RANCHIN, Franciscus.


RANCHIN, Franciscus. Opuscula Medica.

Lyon, P. Ravaud, 1627.


FIRST AND ONLY EDITION. Tall 4to. pp. [22], 731, [33], with added ã2 (new dedication, second issue). Roman letter, double column. Title in red and black, woodcut printer’s device, decorated initials and ornaments. Light age yellowing, small light water stain to upper blank margin of few initial and to lower outer blank corner of two final gatherings, very minor foxing to couple of central gatherings, small ink stain along upper edge of last few ll., tiny worm trail at blank foot of last four ll. A good copy in quarter C18 mottled sheep over marbled boards, raised bands, spine gilt, gilt-lettered morocco label, boards scuffed, corners rubbed, mid-C18 printed label of R.-J.-F. Leclerc and C20 bookplate to front pastedown, ex-libris 1797 of Dr G(?) de Luxeuil and C19 ink stamp ‘Dr Revillout’ to ffep.

A very good copy of the first and only edition of this most interesting manual for physicians, comprising 9 works on pathology, with special interest in women’s, children and geriatric diseases. François Ranchin (1564-1641) was professor and Chancellor at Montpellier, and mayor of the city during the plague of 1629-30. To the University of Montpellier – a renowned medical institution since the medieval period – he devotes one of the works in this collection, discussing its origin, evolution, administration and fame. ‘Opuscula medica’ gathers his most important essays, the first being an examination of the meaning and legitimacy of the Hippocratic Oath all physicians had to take at the start of their careers. It includes a discussion of medical ethics, i.e., the physician’s office, whether its lawful for a physician to administer lethal remedies (e.g., poisons), induce miscarriage, prevent conception or induce sterility, as well as the physician’s prudence and chastity. ‘Gerocomia’ is a most interesting work on geriatric illnesses (e.g., melancholy, deafness, apoplexy, tremor), encouraging its serious practice and encompassing the treatment of elderly patients: ‘Not only physicians, but everybody else attending to old people, being accustomed to their constant complaints, and knowing their ill-tempered and difficult manners, realize how noble and important, how serious and difficult, how useful and indispensable is that part of practical Medicine […] which deals with the conservation of old people and the healing of their diseases’. ‘Pathologia Universalis’ discusses the nature, origin, causes, symptoms and types of illnesses from a theoretical point of view, focusing on general physiological processes. ‘De Morbis puerorum’ is devoted to children’s diseases, with a discussion of their aetiology, diagnosis and treatment, e.g., teething and its complications, convulsions, fevers, tonsillitis, smallpox, epilepsy, nose bleeding, skin rashes, and worms. ‘De morbis Virginum’ discusses the illnesses of virgin women, including conditions of the womb, menstruation and inflammations, with remedies both pharmaceutical and surgical. ‘De subitaneis morbis’ focuses on illnesses which strike suddenly, e.g., apoplexy, epilepsy and convulsions, while ‘De curatione morborum’ discusses illnesses that require purgation. The last work focuses on the nature of the medical profession, especially consultation, i.e., the practice of requesting expert advice from other physicians. A most interesting work.

R.-J.-F. Leclerc (fl.mid-C18-1800), Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur, professor at Strasbourg and Jena. Surgeon-Major at Vienna, appears to have owned a rich medical library, as numerous books survive with his label. Dr Revillout was the author, among others, of books on mineral waters in Luxeuil, and the above-mentioned Leclerc.

USTC 6903802; Krivatsy 9376. Not in Wellcome cat. (but now at Wellcome), Heirs of Hippocrates or Osler. J.T. Freeman, ‘François Ranchin Contributor of an Early Chapter in Geriatrics’, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 5 (1950), pp.422-31.
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