The Gooseberry (Ribes grossularia) gets its name from kruesbar,
which signifies a cross, in allusion to the triple spine of the fruit
or berry, which is commonly cruciform. This is a relic of its first
floral days, preserved like the apron of the blacksmith at Persia,
when he came to the throne. The term grossularia implies a
resemblance of the fruit to grossuli, small unripe figs.
 Frequently the sh
ub, which belongs to the same natural order
as the Currant (Ribes), grows wild in the hedges and thickets of
our Eastern counties, bearing then only a small, poor berry, and not
supposed to be of native origin.
In East Anglia it is named Fabe, Feap, Thape, or Theab berry,
probably by reason of a mistake which arose through an incorrect
picture. The Melon, in a well-known book of Tabernaemontanus,
was figured to look like a large gooseberry, and was headed,
Pfebe. And this name was supposed by some wiseacre to be that
of the gooseberry, and thus became attached to the said fruit.
Loudon thinks it signifies Feverberry, because of the cooling
properties possessed by the gooseberry, which is scarcely probable.
In Norfolk, the green, unripe fruit is called Thape, and the
schoolboys in that county well know Thape pie, made from green
Gooseberries. The French call the fruit Groseille, and the Scotch,
Grosert. It contains, chemically, citric acid, pectose, gum, sugar,
cellulose, albumen, mineral matter, and water. The quantity of
flesh-forming constituents is insignificant. Its pectose, under
heat, makes a capital jelly.
In this country, the Gooseberry was first cultivated at the time of the
Reformation, and it grows better in Great Britain than elsewhere,
because of the moist climate. The original fruit occurred of the hairy
sort, like Esau, as the Uva crispa of Fuschius, in Henry the
Eighth's reign; and there are now red, white, and yellow cultivated
varieties of the berry.
When green and unripe, Gooseberries are employed in a sauce,
together with bechamel, and aromatic spices, this being taken with
mackerel and other rich fish, as an acid corrective condiment. Also,
from the juice of the  green fruit, which cureth all
inflammations, may be concocted an excellent vinegar.
Gooseberry-fool, which comes to our tables so acceptably in early
summer, consists of the unripe fruit foule (that is, crushed or
beaten up) with cream and milk. Similarly the French have a foule
des pommes, and a foule des raisins. To play old Gooseberry
with another man's property is conjectured to mean smashing it up,
and reducing it, as it were, to Gooseberry-fool.
The young and tender leaves of the shrub, if eaten raw in a salad;
drive forth the gravel. And from the red Gooseberry may be
prepared an excellent light jelly, which is beneficial for sedentary,
plethoric, and bilious subjects. This variety of the fruit, whether
hairy or smooth, is grown largely in Scotland, but in France it is
little cared for.
The yellow Gooseberry is richer and more vinous of taste, suiting
admirably, when of the smooth sort, for making Gooseberry wine;
which is choice, sparkling, and wholesome, such as that wherewith
Goldsmith's popular Vicar of Wakefield used to regale Farmer
Flamborough and the blind piper, having lost neither the recipe nor
the reputation. They were soothed in return by the touching ballads
of Johnny Armstrong's Last Good Night, and Cruel Barbara
Gooseberry Shows are held annually in Lancashire, and excite keen
competition; but after exhibition, the successful berries are topped
and tailed, so as to disqualify them from being shown elsewhere.
Southey, in The Doctor, speaks about an obituary notice in a
former Manchester newspaper, of a man who bore a severe illness
with Christian fortitude, and was much esteemed among Gooseberry
growers. Prizes are given for the  biggest and heaviest berries,
which are produced with immense pains as to manuring, and the
growth of cool chickweed around the roots of the bushes. At the
same time each promising berry is kept submerged in a shallow
vessel of water placed beneath it so as to compel absorption of
moisture, and thus to enlarge its size. Whimsical names, such as
Golden Lion, The Jolly Angler, and Crown Bob, etc., are
bestowed on the prize fruit. Cuttings from the parent plant of a prize
Gooseberry become in great request; and thus the pedigree scions of
a single bush have been known to yield as much as thirty-two
pounds sterling to their possessor. The Gooseberry Book is a
regular Manchester annual.
A berry weighing as heavy as thirty-seven penny-weight has been
exhibited; and a story is told of a Middleton weaver, who, when a
thunder-storm was gathering, lay awake as if for his life, and at the
first patter of rain against the window panes, rushed to the rescue of
his Gooseberry bushes with his bed quilt. Green Gooseberries will
help to abate the strange longings which sometimes beset pregnant
In Devon the rustics call Gooseberries Deberries, and in Sussex
they are familiarly known to village lads as Goosegogs.
An Irish cure for warts is to prick them with a Gooseberry thorn
passed through a wedding ring.
By some subtle bodily action wrought through a suggestion made to
the mind, warts undoubtedly disappear as the result of this and
many another equally trivial proceeding; which being so, why not
the more serious skin affections, and larger morbid growths?
The poet Southey wrote a Pindaric Ode upon a Gooseberry 
Pie, beginning Gooseberry Pie is best, with the refrain:--
And didst thou scratch thy tender arms,
Oh, Jane I that I should dine?