Monday, February 16, 2009
Vermiculars destroyed, 1690
The full title is: Vermiculars destroyed with an historical account of worms, collected from the best authors as well ancient as modern, proved by that admirable invention of the microscope: with directions for the taking those most famous medicines, intituled Pulvis Benedictus, etc.: also diagnostick signs of worms and signs of health in children, with the various causes of vermiculars.
There are three editions of Vermiculars destroyed, which is initially made up of accounts about various worms people saw coming out of various body parts. But it's also an excellent example of how the microscope made everybody paranoid about invisible worms (or "vermiculars") that could be crawling around on everything you touch giving you the plague. It's actually pretty interesting, because the author (a doctor) goes through a number of experiments in which he looks at rotting substances at different stages and sees these "vermiculars." Then he goes on to write about people who have had vermiculars inside of them and how they were cured of the disease or vermicular infestation (much of the science is still based in humoral theory, though). Then he gets really paranoid about getting vermiculars on or in him, and presents us with the "Causes of Worms," which seem to consist of everything:
Yes, it seems that all food and drink and also air and imagination and oversleeping and emotion and God will give you worms. I especially like how he admits to some opposition about the "supernatural causes," but a Bible quote proves that God totally gives you worms.