Advertisement

Communicating Medical Recipes: Robert Boyle’s Genre and Rhetorical Strategies for Print

  • Michelle DiMeo
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Handbooks of Literature and Science book series (PAHALISC)

Abstract

Toward the end of his life, in the 1680s, the experimental philosopher Robert Boyle (1627–1691) returned to a batch of medical materials which he had been writing and collecting for decades and prepared some pieces for publication.1 Among these papers was his vast collection of recipes, which numbered over 1000 and indiscriminately intermingled complicated chemical and metallic processes with Galenic simples.2 During the last decade-and-a-half of his life Boyle selectively revised a subset of this collection for the public, beginning with 50 recipes in the limited print run of Some Receipts of Medicines (1688), which he intended for private circulation. The final public edition of 100 recipes, Medicinal Experiments, was not published until 1692, the year after his death.3 This pocket-sized duodecimo was advertised as selling for the affordable price of one shilling, and the title page of the second edition was expanded to target more explicitly his intended audience, noting that it was ‘Useful in Families, and very Serviceable to Country People’. Two more volumes with several hundred more recipes appeared in 1693 and 1694, and a supplement was published in 1703, but these were amalgamations of his manuscripts selected by others after his death and lacked Boyle’s thoughtful evaluation methods. When judged by the multiple number of editions, volumes, and supplements, Boyle’s Medicinal Experiments was one of his most popular works, second only to his most popular, Seraphic Love, an early text characteristic of his moralist period.4 Boyle was the most prolific writer among the early Fellows of the Royal Society: more than 80 English editions of his works and more than 100 Latin translations were published between 1659 and 1700.5 Though best remembered today as the author of the Sceptical Chymist and related works on experiment and natural philosophy, Boyle maintained a literary career that extended into diverse non-fiction genres, and his medical recipe books made a significant contribution towards sustaining his legacy among a larger audience immediately after his death.

Keywords

Seventeenth Century Medical Text Title Page Early Modern Period Rhetorical Strategy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Bibliography

  1. Alonso-Almeida, Francisco. 2013. Genre conventions in English recipes, 1600–1800. In Reading and writing recipe books, ed. Michelle DiMeo, and Sara Pennell, 68–90. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Dear, Peter. 1985. Totius in verba: Rhetoric and authority in the early Royal Society. Isis 76(2): 144–161.Google Scholar
  3. DiMeo, Michelle. 2014. Lady Ranelagh’s book of kitchen-physick?: Reattributing authorship for Wellcome Library MS 1340. Huntington Library Quarterly 77(3): 331–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. DiMeo, Michelle, and Rebecca Laroche. 2011. On Elizabeth Isham’s “oil of swallows”: Animal slaughter and early modern women’s medical recipes. In Ecofeminist approaches to early modernity, ed. Jennifer Munroe, and Rebecca Laroche, 87–104. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Fissell, Mary E. 2007. The marketplace of print. In Medicine and the market in England and its colonies, c.1450–c.1850, ed. Mark S.R. Jenner, and Patrick Wallis, 108–132. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. ———. 2009. Vernacular bodies: The politics of reproduction in Early Modern England. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. ———. 2011. Popular medical writing. In The Oxford history of popular print culture, Vol. 1: Cheap print in England and Ireland to 1660, ed. Joad Raymond, 417–430. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Glaisyer, Natasha, and Sara Pennell. 2003. Introduction. In Didactic literature in England 1500–1800: Expertise constructed, ed. Natasha Glaisyer, and Sara Pennell, 1–18. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  9. Halasz, Alexandra. 1997. The marketplace of print: Pamphlets and the public sphere in early modern England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Harwood, John T. 1994. Science writing and writing science: Boyle and rhetorical theory. In Robert Boyle reconsidered, ed. Michael Hunter, 37–56. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hunter, Michael. 2000. The reluctant philanthropist: Robert Boyle and the “communication of secrets and receits in physick”. In Robert Boyle 1627–1691: Scrupulosity and science, ed. Michael Hunter, 202–222. Woodbridge: Boydell Press.Google Scholar
  12. ———. 2007. The Boyle papers: Understanding the manuscripts of Robert Boyle. Burlington: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  13. ———. 2009. Boyle: Between God and science. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Hunter, Michael, and Edward B. Davis (ed). 1999. The works of Robert Boyle. London: Pickering and Chatto.Google Scholar
  15. Hunter, Michael, and Charles Littleton (ed). 2001. The workdiaries of Robert Boyle. www.livesandletters.ac.uk/wd, 2001. Accessed 25 Jan 2015.
  16. Hunter, Michael, Antonio Clericuzio, and Lawrence M. Principe (ed). 2001. The correspondence of Robert Boyle. London: Pickering and Chatto.Google Scholar
  17. Leong, Elaine. 2005. Medical recipe collections in seventeenth-century England: Knowledge, gender and text. PhD. diss, University of Oxford.Google Scholar
  18. ———. 2008. Making medicines in the early modern household. Bulletin of the History of Medicine 82(1): 145–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. ———. 2013. Collecting knowledge for the family: Recipes, gender and practical knowledge in early modern English households. Centaurus 55(2): 81–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Leong, Elaine, and Sara Pennell. 2007. Recipe collections and the currency of medical knowledge in the early modern “medical marketplace”. In Medicine and the market in England and its colonies, c.1450–c.1850, ed. Mark S.R. Jenner, and Patrick Wallis, 133–152. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lindemann, Mary. 2010. Medicine and society in early modern Europe, 2 edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Love, Harold. 1993. Scribal publication in seventeenth-century England. Oxford: Clarendon Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Maddison, Robert E.W. 1969. The life of the honourable Robert Boyle. London: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  24. Mäkinen, Martti. 2011. Efficacy phrases in early modern English medical recipes. In Medical writing in early modern English, ed. Irma Taavitsainen, and Päivi Pahta, 158–179. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Marotti, Arthur F. 1995. Manuscript, print, and the English Renaissance lyric. New York: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Nagy, Doreen G. 1988. Popular medicine in seventeenth-century England. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State University Popular Press.Google Scholar
  27. Pelling, Margaret. 1996. Compromised by gender: The role of the male medical practitioner in early modern England. In The task of healing: Medicine, religion and gender in England and the Netherlands, 1450–1800, ed. Hilary Marland, and Margaret Pelling, 101–133. Rotterdam: Erasmus.Google Scholar
  28. ———. 2003. Medical conflicts in early modern London: Patronage, physicians and irregular practitioners 1550–1640. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  29. Pennell, Sara. 2004. Perfecting practice? Women, manuscript recipes and knowledge in early modern England. In Early modern women’s manuscript writings: Selected papers from the Trinity/Trent colloquium, ed. Jonathan Gibson, and Victoria E. Burke, 237–255. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  30. Pennell, Sara, and Michelle DiMeo. 2013. Introduction. In Reading and writing recipe books, 1550–1800, ed. Michelle DiMeo, and Sara Pennell, 1–22. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Pomata, Gianna. 2010. Sharing cases: The observationes in early modern medicine. Early Science and Medicine 15(3): 193–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. ———. 2013. The recipe and the case: Epistemic genres and the dynamics of cognitive practices. In Wissenschaftsgeschichte und Geschichte des Wissens im Dialog, Connecting Science and Knowledge: Schauplätze der Forschung, Scenes of Research, ed. Kaspar von Greyerz, Silvia Flubacher, and Philipp Senn, 131–154. Göttingen: V&R unipress.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pomata, Gianna, and Nancy G. Siraisi. 2005. Introduction. In Historia: Empiricism and erudition in early modern Europe, ed. Gianna Pomata, and Nancy G. Siraisi, 1–38. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  34. Porter, Roy. 1985. The patient’s view: Doing medical history from below. Theory and Society 12(2): 175–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Principe, Lawrence M. 1998. The aspiring adept: Robert Boyle and his alchemical quest: Including Boyle’s ‘lost’ dialogue on the transmutation of metals. Princeton: University of Princeton.Google Scholar
  36. ———. 2013. The secrets of alchemy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  37. Rankin, Alisha. 2013. Panaceia’s daughters: Noblewomen as healers in early modern Germany. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Saunders, John W. 1951. The stigma of print: A note on the social bases of Tudor poetry. Essays in Criticism 1(2): 139–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Shapin, Stephen, and Simon Schaffer. 1985. Leviathan and the air-pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the experimental life. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Siraisi, Nancy G. 1990. Medieval and Renaissance medicine: An introduction to knowledge and practice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Smith, Pamela H. 2011. What is a secret? Secrets and craft knowledge in early modern Europe. In Secrets and knowledge in medicine and science 1500–1800, ed. Elaine Leong, and Alisha Rankin, 47–66. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  42. Stine, J.K. 1996. Opening closets: The discovery of household medicine in early modern England.’ PhD. Diss., Stanford University.Google Scholar
  43. Taavitsainen, Irma, et al. 2011. Medical texts in 1500–1700 and the corpus of early modern English medical texts. In Medical writing in early modern English, ed. Irma Taavitsainen, and Päivi Pahta, 9–25. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Tebeaux, Elizabeth. 1997. Women and technical writing, 1475–1700: Technology, literacy and development of a genre. In Women, science and medicine 1500–1700: Mothers and sisters of the Royal Society, ed. Lynette Hunter, and Sarah Hutton, 29–62. Stroud: Sutton Publishing.Google Scholar
  45. Wall, Wendy. 2015. Recipes for thought: Knowledge and taste in the early modern English kitchen. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  46. Yeo, Richard. 2014. Notebooks, English virtuosi, and early modern science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle DiMeo
    • 1
  1. 1.Chemical Heritage FoundationPhiladelphiaUSA

Personalised recommendations