Little is known about
John Worlidge beyond the books he wrote on agricultural reform,
including horticulture, beekeeping, and cidermaking. Beginning with
Systema Agriculturae: The mystery of husbandry discovered
(first published in 1669), many of his titles were republished several
times each, and in most cases by bookseller Thomas Dring. Vinetum
Britannicum, for instance, was published in three editions
within fifteen years; the 1678 edition depicted here is the second.
This copy is bound with Worlidge's Apiarium; or A Discourse
of the Government and Ordering of Bees. Each treatise has its
own copper-engraved frontispiece (as announced on the titlepage),
are separately paginated. But the catch word on the last page of
Vinetum is "Apia," indicating an intentional pairing,
and the two alphabetical subject indexes are printed together. Further,
the dates of publication for Apiarium are exactly coincident
with the dates of publication for Vinetum. The dedication
to Elias Ashmole (1617-1692), the antiquarian, and the elaborate
frontispiece engravings seem to target the treatises on agricultural
improvements for an upscale market.
In his title and preface,
Worlidge informs us that cider ought to be the preferred drink of
the English. The text, peppered with jingoistic rhetoric, is intended
to instruct the English gentleman farmer about cider production
and its virtues as good English drink. The frontispiece, opposite
the title page, illustrates the topics that are identified as important
in the text; namely, the propagation of fruit, the manufacture of
cider from that fruit, and its intended audience. The etching, arranged
in two registers, shows the "new-invented ingenio"
and the press at work. The image of the ingenio dominates
the pictorial space in the upper register. To its left is an image
of an apple tree and to the right a bushel of apples. The three
images function together to illustrate the propagation of the fruit,
picking the fruit, and grinding the apples. The narrative continues
in the lower register. An image of the working cider press dominates.
To its left we see a barrel. Its spout is open and cider is pouring
into a bucket. To the right, in the background, an image of a house
directs our attention to the intended destination for the product,
the British home.
California State University, Chico
Fussell, G.E. The Old English Farming
Books from Fitzherbert to Tull. London: Crosby Lockwood &
Caton, Mary Ann, ed. Fooles and Fricassees:
Food in Shakespeare's England. Seattle: Washington University
McRrae, Andrew. God Speed the Plough:
The Representation of Agrarian England, 1500-1660. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Thirsk, Joan. The Rural Economy
of England. London: Hambledon Press, 1984.