The Harvard Classics Volume 38 - Scientific Papers (Physiology, Medicine, Surgery, Geology)
Author: Various
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Five or six days before this, a sortie had been made from Dourlan; wherein many captains and brave soldiers had been killed or wounded: and among the wounded was Captain Saint Aubin, vaillant comme l' espce, a great friend of M. de Guise: for whose sake chiefly the King had sent me there. Who, being attacked with a quartan fever, yet left his bed to command the greater part of his company. A Spaniard, seeing him in command, perceived he was a captain, and shot him through the neck with an arquebus. Captain Saint Aubin thought himself killed; and by this fright I protest to God he lost his quartan fever, and was forever free of it. I dressed him, with Antoine Portail, surgeon-in-ordinary of the King; and many other soldiers. Some died, others got off with the loss of an arm or a leg or an eye, and said they had got off cheap, to be alive at all. Then, the enemy having broken up their camp, I returned to Paris.

I say nothing here of mon petit maistre, who was more comfortable in his house than I at the wars.


The King with his camp was but a short time at Bourges, till those within the walls should surrender; and they came out with their goods saved. I know nothing worth remembering, but that a boy of the King's kitchen, having come near the walls of the town before the agreement had been signed, cried with a loud voice, "Huguenot, Huguenot, shoot here, shoot here," having his arm thrown up and his hand spread out; a soldier shot his hand right through with a bullet. When he was thus shot, he came to find me to dress him. And the Constable seeing the boy in tears, with his hand all bloody, asked who had wounded him: then a gentleman who had seen him shot said it served him right, because he kept calling "Huguenot, hit here, aim here." And then the Constable said, this Huguenot was a good shot and a good fellow, for most likely if he had chosen to fire at the boy's head, he would have hit it even more easily than his hand. I dressed the kitchen boy, who was very ill. He recovered, but with no power in his hand: and from that time his comrades called him "Huguenot": he is still living now.


Now, as for the capture of Rouen, they killed many of our men both before and at the attack: and the very next day after we had entered the town, I trepanned eight or nine of our men, who had been wounded with stones as they were on the breach. The air was so malignant, that many died, even of quite small wounds, so that some thought the bullets had been poisoned; and those within the town said the like of us; for though they had within the town all that was needful, yet all the same they died like those outside.

The King of Navarre was wounded, some days before the attack, with a bullet in the shoulder. I visited him, and helped to dress him, with one of his own surgeons, Master Gilbert, one of the chief men of Montpellier, and others. They could not find the bullet. I searched for it very accurately, and found reason to believe it had entered at the top of the arm, by the head of the bone, and had passed into the hollow part of the bone, which was why they could not find it; and most of them said it had entered his body and was lost in it. M. le Prince de La Roche-sur-Yon, who dearly loved the King of Navarre, drew me aside and asked if the wound were mortal. I told him yes, because all wounds of great joints, and especially contused wounds, were mortal, according to all those who have written about them. He asked the others what they thought of it, and chiefly Master Gilbert, who told him he had great hope his Lord the King would recover; which made the Prince very glad.

Four days later, the King, and the Queen-mother, and M. le Cardinal de Bourbon, his brother, and M. le Prince de la Roche- sur-Yon, and M. de Guise, and other great persons, after we had dressed the King of Navarre, wished us to hold a consultation in their presence, all the physicians and surgeons together. Each of them said what he thought, and there was not one but had good hope, they said, that he would recover. I persisted always in the contrary. M. le Prince, who loved me, drew me aside, and said I was alone against the opinion of all the others, and prayed me not to be obstinate against so many good men. I answered, When I shall see good signs of recovery, I will change my mind. Many consultations were held, and I never changed what I said, and the prognosis I had made at the first dressing, and said always the arm would fall into a gangrene: which it did, for all the care they could give to it; and he rendered his spirit to God the eighteenth day after his wound.

M. le Prince, having heard of it, sent to me his surgeon, and his physician, one Lefevre, now physician-in-ordinary to the King and Queen-mother, to say he wished to have the bullet, and we were to look for it, to see where it was. Then I was very glad, and assured them I should quickly find it; which I did in their presence, with many other gentlemen: it was just in the very middle of the bone. M. le Prince took and showed it to the King and to the Queen, who all said that my prognosis had come true. The body was laid to rest at Chateau Gaillard: and I returned to Paris, where I found many patients, who had been wounded on the breach at Rouen, and chiefly Italians, who were very eager I should dress them: which I did willingly. Many of them recovered: the rest died. Mon petit maistre, I think you were called to dress some, for the great number there was of them.


The day after the battle of Dreux, the King bade me go and dress M. le Comte d'Eu, who had been wounded in the right thigh, near the hip-joint, with a pistol-shot: which had smashed and broken the thigh-bone into many pieces: whereon many accidents supervened, and at last death, to my great grief. The day after I came, I would go to the camp where the battle had been, to see the dead bodies. I saw, for a long league round, the earth all covered: they estimated it at twenty-five thousand men or more; and it was all done in less than two hours. I wish, mon petit maistre, for the love I bear you, you had been there, to tell it to your scholars and your children.

Now while I was at Dreux, I visited and dressed a great number of gentlemen, and poor soldiers, and among the rest many of the Swiss captains. I dressed fourteen all in one room, all wounded with pistol-shots and other diabolical firearms, and not one of the fourteen died. M. le Comte d'Eu being dead, I made no long stay at Dreux. Surgeons came from Paris, who fulfilled their duty to the wounded, as Pigray, Cointeret, Hubert, and others; and I returned to Paris, where I found many wounded gentlemen who had retreated thither after the battle, to have their wounds dressed; and I was not there without seeing many of them.


And I will not omit to tell of the camp at Havre de Grace. When our artillery came before the walls of the town, the English within the walls killed some of our men, and several pioneers who were making gabions. And seeing they were so wounded that there was no hope of curing them, their comrades stripped them, and put them still living inside the gabions, which served to fill them up. When the English saw that they could not withstand our attack, because they were hard hit by sickness, and especially by the plague, they surrendered. The King gave them ships to return to England, very glad to be out of this plague-stricken place. The greater part of them died, and they took the plague to England, and they have not got rid of it since. Captain Sarlabous, master of the camp, was left in garrison, with six ensigns of infantry, who had no fear of the plague; and they were very glad to get into the town, hoping to enjoy themselves there, Mon petit maistre, if you had been there, you would have done as they did.


I went with the King on that journey to Bayonne, when we were two years and more making the tour of well-nigh all this kingdom. And in many towns and villages I was called in consultation over sundry diseases, with the late M. Chapelain, chief physician to the King, and M. Castellan, chief physician to the Queen-mother; honorable men and very learned in medicine and surgery. During this journey, I always inquired of the surgeons if they had noted anything rare in their practices, so that I might learn something new. While I was at Bayonne, two things happened worthy of remark by young surgeons. The first is, I dressed a Spanish gentleman, who had a great and enormous swelling of the throat. He had lately been touched by the deceased King Charles for the king's evil. I opened his swelling. ... I left him in the hands of a surgeon of the town, to finish his cure. M. de Fontaine, Knight of the Order of the King, had a severe continued pestilent fever, accompanied with many inflammatory swellings in sundry parts of the body. He had bleeding at the nose for two days, without ceasing, nor could we staunch it: and after this haemorrhage the fever ceased, with much sweating, and by and bye the swellings suppurated, and he was dressed by me, and healed by the grace of God.


As for the battle of Saint Denis, there were many killed on both sides. Our wounded withdrew to Paris to be dressed, with the prisoners they had taken, and I dressed many of them. The King ordered me, at the request of Mme. the Constable's Lady, to go to her house to dress the Constable; who had a pistol-shot in the middle of the spine of his back, whereby at once he lost all feeling and movement in his thighs and legs ... because the spinal cord, whence arise the nerves to give feeling and movement to the parts below, was crushed, broken, and torn by the force of the bullet. Also he lost understanding and reason, and in a few days he died. The surgeons of Paris were hard put to it for many days to treat all the wounded. I think, mon petit maistre, you saw some of them. I beseech the great God of victories, that we be never more employed in such misfortune and disaster.


During the battle of Moncontour, King Charles was at Plessis-les- Tours, where he heard the news of the victory. A great number of gentlemen and soldiers retreated into the town and suburbs of Tours, wounded, to be dressed and treated; and the King and the Queen-mother bade me do my duty by them, with other surgeons who were then on duty, as Pigray, du Bois, Portail, and one Siret, a surgeon of Tours, a man well versed in surgery, who was at this time surgeon to the King's brother. And for the multitude of bad cases we had scarce any rest, nor the physicians either.

M. le Comte de Mansfeld, Governor of the Duchy of Luxembourg, Knight of the Order of the King, was severely wounded in the battle, in the left arm, with a pistol-shot which broke a great part of his elbow; and he withdrew to Borgueil near Tours. Then he sent a gentleman to the King, to beg him to send one of his surgeons, to help him of his wound. So they debated which surgeon they should send. M. le Marechal de Montmorency told the King and the Queen that they ought to send him their chief surgeon; and urged that M. de Mansfeld had done much toward the victory.

The King said flat, he would not have me go, and wished me to stop with himself. Then the Queen-mother told him I would but go and come back, and he must remember it was a foreign lord, who had come, at the command of the King of Spain, to help him. then he let me go, provided I came back very soon. So he sent for me, and the Queen-mother with him, and bade me go and find the Lord de Mansfeld, wherever he should be, to do all I could for him to heal his wound. I went to him, with a letter from Their Majesties. When he saw it, he received me with good-will, and forthwith dismissed three or four surgeons who were dressing him; which was to my very great regret, because his wound seemed to me incurable.

Now many gentlemen had retreated to Borgueil, having been wounded: for they knew that M. de Guise was there, who also had been badly wounded with a pistol-shot through the leg, and they were sure that he would have good surgeons to dress him, and would help them, as he is kindly and very generous, and would relieve their wants. This he did with a will, both for their eating and drinking, and for what else they needed: and for my part, they had the comfort and help of my art: some died, others recovered, according to their wounds. M. le Comte Ringrave died, who was shot in the shoulder, like the King of Navarre before Rouen. M. de Bassompierre, colonel of twelve hundred horse, was wounded by a similar shot, in the same place, as M. de Mansfeld: whom I dressed, and God healed. God blessed my work so well, that in three weeks I sent them back to Paris: where I had still to make incisions in M. de Mansfeld's arm, to remove some pieces of the bones, which were badly splintered, broken, and carious. He was healed by the grace of God, and made me a handsome present, so I was well content with him, and he with me; as he has shown me since. He wrote a letter to M. le Duc d' Ascot, how he was healed of his wound, and also M. de Bassompierre of his, and many others whom I had dressed after the battle of Moncontour; and advised him to ask the King of France to let me visit M. le Marquis d' Auret, his brother: which he did.


M. le Duc d' Ascot did not fail to send a gentleman to the King, with a letter humbly asking he would do him so much kindness and honour as to permit and command his chief surgeon to visit M. le Marquis d' Auret, his brother, who had received a gunshot wound near the knee, with fracture of the bone, about seven months ago, and the physicians and surgeons all this time had not been able to heal him. The King sent for me and bade me go and see M. d' Auret, and give him all the help I could, to heal him of his wound. I told him I would employ all the little knowledge it had pleased God to give me.

I went off, escorted by two gentlemen, to the Chateau d' Auret, which is a league and a half from Mons in Hainault, where M. le Marquis was lying. So soon as I had come, I visited him, and told him the King had commanded me to come and see him and dress his wound. He said he was very glad I had come, and was much beholden to the King, who had done him so much honour as to send me to him.

I found him in a high fever, his eyes deep sunken, with a moribund and yellowish face, his tongue dry and parched, and the whole body much wasted and lean, the voice low as of a man very near death: and I found his thigh much inflamed, suppurating, and ulcerated, discharging a greenish and very offensive sanies. I probed it with a silver probe, wherewith I found a large cavity in the middle of the thigh, and others round the knee, sanious and cuniculate: also several scales of bone, some loose, others not. The leg was greatly swelled, and imbued with a pituitous humor ... and bent and drawn back. There was a large bedsore; he could rest neither day nor night; and had no appetite to eat, but very thirsty. I was told he often fell into a faintness of the heart, and sometimes as in epilepsy: and often he felt sick, with such trembling he could not carry his hands to his mouth. Seeing and considering all these great complications, and the vital powers thus broken down, truly I was very sorry I had come to him, because it seemed to me there was little hope he would escape death. All the same, to give him courage and good hope, I told him I would soon set him on his legs, by the grace of God, and the help of his physicians and surgeons.

Having seen him, I went a walk in a garden, and prayed God He would show me this grace, that he should recover; and that He would bless our hands and our medicaments, to fight such a complication of diseases. I discussed in my mind the means I must take to do this. They called me to dinner. I came into the kitchen, and there I saw, taken out of a great pot, half a sheep, a quarter of veal, three great pieces of beef, two fowls, and a very big piece of bacon, with abundance of good herbs: then I said to myself that the broth of the pot would be full of juices, and very nourishing.

After dinner, we began our consultation, all the physicians and surgeons together, in the presence of M. le Duc d' Ascot and some gentlemen who were with him. I began to say to the surgeons that I was astonished they had not made incisions in M. le Marquis' thigh, seeing that it was all suppurating, and the thick matter in it very foetid and offensive, showing it had long been pent up there; and that I had found with the probe caries of the bone, and scales of bone, which were already loose. They answered me: "Never would he consent to it"; indeed, it was near two months since they had been able to get leave to put clean sheets on his bed; and one scarce dared touch the coverlet, so great was his pain. Then I said, "To heal him, we must touch something else than the coverlet of his bed." Each said what he thought of the malady of the patient, and in conclusion they all held it hopeless. I told them there was still some hope, because he was young, and God and Nature sometimes do things which seem to physicians and surgeons impossible.

To restore the warmth and nourishment of the body, general frictions must be made with hot cloths, above, below, to right, to left, and around, to draw the blood and the vital spirits from within outward. ... For the bedsore, he must be put in a fresh, soft bed, with clean shirt and sheets... Having discoursed of the causes and complications of his malady, I said we must cure them by their contraries; and must first ease the pain, making openings in the thigh to let out the matter. ... Secondly, having regard to the great swelling and coldness of the limb, we must apply hot bricks round it, and sprinkle them with a decoction of nerval herbs in wine and vinegar, and wrap them in napkins; and to his feet, an earthenware bottle filled with the decoction, corked, and wrapped in cloths. Then the thigh, and the whole of the leg, must be fomented with a decoction made of sage, rosemary, thyme, lavender, flowers of chamomile and melilot, red roses boiled in white wine, with a drying powder made of oak— ashes and a little vinegar and half a handful of salt. ... Thirdly, we must apply to the bedsore a large plaster made of the desiccative red ointment and of Unguentum Comitissoe, equal parts, mixed together, to ease his pain and dry the ulcer; and he must have a little pillow of down, to keep all pressure off it. ... And for the strengthening of his heart, we must apply over it a refrigerant of oil of waterlilies, ointment of roses, and a little saffron, dissolved in rose-vinegar and treacle, spread on a piece of red cloth. For the syncope, from exhaustion of the natural forces, troubling the brain, he must have good nourishment full of juices, as raw eggs, plums stewed in wine and sugar, broth of the meat of the great pot, whereof I have already spoken; the white meat of fowls, partridges' wings minced small, and other roast meats easy to digest, as veal, kid, pigeons, partridges, thrushes, and the like, with sauce of orange, verjuice, sorrel, sharp pomegranates; or he may have them boiled with good herbs, as lettuce, purslain, chicory, bugloss, marigold, and the like. At night he can take barley-water, with juice of sorrel and of waterlilies, of each two ounces, with four or five grains of opium, and the four cold seeds crushed, of each half an ounce; which is a good nourishing remedy and will make him sleep. His bread to be farmhouse bread, neither too stale nor too fresh. For the great pain in his head, his hair must be cut, and his head rubbed with rose-vinegar just warm, and a double cloth steeped in it and put there; also a forehead-cloth, of oil of roses and water-lilies and poppies, and a little opium and rose-vinegar, with a little camphor, and changed from time to time. Moreover, we must allow him to smell flowers of henbane and water-lilies, bruised with vinegar and rose-water, with a little camphor, all wrapped in a handkerchief, to be held some time to his nose. ... And we must make artificial rain, pouring water from some high place into a cauldron, that he may hear the sound of it; by which means sleep shall be provoked on him. As for the contraction of his leg, there is hope of righting it when we have let out the pus and other humors pent up in the thigh, and have rubbed the whole knee with ointment of mallows, and oil of lilies, and a little eau-de-vie, and wrapped it in black wool with the grease left in it; and if we put under the knee a feather pillow doubled, little by little we shall straighten the leg.

This my discourse was well approved by the physicians and surgeons.

The consultation ended, we went back to the patient, and I made three openings in his thigh. ... Two or three hours later, I got a bed made near his old one, with fair white sheets on it; then a strong man put him in it, and he was thankful to be taken out of his foul stinking bed. Soon after, he asked to sleep; which he did for near four hours; and everybody in the house began to feel happy, and especially M. le Duc d' Ascot, his brother.

The following days, I made injections, into the depth and cavities of the ulcers, of Aegyptiacum dissolved sometimes in eau-de-vie, other times in wine, I applied compresses to the bottom of the sinuous tracks, to cleanse and dry the soft spongy flesh, and hollow leaden tents, that the sanies might always have a way out; and above them a large plaster of Diacalcitheos dissolved in wine. And I bandaged him so skilfully that he had no pain; and when the pain was gone, the fever began at once to abate. Then I gave him wine to drink moderately tempered with water, knowing it would restore and quicken the vital forces. And all that we agreed in consultation was done in due time and order; and so soon as his pains and fever ceased, he began steadily to amend. He dismissed two of his surgeons, and one of his physicians, so that we were but three with him.

Now I stopped there about two months, not without seeing many patients, both rich and poor, who came to me from three or four leagues round. He gave food and drink to the needy, and commended them all to me, asking me to help them for his sake. I protest I refused not one, and did for them all I could, to his great pleasure. Then, when I saw him beginning to be well, I told him we must have viols and violins, and a buffoon to make him laugh: which he did. In one month, we got him into a chair, and he had himself carried about in his garden and at the door of his chateau, to see everybody passing by.

The villagers of two or three leagues round, now they could have sight of him, came on holidays to sing and dance, men and women, pell-mell for a frolic, rejoiced at his good convalescence, all glad to see him, not without plenty of laughter and plenty to drink. He always gave them a hogshead of beer; and they all drank merrily to his health. And the citizens of Mons in Hainault, and other gentlemen, his neighbours, came to see him for the wonder of it, as a man come out of the grave; and from the time he was well, he was never without company. When one went out, another came in to visit him; his table was always well covered. He was dearly loved both by the nobility and by the common people; as for his generosity, so for his handsome face and his courtesy: with a kind look and a gracious word for everybody, so that all who saw him had perforce to love him.

The chief citizens of Mons came one Saturday, to beg him let me go to Mons, where they wished to entertain me with a banquet, for their love of him. He told them he would urge me to go, which he did; but I said such great honour was not for me, moreover they could not feast me better than he did. Again he urged me, with much affection, to go there, to please him; and I agreed. The next day, they came to fetch me with two carriages: and when we got to Mons, we found the dinner ready, and the chief men of the town, with their ladies, who attended me with great devotion. We sat down to dinner, and they put me at the top of the table, and all drank to me, and to the health of M. le Marquis d'Auret: saying he was happy, and they with him, to have had me to put him on his legs again; and truly the whole company were full of honour and love for him. After dinner, they brought me back to the Chateau d'Auret, where M. le Marquis was awaiting me; who affectionately welcomed me, and would hear what we had done at our banquet; and I told him all the company had drunk many times to his health.

In six weeks he began to stand a little on crutches, and to put on fat and get a good natural colour. He would go to Beaumont, his brother's place; and was taken there in a carrying-chair, by eight men at a time. And the peasants in the villages through which we passed, knowing it was M. le Marquis, fought who should carry him, and would have us drink with them; but it was only beer. Yet I believe if they had possessed wine, even hippocras, they would have given it to us with a will. And all were right glad to see him, and all prayed God for him. When we came to Beaumont, everybody came out to meet us and pay their respects to him, and prayed God bless him and keep him in good health. We came to the chateau, and found there more than fifty gentlemen whom M. le Duc d'Ascot had invited to come and be happy with his brother; and he kept open house three whole days. After dinner, the gentlemen used to tilt at the ring and play with the foils, and were full of joy at the sight of M. d'Auret, for they had heard he would never leave his bed or be healed of his wound. I was always at the upper end of the table, and everybody drank to him and to me, thinking to make me drunk, which they could not; for I drank only as I always do.

A few days later, we went back; and I took my leave of Mdme. la Duchesse d'Ascot, who drew a diamond from her finger, and gave it me in gratitude for my good care of her brother: and the diamond was worth more than fifty crowns. M. d'Auret was ever getting better, and was walking all alone on crutches round his garden. Many times I asked him to let me go back to Paris, telling him his physician and his surgeon could do all that was now wanted for his wound: and to make a beginning to get away from him, I asked him to let me go and see the town of Antwerp. To this he agreed at once, and told his steward to escort me there, with two pages. We passed through Malines and Brussels, where the chief citizens of the town begged us to let them know of it when we returned; for they too wished, like those of Mons, to have a festival for me. I gave them very humble thanks, saying I did not deserve such honour. I was two days and a half seeing the town of Antwerp, where certain merchants, knowing the steward, prayed he would let them have the honour of giving us a dinner or a supper: it was who should have us, and they were all truly glad to hear how well M. d' Auret was doing, and made more of me than I asked.

On my return, I found M. le Marquis enjoying himself: and five or six days later I asked his leave to go, which he gave, said he, with great regret. And he made me a handsome present of great value, and sent me back, with the steward, and two pages, to my house in Paris.

I forgot to say that the Spaniards have since ruined and demolished his Chateau d' Auret, sacked, pillaged, and burned all the houses and villages belonging to him: because he would not be of their wicked party in their assassinations and ruin of the Netherlands.

I have published this Apologia, that all men may know on what footing I have always gone: and sure there is no man so touchy not to take in good part what I have said. For I have but told the truth; and the purport of my discourse is plain for all men to see, and the facts themselves are my guarantee against all calumnies.



William Harvey, whose epoch-making treatise announcing and demonstrating the ejaculation of the blood is here printed, was born at Folkestone, Kent, England, April 1, 1578. He was educated at the King's School, Canterbury, and at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge; and studied medicine on the Continent, receiving the degree of M.D. from the University of Padua. He took the same degree later at both the English universities. After his return to England he became Fellow of the College of Physicians, physician to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, and Lumleian lecturer at the College of Physicians. It was in this last capacity that he delivered, in 1616, the lectures in which he first gave public notice of his theories on the circulation of the blood. The notes of these lectures are still preserved in the British Museum.

In 1618 Harvey was appointed physician extraordinary to James I, and he remained in close professional relations to the royal family until the close of the Civil War, being present at the battle of Edgehill. By mandate of Charles I, he was, for a short time, Warden of Merton College, Oxford (1645-6), and, when he was too infirm to undertake the duties, he was offered the Presidency of the College of Physicians. He died on June 3, 1657.

Harvey's famous "Exercitatio Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus" was published in Latin at Frankfort in 1628. The discovery was received with great interest, and in his own country was accepted at once; on the Continent it won favor more slowly. Before his death, however, the soundness of his views was acknowledged by the medical profession throughout Europe, and "it remains to this day the greatest of the discoveries of physiology, and its whole honor belongs to Harvey."



I have already and repeatedly presented you, my learned friends, with my new views of the motion and function of the heart, in my anatomical lectures; but having now for more than nine years confirmed these views by multiplied demonstrations in your presence, illustrated them by arguments, and freed them from the objections of the most learned and skilful anatomists, I at length yield to the requests, I might say entreaties, of many, and here present them for general consideration in this treatise.

Were not the work indeed presented through you, my learned friends, I should scarce hope that it could come out scatheless and complete; for you have in general been the faithful witnesses of almost all the instances from which I have either collected the truth or confuted error. You have seen my dissections, and at my demonstrations of all that I maintain to be objects of sense, you have been accustomed to stand by and bear me out with your testimony. And as this book alone declares the blood to course and revolve by a new route, very different from the ancient and beaten pathway trodden for so many ages, and illustrated by such a host of learned and distinguished men, I was greatly afraid lest I might be charged with presumption did I lay my work before the public at home, or send it beyond seas for impression, unless I had first proposed the subject to you, had confirmed its conclusions by ocular demonstrations in your presence, had replied to your doubts and objections, and secured the assent and support of our distinguished President. For I was most intimately persuaded, that if I could make good my proposition before you and our College, illustrious by its numerous body of learned individuals, I had less to fear from others. I even ventured to hope that I should have the comfort of finding all that you granted me in your sheer love of truth, conceded by others who were philosophers like yourselves. True philosophers, who are only eager for truth and knowledge, never regard themselves as already so thoroughly informed, but that they welcome further information from whomsoever and from wheresoever it may come; nor are they so narrow-minded as to imagine any of the arts or sciences transmitted to us by the ancients, in such a state of forwardness or completeness, that nothing is left for the ingenuity and industry of others. On the contrary, very many maintain that all we know is still infinitely less than all that still remains unknown; nor do philosophers pin their faith to others' precepts in such wise that they lose their liberty, and cease to give credence to the conclusions of their proper senses. Neither do they swear such fealty to their mistress Antiquity, that they openly, and in sight of all, deny and desert their friend Truth. But even as they see that the credulous and vain are disposed at the first blush to accept and believe everything that is proposed to them, so do they observe that the dull and unintellectual are indisposed to see what lies before their eyes, and even deny the light of the noonday sun. They teach us in our course of philosophy to sedulously avoid the fables of the poets and the fancies of the vulgar, as the false conclusions of the sceptics. And then the studious and good and true, never suffer their minds to be warped by the passions of hatred and envy, which unfit men duly to weigh the arguments that are advanced in behalf of truth, or to appreciate the proposition that is even fairly demonstrated. Neither do they think it unworthy of them to change their opinion if truth and undoubted demonstration require them to do so. They do not esteem it discreditable to desert error, though sanctioned by the highest antiquity, for they know full well that to err, to be deceived, is human; that many things are discovered by accident and that many may be learned indifferently from any quarter, by an old man from a youth, by a person of understanding from one of inferior capacity.

My dear colleagues, I had no purpose to swell this treatise into a large volume by quoting the names and writings of anatomists, or to make a parade of the strength of my memory, the extent of my reading, and the amount of my pains; because I profess both to learn and to teach anatomy, not from books but from dissections; not from the positions of philosophers but from the fabric of nature; and then because I do not think it right or proper to strive to take from the ancients any honor that is their due, nor yet to dispute with the moderns, and enter into controversy with those who have excelled in anatomy and been my teachers. I would not charge with wilful falsehood any one who was sincerely anxious for truth, nor lay it to any one's door as a crime that he had fallen into error. I avow myself the partisan of truth alone; and I can indeed say that I have used all my endeavours, bestowed all my pains on an attempt to produce something that should be agreeable to the good, profitable to the learned, and useful to letters.

Farewell, most worthy Doctors, And think kindly of your Anatomist,



As we are about to discuss the motion, action, and use of the heart and arteries, it is imperative on us first to state what has been thought of these things by others in their writings, and what has been held by the vulgar and by tradition, in order that what is true may be confirmed, and what is false set right by dissection, multiplied experience, and accurate observation.

Almost all anatomists, physicians, and philosophers up to the present time have supposed, with Galen, that the object of the pulse was the same as that of respiration, and only differed in one particular, this being conceived to depend on the animal, the respiration on the vital faculty; the two, in all other respects, whether with reference to purpose or to motion, comporting themselves alike. Whence it is affirmed, as by Hieronymus Fabricius of Aquapendente, in his book on "Respiration," which has lately appeared, that as the pulsation of the heart and arteries does not suffice for the ventilation and refrigeration of the blood, therefore were the lungs fashioned to surround the heart. From this it appears that whatever has hitherto been said upon the systole and diastole, or on the motion of the heart and arteries, has been said with especial reference to the lungs.

But as the structure and movements of the heart differ from those of the lungs, and the motions of the arteries from those of the chest, so it seems likely that other ends and offices will thence arise, and that the pulsations and uses of the heart, likewise of the arteries, will differ in many respects from the heavings and uses of the chest and lungs. For did the arterial pulse and the respiration serve the same ends; did the arteries in their diastole take air into their cavities, as commonly stated, and in their systole emit fuliginous vapours by the same pores of the flesh and skin; and further, did they, in the time intermediate between the diastole and the systole, contain air, and at all times either air or spirits, or fuliginous vapours, what should then be said to Galen, who wrote a book on purpose to show that by nature the arteries contained blood, and nothing but blood, and consequently neither spirits nor air, as may readily be gathered from the experiments and reasonings contained in the same book? Now, if the arteries are filled in the diastole with air then taken into them (a larger quantity of air penetrating when the pulse is large and full), it must come to pass that if you plunge into a bath of water or of oil when the pulse is strong and full, it ought forthwith to become either smaller or much slower, since the circumambient bath will render it either difficult or impossible for the air to penetrate. In like manner, as all the arteries, those that are deep-seated as well as those that are superficial, are dilated at the same instant and with the same rapidity, how is it possible that air should penetrate to the deeper parts as freely and quickly through the skin, flesh, and other structures, as through the cuticle alone? And how should the arteries of the foetus draw air into their cavities through the abdomen of the mother and the body of the womb? And how should seals, whales, dolphins, and other cetaceans, and fishes of every description, living in the depths of the sea, take in and emit air by the diastole and systole of their arteries through the infinite mass of water? For to say that they absorb the air that is present in the water, and emit their fumes into this medium, were to utter something like a figment. And if the arteries in their systole expel fuliginous vapours from their cavities through the pores of the flesh and skin, why not the spirits, which are said to be contained in those vessels, at the same time, since spirits are much more subtile than fuliginous vapours or smoke? And if the arteries take in and cast out air in the systole and diastole, like the lungs in the process of respiration, why do they not do the same thing when a wound is made in one of them, as in the operation of arteriotomy? When the windpipe is divided, it is sufficiently obvious that the air enters and returns through the wound by two opposite movements; but when an artery is divided, it is equally manifest that blood escapes in one continuous stream, and that no air either enters or issues. If the pulsations of the arteries fan and refrigerate the several parts of the body as the lungs do the heart, how comes it, as is commonly said, that the arteries carry the vital blood into the different parts, abundantly charged with vital spirits, which cherish the heat of these parts, sustain them when asleep, and recruit them when exhausted? How should it happen that, if you tie the arteries, immediately the parts not only become torpid, and frigid, and look pale, but at length cease even to be nourished? This, according to Galen, is because they are deprived of the heat which flowed through all parts from the heart, as its source; whence it would appear that the arteries rather carry warmth to the parts than serve for any fanning or refrigeration. Besides, how can their diastole draw spirits from the heart to warm the body and its parts, and means of cooling them from without? Still further, although some affirm that the lungs, arteries, and heart have all the same offices, they yet maintain that the heart is the workshop of the spirits, and that the arteries contain and transmit them; denying, however, in opposition to the opinion of Columbus, that the lungs can either make or contain spirits. They then assert, with Galen, against Erasistratus, that it is the blood, not spirits, which is contained in the arteries.

These opinions are seen to be so incongruous and mutually subversive, that every one of them is justly brought under suspicion. That it is blood and blood alone which is contained in the arteries is made manifest by the experiment of Galen, by arteriotomy, and by wounds; for from a single divided artery, as Galen himself affirms in more than one place, the whole of the blood may be withdrawn in the course of half an hour or less. The experiment of Galen alluded to is this: "If you include a portion of an artery between two ligatures, and slit it open lengthwise you will find nothing but blood"; and thus he proves that the arteries contain only blood. And we too may be permitted to proceed by a like train of reasoning: if we find the same blood in the arteries as in the veins, after having tied them in the same way, as I have myself repeatedly ascertained, both in the dead body and in living animals, we may fairly conclude that the arteries contain the same blood as the veins, and nothing but the same blood. Some, whilst they attempt to lessen the difficulty, affirm that the blood is spirituous and arterious, and virtually concede that the office of the arteries is to carry blood from the heart into the whole of the body, and that they are therefore filled with blood; for spirituous blood is not the less blood on that account. And no one denies the blood as such, even the portion of it which flows in the veins, is imbued with spirits. But if that portion of it which is contained in the arteries be richer in spirits, it is still to be believed that these spirits are inseparable from the blood, like those in the veins; that the blood and spirits constitute one body (like whey and butter in milk, or heat in hot water), with which the arteries are charged, and for the distribution of which from the heart they are provided. This body is nothing else than blood. But if this blood be said to be drawn from the heart into the arteries by the diastole of these vessels, it is then assumed that the arteries by their distension are filled with blood, and not with the surrounding air, as heretofore; for if they be said also to become filled with air from the ambient atmosphere, how and when, I ask, can they receive blood from the heart? If it be answered: during the systole, I take it to be impossible: the arteries would then have to fill while they contracted, to fill, and yet not become distended. But if it be said: during diastole, they would then, and for two opposite purposes, be receiving both blood and air, and heat and cold, which is improbable. Further when it is affirmed that the diastole of the heart and arteries is simultaneous, and the systole of the two is also concurrent, there is another incongruity. For how can two bodies mutually connected, which are simultaneously distended, attract or draw anything from one another? or being simultaneously contracted, receive anything from each other? And then it seems impossible that one body can thus attract another body into itself, so as to become distended, seeing that to be distended is to be passive, unless, in the manner of a sponge, which has been previously compressed by an external force, it is returning to its natural state. But it is difficult to conceive that there can be anything of this kind in the arteries. The arteries dilate, because they are filled like bladders or leathern bottles; they are not filled because they expand like bellows. This I think easy of demonstration, and indeed conceive that I have already proved it. Nevertheless, in that book of Galen headed "Quod Sanguis continetur in Arterus," he quotes an experiment to prove the contrary. An artery having been exposed, is opened longitudinally, and a reed or other pervious tube is inserted into the vessel through the opening, by which the blood is prevented from being lost, and the wound is closed. "So long," he says, "as things are thus arranged, the whole artery will pulsate; but if you now throw a ligature about the vessel and tightly compress its wall over the tube, you will no longer see the artery beating beyond the ligature." I have never performed this experiment of Galen's nor do I think that it could very well be performed in the living body, on account of the profuse flow of blood that would take place from the vessel that was operated on; neither would the tube effectually close the wound in the vessel without a ligature; and I cannot doubt but that the blood would be found to flow out between the tube and the vessel. Still Galen appears by this experiment to prove both that the pulsative property extends from the heart by the walls of the arteries, and that the arteries, whilst they dilate, are filled by that pulsific force, because they expand like bellows, and do not dilate as if they are filled like skins, But the contrary is obvious in arteriotomy and in wounds; for the blood spurting from the arteries escapes with force, now farther, now not so far, alternately, or in jets; and the jet always takes place with the diastole of the artery, never with the systole. By which it clearly appears that the artery is dilated with the impulse of the blood; for of itself it would not throw the blood to such a distance and whilst it was dilating; it ought rather to draw air into its cavity through the wound, were those things true that are commonly stated concerning the uses of the arteries. Do not let the thickness of the arterial tunics impose upon us, and lead us to conclude that the pulsative property proceeds along them from the heart For in several animals the arteries do not apparently differ from the veins; and in extreme parts of the body where the arteries are minutely subdivided, as in the brain, the hand, etc., no one could distinguish the arteries from the veins by the dissimilar characters of their coats: the tunics of both are identical. And then, in the aneurism proceeding from a wounded or eroded artery, the pulsation is precisely the same as in the other arteries, and yet it has no proper arterial covering. To this the learned Riolanus testifies along with me, in his Seventh Book.

Nor let any one imagine that the uses of the pulse and the respiration are the same, because, under the influences of the same causes, such as running, anger, the warm bath, or any other heating thing, as Galen says, they become more frequent and forcible together. For not only is experience in opposition to this idea, though Galen endeavours to explain it away, when we see that with excessive repletion the pulse beats more forcibly, whilst the respiration is diminished in amount;, but in young persons the pulse is quick, whilst respiration is slow. So it is also in alarm, and amidst care, and under anxiety of mind; sometimes, too, in fevers, the pulse is rapid, but the respiration is slower than usual.

These and other objections of the same kind may be urged against the opinions mentioned. Nor are the views that are entertained of the offices and pulse of the heart, perhaps, less bound up with great and most inextricable difficulties. The heart, it is vulgarly said, is the fountain and workshop of the vital spirits, the centre from which life is dispensed to the several parts of the body. Yet it is denied that the right ventricle makes spirits, which is rather held to supply nourishment to the lungs. For these reasons it is maintained that fishes are without any right ventricle (and indeed every animal wants a right ventricle which is unfurnished with lungs), and that the right ventricle is present solely for the sake of the lungs.

1. Why, I ask, when we see that the structure of both ventricles is almost identical, there being the same apparatus of fibres, and braces, and valves, and vessels, and auricles, and both in the same way in our dissections are found to be filled up with blood similarly black in colour, and coagulated—why, I say, should their uses be imagined to be different, when the action, motion, and pulse of both are the same? If the three tricuspid valves placed at the entrance into the right ventricle prove obstacles to the reflux of the blood into the vena cava, and if the three semilunar valves which are situated at the commencement of the pulmonary artery be there, that they may prevent the return of the blood into the ventricle; why, when we find similar structures in connexion with the left ventricle, should we deny that they are there for the same end, of preventing here the egress, there the regurgitation, of the blood?

2. And, when we have these structures, in points of size, form, and situation, almost in every respect the same in the left as in the right ventricle, why should it be said that things are arranged in the former for the egress and regress of spirits, and in the latter or right ventricle, for the blood? The same arrangement cannot be held fitted to favour or impede the motion of the blood and of spirits indifferently.

3. And when we observe that the passages and vessels are severally in relation to one another in point of size, viz., the pulmonary artery to the pulmonary veins; why should the one be destined to a private purpose, that of furnishing the lungs, the other to a public function?

4. And as Realdus Columbus says, is it probable that such a quantity of blood should be required for the nutrition of the lungs; the vessel that leads to them, the vena arteriosa or pulmonary artery being of greater capacity than both the iliac veins?

5. And I ask, as the lungs are so close at hand, and in continual motion, and the vessel that supplies them is of such dimensions, what is the use or meaning of this pulse of the right ventricle? and why was nature reduced to the necessity of adding another ventricle for the sole purpose of nourishing the lungs?

When it is said that the left ventricle draws materials for the formation of spirits, air and blood, from the lungs and right sinuses of the heart, and in like manner sends spirituous blood into the aorta, drawing fuliginous vapours from there, and sending them by the pulmonary vein into the lungs, whence spirits are at the same time obtained for transmission into the aorta, I ask how, and by what means is the separation effected? And how comes it that spirits and fuliginous vapours can pass hither and thither without admixture or confusion? If the mitral cuspidate valves do not prevent the egress of fuliginous vapours to the lungs, how should they oppose the escape of air? And how should the semiluftars hinder the regress of spirits from the aorta upon each supervening diastole of the heart? Above all, how can they say that the spirituous blood is sent from the pulmonary veins by the left ventricle into the lungs without any obstacle to its passage from the mitral valves, when they have previously asserted that the air entered by the same vessel from the lungs into the left ventricle, and have brought forward these same mitral valves as obstacles to its retrogression? Good God! how should the mitral valves prevent the regurgitation of air and not of blood?

Moreover, when they appoint the pulmonary artery, a vessel of great size, with the coverings of an artery, to none but a kind of private and single purpose, that, namely, of nourishing the lungs, why should the pulmonary vein, which is scarcely so large, which has the coats of a vein, and is soft and lax, be presumed to be made for many—three or four different—uses? For they will have it that air passes through this vessel from the lungs into the left ventricle; that fuliginous vapours escape by it from the heart into the lungs; and that a portion of the spirituous blood is distributed to the lungs for their refreshment.

If they will have it that fumes and air—fumes flowing from, air proceeding towards the heart—are transmitted by the same conduit, I reply, that nature is not wont to construct but one vessel, to contrive but one way for such contrary motions and purposes, nor is anything of the kind seen elsewhere.

If fumes or fuliginous vapours and air permeate this vessel, as they do the pulmonary bronchia, wherefore do we find neither air nor fuliginous vapours when we divide the pulmonary vein? Why do we always find this vessel full of sluggish blood, never of air, whilst in the lungs we find abundance of air remaining?

If any one will perform Galen's experiment of dividing the trachea of a living dog, forcibly distending the lungs with a pair of bellows, and then tying the trachea securely, he will find, when he has laid open the thorax, abundance of air in the lungs, even to their extreme investing tunic, but none in either the pulmonary veins or the left ventricle of the heart. But did the heart either attract air from the lungs, or did the lungs transmit any air to the heart, in the living dog, much more ought this to be the case in the experiment just referred to. Who, indeed, doubts that, did he inflate the lungs of a subject in the dissecting—room, he would instantly see the air making its way by this route, were there actually any such passage for it? But this office of the pulmonary veins, namely, the ransference of air from the lungs of the heart, is held of such importance, that Hieronymus Fabricius of Aquapendente, contends that the lungs were made for the sake of this vessel, and that it constitutes the principal element in their structure. But I should like to be informed why, if the pulmonary vein were destined for the conveyance of air, it has the structure of a blood—vessel here. Nature had rather need of annular tubes, such as those of the bronchi in order that they might always remain open, and not be liable to collapse; and that they might continue entirely free from blood, lest the liquid should interfere with the passage of the air, as it so obviously does when the lungs labour from being either greatly oppressed or loaded in a less degree with phlegm, as they are when the breathing is performed with a sibilous or rattling noise.

Still less is that opinion to be tolerated which, as a two-fold material, one aerial, one sanguineous, is required for the composition of vital spirits, supposes the blood to ooze through the septum of the heart from the right to the left ventricle by certain hidden porosities, and the air to be attracted from the lungs through the great vessel, the pulmonary vein; and which, consequently, will have it, that there are numerous porosities in the septum of the heart adapted for the transmission of the blood. But by Hercules! no such pores can be demonstrated, nor in fact do any such exist. For the septum of the heart is of a denser and more compact structure than any portion of the body, except the bones and sinews. But even supposing that there were foramina or pores in this situation, how could one of the ventricles extract anything from the other—the left, e.g., obtain blood from the right, when we see that both ventricles contract and dilate simultaneously? Why should we not rather believe that the right took spirits from the left, than that the left obtained blood from the right ventricle through these foramina? But it is certainly mysterious and incongruous that blood should be supposed to be most commodiously drawn through a set of obscure or invisible ducts, and air through perfectly open passages, at one and the same moment. And why, I ask, is recourse had to secret and invisible porosities, to uncertain and obscure channels, to explain the passage of the blood into the left ventricle, when there is so open a way through the pulmonary veins? I own it has always appeared extraordinary to me that they should have chosen to make, or rather to imagine, a way through the thick, hard, dense, and most compact septum of the heart, rather than take that by the open pulmonary vein, or even through the lax, soft and spongy substance of the lungs at large. Besides, if the blood could permeate the substance of the septum, or could be imbibed from the ventricles, what use were there for the coronary artery and vain, branches of which proceed to the septum itself, to supply it with nourishment? And what is especially worthy of notice is this: if in the foetus, where everything is more lax and soft, nature saw herself reduced to the necessity of bringing the blood from the right to the left side of the heart by the foramen ovale, from the vena cava through the pulmonary vein, how should it be likely that in the adult she should pass it so commodiously, and without an effort through the septum of the ventricles which has now become denser by age?

Andreas Laurentius, [Footnote: Lib. ix, cap. xi, quest. 12.] resting on the authority of Galen [Footnote: De Locis Affectia. lib. vi, cap. 7.] and the experience of Hollerius, asserts and proves that the serum and pus in empyema, absorbed from the cavities of the chest into the pulmonary vein may be expelled and got rid of with the urine and feces through the left ventricle of the heart and arteries. He quotes the case of a certain person affected with melancholia, and who suffered from repeated fainting fits, who was relieved from the paroxysms on passing a quantity of turbid, fetid and acrid urine. But he died at last, worn out by disease; and when the body came to be opened after death, no fluid like that he had micturated was discovered either in the bladder or the kidneys; but in the left ventricle of the heart and cavity of the thorax plenty of it was met with. And then Laurentius boasts that he had predicted the cause of the symptoms. For my own part, however, I cannot but wonder, since he had divined and predicted that heterogeneous matter could be discharged by the course he indicates, why he could not or would not perceive, and inform us that, in the natural state of things, the blood might be commodiously transferred from the lungs to the left ventricle of the heart by the very same route.

Since, therefore, from the foregoing considerations and many others to the same effect, it is plain that what has heretofore been said concerning the motion and function of the heart and arteries must appear obscure, inconsistent, or even impossible to him who carefully considers the entire subject, it would be proper to look more narrowly into the matter to contemplate the motion of the heart and arteries, not only in man, but in all animals that have hearts; and also, by frequent appeals to vivisection, and much ocular inspection, to investigate and discern the truth.




When I first gave my mind to vivisections, as a means of discovering the motions and uses of the heart, and sought to discover these from actual inspection, and not from the writings of others, I found the task so truly arduous, so full of difficulties, that I was almost tempted to think, with Fracastorius, that the motion of the heart was only to be comprehended by God. For I could neither rightly perceive at first when the systole and when the diastole took place, nor when and where dilatation and contraction occurred, by reason of the rapidity of the motion, which in many animals is accomplished in the twinkling of an eye, coming and going like a flash of lightning; so that the systole presented itself to me now from this point, now from that; the diastole the same; and then everything was reversed, the motions occurring, as it seemed, variously and confusedly together. My mind was therefore greatly unsettled nor did I know what I should myself conclude, nor what believe from others. I was not surprised that Andreas Laurentius should have written that the motion of the heart was as perplexing as the flux and reflux of Euripus had appeared to Aristotle.

At length, by using greater and daily diligence and investigation, making frequent inspection of many and various animals, and collating numerous observations, I thought that I had attained to the truth, that I should extricate myself and escape from this labyrinth, and that I had discovered what I so much desired, both the motion and the use of the heart and arteries. From that time I have not hesitated to expose my views upon these subjects, not only in private to my friends, but also in public, in my anatomical lectures, after the manner of the Academy of old.

These views as usual, pleased some more, others less; some chid and calumniated me, and laid it to me as a crime that I had dared to depart from the precepts and opinions of all anatomists; others desired further explanations of the novelties, which they said were both worthy of consideration, and might perchance be found of signal use. At length, yielding to the requests of my friends, that all might be made participators in my labors, and partly moved by the envy of others, who, receiving my views with uncandid minds and understanding them indifferently, have essayed to traduce me publicly, I have moved to commit these things to the press, in order that all may be enabled to form an opinion both of me and my labours. This step I take all the more willingly, seeing that Hieronymus Fabricius of Aquapendente, although he has accurately and learnedly delineated almost every one of the several parts of animals in a special work, has left the heart alone untouched. Finally, if any use or benefit to this department of the republic of letters should accrue from my labours, it will, perhaps, be allowed that I have not lived idly, and as the old man in the comedy says:

For never yet hath any one attained To such perfection, but that time, and place, And use, have brought addition to his knowledge; Or made correction, or admonished him, That he was ignorant of much which he Had thought he knew; or led him to reject What he had once esteemed of highest price.

So will it, perchance, be found with reference to the heart at this time; or others, at least, starting hence, with the way pointed out to them, advancing under the guidance of a happier genius, may make occasion to proceed more fortunately, and to inquire more accurately.



In the first place, then, when the chest of a living animal is laid open and the capsule that immediately surrounds the heart is slit up or removed, the organ is seen now to move, now to be at rest; there is a time when it moves, and a time when it is motionless.

These things are more obvious in the colder animals, such as toads, frogs, serpents, small fishes, crabs, shrimps, snails, and shell-fish. They also become more distinct in warm-blooded animals, such as the dog and hog, if they be attentively noted when the heart begins to flag, to move more slowly, and, as it were, to die: the movements then become slower and rarer, the pauses longer, by which it is made much more easy to perceive and unravel what the motions really are, and how they are performed. In the pause, as in death, the heart is soft, flaccid, exhausted, lying, as it were, at rest.

In the motion, and interval in which this is accomplished, three principal circumstances are to be noted:

1. That the heart is erected, and rises upwards to a point, so that at this time it strikes against the breast and the pulse is felt externally.

2. That it is everywhere contracted, but more especially towards the sides so that it looks narrower, relatively longer, more drawn together. The heart of an eel taken out of the body of the animal and placed upon the table or the hand, shows these particulars; but the same things are manifest in the hearts of all small fishes and of those colder animals where the organ is more conical or elongated.

3. The heart being grasped in the hand, is felt to become harder during its action. Now this hardness proceeds from tension, precisely as when the forearm is grasped, its tendons are perceived to become tense and resilient when the fingers are moved.

4. It may further be observed in fishes, and the colder blooded animals, such as frogs, serpents, etc., that the heart, when it moves, becomes of a paler color, when quiescent of a deeper blood-red color.

From these particulars it appears evident to me that the motion of the heart consists in a certain universal tension—both contraction in the line of its fibres, and constriction in every sense. It becomes erect, hard, and of diminished size during its action; the motion is plainly of the same nature as that of the muscles when they contract in the line of their sinews and fibres; for the muscles, when in action, acquire vigor and tenseness, and from soft become hard, prominent, and thickened: and in the same manner the heart.

We are therefore authorized to conclude that the heart, at the moment of its action, is at once constricted on all sides, rendered thicker in its parietes and smaller in its ventricles, and so made apt to project or expel its charge of blood. This, indeed, is made sufficiently manifest by the preceding fourth observation in which we have seen that the heart, by squeezing out the blood that it contains, becomes paler, and then when it sinks into repose and the ventricle is filled anew with blood, that the deeper crimson colour returns. But no one need remain in doubt of the fact, for if the ventricle be pierced the blood will be seen to be forcibly projected outwards upon each motion or pulsation when the heart is tense.

These things, therefore, happen together or at the same instant: the tension of the heart, the pulse of its apex, which is felt externally by its striking against the chest, the thickening of its parietes, and the forcible expulsion of the blood it contains by the constriction of its ventricles.

Hence the very opposite of the opinions commonly received appears to be true; inasmuch as it is generally believed that when the heart strikes the breast and the pulse is felt without, the heart is dilated in its ventricles and is filled with blood; but the contrary of this is the fact, and the heart, when it contracts (and the impulse of the apex is conveyed through the chest wall), is emptied. Whence the motion which is generally regarded as the diastole of the heart, is in truth its systole. And in like manner the intrinsic motion of the heart is not the diastole but the systole; neither is it in the diastole that the heart grows firm and tense, but in the systole, for then only, when tense, is it moved and made vigorous.

Neither is it by any means to be allowed that the heart only moves in the lines of its straight fibres, although the great Vesalius giving this notion countenance, quotes a bundle of osiers bound in a pyramidal heap in illustration; meaning, that as the apex is approached to the base, so are the sides made to bulge out in the fashion of arches, the cavities to dilate, the ventricles to acquire the form of a cupping-glass and so to suck in the blood. But the true effect of every one of its fibres is to constringe the heart at the same time they render it tense; and this rather with the effect of thickening and amplifying the walls and substance of the organ than enlarging its ventricles. And, again, as the fibres run from the apex to the base, and draw the apex towards the base, they do not tend to make the walls of the heart bulge out in circles, but rather the contrary; inasmuch as every fibre that is circularly disposed, tends to become straight when it contracts; and is distended laterally and thickened, as in the case of muscular fibres in general, when they contract, that is, when they are shortened longitudinally, as we see them in the bellies of the muscles of the body at large. To all this let it be added, that not only are the ventricles contracted in virtue of the direction and condensation of their walls, but farther, that those fibres, or bands, styled nerves by Aristotle, which are so conspicuous in the ventricles of the larger animals, and contain all the straight fibres (the parietes of the heart containing only circular ones), when they contract simultaneously by an admirable adjustment all the internal surfaces are drawn together as if with cords, and so is the charge of blood expelled with force.

Neither is it true, as vulgarly believed, that the heart by any dilatation or motion of its own, has the power of drawing the blood into the ventricles; for when it acts and becomes tense, the blood is expelled; when it relaxes and sinks together it receives the blood in the manner and wise which will by-and-by be explained.



In connexion with the motions of the heart these things are further to be observed having reference to the motions and pulses of the arteries.

1. At the moment the heart contracts, and when the breast is struck, when in short the organ is in its state of systole, the arteries are dilated, yield a pulse, and are in the state of diastole. In like manner, when the right ventricle contracts and propels its charge of blood, the pulmonary artery is distended at the same time with the other arteries of the body.

2. When the left ventricle ceases to act, to contract, to pulsate, the pulse in the arteries also ceases; further, when this ventricle contracts languidly, the pulse in the arteries is scarcely perceptible. In like manner, the pulse in the right ventricle failing, the pulse in the pulmonary artery ceases also.

3. Further, when an artery is divided or punctured, the blood is seen to be forcibly propelled from the wound the moment the left ventricle contracts; and, again, when the pulmonary artery is wounded, the blood will be seen spouting forth with violence at the instant when the right ventricle contracts.

So also in fishes, if the vessel which leads from the heart to the gills be divided, at the moment when the heart becomes tense and contracted, at the same moment does the blood flow with force from the divided vessel.

In the same way, when we see the blood in arteriotomy projected now to a greater, now to a less distance, and that the greater jet corresponds to the diastole of the artery and to the time when the heart contracts and strikes the ribs, and is in its state of systole, we understand that the blood is expelled by the same movement.

From these facts it is manifest, in opposition to commonly received opinions, that the diastole of the arteries corresponds with the time of the heart's systole; and that the arteries are filled and distended by the blood forced into them by the contraction of the ventricles; the arteries, therefore, are distended, because they are filled like sacs or bladders, and are not filled because they expand like bellows. It is in virtue of one and the same cause, therefore, that all the arteries of the body pulsate, viz., the contraction of the left ventricle; in the same way as the pulmonary artery pulsates by the contraction of the right ventricle.

Finally, that the pulses of the arteries are due to the impulses of the blood from the left ventricle, may be illustrated by blowing into a glove, when the whole of the fingers will be found to become distended at one and the same time, and in their tension to bear some resemblance to the pulse. For in the ratio of the tension is the pulse of the heart, fuller, stronger, and more frequent as that acts more vigorously, still preserving the rhythm and volume, and order of the heart's contractions. Nor is it to be expected that because of the motion of the blood, the time at which the contraction of the heart takes place, and that at which the pulse in an artery (especially a distant one) is felt, shall be otherwise than simultaneous: it is here the same as in blowing up a glove or bladder; for in a plenum (as in a drum, a long piece of timber, etc.) the stroke and the motion occur at both extremities at the same time. Aristotle, [Footnote: De Anim., iii, cap. 9.] too, has said, "the blood of all animals palpitates within their veins (meaning the arteries), and by the pulse is sent everywhere simultaneously." And further, [Footnote: De Respir., cap. 20] "thus do all the veins pulsate together and by successive strokes, because they all depend upon the heart; and, as it is always in motion, so are they likewise always moving together, but by successive movements." It is well to observe with Galen, in this place, that the old philosophers called the arteries veins. I happened upon one occasion to have a particular case under my care, which plainly satisfied me of the truth: A certain person was affected with a large pulsating tumour on the right side of the neck, called an aneurism, just at that part where the artery descends into the axilla, produced by an erosion of the artery itself, and daily increasing in size; this tumour was visibly distended as it received the charge of blood brought to it by the artery, with each stroke of the heart; the connexion of parts was obvious when the body of the patient came to be opened after his death. The pulse in the corresponding arm was small, in consequence of the greater portion of the blood being diverted into the tumour and so intercepted.

Whence it appears that whenever the motion of the blood through the arteries is impeded, whether it be by compression or infarction, or interception, there do the remote divisions of the arteries beat less forcibly, seeing that the pulse of the arteries is nothing more than the impulse or shock of the blood in these vessels.



Besides the motions already spoken of, we have still to consider those that appertain to the auricles.

Caspar Bauhin and John Riolan, [Footnote: i Bauhin, lib. ii. cap. II. Riolan. lib. viii, cap. I.] most learned men and skilful anatomists, inform us that from their observations, that if we carefully watch the movements of the heart in the vivisection of an animal, we shall perceive four motions distinct in time and in place, two of which are proper to the auricles, two to the ventricles. With all deference to such authority I say that there are four motions distinct in point of place, but not of time; for the two auricles move together, and so also do the two ventricles, in such wise that though the places be four, the times are only two. And this occurs in the following manner:

There are, as it were, two motions going on together: one of the auricles, another of the ventricles; these by no means taking place simultaneously, but the motion of the auricles preceding, that of the heart following; the motion appearing to begin from the auricles and to extend to the ventricles. When all things are becoming languid, and the heart is dying, as also in fishes and the colder blooded animals there is a short pause between these two motions, so that the heart aroused, as it were, appears to respond to the motion, now more quickly, now more tardily; and at length, when near to death, it ceases to respond by its proper motion, but seems, as it were, to nod the head, and is so slightly moved that it appears rather to give signs of motion to the pulsating auricles than actually to move. The heart, therefore, ceases to pulsate sooner than the auricles, so that the auricles have been said to outlive it, the left ventricle ceasing to pulsate first of all; then its auricle, next the right ventricle; and, finally, all the other parts being at rest and dead, as Galen long since observed, the right auricle still continues to beat; life, therefore, appears to linger longest in the right auricle. Whilst the heart is gradually dying, it is sometimes seen to reply, after two or three contractions of the auricles, roused as it were to action, and making a single pulsation, slowly, unwillingly, and with an effort.

But this especially is to be noted, that after the heart has ceased to beat, the auricles however still contracting, a finger placed upon the ventricles perceives the several pulsations of the auricles, precisely in the same way and for the same reason, as we have said, that the pulses of the ventricles are felt in the arteries, to wit, the distension produced by the jet of blood. And if at this time, the auricles alone pulsating, the point of the heart be cut off with a pair of scissors, you will perceive the blood flowing out upon each contraction of the auricles. Whence it is manifest that the blood enters the ventricles, not by any attraction or dilatation of the heart, but by being thrown into them by the pulses of the auricles.

And here I would observe, that whenever I speak of pulsations as occurring in the auricles or ventricles, I mean contractions: first the auricles contract, and then and subsequently the heart itself contracts. When the auricles contract they are seen to become whiter, especially where they contain but little blood; but they are filled as magazines or reservoirs of the blood, which is tending spontaneously and, by its motion in the veins, under pressure towards the centre; the whiteness indicated is most conspicuous towards the extremities or edges of the auricles at the time of their contractions.

In fishes and frogs, and other animals which have hearts with but a single ventricle, and for an auricle have a kind of bladder much distended with blood, at the base of the organ, you may very plainly perceive this bladder contracting first, and the contraction of the heart or ventricle following afterwards.

But I think it right to describe what I have observed of an opposite character: the heart of an eel, of several fishes, and even of some (of the higher) animals taken out of the body, pulsates without auricles; nay, if it be cut in pieces the several parts may still be seen contracting and relaxing; so that in these creatures the body of the heart may be seen pulsating and palpitating, after the cessation of all motion in the auricle. But is not this perchance peculiar to animals more tenacious of life, whose radical moisture is more glutinous, or fat and sluggish, and less readily soluble? The same faculty indeed appears in the flesh of eels, which even when skinned and embowelled, and cut into pieces, are still seen to move.

Experimenting with a pigeon upon one occasion, after the heart had wholly ceased to pulsate, and the auricles too had become motionless, I kept my finger wetted with saliva and warm for a short time upon the heart, and observed that under the influence of this fomentation it recovered new strength and life, so that both ventricles and auricles pulsated, contracting and relaxing alternately, recalled as it were from death to life.

Besides this, however, I have occasionally observed, after the heart and even its right auricle had ceased pulsating,—when it was in articulo mortis in short,—that an obscure motion, an undulation or palpitation, remained in the blood itself, which was contained in the right auricle, this being apparent so long as it was imbued with heat and spirit. And, indeed, a circumstance of the same kind is extremely manifest in the course of the generation of animals, as may be seen in the course of the first seven days of the incubation of the chick: A drop of blood makes its appearance which palpitates, as Aristotle had already observed; from this, when the growth is further advanced and the chick is fashioned, the auricles of the heart are formed, which pulsating henceforth give constant signs of life. When at length, and after the lapse of a few days, the outline of the body begins to be distinguished, then is the ventricular part of the heart also produced, but it continues for a time white and apparently bloodless, like the rest of the animal; neither does it pulsate or give signs of motion. I have seen a similar condition of the heart in the human foetus about the beginning of the third month, the heart then being whitish and bloodless, although its auricles contained a considerable quantity of purple blood. In the same way in the egg, when the chick was formed and had increased in size, the heart too increased and acquired ventricles, which then began to receive and to transmit blood.

And this leads me to remark that he who inquires very particularly into this matter will not conclude that the heart, as a whole, is the primum vivens, ultimum moriens,—the first part to live, the last to die,—but rather its auricles, or the part which corresponds to the auricles in serpents, fishes, etc., which both lives before the heart and dies after it.

Nay, has not the blood itself or spirit an obscure palpitation inherent in it, which it has even appeared to me to retain after death? and it seems very questionable whether or not we are to say that life begins with the palpitation or beating of the heart. The seminal fluid of all animals—the prolific spirit, as Aristotle observed, leaves their body with a bound and like a living thing; and nature in death, as Aristotle [Footnote: De Motu Animal., cap. 8.] further remarks, retracing her steps, reverts to where she had set out, and returns at the end of her course to the goal whence she had started. As animal generation proceeds from that which is not animal, entity from nonentity, so, by a retrograde course, entity, by corruption, is resolved into nonentity, whence that in animals, which was last created, fails first and that which was first, fails last.

I have also observed that almost all animals have truly a heart, not the larger creatures only, and those that have red blood, but the smaller, and pale-blooded ones also, such as slugs, snails, scallops, shrimps, crabs, crayfish, and many others; nay, even in wasps, hornets, and flies, I have, with the aid of a magnifying glass, and at the upper part of what is called the tail, both seen the heart pulsating myself, and shown it to many others.

But in the pale-blooded tribes the heart pulsates sluggishly and deliberately, contracting slowly as in animals that are moribund, a fact that may readily be seen in the snail, whose heart will be found at the bottom of that orifice in the right side of the body which is seen to be opened and shut in the course of respiration, and whence saliva is discharged, the incision being made in the upper aspect of the body, near the part which corresponds to the liver.

This, however, is to be observed: that in winter and the colder season, exsanguine animals, such as the snail, show no pulsation; they seem rather to live after the manner of vegetables, or of those other productions which are therefore designated plant- animals.

It is also to be noted that all animals which have a heart have also auricles, or something analogous to auricles; and, further, that whenever the heart has a double ventricle, there are always two auricles present, but not otherwise. If you turn to the production of the chick in ovo, however, you will find at first no more a vesicle or auricle, or pulsating drop of blood; it is only by and by, when the development has made some progress, that the heart is fashioned; even so in certain animals not destined to attain to the highest perfection in their organization, such as bees, wasps, snails, shrimps, crayfish, etc., we only find a certain pulsating vesicle, like a sort of red or white palpitating point, as the beginning or principle of their life.

We have a small shrimp in these countries, which is taken in the Thames and in the sea, the whole of whose body is transparent; this creature, placed in a little water, has frequently afforded myself and particular friends an opportunity of observing the motions of the heart with the greatest distinctness, the external parts of the body presenting no obstacle to our view, but the heart being perceived as though it had been seen through a window.

I have also observed the first rudiments of the chick in the course of the fourth or fifth day of the incubation, in the guise of a little cloud, the shell having been removed and the egg immersed in clear tepid water. In the midst of the cloudlet in question there was a bloody point so small that it disappeared during the contraction and escaped the sight, but in the relaxation it reappeared again, red and like the point of a pin; so that betwixt the visible and invisible, betwixt being and not being, as it were, it gave by its pulses a kind of representation of the commencement of life.



From these and other observations of a similar nature, I am persuaded it will be found that the motion of the heart is as follows:

First of all, the auricle contracts, and in the course of its contraction forces the blood (which it contains in ample quantity as the head of the veins, the store—house and cistern of the blood) into the ventricle, which, being filled, the heart raises itself straightway, makes all its fibres tense, contracts the ventricles, and performs a beat, by which beat it immediately sends the blood supplied to it by the auricle into the arteries. The right ventricle sends its charge into the lungs by the vessel which is called vena arteriosa, but which in structure and function, and all other respects, is an artery. The left ventricle sends its charge into the aorta, and through this by the arteries to the body at large.

These two motions, one of the ventricles, the other of the auricles, take place consecutively, but in such a manner that there is a kind of harmony or rhythm preserved between them, the two concurring in such wise that but one motion is apparent, especially in the warmer blooded animals, in which the movements in question are rapid. Nor is this for any other reason than it is in a piece of machinery, in which, though one wheel gives motion to another, yet all the wheels seem to move simultaneously; or in that mechanical contrivance which is adapted to firearms, where, the trigger being touched, down comes the flint, strikes against the steel, elicits a spark, which falling among the powder, ignites it, when the flame extends, enters the barrel, causes the explosion, propels the ball, and the mark is attained—all of which incidents, by reason of the celerity with which they happen, seem to take place in the twinkling of an eye. So also in deglutition: by the elevation of the root of the tongue, and the compression of the mouth, the food or drink is pushed into the fauces, when the larynx is closed by its muscles and by the epiglottis. The pharynx is then raised and opened by its muscles in the same way as a sac that is to be filled is lifted up and its mouth dilated. Upon the mouthful being received, it is forced downwards by the transverse muscles, and then carried farther by the longitudinal ones. Yet all these motions, though executed by different and distinct organs, are performed harmoniously, and in such order that they seem to constitute but a single motion and act, which we call deglutition.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11     Next Part
Home - Random Browse