Harkness 2007

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Harkness, Deborah E. The Jewel House: Elizabethn London and the Scientific Revolution. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.
"This book is about these minor vernacular figures and their small successes, trial-and-error progress, and mundane aspirations. It is about the powerful partnership that existed in London between collaboration and competition, which often led to a heated but amiable discussion of ideas about nature in English rather than a publication of them in Latin. It provides an account of a relatively brief period in London's history and of the men and women who studied the natural world and tried to find better ways to harness its power and control its processes. They pursued this course by examining their own experiences as well as by repeatedly testing and verifying the experiences of their friends and rivals, thus taking steps toward experimentation. In Elizabethan London we can see how students of nature eagerly embraced the new print culture that was available to them but preserved the vibrant manuscript culture of the medieval period in their notebooks and recipe collections. By sketching out this vital world and exploring the ways in which the City of London functioned as a center for inquiry into and debates about nature, I am contributing to an ongoing historical project to situate the work of a small handful of acknowledged scientific geniuses within the densely social communities of practice that surrounded them." (6)
"It was not until the end of the seventeenth century, when the memories of the Elizabethan interest in nature had faded and the Royal Society had been established, that people began to look back on Bacon as a prophet of a newly empirical science." (7)

London's urban sensibility:

  • citizens expected their work would be "publicly known even if it were not published" (through trade associations) (8)
  • "fostered a belief that residents had specific types of expertise that could and should be exploited to benefit particular individuals and the City as a whole" (9)
  • "confirmed that work done in collaboration with others was both necessary and desirable in a thriving city" (9)
"Their significance lies not in the elucidation of new formulas or the consetruction of new cosmological systems, but in the ways that they organized their communities and settled disputes; the value they placed on the acquisition of various literacies (including mathematical, technical, and instrumental literacies); and the practices they developed that led to an increasingly sophisticated hands-on exploration of the natural world." (10)

Living on Lime Street: "English" Natural History and the European Republic of Letters

story of Gerard and L'Obel -- now Gerard is seen as "Elizabethan England's premier naturalist", but "in his own time, however, his reputation was mixed, and the publication of The herball marked not the apotheosis of England's first great botanist but the development of a schism in London's natural history community" (18)

Lime Street community shows:

  • "international character of Elizabethan science" (28)
  • "economically self-sufficient" members (28)
"It was through the circulation and collection of these naturalia -- a packet of seeds, a drawing of a rhinoceros horn, a spider, a snippet of information about Virginia -- that the Lime Street community expressed its vitality at home and made its reputation abroad. Though it is easy to dismiss these objects as intellectual bric-a-brac, the fragmentary evidence of an unsystematic interest in he natural world, each item was part of an intricate web of exchange that stretched from Russia to the New World, from Denmark to Africa. Every time a dried plant specimen changed hands it became infused with new cultural and intellectual currency as its provenance became richer, its associations greater." (31)
"Within this circuit of exchanges natural objects led double lives; they were both subjects of study and inquiry, and artifacts cherished for their rarity and beauty. As subjects of study, natural objects provoked commentary and argument as their features and merits were debated and discussed within the community. As material objects, they were hoarded in cabinets, were swapped for other desired items on a naturalist's wish list of specimens, and provided cultural ornamentation that spoke to kings and queens interested in the rare and unusual, as well as to scholars and intellectuals." (31)

Lime Street naturalists "preferred receiving actual specimens of plants and animals, or even careful drawings, rather than verbal descriptions." (37)

Moffett instructed his readers how to modify and color the line drawings in his Theater of insects (38)

fossils (40-41)

friendship albums (alba amicorum) -- "froze these carefully cultivated cordial relationships on the page" (45); "fine line between modesty and self-promotion" (45)

Gerard's Herball -- reprinted throughout 17c "and used by everyone from apothecaries who made medicines to fine ladies who embroidered twirling tendrils of peas and fanciful on their bed hangings and petticoats" (49)

Gerard's ambivalence to foreigners and foreignness (52)

The Contest over Medical Authority: Valentine Russwurin and the Barber-Surgeons

foreigners, women and others who couldn't belong to trade guilds or companies "resorted to selling their goods and services directly to the crowd" (57)

struggle over medical authority -- "who could -- and who should -- be permitted to supply the chronically sick urban population with much-needed medical services" (59)

Russwurin (Paracelsian) vs. Barber-Surgeons -- Paracelsian therapies wildly popular among citizens, but not accepted in Barber-Surgeons guild (61)

"Clowes and his friends needed to distance themselves in the medical marketplace from popular Paracelsians like Russwurin -- many of whom were simply slapping a popular brand name on vaguely chemical concoctions -- while at the same time embracing a 'proper' form of Paracelsianism in their own practices and crafting a community identity that included dispensing the new medicines." (61)
"this seemingly confused palimpsest of guild regulations, City laws, networks of friends and enemies, and consumer pressures of London's medical market did work when it came to arbitrating, investigating, and resolving medical disputes" (62)

print culture as "a crucial weapon not only in the contest over medical authority but also in the pursuit of a coherent public identity" (62)

"London's medical market functioned because of the constant pressure placed on it by an enormous potential clientele of chronically sick people who were well-versed in their legal rights and not squeamish about taking their providers to law for malpractice." (64)
  • corporate regulatory institutions, like the college, the Barber-Surgeons' Company, the church and the city
  • practitioners
  • patients

College of Physicians, founding during reign of Henry VIII with discretionary powers over medical practitioners within a 7-mile radius of the city

Barber-Surgeons' Co., consolidated in 1520, charged with examining and certifying all surgeons in London and within a 1-mile radius of the city

reliance on herbwives, etc.; no strong division between elite physicians and other medical practitioners

Henry VIII: "Quack's Charter," granting any citizen the right to perform certain medical practices (70)

street vendors and unlicensed practitioners, displaying wares on the streets; banners studded with bladder stones they'd extracted (71)

medicine as a family business (74)

"Russwurin's presence was the catalyst that polarized London's medical marketplace into camps marked with Paracelsian, anti-Paracelsian, and 'proper Paracelsian' signs." (76)

Barber-Surgeons used the printed book as their "weapon of choice" -- more effective long-term than manuscript transmission of medical formulas and cures" (86)

  • "the printed page defined this surgical community, transforming a group of like-minded Barber-Surgeons into a visible intellectual group dedicated to ensuring the public health, promoting the worth of surgery and increasing the prestige of English surgeons" (86)

Educating Icarus and Displaying Daedalus: Mathematics and Instrumentation in Elizabethan London

"During the reign of Elizabeth, London was the center of vernacular mathematical education in England, as well as the center of mathematics publishing and instrument making." (98)

Londoners "eagerly embraced mathematics during the reign of Elizabeth" (100)

  • mathematics as a kind of divination/magic, or as the language of God

Dee and Billingsley argued "England must dispel the aura of mystery that so often surrounded mathematics and must educate a broader range of people in the theories that provided a foundation for such diverse applications as instrument making and astrology" (101)

growing demand for instrument manuals and navigational treaties = increase in mathematical titles; spike in the market in 1596 (104)

"Two factors contributed to the relative lack of interest in instruments before 1570. First, the development and use of instruments depended more on a mastery of geometry than arithmetic, and until the Billingsley-Dee Euclid, Londoners had no vernacular geometry book available. Second, instruments were scarce and expensive, which placed them beyond the reach of most citizens. Few instrument makes worked in the City before the 1570s, when waves of religious refugees brought highly skilled instrument makers into London from France and the Netherlands." (107)

importance of Dee-Billingsley Euclid for popularizing the study of math (109)

emphasis on "seeing, touching, and manipulating instruments" -- "through demonstration, mathematics could be separated from the merely speculative, or the dangerously magical" (113)

clarifying benefits math could bring the merchants, masons and other citizens (116)

  • "This was the promise of mathematics: not that carpenters needed mathematical knowledge to eke out a living, but that they could use that knowledge to compete more successfully in a tight labor market. Mathematical knowledge, these authors argued, was a crucial weapon in the arsenal of a skilled craftsman." (117)

Gresham College's founding (119) -- public lectures

"If Elizabethan Londoners were becoming more mathematically literate throughout the period, most were doing so by reading books or seeking the guidance of wone of the City's private teachers rather than by sitting through public lectures." (120)

math books written in dialogue form, so "the act of reading seem[ed] more like an act of learning, where a master instructed his pupils by asking questions and correcting their mistakes" (122)

instruments like compendia, small pocket calendars inscribed in brass

"Between the shops full of ingenious devices and the intricate craftsmanship that each item required, walking in the Blackfriars or along Fleet Street in St. Dunstan's would have been a feast for the eyes."

instrument-makers also took on large-scale projects, like upkeep of the city's clocks

Thomas Geminus: Flemish engraver, made instruments for Elizabeth and anatomical fugitive sheets (see Carlino 1999)

"In the late Elizabethan City, mathematical instruments may have been the original 'black boxes'" -- used without their function being fully understood
"The value of a physical manipulation of mathematical instruments and objects in mathematical education had already crept into the Billingsley-Dee edition of Euclid, which included a number of pop-up features for the reader to construct in order to help transform the book's lessons into three-dimensional paper instruments. Many Elizabethan mathematical books had instruments that could be assembled from paper cutouts on their pages. Thomas Hood took these pedagogical examples to heart and in 1597 constructed a vellum instrument from four diagrams that illustrated the theoretical and practical aspects of astrology. ... Much like a mdoern PowerPoint or overhead projector transparency, Hood's instrument was a pedagogical display intended to facilitate efficient and effective education by encouraging his students to actually manipulate an instrument." (132-3)

mathematics books bleeding into instrument manuals with instructions on manipulating an instrument to solve problems (133)

paper astrolabe printed, with instructions for cutting and assembling (139)

"Big Science" in Elizabethan London

"Elizabeth I and Cecil, like leaders of industrial nations after World War I, were passionately interested in transforming the fortunes of England financially, militarily, and geopolitically by investing in science and technology." (143)
"Participants in the projects were committed not to an open-ended pursuit of natural knowledge but to garnering economic profits from their exploitation and mastery of nature." (144)

Elizabethan "Big Science" ended over concerns about "unrealized schemes and the extortive monopolies typically connected to the projects" (145)

Elizabeth -- not interested in granting titles of "philosopher" but of seeing results on large-scale infrastructure projects (147)

  • "great chain of patronage" (148)

heyday of projects/patronage from 1560-1580 (151)

city not only as site of projects of as model of how large-scale projects could be governed (155)

Clement Drapers Prison Notebooks: Reading, Writing, and Doing Science

"When Draper sat down, assembled a stack of paper into a notebook, ruled the pages, sharpened his quill, and dipped it into a pot of homemade ink, he was doing an important type of work for early modern science -- he was writing and recording natural knowledge. Reading and writing about nature as an active practice in the early modern period, comparable to constructing a distillation apparatus or molding a pot. One of the stories we tell ourselves about the development of science in early modern Europe is that it depended upon the growth of experimental culture. Clement Draper's notebooks provide us with an opportunity to see how traditional humanist practices of reading and note taking should also be considered among the practical activities oriented toward the acquisition of natural knowledge." (182)

Draper's notebooks as a pelican, an alchemical distillation apparatus allowing for circulation/recirculation of matter

"Likening Draper's notebooks to a piece of distillation apparatus is not an empty metaphor, therefore, but a useful way of describing how his process-based approach to the natural world reflected his interest in chemistry and his belief that matter could be endlessly combined, separated, and recombined." (196)
"If we try to understand the notebooks kept by Draper and his contemporaries as technologies, rather than texts, their value and significance become clearer. Note taking was a personalized technology of collecting, tracking, and sorting. Such a practice was never intended to produce a finite, complete, and orderly single text. Instead, note taking produced open-ended, ongoing, and imbricated documents that stood in relationship to additional volumes both in print and in manuscript. Notebooking and commonplacing, therefore, were not just a means to cope with information overload -- they provided opportunities for exploiting it." (197)
"Draper's work of textual circulation and gradual distillation reminds us that in late-sixteenth-century England the natural sciences were not yet exclusively, or even primarily, experimental." (197)
"London's interest in nature thus included acts of making and acts of doing as well as acts of thinking. Acts of making could include artistic work like sketching botanical illustrations or making a wax model of the human body as well as concocting medicines or crafting a mechanical object. Defining acts of doing is trickier, for while some activities clearly qualify -- performing a chemical experiment, for example, or dissecting a corpse, or using a mathematical instrument to measure the distance between two heavenly bodies -- other activities need to be added to this list. These include the work of collecting (whether books or natural objects), sifting and sorting, reading, thinking, and writing. While we might consider reading, thinking, and writing as forms not of active doing but of passive reflection, Elizabethan readers were actively engaged with their texts, and the act of writing required physical activity such as making ink, sharpening pens, assembling paper, and finally sitting down and tracing the letters on the page." (198)
"Thus Draper provides an excellent case study of how a variety of activities including reading, writing, and experimenting supported and reinforced one another. When he sat down to begin the process of circulating and digesting ideas about nature by recording an entry on the pages of one of his many notebooks, theory and practice mixed, mingled, and intertwined while the seemingly firm line dividing a hands-on experiment, a written record of an experiment, and a reading of that record blurred." (199)

Draper included diagrams and illustrations in his notebooks (203)

distinction between reading, writing, talking and doing experiments blurred in Draper's notebooks (206)

"The case of Draper's prison notebooks shows that no accurate understanding of early modern science can be achieved by artifically separating reading and writing from additional forms of making and doing." (209)

From the Jewel House to Salomon's House: Hugh Plat, Francis Bacon, and the Social Foundations of the Scientific Revolution

Hugh Plat -- "spent much of his time walking the streets of the City in search of nuggets of practical wisdom about nature, which he copied into small notebooks that he could slip into his pocket before compiling the best and most reliable into published books" (211)

between late Elizabethan period and the REstoration, "London's devoted interest in the study of nature was gradually but steadily obscured. Bacon's clear and univocal message in the Gesta Grayorum, and later The New Atlantis, played a crucial role in reducing this rich, varied chorus of Elizabethan London voices to a barely discernible murmur. And his call for social and political elites to join forces and construct useful scientific institutions spawned the enduring, erroneous impression that he was a scientific visionary articulating a wholly new approach to nature. AS I have shown in the previous chapters, Bacon was not calling for something new. He was actually calling for something different -- a science that was located not in the unruly and raucous streets of the City but in the orderly precincts of a college setting, like the Inns of Court." (214)

"Plat's approach to his many collaborators and the natural knowledge that they shared with him was rigorous, and prefigures in significant ways what we might call the scientific method. His conviction that a true understanding of nature must be based on verifiable, replicable experiments and shared with the larger public is crucial if we are to understand the role that London played in the development of modern science." (214)
"As Baconian science gradually supplanted London science, and was adopted as a model by the gentlemen of the late-seventeenth-cetury Royal Society, it obscured the dense, overlapping social relations that helped to shape science in the City, spotlighting instead the artificial orderliness of Salomon's House." (214-6)
"For Plat gender differences did not play a decisive role in determining who should be included on the City's roster of experts with natural knowledge. Though women would later be barred from the Royal Society (as they were already from the early modern universities), in Elizabethan London they continued to serve as resources in their own neighborhoods and in the wider community of students of nature." (220)
"Londoners may not have liked being hauled in front of guild or City officers to answer charges against them, but such interruptions were by no means unexpected, and the honor of the larger collectives of guild and City depended upon each person's ability to answer the charges appropriately and to modify his or her methods if necessary. This urban culture of criticism and accountability, when applied to matters of natural knowledge,, is strikingly different from late-seventeenth-century gentlemanly codes of scientific displute, where to question a gentleman's word was to 'give him the lie' and slight the core of his identity." (224)
"Plat's philosophy of experiencing nature firsthand through experimental practices was a means to understanding nature, and to teaching others how to perceive and judge the truth about the natural world for themselves." (225)
"Plat saw his recording and collecting practices as part of the broad spectrum of activities that constituted the work of science in Elizabethan London. To this list of practices Plat added publishing, which brought him a more visible role in Elizabethan London as a public man of science." (232)
"Plat's rigorous testing process transformed experiments from faithful records of individual experience to authoritative reports of replicable experiments." (240)
"Print culture proved as perilous to the fortunes of Plat's informants as it had been to the residents of Lime Street. Where the failure of Cole and his friends to publish their findings consigned them to the margins of the Scientific Revolution, published authors like Plat both wittingly and unwittingly erected the walls that would obscure the efforts of people whose work they depended on for technical skills, hands-on practical advice, and experimental information. While Elizabethan Londoners might have been able to imagine a future story of science constructed on the basis of joint authorship and collaboration, the books published by single authors like Plat have told historians another tale and persuaded us that science was the work of individuals. Writing published books demanded a dramatically new and different social and cultural identity associated with the emergence of the author as an individual, creative genius. Manuscript culture, with its collaborative, composite character, had long resisted such a distinction" (241)

Bacon: waffled between claiming too little interest in the natural world during his time, and too much by the wrong people (245)

"Essentially, Bacon wanted a reform of natural knowledge that was based on experimentation, instrumentation, government support, and an attention to utility -- all of which he claimed were missing from contemporary science. Yet the bases of Bacon's 'reformed' science were already the bases of London science." (246)
"The industrious replication and recopying of textual and practical variants that Draper and Plat used to process and digest their findings in their notebooks was a source of irritation to Bacon, who considered such practices a form of 'tedious curiosity' that led to incessant questions but never to reliable answers." (248)
"Most members of the Royal Society wanted to be arbiters of knowledge much more than they wanted to produce it themselves, and the insatiably curious son of a London Brewer like Hugh Plat could never serve as a role model for their ideal of scientific behavior. But Bacon, who had attempted to exert his own gentlemanly authority over London's thriving world of science by sketching out the contours of an elite intellectual bureaucracy ideally suited to supervise their activity, was a perfect figurehead for their administrative aspirations." (252)
"The scholarly emphasis on print culture rather than manuscript culture, the focus on singular great men rather than collaborative communities, and even our preference for a neat story of scientific development rather than a messy tale of contested knowledge and open-ended debates between humble practitioners on the streets of a busy city -- all shape our historical memory of English science before the Scientific Revolution." (252)