1720 at the Edward Worth Library

2020 marks the 300th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of Dr Steevens Hospital, Dublin. In 1720 Edward Worth (1676-1733), was a Trustee of the hospital which was then being built and he would subsequently leave his wonderful collection of books to the hospital. This  exhibition explores some of his books which were either printed in 1720 or reflect his key concerns in that year.


First and foremost (then as now) was the fear of a pandemic. Worth, as a physician, was keenly interested in the reports coming from France of a massive outbreak of the plague. He collected texts detailing the experience of French doctors combating the plague – and also the advice on restrictions advocated by English doctors such as Richard Mead.


The 1720 Marseille Plague


Lettres sue la peste écrites à un medicin de Bordeaux (Bordeaux, [1721]), title page. 12o.


On the 25 May 1720 a ship arrived at the busy port of Marseille. Unbeknownst to the city authorities, the ship was carrying bubonic plague. The disease soon spread into the city because the city authorities did not act quickly enough. Their attempts at quarantine were inefficient as officers from the ship were allowed into town and sailors clandestinely carried goods into the city. The result was a massive outbreak of plague, leading to c 1,000 deaths a day.  In Marseille alone, out of a population of c. 90,000, 39,334 people died and the overall mortality rate in Marseille and its surrounding areas was closer to 100,000. The 1720 Marseille Plague proved to be the last great plague of the West.


While the rich fled, the poor, living in unsanitary conditions were particularly affected and soon corpses began piling up in the streets. The reason for this was because the city authorities, already financially affected by the 1720 Mississippi Bubble, did not have the financial resources to cope with this epidemic. Their reluctance to impose a cordon sanitaire ensured that the plague did not stay in Marseilles. By the time they introduced one (on 1 August 1720), the plague had already reached Aix-en-Provence and was making its way to Avignon. The rest of France and Europe were becoming alarmed. The two books on display here outline two very different reactions to the 1720 plague at Marseille.


François Chicoyneau, M. Verny and M. Soulier, Relation touchant les accidens de la peste de Marseille, son prognostic, et sa curation. Du 10. Decembre 1720 (Lyon, 1721), title page. 12o.


In France, the Regent, Philippe Duc D’Orléans (1674-1723) arranged for the learned physicians François Chicoyneau (1672-1742), Jean Verny (1657-1741) and M. Soulier to go to Marseille ‘for the Relief of our City afflicted with the Plague’.[1] Near the end of 1720 they published this Relation of their observations and in it they outlined five principal classes of patients, the symptoms they exhibited, and the treatments the learned doctors proposed. The Relation was consciously targeted at ‘young Physicians and Surgeons’ who were ‘actually engaged in looking after infected Persons in divers Places of this Province’.[2] But the doctors were aware that they needed to get their message out to the wider public and for that reason they published their account in French (rather than Latin), and chose a small pamphlet format, which would be cheaper to buy because it used less paper and which would hopefully reach a wider audience. To find out more about Chicoyneau’s five classes of plague, their symptoms and treatment see the Worth Library web-pages on plague and the 1720 Marseille plague at https://infectiousdiseases.edwardworthlibrary.ie/plague/


Portrait of Francois Chicoyneau: Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.


François Chicoyneau was the son of Michel Chicoyneau (1626-1701), a Professor of Botany and Anatomy at the prestigious medical faculty of the university of Montpellier. François followed his father into the medical profession and made his way up the academic ladder, eventually becoming Professor of Botany and Anatomy at the university. He is perhaps best known for his exploits during the 1720 Marseille plague. His courage during that time was awarded with the order of Saint Michel and he subsequently was appointed physician to the royal family, before succeeding his father-in-law Pierre Chirac as premier physician to Louis XV (1710-74).


Lettre de Monsieur Chicoyneau … écrite à Monsieur De la Moniere … Pour prouver ce qu’il a avancé dans ses Observations & Reflexions touchant la … peste de Marseille & d’Aix, du 10. Decembre 1720 (Lyon, 1721), title page. 12o.


Worth collected 5 pamphlets by François Chicoyneau: two editions of his Relation touchant les accidens de la peste de Marseille, son prognostic, et sa curation : du 10. decembre 1720 (Lyon, 1721 and 1722); his Observations et reflexions touchant la nature, les envenemens, et le traitement de la peste de Marseille, pour confirmer ce qui est avancé dans la Relation touchant les accidens de la peste, son prognostic, & sa curation, du 10. decembre 1720 (Lyon, 1721); his Lettre de Monsieur Chicoyneau conseiller du roy … : écrite à Monsieur de La Moniere … pour prouver ce qu’il a avancé dans ses observations & reflexions touchant la nature, les évenemens & le traitement de la peste de Marseille (Lyon, 1721); his Lettre de Monsieur Chicoyneau … écrite à Monsieur De la Moniere … Pour prouver ce qu’il a avancé dans ses Observations & Reflexions touchant la … peste de Marseille & d’Aix, du 10. Decembre 1720 (Lyon, 1721). Both Chicoyneau and Verny were members of the medical faculty of Montpellier and Worth also bought two medical theses at which Chicoyneau presided: George Imbert’s May 1723 dissertation on therapeutics: Quaestio medica eaque therapeutica, proposita ab illustrissimo viro D. D. Francisco De Chicoyneau (Montpellier, 1723) and Jean François Vallant’s June 1727 dissertation on fevers: Quaestio medica eaque therapeutica, proposita ab illustrissimo viro D. D. Francisco De Chicoyneau (Montpellier, 1727).


Richard Mead, A short discourse concerning pestilential contagion, and the methods to be used to prevent it…. The eighth edition (London, 1722), p. 71. 8o.


Chicoyneau and his colleagues were reacting to a plague which had already devastated the city of Marseille. Their focus was treating the afflicted but in countries which had not been touched by the plague the emphasis was necessarily on prevention rather than cure. Richard Mead (1673-1754), a well-known Newtonian physician, was considered to be one of the leading English physicians of his day. It was to him the English government turned for expert advice on how to combat the plague.


Portrait of Richard Mead: Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.


Mead took issue with Chicoyneau’s theories concerning the transmission of the plague and accused him and his colleagues of being more interested in proving a hypothesis than calmly looking at the evidence before them. Contrary to Chicoyneau, who questioned the necessity of a cordon sanitaire for a disease which he believed to be the result of bad air, Mead was firmly in the camp of person to person contagion. This conflict over theories of transmission had very real consequences. To someone like Mead, it made the institution of quarantine absolutely essential for the prevention of the disease.


Richard Mead, A short discourse concerning pestilential contagion, and the methods to be used to prevent it….  (London, 1722), p.1.


Mead was, however, hampered by the fact that, as he confessed himself, he was writing about ‘the Cure of a Disease, which I have never seen’.[3] Much of his understanding was based on his experiences of smallpox, which was a contemporary contagious disease. Mead’s insistence on the contagious nature of the Marseille plague initially looks misplaced, given that we now know that Yersina Pestis is primarily spread via rat fleas, but his instincts were sound because, though it might have been bubonic plague which arrived in Marseille in May 1720, it is clear that its spread beyond Marseille owed more to human-to-human transmission, rather than adventurous rats. The virulence and spread of the Marseille plague strongly suggests that by the time it reached Aix-en-Provence it had mutated into pneumonic plague, which was far more lethal and which was spread by human-to-human transmission.


Richard Mead, A short discourse concerning pestilential contagion, and the methods to be used to prevent it…. The eighth edition (London, 1722), title page. 8o.


Worth collected the eighth edition of Mead’s treatise. The number of editions is a testament to the popularity of the text but the eighth edition was more significant than others because in it Mead reframed some of his thinking on quarantine. Mead’s advice on quarantine in the first edition of his book (1720) had largely been followed by the government and included in the new quarantine act of January 1721.[4] There had, however, been a significant reaction to the severity of some of the act’s recommendations which included the sentence of death for those who refused to quarantine and use of guarded lines to surround affected towns.[5] The latter suggestion was particularly resented and by the end of 1721 the Lord Mayor, Aldermen and Commons of London petitioned for the removal of these clauses. Eventually, in January 1722, the Commons repealed the January 1721 act. In many ways Mead’s eighth edition was a reaction to this political debate. In the 1722 edition he sought to elaborate on his views and to drive home his belief that the plague was infectious. He tried to distance himself from some of the more unpopular measures introduced in 1721 but he also made new recommendations, including setting up a council of health which would be made up of physicians, city magistrates and state officials. Nothing came of the latter suggestion.


John Law, Considerations sur le commerce et sur l’argent (The Hague, 1720), title page. 8o.


The other great catastrophe of the year 1720 was the infamous Mississippi Bubble, a stock market crash precipitated by the actions of a Scottish economist called John Law (bap. 1671-1729). The Edward Worth Library holds a copy of Law’s Considerations sur le commerce et sur l’argent that was published in The Hague in 1720. It is a French translation of Law’s Money and trade considered; with a proposal for supplying the nation with money that was first printed in Edinburgh in 1705 with a second English-language edition published in London in 1720. In it, Law compares the prosperity of Scotland with that of other countries and proposes to replace specie money (i.e. gold and silver) with a paper money secured against land. Law argued that the value of land was more stable than that of metal currency, which could be diluted due to increases in bullion imports or debasement of the coinage. Law unsuccessfully presented his idea of establishing a ‘land bank’ to parliament in Scotland in the same year that Money and trade considered was published.


John Law, Considerations sur le commerce et sur l’argent (The Hague, 1720), frontispiece portrait.


John Law was the son of an Edinburgh goldsmith and banker. He was proficient in arithmetic and algebra at school in Edinburgh. Law left the family business after his father’s death and travelled to London. He was sentenced to death for killing a man in a duel in London in 1694, but escaped from prison and took refuge on the continent. He received a pardon in 1719. Law amassed a fortune travelling through Europe gambling on games of chance and speculating on financial schemes.


Law arrived in France in December 1713 and was naturalised as a Frenchman in May 1716. He had an acquaintance with the nephew of King Louis XIV (1638-1715), Philippe Duc D’Orléans (1674-1723). The duke became Regent of France after the king’s death in September 1715 and governed the country while Louis’ heir to the throne, his five-year-old great-grandson Louis XV, was still a minor. France was heavily indebted following the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) and the Regent was receptive to Law’s monetary and economic ideas to reduce the public debt and stimulate the stagnant economy.


John Law, Considerations sur le commerce et sur l’argent (The Hague, 1720), table of contents.


Law was permitted to establish the private Banque générale (General Bank) in May 1716, which was a joint stock company that had the authority to issue paper money, or banknotes. The banknotes were supported by the bank’s assets of gold and silver and circulated as a medium of exchange. Law assumed control of the Compagnie du Mississippi (Mississippi Company) founded in 1684 and reorganised it as the Compagnie d’Occident (Company of the West) in August 1717. The company held exclusive trading privileges to develop the vast untapped French territory of Louisiana that included the Mississippi River valley in North America along with the monopoly on the Canadian fur trade and trade with the West Indies. An account of a scientific exploration of the coast of Louisiana in 1720, Père Antoine Laval’s Voyage de la Louisiane (Paris, 1728), is discussed in a May 2012 Book of the Month. The Banque générale was nationalised at Law’s request and renamed the Banque royale (Royal Bank) in December 1718. Its banknotes became government-issue and it loaned money against shares in the Compagnie d’Occident. Law’s company acquired other French companies trading with China and the East Indies and obtained control of the monopolies on the French tobacco and African slave trades. The Compagnie d’Occident was renamed the Compagnie des Indes (Company of the Indies) in June 1719 and held a complete monopoly of France’s long-distance foreign trade and colonial development by July 1719. The Compagnie des Indes took over the collection of indirect and direct taxes as well as the minting of money between August and October 1719. The company also administrated the redemption of the French national dept (i.e. repayment of public loans). Philippe Duc D’Orléans appointed John Law as Controller-General of Finances in January 1720. In February 1720, Law merged the Compagnie des Indes and the Banque royale into one giant conglomerate.


The frenzied dealing that occurred in company shares attracted investors from across France and the rest of Europe who were willing to gamble on the grossly overstated profits that were projected to be made from the New World, which led to a dramatic rise in the prize of shares in the company. Public confidence in the scheme relied upon the government limiting the supply of banknotes in order to avoid inflation. The conversion price guaranteed by Law in early 1720, however, between company shares and banknotes meant that he had to print money in order for shareholders to redeem their shares. This in turn led to a rapid doubling of the supply of money in France and a steady rise in inflation. Law instituted a proclamation on 22 May 1720 that would reduce the guaranteed price for the company shares in several stages during 1720 and devalue by half the face value of banknotes. The proclamation was not well received by the public as it was recognition that the cost of supporting the share price, in terms of inflation, was too expensive. Shareholders rushed to redeem their shares and banknotes causing a run on the bank, which forced Law to recall the proclamation. Confidence in the scheme, however, had been shattered and the price of shares collapsed. John Law spent the following six months attempting to rescue the company, but he was forced to flee France in December 1720. He died after contracting pneumonia in 1729 and is buried inside the Church of San Moise in Venice.


This speculative frenzy that culminated in the stock market crash in 1720 became known as the Mississippi Bubble. It coincided with the collapse in the share price of the South Sea Company, a British joint-stock company, at the end of 1720, in an event that is referred to as the South Sea Bubble. The economic effect of both the Mississippi Bubble and South Sea Bubble in bibliographic terms was that many book collectors were forced to sell their libraries, which resulted in large collections of European importance coming onto the market. Edward Worth assiduously augmented his library during the last ten years of his life in the period 1723-33, which is demonstrated in the fifty-seven book sale and auction catalogues that are extant in the Edward Worth Library. The book sale and auction catalogues clearly show that Worth bought books not only from Dublin bookshops, but also employed factors to buy books for him at book auctions in London, Amsterdam and The Hague.[9]


Johann Martin von Ebermayer, Effigies Regum Franciae a Pharamundo usque ad Ludovicum XIV in Gemmis (Nuremberg, 1722), frontispiece portrait.


Edward Worth thus benefited bibliographically from the Mississipi and South Sea Bubbles which allowed him to extend his collections of rare and contemporary publications. Like many similar connoisseur book collectors, he was interested in all things antiquarian. Among his many books on coins and gemstones one volume contains a number of items by the German collector Johann Martin von Ebermayer (1664-1743). Ebermayer was a rich banker and art dealer from Nuremberg who was famous for his collections of gemstones, which not only covered the usual depictions of mythological scenes but also displayed his interests in depictions of ancient, medieval and contemporary rulers. Worth collected five works by him: his Gemmarum affabre sculptarum thesaurus (Nuremberg, 1720); his portraits of the Doges of Venice, Icones ducum Venetorum (Nurember, 1722); his portraits of French kings, Effigies regum Franciae a Pharamundo usque ad Ludovicum XV, (Nuremberg, 1722); his portraits of emperors from Julius Caesar to Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI (1685-1740), Imperatorum a Iulio Caesare ad Carolum VI P. F. Avg (Nuremberg, 1722) and his Capita deorum et illustrium hominum which had been printed at Frankfurt and Leipzig 1721. All of these works are bound together, forming a collection on gemstones in itself.


Johann Martin von Ebermayer, Gemmarum affabre sculptarum thesaurus (Nuremberg, 1720), Tabula IX, p. 25. 2o.


Ebermayer’s Gemmarum affabre sculptarum thesaurus (Nurember, 1720) includes a large variety of classical scenes. On the left of this image we see Jupiter surrounded by famous gods and goddesses (Venus, Mars and Hercules on his right and Neptune, Mercury and Pallas Athena on his right). The subject matter on the gemstone on the right is less obvious but perhaps has more advice to offer on the climate crisis we face in 2020! It refers to the story of a Hamadryad (spirit of a tree) and a mortal called Rhoecus, who, seeing that the tree was in danger, provided it with support- with beneficial results for both tree and man!


The story had been popularised by the sixteenth-century writer Natalis Comes, who, quoting the fifth-century scholiast, Charon Lampsacenos, recounts the following story:

‘Charon Lapsacenos left an account that a certain Rhoecus native to Gnidos in Ninus, a region of the Assyrians, once saw a certain beautiful oak almost ready to fall, which he strengthened with mounds of earth. The Nymph, who would have perished with the tree, expressed her gratitude, and wishing to repay him said, that whatever he might desire, he should request from her, since he had saved her life with that of the tree: to this he replied that he sought future meetings with her, to which she agreed …’[10]


Johann Martin von Ebermayer, Gemmarum affabre sculptarum thesaurus (Nuremberg, 1720), frontispiece illustration of a cabinet of gemstones.


Ebermayer not only provides us with a host of illustrations of various mythological scenes, he also proudly depicted the cabinets in which he kept his treasures. As the title page of his Gemmarum affabre sculptarum thesaurus reminds us, he did not work alone, but was ably assisted by like-minded scholars such as Johan Jakob Baier (1677-1735), who was a professor in the Academy of Aldorf who later became president of the Leopoldina Academic Academy. In addition, we know that Christoph Dorsch (1676-1732), a German seal and glass cutter, provided the drawings for his Capita deorum (1721) and Erhard Reusch (1678-1740), a well-known philosopher and lawyer, provided the commentary.


Johann Martin von Ebermayer, Imperatorum a Iulio Caesare ad Carolum VI P. F. Avg (Nuremberg, 1722), plate of the later Holy Roman Emperors.


Ebrmayer’s books on historical figures sought to bring the genealogical story to the present day. In this image from his Imperatorum a Iulio Caesare ad Carolum VI P. F. Avg (Nuremberg, 1722) we see the imperial line of succession from the medieval Holy Roman Emperor  Sigismund (1368-1437), down to Emperor Charles VI (1685-1740). Sigismund (in the top right corner), was the last ruler of the imperial line of the House of Luxembourg. He was succeeded by his son-in-law, Albert the Magnanimous (1397-1439), King of Hungary and Bohemia who, though elected King of the Romans in 1438, did not live to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor. Albert’s death in the following year paved the way for his cousin, Frederick III (1415-93), to be elected King of the Romans (in 1440), and subsequently crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1452 and thus he was the first member of the House of Habsburg to be Holy Roman Emperor.


The Habsburgs maintained their grip on the imperial crown for centuries. Ebermayer depicts Frederick III’s successors: Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519); Maximilian I’s grandson Charles V (1500-58); Charles’s brother Ferdinand I (1503-64); Ferdinand I’s son Maximilian II (1527-76); Maximilian II’s son Rudolf II (1552-1612); and Rudolf II’s brother Matthias (1557-1619). When Matthias and his wife Anna of Austria-Tyrol (1585-1618) died childless, the imperial crown moved to another Habsburg, Ferdinand II (1578-1637), who was a grandson of Ferdinand I. He, in turn, was succeeded by his son, Ferdinand III (1608-57) and the line continued, father to son, from Leopold I (1640-1705) to Joseph I (1678-1711), culminating (for Ebermayer at least), in the contemporary reign of Charles VI, who continued as Holy Roman Emperor until his death in 1740. He was the father of the Empress Maria Theresa (1717-80), who would come to the imperial throne in 1745.


Johann Martin von Ebermayer, Capita deorum et illustrium hominum (Frankfurt and Leipzig, 1721), p. 170.


Ebermayer is perhaps most famous for his inclusion of a hitherto unknown portrait of the philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BC) in his Capita deorum et illustrium hominum (Frankfurt and Leipzig, 1721). In the illustration above his image of Epicurus is no 359. As Bernard Frischer notes, this was a new portrait which was unknown to the humanist and philogist Erycius Puteanus (1574-1646) whose ‘Puteanus Epicurus’ was the standard depiction of the philosopher.[11] To Epicurus’ left we see Theophratus (no. 356), Demosthenes (no. 357) and Theocritus (no. 358). The works of Theophrastus (c.371-287 BC), a student of Aristotle who took over the Lyceum when Aristotle fled Athens, would have been well known to Worth who was a keen student of botany. Worth would also have been familiar with the works of the ancient Greek orator Demosthenes (384-322 BC), whose orations he had in an Aldine edition while the poetry of the Sicilian poet Theocritus (c. 300-c.260 BC) had been included in Worth’s 1566 Estienne edition of Poetae Graeci principes heroici carminis, & alii nonnulli (Geneva, 1566).


John Stow, A Survey of Cities of London and Westminster (London, 1720), i, title page.


Worth not only bought antiquarian works by contemporaries such as Ebermayer. He  also assiduously collected works by famous sixteenth- and seventeenth-century antiquarians. One of the most famous was John Stow (1524/5-1605), an English historian who was responsible for two titles owned by Worth (Annales, Or a general chronicle of England (London, 1631) and two editions of Stow’s famous Survey of London (London, 1603 and 1720)). The 1720 edition of the Survey was edited by John Strype (1643-1737), an ecclesiastical historian whose works Worth also favoured.


Stow had first published the Survey in 1598 and an enlarged second edition in 1603. A colleague. ‘A.M.’, who Strype identifies as Anthony Munday (1553-1633), brought out a third edition in 1618 and a fourth appeared in 1633. Strype’s decision to produce a fifth edition in 1720 is a testament to the enduring popularity of Stow’s monumental topographical work. In his preface, Strype gives us a fascinating insight into Stow’s life and methods. Stow was alive during the dissolution of the monasteries and like another famous antiquarian, John Leland (c. 1503-52), he made it his life’s work to collect and preserve the historical documents which were now under threat. Stow was clearly influenced by contemporary antiquarians such as Leland and his decision to copy Leland’s archive and make it available to other historians such as William Camden (1551-1623), was immensely important in preserving records which might otherwise have been lost in the destruction that followed the destruction of the monasteries.[12] Worth collected texts by all of these antiquarians.


John Stow, A Survey of Cities of London and Westminster (London, 1720), i, p. xiv. Stow monument.


This image is a picture of the monument to Stow erected by his wife Elizabeth in the church of St Andrew Undershaft, London. It depicts Stow sitting in a chair and holding a book – a reference to his many historical researches. Stow had been born in London in c. 1525, the son of a tallow-chandler named Thomas Stow. Strype tells us that it was about the year 1560 when Stow ‘addressed all his Cares and Cogitations to these Searches for the Composing of a Chronicle’ and that in this he received encouragement from the noted collector Matthew Parker (1504-75), archbishop of Canterbury.[13] Although Stow conformed to the new religious regime, it is clear that, as Strype notes, Stow ‘was looked upon as no great Friend of the Reformation of Religion’ and ‘being an Admirer of  Antiquity in Religion as well as in History, he came into some Trouble in the Year 1568’ (he was accused of being a secret Roman Catholic sympathizer on more than one occasion).[14] Exactly how Stow managed to evade prosecution is unknown but he dedicated himself with renewed vigour to his studies. Following publications such as his Chronicles of England (1580) and his Annales of England (1592) he moved on to his topographical Survey of London which he had undertaken having seen William Lambard’s Perambulation of Kent, a copy of which is also in the Worth Library. Stow’s Survey would cement his reputation as ‘one of  the best and exactest of our English Historians’.[15]


John Stow, A Survey of Cities of London and Westminster (London, 1720), i, plate opposite p. 64. The Tower of London.


In essence the Survey is a historical travelogue, where the reader is guided through the streets of London by Stow, who remarks on the historical significance of the buildings passed by. Perhaps the most famous of all was the Tower of London. This view, taken from the Thames, shows the square White Tower, the oldest part of the complex, in the middle. Here Stow provides the reader with one of his most extensive descriptions for he not only provides a physical description of the building but also attempts to comment on the many historical events which occurred there during its long history. He comments on the Tower’s ‘Situation and Magnitude. The Liberties of it. St Peter’s Church in the Tower, Its Governors and Principal Officers. Constable. His Privileges. Lieutenant of the Tower. Custos’s of the Tower. Gentleman Porter; Gentleman Jaylor: The Lieutenancy of  the Tower’.[16] But he doesn’t stop there! He also examines the history of the foundation, the different buildings over time before moving on to explore ‘The various Accidents, Occurrences, and Passages of Remark, that have happened in or concerning the Tower. Antient Coins, Wat. Tyler’s Rebellion. Commitments hither. Executions’.[17] Stow leaves no stone unturned – he provides detail concerning the Mint, the records of the Tower and the Royal Zoo in the Tower.


John Stow, A Survey of Cities of London and Westminster (London, 1720), i, plate opposite p. 179: image of St Thomas’s Hospital, London.


Strype sought to bring Stow’s Survey up to date and, in the process, embarked on a massive work of antiquarian scholarship. His approach included what we might call an early form of crowd sourcing! Though he assiduously visited as many sites as possible, taking down information from gravestones and reading whatever records were preserved, he also, via Bishop Henry Compton (1632-1713), Bishop of London, sent out an appeal to the clergy of the city of London and its suburbs, asking for information about monuments in their churches.[18]


Though primarily an ecclesiastical historian, Strype was well aware that the Survey was above all a celebration of the social and civic history of London and, with this in mind, he delved into the civic archives while carefully adding information about new monuments which had been built after Stow’s death. Strype’s aim was to provide an ‘Abundance of Additions … with many more Antiquities and Observations of Places, Men and Things, belonging to it in former Times …  ‘that there should be a Continuation of the History of  the City, in Stow’s Method down to the present Times’.[19] As a result, Strype added a host of additional plates and up-to-date information on many new developments.


One such was the rebuilding of St Thomas’s Hospital in London which had taken place between c. 1693 and 1709. Worth had good reason to be particularly interested in this illustration from Stow’s Survey for as a Trustee of Dr Steevens’ Hospital he had been commissioned in 1717 to find out more about St Thomas’s. Like the projected Dr Steevens’ Hospital, St Thomas’s was a hospital for the curable poor. This, coupled with its recent rebuilding program, which had been privately funded, attracted the attention of the newly founded Trust of Dr Steevens’ Hospital who were, at that time, exploring methods by which they might bring Richard Steevens’ plan for a hospital for the poor to fruition. The colonnade and ward structure of St Thomas’s would  later be replicated in Dr Steevens’ Hospital.


Quélus, Histoire naturelle du cacao, et du sucre …, 2nd ed. (Amsterdam, 1720), title page.


This exhibition began by looking at the plague epidemic of 1720, which has an all too familiar resonance for the year 2020. The last item in this exhibition provides us with a more uplifting (and definitely sweeter) note for it looks at one of Worth’s books about chocolate and sugar! As  Martha Makra Graziano notes, chocolate had been introduced into Europe in the sixteenth century and by the early eighteenth century was regarded a popular medicinal drink. Worth had a revised and corrected second edition of Quélus’ Histoire naturelle du cacao, et du sucre; diviseé en deux traitez, qui contiennent plusieurs faits nouveaux, & beaucoup d’observations également curieuses & utiles (Amsterdam, 1720) that was first published a year earlier in 1719 in Paris. It was the most recent of three books on chocolate collected by Edward Worth with the other two being Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma’s Chocolata inda: Opusculum de qualitate & natura chocolatae … (Nuremberg, 1644) and Philippe Sylvestre Dufour’s Traitez nouveaux & curieux du café, du thé et du chocolate: ouvrage également necessaire aux medecins, & à tous ceux qui aiment leur santé (Lyon, 1688). Quelus’ book is divided into two parts with the first part dedicated to chocolate and the second part to sugar. The first part gives a description of the cacao tree and explains how it is cultivated and how its fruit is prepared. It then gives an account of the properties of chocolate and its uses in medicine. The first part was translated into English by Richard Brookes under the title The natural history of chocolate: being a distinct and particular account of the cocoa-tree, its growth and culture, and the preparation, excellent properties, and medicinal vertues of its fruit. …  (London, 1724).


The numbered illustration below depicts: 1. A cocoa pod represented at about a third of its natural size; 2. The same pod cut across in half; 3. A cacao bean in its natural size; 4. The same cacao bean blanched from its outer skin; 5. An one month old cocoa pod; and 6. Cocoa flowers in bud and open.


Quélus, Histoire naturelle du cacao, et du sucre …, 2nd ed. (Amsterdam, 1720), plate 1.


The author, Quélus, whose surname is also spelt as de Chélus, describes his book in the preface as:

‘nothing but the Substance and Result of the Observations that I made in the American Islands, during the fifteen years which I was obliged to stay there, upon the account of his Majesty’s Service. The great Trade they drive there in Chocolate, excited my Curiosity to examine more strictly than ordinary into its Origin, Culture, Properties, and Uses. I was not a little surprized when I every day discover’d, as to the Nature of the Plant, and the Customs of the Country, a great Number of Facts contrary to the Ideas, and Prejudices, for which the Writers on this Subject have given room.[20]


With regards to the properties or qualities of chocolate; Quélus writes that it is a substance ‘that is very temperate, very nourishing and of easy digestion. It speedily repairs the dissipated spirits and decayed strength’, according to Quélus, and lastly, that it is ‘very suitable to preserve the health, and prolong the lives of old men’.[21] Quelus advocates that chocolate can be used as a flavourant and vehicle for medicines in order to make distasteful and difficult to swallow medications more palatable. He cites jalap, cortex, and steel filings, as well as millipedes, vipers, and earthworms as examples of remedies that can be ground into powders and mixed with chocolate.[22]


The illustration below is taken from the second part of the book devoted to sugar and shows a sugar cane in the centre with a sugar cane leaf on the left and a cinnamon stick on the right.


Quélus, Histoire naturelle du cacao, et du sucre …, 2nd ed. (Amsterdam, 1720), plate 2.



Texts by Dr Elizabethanne Boran (Librarian of the Edward Worth Library) and Mr Antoine MacGaoíthin (Library Assistant of the Edward Worth Library).



[1] A Succinct Account of the Plague at Marseille (London, 1721), Sig. A2r.

[2] Ibid., p. 20.

[3] Richard Mead, A short discourse concerning pestilential contagion, and the methods to be used to prevent it…. The eighth edition (London, 1722),  p. 2.

[4] Zuckerman, Arnold, ‘Plague and Contagionism in Eighteenth-Century England: The Role of Richard Mead’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 78 (2004), 274.

[5] On the provisions of the January 1721 act see Mullett, Charles F., ‘The English Plague Scare of 1720-23’, Osiris 2 (1936),  488.

[6] Ibid., p. xxii.

[7] Ibid., p. xvi.

[8] Ibid., p. xx.

[9] Boran, Elizabethanne, Aldines at the Edward Worth Library, Dr Steevens’ Hospital, Dublin : a Descriptive Catalogue (Dublin, 2015), p. xv.

[10] Teagarden, Lucetta J., ‘The myth of the Hamdryad and its continuity’, Studies in English, 25 (1945-1946), 118.

[11] Bernard Frischer, ‘On Reconstructing the Portrait of Epicurus and Identifying the Socrates of Lysippus’, California Studies in Classical Antiquity, 12 (1979), 138.

[12] John Stow, A Survey of Cities of London and Westminster (London, 1720), i, p. xi.

[13] Ibid., i, p. iv.

[14] Ibid., i., p. iv.

[15] Ibid., i, p. xii.

[16] Ibid., I, p. 64.

[17] Ibid., i. 81.

[18] Ibid., i, p. ii.

[19] Ibid., i, p. i.

[20] Brookes, Richard, The natural history of chocolate … (London, 1724), p. iv.

[21] Ibid., p. 45.

[22] Makra Graziano, Martha, ‘Food of the Gods as Mortals’ Medicine: The Uses of Chocolate and Cacao Products’, Pharmacy in History, 40, No. 4 (1998), 136.

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