to take an honest pride that such a man came of our English race; and as, I hope, to feel the deep responsibility which is laid upon us to have a care that the stock which in the same hundred years bourgeoned out in a Harvey and a Newton, shall not have its capacity for producing like growths, in the present and in the future, starved by devotion to mere material interests, or stunted by ignorant outcries against scientific investigation.
The second title which I have claimed for Harvey is that of author of the "Exercitatio de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis." And that title is, happily, quite indisputable. But some may suppose that I have so far thrown myself into the spirit of my assumed office as to insert a superfluous appellation—a sort of "Defender of the Faith." However, this would be an error. Harvey might have discovered the circular course of the blood; he might have given sufficient evidence of his discovery; and yet he might have been quite incapable of writing that little essay of fifty pages which no physiologist of the present day can read without wonder and delight. For, not only is it a typical example of sound scientific method and of concise and clear statement; but, in addition to the evidence of the course of the blood through the body, it contains the first accurate analysis of the motions of the heart; the first clear conception of the mechanism of that organ as a pumping apparatus; the first application of quantitative considerations to a physiological problem; and the first deductive explanation of the phenomena of the pulse and of the uses of the valves of the veins. "Libellus aureus," Haller called it—and never was epithet more aptly bestowed.
Harvey's third title to honor is the authorship of the "Exercitationes de Generatione." In this treatise Harvey grapples with two of the most difficult problems of biology—the physiological problem of generation and the morphological problem of development. It was simply impossible that he should solve these problems, for they can be approached only through the microscope; and Harvey was dead before Hooke, Malpighi, Swammerdam, or Leeuwenhoek, the fathers of microscopy, began their work. He saw the circulation in shrimps "ope perspicillo" indeed—but the perspicillum was a mere hand-glass. Hence it is not wonderful that Harvey's theory of fecundation is altogether erroneous; and that he is no less mistaken respecting the nature of the parts of the embryo which first make their appearance and the mode of their formation.
Nevertheless, just as it is the fate of dullness to be blind to the significance of justly-observed facts, so is it the rare privilege of men of the highest genius to discern the true light among the ignes fatui of error. They know the truth, as Falstaff discerned the true prince among his pot companions, by instinct. Explain the matter how we will, it is an indubitable fact that, though Harvey's fundamental observations were either inadequate or erroneous, some of his most important general conclusions express the outcome of modern research.