A New Herball (Rembert Dodoens)
From the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, the development of medical correspondence facilitated the growth of distinct networks of exchange among European naturalists. Rembert Dodoens, a physician-botanist active in the early 1600s, exemplifies the type of interdisciplinarity so prevalent in this period.
In his New Herball, he offers the reader practical advice for maintaining his or her health by envisioning the body as a composite whole. For example, Dodoens explains ways to moderate common bodily conditions like hair loss. While largely removed from notions of health and wellness today, hair was then linked to a person’s hygiene, and its loss was considered destructive to the individual’s overall health. Thus, upon first suggesting that the problem stems largely from “an excess of cold and moisture,” Dodoens is then able to offer a list of “hot and dry” herbs to counteract the issue.
While Dodoens’ recommendations allow him to combine his herbalist knowledge with his medicinal practice, they also speak to an underlying awareness of temperament and humoural theory as a social leveller. For physicians, humoural science perhaps operated as another kind of network, linking physicians, botanists and the common person through common or accessible language.
A Look Inside
The book is bound in orange sheepskin - a particularly soft material. On the side is a clasp, broken from use. Although badly frayed now, the cover's border decoration suggests a once-ornate volume.
To the right, the pasted-in insert is an example of textual correction, made by the owner to atone for a loss of text.
The rightmost image describes white and wild lilies. It is marked by ink stains and another instance of marginalia.
This copy of the book is intriguing for its marginalia and written notes. Several pages mid-text are marked by an annotater's notes along the margins - the words read like a poem. The pages below depict this pattern - try to piece the text together yourself!
The page above and to the left (inscribed "Shall Love Thee") offers a closer look at this poetic marginalia.
A NEW HERBALL, OR HISTORIE OF PLANTS: Wherein is contained the whole discourse and perfect de-scription of all sorts of Herbes and Plants: their diuers and sundrie kindes: their Names, Natures, Operations & Vertues: and that not onely of those which are heere growing in this our countrie of Eng-land, but of al others also of for-raine Realms commonly vsed in Physicke. First set foorth in the Dutch or Almaigne toong, by that learned D. REMBERT DODOENS, Phisition to the Emperor: And now first trans-lated out of French into English, by Henrie Lyte Esquier. Corrected and amended.
PUBLISHER: Imprinted at London, by Edm. Bollifant. 1595.
ITEM TYPE: Book
CALL NUMBER: QK41 .D5813 1595
NOTE: STC records 10+ copies. ESTC records 18 copies.
(4to in 8s) a-b8, c4, B-3L8, 3M5 [$4 (-a1; b3 wanting, q2 wanting; more leaves after M5 wanting)]. Pagination  906. 227-228 wanting; 466 misnumbered 438; 485 as 489; 487 as 481; 564 as 534; 831 as 823; 888 as 884; more pages wanting after 906. Boards measure 18.3 x 13 cm. Leaves measure 17.6 x 12.8 cm.
TYPE: Black letter; roman, italic, Greek
LANGUAGES: English; Latin; Greek
DEDICATIONS AND ADDRESSES: 1. Queen Elizabeth (signed by Lyte). 2. To the Reader. 3. To the Reader (signed by Dodoens). 4. Commendatory poems.
TABLES AND INDEXES: None
ILLUSTRATIONS: Ornamented and historiated initials, head and tail pieces.
PRINTED MARGINALIA: None
WATERMARKS: Pot (centre gutter)
BINDING: 18th c? orange sheep over pasteboards has floral scrolled frame tooled in blind. Metal clasps still present. Spine has title in gilt on brown label. Later flys and pastedowns. Reddened edges.
PROVENANCE: 1. CRRS bookplate on inner pastedown. 2. Stanley Smith written in black ink inside covers. 3. Price of L21, in pencil, on first flyleaf.
HANDWRITTEN NOTES: A few inked notes throughout (see pp. 103, 825-833). Interleaves found throughout; a couple have notes.