John Fell's (1625-1686) plate
The plants on the first two rows of this plate are species related to the eyebrights. Eyebright is a fifteenth-century name which, under the Doctrine of Signatures, refers to the passing similarity of the flowers to eyes, and hence the plant’s use to cure illnesses of the eye. The name ‘Euphrasia’ is derived from the Grace of Joy and Mirth, Euphrosyne – apparently a reference to similar beliefs in the ophthalmological properties of the plant.
This plate is sponsored by John Fell (1625-1686), Vice-Chancellor of the University between 1666 and 1669, who was made Bishop of Oxford in 1676. Fell was instrumental in creating Oxford University Press and setting the Press in the bowels of the Sheldonian Theatre. Morison’s Historia was an opportunity for Fell to demonstrate that the Oxford Press had intellectual significance and could produce work that would compete with the quality of continental publishing. Fell had also sponsored a plate in Morison’s Plantarum umbelliferarum distributio nova (1672).