It may happen that one or another enquirer taking up this book will ask, to begin with, "What is a Herbal Simple?" The English word "Simple," composed of two Latin words, Singula plica (a single fold), means "Singleness," whether of material or purpose.
From primitive times the term "Herbal Simple" has been applied to any homely curative remedy consisting of one ingredient only, and that of a vegetable nature. Many such a native medicine found favour and success with our single-minded forefathers, this being the "reverent simplicity of ancienter times."
In our own nursery days, as we now fondly remember, it was: "Simple Simon met a pieman going to the fair; said Simple Simon to the pieman, 'Let me taste your ware.'" That ingenuous youth had but one idea, connected simply with his stomach; and his sole thought was how to devour the contents of the pieman's tin. We venture to hope our readers may be equally eager to stock their minds with the sound knowledge of Herbal Simples which this modest Manual seeks to provide for their use.
Healing by herbs has always been popular both with the classic nations of old, and with the British islanders of more recent times. Two hundred and sixty years before the date of Hippocrates (460 B.C.) the prophet Isaiah bade King Hezekiah, when sick unto death, "take a lump of Figs, and lay it on the boil; and straightway the King recovered."