Elaine Leong
University College London

Penned by Thomas Brugis, a medical practitioner working in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, the Vade mecum is a general surgical guide first published in 1651. Drawing on other contemporary surgical texts such as John Woodall’s The Surgeon’s Mate, the work showcases surgical devices and tools, offer detailed instructions on how to use specific instruments, whether lances, needles and syringes followed by hundreds of medical recipes to make various salves and plasters and ending with instructions to make ‘Reports before a Judge of Assize, of any one that hath come to an untimely end’. The book was enduringly popular with English readers with a number of reprints including issues in 1653, 1657, 1665, and 1670.

An expanded edition, with additional notes by the physician Ellis Pratt, was published in 1679 and reprinted in 1681 and 1689. The title-page boldly claims that it now contains “an Institution of PHYSIC with seven New Treatises. Viz. of Tumours, Wounds, Ulcers, Fractures, Dislocations, Lues Venerea, Anatomy’. In the 1680s, the work was translated into German by the prolific Hamburg-based medical practitioner and translator Johann Lange.

engraved portrait of Thomas Brugis centered with four vignettes of his work and equipment in the four corners of the page
Thomas Brugis, line engraving by T. Cross, frontispiece to the Vade mecum 1652. Wellcome Collection.


The German edition is Vade mecum chirurgicum, oder Reise-Befehrte, vor einem Wund-Artzt zu Wasser und Lande, in Fried und Kriege nützlich zu gebrauchen … In englischer Sprache geschrieben … und zum sechstenmal gedrucket, jetzovermehret mit einem Unterricht von der Artzeney-Kunst und sieben neue Tractätlein … / Von Ellis Prat … in hochteutsche Sprache übersetzet durch J[ohann] L[ange] M[edicinae] C[andidatum], Hamburg: G. Schultz, 1684.

Digitised copies of the German edition can be found here and here.

Full text version of the English edition can be found on EEBO TCP (Phase II, firewalled) here.