WHITAKER, Tobias. Peri ydroposias: or, a discourse of waters: their qualities, and effects diæteticall, pathologicall, and pharmacaiticall.

London, [by A. Mathewes] for Iohn Grismond, 1634.


FIRST EDITION. 12mo. pp. [xvi], 159, [i]: A¹⁰ B-G¹² H⁶. Roman letter, side-notes in Italic, some Greek. Text within box rule. “Leaves A2,3, and 4 mis-signed A3,4,5.” ESTC. Title with small typographical ornament within double rule border, typographical headpieces, contemporary autograph “Arthayllon” on title, Fox Pointe bookplate on fly, printed shelf-mark label ‘195’ on verso. Light age yellowing, t-p slightly dusty, tear from upper margin of F6 affecting running headline, pagination and just touching two letters of text. A very good copy, crisp and clean in later calf, covers bordered with triple blind rule, spine, rebacked and laid down, gilt ruled raised bands, red morocco label gilt, corners neatly restored.

Extremely rare first edition of this interesting work on water and its qualities and uses in food, drink and medicine. Whitaker states in his preface ‘At the first view this subject may seem light simple and scarce worth the reading; but whenas you have consulted with your second thoughts, you cannot but confesse, that our whole being in nature, and the continuance of the same doth depend upon the right use of water, as being so necessary in meates and drinkes as also in medicine.’ Whitaker, a doctor, practised with success at Norwich before moving to London, where he published this treatise and another on the properties of wine ‘The Tree of Humane Life, or the Bloud of the Grape, proving the Possibilitie of maintaining Humane Life from Infancy to Extreame Old Age, without any Sicknesse, by the Use of Wine’. This defence of wine, which he regarded as a universal remedy against disease, was republished in 1654. In September 1660 he was appointed physician in ordinary to the royal household with a salary of 50l. a year.

“After a long period of decline during the Middle Ages, interest in the healing properties of mineral waters revived in England in the last quarter of the sixteenth century. The warm springs at Bath and Buxton were already regaining their popularity for bathing by 1570, especially for rheumatism, gout, and skin diseases. The baths were also considered to increase fertility, but the drinking of mineral waters for medicinal purposes was not then common and only slowly gained ground. Traditional medicine was generally opposed …, especially for drinking “which is very adventurously and most dangerously practised against both reason and al authority” … Whitaker’s reference was to the practice of dinking the waters of a newly discovered mineral spring near Norwich ” by pottles at one time and in the morning cold and fasting… contrary to the practice of al that ever were rationall”” Noel G Coley. ‘Cures without Care ‘Chymical Physicians’ and mineral waters in seventeenth century English medicine.’ Whitakers work discusses the properties of mineral waters, spring water, river water and rain water.  A commonly noted trait of rain water in this period was that it was subject to rapid putrefaction. There existed an implicit belief in some relation between the power to engender life and the factors of decay. After praising rain water, Whitaker added typically: ‘But because rain water is an exhalation, although the thinnest part of all other waters extracted by the power of the sun as is evident; and because of its universal collection and conmixture with ayre and clouds, which often times are infected and ill aspected, it is more easily disposed to putrefaction, and not thought fit to be used without correction, (that is to say) taken fresh boyled.’ The belief in rain’s superior virtue persisted in England at least to the end of the seventeenth century.” Yi-Fu Tuan. ‘The Hydrologic Cycle and the Wisdom of God.’

A very good copy of this extremely rare work. ESTC records two copies only in the US, at Folger and University of Chicago.

ESTC S101856. STC 25355.
Stock Number: L3005 Categories: , , , Tags: , , ,