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Title: Medical Investigation in Seventeenth Century England - Papers Read at a Clark Library Seminar, October 14, 1967
Author: Bodemer, Charles W., King, Lester S. (Lester Snow), 1908, 1908-2002
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Medical Investigation in Seventeenth Century England - Papers Read at a Clark Library Seminar, October 14, 1967" ***

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  Medical Investigation
  in Seventeenth Century

  Charles W. Bodemer

  Lester S. King

  William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

  Medical Investigation
  in Seventeenth Century

  Embryological Thought in
  Seventeenth Century England

  _by Charles W. Bodemer_

  Robert Boyle as an Amateur Physician

  _by Lester S. King_

  Papers Read at a Clark Library Seminar,
  October 14, 1967

  William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
  _University of California, Los Angeles/1968_


Although the collection of scientific literature in the Clark Library
has already served as the background for a number of seminars, in the
most recent of them the literature of embryology and the medical aspects
of Robert Boyle's thought were subjected to a first and expert
examination. Charles W. Bodemer, of the Division of Biomedical History,
School of Medicine, University of Washington, evaluated the
embryological ideas of that remarkable group of inquiring Englishmen,
Sir Kenelm Digby, Nathaniel Highmore, William Harvey, and Sir Thomas
Browne. Lester S. King, Senior Editor of the _Journal of the American
Medical Association_, dealt with the medical side of Robert Boyle's
writings, the collection of which constitutes one of the chief glories
of the Clark Library. It was a happy marriage of subject matter and
library's wealth, the former a noteworthy oral presentation, the latter
a spectacular exhibit. As usual, and of necessity, the audience was
restricted in size, far smaller in numbers than all those who are now
able to enjoy the presentations in their present, printed form.


_Professor of Medical History, UCLA_


_Embryological Thought in Seventeenth
Century England_


To discuss embryological thought in seventeenth-century England is to
discuss the main currents in embryological thought at a time when those
currents were both numerous and shifting. Like every other period, the
seventeenth century was one of transition. It was an era of explosive
growth in scientific ideas and techniques, suffused with a creative urge
engendered by new philosophical insights and the excitement of
discovery. During the seventeenth century, the ideas relating to the
generation and development of organisms were quite diverse, and there
were seldom criteria other than enthusiasm or philosophical predilection
to distinguish the fanciful from the feasible. Applying a well-known
phrase from another time to seventeenth-century embryological theory,
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of
wisdom, it was the age of foolishness."[1]

Embryology underwent some very significant changes during the
seventeenth century. At the beginning of the century, embryology was
descriptive and clearly directed toward morphological goals; by the end
of the century, a dynamic, more physiological attitude was apparent, and
theories of development derived from an entirely different philosophic
base. During this time, English investigators contributed much, some of
ephemeral, some of lasting importance to the development of embryology.
For this discussion, we will divide the seventeenth century into three
overlapping, but generally distinct, periods; and, without pretence of
presenting an exhaustive exposition, we will concentrate upon the
concepts and directions of change characteristic of each period, with
primary reference to those individuals who best reveal the character of
seventeenth-century English embryology.

An understanding of the characteristics of embryological thought at the
beginning of the seventeenth century may enhance appreciation of later
developments. During the latter part of the sixteenth century, the study
of embryology was, for obvious reasons, most often considered within the
province of anatomy and obstetrics. From Bergengario da Capri to Jean
Riolan the Younger, study of the fetus was recommended as an adjunct of
these subjects, and it required investigation by direct observation, as
decreed by the "restorers" of anatomy. Embryonic development was,
however, also studied independently of other disciplines by a smaller
group of individuals, and the study of chick development by Aldrovandus,
Coiter, and Fabricius ab Aquapendente laid the basic groundwork of
descriptive embryology. In either case, during the last half of the
sixteenth century the attempt of the embryologist to break with the
traditions of the past was overt, although consistently unsuccessful.
When dealing with the fetus, the investigators of this period were,
almost to a man, Galenists influenced to varying degrees by Hippocrates,
Aristotle, and Avicenna. Each felt compelled to challenge the immediate
authority, and yet their intellectual isolation from the past was
incomplete, and their views on embryogeny corresponded with more often
than they differed from those of the person they railed against.

Embryology emerged as a distinct scientific discipline during the last
half of the sixteenth century and early years of the seventeenth century
as a result of the aforementioned investigations of Aldrovandus, Coiter,
and Fabricius. Concerned with description and depiction of the anatomy
of the embryo, they established a period of macro-iconography in
embryology. The macro-iconographic era was empirical and based upon
first-hand observation; it was concerned more with the facts than with
the theories of development. This empiricism existed in competition with
a declining, richly vitalistic Aristotelian rationalism which had
virtually eliminated empiricism during the scholastic period. However,
the decline of this vitalistic rationalism coincided with the rise of a
mechanistic rationalism which had its roots in ancient Greek atomistic
theories of matter. The empiricism comprising the _leitmotif_ of the
macro-iconographic movement then became blended with, or, more often,
submerged within, the new variety of rationalism; hence, mechanistic
rationalism, divorced entirely or virtually from empiricism,
characterizes embryology during the first half of the seventeenth
century. It is a particularly vigorous strain of seventeenth-century
English embryological thought, well illustrated in the writings of that
English man of affairs, Sir Kenelm Digby.

Digby, whose name, according to one biographer, "is almost synonymous
with genius and eccentricity,"[2] could claim our attention not only as
a scientist of talent, but also as a statesman, soldier, pirate, lover,
and a Roman Catholic possessed of sufficient piety and naked courage to
attempt the conversion of Oliver Cromwell. Like his father, who was
hanged for participation in the Gunpowder Plot, Digby was a political
creature, and during the Civil War he was imprisoned for several years.
When freed, Digby left England to settle in France. Spending much time
at the court of the Queen Dowager, who had been instrumental in securing
his release, and exposed to the vigorous intellectual currents of Paris
and Montpellier, Digby labored upon a treatise of greater scientific
substance and merit than his more famous work on "the powder of
sympathy." Published in 1644 under the title _Two Treatises, in the One
of Which, The Nature of Bodies; in the Other, the Nature of Mans Soule;
is Looked_ _into, in Way of Discovery of the Immortality of Reasonable
Soules_, the book consists of a highly individual survey of the entire
realms of metaphysics, physics, and biology.

Digby's cannons were aimed at scholasticism, which, despite "greatly
exaggerated" reports, did not die with the Middle Ages. The spirit of
scholasticism was alive in many quarters well into the seventeenth
century, and although many scholars worked in pursuit of original
knowledge, they did not always disturb the scholastic philosophic basis
from which their work derived. For example, in his impressive _De
formato foetu_, published in 1604, when Sir Kenelm Digby was one year
old, Fabricius all too often submerges a substantial body of
observations within a dense tangle of philosophical discussion. Thus, in
the same treatise that contains the first illustrations and commendably
accurate descriptions of the daily progress of the chick's development,
Fabricius devotes an inordinate amount of space to tedious discussions
of material and efficient causes in development, emphasizing thereby the
supremacy of the logical framework to the observations. In 1620, Digby's
last year of study at Oxford University, Fienus published a work, _De
Formatrice Foetus_, designed to demonstrate that the human embryo
receives the rational soul on the third day after conception and to
discuss at length such subjects as the efficient cause of embryogeny and
the proposition that the conformation of the fetus is a vital, not a
natural, action. Various expressions of Aristotelian and scholastic
biology were clearly abroad during the first half of the seventeenth
century, and there is reason, then, for Digby's attack upon Aristotelian
ideas of form and matter and of the persistence of "qualities" in
physics and "faculties" in biology.

Expressing his disdain of word-spinning, Digby attempts to explain all
phenomena by two "virtues" only, rarity and density working by local
motion. In discussing embryonic development, Digby writes, "...our
maine question shall be, Whether they be framed entirely at once; or
successively, one part after another? And, if this later way, which
part first?"[3] Toward this end, Digby makes some direct observations
upon the development of the chick embryo, incubating the eggs so that
the "creatures ... might be continually in our power to observe in them
the course of nature every day and houre."[4] His description of chick
development is of epigenetic bent:

     ...you may lay severall egges to hatch; and by breaking them at
     severall ages you may distinctly observe every hourely mutation in
     them, if you please. The first will bee, that on one side you shall
     find a great resplendent clearnesse in the white. After a while, a
     little spott of red matter like bload, will appeare in the middest
     of that clearnesse fastened to the yolke: which will have a motion
     of opening and shutting; so as sometimes you will see it, and
     straight againe it will vanish from your sight; and indeede att the
     first it is so litle, that you can not see it, but by the motion of
     it; for att every pulse, as it openeth, you may see it, and
     immediately againe, it shutteth in such sort, as it is not to be
     discerned. From this red specke, after a while there will streame
     out, a number of litle (almost imperceptible) red veines. Att the
     end of some of which, in time there will be gathered together, a
     knotte of matter which by litle and litle, will take the forme of a
     head; and you will ere long beginne to discerne eyes and a beake in
     it. All this while the first red spott of blood, groweth bigger and
     solider; till att the length, it becometh a fleshy substance; and
     by its figure, may easily be discerned to be the hart: which as yet
     hath no other enclosure but the substance of the egge. But by litle
     and litle the rest of the body of an animal is framed out of those
     red veines which streame out all aboute from the hart. And in
     processe of time, that body incloseth the hart within it by the
     chest, which groweth over on both sides, and in the end meeteth,
     and closeth it selfe fast together. After which this litle creature
     soone filleth the shell, by converting into severall partes of it
     selfe all the substance of the egge. And then growing weary of so
     straight an habitation, it breaketh prison, and cometh out, a
     perfectly formed chicken.[5]

Despite this observational effort, Digby's experience with the embryo is
quite limited, and his theory of development relates more to his
philosophical stance than to the facts of development. Indeed, the
theory he propounds is not necessarily consistent. On the one hand, it
posits a strictly mechanistic epigenesis, and on the other hand, it
incorporates the notion of "specificall vertues drawne by the bloud in
its iterated courses, by its circular motion, through all the severall
partes of the parents body."[6] Digby rejects an internal agent,
entelechy, or the Aristotelian formal and efficient causes. Similarly,
he disposes of the idea that the embryonic parts derive from some part
of each part of the parent's body or an assemblage of parts. This
possibility is eliminated, he contends, by the occurrence of spontaneous
generation. If a collection of parts was necessary, he asks, "how could
vermine breed out of living bodies, or out of corruption?... How could
froggs be ingendered in the ayre?"[7] Generation in plants and animals
must, then, according to Digby, proceed from the action of an external
agent, effecting the proper mingling of the rare and dense bodies with
one another, upon a homogeneous substance and converting it into an
increasingly heterogeneous substance. "Generation," he says,

     is not made by aggregation of like partes to presupposed like ones:
     nor by a specificall worker within; but by the compounding of a
     seminary matter, with the juice which accreweth to it from without,
     and with the streames of circumstant bodies; which by an ordinary
     course of nature, are regularly imbibed in it by degrees; and which
     att every degree do change it into a different thing.[8]

Digby argues that the animal is made of the juices that later nourish
it, that the embryo is generated from superfluous nourishment coming
from all parts of the parent body and containing "after some sort, the
perfection of the whole living creature."[9] Then, through digestion and
other degrees of heat and moisture, the superfluous nourishment becomes
an homogeneous body, which is then changed by successive transformations
into an animal.

Digby is frankly deterministic in his description of embryonic

     Take a beane, or any other seede, and putt it into the earth, and
     lett water fall upon it; can it then choose but that the beane must
     swell? The beane swelling, can it choose but breake the skinne? The
     skinne broken can it choose (by reason of the heate that is in it)
     but push out more matter, and do that action which we may call
     germinating.... Now if all this orderly succession of mutations be
     necessarily made in a beane, by force of sundry circumstances and
     externall accidents; why may it not be conceived that the like is
     also done in sensible creatures; but in a more perfect manner....
     Surely the progresse we have sett downe is much more reasonable,
     then to conceive that in the meale of the beane, are contained in
     litle, severall similar substances.... Or, that in the seede of the
     male, there is already in act, the substance of flesh, of bone, of
     sinewes, of veines, and the rest of those severall similar partes
     which are found in the body of an animall; and that they are but
     extended to their due magnitude, by the humidity drawne from the
     mother, without receiving any substantiall mutation from what they
     were originally in the seede. Lett us then confidently conclude,
     that all generation is made of a fitting, but remote, homogeneall
     compounded substance: upon which, outward Agents working in the due
     course of nature, do change it into an other substance, quite
     different from the first, and do make it lesse homogeneall then the
     first was. And other circumstances and agents, do change this
     second into a thirde; that thirde, into a fourth; and so onwardes,
     by successive mutations (that still make every new thing become
     lesse homogeneall, then the former was, according to the nature of
     heate, mingling more and more different bodies together) untill
     that substance be produced, which we consider in the periode of all
     these mutations....[10]

Digby thus makes a good statement of epigenetic development. He
attempts, without success, a physiochemical explanation of the
mechanisms of development, finally admitting:

     I persuade my selfe it appeareth evident enough, that to effect
     this worke of generation, there needeth not be supposed a forming
     vertue ... of an unknowne power and operation.... Yet, in
     discourse, for conveniency and shortnesse of expression we shall
     not quite banish that terme from all commerce with us; so that what
     we meane by it, be rightly understood; which is, the complexe,
     assemblement, or chayne of all the causes, that concurre to produce
     this effect; as they are sett on foote, to this end by the great
     Architect and Moderatour of them, God Almighty, whose instrument
     Nature is.[11]

Digby's general theory thus represents a strange mixture of epigenesis
and pangenesis, and is not entirely devoid of "virtues." It is, however,
a bold attempt to explain embryonic development in terms commensurate
with his time, and it embodies the same optimistic belief that the
mechanism of embryogenesis lay accessible to man's reason and logical
faculties that similarly led Descartes and Gassendi to comprehensive
interpretations of embryonic development comprising a maximum of logic
and minimum of observations.

The traditionalist reaction to the attack upon treasured and
intellectually comfortable interpretations of development was not slow
to set in. A year after the appearance of Digby's _Nature of Bodies_,
Alexander Ross published a treatise with a title indicating its goals
and content: _The Philosophicall Touch-Stone; or Observations upon Sir
Kenelm Digbie's Discourses of the nature of Bodies, and of the
reasonable Soule: In which his erroneous Paradoxes are refuted, the
Truth, and Aristotelian Philosophy vindicated, the immortality of mans
Soule briefly, but sufficiently proved_.[12] Ross supports the Galenist
tradition that the liver, not, as Digby claimed, the heart, forms first
in development. It can be no other way, he says, since the blood is the
source of nourishment and the liver is necessary for formation of the
blood. Furthermore, he contends, "the seed is no part of the ... aliment
of the body ... the seed is the quintessence of the blood."[13] Ross is
an epigeneticist, to be sure, but so was Aristotle, and Ross prefers to
maintain the supremacy of logic and the concepts of the Aristotelian
tradition as a guide to the interpretation of development.

In 1651, Nathaniel Highmore, a physician at Sherborne in Dorset,
published _The History of Generation_, which, he informs us, is an
answer to the opinions expressed by Digby in _The Nature of Bodies_.
Highmore's book is an important one in the history of embryology, since
it is the first treatment of embryogeny from the atomistic viewpoint and
because it contains the first published observations based upon
microscopic examination of the chick blastoderm. Admittedly, the
drawings illustrating Highmore's observations upon generation are, to
use a word often applied to modern art, "interesting," but they do
derive from actual observations of developing plant and animal embryos.
His observations on the developing chick embryo are quite full,
complete, and exact, and he also records some interesting facts
regarding development of plant seeds.

Highmore's theory of development appears to have emerged directly out of
his observations of development. In this sense, his theory rests upon a
more solid base than does the developmental theory of Digby. His theory
is a mixture of vitalism and atomism, designed to eliminate the "fortune
and chance"[14] resident in Digby's concept. "Generation," he says,

     ...is performed by parts selected from the generators, retaining
     in them the substance, forms, properties, and operations of the
     parts of the generators, from whence they were extracted: and this
     Quintessence or Magistery is called the seed. By which the
     Individuals of every Species are multiplied...

From this, All Creatures take their beginning; some laying up the like
matter, for further procreation of the same Species.

In others, some diffus'd Atomes of this extract, shrinking themselves
into some retired parts of the Matter; become as it were lost, in a
wilderness of other confused seeds; and there sleep, till by a
discerning corruption they are set at liberty, to execute their own
functions. Hence it is, that so many swarms of living Creatures are from
the corruption of others brought forth: From our own flesh, from other
Animals, from Wood, nay, from everything putrified, these imprisoned
seminal principles are muster'd forth, and oftentimes having obtained
their freedom, by a kinde of revenge feed on their prison; and devour
that which preserv'd them from being scatter'd.[15] Accounting thus for
sexual and spontaneous generation, Highmore defines two types of seminal
atoms in the seed--"Material Atomes, animated and directed by a
spiritual form, proper to that species whose the seed is; and given to
such matter at the creation to distinguish it from other matters, and to
make it such a Creature as it is."[16] The seminal atoms come from all
parts of the body, the spiritual atoms from the male, and the material
atoms from the female. The atoms of Democritus are thus transmuted into
the "substantial forms" and endowed either with the efficient cause of
Aristotle or, permitted to remain material, with Aristotle's material
cause. According to Highmore, the atoms are circulated in the blood,
which is a "tincture extracted from those things we eat," and these
various atoms retain their formal identity despite corruption. The
testicles abstract some spiritual atoms belonging to each part and, "As
the parts belonging to every particle of the Eye, the Ear, the Heart,
the Liver, etc. which should in nutrition, have been added ... to every
one of these parts, are compendiously, and exactly extracted from the
blood, passing through the body of the Testicles." Being here "cohobated
and reposited in a tenacious matter," the particles finally pass out of
the testes.[17] A similar extraction of the female seed occurs in the
ovaries. The female seed

     ...containing the same particles, but cruder and lesse digested,
     from a cruder matter, by lesse perfect Organs, is left more
     terrene, furnished with more material parts; which being united in
     the womb, with the spiritual particles of the masculine seed;
     everyone being rightly, according to his proper place, disposed and
     ordered with the other; fixes and conjoynes those spiritual Atomes,
     that they still afterwards remain in that posture they are placed

The theories of development promulgated by Digby and Highmore reveal the
chief formulations of mechanistic rationalism, more or less free of
empiricism, that were emerging as the vitalism of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries waned. There was little new in these theories:
both Digby's and Highmore's theories included different combinations of
elements of ancient lineage. Digby's concept was essentially free of
vitalistic coloring; akin to the embryological efforts of Descartes in
its virtual independence from observations of the developing embryo, it
was similarly vulnerable to Voltaire's criticism of Descartes, that he
sought to interpret, rather than study, Nature. This criticism is not so
applicable to Highmore, whose theory of development is more vitalistic
than Digby's, and is more akin to the concepts developed by Gassendi
than those of Descartes. Highmore had experience with the embryo itself,
and his actual contribution as an observer of development, although
hardly epochal, is worthy of note. But despite this empirical base,
Highmore has final recourse to a hypothesis blending many ancient ideas
and substituting the Aristotelian material and efficient causes for the
"fortune and chance" he objected to in Digby's hypothesis. It was _not_
easy in the seventeenth century to avoid falling back upon some variety
of cause or force.

In 1651, about two months before publication of Highmore's _History of
Generation_, a work appeared which marks another period in
seventeenth-century English embryology. William Harvey, _De Motu Cordis_
almost a quarter of a century behind him, now published _De Generatione
Animalium_, the work he said was calculated "to throw still greater
light upon natural philosophy."[19] This book is, perhaps, not as well
known as Harvey's treatise demonstrating circulation of the blood, but
it is an important work in the history of embryology and it occupies a
prominent position in the body of English embryological literature.

In _De Generatione_, Harvey provides a thorough and quite accurate
account of the development of the chick embryo, which, in particular,
clarified that the chalazae, those twisted skeins of albumen at either
end of the yolk, were not, as generally believed, the developing embryo,
and he demonstrated that the cicatricula (blastoderm) was the point of
origin of the embryo. The famous frontispiece of the treatise shows Zeus
holding an egg, from which issue animals of various kinds. On the egg is
written _Ex ovo omnia_, a legend since transmuted to the epigram _Omne
vivum ex ovo_. The legend illustrates Harvey's principal theme, repeated
constantly throughout the text, "that all animals were in some sort
produced from eggs."[20]

If Harvey made no contribution beyond emphasizing the origin of animals
from eggs, he would deserve a prominent place in the history of
embryology. But the work is also significant in its espousal of
epigenesis, and, supported as his argument was by observation and logic,
it became the prime formulation of that concept of development during
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His statement of epigenetic
development is clear:

     In the egg ... there is no distinct part or prepared matter
     present, from which the fetus is formed ... an animal which is
     created by epigenesis attracts, prepares, elaborates, and makes use
     of the material, all at the same time; the processes of formation
     and growth are simultaneous ... all its parts are not fashioned
     simultaneously, but emerge in their due succession and order ...
     Those parts, I say, are not made similar by any successive union of
     dissimilar and heterogeneous elements, but spring out of a similar
     material through the process of generation, have their different
     elements assigned to them by the same process, and are made
     dissimilar ... all its parts are formed, nourished, and augmented
     out of the same material.[21]

Actually, Harvey's exposition of epigenesis, albeit clear, is not
totally impressive, since it is largely a reflection of Aristotle's
influence. The main importance of Harvey's vigorous and cogent defense
of epigenesis is that it provided some kind of counterbalance to the
increasingly dominant preformationist interpretations of embryonic

Harvey did not break with Aristotelianism; on the contrary, he lent
considerable authority to it. Unable to escape the past, he was not
completely objective in his study of generation. Everywhere the pages of
his book reveal his indebtedness to past authorities. Robert Willis, who
provided the 1847 translation of _De Generatione_, expresses this well:

     [Harvey] ... begins by putting himself in some sort of harness of
     Aristotle, and taking the bit of Fabricius between his teeth; and
     then, either assuming the ideas of the former as premises, or those
     of the latter as topics of discussion or dissent, he labours on
     endeavouring to find Nature in harmony with the Stagyrite, or at
     variance with the professor of Padua--for, in spite of many
     expressions of respect and deference for his old master, Harvey
     evidently delights to find Fabricius in the wrong. Finally, so
     possessed is he by scholastic ideas, that he winds up some of his
     opinions upon animal reproduction by presenting them in the shape
     of logical syllogisms.[22]

Even Harvey's concept of the egg reveals a strong Aristotelian bias.
Actually, Harvey attained to his conclusion that all animals derive from
eggs by assuming that

     on the same grounds, and in the same manner and order in which a
     chick is engendered and developed from an egg, is the embryo of
     viviparous animals engendered from a pre-existing conception.
     Generation in both is one and identical in kind: the origin of
     either is from an egg, or at least something that by analogy is
     held to be so. An egg is, as already said, a conception exposed
     beyond the body of the parent, whence the embryo is produced; a
     conception is an egg remaining within the body of the parent until
     the foetus has acquired the requisite perfection; in everything
     else they agree; they are both alike primordially vegetables,
     potentially they are animals.[23]

The ovum, for Harvey, is in essence "the primordium vegetable or
vegetative incipience, understanding by this a certain corporeal
something having life in potentia; or a certain something existing _per
se_, which is capable of changing into a vegetative form under the
agency of an internal principle."[24] The ovum is for Harvey more a
concept than an observed fact, and, as stated by one student of
generation, "The _dictum ex ovo omnia_, whilst substantially true in the
modern sense, is neither true nor false as employed by Harvey, since to
him it has no definite or even intelligible meaning."[25]

Harvey's treatise on generation is clearly a product of his time. It
advances embryology by its demonstration of certain facts of
development, by its aggressive espousal of epigenesis and the origin of
all animals from eggs, and by its dynamic approach stressing the
temporal factors in development and the initial independent function of
embryonic organs. However, the strong Aristotelian cast of Harvey's
treatise encouraged continued discussion of long outdated questions in
an outdated manner and, combined with his expressed disdain for
"chymistry" and atomism, discouraged close cooperation between
embryologists of different persuasions. It is perhaps easy to
underestimate the impact and general importance of Harvey's work in view
of these qualifications, and so it should be remarked that both positive
and negative features of _De Generatione_ influenced profoundly
subsequent embryological thought.

It will be recalled that the title of _The Philosophicall Touch-Stone_
identified Digby as the object of Alexander Ross's ire. In comparable
manner, the latter's _Arcana Microcosmi_, published in 1652, declares
its purpose to be "a refutation of Dr. Brown's Vulgar Errors, the Lord
Bacon's Natural History, and Dr. Harvy's book _De Generatione_." Let us
pause a brief moment in memory of a man so intrepid as to undertake the
refutation of three of England's great intellects in one small volume,
and then proceed to examine the embryological concepts of one of the
trio, Sir Thomas Browne.

Browne's _Religio Medici_, composed as a private confession of faith
around 1635, is known to all students of English literature, as is his
later, splendid work on death and immortality, _Hydrotaphia,
Urne-Buriall_. One of the greatest stylists of English prose, Browne was
also a physician and a student of generation who deserves our attention
as an early chemical embryologist pointing the way to a form of
embryological investigation prominent in the last half of the
seventeenth century.

Browne's embryological opinions are found particularly in _Pseudodoxia
Epidemica_, _The Garden of Cyrus_, and in his unpublished _Miscellaneous
Writings_. Browne, a well-read man, was educated at Oxford, Montpellier,
Padua, and Leyden, and he was thoroughly imbued with the teaching of the
prophets of the "new learning." This is evident throughout his writings,
as witness his admonition to the reader of the _Christian Morals_:

     Let thy Studies be free as thy Thoughts and Contemplations, but fly
     not only upon the wings of Imagination; Joyn Sense unto Reason, and
     Experiment unto Speculation, and so give life unto Embryon Truths,
     and Verities yet in their Chaos.[26]

Browne greatly admired Harvey's work on generation, considering it "that
excellent discourse ... So strongly erected upon the two great pillars
of truth, experience and solid reason."[27] Browne carried out a variety
of studies upon animals of all kinds, in them joining Sense unto Reason,
and "Experiment unto Speculation." Thus in his studies of generation, he
made observations and also performed certain simple chemical
experiments. Noting that "Naturall bodyes doe variously discover
themselves by congelation,"[28] Browne studied experimentally the
chemical properties of those substances providing the raw material of
development. He observed the effects of such agents as heat and cold,
oil, vinegar, and saltpeter upon eggs of various animals, recording such
facts as the following:

     Of milk the whayish part, in eggs wee observe the white, will
     totally freez, the yelk with the same degree of cold growe thick &
     clammy like gumme of trees; butt the sperme or tredde hold its
     former body, the white growing stiff that is nearest it.... Egges
     seem to have their owne coagulum within themselves manifested in
     the incrassations upon incubation.... Rotten egges will not bee
     made hard by incubation or decoction, as being destitute of that
     spiritt, or having the same vitiated.... How far the coagulating
     principle operateth in generation is evident from eggs wch will
     never incrassate without it. From the incrassation upon incubation
     when heat diffuseth the coagulum, from the _chalaza_ or gallatine
     wh. containeth 3 nodes, the head, heart, & liver.[29]

It cannot be said that Browne attained to any great generalizations
regarding embryogeny on the basis of his rather naive experiments, but
they are indicative of the effects of the "new learning" in one area of
biology. Actually, Browne appears more comfortable in the search for
patterns conforming to the quincunx, as in _The Garden of Cyrus_, and
although he may well have been in search of something like the later
Unity of Type, he uses his amassed details of scientific knowledge most
effectively in support of nonscientific propositions. Thus, he uses the
facts of embryonic development, alchemy, and insect metamorphosis as a
part of his argument for the immortality of the human soul:

     ...for we live, move, have a being, and are subject to the actions
     of the elements, and the malice of diseases in that other world,
     the truest Microcosme, the wombe of our mother; for besides that
     generall and common existence wee are conceived to hold in our
     Chaos, and whilst wee sleepe within the bosome of our causes, wee
     enjoy a being and life in three distinct worlds, wherin we receive
     most manifest graduations: In that obscure world and wombe of our
     mother, our time is short, computed by the Moone, yet longer than
     the dayes of many creatures that behold the Sunne; our selves being
     yet not without life, sense, and reason; though for the
     manifestation of its actions it awaits the opportunity of objects;
     and seemes to live there but in its roote and soule of vegetation;
     entring afterwards upon the scene of the world, wee arise up and
     become another creature, performing the reasonable actions of man,
     and obscurely manifesting that part of Divinity in us, but not in
     complement and perfection, till we have once more cast our
     secondine, that is, this slough of flesh, and are delivered into
     the last world, that ineffable place of Paul, that proper _ubi_ of
     spirits. The smattering I have [in the knowledge] of the
     Philosophers stone ... hath taught me a great deale of Divinity,
     and instructed my beliefe, how the immortall spirit and
     incorruptible substance of my soule may lye obscure, and sleepe a
     while within this house of flesh. Those strange and mysticall
     transmigrations that I have observed in Silkewormes, turn'd my
     Philosophy into Divinity. There is in those workes of nature, which
     seeme to puzzle reason, something Divine, and [that] hath more in
     it then the eye of a common spectator doth discover.[30]

To affirm that Sir Thomas Browne was the founder of chemical embryology
or, indeed, to contend that he made a great impress upon the progress of
embryology is to humour our fancy. As Browne himself reminds us, "a good
cause needs not to be patron'd by a passion."[31] His work and
interpretations of generation are most important for our purposes as an
indication of the rising mood of the times and an emerging awareness of
the physiochemical analysis of biological systems. Although this mood
and awareness coexist in Browne's writings with a continued reverence
for some traditional attitudes, they mark a point of departure toward a
variety of embryological thought prominent in England during the second
half of the seventeenth century.

Browne did no more than analyze crudely the reaction of the egg to
various physical and chemical agents. This static approach was later
supplanted by a more dynamic one concerned primarily with the
physicochemical aspects of embryonic development. This is first apparent
in a report by Robert Boyle in the _Philosophical Transactions of the
Royal Society_ in 1666 entitled, "A way of preserving birds taken out of
the egge, and other small foetus's." Boyle, unlike Browne, exposed
embryos of different ages to the action of "Spirit of Wine" or "Sal
Armoniack," demonstrating thereby the chemical fixation of embryos as an
aid to embryology. A year later, Walter Needham, a Cambridge physician
who studied at Oxford in the active School of Physiological Research,
which included such men as Christopher Wren and Thomas Willis, published
a book reporting the first chemical experiments upon the developing
mammalian embryo.[32] Needham's approach and goals are more dynamic than
those of Browne, and he attempts to analyze various embryonic fluids by
coagulation and distillation procedures. His experiments reveal, for
example, that "coagulations" effected by different acids vary according
to the fluid; thus, the addition of "alumina" to bovine amniotic fluid
produced a few, fine precipitations, whereas the allantoic fluid was
precipitated like urine. By such means Needham was able to demonstrate,
however crudely, that there are considerable differences in the various
fluids occurring within and around the fetus. Furthermore, it is with
the results of chemical analyses that he supports his other arguments,
such as his contention that the egg of elasmobranchs is not, as
believed, composed of only one humour, but has separate white and yolk.

Needham's book contains many splendid observations, including an
accurate description of the placenta and its vessels, the relationship
of the various fetal membranes to the embryonic fluids, and rather
complete directions for dissection of various mammals. These need not
detain us, since the important aspect of Needham's work relevant to our
purpose is his continuation of the chemical analysis of the developing
embryo and its demonstration that, although Harvey might have despised
the "chymists" and been contemptuous of the "mechanical, corpuscular
philosophy," this system and approach was not to be denied.

Needham's book is dedicated to Robert Boyle, whose _Sceptical Chymist_
set the cadence for subsequent research based upon the "mechanical or
corpuscularian" philosophy and quantitative procedures. It is
appropriate for us, then, to terminate our discussion with a
consideration of this current in English embryological thought.

John Mayow was the first to realize that "nitro-aerial" vapour, or
oxygen, is essential to respiration of a living animal, and he was soon
led to inquire "how it happens that the foetus can live though
imprisoned in the straits of the womb and completely destitute of
air."[33] As a consequence of this interest, the third of his _Tractatus
Quinque medico-physici_, published in 1674, is devoted to the
respiration of the fetus _in utero_. He shows truly remarkable insight
when he concludes therein that

     It is very probable that the spermatic portions of the uterus and
     its carunculae are naturally suited for separating aerial particles
     from arterial blood.

     These observations premised, we maintain that the blood of the
     embryo, conveyed by the umbilical arteries to the placenta or
     uterine carunculae transports to the foetus not only nutritious
     juice, but also a portion of the nitro-aerial particles: so that
     the blood of the infant seems to be impregnated with nitro-aerial
     particles by its circulation through the umbilical vessels in the
     same manner as in the pulmonary vessels. Therefore, I think that
     the placenta should no longer be called a uterine liver, but rather
     a uterine lung.[34]

Although Mayow's attempted analysis of respiration of the chick embryo
_in ovo_ is less than successful, his views on fetal respiration were
soon accepted by many, and his tract stands as a great contribution to
physiological embryology.

The studies of such individuals as John Standard reporting the weight of
various parts of the hen's egg, e.g., the shell, the yolk, the white,
reveal the wing of embryological investigation that was increasingly
obsessed with quantification and the physicochemical analysis of the
embryo and its vital functions. In this they were following the
injunction of Boyle, who used the developing embryo as a vehicle in an
attack upon the idea that mixed bodies are compounded of three
principles, the obscurities of which operated to discourage

     How will this hypothesis teach us, how a chick is formed in the
     egg, or how the seminal principles of mint, pompions, and other
     vegetables ... can fashion water into various plants, each of them
     endowed with its peculiar and determinate shape, and with divers
     specifick and discriminating qualities? How does this hypothesis
     shew us, how much salt, how much sulphur, and how much mercury must
     be taken to make a chick or a pompion? And if we know that, what
     principle it is, that manages these ingredients, and contrives, for
     instance, such liquors, as the white and yolk of an egg into such a
     variety of textures, as is requisite to fashion the bones, veins,
     arteries, nerves, tendons, feathers, blood, and other parts of a
     chick? and not only to fashion each limb, but to connect them all
     together, after that manner, that is most congruous to the
     perfection of the animal, which is to consist of them?[35]

The emphasis upon quantification and the physicochemical analysis of
vital processes was to continue into the eighteenth century and to
contribute to the great stress upon precision in that period. It was
not, however, destined to become immediately the main stream of
embryological investigation. For even as the studies of Mayow were in
progress, embryology was embarked upon a course leading to
preformationism. By the end of the seventeenth century, the idea that
the embryo was encased in miniature in either egg or sperm was elevated
to a position of Doctrine, and thereafter there was little encouragement
to quantitative study of development. Many embryological investigations
were performed during the eighteenth century, but most relate to the
controversy regarding epigenesis and preformationism as the true
expression of embryonic development. Withal, the seventeenth-century
embryologists, and particularly the embryologists of seventeenth-century
England, had contributed much to the progress of the discipline. They
had introduced new ideas, applied new techniques, and created new
knowledge; they had effectively advanced the study of development beyond
the stage of macro-iconography; they had freed the discipline from much
of its traditional baggage of causes, virtues, and faculties. Various
English embryologists had varying success with developmental theory, but
as a group they had made great impact upon the development of
embryology. In the course of their century, they had, in the words of
one of them, "called tradition unto experiment."[36]


[1] Charles Dickens, _A Tale of Two Cities_, London, 1859, p. 1.

[2] Kenelm Digby, _Private Memoirs of Sir Kenelm Digby, Gentleman of the
Bedchamber to King Charles the First_, London, 1827, Preface, p. i.

[3] Kenelm Digby, _Two Treatises, in the One of Which, The Nature of
Bodies; in the Other, the Nature of Mans Soule; is Looked into_, Paris,
1644, p. 213.

[4] _Ibid._, p. 220.

[5] _Ibid._, pp. 220-221.

[6] _Ibid._, p. 222.

[7] _Ibid._, p. 215.

[8] _Ibid._, p. 219.

[9] _Ibid._, p. 213.

[10] _Ibid._, pp. 217-219.

[11] _Ibid._, p. 231.

[12] Alexander Ross, _The Philosphicall Touch-Stone; or Observations
upon Sir Kenelm Digbie's Discourses of the nature of Bodies, and of the
reasonable Soule_, London, 1645.

[13] Alexander Ross, _Arcana Microcosmi: or, The hid secrets of Man's
Body disclosed ... In an anatomical duel between Aristotle and Galen
concerning the parts thereof_, London, 1652, p. 87.

[14] Nathaniel Highmore, _The History of Generation, Examining the
several Opinions of divers Authors, expecially that of Sir Kenelm Digby,
in his Discourse of Bodies_, London, 1651, p. 4.

[15] _Ibid._, pp. 26-27.

[16] _Ibid._, pp. 27-28.

[17] _Ibid._, p. 45.

[18] _Ibid._, Pp. 90-91.

[19] William Harvey, _Opera omnia: a Collegio Medicorum Londinensi
edita_, Londini, 1766, p. 136.

[20] William Harvey, _Anatomical Excercises on the Generation of
Animals_, trans. Robert Willis, London, 1847, p. 462.

[21] _Ibid._, pp. 336-339.

[22] _Works of William Harvey_, trans. Robert Willis, London, 1847, pp.

[23] Harvey, _op. cit._, pp. 462-463.

[24] _Ibid._, p. 457.

[25] F. J. Cole, _Early Theories of Sexual Generation_, Oxford, 1930, p.

[26] Thomas Browne, _The Works_, ed. Geoffrey Keynes, Chicago, 1964, I,

[27] _Ibid._, II, 265.

[28] _Ibid._, III, 442.

[29] _Ibid._, III, 442-452.

[30] _Ibid._, I, 50.

[31] _Ibid._, I, 14.

[32] Walter Needham, _Disquisitio anatomica de formato foetu_, London,

[33] John Mayow, "De Respiratione foetus in utero et ovo," in _Tractatus
Quinque Medico-Physici_, Oxonii, 1674, p. 311.

[34] _Ibid._, pp. 319-320.

[35] Robert Boyle, _The Works_, London, 1772, I, 548-549.

[36] Browne, _op. cit._, II, 261.


_Robert Boyle as an Amateur Physician_


Robert Boyle was not a physician. To be sure, he had engaged in some
casual anatomical studies,[37] but he had not formally studied medicine
and did not have a medical degree. Nevertheless, he engaged in what we
would call medical practice as well as medical research and exerted a
strong influence on the course of medicine during the latter seventeenth
century, an influence prolonged well into the eighteenth. He lived
during the period of exciting yet painful transition when medical theory
and practice were undergoing a complete transformation towards what we
may call the "early modern" form. The transition, naturally gradual,
extended over three centuries, but I wish to examine only a very small
fragment of this period, namely, the third quarter of the seventeenth

Boyle's first major work which dealt extensively with medical problems
was the _Usefulness of Experimental Philosophy_. This work, although
published in 1663, had been written in two parts, the first much earlier
than the second. Fulton[38] indicates it had been drafted around 1650,
while Hall[39] ascribes it to the period 1647-1648. This first part has
relatively little to do with medicine; the references are few and rather
incidental, and have significance only for the light they throw on
"natural philosophy" and "natural religion." The second part, however,
written apparently not too long before publication, has a great deal to
do with medicine and constitutes one of the important medical documents
of the century.

Deserving of mention is an earlier and minor work of Boyle, indeed, his
first published writing, only recently identified. This work, apparently
written in 1649, bore the title "An Invitation to a free and generous
communication of Secrets and Receits in Physick," and appeared
anonymously in 1655 as part of a volume entitled _Chymical, Medicinal
and Chirurgical Addresses Made to Samuel Hartlib, Esquire_.[40] For our
purposes, it is significant as emphasizing his early interest in

Boyle seems to have acquired most of his medical knowledge between, say,
1649 and 1662. It is worth recalling some of the trends and conflicts
that formed the medical environment during this period. Among the major
trends, first place, perhaps, must be given to Galenic doctrine, which
had come under progressively severe attack. Molière, who lived from 1622
to 1673, showed in his comedies the popular reaction to a system which,
although dominant, was clearly crumbling. The cracks in the edifice even
the layman could readily see. Nevertheless, Galenism had its strong
supporters. Riverius, who lived from 1589 to 1655, was a staunch
Galenist. An edition of his basic and clinical works[41] was translated
into English in 1657, and Latin editions continued to be published well
into the eighteenth century.[42]

Galenism, of course, had to withstand the great new discoveries in
anatomy and physiology made by Vesalius, Aselli, Sanctonius, Harvey, and
others, not to mention the host of great investigators who were more
strictly contemporaries of Boyle.

Galenism also faced the rivalry of chemistry. The so-called "antimony
war" in the earlier part of the century marked an important assault on
Galenism, and the letters of the arch-conservative Guy Patin (who died
in 1672) help us appreciate this period.[43] However, even more
important was the work of van Helmont, who developed and extended the
doctrines of Paracelsus and represented a major force in
seventeenth-century thought. Boyle was well acquainted with the
writings of van Helmont, who, although his works fell into disrepute as
the mechanical philosophy gradually took over, nevertheless in the
middle of the seventeenth century was a highly significant figure. In
1662 there appeared the English translation of his _Oriatrike_,[44]
while Latin editions continued to be published later in the century.

In this connection I might also mention the subject of "natural magic,"
which had considerable significance for medicine. The best-known name
is, perhaps, Giovanni Battista della Porta (1545-1615), whose books[45]
continued to be published, in Latin and English, during this period when
Boyle was achieving maturity.

Profound developments, of course, arose from the new mechanics and
physics and their metaphysical background, for which I need only mention
the names of Descartes, who died in 1650, and Gassendi, who died in
1655. And then there was also the new methodological approach, that
critical empiricism whose most vocal exponent was Francis Bacon, which
led directly to the founding of the Royal Society in 1660 and its
subsequent incorporation. These phases of seventeenth-century thought
and activity I do not intend to take up.

In this turbulent riptide of intellectual currents, Robert Boyle,
without formal medical education, performed many medical functions, as a
sometime practitioner, consultant, and researcher. Repeatedly he speaks
of the patients whom he treated, and repeatedly he refers to
practitioners who consulted him, or to whom he gave advice. In addition,
through his interest in chemistry, he became an important experimental
as well as clinical pharmacologist, and his researches in physiology
indicate great stature in this field. If we were to draw a present-day
comparison, we might point to investigators who had both the M.D. and
the Ph.D. degrees, who had both clinical and laboratory training, and
who practiced medicine partly in the clinical wards, partly in the
experimental laboratories. Boyle, of course, did not have either degree,
but he did have a status as the leading virtuoso of his day.

The virtuoso has been the subject of a most extensive literature.[46] He
aroused considerable contemporary hostility and satire and his overall
significance for medical science is probably slight, with a few striking
exceptions. Robert Boyle is one of the great exceptions.

First of all, the virtuoso was an amateur. In the literal sense the
amateur loves the activities in which he engages, and in the figurative
sense he remains independent of any Establishment. Not trained in any
rigorous, prescribed discipline, he was not committed to any set
doctrine. Furthermore, he was not restricted by the regulations which
all Establishments employed to preserve their status, block opposition,
and prevent competition. In many fields the Establishment took the form
of a guild organization--in medicine, the Royal College of

Boyle was a wealthy and highly talented man who could pursue his own
bent without needing to make concessions merely to earn a living. He
remained quite independent of the cares which oppressed those less well
endowed in worldly goods or native talent. Sometimes, of course,
necessity can impose a discipline and rigor which ultimately may serve
as a disguised benefit, but in the seventeenth century, when Boyle was
active, the lack of systematic training and rigorous background seemed
actually an advantage. Clinical chemistry and the broad areas which we
can call experimental medicine had no tradition. Work in clinical
chemistry, clinical pharmacology, and experimental physiology was
essentially innovation. And since innovations are often made by those
who are outside the Establishment and not bound by tradition, we need
feel no surprise that the experimental approach could make great
progress under the aegis of amateurs. Necessarily the work was rather
unsystematic and undisciplined, but system and discipline could arise
only when the new approach had already achieved some measure of success.
Through the casual approach of amateurs this necessary foundation could
be built.

Boyle, as a clinician, remained on excellent terms with medical
practitioners. For one thing, he took great care not to compete with
them. As stated,[48] he "was careful to decline the occasions of
entrenching upon their profession." Physicians would consult him freely.
As a chemist and experimental pharmacologist, he prepared various
remedies. Some of these he tried out on patients himself, others he gave
to practitioners who might use them. Boyle seems to have abundantly
provided what we today call "curbstone consultations."

In no way bound by guild rules and conventions or by rigid educational
standards, Boyle was free to learn from whatever sources appealed to
him. Repeatedly he emphasized the importance of learning from
experience, both his own and that of others, and by "others" he included
not only physicians and learned gentlemen, but even the meanest of
society, provided they had experience in treating disease. This
experience need not be restricted to treatment of humans but should
include animals as well. Thus, in speaking of even the "skilfullest
physicians," he indicated that many of them "might, without
disparagement to their profession, do it an useful piece of service, if
they would be pleased to collect and digest all the approved experiments
and practices of the farriers, graziers, butchers, and the like, which
the ancients did not despise...; and ... which might serve to
illustrate the _methodus medendi_."[49] He was quite critical of
physicians who were too conservative even to examine the claims of the
nonprofessionals, especially those who were relatively low in the social
or intellectual scale. This casts an interesting sidelight on the
snobbishness of the medical profession.

Boyle's willingness and ability to ignore the restrictions of an
Establishment represent the full flowering of what I might call the
Renaissance spirit--the drive to go outside accepted bounds, to
explore, to _try_, to avoid commitment, and to investigate for oneself.

What internal and external factors permit a successful breakaway from
tradition? Rebels there have always been, yet successful rebels are
relatively infrequent. The late seventeenth century was a period of
successful rebellion, and the virtuosi were one of the factors which
contributed to the success. Robert Boyle played a significant part in
introducing new methods into science and new science into medicine.

We must realize that Boyle was primarily a chemist and not a biologist.
He thought in chemical terms, drawing his examples from physics and
chemistry; he did not think in terms of the living creature or the
organism, and as a mechanist he passed quite lightly over the concept or
organismic behavior. His basic anti-Aristotelianism prevented his
appreciating the biologically oriented thought of Aristotle. Instead,
Boyle talked about the inorganic world, of water, of metals and
elements, of physical properties. He ignored that inner drive which
Spinoza called the _conatus_; or the _seeds_ of Paracelsus or van
Helmont; or the persistence over a time course of any "essence" or
"form." Since he dealt with phenomena relatively simple when compared
with living phenomena, he could, for this very reason, make progress, up
to a point. As a chemist, he could seek fairly specific and precise
correlations of various concrete environmental factors, and then assume
that living beings behaved as did the inorganic objects which he
investigated. However, he always excepted the soul of man, as outside
his investigations.

But while Boyle was a skillful chemist, judged by the standards of his
time, we cannot call him a skillful medical investigator. This
represents, however, the fault of the era in which he lived rather than
any fault peculiar to him. Boyle's medical studies fall into at least
two categories. These were the purely physiological experiments, such as
those on respiration or on blood, and the more clinical experiments,
concerned with pharmaceuticals, clinical pharmacology, and clinical
medicine. The purely physiological experiments have great merit and were
profoundly influential in shaping modern physiology. The clinical
experiments throw great light on the development of critical judgment in
medical history, and the relations of judgment and faith.

In 1775, John Hunter wrote a letter to Jenner that has become quite
famous. Hunter had just thanked Jenner for an "experiment on the
hedgehog." But, continued Hunter, "Why do you ask me a question by way
of solving it? I think your solution is just, but why think? Why not try
the experiment?"[50] The word "just," of course, in its
eighteenth-century sense, means exact or proper, precise or correct. A
"just solution" is one that is logically correct. The "think" refers to
Hunter's own uncertainty. He is not content with a verbal or logical
solution to a problem, he wants empirical demonstration. Why, he is
asking, should we be content with merely a logically correct solution
when we can have an experiential demonstration. _Try the experiment._
Put the logical inference to the test of experience.

This empirical attitude, not at all infrequent in the latter
eighteenth-century medicine, was quite unusual in the seventeenth-century
medicine. This was precisely the attitude that Robert Boyle exhibited in
his clinical contacts.

Medicine, at least textbook medicine, was rationalistic. Textbooks
started with definitions and assertions regarding the fundamentals of
health. This we see particularly in a Galenic writer such as Riverius.
Medicine, he said, "stands upon the basis of its own principles, axioms
and demonstrations, repeated by the demonstration of nature."[51] In his
text, Riverius first expounded a groundwork concerning the elements,
temperaments and humors, spirits and innate heat, the faculties and
functions; then the nature of the diseases which resulted from
disturbances of these; and finally the signs of disease and the
treatment that was appropriate. All were beautifully interdigitated in a
logical fashion, and for any recommended therapy a good reason could be
found. There was, however, a serious difficulty. If anyone were so bold
as to ask, _But how do you know?_ only a rather lame answer would come
forth. The exposition rested in large part on authority or else largely
on reasoning from accepted premises--a "just" reasoning. And while much
keen observation was duly recorded and a considerable mass of fact
underlay the theoretical superstructure, the idea of empirical proof was
not current. Riverius chopped logic vigorously and drew conclusions from
unsupported assertions in a way that strikes us as reckless.

For a body of knowledge to be a science, it must indicate a logical
connection between first principles, which were "universal," and the
particular case. The well-educated physician could always give a logical
reason for what he did. The empiric, however, was one who carried out
his remedies or procedures without being able to tell _why_. That is, he
could not trace out the logical connection between first principles and
the particular case.

Galenism suffered especially from logical systematization, and the
system of van Helmont, while far less orderly, also had its own basic
principles on which all else depended. Boyle, however, practiced
medicine on a thoroughly different basis. He did not depend on system or
logic. In the words that Hunter used to Jenner over a hundred years
later, other physicians would _think_ the answers to their problems.
Boyle, however, preferred to _try the experiment_. He wanted _facts_.

But this attitude, which sounds so modern, so praiseworthy and
enlightened, had one serious flaw. What _was_ a fact? And how did you
know? This important problem, so significant for the growth of
scientific medicine, we can study quite readily in the works of Robert

The problem, in a sense, resolves around the notion of credulity. What
shall we believe? Boyle makes some distinctions between what he has seen
with his own eyes and what other people report to have seen. Thus, he
mentions "a very experienced and sober gentleman, who is much talked of"
who cured cancer of the female breast "by the outward application of an
indolent powder, some of which he also gave me." But, he adds
cautiously, he has not yet "had the opportunity to make trial of
it."[52] Clearly, since he cannot make the trial himself, Boyle
withholds judgment, even though the material came from a "very
experienced" gentleman. Or again, he talks about "sober travelers" who
made certain claims regarding the treatment of poisons. But, he says,
"having not yet made any trial of this my self, I dare not build upon

There are numerous such instances, scattered throughout his works, where
he reports an alleged cure but specifically indicates his own mental
reservations. Clearly, he is quite cautious in accepting the statements
of others, even though they were "sober" or "experienced" or even
"judicious." On the other hand, he is extremely uncritical when he
himself uses the term "cure" and when he attributes cures to particular

His skepticism he indicates in references, for example, to Paracelsus
and van Helmont. Their specific remedy against "the stone," he says, and
their claims that they can reduce stones to "insipid water, is so
strange (not to say incredible) that their followers must pardon me, if
I be not forward to believe such unlikely things, til sufficient
experience hath convinced me of their truth."[54] Here, of course, we
see further a feature of critical acumen. A claim is made, but if this
claim runs counter to Boyle's own accepted body of knowledge, or to
logical doctrines derived from other directions, mere assertion cannot
carry conviction. "Sufficient experience" must play its part, and just
what constitutes "sufficient" we are not quite sure.

In judging the effectiveness of a remedy or the credibility of a
statement, one of the most important weapons was _analogy_. Direct
observation of a phenomenon was good. Next best was direct observation
of some _analogous_ phenomenon whereby one body acted upon another to
alter its properties or induce significant changes. Boyle drew his
analogies largely from chemistry, but he had no hesitation in applying
them to medicine.

Claims that medicines swallowed by mouth could dissolve stones in the
bladder seemed a priori unlikely. Yet there was considerable authority
that this took place; many persons had reported that this was a _fact_.
Boyle kept an open mind. He might be highly skeptical in regard to the
claims for any particular medication, but he did not deny the principle
involved. The possibility that some fluid, when swallowed, could have a
particular specific action on stones in the bladder, without affecting
the rest of the body, he considered quite plausible through the analogy
that quicksilver has an affinity with gold but has no effect upon iron.
Furthermore, a substance than can corrode a solid body may nevertheless
be unable to "fret" a different body which is considerably softer and
thinner, if the "texture" does not admit the small particles.[55]
Reasoning by analogy served to explain the logical plausibility. In
other words, he was very open-minded. He refused to dismiss all such
claims, and provided analogy as a reason for keeping his mind open; yet
he refused to accept particular claims of medicine that dissolved
stones, because the evidence was not convincing. We could scarcely ask
for more.

An important seventeenth-century medical document was the report of Sir
Kenelm Digby, regarding the so-called "weapon salve." The essay
describing this famous powder was written in 1657, and I have discussed
it at some length elsewhere.[56] Here again Boyle keeps an open mind,
saying, "and if there be any truth in what hath been affirmed to me by
several eye-witnesses, as well physicians as others, concerning the
_weapon-salve_, and _powder of sympathy_, we may well conclude, that
nature may perform divers cures, for which the help of chirurgery is
wont to be implored, with much less pain to the patient, than the
chirurgeon is wont to put him to."[57]

One great advantage of chemistry, thought Boyle, lay in the help it
provided in investigating the _materia medica_. Chemistry, he thought,
could help to purify many of the inorganic medicines and make them
safer, without impairing their medicinal properties. Furthermore,
chemistry could help investigate various medications customarily
employed in medicine, where "there hath not yet been sufficient proof
given of their having any medical virtues at all."[58] Boyle believed
that by proper chemical analysis he could isolate active components, or,
contrariwise, by failing to extract any valuable component, he could
eliminate that medicine from use. While a major interest, perhaps, was a
desire to provide inexpensive medicines, he was well aware that much of
what went into prescriptions probably had no value. Furthermore, he felt
that his chemical analysis could indicate whether value and merit were
present or not.

The same skepticism applies to remedies that, far from being expensive,
were common and yet rather disgusting. The use of feces and urine as
medication was widespread. The medical virtues of human urine represent,
he believed, a topic far too great to be considered in a brief compass.
But he declared that he knew an "ancient gentlewoman" suffering from
various "chronical distempers" who every morning drank her own urine,
"by the use of which she strangely recovered."[59] Boyle was quite
skeptical of the reports of others, which he had not had opportunity to
try himself. But in therapeutic trials that he himself had witnessed, he
seemed utterly convinced that the medication in question was responsible
for the cure and was quite content to accept the evidence of a single

He discussed the "efficacy" of millepedes, which he found to be "very
diuretical and aperitive." And he indicated, on the evidence of a single
patient whom he knew, that the millepedes had great medicinal value in
suffusions of the eyes.[60]

Many remedies of this type, the so-called old wives' remedies, were
those of empirics. As mentioned previously, Boyle felt deeply concerned
because physicians tended to ignore the alleged remedies of those who
had not had formal training in medicine. He believed that great specific
virtue probably lurked in many of these remedies, and he maintained that
the chemists should investigate them without the prejudice that the
medical professions exhibited. As part of this view, he felt that
"simples" should be more carefully studied, because medicinal virtues
inhered in single substances and that complicated combinations were

We find innumerable examples scattered through Boyle's writings
regarding the relations between chemistry and medication, numerous
descriptions of cures, and skepticism regarding other alleged cures. As
an important example, I would indicate Boyle's discussion of one of van
Helmont's alleged cures.[61]

Van Helmont described the remarkable cures brought about by a man
identified only by the name of Butler. Apart from van Helmont's
discussion, we can find no trace of him in medical annals, and van
Helmont's own account is extremely skimpy. There are no dates given, and
the only temporal clue is that Butler apparently knew King James--King
James I, naturally. Butler was an Irishman who suddenly came into world
view while in jail. A fellow prisoner was a Franciscan monk who had a
severe erysipelas of the arm. Butler took pity on him, and to cure him
took a very special stone which he had and dipped it briefly in a
spoonful of "almond milk." This he gave to the jailer, bidding him
convey a small quantity of it into the food of the monk. Almost
immediately thereafter, the monk, not aware of the medicine, noted an
extremely rapid improvement.

Van Helmont related other cures. For example, a laundress who had a
"megrim" [migraine] for sixteen years was cured by partaking of some
olive oil, into a spoonful of which Butler dipped the stone. Other cures
for which van Helmont vouched included a man who was exceedingly fat; he
touched the stone every morning with the tip of his tongue and very
speedily lost weight. Van Helmont's own wife was cured of a marked
edema of the leg. Similarly, a servant maid who had had severe attacks
of erysipelas which were "badly cured," and the leg leaden colored and
swollen, was cured almost immediately. An abbess, whose arm had been
swollen for eighteen years, partly paralyzed, was also cured. Van
Helmont, however, indicates that he himself, when he thought he was
being poisoned by an enemy, did not secure any benefit from the use of
the stone. Later, however, it turned out that, because of the nature of
the illness, he should have touched the stone with his tongue, to take
its virtue internally, rather than merely anointing the skin with oil
into which the stone had been dipped.

Van Helmont makes it very clear that this is not magic or sorcery; there
is no diabolic influence, no necromancy. He drew attention to the
overwhelming effects which might result from a cause which was so minute
that it could not be perceived by the senses. We cannot here go into the
theoretical background which underlay van Helmont's conceptions, but we
must mention at least briefly his idea of a basic mechanism. Van Helmont
considered the action to be that of a ferment, where an extremely minute
quantity can produce a tremendous effect. He gives the analogy of the
tooth of a mad dog, which, although any saliva has been carefully wiped
off, can nevertheless sometimes induce madness. The effect of the stone
seems to be comparable. Its power becomes manifest even in enormous
dilution and can multiply, for it can import its remedial virtue to a
vast quantity of oil. Moreover, the stone had a sort of universal power
against all diseases. Such a virtue could not be vegetable in its
nature, but was, he thought, connected with metals. He pointed to the
well-accepted medicinal virtues which inhered in gems. Metals also had
great medicinal potency. Antimony, lead, iron, mercury, were well known,
and of special importance was copper, the _Venus_ of the early chemists.

The medicinal virtue which inhered in Butler's stone and in other
powerful fermental remedies, van Helmont designated as "drif," which he
said means, in the vernacular, virgin sand or earth. This virtue
requires a metallic body in which to inhere. The general concept is not
unfamiliar, of a virtue or power or ferment which was attached to a
material object, and it is this type of explanation which was so
preponderant in, for example, Porta's _Natural Magick_. Van Helmont
speaks of the "first being," which translates the Latin _Ens_, of Venus
or copper. Vitriol is the basic substance, and for purification of the
virtue we require a "sequestration of its Venus from the dregs of the

This was the background from which Boyle set about to secure a potent
remedy. Van Helmont had discussed his experiments whereby he tried to
create a medicine which would have the virtues of Butler's stone. Boyle
attempted to improve on van Helmont's technique. Copper--Venus--was the
basic metal, and Boyle started with vitriol or copper sulfate. He gave
fairly explicit directions for the preparation, including calcination,
boiling, drying, adding sal armoniack, subliming twice. The resulting
chemical represented a purified medicine which he prescribed in variable
dosage, from two or three grains, up to twenty or thirty at the maximum.
He declared it to be a "potent specifick for the rickets," since he, and
others to whom he had given it for use, had "cured" a hundred or more
children of that disease. The medicine he also prescribed in fevers and
headache, and he thought it "hath done wonders" in obstinate
suppressions of the menses. It also improved the appetite. It worked, he
declared, through the sweat and, to some extent, the urine.[63] It is
noteworthy that Boyle did not claim to have cured the same illnesses
than van Helmont reports as having been cured by Butler's stone.

As another example, he gave directions for preparing essence of
hartshorn--prepared, literally, from the horn itself. The preparation,
strongly alkaline, he prescribed in small doses of eight to ten drops.
The medicine "resists malignity, putrefaction, and acid humours," for
it destroys the acidity. He used it "in fevers, coughs, pleurisies,
obstructions of the spleen, liver, or womb, and principally in
affections of the brain...."[64]

While Boyle was a far more skillful chemist than van Helmont, he did not
have any greater diagnostic acumen. And clearly, from the standpoint of
scientific method, he lacked any sharp criterion of cure. Various
patients were ill with various diseases; he gave them one or another
preparation; the patients recovered. Controls there were none. Boyle,
with great enthusiasm, believed that through natural philosophy we would
eventually discover "the true causes and seats of diseases" and also
find out effective remedies which would quickly free the patient from
the disease.[65] But faith and enthusiasm did not compensate for the
_post hoc propter hoc_ attitude.

According to Galenic concepts, if diseases are due to alterations of
humors either in their quality or in their proportions, then the
suitable remedy will restore the appropriate quality or proportion. In
Galenic doctrine, the disturbance of the humors should be perceptible,
and a sound Galenic remedy should work by perceptibly changing the
nature and proportion of the humors back to normal. However, side by
side with the Galenic medical doctrines, there were the other prevalent
doctrines, among which I can mention the idea of "specifics." I can
emphasize three features: the specific remedy was active against a
particular disease, in a quite specific fashion, in the same way that an
antidote acted against a specific poison; second, the effectiveness was
a matter of direct experience, based on empirical observation; and
third, the mode of action remained relatively obscure, but nevertheless
the medicines did not seem to behave as did the so-called "Galenicals."
Thus, whether they acted by "sympathy," or by a special hidden virtue,
or by a peculiar microcosmic energy, we cannot say. But the _fact_
remains that many people asserted the specific effectiveness[66] of this
or that remedy against a specific disease--e.g., that snakeweed was an
effective cure for the bite of a serpent.

Learned physicians, unfortunately, refused in large part to accept the
validity of these alleged cures. Their hesitancy rested not on
statistical evidence or on niceties of scientific method, but on the
grounds that the alleged mode of operation was quite unintelligible and
not at all in accord with accepted doctrine.

Boyle, as a chemist, insisted on keeping an open mind in regard to
so-called specifics. He objected strongly to the argument that simply
because we cannot account for their mode of action, we should conclude
that they were not effective. In a passage of great importance, he
declared, "Why should we hastily conclude against the efficacy of
specificks, taken into the body, upon the bare account of their not
operating by any obvious quality, if they be recommended unto us upon
their own experience by sober and faithful persons?" Thus, his chain of
reasoning is, first of all, these remedies work, as attested by direct
experience; we are not able to explain why or how they work; we must
not, however, fly in the face of experience and deny their effectiveness
simply because of our inability to explain the workings. He gives the
example of a "leaven," which in minute amounts is able to "turn the
greatest lump of dow [dough] into leaven."[67]

Boyle strongly supported the well-known quotation of Celsus, that the
important thing is not what causes the disease but what removes it. In
strong terms he criticized "many learned physicians" who rejected
specifics on the ground "that they cannot clearly conceive the distinct
manner of the specificks working; and think it utterly improbable, that
such a medicine, which must pass through digestions in the body, and be
whirled about with the mass of blood to all the parts, should,
neglecting the rest, shew it self friendly to the brain (for instance)
or the kidneys, and fall upon this or that juice or humour rather than
any other."[68] Boyle then went into considerable detail to show how
this can take place through the action of ferments, combined with a
theoretical exposition of atomistic philosophy, which we do not have
time to go into at present. He gave in great detail an exposition of how
these specifics _may_ operate, but did not in any way produce cogent
evidence that they do in fact operate in such fashion.

As a physician, Boyle insisted on facts over theory. He was constantly
pleading for physicians to enlarge their experience, to try new
medicines, even though these were not based on traditional doctrine.
Where observed fact conflicts with theory, the fact cannot be ignored.
Credulity of physicians, he indicated, may do the world "more mischief"
than any other profession, but nevertheless he condemned those who would
try to "circumscribe, or confine the operations of nature, and not so
much as allow themselves or others to try, whether it be possible for
nature, excited and managed by art, to perform divers things, which they
never yet saw done, or work by divers ways, differing from any, which by
the common principles, that are taught in the schools, they are able to
give a satisfactory account of."[69] Surely, this is not a model of
elegant English style, but the message is clear. Boyle was emphasizing
the message taught earlier in the century by Francis Bacon, that we must
judge the theory by the fact, and not the facts by the theory. It is the
same philosophy that Hamlet expounded, that there are more things in
heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our philosophy.

We see, thus, that Boyle had taken a mighty step toward modern
scientific medicine, but he covered only a small part of the total
distance. He insisted that we should accept facts, but he did not
realize the difficulties attendant on defining a fact and making it
credible. He indicated that when strange results are alleged, "these
need good proof to make a wary man believe so strange a thing,"[70] but
what constitutes proof was a problem which he was not able to wrestle
with and, indeed, a problem which he did not clearly perceive.

I would emphasize that Boyle was in essence a man of great faith. He had
great faith in religion, and was a deeply religious man. He was a great
supporter of so-called "natural religion" and tried to reconcile the
doctrines of natural philosophy with those of traditional religion.
Westfall[71] has considered in detail the religious attitudes of late
seventeenth-century writers, Robert Boyle in particular. The "proofs"
alleged by the proponents of natural religion have, of course, little
cogency. As Westfall points out, they examined nature in order to find
what they already believed.

Nevertheless, religious faith was only one part of the total faith which
Boyle exhibited. He had as much faith in the capabilities, the future
progress, and the promise of science as he did in traditional religion.
Throughout all his works we see great evidence of his religious piety.
But his faith in science, particularly as it affected medicine, we see
with utmost clarity in the essay "The Usefulness of Natural Philosophy."
He had great vision of the benefits that science would eventually bring
to the healing arts. Unlike many of his contemporaries, particularly
persons such as Glanvill or Spratt, he realized that many anatomical
discoveries, for example, were of little practical value, but he felt
that such discoveries would, "in process of time (when the _historia
facti_ shall be fully and indisputably made out, and the theories
thereby suggested clearly established) highly conduce to the improvement
of the therapeutical part of physick...."[72] And with extraordinary
perceptiveness he indicated the different ways in which he expected
progress to be made through the proper application of mechanical
philosophy. He was clear-sighted enough to realize that the discoveries
made hitherto were not of great practical value but that the future was
indeed bright, and he provided a remarkable blueprint of progress to

The measure of progress is, perhaps, the quantity of faith which moves
mankind. The study of Robert Boyle emphasizes some divisions among
mankind. Some are content to look backward, to be satisfied with the
achievements of the past, to rely on accepted systematization, doctrine,
and explanation. Others, while dissatisfied with the past, have no guide
to lead them anywhere. Still others, however, have a strong faith in the
new course which they are pursuing, a faith which can guide them over
great difficulties. Boyle was such a man of faith--a word which is
really synonymous with "attitude." He marked the transition between the
old and the new, and pointed up the difficulties which transition always


[37] Thomas Birch, _The Life of the Honourable Robert Boyle_, in Robert
Boyle, _The Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle_, ed. Thomas Birch,
London; 1772, I, liv, reprinted Hildesheim, 1965, I, Introduction,
viii-ix; Marie Boas Hall, _Robert Boyle on Natural Philosophy: An Essay
with Selections from His Writings_, Bloomington, Indiana, 1965, p. 16.

[38] John F. Fulton, _A Bibliography of the Honourable Robert Boyle_,
2nd ed., Oxford, 1961, p. 37.

[39] Hall, _op. cit._, p. 47.

[40] Margaret E. Rowbottom, "The Earliest Published Writing of Robert
Boyle," _Annals of Science_, VI (1950), 376-389; R. E. W. Maddison, "The
Earliest Published Writing of Robert Boyle," _Annals of Science_, XVII
(1961), 165-173.

[41] Lazarus Riverius, _The Universal Body of Physick, in five books,...
Exactly translated into English by William Carr_, London, 1657.

[42] Lazari Riverii, _Opera Medica Universa_, Geneva, 1727.

[43] J.-H. Reveillé-Parise, ed., _Lettres de Gui Patin_, Paris, 1846.

[44] Jean Baptiste van Helmont, _Oriatrike or Physick Refined ...
faithfully rendered into English by J. C._, London, 1662, and _Ortus
Medicinae_, Editio Quarta, Lugduni, 1667.

[45] Giovanni Battista della Porta, _Natural Magick_, London, 1658,
reprinted New York, 1957, and _Magiae Naturalis Libri Viginti_,
Rothomagi, 1650.

[46] Richard F. Jones, _Ancients and Moderns: A Study of the Rise of the
Scientific Movement in Seventeenth-Century England_, 2nd ed., St. Louis,
1961; Richard S. Westfall, _Science and Religion in Seventeenth-Century
England_, New Haven, 1958; Marjorie Hope Nicolson, _Pepys' Diary and the
New Science_, Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 1965;
Walter E. Houghton, "The English Virtuoso in the Seventeenth Century,"
_Journal of the History of Ideas_, III (1942), 51-73, 190-219; and
Dorothy Stimson, _Scientists and Amateurs: A History of the Royal
Society_, New York, 1948. See also, for an entertaining primary source,
Thomas Shadwell, _The Virtuoso_, ed., Marjorie Hope Nicolson and David
Stuart Rodes, London, 1966.

[47] Sir George Clark, _A History of the Royal College of Physicians of
London_, Oxford, Volume I, 1964, Volume II, 1966.

[48] Boyle, "Memoirs for the Natural History of Human Blood," _Works_,
IV, 637.

[49] Boyle, "On the Usefulness of Natural Philosophy," _Works_, II, 169.

[50] Stephen Paget, _John Hunter_, London, 1897, p. 126.

[51] Riverius, _Opera_, trans. Lester S. King, p. 1.

[52] Boyle, "Usefulness," pp. 74-75. See also pp. 115-116.

[53] _Ibid._, p. 87.

[54] _Ibid._, p. 97.

[55] _Ibid._, p. 98. See also "Of the Reconcileableness of Specific
Medicines to the Corpuscular Philosophy," _Works_, V, 85-86.

[56] Lester S. King, "The Road to Scientific Therapy: 'Signatures,'
'Sympathy,' and Controlled Experiment," _Journal of the American Medical
Association_, CXCVII (1966), 250-256.

[57] Boyle, "Usefulness," p. 115.

[58] _Ibid._, p. 127.

[59] _Ibid._, p. 130.

[60] _Ibid._, p. 131.

[61] Van Helmont, "Butler," _Ortus Medicinae_, pp. 358-365, and
_Oriatrike_, pp. 585-596. See also Boyle, "Usefulness," p. 102.

[62] Van Helmont, _Ortus_, p. 365; _Oriatrike_, p. 596.

[63] Boyle, "Usefulness," pp. 135-136.

[64] _Ibid._, p. 138.

[65] _Ibid._, p. 144.

[66] Boyle, "Reconcileableness of Specific Medicines," pp. 80-81.

[67] Boyle, "Usefulness," p. 183.

[68] _Ibid._, p. 190.

[69] _Ibid._, p. 194.

[70] _Ibid._, p. 195.

[71] Westfall, _op. cit._

[72] Boyle, "Usefulness," pp. 163-164.

_Members of the Seminar_

  L. R. C. Agnew
  Theodore Alexander
  M. Peter Amacher
  Lawrence Badash
  Stephen Dow Beckham
  Charles S. Bodemer
  Hilda Boheme
  John G. Burke
  Seymour L. Chapin
  Jack H. Clark
  William E. Conway
  Louise Darling
  Edna C. Davis
  Dr. & Mrs. John Field
  Waldo H. Furgason
  Martha Gnudi
  Doris Haglund
  Karl Hufbauer
  Samisa Jadon
  Dieter Jetter
  Roy Kidman
  Irving J. King
  Lester S. King
  Leslie Koepplin
  Elizabeth Lomax
  Patrick McCloskey
  Nancy McNeil
  Edgar Mauer
  David S. Maxwell
  Robert Moes
  C. D. O'Malley
  Ynez O'Neill
  Marilyn Paul
  Ladislao Reti
  Sally Rutherford
  Edward Shapiro
  Hans H. Simmer
  Ingrid Simmer
  John E. Smith
  Joan Starkweather
  Betsey Starr
  John M. Steadman
  Annette Terzian
  Lelde Trapans
  Richard F. Trucken
  Frances Valadez
  Virginia Weiser
  Fred N. White
  Maxine White
  Virginia Wong
  Jacob Zeitlin

  _William Andrews Clark
  Memorial Library
  Seminar Papers_

_Editing Donne and Pope._ 1952.

    Problems in the Editing of Donne's Sermons, by George R. Potter.

    Editorial Problems in Eighteenth-Century Poetry, by John Butt.

_Music and Literature in England in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth
Centuries._ 1953.

    Poetry and Music in the Seventeenth Century, by James E. Phillips.

    Some Aspects of Music and Literature in the Eighteenth Century, by
    Bertrand H. Bronson.

_Restoration and Augustan Prose._ 1956.

    Restoration Prose, by James R. Sutherland.

    The Ironic Tradition in Augustan Prose from Swift to Johnson, by Ian

_Anglo-American Cultural Relations in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth
Centuries._ 1958.

    The Puritans in Old and New England, by Leon Howard.

    William Byrd: Citizen of the Enlightenment, by Louis B. Wright.

_The Beginnings of Autobiography in England_, by James M. Osborn. 1959.

_Scientific Literature in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century England._

    English Medical Literature in the Sixteenth Century, by C. D. O'Malley.

    English Scientific Literature in the Seventeenth Century, by Rupert

_Francis Bacon's Intellectual Milieu._ A Paper delivered by Virgil K.
    Whitaker at a meeting at the Clark Library, 18 November 1961,
    celebrating the 400th anniversary of Bacon's birth.

_Methods of Textual Editing_, by Vinton A. Dearing. 1962.

_The Dolphin in History._ 1963.

    The History of the Dolphin, by Ashley Montagu.

    Modern Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises, as Challenges to Our
    Intelligence, by John C. Lilly.

_Thomas Willis as a Physician_, by Kenneth Dewhurst. 1964.

_History of Botany._ 1965.

    Herbals, Their History and Significance, by George H. M. Lawrence.

    A Plant Pathogen Views History, by Kenneth F. Baker.

_Neo-Latin Poetry of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries._ 1965.

    Daniel Rogers: A Neo-Latin Link between the Pléiade and Sidney's
    'Areopagus,' by James E. Phillips.

    Milton as a Latin Poet, by Don Cameron Allen.

_Milton and Clarendon: Papers on Seventeenth-Century English
Historiography._ 1965.

    Milton as Historian, by French R. Fogle.

    Clarendon and the Practice of History, by H. R. Trevor-Roper.

_Some Aspects of Seventeenth Century English Printing with Special
Reference to Joseph Moxon_, by Carey S. Bliss. 1965.

_Homage to Yeats, 1865-1965._ 1966.

    Yeats and the Abbey Theatre, by Walter Starkie.

    Women in Yeats's Poetry, by A. Norman Jeffares.

_Alchemy and Chemistry in the Seventeenth Century._ 1966.

    Renaissance Chemistry and the Work of Robert Fludd, by Allen G. Debus.

    Some Nonexistent Chemists of the Seventeenth Century, by Robert P.

_The Uses of Irony._ 1966.

    Daniel Defoe, by Maximillian E. Novak.

    Jonathan Swift, by Herbert J. Davis.

_Bibliography._ 1966.

    Bibliography and Restoration Drama, by Fredson Bowers.

    In Pursuit of American Fiction, by Lyle Wright.

_Words to Music._ 1967.

    English Song and the Challenge of Italian Monody, by Vincent Duckles.

    Sound and Sense in Purcell's 'Single Songs,' by Franklin B. Zimmerman.

_John Dryden._ 1967.

    Challenges to Dryden's Biographer, by Charles E. Ward.

    Challenges to Dryden's Editor, by H. T. Swedenberg.

_Atoms, Blacksmiths, and Crystals._ 1967.

    The Texture of Matter as Viewed by Artisan, Philosopher, and Scientist
    in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, by Cyril Stanley Smith.

    Snowflakes and the Constitution of Crystalline Matter,
    by John G. Burke.

_Laplace as a Newtonian Scientist_, by Roger Hahn. 1967.

_Modern Fine Printing._ 1967.

    The Private Press: Its Essence and Recrudescence, by H. Richard Archer.

    Tradition and Southern California Printers, by Ward Ritchie.

Transcriber's Notes:

  Passages in italics are indicated by _underscore_.

  Additional spacing after some of the quotes is intentional to indicate
  both the end of a quotation and the beginning of a new paragraph as
  presented in the original text.

  The following misprints have been corrected:
    "acessible" corrected to "accessible" (page 10)
    "Futhermore" corrected to "Furthermore" (page 10)
    "histroy" corrected to "history" (page 14)
    "wordly" corrected to "worldly" (page 32)

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