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The Harveian Oration on Medicine in the Century Before Harvey

Excerpt from The Harveian Oration on Medicine in the Century Before Harvey For this reason I am constrained to call attention to the commands contained in Harvey's bequest, for they form the essence of the creed of all honourable physicians whether ancient or modern. These commands of Harvey may be considered for a moment with reference to the manner in which they have been modified to meet the needs of modern times. The founder ordained that this oration should be delivered in Latin, but that tongue has not been heard on this occasion since 1864. The Latin language has ceased to be the usual method of communication between the learned, and by common consent that injunction has been allowed to fall into abeyance. The second injunction imposes upon the orator the duty of mentioning by name all the benefactors of the College, of recounting the work they have accomplished, and of exhorting others to emulate them. But here again the lapse of years has swelled the roll of those who have benefited the College to such an extent that the time at the disposal of the orator would hardly permit him to comply with the command. A judicious selection of names, therefore, is all that the orator can attempt in obedience to this act of piety demanded by the founder. The two remaining injunctions, requiring us "to search and study out the secrets of Nature by experiment, and also for the honour of the profession to continue in mutual love and affection," present no difficulty to the orator of the twentieth century, for they comprise the whole duty of the physician in every age in which his life is passed. But when Harvey in 1656 attached to his bequest these two fundamental commands the peculiar condition of political and scientific thought rendered them specially imperative. The experimental method in science was then in its infancy, and many physicians still clung obstinately to the teaching sanctioned through centuries by authority, itself based on insecure foundations. About the Publisher Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works.
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