The anatomie of vrines: together with a narrow suruey of their substance, chiefe colours, and manifold contents, ioyning withall the right vse of vrines. Neuer heretofore published

London, Richard Field for Robert Mylbourne, 1625.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. (xviii), 127, (i). A⁶ (-A1 blank) B-S⁴. Roman letter, some Italic. Floriated woodcut initials, woodcut and typographical head and tail pieces, Selbourne library stamp on blank verso of title. Title and last dusty, light waterstain on a few leaves small repair to blank area of final 2 leaves, trimmed close at head and tail touching a few signature letters, running headlines and upper neatlines. A good copy, in handsome calf by Ramage, covers with two gilt rules to a panel design, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, red morocco label gilt, inner dentelles richly gilt, a.e.g.

Extremely rare first edition of this important work on urines that reveals the quackery involved with the medical diagnosis of urine as well as its genuine practical applications. The work is made up in part by an epitomised version of his own translation of a work by the great Dutch physician, Pieter van Foreest, ‘The arraignment of vrines’ published in 1623. In Hart’s time The study of Urines had become the cornerstone of a doctor’s visit, and many doctors claimed to be able to cure patients with a simple examination of their urine. “Not all practitioners, however, were sanguine about uroscopy. Many licensed physicians disparaged it as a sole means of diagnosis, especially if the Doctor had not examined the patient himself, and began to criticize urine-casting as the custom of fraudulent empirics, who also happened to be their competitors. For instance, James Hart, an English Puritan who studied in Paris and Basel, ridiculed the idea that ignorant quacks, pushy women, and clerics, who passed as doctors but who could never be licensed, claimed to diagnose the ill accurately by examining their urine.” Elizabeth Furdell ‘Fatal Thirst: Diabetes in Britain Until Insulin’.

The work is also very revealing of medical practice and, most especially, malpractice. It also reveals a great deal of the social attitudes of the late Elizabethan and Jacobean world. “Most women, being of colder temperament, were supposed to have urines lighter in colour and greater in quantity than those of healthy males. ‘The chiefe and principall reason alledged for this’ notes James Hart rather skeptically in the Anatomie of Urines (1625) ‘is, because men are commonly of an hoter constitution then women, which is the cause that their urines are dyed of an higher colour; and moreover, that the contents in womens urine, in regard to their idle and sedentarie life, do often exceed mens in quantitie.’ Hart is not sure that sexual difference in urine is easily detectable since men’s urine may come to resemble women’s characteristic production ‘by reason of great quaffing, daintie fare, and abundance of easy and idleness.’ He does not, however, dispute women’s propensity to great pees, because to do so would put in doubt all of Galenic humoralism: women’s bodies were simply more liquid than men’s.” Gail Kern Paster. ‘The Body Embarrassed: Drama and the Disciplines of Shame in Early Modern England’.

The work is particularly rare with only five copies in American libraries and no copies recorded at auction by Abpc.

STC 12887a. ESTC S103826. Krivatsy 5277. Wellcome I 3060.


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