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ROUPPE, Louis.

[NAVAL MEDICINE.] De morbis navigantium, liberus unus.

Accedit observatio de effectu extracti cicutae storkiano in cancro.

Leiden : Theodor Haak, 1764 Stock Code: 132861
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First edition of this work on the diseases incidental to seamen, a considerably expanded edition of author's thesis published at Leiden in 1762. Louis Rouppe (1729-1780) travelled much in the West-Indies as a naval physician aboard the Princess Carolina vessel for the Dutch West Indische Companie. This work, published in Latin, is often considered the best 18th century treatise on naval medicine, and was swiftly translated into English and German, reflecting its perceived importance. It covers a wide range of seamen's diseases, including, epilepsy, inflammatory fever, rheumatism, cancers, and in the last section, those contracted at port, namely venereal diseases. It also includes a long chapter treating in detail of scurvy and its symptoms, relating Rouppe's courses of treatments generally including the use of various concoctions, mostly involving horseradish, cinnamon water, and "scurvy grass."

Having been a doctor and surgeon for many years in the French Army, and then in the Dutch Navy, Rouppe was particularly suspicious of sailors feigning illness, especially epilepsy, to avoid their responsibilities or be exempt of active service altogether; which provided "a strong motive to promote vigilance among his fellow medical practitioners, having experienced the aggravation of somatic deception himself" (Monaghan). Scottish doctor James Lind (1716-1794) is credited with discovering the superior efficiency of citrus fruits in the treatment of scurvy, in a clinical trial conducted in 1747. He published his Treatise of the Scurvy in 1753, which was essentially ignored, perhaps because he never clearly stated citrus fruit as the best preventative, continuing to believe that scurvy had many causes, and called for many remedies. In the third edition of his Treatise, Lind addresses Rouppe's work on scurvy: "This book, in which the author is pleased to make very honourable mention of my treatise, contains many excellent observations, furnished from an extensive medical practice, both at sea and land." Evidently, Rouppe read Lind's work, yet his trials and treatments of sailors did not seem to include lime, lemon, or orange juice. One could speculate as to the reasons for this omission: Rouppe could have preferred furthering the research by following other unproved leads, a possibility plausibly supported by his natural distrust of sailors as patients, or he could have overlooked the citrus data since it was not sign posted by Lind. It was only in 1795, the year after Dr Lind's death, that the Admiralty finally made the issue of lemon juice compulsory on ships. A lemon tree now adorns the official crest of the Institute of Naval Medicine. This copy belonged to German physician Christian Andreas Cothenius (1708-1789) who studied in Halle. A member of King Frederick II 's court, he worked as "supreme military doctor" and reorganized the military hospitals during the Seven Year's War (1756-1763). King Frederick II then asked him to rearrange the structure of the royal medical dispensary; he also supervised the local hospitals in Berlin, and even offered treatment for the poor at his own surgery. Today, the Leopoldina Academy of Science in Halle awards the Cothenius Medal "for a lifetime of superb scientific achievement" (Leopoldina website).

An honourable copy with a lovely hippocratic bookplate showing very good provenance, in a practical and honest binding showing some service use.

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Octavo (196 x 126 mm). Contemporary sheep-backed boards, titles and floral motifs in gilt on spine, finely sprinkled drab boards.


Woodcut device and head- and tailpieces, errata leaf at end.


[Christian Andreas] Cothenius bookplate to front pastedown, near-contemporary ink ownership inscription to title. Overall somewhat worn, boards slightly bumped and softened at the edges, spine ends a little chipped, rubbed, small area of glue residue to the rear board from the attachment of a label, some bowing to boards, water stains to top edge, sporadic light marginal water staining; a very good copy.


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