Experiments on the Red and Quill Peruvian Bark

Ralph IRVING

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Item#: 536 price:$1,800.00

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TWO EXEMPLARS OF ENLIGHTENMENT MEDICAL SCIENCE CONCERNING FEVER AND MALARIA: THE NATURE AND CAUSES OF FEVER AND IRVING’S EXPERIMENTS ON PERUVIAN BARK

(MEDICINE). An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of Fever with a Review of the Several Opinions Concerning its Proximate Cause, as Advanced by Different Authors… BOUND WITH: IRVING, Ralph. Experiments on the Red and Quill Peruvian Bark. Edinburgh: for C. Elliot, 1785. Octavo, full contemporary calf rebacked. $1800.

First editions of these two Enlightenment medical texts on the cause of fever and the malaria treatment quinine, bound in one volume.

During the Enlightenment, epidemiology aimed at "the better understanding of the causes of disease… Many 18th-century physicians kept their own records of epidemics, of causes and cures… They investigated specific diseases, among which the fevers became prime targets of research" (Anne Hardy). The first of the scientific texts gathered here presents information gleaned largely from the teaching of Dr. William Cullen of the University of Edinburgh. Cullen "was distinguished for his clearness of perception and sound reasoning and judgment… He had qualities which for many years made his name supreme among British teachers of medicine" (DNB).

In 1780, Cullen received a letter introducing to him its bearer, "a lad of Genius," Ralph Irving, whose dissertation is the second text in this volume (University of Glasgow, MS Cullen 123). For his detailed records of his work with Peruvian bark—the major source of quinine until the mid-20th century—Irving earned First Prize in 1784 from the Harveian Society of Edinburgh, "which was formed with the intention of encouraging experimental inquiry among the rising generation, and in promoting convivial mirth among its living members" (Scottish Studies Foundation). Early owner signatures, 19th-century gift inscription.

Some interior dampstaining, marginal tears with loss to first few leaves, large tears with loss to rear free endpaper and pages 99-102 of the Inquiry, affecting text, restoration to front free endpaper, chip to rear board. A very good copy.

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