Article ID: CBB622870487

‘That Universall and Publik Manuscript’: The Book of Nature and The Garden of Cyrus (2018)


Through exploration of the ways in which he assists Merrett in writing a phytology – the Pinax – a better understanding of how Browne produced and communicated knowledge of the natural world, including in The Garden of Cyrus, can be reached. The practices under scrutiny are those offered to Merrett in that first letter: to “observe”, to “take notice”, to “present”, and to “name”. This article’s enquiry is confined mainly to Merrett’s Pinax and Browne’s Garden, though both are situated using Browne’s illustrative correspondence and the contemporary scientific texts to which they refer. The first section (Observation) discusses Browne’s written tuition of Henry Power, a young family friend studying at Cambridge (Works 4: 254). Browne’s readings of ancient scientific authorities are compared with Power’s readings of Browne, recovering the use of The Garden of Cyrus as a phytology like Merrett’s Pinax. The second and third sections (Notation and Presentation) explore the individual investigator within the broader natural historical community, focussing on the difficulties early modern scientific writers had when attempting to make their discoveries vivid across distance. The conclusions drawn here apply both to Merrett’s Pinax and to Browne’s literary works. The fourth (Naming) argues that Browne and Merrett’s discussion of how to name specimens is also key to understanding how they name their texts. Through reference to these naming conventions among the broader connections between The Garden of Cyrus and the discipline of phytology, this final section presents an explanation of why Browne names his text for an ancient king mentioned just four times within it – an issue that has long puzzled readers.

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Authors & Contributors
Preston, Claire
Robinson, Benedict
Lee, Daniel D.
Gantet, Claire
Nacinovich, Annalisa
Abou-Nemeh, Catherine
Substantia: An International Journal of the History of Chemistry
Medical History
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
History of Science
History of European Ideas
East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine
University of Chicago Press
Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura
State University of New York at Stony Brook
Fordham University
Yale University Press
University of Virginia Press
Science and literature
Communication of scientific ideas
Natural history
Communication, Written
Natural philosophy
Browne, Thomas
Bacon, Francis, 1st Baron Verulam
Milton, John
Hooke, Robert
Marsili, Luigi Ferdinando
Lamarck, Jean Baptiste Antoine Pierre de Monet de
Time Periods
17th century
18th century
19th century
Early modern
21st century
20th century
Great Britain
Tuscany (Italy)
Paris (France)
Royal Society of London
Accademia del Cimento, Florence
Académie des Sciences, Paris

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