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The LIBRARY section of She-philosopher.​com was restructured in August 2012, as part of the 2012 launch of the new She-philosopher.​com. Learn more here.

The Church of England clergyman William Holder — described by Anthony Wood as “a great virtuoso” — was a Fellow of the Royal Society, and a member of Robert Hooke’s informal “clubb for Natural Philosophy and mechanicks.”
  Aubrey described Holder’s Elements of Speech as “a most ingeniose and curious Discourse, and untouched by any other; he [Holder] was beholding to no Author; did only consult with Nature.”
  Of note, his wife similarly pursued an active clinical practice, rather than relying on theory learned from books. Learn more about her and William in the IN BRIEF biography of Susan Holder.

There is more on Holder’s nemesis, John Wallis — Savilian professor of geometry at Oxford and one of the leading mathematicians of the 17th century — in the Editor’s Introduction for Lib. Cat. No. OLD1669 and in the Editor’s Introduction for Lib. Cat. No. GODD1678.

The phrasing “the heat and abstracted passion of intellectual inquiry” is from Ann Hornaday’s July 2010 movie review of Agora for The Washington Post. Read an HTML transcript of her review in the IN BRIEF biography of Hypatia.

Margaret Cavendish is one of She-philosopher.​com’s featured “Players.” Learn more here.

Learn more about models of engagement and confrontation — in which “social groups with differing interests encounter each other in a struggle that produces change, that drives the story forward” — in the IN BRIEF topic on critical pluralism.
  Among other great quotes you’ll find there:
  “Difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic. Only then does the necessity for interdependence become unthreatening....” —Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider (1984)

Cavendish’s comment in one of the prefatory epistles to The Worlds Olio that “humble and plain Opinions, raised by the Opinions of others, I here present,” anticipates the 20th-century concept of dialogism, associated with the Russian literary critic, Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin.

The Restoration-era booksellers Henry and Joanna Brome were professionally associated with a small cluster of women in the scientific book trade (printers, booksellers, and authors), discussed in more detail in She-philosopher.​com’s greatly enlarged and revised GALLERY EXHIBIT on “Women in the Print Trade.”

For more on Comenius, including additional spreads from Hoole’s English translation of Orbis Sensualium Pictus, see the GALLERY EXHIBIT on the Athenian Society emblem.


Chapter 93 (Typographia) from Orbis Sensualium Pictus is reproduced at the head of Part II of Lib. Cat. No. WEST1608, She-philosopher.​com’s digital edn. of 2 poems celebrating the printer’s trade (first published c.1608), by the eminent Latin poet, Elizabeth Jane Weston (1581?-1612).


Chapter 109 (Ethica) from Orbis Sensualium Pictus is reproduced in the 2nd-window aside for She-philosopher.​com’s In Brief Topic essay, “The Pythagoreans”.


Chapter 128 (Ars Medica) from Orbis Sensualium Pictus is reproduced in the second-window aside for She-philosopher.​com’s webessay entitled “The New She-philosopher.​com: a Note on Site Design” (scroll down to the link for “In comparison, reading lots of close-set black letter these days feels effortless!”).

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• for 20th-century and 21st-century works, She-philosopher.​com’s selected list of Secondary Sources


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**  voices from the history of science & technology:
a repository for digital transcriptions of writings by men and women  **

First Published:  March 2004
Revised (substantive):  10 July 2017

Opening quotation markA Written Language, as it is more Operous, so it is more digested, and is permanent, and it reacheth the absent, and posterity, and by it we speak after we are dead.Closing quotation mark

 WILLIAM HOLDER (1615/16–1698)

On the value of written language (compared with spoken language) in his Elements of Speech (London, 1669), page 9.
   This discourse, presented to the Royal Society in March 1669, described how, in 1660, Holder taught a deaf mute, Alexander Popham, to speak “plainly and distinctly, and with a good and graceful tone.”
   His Elements of Speech also included more of Holder’s research on the workings of the ear (first presented to the Royal Society in 1668), plus gave a detailed analysis of the physical parts of speech as the basis for a universal language — an ongoing project for Holder, which had already born fruit in John Wilkins’ An Essay towards a Real Character, and a Philosophical Language (1668).
   Holder’s method and claims in Elements of Speech were soon after disputed by the mathematician and cryptographer, John Wallis (1616–1703), and a bitter confrontation ensued.

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THE LIBRARY SECTION OF includes digital reproductions of little-known primary texts by early-modern figures linked to the arts & sciences, in addition to modern scholarly monographs & experimental miscellany.

Its eclectic collection of e-books continues a much-needed dialogue between past & present, in hopes of replaying “the drama in which social groups with differing interests encounter each other in a struggle that produces change, that drives the story forward” (Clover, 1989: Bob Dylan Didn’t Have This to Sing About, 131).’s Library builds on the old model of the respublica literaria (Republic of Letters), wherein diverse voices discussed a range of interesting issues relating to modern science and technology, with all “the heat and abstracted passion of intellectual inquiry” (Hornaday, E2).

As in the case of the 1670s pamphlet wars between William Holder — whose “reputation was probably hampered in his day by his lack of intellectual competitiveness” (ODNB entry by Robert Poole) — and the more disputatious John Wallis (whose first publication, in 1643, was entitled Truth Tried, or, Animadversions on the Lord Brooke’s Treatise on the Nature of Truth), this model of sociable scholarship was never some ideally civil conversation. Men (and an occasional woman) of genius often clashed, in public as in private, and they certainly disagreed about all manner of topics while practicing the 17th-century arts of engagement & confrontation.

Engaging unfamiliar ideas and people is seldom easy, but it can be stimulating. To this end,’s Library will expose us to old ideas and debates which are still relevant today, and give us access to plural perspectives beyond those represented in the cultural and political monologues that tend to dominate 21st-century discourse.

In the 17th century, Variety is the spice of life was a commonplace. The natural philosopher, Margaret Cavendish, peppered her works with variations on the theme — e.g., “Nature delights in variety” (Philosophical Letters, 34, 53, 152); “Nature loves variety, and this is the cause of all strange and unusual natural effects” (Philosophical Letters, 391) — even drawing from it the grounds of her natural philosophy. Cavendish believed that “infinite,” “Miraculous,” and “glorious or beautiful ... variety” (Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, 1666, e2r; Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, 1668, 127; Grounds of Natural Philosophy, 236) is the very essence of “Nature” — and the inevitable outcome of the autopoietic process through which a living organism constructs itself.

Nature has infinite ways of Motions, whereof none is prime or principal, but Self-motion; which is the producer of all the Varieties Nature has within her self.

(Cavendish, Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, 1668, 50)

And since Nature is but one Body, it is intirely wise and knowing, ordering her self-moving parts with all facility and ease, without any disturbance, living in pleasure and delight, with infinite Varieties and Curiosities, such as no single Part or Creature of hers can ever attain to.

(Cavendish, Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, 1668, 4)

... Nature, being divisible and compoundable, and having Free will, as well as Self-motion; and being Irregular, as well as Regular; as also, Variable, taking delight in variety; it was impossible for all Mankind to be of one Religion, or Opinion.

(Cavendish, Grounds of Natural Philosophy, 245)

As always, Cavendish observed both natural and human worlds through a gendered lens, noting several times in her published work that women are, by nature, more drawn to change and variety than are men; e.g.,

... variety is the life and delight of Natures works, and Women being the only Daughters of Nature, and not the sons of Jove, as men are feigned to be, are more pleased with variety, than men are.

(Cavendish, The Unnatural Tragedie, 1662 Playes, 331)

... Women cannot be Judged of, their Natures being past finding out, for a Woman cannot Guess at her self, should she Study all her Life time; the truth is, our Sex is so Various and Inconstant, that the Length of Time cannot Prove us, no not Death it self, for a Woman may Die in a Humour, which had she Lived, she would have been in another.

(Cavendish, CCXI Sociable Letters, 392–3)

... the nature of Women being much delighted with Change and Variety, after I [the Empress of an island Utopia — an “Imperial City, named Paradise” in the Blazing World] had received an absolute Power from the Emperor, did somewhat alter the Form of Government from what I found it; but now perceiving that the World is not so quiet as it was at first, I am much troubled at it; especially there are such continual Contentions and Divisions ....

(Cavendish, The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing-World, 1668, 120)

In general, she felt that humanity thrived on variety:

Education and custome ... often puzzle Life, and incumber Nature’s Works, putting Nature out of the right ways with False Principles, Foolish Customes, and ill Education; this is the reason natural Wits are many times lost, not having time or leasure to exercise them, or use them ... or for want of variety of Subjects or Objects to better them; or dull’d by tedious and unprofitable Studies, or quenched out by base Servitude or Subjection ....

(Cavendish, The Worlds Olio, 1655, 213)

and she recognized that creativity and art were an outgrowth of engaging with difference:

This is to let you know, that I know, my Book is neither wise, witty, nor methodical, but various and extravagant, such as my Thoughts entertained themselves withall; rather making it my Recreation, not having much Imployment, than my Trouble, for I have not tyed myself to any one Opinion, for sometimes one Opinion crosses another; and in so doing, I do as most several Writers do; onely they contradict one and another, and I contradict, or rather please my self, with the varieties of Opinions whatsoever, since it is said there is nothing truly known, but Measuring and Reckoning, the which I will leave to Arithmeticians and Geometricians, who have a Rule and Number, which my Brain can neither level at, nor comprehend: but humble and plain Opinions, raised by the Opinions of others, I here present ....

(Cavendish, The Worlds Olio, 1655, T3r)

So she would have agreed with modern scholars about the basic need and “desire of humans to live and work together with differences.” (Trimbur, 615)

Cavendish never did figure out how to manage the “continual Contentions and Divisions” attendant on so much diversity in the human and natural worlds. (The Empress of Paradise in the Blazing World resorted to autocratic fiat to ensure that “both Church and State was now in a well-ordered and settled condition,” and to relieve herself and others from the task of evaluating competing claims in difficult, specialist disciplines.) But she did recognize the value in learning from our differences, and in studying “how people differ, where their differences come from, and whether they can live and work together with these differences.” (Trimbur, 610)

It is in this spirit that the Library offers website visitors a gift “which is curious with variety” and a great source “of pleasant and ingenious meditation” (Mayerne, The Theatre of Insects, Ffff4v).

These words were first written by the eminent physician, Sir Theodore Mayerne (1573–1655), in the epistle dedicatory for Thomas Moffett’s posthumously-published Insectorum sive Minimorum Animalium Theatrum (1634), wherein Mayerne recommended that “the Off spring of the most learned Mouffet, which is now at last published and brought to light” be assigned pride of place in all “excellently furnished” libraries. Mayerne, who ushered Moffett’s MSS. through publication in 1634, complained that the text had languished in obscurity for so many years because

of the Printers who were so greedy of Money, that though in many Countreys I invited them by my Letters, and did solicit them to receive the Orphan [MSS.], yet they refused (as they said) to take upon them an unthankful business; they were not pleased with the benefit of a noble Art, unless it would pay more than the fraight. O the times wherein the pains of learned men are valued at the price the work will be sold for, and the money that must be laid out for ink and paper, or by the depraved opinion of the vulgar (who commonly applaud what is worst) and not by the essence of the thing it self, or dignity of the subject, or the solid explanation of the same!

(Mayerne, “To the Noble Knight, and the Kings chief Physician, Dr. William Paddy,” in The Theatre of Insects: or Lesser Living Creatures, trans. by Rowland, Ffff2r)

And yet Moffett (1553–1604) was “a notable ornament to the company of Physicians, a man of the more polite and solid learning, and well experienced in most Sciences” who dedicated his history of insects (as completed in 1590) to Queen Elizabeth I, “wise above her Sex, valiant, born to reign well, and ruled so many years by the Votes of her Subjects, and by her own undertakings and actions, that were so successeful that they were envied at” (Mayerne, Epistle Dedicatory, Theatre of Insects, Ffff2r). Moffett

thought it no indignity to Dedicate to the greatest Princess the miracles of Nature, which are most conspicuous in the smallest things; which testifie the infinite power of the supreme Creator of all things, and raise the mindes of Princes who are the children of the most Highest, to the cause of all causes, that they may in all places acknowledge the presence of the Deity, and his bountiful hand in his singular direction in respect of them, and his influence that acts by election, and may adore him with an humble, as with a grateful minde; so weighing by reason the degrees of proportion, that he is most obliged who hath received most.

(Mayerne, “To the Noble Knight, and the Kings chief Physician, Dr. William Paddy,” in The Theatre of Insects: or Lesser Living Creatures, trans. by Rowland, Ffff2r)

I have not been anywhere near so high-minded as this in my selection of publications for the Library, nor indeed in my own practice of “one continual act of Philosophy” (Mayerne, Epistle Dedicatory, Ffff4v), which is far more pedestrian than anything aimed at by the great Renaissance humanists.

In the end, it is the conversations we choose to have with the past that are most enlightening, regardless of how magnificent the invitational rhetoric.

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A Note on fair use of digital editions in the Library: LIBRARY reproductions are not to be used for any purpose other than individual and/or group study, scholarship, and research, in accord with the Fair Use provisions of U.S. copyright law. Suggested citation formats are given on the Conditions of Use page.

Digital Editions in’s 21st-Century Library

Authors with titles in the Library are listed below (in alphabetical order):

  Behn, Aphra (1640–1689)
  Browne, Thomas, Sir (1605–1682)
  Burton, Robert (1577–1640)
  Cavendish, Margaret (duchess of Newcastle; bap. 1593, d. 1676)
  Cavendish, William (1st duke of Newcastle; bap. 1593, d. 1676)
  Chambers, Ephraim (1680?–1740)
  Cowley, Abraham (1618–1667)
  Du Verger, Susanne (aka S. Du Verger, Suzanne Du Verger, Du Verger of Douai; fl. 1639–1657)
  Evans, Michael
  Flecknoe, Richard (b. c.1605, d. in or after 1677)
  Harris, John (c.1666–1719)
  Harris, Kim
  Hobbes, Thomas (1588–1679)
  Hooke, Robert (1635–1703)
  Hutchinson, Lucy (1620–1681)
  Johnson, Thomas (1595x1600–1644)
  Juana Inés de la Cruz, Sor (aka Juana Ramírez de Asbaje, Juana Inés de Asbaje y Ramirez de Santillana; 1651–1695)
  Maguel, Francis (aka “the Irishman Francisco Manuel”; fl. 1610)
  Oldenburg, Henry (c.1619–1677)
  “One of That Sex” (anonymous woman; fl. 1678)
  Paré, Ambroise (aka Parey; 1510?–1590)
  Platt, Hugh, Sir (aka Sir Hugh Plat; bap. 1552, d. 1608)
  Rees, Abraham (1743–1825)
  Ross, Alexander (1591–1654)
  Scott, George Lewis (1708–1780)
  Tallmon, James
  Taylor-Pearce, Deborah (aka Deborah Bazeley)
  Weston, Elizabeth Jane (aka Elisabetha Joanna Westonia, Elizabetha Johanna Westonia; bap. 1581?, d. 1612)

Not all original digital editions are kept in the Library. For example, Robert Hooke’s lectures on the nautilus, and one of John Aubrey’s letters to Anthony Wood dated 1689 (with MS. amendments and enclosure by Hooke), are published elsewhere as second-window asides for the introductory essay on Robert Hooke in the Players section.

The Library Catalog (organized by alphanumeric Library Catalog number) follows.

Library Catalog

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The 17th-Century Library

During the 17th century, the public library was still a commercial endeavor — a value-added service provided by the more prosperous booksellers, such as Henry (d. 1681) and Joanna (d. 1684) Brome. Their thriving shop “at the Gun at the West-end of St. Pauls” was an important cultural institution during the Restoration era, and stocked a variety of scientific/technical books and prints (including maps and geographical playing cards). Many of “the most important figures in the political, social, religious and intellectual life of Restoration England” were customers, including Robert Hooke, who took full advantage of bookseller hospitality and other value-added services (e.g., borrowing and returning books) whenever he could.

Presumably, the Bromes’ shop, with its trademark sign of the Gun, looked something like the generic bookseller’s shop shown in the first illustrated children’s primer, Orbis sensualium pictus. Hoc est, omnium fundamentalium in mundo rerum & in vitâ actionum pictura & nomenclatura, by the great pansophist and Czech educational reformer, Jan Amos Comenius (1592–1670).

Comenius’ Orbis Pictus (which developed from his earlier Janua Linguarum Reserta [The Gates of Languages Unlocked], published at Leszno in 1631) aimed at giving readers a multilingual (Latin and vernacular) “picture and nomenclature of all the chief things that are in the world; and of mens employments therein.” This encyclopedic survey of the phenomenal world was completed by Comenius in 151 illustrated chapters.

First published at Nuremberg in 1658, by the bookseller Michael Endter, Comenius’ Orbis Pictus [The World Illustrated], with its “entertaining” delineations (copperplate engravings) and innovative approach (teaching words and things together, hand in hand) had an enormous circulation, and was translated into most European languages, along with some Oriental languages as well. It remained for a long time the most popular textbook in Europe, and was used to instruct girls as well as boys.

In those portions of Germany where the schools had been broken up by the “Thirty years’ war” [1618–1648], mothers taught their children from its pages. Corrected and amended by later editors, it continued for nearly two hundred years, to be a textbook of the German schools.

(History and Progress of Education, by Philobiblius, New York, 1860, 210)

Even about 100 years after its initial publication, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) — whose holistic, participative way of science has been suggested as a model for science in the 21st century (Bortoft, The Wholeness of Nature: Goethe’s Way toward a Science of Conscious Participation in Nature, 1996) — used Orbis Pictus (which took a similarly intuitive approach to the natural world) as a child.

The first English translation of Orbis Sensualium Pictus, by Charles Hoole, was published in 1659. The layout of the English-Latin gloss was updated in the early 18th century, although the copper-plate illustration remained unchanged. The last English edition of Orbis Pictus appeared in 1777, and was reprinted in the United States in 1812. So Comenian pedagogy also made its way across the Atlantic, and was influential in the Americas as well as in Europe. Indeed, the New England Puritan, Cotton Mather, recorded in his Magnalia that Comenius had at one point even been solicited to become President of Harvard College (subsequent to the resignation of President Dunster in 1654):

That brave old man, Johannes Amos Commenius, the fame of whose worth has been Trumpetted as far as more than three languages (whereof everyone is indebted unto his Janua) could carry it, was indeed agreed withal, by one Mr. Winthrop in his travels through the Low Countries, to come over to New England, and illuminate their Colledge and Country, in the quality of a President, which was now become vacant. But the solicitations of the Swedish Ambassador diverting him another way, that incomparable Moravian became not an American.

(qtd. in The Orbis Pictus of John Amos Comenius, ed. by C. W. Bardeen, 1887, ii)

facsimile of mid-17th-century printed page, with illustration  facsimile of mid-17th-century printed page

^  2-page spread on “Der Buchladen” (with its library identified as callout 6, and library catalog identified as callout 3). From the first edition (published at Nuremberg in 1658, by the bookseller Michael Endter) of Orbis Sensualium Pictus, by Jan Amos Comenius.

facsimile of mid-17th-century printed page, with illustration  facsimile of mid-17th-century printed page

^  2-page spread on “The Book-sellars Shop.” From Charles Hoole’s 1659 English translation of Orbis Sensualium Pictus, by Jan Amos Comenius.
     The “impression made by the plates is frequently very uneven” in extant copies of Orbis Pictus, including Hoole’s English trans. of 1659, making it difficult to find “a satisfactory copy” for reproduction.
     “Many as have been the editions, few copies have been preserved. It was a book children were fond of and wore out in turning the leaves over and over to see the pictures. Then as the old copper-plates became indistinct they were replaced by wood-engravings, of coarse execution, and often of changed treatment.” (The Orbis Pictus of John Amos Comenius, ed. by C. W. Bardeen, 1887, iii)

facsimile of early-18th-century printed page, with illustration

^  Single-page layout, introduced in 1727, for “The Booksellers Shop.” Reprod. by C. W. Bardeen in his late-19th-century reprinting of The Orbis Pictus of John Amos Comenius (Syracuse, NY: C. W. Bardeen, 1887).
     The English issue of 1727 was the first translation in which the English words “were so arranged as to stand opposite their Latin equivalents.” (Bardeen, iv)
     Bardeen’s reproduction (which I have digitized here) combines copies of the cuts from the copper-plate of the first edition of 1658 (“from which we have also taken the Latin text”) with English text “unchanged from that of the 1727 edition, except in rare instances where substitutions have been made for single words not now permissible. The typography suggests rather than imitates the quaintness of the original, and the paper was carefully selected to produce so far as practicable the impression of the old hand-presses.” (Bardeen, v)

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a bitter confrontation ensued — Aubrey, who sided with Holder (as did Hooke), described the furor as follows: “... This Gentleman’s son [Alexander Popham] afterwards was a little while (upon Dr Holder’s preferment to Ely) a scholar of Dr. Wallis, (a most ill-natured man, an egregious lyer and backbiter, a flatterer and fawner on my Lord Brouncker and his Miss, that my Lord may keepe up his reputation) under whom he [Popham] forgott what he learnt before, the child not enduring his [Wallis’] morose pedantique humour. Not long since in one of the Philosophical Transactions [in 1670] is entered a long mountebanking panegyrique of the Doctor’s prayse for doeing so strange a thing and never makes any mention of Dr. Holder at all. Dr. H. questioning Oldenburgh (I happened to be then present) Mr. Oldenburgh (though a great friend of Dr. Wallis) acknowledged that the Doctor himselfe penned it every word; which occasioned Dr. Holder to write against him in a pamphlet in 4to.” (Aubrey’s Brief Lives, ed. by Oliver Lawson Dick, 160) ::