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[imprint] an original digital edition: brought to you by Roses.CommunicatingByDesign.com

[ NOTE: There is no additional Editor’s Introduction for this Roses e-publication. ]

E  D  I  T  O  R ’  S    N  O  T  E

   The following “History of a Tumor in the Lower Part of the Belly, Related by Mr. Giles ...” is Hans Sloane’s English reissue (published in No. 225 of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London for February 1697) of a French text by Monsieur Giles, renowned Chirurgien-Juré of Saint-Cosme (in the Alsace region of northeastern France), describing a 64-year-old French woman’s bout with colon cancer in 1689–1691.
   The woman was not Giles’ patient. Giles was brought in after her death to perform the autopsy, which proved conclusively that she had indeed suffered from colon cancer (her physicians had offered a range of diagnoses, including uterine cancer).
   Giles’ relation of the case was first published by the French philosophe and physician Claude Brunet in his Le Progrès de la Médecine, Contenant un Recueil de Aout ce qui s’Observe d’Utile à la Pratique (Paris: L. d’Houry, 1697), from whence Hans Sloane selected it for English translation.
   Although Claude Brunet brought out multiple medical titles documenting the “observations des plus fameux médecins, chirurgiens et anatomistes de l’Europe” (Journal de Médecine, Paris: Horthemels, 1686), he is best known today for his “egoist philosophy,” having long been regarded as “the first to draw solipsist conclusions from Cartesian idealism.” But received wisdom concerning the egoist Brunet is now in question. A recent scholarly reappraisal paints Brunet’s radical dualism — “which assumes two separate worlds, the world of consciousness and the external world” — as not really paving the way to solipsism. (Sébastien Charles, “Skepticism and Solipsism in the Eighteenth Century: Revisiting the Egoist Question,” in Skepticism in the Modern Age: Building on the Work of Richard Popkin ..., ed. by José Raimundo Maia Neto, Gianni Paganini, and John Christian Laursen, 2009, 333 and 335)
   Hans Sloane (1660–1753) served as first secretary of the Royal Society from 1695, and in this capacity, was tasked with editing and publishing the London Society’s Philosophical Transactions. In all, Sloane translated into English and republished three articles from Brunet’s journal, Le Progrès de la Médecine (Paris, 1695–1709), two of which documented the surgical treatment of diseased growths in female patients who had been autopsied by Monsieur Giles.
   Presumably, Sloane — a physician with an “immensely successful” Bloomsbury practice, “his patients including many of the most prestigious figures of the day” (Arthur MacGregor, “Sloane, Sir Hans, baronet [1660–1753], physician and collector,” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn., 2004, n. pag.) — felt that Giles’ post-mortem examination findings had the potential to improve global “best practices” when it came to treating women’s cancers.

as originally published in the
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London
for February 1697 N.S., Vol. 19, No. 225, pp. 402–404

The History of a Tumor in the lower part of the Belly, Related by Mr. Giles, Sworn Surgeon at St. Come; being the Second Art. of the Second Journal of Brunet’s Progress de la Medicine.

by  Monsieur Giles and Claude Brunet

(Englished and edited by Hans Sloane, M.D.)

In the Year 1689, Madam ----- about Sixty four Years old, had a Tumor in the lower Region of the Belly, hard, round, and as big as a Ball, such as the Boys play with. They mov’d this Globe in the same manner as they do the Matrix, when it is big with a Child, of Six or Seven Months old; no Accidents like a Fever, Pain, Vomiting, loss of Blood, Fluoralbus, &c. accompanied this Tumor, but a constant voiding of Urine; many Physicians, both of Paris and the Provinces were consulted at different times; they search’d the Patient, and agreed at length that it was a scirrhus, some plac’d it in the Epiploon, others in the Mesentery, and others fastned it to the Matrix. In view of this, all possible means were imployed to soften and discuss it; they gave her Emetiques, strong Purgatives, Diureticks; they applied Emollients and Resolvents, but all to no purpose. Being wearied with so many Remedies, she went in her Coach to take the Air at Vincennes; after her return she had an Inclination to go to Stool, and filled a Bason with gross Excrements, a little black, and not very stinking, this she did a second time; and the Lady found her self immediately relieved, her swelling disappeared, her Urine stopt; and to conclude, in a few Hours she was perfectly well.

A Year after that, she fell into an Apoplexy, out of which she Recovered by Emetiques and Purgations, nothing as yet did appear in the lower Region of her Belly; but in 1691. the Tumor shewed it self in the same place, of the same consistence, bigness, and roundness, with an involuntary efflux of her Urine; to be short, with the same marks as before: Measures were taken by what had past, for the time to come; they Purged her often and strongly; and it’s remarkable, that all Clysters and Purges did very strongly their Office; they gave her also Vomitives and Deobstruents; she Bathed, and all possible care was taken, to make Nature do again what she had before done with so good Success; but all was in vain, for nothing mov’d, this second Tumor augmented daily, and Two Years after its first appearing the party dyed.

I was called to open the Body; having divided and laid aside the common Covers, and the Muscles of the lower Belly, this great and round Tumor of which I have spoke appeared; it was the Caecum dilated which made this Swelling; its Membranes were outwardly smooth, and of the same Colour with the Intestines, without alteration, and full of Vessels of all sorts. Before I cut it, I followed the Intestines, and remark’d that the Ileon did lye along the Tumor being flat against it, and returned to join the Colon as is usual; so the Excrements had the liberty to pass from the Ileon to the Colon, without entring into the Tumor, which after this I opened; I found about Three Chopins (or Quarts) of greyish Matter, without smell, and of a Consistence rather liquid then thick; after that I search’d for a Communication it might have with the Guts, but discovered neither hole, nor any appearance it might have; the interior membranes were very beautiful, and all the parts of the Swelling, as well as of the neighbouring Organs, appeared very sound.

Though I perceived no Communication this Tumor had with the Ileon, yet some must have been in the beginning of this Tumor, by which it discharged its gross Excrements; but after this Evacuation I believe that this opening was stopt, and that the sides of this great bag, which had come close together, by the going out of this gross Matter, did by degrees stretch and open themselves to receive this Heterogeneous Stuff, which I found there, produc’d either by the Glands of these parts, or some lymphatick Vessels which I saw there, or some Fluid Bodies exprest from the Chyle or other Humors. The Compression which the Tumor made on the Bladder, made the Urine run out as fast as it came in; its Sphincter not being able to resist the violence of this load.

Perhaps the Patient might have been Cured, if they had opened the Tumor when it appeared the second time; but the way by which she was relieved the first time, gave ground to fear they might open the Intestines in this Operation, and they were always in hopes of such an Evacuation, as they had the first time.

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N O T E :  Other titles written and/or edited by Hans Sloane have also been reissued as original Roses​.Communicating​By​Design​.com digital editions, including:


The Original of a Polypus Discover’d, by Mr. Giles ...,” trans. and ed. by H. Sloane (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, No. 226, March 1697)


A Letter from Mr Jonathan Kay, Chyrurgeon in Newport, Shropshire, Concerning a Strange Cancer, of which His Father Dyed,” ed. by H. Sloane (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, No. 277, January–February 1702)


An Observation Concerning a Very Odd Kind of Dropsy, or Swellings in One of the Ovaries of a Woman,” by H. Sloane (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, No. 252, May 1699)


4-part series, “An Account of a China Cabinet, Filled with Several Instruments, Fruits, &c. Used in China,” by H. Sloane (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Nos. 246, 247, 249 and 250, November–December 1698 and February–March 1699)

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facsimile of late-17th-century title-page

^  Facsimile of title-page for No. 225 (dated February 1697 N.S.) of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, the oldest continuous scientific journal.
     Issue No. 225 of the Philosophical Transactions was edited and published by Hans Sloane (1660–1753), who positioned his English translation, “The History of a Tumor in the Lower Part of the Belly, Related by Mr. Giles ...”, of a journal article from Claude Brunet’s French publication, Le Progrès de la Médecine, Contenant un Recueil de Aout ce qui s’Observe d’Utile à la Pratique (Paris: L. d’Houry, 1697), as the lead article, Item I (there were VII articles total in this issue of the journal).
     Sloane’s interest in and extensive knowledge of “littérature médicale en français au XVIIe” dated to the early 1680s. For over a year (1683–4) at the start of his medical career, Sloane lived in France, where he continued his botanical studies at the Parisian Jardin Royal des Plantes and practiced medicine at the Hôpital de la Charité, receiving his degree of doctor of physic in July 1683 from the University of Orange-Nassau. Sloane then “attended the University of Montpellier. He went there with a recommendation from [his tutor, Joseph Pitton de] Tournefort to Pierre Chirac, ‘the chief Professor, to whose lectures & those of the other Professors there, he was admitted without any Fee or Reward, & became particularly acquainted with Monsr Magnol the Botanist, whom he accompanied in his herborisations round that City’. There he further studied anatomy, medicine, and botany. Both Tournefort and Pierre Magnol were avid searchers for new species and both were to devise new classificatory schemes; close acquaintance with them undoubtedly had a lasting effect on Sloane’s own development. Sloane extended his stay in Montpellier until the following summer when, on 23 May 1684, he set out again for London ‘with a Resolution to fix himself there for the Exercise of his Profession’.” (Arthur MacGregor, “Sloane, Sir Hans, baronet [1660–1753], physician and collector,” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn., 2004, n. pag.)
     Sloane maintained close ties with the French medical establishment throughout his long life, and was honored by the French Académie Royale des Sciences, which appointed him correspondent in 1699 and foreign associate in 1709.

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two of which — The third article selected by Sloane from Brunet’s Le Progrès de la Médecine (Paris, 1695–1709) gave an account of the autopsy performed on the London Society’s friend and scientific colleague, Marcello Malpighi (1628–1694), the Italian embryologist known for his microscopic plant studies and studies in human anatomy. Every printed work by Malpighi after 1669 was published by the Royal Society, since Malpighi could not get his scientific treatises past Italian censors. In particular, Robert Hooke and Henry Oldenburg encouraged Malpighi’s scientific studies, solicited his contributions, furnished him with technical literature, and oversaw his publications (e.g., Malpighi’s history of the silkworm) “in splendid style.”
  Sloane’s English translation of Brunet’s published account of “the circumstances” of Malpighi’s death, “and what was found remarkable at the opening of his body,” was printed in No. 226 (March 1697) of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London::

February 1697 N.S. — Or “February, 1696/7,” as printed on the title-page for Issue No. 225 of the Philosophical Transactions.
  Until 1752, the British calendar year legally began on March 25, rather than January 1. The period between December 31 and March 25 is thus styled 1696–7 or 1696/7 in some early-modern MSS. and publications. Alternately, the abbreviation N.S. is used to indicate “new style” calendar dating, and O.S., to indicate “old style” calendar dating. ::

the Matrix — I.e., the womb, or uterus. ::

Fluoralbus — I.e., fluor albus, “the whites,” or leucorrhœa, referring to “a mucous or mucopurulent discharge from the lining membrane of the female genital organs.” (Oxford English Dictionary) Physicians such as Walter Charleton (1620–1707) believed that English women were particularly “troubled with the Fluor albus, all the time of their Gravidation [pregnancy]” because they lived “in this our moist Iland.”
  Comfrey was traditionally prescribed to treat the condition, as was a syrup or powder of Red Coral. ::

a scirrhus — A hard, firm, and almost painless swelling or tumor; a hard cancer. (Oxford English Dictionary)
  A mid-17th-century dictionary followed Sir Thomas Browne in attributing this kind of cancer to an imbalance in 2 of the 4 humours (hot and dry “choler” or cold and moist “phlegm”): “SCIRRHOUS (from schirrhus) pertaining to a hard swelling without pain, grown in the flesh within the skin, caused through choller, or through thick, cold or clammy fleam.” (Thomas Blount, Glossographia, or, A Dictionary, Interpreting ... Hard Words, 1656, s.v. Scirrhous). ::

the Epiploon — I.e., epiploön, “The caul or omentum, a fatty membrane enwrapping the intestines.” (Oxford English Dictionary::

the Mesentery — “Originally: the folded sheet of peritoneum in which the jejunum and ileum are suspended from the dorsal abdominal wall. Later also: any of several other folds of peritoneum serving a similar function for other organs; the embryonic precursor of these structures, a double layer of splanchnic mesoderm attached to both the dorsal and ventral walls of the body, which also temporarily supports the organs of the chest.” (Oxford English Dictionary::

Emetiques — I.e., emetic, “a medicine that excites vomiting.” (Oxford English Dictionary::

Purgatives — “A medicine that causes purgation; spec. that causes emptying of the bowels, (strongly) laxative.” (Oxford English Dictionary)
  Popular purgatives included imported Chinese rhubarb, tamarinds, senna (Cassia or medicinal cinnamon, also used as an emetic), and makinboy (Irish spurge or Euphorbia hyberna), an herb believed to be so powerful that it could “purge the body meerly by external touch.”
  As early as 1652, the medical reformer Samuel Hartlib asked for confirmation of makinboy’s efficacy, and in 1698, Hans Sloane published proof that word-of-mouth claims about the herb’s action from a distance were, indeed, over-blown: “Dr. Mullen tryed lately an Experiment upon the famous Irish Herb called, Mackenboy, or Tithimalus Hibernicus, which is by the Natives reported to be so strong a Purge, that even the carrying it about one in their Cloaths is sufficient to produce the Effect: this fabulous Story which has long prevail’d, [Dr. Mullen] proved false, by carrying its Roots for Three Days in his Pocket, without any Alteration of that sort.” (St. George Ashe, “Part of a Letter from Dr. Ashe, Lord Bishop of Cloyne, Dated March the 26th 1687…,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 20.243, Aug. 1698, 294)
  To the satirist William King, investigating such folklore was a pseudo-scientific pursuit which trivialized the Royal Society’s brand, and King ridiculed Sloane for publishing Ashe’s testimony and other “useless” philosophical news relayed by Sloane’s network of citizen-scientists, especially those reporting from rural and foreign regions (see W. King, The Transactioneer, with Some of his Philosophical Fancies: in Two Dialogues, 1700, esp. 38–9). ::

Diureticks — I.e., diuretic, “Having the quality of exciting (excessive) excretion or discharge of urine.” (Oxford English Dictionary::

Emollients — A softening application, with the power to soften or relax the living animal textures. (Oxford English Dictionary::

Resolvents — “Causing or promoting the dispersal or softening of humours or morbid material, or the resolution of a disease or pathological process. Also: bringing about solution, dissolving. Now rare.” (Oxford English Dictionary::

Clysters — Also clister, glyster, glister. “A medicine injected into the rectum, to empty or cleanse the bowels, to afford nutrition, etc.; an injection, enema; sometimes, a suppository.” (Oxford English Dictionary)
  Early-modern medical texts taught that humankind learned the use of clysters from the Sacred Ibis of Egypt (a large grallatorial bird of the family Ibididæ, allied to the stork and heron); it was believed that when constipated, she administered clysters to herself with the aid of her long slender decurved bill. ::

Deobstruents — A deobstruent medicine or substance that removes obstructions by opening the natural passages or pores of the body. (Oxford English Dictionary::

the Caecum — “The blind-gut; the first part of the large intestine, so called because it is prolonged behind the opening of the ilium into a cul-de-sac. It is present in humans, most mammals and birds, and in many reptiles.” (Oxford English Dictionary::

the Ileon — I.e., Ileum. “The third portion of the small intestine, succeeding the jejunum and opening into the cæcum.” (Oxford English Dictionary::

the Chyle — “The white milky fluid formed by the action of the pancreatic juice and the bile on the chyme, and contained in the lymphatics of the intestines, which are hence called lacteals. ‘The term has been used to designate the fluid in the intestines just before absorption.’” (Oxford English Dictionary::