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In: Hidden Intercourse

Abstract

Early modern alchemical literature is full of pseudonymous corpora. One of the most famous of these is connected with the name Basil Valentine, a supposed Benedictine monk and master of both medicinal and transmutational chymistry. Accreted over a period of nearly a century, the Valentine corpus is complex and heterogeneous. This paper endeavors to organize and recount the construction of the corpus by an array of authors, editors, publishers, and bibliographers, to sort out some of its strata, and to trace the origins and modifications of some of its texts. This exercise will be useful not only for further investigations of Basil Valentine and other pseudonymous chymical corpora, but also for broader studies of forgery and book history.

In: Early Science and Medicine

Abstract

The parallel usage of the two terms "alchemy" and "chemistry" by seventeenth-century writers has engendered considerable confusion among historians of science. Many historians have succumbed to the temptation of assuming that the early modern term "chemistry" referred to something like the modern discipline, while supposing that "alchemy" pertained to a different set of practices and beliefs, predominantly the art of transmuting base metals into gold. This paper provides the first exhaustive analysis of the two terms and their interlinguistic cognates in the seventeenth century. It demonstrates that the intentional partition of the two terms with the restriction of alchemy to the the sense of metallic transmutation was not widely accepted until the end of the seventeenth century, if even then. The major figure in the restriction of meaning, Nicolas Lemery, built on a spurious interpretation of the Arabic definite article al, which he inherited from earlier sources in the chemical textbook tradition. In order to curtail the tradition of anachronism and distortion engendered by the selective use of the terms "alchemy" and "chemistry" by historians, the authors conclude by suggesting a return to seventeenth-century terminology for discussing the different aspects of the early modern discipline "chymistry."

In: Early Science and Medicine

Abstract

In June 1668 Anthony Ashley Cooper, later to become the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, underwent abdominal surgery to drain a large abscess above his liver. The case is extraordinary, not simply on account of the eminence of the patient and the danger of the procedure, but also because of the many celebrated figures involved. A trove of manuscripts relating to this famous operation survives amongst the Shaftesbury Papers in the National Archives at Kew. These include case notes in the hand of the philosopher John Locke and advice from leading physicians of the day including Francis Glisson, Sir George Ent and Thomas Sydenham. The majority of this material has never been published before. This article provides complete transcriptions and translations of all of these manuscripts, thus providing for the first time a comprehensive case history. It is prefaced with an extended introduction.

In: Early Science and Medicine