Hot flowering blood

June 10, 2008

When Thomas Willis wrote his book about fevers (1659), in which he used the idea of the ‘epidemic constitution’ to explain why certain fevers were prevalent in certain years, he compared the blood to the juice of vegetables:

The seed-plot or seminary of this, need not be derived from the Air, being infected with any infection, but rather its leading Cause is to be sought, from the undue Constitution of the year, and from thence an indisposition of our blood being acquired. Because, in the Spring and Autumn, intermitting Feavers have sprung up and increased; to wit, for that our Blood, like to the Juice of Vegetables, is wont to be more lively moved than usual, and to flower at those times. Wherefore if the mass of Blood, by reason of the foregoing season, of the Summer or Winter, should be altered from its due temperature, and should contract either a sharp or atrabilous disposition, or of any other kind, its evil dispositions begun before, are chiefly ripened about the Equinoxes…


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