Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
Of the Qualities of the Right Balm
By Sir John Mandeville
AND wyte ye well that, that a man ought to take good kepe1 for to buy balm, but if he can know it right well: for he may right lightly be deceived. For men sell a gum, that men clepen turpentine, instead of balm: and they put thereto a little balm for to give good odour. And some put wax in oil of the wood of the fruit of balm, and say that it is balm: and some distil cloves of gillyflower and of spikenard of Spain and of other spices, that be well smelling; and the liquor that goeth out thereof they clepe it balm: and they wean that they have balm; and they have none. For the Saracens counterfeit it by subtilty of craft, for to deceive the Christian men, as I have see full many a time. And after them, the merchants and the apothecaries counterfeit it eftsoons, and then it is less worth, and a great deal worse. But if it like you, I shall show, how ye shall know and prove, to the end that ye shall not be deceived. First ye shall well know, that the natural balm is full clear, and of citron colour, and strong smelling. And if it be thick, or red or black, it is sophisticate, that is to say counterfeited and made like it, for deceit.