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c h a p t e r f o u r The Glandular Structure of the Viscera 4.1 The Revival of Glands The development of novel techniques of investigation complementing those we have seen above, such as microscopy, was related to the mechanization of anatomy chiefly through the study of glands. Up to the second half of the seventeenth century, glands had not been at the center of attention. Judging from the influential 1600 Historia anatomica by du Laurens, for example, their importance was negligible: the chapter dedicated to them occupies about two out of nearly six hundred pages. According to du Laurens, their purpose was to offer support to branching vessels, to absorb phlegm and serum so that they do not rush to more noble parts, and to moisten some body parts so they do not dry. Although occasional references to glands can be found elsewhere in the text, their role remained marginal.¹ The situation changed in the 1650s and especially in the 1660s: if the 1650s were the decade of the lymphatics, the 1660s were to be the decade of glands. In 1656 the London physician Thomas Wharton published Adenographia, the first modern treatise on glands. Wharton’s work inaugurated an era of anatomical contributions on glands extending to the end of the century and beyond. Major early contributions include Steno’s 1662 De glandulis oris and Malpighi’s De viscerum structura, published between 1666 and 1668. Whereas Wharton relied on the Galenic notion of similar attraction, for Steno and Malpighi glands operated mechanically. Malpighi in particular, seizing on Steno’s seminal work, sought to mechanize several organs by identifying microscopic glands in them: in his mind localization was a key step toward mechanization. Inresponsetorecentdevelopments,justbeforelicensinghistreatise,theCambridge professor Francis Glisson added a last chapter to his 1654 Anatomia hepatis including his reflections on lymph and glands. Since Thomas Wharton’s Adenographia developed out of Glisson’s research, section 4.2 discusses their works together and then proceeds to Steno’s mechanistic challenge to Wharton’s interpretation of the glands. 106 Secretion and the Mechanical Organization of the Body The following four sections take the lead from Malpighi’s De viscerum structura and examine in turn all the body parts that he studied in that work—the liver, cerebral cortex, kidneys, and spleen—together with relevant works by his contemporaries and their techniques of investigation. Section 4.3 is devoted to the liver: Malpighi responded to recent works on the topic, including Glisson’s, whose treatise preceded his own in the Bibliotheca anatomica. Section 4.4 is devoted to the cerebral cortex and uses Willis’s De cerebro as counterpart to Malpighi’s own work. Malpighi’s attempt to subvert Wharton’s taxonomy of body parts is especially evident in his works on the liver and cerebral cortex, where he devoted whole sections to that task. Section 4.5 deals with the kidneys and shows that, despite their common mechanistic allegiance, Bellini and Malpighi detected rather different structures with injections and microscopes . Lastly, section 4.6 is devoted to the spleen and Malpighi’s almost desperate use of a strikingly wide range of techniques, such as splenectomy, chymical analysis, and a fistula to collect the juice allegedly secreted by the spleen, on the example of Reinier de Graaf’s work on the pancreas. I found it useful to rely on methods drawn from the history of the book, which enable the historian to anchor intellectual developments to specific reading practices and objects. It is not uncommon to find Sammelbände in original binding bringing together between two covers coherent collections of anatomical and medical texts. We have seen examples of this practice in the previous chapter with Tetras anatomicarum epistolarum and Malpighi’s De externo tactus organo. A few notable cases, mostly with a Dutch provenance, are especially telling of reading practices on glands, since they join Wharton’s treatise with relevant works by Steno, Malpighi, de Graaf, and the Amsterdam Collegium privatum, thus instantiating the claim that glands were a recognized anatomical field and reading topic in those years.² 4.2 Changing Perceptions on Glands: Glisson, Wharton, and Steno Glisson’s Anatomia hepatis reflects the two stages at which it was composed. The first part, covering the first forty-four chapters, draws mostly from his Gulstonian Lectures on the liver, delivered at the London College of Physicians in 1641; we shall briefly examine this material before moving to the...


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