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Shakespeare Connected - ‘The natural gates and alleys of the body’ (Hamlet, 1.5.67): Physicality, Hygiene and Bodily Waste in Shakespeare’s World

James Cooke’s, Mellificium Chirurgiae: or The Marrow of Chirurgery Much Enlarged (London, 1676)

Purging the body’s excesses, whether through natural processes of evacuation or the intervention of letting blood, was as much a spiritual as physical process. Cooke reflects on how, ‘I have sat down and bewailed your condition; and oftner beg’d of God that he would please, not only to effectually heal you, but also sanctify […] you, for the purging away of Sin, and making you more Holy’ (A2r).

As the Host attempts to prevent a fight between Parson Evans and Dr Caius he underlines the mutuality between spiritual and physical: ‘Peace I say […] soul-curer and body-curer’ (Merry Wives, 3.1.90).


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Title Page of James Cooke's Mellificium Chirurgerie, 1676.

Acc. no: 83057064


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