Ginguene, Pierre Louis
ginseng root literary time little appeared
GINGUENE, PIERRE LOUIS (1748-1815), the author of the Histoire littemire d'halie, was born on 25th April 1748 at Rennes in Brittany. He was educated at a Jesuit college in his native town, but he owed most of his literary tastes and accomplishments to his father, who early imbued him with a love of music and the languages of England and Italy. His first literary effort, a poetical piece entitled Con.fession de Zulnt'c', brought him into notice among the literary coteries of Paris, from the circumstance that, when published at first anonymously, it was claimed by six or seven different authors. Though the value of the piece is not very great, it is Ginguene's poetical chef dceuvre. The part he took as a defender of Piccini against the partisans of Gluck made him still more widely known ; and the reputation he acquired as a promising political writer secured employment for him in the public service in 1780. He hailed, however, the first symptoms of theRevolution„joined Rabaut, St Etienne, and Cerutti in producing the Feaille and celebrated in an indifferent ode the opening of the states-general. A more creditable effort was his Lettres les Confessions de J. J. Roasseaut, 1791, in which he defended to the uttermost the life and principles of his author. Refusing to countenance the excesses of the Revolution, he was thrown into prison, whence he only escaped with life by the downfall of Robespierre. Some time after his liberation he assisted, as director-general of the "commission executive de l'instruction publique," in reorganizing the system of public instruction. When the Institute was established in 1796, he was elected a member of the division called the academy of moral and political sciences. In 1798 the directory appointed him minister' plenipotentiary to the king of Sardinia, whose ruin, begun by force of arms, they had determined to complete by treachery. A less promising tool could not have been found for carrying out their design. After fulfilling him duties for seven months, very little to the satisfaction of his employers, Ginguene retired to his country house of St Prix, in the valley of Montmorency, and there he prosecuted his literary labours till the Revolution of the 18th Brumaire called him once more before the world. lie was appointed a member of the tribunate, which made a show of maintaining democratic opposition to the first consul ; but Napoleon, finding that lie was not sufficiently tractable, had him expelled at the first " purge," and Ginguene once more joyfully returned to his favourite pursuits. These were now more than ever a necessity of life to him, as his only other source of income was the small endowment attached to his seat in the Institute. Fortunately he was nominated one of the commission charged to continue the literary history of France, which had been brought down by the Benedictines to about the close of the 12th century ; and the three volumes of this series which appeared in 1814, 1817, and 1820 are for the most part the result of his labours. But the work by which Ginguene will be longest remembered is his Ilistoire liWraire d'Italie (9 vols. Svo, 1811-1819), to which he was putting the finishing touches when he was cut off by a painful disease, November 16, 1815. The first six volumes appeared before their author's death ; the seventh is entirely his except a few pages ; and of the eighth and ninth he wrote about a half, the other half being composed by Salfi, and revised by Daimon. The success of the history in Italy was astonishing : editions were published in various parts of the peninsula, with notes and comments by the best scholars, and three translations appeared respectively at Milan, Naples, and -Venice.
Ginguene was originally led to make Italian literature his special study by finding how ill that subject was tinder-stood, and how little it was appreciated, by his countrymen. In the composition of his history he was guided for the most part by the great work of the Jesuit Tiraboschi, but he avoids the prejudices and party views of his model. His own style, though occasionally forcible and eloquent, is nut unfrequently too tame for the subject, and he often trespasses on his reader's patience by over-minuteness of detail ; but these faults are more than atoned for by fine critical discernment, impartiality, and freedom. On the score of accuracy, indeed, Ginguene sometimes offends, but seldom in matters of great moment ; and his slips are such as are almost inevitable to a foreigner, who could hardly be said to have even seen the country whose literary history lie relates. The Italians felt grateful to him for having placed their literature in its proper light, and readily forgave the excessive eulogies which he passed on many of their writers, whose very names had been forgotten in their own country.
days in fresh water, or water in which rice has been boiled twice ; it is then suspended in a closed vessel over the fire, and afterwards dried, until from the base to the middle it assumes a hard, resinous, and translucent appearance, which is considered a proof of its good quality."
Ginseng of good quality generally occurs in hard, rather brittle, translucent pieces, about the size of the little finger, and varying in length from 2 to 4 inches. The taste is mucilaginous, sweetish, and slightly bitter and aromatic. The root is frequently forked, and it is probably owing to this circumstance that medicinal properties were in the first place attributed to it, its resemblance to the body of a man being supposed to indicate that it could restore virile power to the aged and impotent. In price it varies from 6 or 12 dollars to the enormous sum of 300 or 400 dollars an ounce. Root of this quality can of course only be purchased by the most wealthy, and the greatest care is taken of such pieces by the vendors.
Lockhart gives a graphic description of a visit to a ginseng merchant. Opening the outer box, the merchant removed several paper parcels which appeared to fill the box, but under them was a second box, or perhaps two small boxes, which, when taken out, showed the bottom of the large box and all the intervening space filled with more paper parcels. These parcels, lie said, "contained quicklime, for the purpose of absorbing any moisture and keeping the boxes quite dry, the lime being packed in paper for the sake of cleanliness. The smaller box, which held the ginseng, was lined with sheet-lead ; the ginseng further enclosed in silk wrappers was kept in little silken-covered boxes. Taking up a piece, he would request his visitor not to breathe upon it, nor handle it ; he would dilate upon the many merits of the drug and the cures it had effected. The cover of the root, according to its qnality, was silk, either embroidered or plain, cotton cloth, or paper." In China the ginseng is often sent to friends as a valuable present ; in such eases, "accompanying the medicine is usually given a small, beautifully-finished double kettle, in which the ginseng is prepared as follows. The inner kettle is made of silver, and between this and the outside vessel, which is a copper jacket, is a small space for holding water. The silver kettle, which fits nu a ring near the top of the outer covering, has a cup-like cover in which rice is placed with a little water ; the ginseng is put in the inner vessel with water, a cover is placed over the whole, and the apparatus is put on the fire. When the rice in the cover is sufficiently cooked, the medicine is ready, and is then eaten by the patient, who drinks the ginseng tea at time same time." The dose of the root is from 60 to 90 grains. During the sue of the drug tea-drinking is forbidden for at least a mouth, but no other change is made in the diet. It is taken in the morning before breakfast, from three to eight days together. and sometimes it is taken in the evening before going to bed.
At one time it was proposed by some Russians to establish ginseng plantations, with the view of growing the root as an important article of trade with China. Ginseng is also cultivated in Japan, having been introduced from Corea ; but, although it grows more luxuriantly there than in its native country, the root is considered to be much less active. This may be this to the fact that, while in the mountains of Corea the root is perennial, in Japan the plant runs to seed the first year, and becomes annual. Europeans have Hitherto failed to discover any remarkable properties in the drug. Dr Porter Smith, however, mentions having seen some cases in which life appeared to be prolonged fora time by its use; and M. Maack states that one of the Cossacks of his party, having chopped off a finger accidentally with an axe, applied ointment made front ginseng, and the wound healed rapidly, its properties, which may be likened to those of the mandrake of Scripture, are perhaps dependent in great measure upon the faith of the patient.
See Porter Smith, Chinese Materiel Mealica, p. 103; Reports on Trade at the Treaty Ports of China, 1868, p. 63; Lockhart, Ned. Missionary in China, 2d ed., p. 107; Bull. de la Societe Imperiale de Nat. de Moscow, 1865, No. 1, pp. 70-76; Pharmaceutical Journal, (2), vol. iii. pp. 197, 333, (2), vol. ix. p. 77; Lewis, Materia Medica, p. 324; Journal of Botany, 1864, p. 320; Geoffrey, Tract. do Materie Medicale, t. ii. p. 112; Lonreiro, Flora Coehinehinensis, p. 656; Koempfer, Anuenitates Exotica, p. 824.