Pseudodoxia epidemica, Second Edition (1650)

by Sir Thomas Browne; annotations by Thomas Turner; transcription and encoding by Mark Gallagher

Download XML transcriptions         Digital Facsimile (Internet Archive IIIF)          Digital Facsimile (Internet Archive Classic)

IIIF Manifest          Choose Transcription Page  

The annotated copy of Sir Thomas Browne's Pseudodoxia epidemica held by the Clark, which was owned and annotated by a C17th English lawyer named Thomas Turner, bears a complex handwritten system of scholarly cross-references. These notes reference hundreds of related passages in Pseudodoxia in addition to twenty other books and authors, including contemporary English writers (Francis Bacon’s Sylva sylvarum, Dr. Thomas Ridgley, Sandys’s Travels, Heylyn’s Cosmography, Holinshed’s Chronicles), continental scholars (Johann Heinrich Alsted, Albertus Magnus, Christoph Scheibler), and even Browne’s most influential book, Religio medici (first pub. in 1646).

Turner's notes often focus on the experiential knowledge catalogued by Browne (e.g., information from sources such as Bacon’s Sylva sylvarum); in one example a note even showcases the reader’s personal experiment carried out at Gray’s Inn during the “dog days” of summer 1660, underscoring a connection between readers reading about experimentation and actually performing experiments themselves: "I my selfe in one of the Dog dayes (viz. 22 Julij 1660 at G[rays].I[nn].) tooke 20 Gr. of Colocynthis, & 15 gr. of Merc. dulcis in a Bolus & came of[f] pretty well, but 15 gr. of Colcynthis I tooke 3 dayes after that wth great Ease."

The function of Turner's notes also seems to oppose a set of printed marginalia added to the second edition of Pseudodoxia. A printed note in the edition warns readers not to take too much stock in these printed notes: “That the Reader would never judge of the Authours Sense solely by the Note in the Margin, but (and that principally,) by reflexion, and consideration of the Text it self.” It seems the dominant approach of Turner in reading Browne’s Pseudodoxia has been “reflexion, and consideration of the Text it self,” a method embodied by the back-and-forth movement between passages in the text and passages in other books. Ff the warned-against printed notes prescribe knowledge, then the added manuscript notes open it up, complicate it, and situate it within a broader landscape of ideas and scholarly references.

Browse the digital facsimile below, via the Internet Archive's IIIF Mirador Viewer