On The Plague, and the Use of Slugs Therein
“In the woodlands, the more formidable black nude slug will be often encountered. It is a huge voracious creature, herbivorous, feeding on tender plants; fruits, as strawberries, apples; and even turnips and mushrooms; appearing morning and evening, or after rain; suffering severely in its concealment in long droughts, and remaining torpid in winter.
The grey field slug is actually recommended to be swallowed by consumptive patients!
In the town of Dundee there exists a strange story of the plague, connected with the conversion, from dire necessity of the black slug, to a use similar to that which the luxurious Romans are said to have made of the great apple-snail.
Two young and blooming maidens lived together at that dread time in a remote cottage on the steep ascent of the Bonnetmaker’s Hill.
Deprived of friends or support by the pestilence that walked at noonday, they still retained their good looks and healthful aspect, even when the famine had succeeded to the plague.
The jaundiced eyes of the famine-wasted wretches around them were instantly turned towards the poor girls, who appeared to thrive so well whilst others were famishing.
They were unhesitatingly accused of witchcraft, and had nearly fallen a prey to that terrible charge; for betwixt themselves they had sworn never to tell in words by what means they were supported, ashamed as they felt of the resource to which they had been driven; and resolved, if possible, to escape the anticipated derision of their neighbours on its disclosure.
It was only when about to be dragged before their stern inquisitors, that one of the girls, drawing aside the covering of a great barrel which stood in a corner of their domicile, discovered, without violating her oath, that the youthful pair had been driven to the desperate necessity of collecting and preserving for food large quantities of the black slugs, which they ultimately acknowledged to have proved to them generous and even agreeable sustenance.
To the credit of the times the explanation sufficed; the young women escaped with their lives, and were even applauded for their prudence.”
From The Domestic Annals of Scotland, 1645