DU CHESNE, Joseph.


DU CHESNE, Joseph. Tetrade du plus grieves maladies de tout le cerveau.

Paris, Claude Morel, 1625.


FIRST EDITION thus. 8vo. pp. [12], 497, [17]. Roman letter, little Italic. Title vignette, decorated initials and ornaments. Slight age browning, occasional light water stain, some fore-edges dusty and a bit soiled in first gathering. A good copy in contemporary vellum over boards, c.1900 label of Dr Tinel, Rouen, to front pastedown, H.F. Norman MD label to fly, c1700 ms ‘Ex Libris (?) Senatoris Rothom[agensis]’ to title, ms bibliographical note in the same hand to last verso (blank).

A good copy of the first French edition of this major work on neurological illness, with special focus on epilepsy, vertigo, apoplexy and paralysis. Joseph Du Chesne (or Quercetanus, 1544-1609) trained at Montpellier and Basle, and was a keen follower of Paracelsus. In 1598, he was personal physician to Henri IV. Originally published in Latin in 1606, ‘Tetrade’ focuses on neurological conditions of the head, inspired by the case of a young lady struck by epilepsy, which, according to Du Chesne, was due to issues in her lower body. From this, he proceeds to an explanation of the nature, causes, symptoms and treatments of epilepsy and its various kinds (e.g., due to blood impurity or strong emotions like fear), and conditions that are similar to and may be mistaken for epilepsy; as well as the nature, causes, symptoms and treatment of vertigo, apoplexy and paralysis. Du Chesne considers them ‘spiritual illnesses’ – caused by the corruption of the humours due to external causes such as impure air, and the evaporation of vapours that are inside the nerves, leaving mercurial residue and toxic substances leading to illness. A section is devoted to the ‘anatomy of the blood’, which explains its flow and chemical composition. A large part is devoted to remedies and treatments, explained in Paracelsian/chemical terms, for these four conditions. These were made from e.g., alkermes, hyacinth, mint flowers, curative waters, marine salt, human skull (ground!), etc., some of Du Chesne’s own making, e.g., ‘eau d’hirondelles’ or an opiate purgative. One section focuses especially on remedies from Arabic medicine, mentioning a dozen authorities such as Avicenna, Agazo, Rhazi, Sabor and Xirasi. A very interesting work.

USTC 6020743; Krivatsy 3475; Heirs of Hippocrates 378.5 (Latin ed.). Not in Wellcome or Osler.
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