A New Herball (William Turner)
William Turner was an early herbalist and ornithologist who wrote A New Herball in 1568. Along with similar works like Theatrum Botanicum (1640), the Herball included common ailments and suggested remedies, many of which depended upon the discussion of balancing the temperaments.
This copy of the Herball is heavily worn, with many of the foolscap pages torn and delicate, suggesting potential water damage. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of said damage is a prior owner’s makeshift attempt to piece the book back together.
A Look Inside
Many of the pages of A New Herball, including 16 and 17 (to the right), are patched together with Japanese tissue and parchment. The highly visible attempt at repair offers a sense of the book as an object in flux. Additionally, the extensive use of tissue to piece the book back together has made it a very fragile volume to handle.
In the pages to the left, Turner describes the distinctively melancholic nature of the “juice of the Mandrag,” which – when “drunken in the quantity of a scruple in honeyed wine” – could “draweth forth Melancholy and phlegm by vomiting, after the manner of Helleborus.” The notion of ‘drawing forth’ melancholy is an interesting one, since it relies strongly upon the notion that melancholy manifests itself within phlegm. Nevertheless, Turner further cautions the reader that “if a man take too much of it, it will kill him.”
A second warning against the toxic nature of melancholy follows in Turner’s discussion of rye, wherein he contends: “By common experience we find that rye bread is cold, windy, and hard of digestion, and a breeder of melancholy, specially in such persons as want exercise of the body.”
FULL TITLE: [Title page excised; information taken from EEBO] The firste and seconde partes of the herbal of William Turner Doctor in Phisick, lately ouersene, corrected and enlarged with the thirde parte, lately gathered, and nowe set oute with the names of the herbes, in Greke, Latin, English, Duche, Frenche, and the apothecaries and herbaries Latin, with the properties, degrees, and naturall places of the same. Here vnto is ioyned also a booke of the bath of Baeth in England, and the vertues of the same with diuerse other bathes, moste holsom and effectuall, both in Almanye and England, set furth by William Turner Doctor in Phisick. God saue the Quene
PLACE: Imprinted at Collen : By [the heirs of] Arnold Birckman, in the yeare of our Lorde M.D.LXVIII 
PUBLISHER: Heirs of Arnold Birckman
ITEM TYPE: Book
CALL NUMBER: QK99 .T8 1568
NOTE: ESTC records 37 copies.
TYPE: Roman; Gothic
LANGUAGES: English; Hebrew (names of plants)
DEDICATIONS: [excised] 1. To the most noble and learned Princesse 2. Peter Turner to the Reader
TABLES AND INDEXES: [excised, front matter] Table of The Names of Herbs.
ILLUSTRATIONS: Diagrams for each specimen named. Ornamented initials mark the first letter of each specimen recorded.
PROVENANCE: Donated by F.D. Hoeniger. Assumed that insertions, including bibliographic material pasted to the endpapers, were created by Hoeniger.
CONDITION: Boards: worn and faded dark brown [calf?] over pasteboards. Spine has six compartments, five raised bands. Author, title and decoration in compartment 2, with the words gilt in silver over black-painted compartment. Paper: original paper is foolscap (starts on page 15). There are 34 blank, wove pages (+1 inserted but unbound foolscap piece, marked as p. 3), preceding the original foolscap pages. These were presumably bound with the book so that facsimiles of the original pages could be added if required. Book: pages in poor condition; extensive use of Japanese tissue paper to fix holes in the leaves; pieces of wove paper used to fix torn edges.