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The Germ of an Idea: Contagionism, Religion, and Society in by Margaret DeLacy

By Margaret DeLacy

Contagionism is an previous concept, yet received new lifestyles in recovery Britain. Germ of an concept considers British contagionism in its non secular, social, political context from the good Plague of London to the adoption of smallpox inoculation. It exhibits how principles approximately contagion replaced drugs and the certainty of acute illnesses.

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Extra info for The Germ of an Idea: Contagionism, Religion, and Society in Britain, 1660–1730

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52 Seeds, however, were not necessarily viewed as animate in this period; many authors, including Fernel, had referred to them in the sense of seminal ideas or seminal principles: the unknown forces that gave form to undifferentiated matter. Animals, plants, and minerals, the examples Plater (and Fernel) had used, had innate poisons that were not animate. 53 Wootton notes that a substantial extract reappeared in the early eighteenth century in a note entitled “Of Contagion, the Chief Cause of a Plague,” appended to Thomas Creech’s widely read translation of Lucretius in 1714.

8 The Germ of an Idea Atomism: Things Come from Seeds Atomists thought that everything, including the soul, consisted of atoms and perished with the body, thus undermining a belief in divine judgment. Qualities such as hot and cold were not inherent in matter but were merely the impression left by certain atomic patterns. Instead of humoral imbalances, they blamed diseases on hidden particles or “seeds” that might rise up from putrefying ground or rain down from the heavens; a mass of them could putrefy the air itself.

A few had returned to England, often posing as Protestant refugees. 70 Cromwell failed to get formal approval for Jewish resettlement, but he encouraged them to immigrate anyway, and his successors continued to extend their personal protection. A legal ruling gave the tiny Sephardic community the confidence to establish a synagogue and cemetery in 1656. All immigrants born overseas were barred from owning land, holding shares in merchant vessels, or conducting certain business, but in most ways Jews born in England were comparable in rights and disabilities to English Nonconformists.

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