An alchemical vessel in the form of a vulture's egg.--James Halliwell's Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words, 1855
Birthday of Sir Kenelm Digby (1603-1665),
colorful English writer and Oxford dropout, who was three when his father was hanged as a member of the infamous Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament. His continued interest in many of the "six follies of science" -- the squaring of the circle, perpetual motion, the philosopher's stone, magic, astrology, and the elixir of life -- earned him intermittent derision among his peers. Diarist John Evelyn privately described Digby as a "teller of strange tales" and "an errant mountebank," yet he eagerly sought Digby's company. Digby's collection of recipes, published posthumously as The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Opened (1669), reflected his sensible interest in food as medicine, but it was riddled with what would be seen later as archaic absurdities. One of the over fifty mead-making recipes, for example, specifically called for "Hyde Park water," while another, ambiguously named "An Approved Remedy for Biting of a Mad Dog," was touted by the author as "excellent for man or beast."
Hey, some of my best friends are errant mountebanks who tell strange tales!