THE Natural HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE:
A Distinct and Particular Account of the Cocoa-tree, its Growth and
Culture, and the Preparation, Excellent Properties, and Medicinal
Vertues of its Fruit.
Wherein the Errors of those who have wrote upon this Subject are
discover’d; the Best Way of Making Chocolate is explain’d; and
several Uncommon Medicines drawn from it, are communicated.
Translated from the last Edition of the French,
By R. BROOKES, M. D.
The Second Edition.
Printed for J. Roberts, near the Oxford-Arms in Warwick-Lane.
If the Merit of a Natural History depends upon the Truth of the Facts
which are brought to support it, then an unprejudiced Eye-Witness is
more proper to write it, than any other Person; and I dare even flatter
myself, that this will not be disagreeable to the Publick
notwithstanding its Resemblance to the particular Treatises of
Colmenero (1), Dufour (2), and several others who have wrote upon the same
Subject. Upon examination, so great a Difference will appear, that no
one can justly accuse me of having borrow’d any thing from these
This small Treatise is nothing but the Substance and Result of the
Observations that I made in the American Islands, during the fifteen
Years which I was obliged to stay there, upon the account of his
Majesty’s Service. The great Trade they drive there in Chocolate,
excited my Curiosity to examine more strictly than ordinary into its
Origin, Culture, Properties, and Uses. I was not a little surprized when
I every day discover’d, as to the Nature of the Plant, and the Customs
of the Country, a great Number of Facts contrary to the Ideas, and
Prejudices, for which the Writers on this Subject have given room.
For this reason, I resolved to examine every thing myself, and to
represent nothing but as it really was in Nature, to advance nothing but
what I had experienced, and even to doubt of the Experiments themselves,
till I had repeated them with the utmost Exactness. Without these
Precautions, there can be no great Dependance on the greatest Part of
the Facts, which are produced by those who write upon any Historical
Matter from Memorandums; which, from the Nature of the Subject, they
cannot fully comprehend.
As for my Reasonings upon the Nature, Vertues, and Uses of Chocolate,
perhaps they may be suspected by some People, because they relate to an
Art which I do not profess; but let that be as it will, the Facts upon
which they are founded are certain, and every one is at liberty to make
what other Inferences they like best.
As there are several Names of Plants, and Terms of Art used in those
Countries, which I have been obliged to make use of, and which it was
necessary to explain somewhat at large, that they might be rightly
understood; rather than make frequent Digressions, and interrupt the
Discourse, I have thought fit to number these Terms, and to explain them
at the End of this Treatise: the Reader must therefore look forward for
those Remarks under their particular Numbers.
The First Part.
Chap. I. The Description of the Cocao-Tree.
Chap. II. Of the Choice and Disposition of the Place to plant a Nursery.
Chap. III. Of the Method of Planting a
Nursery, and of its Cultivation, till
the Fruit comes to Maturity.
Chap. IV. Of the gathering the Cocao-Nuts,
and of the Manner of making the Kernels sweat; and
also of drying them that they may be transported into
The Second Part.
Of the Properties of Chocolate.
Chap. I. Of the old Prejudices against Chocolate.
Chap. II. Of the real Properties of Chocolate.
Sect. I. Chocolate is very Temperate.
Sect. II. Chocolate is very nourishing, and
of easy Digestion.
Sect. III. Chocolate speedily repairs the
dissipated Spirits and decayed Strength.
Sect. IV. Chocolate is very proper to preserve
Health, and to prolong the Life of old Men.
The Third Part.
Of the Uses of Chocolate.
Chap. I. Of Chocolate in Confections.
Chap. II. Of Chocolate properly so called.
Sect. I. Of the Origin of Chocolate, and
the different Methods of preparing it.
The Method of preparing Chocolate used
in the French Islands of America.
Sect. II. Of the Uses that may be made
of Chocolate, with relation to Medicine.
Chap. III. Of the Oil or Butter of Chocolate.
Remarks upon some Places of this Treatise.
Medicines in whose Composition Oil, or
Butter of Chocolate, is made use of.
The wonderful Plaister for the curing of
all Kinds of Ulcers.
An excellent Pomatum for the Cure of Tettars, Ringworms,
Pimples, and other Deformities of the Skin.
The Approbation of Monsieur Andry, Counsellor, Lecturer, and Regal
Professor, Doctor, Regent of the Faculty of Medicine at Paris, and
Censor Royal of Books.
I Have read, by order of the Lord Keeper of the Seals, this Natural
History of Chocolate, and I judge that the Impression will be very
necessary and useful for the Publick. Given at Paris this 5th of
Of the Division of this Treatise.
I Shall divide this Treatise on Chocolate into three Parts: In the
First, after I have given a Description of the Cocao Tree, I shall
explain how it is cultivated, and give an Account how its Fruit is
prepared: In the Second, I shall speak of the Properties of
Chocolate; and in the Third, of its Uses.
The Description of the Cocao-Tree.
The Cocao-Tree is moderately tall and thick, and either thrives, or
not, according to the Quality of the Soil wherein it grows: Upon the
Coast of Caraqua, for instance, it grows considerably larger than in
the Islands belonging to the French.
Its Wood is porous, and very light; the Bark is pretty firm, and of
the Colour of Cinnamon, more or less dark, according to the Age of the
Tree. The Leaves are about nine Inches long, and four in breadth,
where they are broadest; for they grow less towards the two Extremities,
where they terminate in a point: their Colour is a little darkish, but
more bright above than underneath; they are joined to Stalks three
Inches long, and the tenth part of an Inch broad. This Stalk, as it
enters the Leaf, makes a strait Rib, a little raised
along the Middle,
which grows proportionably less the nearer it comes to the End. From
each side of this Rib proceed thirteen or fourteen crooked Threads
As these Leaves only fall off successively, and in proportion as others
grow again, this Tree never appears naked: It is always flourishing, but
more especially so towards the two Solstices, than in the other
The Blossoms, which are regular and like a Rose, but very small, and
without smell, proceed from the Places from which the old Leaves fall,
as it were in Bunches. A large Quantity of these fall off, for hardly
Ten of a Thousand come to good, insomuch that the Earth underneath seems
cover’d over with them.
Every Blossom is joined to the Tree by a slender Stalk half an Inch or
a little more in length; when it is yet in the Bud, it is one Fifth of
an Inch broad, and about one fourth or a little more in length: when it
was least, in proportion to the Tree and the Fruit, the more strange it
appeared to me, and more worthy of Attention (a).
When the Buds begin to blow, one may consider the Calix, the
Foliage, and the Heart of the Blossom. The Calix is formed of the
Cover of the Bud, divided into five Parts, or Leaves, of a very pale
flesh-colour. These are succeeded by the five true Leaves of the same
Colour, which fill up the empty Spaces or Partitions of the Calix.
These Leaves have two Parts, the undermost of which is like an oblong
Cup, striped with Purple; on the inside, it bends towards the Center by
the help of a Stamen, which serves to fasten it; from this proceeds
outwardly, the other Part of the Leaf, which seems to be separate from
it, and is formed like the End of a Pike.
The Heart is composed of five Threads and five Stamina, with the
Pistilla in the middle. The Threads are strait, and of a purple
Colour, and placed over-against the Intervals of the Leaves. The
Stamina are white, and bend outwardly with a kind of a Button on the
top, which insinuates itself into the middle of each Leaf to sustain
When one looks at these small Objects through a Microscope, one is ready
to say, That the Point of the Threads is like Silver, and that the
Stamina are Chrystal; as well as the Pistilla, which Nature seems to
have placed in the Center, either
to be the Primitiæ of the young
Fruit, or to serve to defend it, if it be true that this Embryo unfolds
itself, and is produced in no other place but the Base.
For want of observing these small Parts, as well as the Bulk of the
Blossom, F. Plumier had no distinct Knowledge of them, nor has he
exactly design’d them, any more than Mons. Tournefort, who has done
them after his Draught (b).
The Cocao-Tree almost all the Year bears Fruit of all Ages, which
ripen successively, but never grow on the end of little Branches, as our
Fruits in Europe do, but along the Trunk and the chief Boughs, which
is not rare in these Countries, where several Trees do the like; such as
the (1) Cocoeiers, the (2) Apricots of St. Domingo, the
(3) Calebashes, the (4) Papaws, &c.
Such an unusual Appearance would seem strange in the Eyes of
Europeans, who had never seen any thing of that kind; but if one
examines the Matter a little, the philosophical Reason of this
Disposition is very obvious. One may easily apprehend, that if Nature
had placed such bulky Fruit at the Ends of the Branches, their great
Weight must necessarily
break them, and the Fruit would fall before it
came to Maturity.
The Fruit of the Cocao-Tree is contained in a Husk or Shell, which
from an exceeding small Beginning, attains, in the space of four Months,
to the Bigness and Shape of a Cucumber; the lower End is sharp and
furrow’d length-ways like a Melon (c).
This Shell in the first Months is either red or white, or a Mixture of
red and yellow: This Variety of Colours makes three sorts of
Cocao-Trees, which have nothing else to distinguish them but this,
which I do not think sufficient to make in reality three different kinds
of Cocao-Nuts (d).
The First is of a dark vinous Red, chiefly on the sides, which becomes
more bright and pale as the Fruit ripens.
The Second, which is the White, or rather is at first of so pale a
Green, that it may be mistaken for White; by little and
assumes a Citron Colour, which still growing deeper and deeper, at
length becomes entirely yellow.
The Third, which is Red and Yellow mix’d together, unites the Properties
of the other two; for as they grow ripe, the Red becomes pale, and the
Yellow grows more deep.
I have observed that the white Shells are thicker and shorter than the
other, especially on the side towards the Tree, and that these sorts of
Trees commonly bear most.
If one cleaves one of these Shells length-ways, it will appear almost
half an Inch thick, and its Capacity full of Chocolate Kernels; the
Intervals of which, before they are ripe, are fill’d with a hard white
Substance, which at length turns into a Mucilage of a very grateful
Acidity: For this reason, it is common for People to take some of the
Kernels with their Covers, and hold them in their Mouths, which is
mighty refreshing, and proper to quench Thirst. But they take heed of
biting them, because the Films of the Kernels are extreamly bitter.
When one nicely examines the inward Structure of these Shells, and
anatomizes, as it were, all their Parts; one shall find that the Fibres
of the Stalk of the Fruit passing through the Shell, are divided into
five Branches; that each of these Branches is subdivided into several
Filaments, every one of which terminates at the larger End of these
Kernels, and all together resemble a Bunch of Grapes, containing from
twenty to thirty-five single ones, or more, ranged and placed in an
I cannot help observing here, what Inconsistency there is in the
Accounts concerning the Number of Kernels in each Shell. (e) Dampier,
for instance, says there is commonly near a Hundred; other Moderns (f)
60, 70 or 80, ranged like the Seeds of a Pomgranate. (g) Thomas Gage,
30 or 40; Colmenero (h) 10 or 12; and
Oexmelin (i) 10 or 12, to 14.
I can affirm, after a thousand Tryals, that I never found more nor less
than twenty-five. Perhaps if one was to seek out the largest Shells in
the most fruitful Soil, and growing on the most flourishing Trees, one
might find forty Kernels; but as it is not likely one should ever meet
with more, so, on the other hand, it is not
probable one should ever
find less than fifteen, except they are abortive, or the Fruit of a Tree
worn out with Age in a barren Soil, or without Culture.
When one takes off the Film that covers one of the Kernels, the
Substance of it appears; which is tender, smooth, and inclining to a
violet Colour, and is seemingly divided into several Lobes, tho’ in
reality they are but two; but very irregular, and difficult to be
disengaged from each other, which we shall explain more clearly in
speaking of its Vegetation. (k) Oexmelin and several others have
imagined, that a Cocao-Kernel was composed of five or six Parts
sticking fast together; Father Plumier himself fell into this Error,
and has led others into it (l). If the Kernel be cut in two length-ways,
one finds at the Extremity of the great end, a kind of a longish (m) Grain, one fifth of an Inch long, and one fourth Part as broad, which is
the Germ, or first Rudiments
of the Plant; but in European Kernels
this Part is placed at the other end.
One may even see in France this Irregularity of the Lobes, and also
the Germ in the Kernels that are roasted and cleaned to make
Of the Choice and Disposition of the Place for Planting Cocao-Trees.
The Cocao-Tree grows naturally in several Countries in America under
the Torrid Zone, but chiefly at Mexico, in the Provinces of
Nicaragua and Guatimala, as also along the Banks of the River of the
Amazons (n). Likewise upon the Coast of Caraqua, that is to say,
from Comana to Cartagena (o) and the Golden Island. Some also have
been found in the Woods of Martinico.
The Spaniards and Portuguese were the first to whom the Indians
communicated the Use of Cocao-Nuts, which they
kept a long time to
themselves without acquainting other Nations with it; who in reality
know so little of it at this day, that some Dutch Corsairs, ignorant
of the Value of some Prizes they had taken, out of contempt cast the
Merchandize into the Sea, calling it in derision, in very indifferent
Spanish, Cacura de Carnero (p), The Dung of Beasts.
In 1649 (q) in the Vert Islands, they had never seen but one Tree
planted, which was in the Garden of an English-Man, an Inhabitant of
the Island of St. Croix (r). In 1655, the Caribeans (s) shewed to M.
du Parepet a Cocao-Tree in the Woods of the Island of Martinico,
whereof he was Governour. This discovery was the Foundation of several
others of the same kind, in the Woods of the Cape Sterre (t) of this
Island. And it is probable that the Kernels which were taken out of
them, were the Original of those Cocao-Trees that have been planted
there since. A Jew named Benjamin planted the first about the Year
1660, but it was not till twenty or twenty-five Years after,
Inhabitants of Martinico apply’d themselves to the Cultivation of
Cocao-Trees, and to raise Nurseries of them.
When one would raise a Nursery, it is necessary, above all things, to
chuse a proper Place, in respect of Situation, and a Soil agreeable to
the Nature of it.
The Place should be level, moist, and not exposed to Winds; a fresh, and
(if one may be allow’d the Expression) a Virgin Soil, indifferently fat,
light, and deep. For this reason, Ground newly cleared, whose Soil is
black and sandy, which is kept moist by a River, and its Borders so high
as to shelter it from the Winds, especially towards the Sea Coast, is
preferable to any other; and they never fail putting it to this Use,
when they are so happy as to find any of this sort.
I have said, Ground newly cleared, that is to say, whose Wood is cut
down purposely for it; for it is necessary to observe, that they at
present plant their Nurseries in the middle of Woods, which have been so
time out of mind, and this for two weighty Reasons: The First, because
the Wood that is left standing round it, may serve as a Shelter; and the
Second, because there is less Trouble in weeding or grubbing it. The
Ground that has never produced any Weeds, will send forth but few, for
want of Seed.
As for Nurseries planted in high Ground, the Earth is neither moist nor
deep enough, and commonly the chief Root which grows directly downwards,
cannot pierce the hard Earth which it soon meets with. Besides, the
Winds are more boisterous, and cause the Blossoms to fall off as soon as
blown, and when a little high, overturn the Tree, whose Roots are almost
This is yet worse on the Hills, whose Descent is too steep; for besides
the same Inconveniencies, the falling down of the Earth draws with it
the good Soil, and insensibly lays the Roots bare.
One may therefore conclude that all these Nurseries are a long time
before they bear, that they are never fruitful, and that they are
destroy’d in a little time.
It is also proper that a Nursery, as much as may be, should be
surrounded with standing Wood; but if it is open on any side, it should
be remedy’d as soon as possible, by a Border of several Ranks of Trees
called Bananes (5).
Besides this, the Nurseries should be moderate in respect of Magnitude,
for the Small have not Air enough, and are, as it were, stifled; and the
very Large are too liable to Dryness, and to the great
Winds, which, in
America, they call Ouragans (u).
The Place of the Nursery being chosen, and the Bigness determined, they
apply themselves to clear it of the Wood. They begin with plucking up
the little Plants, and by cutting the Shrubs, and small kinds of Trees,
and felling the Trunks and larger Branches of others; they then make
Piles, and set them on fire in all Parts, and so burn down the largest
Trees of all, to save themselves the trouble of cutting them.
When all is burnt, and there remains nothing upon the Earth, but the
Trunks of the great Trees which they don’t trouble themselves to
consume, and when the Space is well cleaned, they make Alleys by the
help of a Line, strait and at equal Distances from each other, and
thrust Sticks into the Ground of two or three Foot long, and 5, 6, 7, 8,
9 or 10 Feet distant, or at such a distance that they design to plant
the Cocao-Trees, which they represent. Afterwards they plant Manioc
in the empty Spaces, taking care not to come too near the Sticks.
One may observe, that the Nurseries planted at the great Distances of
ten Feet, are a great deal more troublesome to keep clean in
the first Years, as we shall observe hereafter; but then they prosper a
great deal better, bear more, and last longer.
The Inhabitants, who have a great deal to do, and have but few Slaves,
plant the Trees nearer, because by this means they gain room, and they
have less trouble to keep it clear; when afterwards the Trees come to
hurt and annoy each other by their Proximity, and they have had some
Crops to supply their present Necessities: or if otherwise, they are
obliged to cut some to give Air to the rest.
On the Coast of Caraqua, they plant the Cocao-Trees at 12 or 15 Feet
distance, and they make Trenches to water them from time to time in the
dry Seasons. They happily experienced the Success of this Practice at
Martinico some Years since.
The Manioc (6) is a woody Shrub, whose Roots being grated, and baked
on the Fire, yield a Cassave, or Meal, which serves to make Bread for
all the Natives of America. They plant it in the new Nurseries, not
only because it is necessary to supply the Negroes with Food, but also
it hinders the Growth of Weeds, and serves to shade the young
Cocao-Trees, whose tender Shoots, and even the second
Leaves, are not
able to resist the scorching Beams of the Sun. For this reason they wait
till the Manioc shades the Feet of the Sticks before they plant the
Cocao-Trees, in the manner that we shall describe in the following
Of the Method of Planting a Nursery, and to cultivate it till the Fruit
comes to Maturity.
Cocao-Trees are planted from the Kernel or Seed, for the Nature of the
Wood will not admit of Slips: They open a Cocao-Shell, and according
as they have occasion, take out the Kernels, and plant them one by one,
beginning, for example, at the first Stick: They pluck it up, and with a
sort of a Setting-Stick made of Iron, and well sharpened, they make a
Hole, and turning the Iron about, cut off the little Roots that may do
hurt. They plant the Kernel three or four Inches deep, and thrust in the
Stick they before had pluck’d up a little on one side, to serve as a
Mark: and so they proceed from Stick to Stick, and from Rank to Rank,
till they have gone through the whole Nursery.
It must be observed, 1. Not to plant in a dry Season. One may indeed
plant in any Month of the Year, or any Moon, new or old, when the Season
is cool, and the Place ready; but it is commonly believed, that planting
from September to Christmas, the Trees bear more than in some
2. Not to plant any but the largest Kernels, and such as are plump:
For since in the finest Shells there are sometimes withered Kernels, it
would be very imprudent to make use of them.
3. To plant the great Ends of the Kernels lowermost. This is that
which is held by a little Thread to the Center of the Shell, when one
takes the Kernel out. If the little End was placed downward, the Foot of
the Tree would become crooked, neither would it prosper; and if it was
placed sideways, the Foot would not succeed very well.
4. To put two or three Kernels at every Stick, that if by any
Mischance the tender Shoots of one or two are broken by Insects, or
otherwise, there may be one left to supply the Defect. If no bad
Accident happen, you have the advantage of chusing the straitest and
most likely Shoot. But it is not best to cut up the supernumerary ones
till that which is chosen is grown up, and, according to all appearance,
out of danger.
The Kernels come up in ten or twelve Days, more or less, according as
the Season, more or less favourable, hastens or backens their Growth:
The longish Grain of the Germ beginning to swell, sends forth the little
Root downwards, which afterwards becomes the chief Stay of the Tree, and
upwards it pushes out the Shoot, which is an Epitomy of the Trunk and
the Branches. These Parts encreasing, and discovering themselves more
and more, the two Lobes of the Kernel a little separated and bent back,
appear first out of the Earth, and regain their natural Position, in
proportion as the Shoot rises, and then separate themselves intirely,
and become two Leaves of a different Shape, of an obscure Green, thick,
unequal, and, as it were, shrivel’d up, and make what they call the
Ears of the Plant. The Shoot appears at the same time, and is divided
into two tender Leaves of bright Green: To these two first Leaves,
opposite to each other, succeed two more, and to these a third Pair. The
Stalk or Trunk rises in proportion, and thence forward during a Year, or
The whole Cultivation of the Cocao-Tree may then be reduced to the
Practice of two Things.
First, To over-look them during the first fifteen Days; that is to
say, to plant new Kernels in the room of those that do
not come up, or
whose Shoots have been destroy’d by Insects, which very often make
dreadful Havock among these Plants, even when one would think they are
out of danger. Some Inhabitants make Nurseries a-part, and transplant
them to the Places where they are wanting: but as they do not all grow,
especially when they are a little too big, or the Season not favourable,
and because the greatest part of those that do grow languish a long
time, it always seem’d to me more proper to set fresh Kernels; and I am
persuaded, if the Consequences are duly weighed, it will be practised
for the future.
Secondly, Not to let any Weeds grow in the Nursery, but to cleanse it
carefully from one end to the other, and taking care, above all things,
not to let any Herb or Weed grow up to Seed; for if it should happen so
but once, it will be very difficult thenceforwards to root those
troublesome Guests out, and to keep the Nursery clean, because the Cold
in this Country never interrupts Vegetation.
This Weeding should be continued till the Trees are become large, and
their Branches spreading, cast such a Shade as to hinder the Weeds from
coming up; and afterwards, the Leaves falling from the Trees, and
covering the Earth, will contribute to stifle them intirely. When this
troublesome Business of Weeding is
ended, it will be sufficient to
overlook them once a Month, and pluck up here and there those few Weeds
that remain, and to carry them far into the Woods for fear of Seeds.
When the Cocao-Trees are nine Months old, the Manioc should then
begin to be pluck’d up; and it should be managed so, that in three
Months time there should be none left. There may be a Row or two
replanted in each Alley, and Cucumbers, Citruls, and (x) Giraumonts
may be sow’d in the void Spaces, or Caribean Coleworts; because these
Plants having great spreading Leaves, are very proper to keep the Earth
cool and moist, and to stifle the noisome Weeds. When the Cocao-Trees
come to shade the Ground entirely, then it will be necessary to pluck up
every thing, for nothing then will grow beneath ’em.
The Cocao-Trees of one Year old have commonly a Trunk of four Feet
high, and begin to spread, by sending out five Branches at the top, all
at a time, which forms that which they call the Crown of a
Cocao-Tree. It seldom happens that any of these five Branches are
wanting, and if by any Accident, or contrary to the Order of Nature, it
has but three or four, the Tree never comes to good, and it will be
better to cut it off, and wait for a new Crown, which will not be long
before it is form’d.
If at the end of the Year the Manioc is not plucked up, they will make
the Trees be more slow in bearing; and their Trunks running up too high,
will be weak, slender, and more exposed to the Winds. If they should be
crowned, their Crowns will be too close; and the chief Branches not
opening themselves enough, the Trees will never be sufficiently
disengaged, and will not spread so much as they ought to do.
When all the Trunks are crowned, they chuse the finest Shoots, and cut
up the supernumerary ones without mercy; for if this is not done out of
hand, it will be difficult to persuade one’s self afterwards: tho it is
not possible but that Trees placed so near each other, should be hurtful
to each other in the end.
The Trees are no sooner crown’d, but they send forth, from time to time,
an Inch or two above the Crown, new Shoots, which they call Suckers: If
Nature was permitted to play her part, these Suckers would soon produce
a second Crown, that again new Suckers, which will produce a third,
&c. Thus the Cocao-Trees proceed, that are wild and uncultivated,
which are found in the Woods of Cape-Sterre in Martinico. But seeing
all these Crowns do but hinder the Growth of the first, and
bring it to nothing, tho it is the principal; and that the Tree, if left
to itself, runs up too high, and becomes too slender; they should take
care every Month when they go to weed it, or gather the Fruit, to prune
it; that is to say, to cut or lop off all the Suckers.
I don’t know whether they have yet thought it proper to prune, any more
than to graft upon Cocao-Trees: There is however a sort of Pruning
which, in my Opinion, would be very advantageous to it. These sort of
Trees, for example, have always (some more than others) dead Branches
upon them, chiefly upon the Extremities of the Boughs; and there is no
room to doubt but it would be very proper to lop off these useless
Branches, paring them off with the pruning Knife even to the Quick. But
as the Advantage that will accrue from it will neither be so immediate,
nor so apparent as the Time and Pains that is employ’d in it; it is very
probable that this Care will be neglected, and that it will be esteem’d
as Labour lost. But however, the Spaniards do not think so; for, on
the contrary, they are very careful to cut off all the dead Sprigs: for
which reason their Trees are more flourishing than ours, and yield much
finer Fruit. I believe they have not the same care in grafting them, nor
do I think any Person has hitherto attempted to do it: I am persuaded
nevertheless, that the Cocao-Trees would be better for it. Is it not
by the assistance of grafting our Fruit Trees in several manners, (which
were originally wild, and found by chance in the Woods) that they have
at length found the Art of making them bear such excellent Fruit?
In proportion as the Cocao-Trees grow, the Leaves upon the Trunks fall
off by little and little, which ought to fall off on their own accord;
for when they are entirely bare, they have not long to flourish: The
first Blossoms commonly fall off, and the ripe Fruit is not to be
expected in less time than three Years, and that if it be in a good
Soil. The fourth Year the Crop is moderate, and the fifth it is as great
as ever it will be; for then the Trees commonly bear all the Year about,
and have Blossoms and Fruit of all Ages. Some Months indeed there is
almost none, and others, they are loaded; and towards the Solstices,
that is, in June and December, they bear most.
As in the Tempests called Ouragans the Wind blows from all Points of
the Compass in twenty-four Hours, it will be well if it does not break
in at the weakest Place of the Nursery, and do a great deal of Mischief,
which it is necessary to remedy with all possible expedition. If the
Wind has only overturn’d the Trees without breaking the chief Root, then
Method that can be taken in good Soil, is to raise them up
again, and put them in their Places, propping them up with a Fork, and
putting in the Earth about it very carefully: By this means they will be
re-establish’d in less than six Months, and they will bear again as if
no harm had come to them. In bad Soil, it will be better to let them
lie, putting the Earth about the Roots, and cultivate at their lower
Parts, or Feet, the best grown Sucker, and that which is nearest the
Roots, cutting off carefully all the rest: The Tree in this Condition
will not give over blossoming and bearing Fruit; and when in two Years
time the Sucker is become a new Tree, the old Tree must be cut off half
a Foot distant from the Sucker.
Of the gathering of the Cocao-Nuts, and the Manner of making them
sweat, and of drying them that they may be brought sound into Europe.
The Observations which we made in the first Chapter, concerning the
Alterations of the Colour of the Nuts, give us information of the time
that they become
ripe. It will be proper to gather them when all the
Shell has changed Colour, and when there is but a small Spot below which
shall remain green. They go from Tree to Tree, and from Row to Row, and
with forked Sticks or Poles, they cause the ripe Nuts to fall down,
taking great care not to touch those that are not so, as well as the
Blossoms: They employ the most handy Negroes in this Work, and others
follow them with Baskets to gather them, and lay them in Heaps, where
they remain four Days without being touch’d.
In the Months that they bear most, they gather them for a Fortnight
together; in the less-fruitful Seasons, they only gather them from Month
to Month. If the Kernels were left in Shells more than four Days, they
would sprit, or begin to grow, and be quite spoiled (y): It is therefore
necessary to shell them on the fifth Day in the Morning at farthest. To
do this, they strike on the middle of the Shells with a
Bit of Wood to
cleave them, and then pull them open with their Fingers, and take out
the Kernels, which they put in Baskets, casting the empty Shells upon
the Ground, that they may with the Leaves, being putrified, serve to
fatten the Earth, and supply the Place of Dung.
They afterwards carry all the Kernels into a House, and lay them on a
heap upon a kind of loose Floor cover’d with Leaves of Balize (7),
which are about four Feet long, and twenty Inches broad; then they
surround it with Planks cover’d with the same Leaves, making a kind of
Granary, which may contain the whole Pile of Kernels, when spread
abroad. They cover the whole with the like Leaves, and lay some Planks
over all: the Kernels thus laid on a heap, and cover’d close on all
sides, do not fail to grow warm, by the Fermentation of their insensible
Particles; and this is what they call Sweating, in those Parts.
They uncover the Kernels Morning and Evening, and send the Negroes
among them; who with their Feet and Hands, turn them topsy turvy, and
then cover them up as before, with the same Leaves and the same Planks.
They continue to do this for five Days, at the end of which they have
commonly sweat enough, which
is discover’d by their Colour, which grows
a great deal deeper, and very ruddy.
The more the Kernels sweat, the more they lose their Weight and
Bitterness: but if they have not sweat enough, they are more bitter, and
smell sour, and sometimes sprit. To succeed well therefore, there should
be a certain Medium observed, which is only to be learnt by use.
When the Kernels have sweat enough, they lay them out to air, and expose
them to the Sun to dry them, in the manner following.
They prepare before-hand, several Benches about two Foot high, in an
even Court appointed for that purpose; they lay upon these Benches
several Mats made of pieces of Reeds split in two, together with Bands
made of Mahot Bark (8). Upon these Mats they put the Kernels about two
Inches in height and move and turn them very often with a proper Piece
of Wood for the first two Days. At Night they wrap up the Kernels in the
Mats, which they cover with Balize Leaves for fear of Rain, and they
do the same in the day-time when it is likely to rain. Those who are
afraid of having them stolen, lock them up.
There are some Inhabitants who keep Boxes about five Feet long, and two
broad, and three or four Inches deep, on purpose to dry the Kernels:
There is this Advantage in them, that in the greatest Rains and
suddenest Showers, they may presently be piled one on the top of
another, so that none but the top-most will want a Cover; which is soon
done with the aforesaid Leaves, and an empty Box turn’d up-side down.
But that which makes the Usage of Mats preferable, is, that the Air may
pass through beneath, between the Partition of the Reeds, and so dry the
Kernels better. Boxes whose Bottoms are made like a Sieve with strong
Brass Wire, would be very excellent; but then they must be made in
Europe, which would be a considerable Charge.
When the Kernels have sweat enough, they must be exposed upon the Mats
as much as necessary: If Rain is foreseen that is likely to last, it
will be best to let them sweat half a Day less. It is observable, that a
few hours Rain at first, instead of doing any harm, makes them more
beautiful, and better conditioned. In fair Weather, instead of this
Rain, it will be proper to expose them to the Dew for the first Nights.
The Rain of a whole Day or two will do no harm, if they are not covered
before they have had the Benefit of the Sun, for a Day, or half a Day at
For after a Day’s Sun-shine, they are to be wrap’d in the Mat,
as before directed; but if it be half a Day’s Rain only, then they are
only covered with Balize Leaves in the Night, kept on with little
Stones laid at each End: But if the Rain be too long, it makes them
split, and then they will not keep long; they therefore make Chocolate
of it immediately.
If the Kernels have not sweat enough, or they wrap them too soon in the
Mat, they are subject to sprit or germe, which makes them bitter, and
good for nothing.
When the Kernels have been once wrapped in a Mat, and begun to dry, care
must be taken that they do not grow moist again; they must therefore be
well stirr’d from time to time, that they may be thorowly dry’d, which
you may know by taking a Handful in your Hand, and shutting it: if it
cracks, then it is time to put them into your Store-house, and to expose
them to sale.
Those who would gain a Reputation in giving out a good Merchandize,
before they pack it up in Vessels, pick it, and throw aside the little,
wither’d, and thin Kernels, which are not only unsightly, but render the
Chocolate something worse.
Afterwards the Kernels of the Cocao-Nut are dried in the Sun, before
they are brought to Europe, and sold by the Druggists and Grocers, who
distinguish it into great and small, and into that of Caraqua, and
of the French Islands, tho with no good Foundation, for in the
Places themselves they make no mention of this Distinction: It therefore
seems likely, that the Merchants find their account in sorting it, since
Kernels proceeding from the same Tree, and from the same Nut, are not
always of the same bigness. It is indeed true, that if one Parcel of
Kernels be compared with another, the one may consist of bigger than the
other, which may arise from the Age or Vigour of the Trees, or from the
Nature of the Soil; but certainly there is no kind of Kernels which may
be called Great, as a distinct Kind, nor consequently no other which can
properly be said to be Small.
The Kernels that come to us from the Coast of Caraqua, are more oily,
and less bitter, than those that come from the French Islands, and in
France and Spain they prefer them to these latter: But in Germany,
and in the North (Fides sit penes Autorem) they have a quite opposite
Taste. Several People mix that of Caraqua with that of the Islands,
half in half, and pretend by this Mixture to make the Chocolate better.
I believe in the bottom, the difference of Chocolates is not
considerable, since they are only obliged to encrease or diminish the
Proportion of Sugar, according as the Bitterness of the Kernels require
it. For it must be considered, as
we have already said, that there is
but one kind of Cocao-Tree, which grows as naturally in the Woods of
Martinico, as in those of the Coast of Caraqua, that the Climates
are almost the same, and consequently the Temperature of the Seasons
equal, and therefore there cannot be any intrinsick Difference between
these Fruits of any great moment.
As to the outward Difference that is observed, it can arise from nothing
but the Richness of the Soil, or the contrary; from the different
Culture, and from the Care or Negligence of the Labourers and those that
prepare it, from the time of its gathering, to the time of its Delivery,
and perhaps from all three together. It is to be observed at
Martinico, that the Cocao-Trees prosper better in some Parts than
others, merely from the Difference of the Soil, being more or less rich,
or more or less moist.
I have had the Experience of one of my Friends, concerning what relates
to the Cultivation and Preparation of this Tree and its Fruit, which
demonstrates that they may add to its Value. This Gentleman, with a
great deal of Application and Thought, found out the way to prepare the
finest Merchandize of the Island, which was prefer’d by the Merchants to
all the rest, and bore a greater Price than that of any of his
The Kernels of Caraqua are flattish, and for Bulk and Figure not
unlike our large Beans. Those of St. Domingo, Jamaica, and Cuba,
are generally larger than those of the Antilloes. The more bulky the
Kernels are, and better they have been nourished, the less Waste there
is after they have been roasted and cleansed, which some Years ago was
an Advantage to those of Caraqua. But at present, by the Regulation
from the Month of April, 1717, the Kernels of our Colonies pay but
Two-pence Duty for Entry, whereas Foreigners pay always Fifteen: These
thirteen Pence difference make such ample amends for the small Waste,
that there is a great deal of reason to hope, that for the time to come,
there will be none but the Curious, and People that do not value the
Expence, that will make use of the Chocolate of Caraqua, by way of
preference to that of the French Islands, and that the Cheapness of
the latter will double the Consumption at least.
The best Cocao-Nuts have very brown firm Shells, and when the Kernel
is taken out, it ought to be plump, well nourish’d, and sleek; of the
Colour of a Hazle-Nut on the outside, but more inclining to a Red
within; its Taste a little bitter and astringent, not at all sour or
mouldy (z). In a word, without any Smell, and not worm-eaten.
The Fruit of the Cocao-Tree is the most oily that Nature has produced,
and it has this admirable Prerogative, never to grow rank let it be ever
so old, which all other Fruit do that are analogous to it in Qualities;
such as Nuts, Almonds, Pine-Apple-Kernels, Pistachoe Nuts,
There are also imported from America, Cocao-Kernel-Cakes of about a
Pound weight each; and as this Preparation is the first and principal in
the Composition of Chocolate, it will be proper to add here the Manner
of making it.
The Indians, from whom we borrow it, are not very nice in doing it;
they roast the Kernels in earthen Pots, then free them from their Skins,
and afterwards crush and grind them between two Stones, and so form
Cakes of it with their Hands.
The Spaniards, more industrious than the Savages, and at this day
other Nations after their Example, chuse out the best Kernels (a), and
the most fresh: Of these
they put about two Pounds in a great Iron
Shovel over a clear Fire, stirring them continually with a large
Spatula, so long that they may be roasted enough to have their Skins
come off easily, which should be done one by one (b), laying them
a-part; and taking great heed that the rotten and mouldy Kernels be
thrown away, and all that comes off the good ones; for these Skins being
left among the Chocolate, will not dissolve in any Liquor, nor even in
the Stomach, and fall to the bottom of Chocolate-Cups, as if the Kernels
had not been cleansed.
If one was curious to weigh the Kernels at the Druggists, and then weigh
them again after they are roasted and cleansed, one should find that
there would be about a sixth Part wasted, more or less, according to the
Nature and Qualities of the Kernels; that is to say, if you bought (for
example) 30 Pounds, there would remain entirely cleansed, near
All the Kernels being thus roasted and cleansed at divers times, they
put them once more to roast in the same Iron Shovel, but over a more
gentle Fire, and stir
them with the Spatula without ceasing till they
are roasted all alike, and as much as they ought to be; which one may
discover by their Taste, and their dark-brown Colour, without being
black. The whole Art consists in avoiding the two Extremes, of not
roasting them enough, and roasting them too much; that is to say, till
they are burnt. If they are not roasted enough, they retain a
disagreeable Harshness of Taste; and if they are roasted so much as to
burn them, besides the Bitterness and ill Taste that they contract, they
lose their Oilyness entirely, and the best part of their good Qualities.
In France, where they are very apt to run into Extremes, they are
mighty fond of the burnt Taste, and the black Colour, as if they were
proper Marks of good Chocolate, not considering that, Quantity for
Quantity, they may as well put so much Charcoal as burnt Chocolate. This
Opinion is not only agreeable to Reason and good Sense, but is also
confirmed by the unanimous Consent of all that have written on this
Subject; and I can affirm, that it is authorized by the universal
Consent of all America.
When the Kernels are duly roasted, and well cleansed, they put them into
a large Mortar to reduce them into a gross Powder, which they afterwards
grind upon a
Stone till it is very fine, which requires a more
They make choice of a Stone which naturally resists the Fire, not so
soft as to rub away easily, nor so hard as to endure polishing. They cut
it from 16 to 18 Inches broad, and about 27 or 30 long, and 3 in
thickness, and hollowed in the middle about an Inch and a half deep.
This Stone should be fix’d upon a Frame of Wood or Iron, a little higher
on one side than the other: Under, they place a Pan of Coals to heat the
Stone, so that the Heat melting the oily Parts of the Kernels, and
reducing it to the Consistence of Honey, makes it easy for the Iron
Roller, which they make use of for the sake of its Strength, to make it
so fine as to leave neither Lump, nor the least Hardness. This Roller is
a Cylinder of polish’d Iron, two Inches in diameter, and about eighteen
long, having at each End a wooden Handle of the same Thickness, and six
Inches long, for the Workman to hold by.
When the Paste is ground as much as is thought necessary, they put it
hot in Moulds made of Tin, where they leave it, and it becomes hard in a
very little time. The Shape of these Moulds is arbitrary, and every one
may have them made according to his Fancy; but the cylindrick ones,
which will hold about 2
or 3 Pounds of Chocolate, seem to me to be most
proper; because the thicker they are, the longer they keep good, and may
be commodiously held when there is occasion to scrape them. These Rolls
ought to be wrapped in Paper, and kept in a dry Place: it should also be
observed, that they are very susceptible of good and ill Smells, and
that it is good to keep them 5 or 6 Months before they are used.
Now the Kernels being sufficiently rubb’d and ground upon the Stone, as
we have just directed, if you would compleat the Composition in the
Mass, there is nothing more to be done, than to add to this Paste a
Powder sifted thro a fine Searce, composed of Sugar, Cinnamon, and, if
it be desired, of Vanilla (c), according to the Quantities and
Proportions, which we shall teach in the Third Part of this Treatise;
and mix it well upon the Stone, the better to blend it and incorporate
it together, and then to fashion it in Moulds made of Tin in the form of
Lozenges of about 4 Ounces each, or if desired, half a Pound.
Of the Properties of Chocolate.
We have hitherto treated of Chocolate, as it were, superficially, and
as it presents itself to our Senses. We come next to examine its
intrinsick Qualities, and to search into its Nature: As far as we can,
we will discover what Reason, join’d to long Experience, has taught us
concerning the salutary Properties of this Fruit.
Of the old Prejudices against Chocolate.
To proceed more methodically, and with greater Clearness in our
Enquiries concerning Chocolate, it seems proper to set People right
about the Prejudices which a false Philosophy has instilled into most
Authors who have wrote upon this Subject; the Impressions whereof, are
yet very deeply ingraven in the Minds of a great Number of People.
The Spaniards, who were first acquainted with Chocolate after the
Conquest of the new World, have laid it down for an undoubted Truth,
that Chocolate is cold and dry, participating of the Nature of Earth.
They have supported this Determination neither with Reason nor
Experience; nor do they know from whence they learnt it; perhaps they
have taken it upon the Words, and from the Tradition of the Inhabitants
of the Country. Let that be as it will, it is natural from false
Principles to draw false Conclusions, of which the two principal are as
The first is, That Chocolate being by Nature cold, it ought not to be
used without being mixed with Spices, which are commonly hot, that so
they might, both together, become temperate and wholesome. This was the
Jargon and Practice of those Times. For the same Reason the ancient
Physicians erroneously imagining that Opium was cold in the fourth
Degree, never fail’d to correct this pretended Coldness in their
narcotick Compositions, with Drugs extremely hot, as Euphorbium,
Pellitory, Pepper, &c.
Their second Conclusion was, That Chocolate being dry and earthy, and
from thence supposed to be of a styptick and astringent Quality; if it
was not corrected, must necessarily breed Obstructions in the Viscera,
and bring on a Cacochimy, and a great Number of other incurable
These Prejudices have from the Spaniards pass’d into other Nations. To
prove this, it will be unnecessary to cite a great Number of Authors,
for whoever has read one, has read them all, the later having done
nothing but copy the former; they have even sometimes improved their
Dreams, and exaggerated this pretended Coldness of Chocolate, and at
length push’d the Matter so far, as to make it a kind of cold Poison;
and if it was taken
to Excess, it would bring on a Consumption (1).
“Mexiaci friget nativa Cocai Temperies, tantoq; excedit Frigore ut
inter noxia ne dubitem glandes censere Venena.” Thom. Strozzæ de Mentis
potu seu de Cocolatis Opificio, lib. 3.
“Hinc siquis solo Cocolatis Fomite Vitam extrahat, atq; assueta neget
Cibi Prandia, sensim contrahet exsueto marcentem Corpora Tabem.”
It is not very extraordinary that People who are more ready to believe
than to examine, (such as the World is full of) should give into the
unanimous Opinion of so many Authors; and it would be strange if they
were not carry’d down by the Stream of a Prejudice so general. But I
cannot sufficiently admire that Chocolate being so much decry’d, has
not been entirely laid aside as unfit for Use; without doubt there was
nothing but the daily Experience of its good Effects, which could
support it, and hinder it from giving way to Calumny.
Now to overturn this old System, it is sufficient, in my Opinion, to
observe with how little Skill and Penetration they then treated of the
whole Natural History; one ought not to be amazed that they have
affirmed Chocolate to be cold and dry, in an Age when, for Example,
they could say Camphire was cold and moist, which is a kind of Resin,
from whence one Drop of Water cannot be extracted, whose sharp Taste,
and penetrating Smell, joined to the extreme Volatility and
Inflammability of its Particles, even in Water itself, are such evident
Signs of its Heat, that it is difficult to conceive upon what account
they persuade themselves of the contrary.
The Qualities of Chocolate are not indeed so remarkable, nor so active,
as those of Camphire; but, with the least Attention, one may easily
discern, that the Quantity of Oil that it contains, and the Bitterness
that is perceivable in Tasting, are not the Marks of Coldness, since all
Bitters are esteem’d hot, and since Oil is a Matter very near a-kin to,
and necessary for Fire. This is very near the Reasoning of a celebrated
Physician at Rome (2) against the old Opinion: As for me, says he,
I am of another Judgment; I believe that Chocolate is rather temperate
than cold, and I refer my self to the Decision of every ingenious Person
that will be at the pains to taste and examine it.
These Reflections will be farther confirmed in the first Section of the
Chapter, where we shall experimentally demonstrate that
Chocolate is a Substance very temperate, yielding soft and wholesome
Nourishment, incapable of doing any Harm. And if this intrinsick
Coldness is no more to be feared, it must be own’d, that it will be
henceforward ridiculous, if not pernicious, to join it with hot acrid
Spices, more likely to alter and destroy its good and real Qualities,
than to correct the bad ones which it has not: I nevertheless do not
doubt but the Pleasantness of the Smell, and the favourite Taste of
several agreeable Spices, being pretty much liked in this Mixture, will
have their Partizans; who, more delighted with a present Gratification,
than afraid of the insensible Prejudice that these Ingredients bring to
their Health, will not resolve to leave them off. Tho these will be no
longer the Correctors of Chocolate, yet they will serve to season it,
with which they will please their Taste, without troubling themselves
with the Consequences. But those Persons who will give themselves the
trouble of thinking, and are more tractable and less sensual, will
wisely abstain from such Extreams, and their Moderation will not be
unattended with Benefit. Health is so valuable a Blessing, that the Care
to gain and preserve it, ought to supersede any other Consideration.
As to the pretended Obstructions which Chocolate is said to occasion
from its astrictive Quality, they are so far from being afraid of it in
America, that they have found by Experience a Vertue directly contrary
to it; for several young Women, subject to the Whites, have been cured
of this Distemper, by eating a Dozen Cocao Kernels for Breakfast every
Morning. It is well enough known that Obstructions are the Cause of this
Disease, which instead of being encreas’d by Chocolate, were entirely
Then as to those strange Disorders which are said to arise from its
immoderate Use, we shall bring in the Sequel so many Facts directly
contrary to these Chimerical Fears, that all Persons of good Sense will
be disabused, and convinced of the salutary and wonderful Properties of
this Fruit; which shall be the Subject of the following Chapter.
Of the real Properties of Chocolate.
Without talking in the Dialect of the Peripateticks, about the
Qualities of Heat and Coldness, now-a-days so much decry’d, it will not
be difficult to prove that Chocolate is a Substance,
1. Very temperate.
2. Very nourishing, and of easy Digestion. 3. Very proper to repair the
exhausted Spirits and decayed Strength. 4. Lastly, Very suitable to
preserve the Health, and prolong the Lives of old Men. These four
Articles shall be sufficiently demonstrated in the four following
Chocolate is very Temperate.
Nothing is so great an Argument that Wheat, Rice, Millet, and
Manioc, are salutary and temperate, as their being used by whole
Nations together. If any of these Substances had any predominant evil
Quality, it would soon appear to the Prejudice of the Health of Numbers;
the People who subsist upon it, would soon leave it off as a very
dangerous and hurtful Aliment.
One may reason much after the same manner with respect to Chocolate. The
Natives of New-Spain, and of a great part of the Torrid Zone of
America, have always used it as a Delicacy; and at this day all the
European Colonies which are establish’d in those Countries, make a
Consumption of vast Quantities of it: These People use it at all Times,
and in all Seasons, as constant daily Food, without regard to Age, Sex,
Condition, without Complaint of having received the
least Prejudice from it; they find on the contrary that it quenches
Thirst, is very refreshing and feeding; that it procures easy quiet
Sleep, and produces several other good Effects, to say nothing of those
we are going to treat of in the following Sections. I could produce
several Instances in favour of this excellent Nourishment, but I shall
content myself with two only, equally certain and decisive in the Proof
of its Goodness. The first is an Experiment of Chocolate’s being taken
for the only Nourishment, made by a Surgeon’s Wife of Martinico: She
had lost by a very deplorable Accident her lower Jaw, which reduced her
to such a Condition, that she did not know how to subsist; she was not
capable of taking any thing solid, and not rich enough to live upon
Jellies and nourishing Broths. In this Strait she determined to take
three Dishes of Chocolate, prepared after the manner of the Country, one
in the Morning, one at Noon, and one at Night. (There, Chocolate is
nothing else but Cocao Kernels dissolved in hot Water, with Sugar, and
season’d with a Bit of Cinnamon.) This new way of Life succeeded so
well, that she has lived a long while since, more lively and robust than
before this Accident.
I had the second Relation from a Gentleman of Martinico, and one of my
Friends, not capable of a Falsity. He assured me, that in his
Neighbourhood, an Infant of four Months old unfortunately lost his
Nurse, and its Parents not being able to put it to another, resolved
through Necessity to feed it with Chocolate; the Success was very
happy, for the Infant came on to a Miracle, and was neither less healthy
nor less vigorous than those who are brought up by the best Nurses.
The Inferences that may be drawn from these two Histories are evident,
and demonstratively prove that Chocolate has neither any intemperate nor
hurtful Quality; I shall therefore say no more upon them, leaving every
one to make his own proper Reflections.
Chocolate is very nourishing and of easy Digestion.
This Proposition is a necessary Consequence of the foregoing,
established by Facts which I have just related; and we have Experiments
as convincing of its easy Digestion, and the Goodness of the Chyle that
it makes; but it needs no other Proof than the good Condition it puts
those in, who ordinarily make use of it.
A learned Englishman has carried his Commendations so high concerning
this particular Property of Chocolate, that he has not scrupled to
affirm in a Dissertation that he has publish’d upon this Subject, That
one Ounce of Chocolate contains as much Nourishment as a Pound of Beef.
As much out of the way as this Assertion seems to be, one may easily
conceive, that any Aliment is capable of yielding more plentiful
Nourishment, if compar’d with any other, not only in respect to the
Quantity, but also with relation to the Time that the Stomach takes to
Physicians are not agreed about the Causes of Digestion, but are divided
into two Opinions, each of which is supported by the Writings of very
eminent Authors; convinced of my own Inability to decide the
Controversy, which also requires a large Field to expatiate in, I shall
not undertake to defend either Fermentation or Trituration: But it will
be sufficient to say, in two Words, that these Opinions are not
absolutely incompatible (1): it perhaps will not be difficult to make a
of an Alliance or Agreement between them, by uniting whatever is
plain and evident in the two Systems, and rejecting what is otherwise;
and from hence form a third, which will be nothing but the Union of the
uncontested Parts of the other two.
These two Causes undoubtedly concur in the Alteration that the Aliment
undergoes in the Mouth; for the Saliva that mixes with it in
Mastication, and dilutes it, cannot be deny’d to be an admirable
Ferment (2); and the Tongue which moves it, and the Teeth which grind it, and
break it, must be own’d to be the first Instruments of Trituration.
Now since Nature is commonly uniform in her Operations, and since there
is a great deal of reason to suppose that Nature compleats Digestion by
the same means that she has begun it, let us suppose it is really so for
a Moment, and apply it to the present Subject, and then we shall see by
what Evidence Chocolate ought to be of an easy Digestion.
In the first place, bitter and alkaline Substances, such as these
Kernels, are stomachick and analogous to the Saliva and the Ferment
which dissolves the Aliment in the Stomach; how then can it be of hard
Digestion with these Qualities?
In the second place, if one considers attentively the Kernels as they
are roasted, broke, and ground extremely fine upon a Stone, afterwards
melted and dissolved in boiling Liquor, which serves as a Vehicle for
it; it then seems very likely that the Stomach will not have much Labour
left to do. In short, by it Digestion is more than half finished.
Experience confirms these Reasonings very much, for the Digestion of
Chocolate is soon brought about without Trouble, without Difficulty, and
without any sensible rising of the Pulse; the Stomach very far from
making use of its Strength, acquires new Force. And I can farther say,
upon my own Knowledge, that I have seen several Persons who had but weak
Digestion, if not quite spoiled, who have been entirely recovered by the
frequent Use of Chocolate.
Chocolate speedily repairs the dissipated Spirits and decay’d
If Chocolate did not produce this Effect, but only as it is very
nourishing, it would but have this Property in common with the most
juicy Aliments, and such as are most proper to furnish a good Quantity
of Blood and Plenty of Spirits: but its Effects are far more speedy; for
if a Person, for Example, fatigued with long and hard Labour, or with a
violent Agitation of Mind, takes a good Dish of Chocolate, he shall
perceive almost instantly, that his Faintness shall cease, and his
Strength shall be recovered, when Digestion is hardly begun. This Truth
is confirmed by Experience, tho’ not so easily explained by Reasoning,
because Chocolate sensibly appears to be soft, heavy, and very little
disposed by any active Quality to put the Spirits in motion; however,
being resolved to neglect nothing that is likely to unfold the Cause of
an Effect so wonderful, I undertook one day the Chymical Analysis of
Chocolate, and altho’ prejudiced that I should discover nothing this way
but a superficial Knowledge, yet I was willing
to flatter myself that
my Enquiry would not be wholly fruitless.
I cleansed sixteen Ounces of Kernels without burning them, I ground them
in a Marble Mortar, and afterwards put them in a Glass Retort well
luted; I placed it in a Reverberatory Furnace, and fixed to it a large
Receiver; and after having luted the Joints well, I gave it the first
Degree of Fire.
The first that ascended was pure Phlegm, which dropt for about two
Hours; a little white unctuous Matter swam on the top of it.
The Fire being augmented, the Drops became red, and congealed as they
fell into the Receiver; this lasted about two Hours.
The Fire being again augmented, the Receiver was filled with white
Clouds, which I saw resolve into a kind of Dew, white and unctuous,
which was partly Spirit, and partly a white Oil; the red Drops however
continued to the End, which was about two Hours and a half.
This Operation let me know that Chocolate contains two kinds of Oil; the
one Red and Fixed, which congealed it self on the side of the Vessel;
and the other White and Volatile, which proceeded from the white Clouds,
and resolved itself on the other side of the Receiver.
On the Morrow after, having unluted the Receiver, and having placed it
in Balneo Mariæ, to melt the congealed Matter, I was agreeably
surpriz’d to see the Vessel immediately fill’d with white Clouds: I very
much admired the Volatility of this Unctuosity, and I was fully
convinced, that Chocolate contained that volatile Oil so highly
esteemed in Medicine, and that one need not go farther to seek the Cause
of the speedy Reparation of the fainting Spirits; which is confirmed by
the daily Experience of those that use Chocolate.
Having separated the Spirit by filtring through brown Paper, I divided
the butirous Matter into two Parts: I put one, without any Addition,
into a little Glass Cucurbit, which I placed in a Sand-Heat to rectify
it, and by this Operation I got an Oil of an Amber Colour, swimming upon
a little Phlegm, or Spirit (3).
I melted the remaining Part, and having incorporated it with quick Lime,
I put it into a little Glass Retort luted, and put Fire to it by
degrees. There first came over a clear Oil, the white Clouds succeeded,
and at length the reddish Butter. Having unluted the Recipient, and put
all in a little Cucurbit in a Sand-Heat, the
white Clouds yielded an
Oil of an Amber Colour; and having augmented the Fire, there came over a
little red Oil, but no Spirit.
The Amber-coloured Oil is nothing else but the white volatile Oil,
coloured a little by the Violence of the Fire: As for the red Oil, it
seems to be the Remainder of the red Butter, fit to be exalted. These
two Oils will not mix together; for the red, more fixed than the other,
always gets to the bottom. Mr. Boyle (54) said he extracted from Human
Blood, two Oils very like those above mentioned; and this Conformity of
Substances, very much convinces me of the great Analogy I always
supposed to be between Chocolate and Human Blood.
As for the Spirit, it has nothing very disagreeable either in Taste or
Smell, it does not sensibly ferment with Alkalies, nor alters the Colour
of blue Paper; after
some time, it grows a little acid, and tastes a
Having calcined the Caput Mortuum, which is of a violet Colour and
filtred and evaporated the Lixivium, as is usual; I got nothing from
it but a kind of Cynder, a little saltish, and in so small a quantity,
that I did not give myself the trouble to reiterate the Calcination,
Dissolution, Filtration, and Evaporation; for I should hardly have got
five or six Grains of fixed purified Salt.
I curiously observed, that neither in the Heads, nor in the Receivers,
there did appear any signs of a volatile Salt: However, M. Lemery
assures us (55), that it contains a good deal; but it is plain he took
his Opinion upon trust, for had he made the Experiment, he is too
ingenious to be mistaken.
One may then conclude from these two Observations, That Chocolate is a
mix’d Body, that has the least Quantity of Salt enters its Composition.
Chocolate is very proper to preserve Health, and to prolong the Life of
Before Chocolate was known in Europe, good old Wine was called the
Milk of old Men; but this Title is now apply’d with greater reason to
Chocolate, since its Use has become so common, that it has been
perceived that Chocolate is, with respect to them, what Milk is to
Infants. In reality, if one examines the Nature of Chocolate, a little
with respect to the Constitution of aged Persons, it seems as though the
one was made on purpose to remedy the Defects of the other, and that it
is truly the Panacea of old Age.
Our Life, as a famous Physician (56) observes, is, as it were, a
continual growing dry; but yet this kind of natural Consumption is
imperceptible to an advanced Age: when the radical Moisture is consumed
more sensibly, then the more balmy and volatile Parts of the Blood are
dissipated by little and little, the Salts disengaging from the
Sulphurs, manifest themselves, the Acid appears, which is the fruitful
Source of Chronick Diseases. The Ligaments, the Tendons, and the
Cartilages have scarce any of the Unctuosity left, which render’d them
so supple and so pliant in Youth. The Skin grows wrinkled as well within
as without; in a word, all the solid Parts grow dry or bony.
One may say that Nature has formed Chocolate with every Vertue proper to
remedy these Inconveniences. The volatile Sulphur with which it abounds,
is proper to supply the Place of that which the Blood loses every day
through Age, it blunts and sheaths the Points of the Salts, and restores
the usual Softness to the Blood, like as Spirit of Wine united with
Spirit of Salt, makes a soft Liquor of a violent Corrosive. This same
sulphurous Unctuosity at the same time spreads itself in the solid
Parts, and gives them, in some sense, their natural Suppleness; it
bestows on the Membranes, the Tendons, the Ligaments, and the
Cartilages, a kind of Oil which renders them smooth and flexible. Thus
the Equilibrium between the Fluids and the Solids is in some measure
re-establish’d, the Wheels and Springs of our Machine mended, Health is
preserved, and Life prolonged. These are not the Consequences of
Philosophical Reflections, but of a thousand
Experiments which mutually
confirm each other; among a great Number of which the following alone
There lately died at Martinico a Counsellor about a hundred Years
old, who, for thirty Years past, lived on nothing but Chocolate and
Biscuit. He sometimes indeed had a little Soop at Dinner, but never
any Fish, Flesh, or other Victuals: He was, nevertheless, so
vigorous and nimble, that at fourscore and five, he could get on
horseback without Stirrups.
Chocolate is not only proper to prolong the Life of aged People, but
also of those whose Constitution is lean and dry, or weak and
cacochimical, or who use violent Exercises, or whose Employments oblige
them to an intense Application of Mind, which makes them very faintish:
to all these it agrees perfectly well, and becomes to them an altering
On the contrary, I would not counsel the daily Use of it to such who are
very fat, or who are wont to drink a good deal of Wine, and live upon a
juicy Diet, or who sleep much, and use no Exercise at all: In a word,
who lead a delicate, sedentary, and indolent Life, such as a great many
People of Condition at Paris are used to. Such Bodies as these, full
of Blood and Juice, have no need of additional Nourishment, and the
Diet will fit them better which is mentioned in Ecclesiast. Plentiful
Feeding brings Diseases, and Excess hath killed Numbers; but the
temperate Man prolongs his Days (59).
Of the Uses of Chocolate.
The common Uses of Chocolate may be reduced to three: It is put in
Confections; it is used in Chocolate, properly so call’d; and there is
an Oil drawn from it, to which they give the Name of Butter. I shall
treat of them distinctly, in the three following Chapters.
Of Chocolate in Confections.
They chuse Cocao-Nuts that are half ripe, and take out the Kernels one
by one, for fear of spoiling them; they then lay them to soak for some
Days in Spring Water, which they take care to change Morning and
Evening: afterwards, having taken them out and wiped them, they lard
them with little Bits of Citron-Bark and Cinnamon, almost as they make
the Nuts of Roüen.
In the mean time, they prepare a Syrup of the finest Sugar, but very
clear; that is to say, wherein there is but little Sugar: and after it
has been clarified and purified, they take it boiling-hot off the Fire,
and put in the Cocao-Kernels, and let them lie 24 Hours. They repeat
this Operation six or seven times, encreasing every time the Quantity of
Sugar, without putting it on the Fire, or doing any thing else to it:
last of all, they boil another Syrup to the Consistence of Sugar, and
pour it on the Kernels well wiped and put in a clean earthen Pot; and
when the Syrup is almost cold, they mix
with it some Drops of the
Essence of Amber.
When they would have these in a dry Form, they take them out of the
Syrup; and after it is well drained from them, they put them into a
Bason full of a very strong clarify’d Syrup, then they immediately put
it in a Stove, or Hot-House, where they candy it.
This Confection, which nearly resembles the Nuts of Roüen, is
excellent to strengthen the Stomach without heating it too much; for
this reason, they may safely be given to those who are ill of a Fever.
Of Chocolate, properly so called.
In treating of this Liquor, we have two things to examine: The First is,
the Original of Chocolate, and the different Manner of preparing it: The
Second, the Medicinal Uses that it is proper for; which shall be the
Subject of the two following Sections.
Of the Original of Chocolate, and the different Manners of preparing
Chocolate is originally an American Drink, which the Spaniards found
very much in use at Mexico, when they conquer’d it, about the Year
The Indians, who have used this Drink time out of mind, prepared it
without any great Art; they roasted their Kernels in earthen Pots, then
ground them between two Stones, diluted them with hot Water, and
season’d them with Pimento (1): those who were more curious, added
Achiota (2) to give it a Colour, and (3) Attolla to augment its
Substance. All these things joined together, gave to the Composition so
strange a Look, and so odd a Taste, that a Spanish Soldier said, it
was more fit to be thrown to Hogs (4), than presented to Men; and that
he could never have accustomed himself to it, if the want of Wine had
not forced him to it, that he might not always be obliged to drink
nothing but Water.
The Spaniards (5) taught by the Mexicans, and convinced by their
own Experience, that this Drink, as rustick as it appeared to them,
nevertheless yielded very wholesome Nourishment; try’d to make it more
agreeable by the Addition of Sugar, some Oriental Spices, and Things
that grew there, which it will be needless to mention, because the Names
of them are not so much as known here, and because of so many
Ingredients, there is none continued down to us but Vanilla; in like
manner, that Cinnamon (6) is the only Spice which has had general
Approbation, and remains in the Composition of Chocolate.
Vanilla is a Cod of a brown Colour and delicate Smell; it is flatter
and longer than our [French] Beans, it contains a luscious Substance,
full of little black shining Grains. They must be chosen fresh, full,
and well grown, and care must be taken that they are not smeared with
Balsam, nor put in a moist Place.
The agreeable Smell, and exquisite Taste that they communicate to
Chocolate, have prodigiusly recommended it; but long Experience having
taught that it heats very much, its Use is become less
those who prefer their Health more than pleasing their Senses, abstain
from it entirely. In Spain and Italy, Chocolate prepared without
Vanilla, is called at present Chocolate of Health; and in the
French Islands of America, where Vanilla is neither scarce nor
dear, as in Europe, they do not use it at all, though they consume as
much Chocolate there as in any other Place in the World.
However, a great many People are prejudiced in favour of Vanilla, and
that I may pay a due Deference to their Judgments, I shall employ
Vanilla in the Composition of Chocolate, in the best Method and
Quantity, as it appears to me; I say, as it appears to me, because there
are an infinite Variety of Tastes, and every one expects that we should
have regard to his, and one Person is for adding what the other rejects.
Besides, when it is agreed upon what things to put in, it is not
possible to hit upon Proportions that will be universally approved; it
will therefore be sufficient for me to make choice of such Things as the
Majority are agreed upon, and consequently which are agreeable to the
Tastes of most.
When the Chocolate Paste is made pretty fine upon a Stone, as I have
already explain’d, they add Sugar powdered and passed through a fine
Searce; the true Proportion is the same Weight of Sugar as
but it is common to put a quarter part less of the former, that it may
not dry the Paste too much, nor make it too susceptible of Impressions
from the Air, and more subject to be eaten by Worms. But this fourth
Part is again supply’d, when it is made into a Liquor to drink.
The Sugar being well mix’d with the Paste, they add a very fine Powder
made of Vanilla and Cinnamon powdred and searced together. They mix
all over again upon the Stone very well, and then put it in Tin Moulds,
of what Form you please, where it grows as hard as before. Those that
love Perfumes, pour a little Essence of Amber on it before they put it
in the Moulds.
When the Chocolate is made without Vanilla, the Proportion of Cinnamon
is two Drams to a Pound of Paste; but when Vanilla is used, it should
be less by one half. As for the Vanilla, the Proportion is arbitrary;
one, two, or three Cods, and sometimes more, to a Pound, according to
every one’s Fancy.
Those that make Chocolate for Sale, that they may be thought to have put
in a good deal of Vanilla, put in Pepper, Ginger, &c. There are even
some People so accustomed to these Tastes, that they will not have it
otherwise; but these Spices serving only to inflame the Blood,
the Body, prudent People take care to avoid this Excess, and will not
use any Chocolate whose Composition they are ignorant of.
Chocolate made after this manner, has this Advantage, that when a
Person is obliged to go from Home, and cannot stay to have it made into
Drink, he may eat an Ounce of it, and drinking after it, leave the
Stomach to dissolve it.
In the Antilloes they make Cakes of the Kernels only, without any
Addition, as I have taught at the End of the first Part of this
Treatise; and when they would make Chocolate of them, they proceed in
the following Manner.
The Method of making Chocolate after the Manner of the French Islands
They scrape off with a Knife from these Cakes aforesaid (1), what
Quantity they please, (for Instance, four large Spoonfuls, which weigh
about an Ounce) and mix with it two or three Pinches of powder’d
Cinnamon finely searced, and about two large Spoonfuls of Sugar in
They put this Mixture into a Chocolate-Pot with a new-laid Egg (3),
both White and Yolk; then mix all well together with the Mill, and bring
it to the Consistence of Liquid Honey, upon which they afterwards pour
boiling Liquor (4), (Milk or Water, as is liked best) at the same time
using the Mill that they may be well incorporated together.
Afterwards they put the Chocolate-Pot on the Fire, or in a Kettle of
boiling Water; and when the Chocolate rises, they take it off, and
having well mill’d it, they pour it into the Dishes. To make the Taste
more exquisite, one may, before it is poured out, add a Spoonful of
Orange-Flower Water, wherein a Drop or two of Essence of Amber has been
This Manner of making Chocolate has several Advantages above any other,
and which render it preferable to them all.
In the first place, one may assert, that being well managed, it has a
very agreeable Smell, and a peculiar Delicacy in the Taste; besides, it
passes very easily off the Stomach, nor leaves any Settling either in
the Chocolate-Pot, or in the Dishes.
In the second place, one has the Satisfaction to prepare it one’s self
to one’s own Taste, to encrease or diminish at pleasure the Quantities
of Sugar or Cinnamon, and to add or leave out the Orange-Flower Water,
or Essence of Amber; and, in a word, to make any other Alteration that
shall be most agreeable.
In the third place, they make no Additions that destroy the good
Qualities of the Kernels; it is so temperate, that it may be taken at
all Times, and by all Ages, in Summer as well as in Winter, without
fearing the least Inconveniency: Whereas Chocolate season’d with
Vanilla, and other hot and biting Ingredients, cannot but be very
pernicious, especially in Summer, to young People, and to dry
Constitutions. The Glass of cold Water that they have introduced to
drink before it, or after it, only serves to palliate the Effects for a
Time; for the Heat that attends it, will manifest itself in the Blood
and Viscera, when the Water is drain’d off and gone, by the ordinary
In the fourth place, a Dish is so cheap, as not to come to above a
Penny. If Tradesmen and Artizans were once aware of it, there are few
who would not take the Advantage of so easy a Method of Breakfasting so
agreeably, at so small a Charge, and to be well supported till
Dinner-time, without taking any other Sustenance, Solid or Liquid.
Of the Uses that may be made of Chocolate with relation to Medicine.
I have always imagined it would be a very great Advantage to Physick, if
Medicines could be administred to sick People under an agreeable Form,
and a familiar Taste; and the Artifice itself of giving any thing under
the appearance and name of something that is delicate, is not without
its Benefit: People afflicted with Distempers, have enough to do to
support their Pains, without the Inconveniency of distastful Remedies;
however, it would be no small matter to spare them the Aversion they
have to every thing that is called a Medicine; and when there is a
Necessity for such, Chocolate may serve for very proper Diet, and an
excellent Vehicle, wherein to take a Medicine at the same time.
These have been my Thoughts for some Time, and I can affirm that a happy
Success has often confirm’d my Opinion. I could wish that this Essay,
imperfect as it is, might serve to waken the Attention of some ingenious
Physician, who would give himself the trouble to handle this
with greater Accuracy than my small Penetration will permit me to do.
1. How many People neglect to purge themselves, and are so obstinate as
to refuse to do it, when they have the greatest need of it, and this
because of the great Distaste they have for ordinary Medicines? Will it
not be of the greatest Service to teach them to purge themselves after a
delightful Method, and even, if it was necessary, to purge them without
their knowledge? To do this, you need only mix 20 or 26 Grains of
Jalap in Powder, (more or less, according to the Age and Strength of
the Person) with so much Powder of Cinnamon as is common for a Dish of
Chocolate, and to give this Dish as if it were ordinary Chocolate. I
have had great Experience of this, it is a good Purge without Griping;
several have mistaken the Effect for the Benefit of Nature only, being
entirely ignorant of the officious Deceit which I made use of for their
sakes. What Advantages may not there be drawn from this Method of
Purging apply’d to Children, who are so backward to take any thing that
has the least ill Taste?
2. The Preparations of the Cortex, both Galenical and Chymical, have
not succeeded. Its Infusion in Wine, heretofore so much cry’d up,
contains but a part of the Vertue; for the Fæces, or the Bark
remains at the bottom of the Bottle, has Strength enough to cure the
intermitting Fever. Thus after a thousand fruitless Trials, it is now
given again in Substance, reduced to a very fine Powder, which is either
made into Bolus’s, or taken in Water. This Practice however is
attended with several Inconveniences; for a great many People,
especially Children, cannot swallow it in Bolus’s. The same
Inconveniences follow the other Way of taking it in Water, and is
neither less troublesome, nor less nauseous.
To avoid all this, a Dram of the Cortex reduced to a fine (1) Powder,
and finely searced, and afterwards ground dry on a Porphyry, with the
Cinnamon designed for a Dish of Chocolate, and mixed in the Chocolate
with more Sugar than ordinary, may be taken without the least
Reluctancy, and, if necessary, without being perceived: The Person will
be nourished at the same time much better than with Broth, which is
easily corrupted by a feverish Stomach; neither will the Particles of
the Cortex offend the Stomach, being wrapped up by the Unctuosity of
the Chocolate. I have cured Intermittent Fevers
after this manner, nor
did it ever fail of good Success.
3. The most elaborate Preparations of Steel, are not one jot the better
upon that account; the simple Filings have more Vertue than was ever
extorted from this Metal by any Preparation: there is nevertheless an
Inconveniency in the Use of them, because all the Particles of the Steel
uniting together, by their Weight, at the bottom of the Stomach, form a
kind of a Cake, which fatigues it, and makes it very uneasy.
To remedy this, after the Filings have been ground into a very fine
Powder upon a Porphyry; you must mix it with the Cinnamon, when you make
your Chocolate, and it is certain that the Particles of the Steel will
be so divided and separated by the Agitation of the Mill, and so
entangled in the Chocolate, that there will be no danger of a future
Separation. Besides, the aromatick Particles of the Cinnamon, and the
alkaline ones of the Chocolate, will not a little add to the Strength
and Operation of this Remedy.
4. After this manner may you mix with the Chocolate the Powders of
Millepedes, Vipers, Earthworms, the Livers and Galls of Eels, to
take away the distasteful Ideas that the Sick entertain against these
5. The Use of Milk is a specifick Remedy for the Cure of several
Distempers, but by Misfortune there are but few Stomachs that can bear
it, and several Methods have been try’d to find out Help for this
Inconvenience. Without troubling myself to mention or examine them, will
it not be an easy and natural Method, to hinder the Milk from curdling
on the Stomach, to pour a hot Dish of Chocolate upon a Pint or Quart of
Milk? The butirous Parts of the Milk and Chocolate, are in reality
analogous to each other, and very proper to be united for the same
Purpose; and what is bitter and alkaline in the Chocolate, ought
necessarily to hinder the curdling of the Milk in the Stomach. It is
easy to confirm by Experience the Reasoning upon this sort of Chocolated
Of the Oil or Butter of Chocolate.
Chocolate Kernels are a Fruit very oleaginous, but the Oil is very
closely united with the other Principles, that it requires a great deal
of Labour to
separate it, and to make it pure. The three common Ways to
extract Oils, are by Distillation, Expression, and Decoction; we reject
the first as being very imperfect, because the Violence of the Fire
alters the Nature of all Oils that are extracted that way. The Success
will answer no better by Expression, because that which is got will be
very impure and in very small Quantity. There then remains no way but by
Decoction, to draw out this essential Oil that we are in quest of, which
is the true and the only way, for it gives it in its utmost Purity
without any Alteration.
They take Chocolate that is roasted, cleaned, and ground upon the Stone,
they throw the Paste into a Pan of boiling Water over a clear Fire; they
let it boil till almost all the Water is consumed, then they pour more
Water upon it till the Pan is full; the Oil ascends to the Top in
proportion as the Water cools, and grows to the Consistence of Butter.
If this Oil is not very white, it needs only be melted in a Pan full of
hot Water, where it will be disengaged and purified from the red and
terrestrial Particles that remain.
At Martinico this Oil is of the Consistence of Butter, but brought
into France, it becomes almost as hard as Fromage, or
Cheese, which melts nevertheless, and becomes liquid with a moderate
Heat: it has no very sensible Smell, and has the good fortune never to
grow rank; I have some of it now by me, that has been made this fifteen
Years. One Year, when Oil of Olives failed us, we used that of Chocolate
during the Time of Lent. It is very well tasted, and very far from
being hurtful; it contains the most essential and most healthful Parts
of the Chocolate.
I had the Curiosity to examine it by a Chymical Analysis; I put three
Ounces into a little Glass Cucurbit placed in the Heat of Ashes, there
drop’d from it an oily Liquor, which congealed as it fell down, and
which did not differ from the Butter that I have described, but by a
light Impression made upon it by the Fire. I only observed, that there
was at the bottom of the Receiver, two or three Drops of a clear Liquor,
which tasted a little acid, but very agreeable.
As this Oil is very anodyne, or an Easer of Pain, it is excellent, taken
inwardly, to cure Hoarseness, and to blunt the Sharpness of the Salts
that irritate the Lungs. In using, it must be melted and mix’d with a
sufficient Quantity of Sugar-Candy, and made into Lozenges, which must
be held in the Mouth as
long as may be, before they melt quite away,
swallowing it down gently.
Oil of Chocolate also taken seasonably, may be a wonderful Antidote
against corrosive Poisons.
Its Vertues are no ways inferior, if used outwardly.
1. It is the best and most natural Pomatum for Ladies to clear and
plump the Skin when it is dry, rough, or shrivel’d, without
making it appear either fat or shining. The Spanish Women at
Mexico, use it very much, and it is highly esteem’d by them. If it is
thought too hard, it may be softened with Oil of Ben, or Oil of Sweet
Almonds, cold drawn.
2. I am persuaded if the antient Custom of the Greeks and Romans, of
anointing their Bodies with Oil, was revived, there is nothing would
answer their Expectations better, in augmenting the Strength and
Suppleness of their Muscles, and preserving them from Rheumatisms and
other torturing Pains. The leaving off this Practice, can be attributed
to nothing else but to the ill Smell and other Properties that attended
it; but if Oil of Chocolate was used instead of Oil of Olives, those
Inconveniences would be avoided, because it has no Smell, and dries
entirely into the Skin: nothing certainly would be more advantageous,
especially for aged Persons, than to renew this Custom, which has been
authorized by the Experience of Antiquity.
3. Apothecaries ought to make use of this preferably to all others, as
the Basis of their Apoplectick Balsams; because all other Oils grow
rancid, and the Oil of Nutmegs, though whiten’d with Spirit of Wine,
always retains somewhat of its natural Smell, whereas Oil of Chocolate
is not subject to any of these Accidents.
4. There is nothing so proper as this to keep Arms from rusting, because
it contains less Water than any other Oil made use of for that purpose.
5. In the American Islands they make use of this Oil to cure the
Piles; some use it without Mixture, others melt two or three Pounds of
Lead, and gathering the Dross, reduce it into fine Powder, and after it
is finely searced, incorporate it with this Oil, and make a Liniment of
it very efficacious for this Disease. Others for the same Intention mix
with this Oil the Powder of Millepedes, Sugar of Lead, Pompholix,
and a little Laudanum.
Others use this Oil to ease Gout Pains, applying it hot to the Part,
with a Compress dip’d in it, which they cover with a hot Napkin. It may
be used after the same manner for the Rheumatism.
6. Lastly, This Oil enters the Composition of the wonderful Plaister,
and the Pomatum against Tetters. You will find their Description and
Properties among the Remarks at the End of this Treatise.
Upon some Places of the
Treatise upon Chocolate.
The Coco-tree is the same as the Palm-Tree so famous in the
East-Indies; its Fruit is call’d Coco, and care should be taken that
it be not confounded with Cocao. I make this Remark, because I find
that William Dampier very improperly calls (a) Coco’s Cocao-Nuts,
and the Tree that bears them a Cocao.
They have transported these great Trees from St. Domingo to the Vent
Islands; their Leaves being almost round, are firm and so smooth, that
one would think they had been varnished. Their Fruit are sometimes as
large as one’s Head, and their Skins very thick: When that is taken off,
the Pulp is very near the Colour, Smell, and Taste of our Apricocks; in
the Middle there are four Stones as big as Pullets Eggs, which are
difficult to separate from the Fruit. They are eaten with Wine and
Sugar; they make also very good Marmalade.
The Calebash-Tree is nigh as large as the Apple-Tree; it supplies the
Natives and Negroes with Buckets, Pots, Bottles, Dishes, Plates, and
several other Houshold Utensils. One cannot describe the Shape nor
Bigness of Calebashes, since there are some of the Size of a Pear, and
others as large as the greatest Citrons; and besides, there are long,
round, oval, and of all Fashions. The Fruit, which
is green and smooth
upon the Tree, becomes grey as it dries; within, it is full of a white
Pulp, of no use at all, which they take out through a Hole; the Shells
they put to several Services. The Bark is about one Fifth of an Inch
thick, but very hard, and difficult to break.
The Papaw-Tree is pretty uncommon as to its Make; its Trunk is strait,
but hollow, and of so tender a Wood, that it is easily cut down with a
Hedging-Bill; it is about four Yards high, without any Branches; its
Leaves much like those of our Fig-Trees, but twice as big, and are
joined to the top by Stalks of a Foot and a half long, and hollow like a
Reed. They being about thirty in number, grow at the top of the Trunk
all round about it; the lowest are ripest and largest, they are green,
and of the bigness of one’s Fist. The Pulp, which is but half an Inch
thick, is like that of a Melon, but of a sweet faintish Taste; but it
makes a pretty good Confection, of a fine green Colour.
There is another kind of Papaw-Tree, whose Fruit is as large as a
Melon, and better tasted than the former.
The Banane is a sort of Plant, whose Root is a great round Bulb, from
whence proceeds a Trunk, green and smooth, six Feet high, as thick as
one’s Thigh, and without any Leaf. On the top of it grow about twenty
Leaves, about a Foot and a half broad, and about five Feet long; but so
tender, that the Wind tears them from the Middle to the Sides, into
Slangs like Ribbons: From the Center of these Leaves grows a second
Trunk, more firm than the rest of the Plant: upon this grows a Cluster
of about forty or fifty Bananes, sometimes more, sometimes less. A
Banane is a Fruit as thick as one’s Arm, about a Foot long, and a
little crooked. They gather this Cluster green, and hang it up in the
Ceiling; and as the Bananes grow yellow, or mellow, they gather them.
When this Cluster is taken away, the Plant withers, or they cut it down
at the Root; but for one Trunk lost, the Root sends forth five or six
Besides these Bananes, there is a Fruit call’d Banane-Figs; but the
Plants that produce them are very little different: The Figs are much
less than the Bananes,
being but four or five Inches long. The Fig is
more delicious, but the Banane is thought to be more wholesome, and
the Pulp more solid. They roast them upon a Grid-Iron, or bake them in
an Oven, they eat them with Sugar and the Juice of an Orange. The
Banane done in a Stew-Pan in its own Juice, with Sugar and a little
Cinnamon, is excellent.
Manioc is a Shrub very crooked, and full of Knots, its Wood is tender
and brittle, and the Branches are easily broke off into Slips: There are
several and different Colours, some more forward and fruitful than
others. Commonly they are pluck’d up in a Year or thereabouts; and there
is found at every one, several plump Roots, without any sensible Fibres,
more or less thick, according to the Kind and the Goodness of the Soil.
These Roots are wash’d in a good deal of Water, to free them from the
Earth; and after they are scraped with a Knife like wild Turnips, they
grate them; that is to say, they rub them hard with great Copper
Graters, which the French call Grages, just as they do Quinces to
get out the Juice. This grated
Manioc is put in the Press in Sacks
made of coarse Hemp, or Rushes, to get out the superfluous Moisture,
which is not only unwholesome, but poisonous. This, thus press’d, they
take from the Sacks, and pass it through a coarse Sieve called
Hibichet; they afterwards bake it two several ways, to make what they
call Cassave, or Meal of Manioc.
In the first place, when they would make the Cassave, they spread the
sifted Manioc upon a Plate of Iron over a clear Fire, which they
tapping down with the Ball of their Hands, make a broad Cake about half
an Inch thick, and two Feet in diameter; and when it is baked on one
side, they turn it on the other: and if they would keep it any time,
they dry it in the Sun.
In the second place, when they would make what they call the Meal, they
put the Manioc, grated, pressed, and sifted, as before, upon a great
Copper Plate four Feet in diameter, with a Brim five or six Inches high,
and placed upon a Brick Furnace: They stir it continually with a wooden
Spatula, that it may not stick and be baked all alike. This Meal
resembles Bread grosly crumbled, and may be kept a long while in a dry
Place. The Natives do not trouble themselves to make the Meal; they only
which they bake every day, because, when it is hot, it
is more agreeable and palatable.
If they leave the expressed Juice of Manioc to settle, it lets fall a
Fæcula to the bottom, called Moussache, which they afterwards dry in
the Sun: it is as white as Snow, of which they make very good Cakes,
called in those Parts, Craquelins.
The Laundresses use this Fæcula instead of Starch, to starch their
Linnen. Some Inhabitants mix one Third of this with two Thirds of
French Meal, and make Bread that is very white, and well tasted.
At first sight, one would take a Balize-Tree for a Banane, they are
so like each other: there is, however, this difference between them,
That the Leaves of the Balize-Tree are not so tender, and apt to be
tore; for this reason, they serve the Natives for Table-Cloths and
Napkins, as well as the Negroes, and some of the Planters that live in
the Woods. Sometimes they serve as Umbrella’s to shade them from the
Sun, or Showers of Rain, that surprize them.
The Hunters have great assistance from this Plant; for sometimes
finding themselves pressed with Thirst, in Places at some distance from
Rivers or Fountains, they give the Trunk of a Balize a Slash with a
Knife, and immediately hold their Hat, or a Cup, which catches a clear,
good, and cool Water, even in the greatest Heat.
Pimento, called also Jamaica-Pepper, has been brought into France,
where it grows, as in America, in pyramidal Cods of three or four
Inches long: they are at first green, then yellow, afterwards red, and
last of all, black. They pickle them in Vinegar, as they do Capers and
little Cucumbers. There are in America several other Kinds of
Pimentoes, and especially one that is round, and as red as a Cherry.
This is the hottest of all, it sets the Mouth all on fire; for which
reason it is called the mad Pimento. The Natives eat nothing without
Pimento, it is their universal Seasoning, it serves them instead of
Salt, and all Oriental Spices.
Achote is best known in France, under the Name of Roucou, and is a
sort of Red which the Dyers and Painters make use of. It is the
favourite Colour of the Savages, which they are very careful of planting
in their Gardens, that they may paint their Bodies every Morning, which
they call Roucouing.
Roucou is planted of a Kernel much after the same manner as the
Cocao-Tree. The Shrub that is most like it in Europe, is the
Lilach, or the Arabian Bean. Its Leaves, of the Shape of a Heart,
are longish, pointed, and placed alternately; its Blossoms grow in
Bunches at the end of the Boughs, they are white, mix’d with Carnation,
like the Flowers of the wild Rose-Tree. In the middle, there is a Tuft
of yellow Stamina with red Points; when these Blossoms fall off, there
appears tawny Buds, beset with fine Prickles: These Buds grow to be
Shells, which, when ripe, open on the upper side, and discover within,
two Rows of Pippins, almost like little Peas, cover’d with Vermilion,
which sticks to the Fingers, when touch’d, and leaves the Pippins quite,
when wash’d with warm Water. The Water
being settled, they pour it off
gently by degrees, they dry the Colour in the Shade that fell to the
bottom of the Vessel; and this is the true Roucou, without any
Mixture. The Physicians in these Parts prescribe it to cut and attenuate
thick and tough Humours, which cause difficulty of Breathing, Retension
of Urine, and all sorts of Obstructions (89).
Atolla is a kind of Gruel which they make with Meal of Maise, (which
is the same as our Indian Corn, or Turkey Millet.) The Mexicans
season it with Pimento; but the Nuns and Spanish Ladies, instead of
Pimento, use Sugar, Cinnamon, perfumed Waters of Amber, Musk, &c. In
these Parts, they make the same Use of Atolla, as of the best Rice in
One ought to chuse the smallest Cinnamon, the highest coloured, and of
the most biting Taste, as well as sweet and spicy, because a great Part
full of Pieces, from whence they have drawn the Essence, and has
neither any Colour nor Taste, but that of the Wood. To help and amend
both, there needs only a Clove to be ground in the Mortar, with an Ounce
of Cinnamon. This Spice is best that comes from the East-Indies, it
has nothing of Acrid in it, and contains an oleous Volatile, which
agrees very well with that of Chocolate. Cinnamon also has always kept
its Place in all the Compositions of Chocolate.
In whose Composition
Oil or Butter
Is made use of.
The Wonderful Plaister for the Curing of all sorts of Ulcers.
Take Oil-Olive a Pound, Venetian Ceruss, in Powder, half a Pound.
Put them in a Copper Pan, or a glazed Earthen one, upon a clear moderate
Fire, stirring them continually with a
wooden Spatula till the
Mixture is become black, and almost of the Consistence of a Plaister,
(which you may know by letting fall two or three Drops upon a Pewter
Plate; for if they grow cold immediately, and do not stick to the
Fingers, when touch’d, it is done enough.) Then must be added,
Of Bees-Wax cut in little Bits, an Ounce and a half.
Oil or Butter of Chocolate, an Ounce.
Balsam Capivi, an Ounce and a half.
When they are all melted and mixed together, the Pan must be taken off
the Fire; and stirring constantly with the Spatula, you must add the
following Ingredients, reduced into a fine Powder separately, and then
well mixed together.
Lapis Calaminaris, heated in the Fire, and then quenched in
Lime-Water, and ground upon a Porphyry, one Ounce.
Myrrh in Drops,
||of each two
Camphire, a Dram.
When they are all well incorporated together, they must cool a little,
and then be poured upon a Marble to be made into Rolls, after the
I have seen such surprizing Effects from this Emplaister, that I am
almost backward to mention them, lest they should seem incredible. It
cures the most stubborn and inveterate Ulcers, provided the Bone is not
carious: for in this Case, lest you should lose your Labour, you must
begin with the Bone, and then apply the Plaister. The Place must be
dress’d Morning and Evening after it is clean’d with Lime Water, and
wiped well with a Linnen Cloth.
The same Plaister may serve several Times, provided it be washed with
Lime Water, wiped with a Rag, and held to the Fire a Moment before it is
I exhort charitable People to make this Plaister and give it to the
Poor, especially those that live in the Country; they will draw down a
Thousand Blessings in this Life, and the Lord will recompence them
An excellent Pomatum for Ringworms, Tettars, Pimples, and other
Deformities of the Skin.
Take Flowers of Brimstone (a), Salt Petre purified, of each Half
an Ounce; good White Precipitate (b), two Drams; Benzoin or
Benjamin, a Dram.
Beat the Benjamin and Salt-Petre a good while in a Brass Mortar,
till they are reduced into a very fine Powder, then mix the Flower of
Brimstone and White Precipitate with them and keep this Powder for Use.
At Martinico when I had occasion to make use of it, I incorporated it
with Butter of Chocolate; but in France, I substitute the best-scented
Jessamin Pomatum: This Smell, joined with that of Benjamin, corrects
the Smell of the Brimstone, which some Persons abhor.
I cannot sufficiently recommend this Pomatum, which always succeeds
well, and I have often found it beneficial when every thing else fail’d.
You must not wonder if on the first, and sometimes the second Day, the
Tettar seems more lively, or the Complection more dull; it is a sign
that the Malignity is drawn out, and that the Seeds of it are destroy’d:
you must therefore take heed of desisting, for the Skin in a little Time
will be render’d as even and smooth as you can desire.