John Woodward (naturalist) - Works


In 1699, John Woodward published his water culture (hydroponics) experiments with spearmint. He found that plants in less-pure water sources grew better than plants in distilled water.

While still a student he became interested in botany and natural history, and during visits to Gloucestershire his attention was attracted by the fossils that are abundant in many parts of that county; and he began to form the great collection with which his name is associated. His views were set forth in An Essay toward a Natural History of the Earth and Terrestrial Bodies, especially minerals, &c. (1695; and ed. 1702, 3rd ed. 1723). This was followed by Brief Instructions for making Observations in all Parts of the World (1696). He was author also of An Attempt towards a Natural History of the Fossils of England (2 vols., 1728 and 1729). In these works he showed that the stony surface of the earth was divided into strata, and that the enclosed shells were originally generated at sea; but his views of the method of formation of the rocks were entirely erroneous. Indeed, they were satirized very effectively by John Arbuthnot, who consistently ridiculed Woodward's heavily classicist method and what Arbuthnot saw as personal venality. In his elaborate Catalogue he described his rocks, minerals and fossils in a manner far in advance of the age.

His The State of Physick and of Diseases ... Particularly of the Smallpox (1718) arose from a fierce dispute over smallpox which had been going on for many years, with John Freind his leading adversary. Both freely accused the other of killing their patients (in the modern view a judgement that few doctors of the age can escape). Woodward claimed that his experimental evidence showed that the disease arose from an excess of "bilious salts", whereas Freind saw the causes of the disease as unknowable

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