A book lover, his library and the Scottish Enlightenment
Two hundred and fifty years ago, a relatively remote and economically-challenged country called Scotland became the surprising host to one of the most exciting intellectual developments in the world. Magically, the best and the brightest minds were being promoted and distributed by enterprising and adventurous publishers, in places like Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. Not surprisingly, a select group of printers with rare genius rose to meet an obvious need. Beautiful books were born! Part 2 of a 3-part series. Part 3 airs October 24.
**This episode originally aired February 22, 2018.
Edinburgh bibliophile Dr. William Zachs takes Paul Kennedy through his library of amazing books that were published in Scotland during the heyday of the Scottish Enlightenment. At the time, Adam Smith, David Hume, James Boswell and The Encyclopaedia Britannica were runaway best sellers. But obscure titles from a wide range of intellectual disciplines reveal the astounding diversity of Caledonian cogitation. If the Scots didn't actually invent the modern world, they certainly explored most of its many nooks and crannies, and took the time to write about it.
Dr. William Zachs is an Honorary Fellow in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, at the University of Edinburgh, and a lover and collector of Scottish Enlightenment books.
Some of the books mentioned in the program:
Hortus Medicus Edinburgensis by James Sutherland, (1693)
"It was a catalogue of plants in the Edinburgh Physic Garden, which was situated where Waverley Station is now…. Medical students from the university were brought to the physic garden…. It's a wonderful example of the effort ot categorize and systemmatize knowledge."
"It's considered to be the first Scottish gardening book, and an early example of gardening books anywhere. The illustrations are rather crude woodcuts…. In the second part is a month-by-month calendar. Peppered throughout the book are recipes…. It's an insight into what people ate at the time."
Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia (1774)
"This is a recipe book for doctors. It takes many of those plants that were grown in the physic garden, and combines them to provide cures."
Domestic Medicine by William Buchan (1769)
"First published in the 1760s, it became an instant bestseller. It went through many editions, and was a useful book for many, many years. It's a first aid book for the 18th century. The first part of the book looks at diseases of children, infant mortality was high at this time. He talks about the importance of fresh air. Exercise in chapter five…. Sleep.... Intemperance…. The dangers of drink..."
An Account of the Fair Intellectual Club of Edinburgh
"The story of women in the period of the 18th-century. The story here is one that is not often heard… the role of women in that world. This 32-page pamphlet is called 'An Account of the Fair Intellectual Club of Edinburgh, in a letter to an Honourable Member of the Athenian Society there, by a Young Lady, the Secretary of the Club'. It's an anonymous work… We only have the initials to go by…. BB and MD…. They had to meet in secret… Their brothers were sent off to university….This book gives us a minute-by-minute account of their meetings…. They had to keep their anonymity, and they had to meet in secret, because their fathers, who were ministers or lawyers, would not have approved."
Medical Essays and Observations, (1773) Philosophical Society of Edinburgh
"Climate and its impact on the human body was something that was clearly connected in the minds of these people -- and how right they were!"
'The Encyclopedia Britannica is a wholly Scottish production in its original manifestation, or manifestations…. It was produced in no fewer than 100 separate parts, published at irregular intervals, and finally appeared in its completed form only in 1771."
**This episode was produced by Paul Kennedy.