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A treatise on the venereal disease
Sold at No. 13, Castle Street, Leicester Square, London 1786 - [12], 398, [12]pp. 7 plates, each with tissue guard and explanation leaf. 261 x 210 mm. 18th or early 19th century half calf gilt, marbled boards, light wear. First two leaves soiled and with corners repaired, minor foxing, but very good. First edition.The progress of knowledge and treatment of venereal diseases received a setback with the publication of Hunter's treatise, which supported the old theory, current since the sixteenth century, that syphilis and gonorrhea were manifestations of the same venereal pathogen. Hunter's erroneous conclusion was based upon an experiment designed to test this theory, in which an unknown subject was inoculated with infectious matter taken from a gonorrheal patient, who, unbeknownst to Hunter, had also contracted syphilis. When the subject developed syphlitic symptoms, Hunter interpreted this result as validation of the theory, as eighteenth-century medical doctrine did not recognize the possibility of mixed infection.Qvist, in his biography of Hunter, has effectively debunked the myth that Hunter performed the above-mentioned experiment on himself, a myth first publicized in d'Arcy Power's Hunterian Oration of 1925. As evidence for the untruth of this myth, Qvist cites the report of the autopsy performed on Hunter, which did not list any pathological changes that might have been caused by syphilis, but rather indicates beyond the shadow of a doubt that Hunter died from coronary artery disease of atheromatous origin. Qvist also mentions the fact that Hunter never described himself as the subject of this experiment or as a sufferer from venereal disease (this in contrast to the vividly personal accounts he left of his other ailments), and points out that Hunter subscribed to the common eighteenth-century medical practice of performing experiments on other human subjects.The Treatise on the venereal disease was the first book issued from Hunter's private press, which he established in 1786 at his house on Castle Street in an attempt to prevent the unauthorized publication of cheap and foreign editions of his works. 1,000 copies of the first edition were printed. Crissey & Parrish, pp. 81-83. Garrison-Morton 2377. Pusey, pp. 50-52. Qvist, pp. 42-53. Robb-Smith, "John Hunter's private press," J. hist. med & allied sciences 25 (1970), pp. 262-269. Norman 1117. [Attributes: First Edition; Hard Cover]
      [Bookseller: Jeremy Norman's historyofscience]
Last Found On: 2015-09-27           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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