The hero of A POTION FOR PASSION, Lawrence, is in league with some low-life characters, including smugglers. Which one of these ran a huge smuggling organisation in southern England in the Georgian era?
a) Claude Duval
b) Moll Cutpurse
c) Isaac Gulliver
C) Isaac Gulliver. He operated throughout Dorset and along the south coast. Born in Wiltshire near where I live!
Okay, next question in my not-too-serious historical quiz. What do you think was the ultimate penalty for smuggling in 1805, the year in which A POTION FOR PASSION is set?
b) The ducking stool
A) hanging. Beheading tended to be for crimes against the state and peers. The ducking stool was used as a punishment for scolds.
Moving away from crime now and into the colourful world of folk medicine…
In A POTION FOR PASSION, Lawrence claims to be able to cure many ailments. What do you think is his (genuinely used) remedy for a bee sting?
a) Get another bee to sting the same spot
b) Thrash the spot with a handful of nettles
c) Apply vinegar to the affected area
C) I learned that when I was being a Tudor stillroom wench!
Next quiz question- how might a quack doctor (not at all like Lawrence in A POTION FOR PASSION!) advise you to deal with a snakebite?
a) Chew alkanet, then spit it into the snake’s open mouth
b) Lie on the ground screaming
c) Get a friend to suck out the poison and hope they don’t die
A) I know it sounds weird, but it’s in a genuine 17th century herbal!
Another quiz question for you. How might a Regency “alternative” physician (which is how I like to think of Lawrence, since mountebank, quack doctor and charlatan are not very kind terms) deal with a burn?
a) Cover it with cobwebs
b) Apply bruised hemlock to the burn
c) Wash the burn in rainwater gathered by moonlight
B) But don’t lick your fingers after you’ve picked it as hemlock is deadly poisonous. In fact, just don’t go near the stuff. Okay?
Penultimate question! In A POTION FOR PASSION, Flora and Lawrence become partners in his travelling medicine show for a while. How would they deal with a man who’d fallen and broken his head?
a) Wrap a silk hair ribbon around the head
b) Give him a decoction of roses in red wine to drink
c) Heat up a cupful of honey and apply gently over the scalp
B) Another charming remedy from Nicholas Culpeper!
Final quiz question- If the healer Lawrence in A POTION FOR PASSION had to tend to a child who had broken their arm when falling out of a tree, what would he suggest?
a) Give the miscreant a taste of the birch switch and tell him not to do it again
b) Wrap a bendy sheet of lead around the arm
c) Mash up some comfrey root and apply it to the arm
C) The folk name for comfrey was “Knitbone”. It is a plant with many healing properties. And flipping difficult to get rid of once you let it get a hold in your garden!
Do you enjoy fun historical quizzes? Should I do more?