Introduction: Animal and Vegetable Physiology

For my pet book, I chose to work with Animal and Vegetable Physiology: Considered with Reference to Natural Theology, Volumes I and II, written by Peter Mark Roget. This work was published in 1836 as part of a larger series entitled Bridgewater Treatises on the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, as Manifested in the Creation. The Reverend Francis Henry, Earl of Bridgewater, who died in 1829, commissioned in his will that “one thousand copies of a work On the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation” be written and published by a select group of scholars. He desired that the works would demonstrate the power of God by illustrating the following: “the variety and formation of God’s creatures in the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms; the effect of digestion, and thereby of conversion; the construction of the hand of man, and an infinite variety of arguments; as also by discoveries ancient and modern, in arts, sciences, and the whole extent of literature” (Roget, “Notice”). To that end, seven Treatises were published, including these volumes by Roget, who was chosen to write the editions on the animal and vegetable kingdoms. The following is a photo from the inside of Volume I which lists the other works from the series, along with their authors.

Volumes I and II of Roget’s Treatise are inextricably linked, as I will demonstrate through my subsequent descriptions of the physical books, which is why I chose to work with both books for this project rather than just one volume. These works came to Colby from the original Waterville College Library, before the college’s campus moved to Mayflower Hill, and have very interesting physical evidence of their time as library books.

Externally, Volumes I and II of Animal and Vegetable Physiology are practically identical. Both are medium-sized, have nearly the same number of pages, and have identical spines which contain the title, series name, author, volume number, and the description, “With Nearly 500 Wood Cuts,” indicating that the illustrations in the text were produced by wood engravings. 

Note from Roget’s preface regarding the wood engravings.

The covers are bound in burgundy cloth, with cream paper labels on the spines. With time, the covers have faded, so they have a splotchy light brown color. There are several tiny, dark stains on the books’ covers, as well as some scratches and general wear-and-tear. The binding of Volume I is in excellent condition; Volume II’s binding, however, is visibly falling apart. In both volumes, the string holding together the binding can be seen in some areas when the book is held open. Overall, each book has a very generic appearance and is not elaborately decorated or intended to look fancy in any way. The pages are paper, with smooth edges. Volume I’s pages feel very thin and delicate, while those of Volume II are a bit more stiff. In general, Volume II appears to have seen more use than its counterpart: several of the pages are slightly ripped, and its binding is in much worse condition.

On the inside cover of Volume I are the words, “Waterville College Library” written in ink. There are several other markings in pencil, including a few numbers and the year “1839.” Following a blank page is a half-title page, which contains the series name, “Treatise V,” the title, author name, and the words, “In Two Volumes.” After the half-title is a spread with an epigraph from the Bible on the left and the full title page on the right. On the title page is a red stamp, reading, “Waterville College Library; Alcove #; Shelf #,” indicating where the book would have been kept in the library. The title page also has “Coll. Library” written in the same ink and handwriting as the words on the inside front cover.

Following the title page is a dedication, a preface, and then the table of Contents. The books are divided into parts; Volume I contains Part One, and Volume II contains Parts Two, Three, and Four. Within these parts are chapters, and within the chapters are further subsections. After the Contents comes a “List of Engravings.” This list, which provides captions for the diagrams in the works, covers both Volumes I and II. Thus, without the first volume, one could not identify the illustrations in the second. Following the List of Engravings, Roget provides an “Outline of Cuvier’s Classification of Animals, with examples of animals belonging to each division” to establish a base for his discussion of animal species in the rest of the work.

Finally, we reach the Introduction (Chapter 1), where the numerical page numbers begin.

In terms of the content pages, the books have normal sized margins, relatively small yet easy to read font, and page numbers with running heads throughout the entire work. Neither volume has decorative illustrations, but they both contain a good deal of diagrams related to the content. The diagrams are framed within the text in various ways, and many of the pages have extensive footnotes, as well. At the end of the content in Volume I, the last page simply reads, “End of Vol. I.” There is no back matter in the first volume because it fundamentally forms a set with Volume II. On the inside back cover of Volume I, however, is evidence of the book’s history as a library book. The cover contains remnants of a “Due Date” list, as well as a mark where an old pocket for name slips would have gone.

The front matter of Volume II is similar to that of Volume I, but not identical. The second volume contains the handwritten “Waterville College Library” inside the cover, a half-title page, a Biblical epigraph, a full title page (stamp included), but this volume’s title page is immediately followed by the table of Contents. The formatting of the content is the same in both volumes. This book contains an index at the end which covers both volumes, once again indicating their status as a set. Finally, the last page of Volume II contains an advertisement for another work published by Carey, Lea, and Blanchard: the “very much altered and improved” second edition of Human Physiology, Illustrated by Numerous Engravings by Robley Dunglison, M.D.