thinks, our common field mushroom, or, possibly, the Agaricus deliciosus of Linnæus.

3 The Agaricus procerus of Schoofer, probably, the tall columelle, Fée thinks.

4 A cap worn by the Flamen; or chief-priest, of a somewhat conical shape; very similar in form to the Russian helmlet of the present day.

5 "Swine mushrooms." Fée suggests that this may be the Boletus edulis of Bullilard.

6 A valued friend of the philosopher Seneca, as we learn from Tacitus, and Seneca's Epistles, Ep. 63.

7 See Martial's Epigrams, 13. i. Ep. 21.

8 In B. xvi. c. 11. In that passage, however, the pine is mentioned, and not the beech.

9 In B. xx. c. 13, et passim.

10 Fée says that the fungi are but little used in modern medicine: the white bolet, he says, or larch bolet, is sometimes employed as a purgative, and some German writers have spoken in praise of the Bolecus suavcolens of Bulliard, as a remedy for pulmonary phthisis. The agaric known as amadue, or German tinder, is also employed in surgery. Fée remarks that all that Pliny says as to the medicinal properties of mushrooms and fungi is more or less hazardous.

11 Rheums, or catarrhs.

12 See B. xxxiv. c. 50.

13 "Sucinis novaculis." This may possibly mean "knives of amber;" and it is not improbable that the use of amber may have been thought a means of detecting the poisonous qualities of fungi.

14 This, as Fée remarks, is the case. All kinds of fungi, too, it is said, may be eaten with impunity, if first boiled in salt water.

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