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Thomas Cogan and The Haven of Health: Margins and Scriptural References

Array ( [0] => HIST 3250 Spring 2015 [1] => no-show [2] => student exhibit )

Margins and Scriputal Reference

The Haven of Health uses large margins which enabled the author to insert notes and references, making the book easier to skim and gather quality information by the reader. The book was, in Thomas Cogan’s own words, “Chiefly made for the comfort of Students, and consequently for all those that have a care of their health” [1] which indicates that his intended audience was composed mostly of students. Since students usually have little time to read books other than for their classes, it makes sense that Cogan would try to make his health book as simple to read as possible. The large margins gave both the author and reader room to make notes and skim through the book faster.

Haven of Health (Pg 22)
Page 22 of Thomas Cogan's Haven of Health

Cogan used the margins to emphasize his main points and sections that he felt were most important to know. In some places in the text, such as page 22, the author used the margin notes as sub-chapter markers. Next to an important section in his chapter on meats, he put the note: “Sixe things to be considered in meates.” [2] Instead of summarizing main points as in other parts of the text, he created a sub-header where the reader could easily find a narrow search topic.

Haven of Health (Pg 17)
Page 17 of Thomas Cogan's Haven of Health

Many other margins either repeat what he said in a summarized form, or restate a longer quote or section in a small and concise form. This can be seen on page 17 of The Haven of Health. [3] Some of his reasoning in the text includes references to Hippocrates’ and Galen’s works which can be very wordy. In those sections, Cogan placed notes that summarized the point of the argument. This simplified the reading so that students and other less-learned readers could better understand the material. In some cases, this also is an opportunity for Cogan to give the reader his own interpretation of the referenced text.

There is a large table of contents at the end of the book with many subjects ordered alphabetically. The phrases used in the table either match the margins on the referenced page word-for-word or are rephrased for shortness. The organization of the table of contents makes it longer than many modern one-word-subject types of tables, but it allows for more detail when referring the reader to a specific topic.

With all of the considerations of the use of margins when printing, the book is very student friendly. When the reader had finished the book and wanted to go back to a specific piece of text, the table and margins made finding the exact spot quick. The reader was also able to insert his own notes, as on pages 17 and 51, since the margins were extra wide. [4]

Haven of Health (Pg 53)
Page 53 of Thomas Cogan's Haven of Health

The reference margins in the Haven of Health usually indicate Cogan’s main sources of Hippocrates’ work, Epidemic 6, or Galen’s works. Cogan labeled Hippocrates’ work with “Epid. 6”, while he labeled Galen’s works with “Gal.lib…”, though both have slight variations throughout the text. [5]


There are also several scriptural references in the introductory epistle of the book and in the last chapter. The scriptures are mainly from Ecclesiastes, but there are others including the books of Samuel, Genesis, Matthew, and Corinthians. [6] Other references in the book’s margins remain unknown since the margins are abbreviated and there are no other places in the book that give a complete list of referenced works.                                                                                                                                      


[1] Thomas Cogan, The Haven of Health: chiefly made for the comfort of students, and consequently for all those that haue a care of their health, amplified vppon fiue wordes of Hippocrates, written Epid. 6. Labour, meate, drinke, sleepe, Venus: by Thomas Cogan maister of Artes, & Bacheler of Phisicke, 1588, Title Page.

[2] Ibid., 22.

[3] Ibid., 17.

[4] Ibid., 17,51.

[5] Ibid., 53,168.

[6] Ibid., 251.