Dissertatio medica de necessaria salivae inspectione ad conservandam et restaurandam sanitatem (1698) and A Treatise on the Teeth (1753, 1756)

Dissertatio medica de necessaria salivae inspectione ad conservandam et restaurandam sanitatem (1698)



A Treatise on the Teeth (1753, 1756)


Frederick Hoffmann


Frederick Hoffmann was born on 19 February, 1660 in Halle, Germany. Called the second Hippocrates, he was one of the most influential and widely published authors of the 18th century. The Encyclopedie Methodique, a major source of biographical information at the end of the 17th century dedicates 21 pages to Frederick Hoffman and list a complete list of his 345 books, publications and dissertations.

He came from an illustrious medical family with a lineage dating 200 years prior to his birth. His medical education took him to University of Jena, and to University of Erfurt, both strongholds of excellent education in the middle of the 17th century. He received his medical diploma in 1681. For the next three years, Hoffmann traveled to Holland and England (London and Oxford) to gain additional practical knowledge. In England for instance he encountered Robert Boyle. In 1688 he is appointed as physician to the principality of Halberstadt and five years later, Frederick III, the elector of Brandenburg named him professor of medicine and natural philosophy at the newly established University of Halle, where he eventually becomes rector. Among the many titles he accumulated along his long life, he was royal physician to Frederick I and Frederick William I and Fellow of the Royal Society of London, Berlin Academy of Sciences and the Imperial Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg.

Professionally, Hoffmann was not considered necessarily an original contributor of new information, rather a systematist of knowledge. Hoffman collated medical knowledge of the time on health and disease and systematized it incorporating Hippocratic humoral theory with the discovery of the circulation by William Harvey, of capillaries by Malpighi, and the Carthesia hydrodynamic theory that stipulated the function of the human body as a machine. His collected works, Opera omnia physico-medica, were published in 1740 in 6 volumes.

His study 28-page dissertation on saliva Dissertatio medica de necessaria salivae inspectione ad conservandam et restaurandam sanitatem. (Dissertation on the evaluation of saliva necessary to preserve and restore health) Hoffman discusses the nature and types of saliva in health and disease. This was not the first study Hoffman has done on saliva. His previous dissertations were entitled "De salivae et eius morbis" (Saliva and its Diseases) Halle, 1693 and "Programma de saliva", 1694. In the 45-page 1693 study Hoffmann investigates the source of saliva (Chapter 2), the nature of saliva (Chapter 3), its use (Chapter 4) its diseases (Chapter V) and finally its treatment (Chapter VI). Hoffmann was a humorist and as such he believed that the balance of humors were necessary for good health, even though saliva was not considered one of the four basic humors the Greeks identified. Those were: blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm.

The very same year when he published his study on saliva, 1698 he worked on Historia dentium physiologice et pathologice pertractata, translated into English, most likely by A Tolver, a London dentists and published posthumously in 1752 as A Treatise on the Teeth. The 1753 and 1756 English editions in our collection are the second and third editions of the English translations. Interestingly, A Tolver, the presumed translator, also published a book with the same title in 1752 entitled A Treatise on the Teeth, but his book is a different work. We have both volumes in our library.

Editorial notes by Andrew I Spielman.

Digital Versions