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- Edward Worth Library
The essential and distinguishing Character of a confirm’d Consumption is, A Wasting of the Body, by Reason of an ulcerated State of the Lungs, attended with a Cough, a Discharge of purulent Matter, and a Hecktick Fever. These are the necessary and inseparable Symptoms that belong to this Distemper, at the first Formation of an Ulcer there, though many others arise in this Progress; which in their Order shall be enumerated and accounted for.’
This quotation, from Edward Worth’s copy of Sir Richard Blackmore’s A Treatise of Consumptions and other Distempers belonging to the Breast and Lungs (London, 1724), focuses on tuberculosis of the lungs as the principal if not the only type of tuberculosis in early modern England. Worth’s small collection of works specifically on tuberculosis, five books in all, contain not only three works which concentrate on the main form of tuberculosis familiar to us today, but also two works which highlight the prevailing early modern fascination with the King’s Evil, scrofula, a form of tuberculosis of the lymph nodes. While Blackmore’s Treatise, Christopher Bennet’s Tabidorum theatrum (Leiden, 1714) and Richard Morton’s Phthisiologia seu Exercitationes de phthisi tribus libris comprehensae (London, 1689) focus on the various causes, symptoms and treatment of all forms of tuberculosis, with particular attention to that of the lungs, John Browne’s Adenochoiradelogia (London, 1684) and André Du Laurens, De mirabili strumas sanandi vi solis Galliae regibus Christianissimis diuinitus concessa liber unus (Paris, 1609) provide vital insights not only into the condition of scrofula but also the political implications of its cure.