b.April 1578 d.3 June 1657
MD Padua(1602) FRCP(1607)
William Harvey, MD - This distinguished physician, the greatest physiologist the world has seen, and the brightest ornament of our College, was the eldest son of Thomas Harvey, of Folkestone, Kent, by his second wife, Joan, daughter of Thomas Halke, of Haslingleigh, in the same county.(1) He was born at Folkestone on the 1st or 2nd of April,1578. His father (2) was a yeoman, "yeoman Cantianus," in substantial circumstances, and brought up a large family, ten in number, five of whom became merchants of note and substance in the city of London. Our future physician was placed, when ten years of age, at the Grammar school of Canterbury, and there imbibed his preliminary knowledge of Latin and Greek.
In May, 1593, being then 16 years of age, he was entered a pensioner of Caius College, Cambridge. "Gul. Harvey, filius Thomæ Harvey, yeoman Cantianus ex oppido Folkston, educatus in ludo literario Cantuar. natus annos 16: admissus pensionarius minor in commeatum scholarium ultimo die Maii, 1593." (Reg. Coll. Caii Cantabr.) He took the first degree in arts in 1597, and, having selected physic for profession, left Cambridge about the year 1598, and, travelling through France and Germany, betook himself to Padua, then the most celebrated school of medicine in the world.
Fabricius ab Aquâpendente was then professor of anatomy; John Thomas Minadous, professor of medicine, and Julius Casserius, professor of surgery. The lectures of these, and of the other eminent men who then adorned that noble school, Harvey attended with the utmost diligence. From the first he attracted the marked notice of his teachers, who, high as was the estimate they had formed of his abilities and attainments, were nevertheless surprised at the accuracy and extent of knowledge which he evinced in the examinations preparatory to his doctor's degree. This was conferred upon him 25th April, 1602, and his diploma, which is among the MSS. of the College,(3) bears the following extraordinary terms of approbation; "in quo quidem examine adeo mirificè et excellentissimè se gessit, talemque ac tantam ingenii, memoriæ, et doctrinæ vim ostendit, ut expectatione, quam de se apud omnes concitaverat, longissimè superatâ, a prædictis excmis doctoribus unanimiter et concorditer, cunctisque suffragiis, ac eorum nemine penitus atque penitus discrepante aut dissentiente, nec hesitante quidem, idoneus et sufficientissimus in artibus et medicinâ fuerit judicatus."
Harvey then returned to England, was incorporated at Cambridge, and, settling in London, in November, 1604, married a daughter of Dr. Launcelot Browne, a fellow of the College, and physician to queen Elizabeth. He was admitted a Candidate of the College of Physicians 5th October, 1604, and a Fellow 5th June, 1607. On the 25th February, 1608-9, having been strongly recommended by the king (James I), by Dr. Atkins, the President, and several senior fellows of the College, Harvey was elected physician to St. Bartholomew's hospital. The appointment at this time was by way of reversion, and was to take effect on the resignation or decease of Dr. Wilkinson, who then filled that office. Dr. Wilkinson died in the following summer, and Harvey was formally installed in the active duties of his office on the 13th October, 1609. He was Censor in 1613, and again in 1625, 1629. In 1615 (the week after St. Bartholomew's day) he was appointed Lumleian lecturer, an office then held not for a definite period only, but for life. Harvey commenced his lectures in April, 1616, and is generally supposed to have expounded on this occasion those original and complete views of the circulation of the blood, which have rendered his name immortal. Harvey's MS. notes of these lectures "Prælectiones anatomicæ universales per me Gulielmum Harveium, medicum Londinensem, anatom. et chirurg. professor, Anno Dom. 1616, ætatis 37: prælect. April, 1617," are in the British Museum.(4)
It was not, however, until 1628 that he gave his views to the world at large, in his celebrated treatise entitled Exercitatio Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis 4to. Francof. ad Mn., having then, as he states in the preface, for nine years and more, gone on demonstrating the subject before his auditory at the College of Physicians, illustrating it by new and additional arguments, and freeing it from the objections raised by the skilful among anatomists. He continued his lectures for many successive years; in 1630 and probably in 1631 they were interrupted by his attendance on the Duke of Lenox "in his travels beyond the sea." They were undoubtedly so for some consecutive years anterior to the surrender of Oxford to the parliamentary forces (July, 1646), when Harvey was in close attendance on the king, and was, moreover, engaged in the performance of his duties as warden of Merton College.
To Harvey the College of Physicians stands indebted, for enforcing, by expensive legal proceedings, the due payment of the lecturer's salary from the heirs of Lord Lumley. Under date 24th November, 1640, I find the following entry in the Annals: - "Dr. Harvey petit licentiam, ut, nomine Collegii, hæredes et successores illustrissimi Baronis de Lumley in jus vocaret, pro recuperando salario chirurgico et anatomico, ab eodem Domino concesso. Data est venia." The political disturbances of the time, and Harvey's absence with the king, probably prevented his carrying out his object. The next memorandum having reference to this subject is the following: - "Maii ultimo, 1647. A letter was read from Dr. Harvey, where he desired the College to grant him a letter of attorney to one Thomson to sue for the anatomical stipend. lt was presently generally granted, and shortly after sent him under the common seal." From a MS. of Dr. Goodall's in the College,(5) we gather that Harvey expended at least five hundred pounds in various suits on this subject, which, however, was not finally settled till some time after his death, and then at the expense of Sir Charles Scarburgh, his successor in the lectureship.
Soon after Harvey's election as Lumleian lecturer he was appointed physician extraordinary to James I. The exact date of this appointment is not known, and the statement made in most of the biographies of this distinguished man rests on a letter from the king to Harvey himself, dated 3rd February, 1623, in which it is spoken of as a thing foregone - that had take place some time before. Greater precision than this is, however, attainable, and we may affirm without hesitation that the appointment was already made in 1618. In that year the "Pharmacopia Londinensis" was first published, and Harvey's name appears as "Medicus Regius juratus." In 1623 (3rd February) the king, as a mark of singular favour to Harvey, gave him permission to consult with the ordinary physicians concerning his health, and promised to constitute him one of that number on the first vacancy, which, however, did not take place for some years, not until long after the death of James, and when his son Charles I had already occupied the throne for some five or six years. Harvey was named Elect 3rd December, 1627; Treasurer of the College in 1628, and was re-elected in 1629; but on the 3rd December of that year he resigned this office, having been commanded by the king to attend the young Duke of Lenox in his travels on the continent. "1629, Dec. iii. Hoc ipso die, congregatis Electis in ædibus D. Harvey Thesaurarii, post splendidum convivium, Dr. Harvey petiit veniam abdicandi se munere Thesaurarii, propter necessariam profectionem mandatam ipsi ab Rege in partes transmarinas. Ita ex consilio et consensu D. Præesidentis et Electorum accepta est renunciatio ejus." On the 21st January following he announced his approaching departure to the president and governors of St. Bartholomew's hospital, who thereupon appointed a deputy to perform the physician's duties during his absence. Harvey was probably absent from England about a year, or rather more and almost immediately after his return was sworn in as physician in ordinary to the king and to the king's household. I see in the Annals, under date 22 December, 1630, "cum Dr. Harvye jam sit factus Medicus Regius ordinarius eoque nomine in Collegio sit supernumerarius," and on the 4th April, 1631, that he had just then been appointed "Medicus Regius pro hospitio regio," and Sir James Paget, in his "Records of Harvey," gives an extract from the Journals of St. Bartholomew's hospital, 25th April, 1631, in which he is described as "late sworne Phisicon in ordinary for his Mats Household, wth the yerly stipend thereunto nowe belongings."(6)
Harvey's duties at court interfered with his attendance at Saint Bartholomew's, and on the 19th January, 1632-3, the hospital court deputed Dr. Andrewes (physician in reversion) to supply his place, it being distinctly understood that Harvey should not thereby be prejudiced in his yearly fee, or in any other respect whatsoever. Harvey, as we learn from Aubrey, accompanied Thomas Howard, earl of Arundel, in capacity of physician, in the extraordinary embassy to the emperor in 1636. He returned with the ambassador at the end of the year, and was thenceforward fully occupied by his attendance on the court. I meet with but few notices of him in the Annals for some years after this period, with none indeed but those already quoted, having reference to his suit at law with the heirs of Lord Lumley.
Harvey followed, for a considerable time, the fortunes of his master Charles I; was with him at the battle of Edgehill 23rd October, 1642, and during the engagement, as we are told by Aubrey, the prince and the duke of York were committed to his care, when "he withdrew with them under a hedge and tooke out of his pocket a booke and read. But he had not read very long before a bullet of a great gun grazed on the ground neare him, which made him remove his station." Harvey accompanied the king after the Oxford battle, and was there incorporated doctor of medicine, 7th December, 1642. In 1645 he was, by the king's mandate, elected warden of Merton college, in place of Nathaniel Brent, who had withdrawn himself from the office, had left the university, and taken the covenant. This preferment, says Aiken, was merited by Harvey, not only on account on his fidelity and services, but his sufferings in the royal cause, for during the confusions of the times his house in London was plundered of its furniture, and, what was a much heavier loss, of his papers, containing a great number of anatomical observations, particularly with regard to the generation of insects. This was an irretrievable injury, and extorted from him the following pathetic but gentle complaint: - "Atque hæc dum agimus, ignoscant mihi niveæ animæ, si, summarum injuriarum memor, levem gemitum effudero. Doloris mihi hæc causa est: cum inter nuperos nostros tumultus, et bella plusquam civilia, serenissimum regem, idque non solum senatûs permissione, sed et jussu, sequor; rapaces quædam manus non modo ædium mearum suppellectilem omnem expilarunt, sed etiam, quæ mihi causa gravior querimoniæ, adversaria mea, multorum annorum laborious parta, è museo meo summanarunt. Quo factum est, ut observationes plurimæ, præsertim de generatione insectorum, cum reipublicæ literariæ, ausim dicere, detrimento, perierint." Harvey did not long possess the wardenship of Merton, for on the surrender of Oxford to the Parliament, in July, 1646, he left the university, making way for the restoration of Brent, and returned to London. He was now 68 years of age, and seems to have withdrawn himself from practice, and from all participation in the royal cause.
He became the guest of one or other of his brothers, now men of wealth and high standing in the city, and it was at the country house of one of them, that Dr Ent visited him at Christmas, 1650, and after much solicitation obtained from him the MS. of his work on the generation of animals. "I found him," says Ent, "in his retirement not far from town, with a sprightly and cheerful countenance, investigating, like Democritus, the nature of things. Asking if all were well with him - 'How can that be,' he replied, 'when the State is so agitated with storms, and I myself am yet in the open sea? And indeed,' added he, 'were not my mind solaced by my studies, and the recollection of the observations I have formerly made, there is nothing which should make me desirous of a longer continuance. But, thus employed, this obscure life and vacation from public cares, which disquiet other minds, is the medicine of mine.'" Ent goes on to relate a philosophical conversation between them, that brought on the mention of his papers on Generation, which the public had so long expected. After some modest altercation, Harvey brought them all to him, with permission either to publish them immediately or to suppress them till some future time. "I went from him," says Sir George Ent, "like another Jason in possession of the golden fleece, and when I came home and perused the pieces singly, I was amazed that so vast a treasure should have been so long hidden, and that, while others with great parade exhibit to the world their stale trash, this person should seem to make so little account of his admirable observations."
The work was published by Ent, the following year, under the title of Exercitationes de Generatione Animalium, quibus accedunt quædam de Partû, de Membranis ac Tumoribus Uteri, et de Conceptione. 4to. 1651. This with his great work de Motu Cordis Sanguinis; his two Disquisitions to Riolanus; a short report of the post mortem examination of Thomas Parr; (7) and a few letters to Caspar Hofman, Slegel, Nardi, Morison, and Horstius in explanation or defence of his views, comprise the whole of Harvey's published writings. But he is stated on good authority (8) to have written -
Observationes de usu Lienis,
Observationes de Motu locali,
De Amore, Libidine, et Coitu Animalium,
none of which are known to be now in existence. They were probably either lost when their author's lodging in Whitehall was plundered during the civil wars, or destroyed when the College of Physicians, to whom Harvey bequeathed all his "bookes and papers," was burnt in the great fire of 1666.(9)
There are, however, two unpublished MSS. of Harvey's in the British Museum. One of these, the "Anatomia Universa," comprising notes for his Lumleian lectures, has been already alluded to. The other MS. entitled by Sir Hans Sloane, "Gulielmus Harveius de Musculis, Motu locali, &c.," (10) is possibly the same as the "Observationes de Motu locali " mentioned above. Of it an interesting account has been given by the present Regius Professor of Physic at Cambridge, Dr. Paget, in his "Notice of an Unpublished Manuscript of Harvey," 8vo. Lond. 1850.
From this period to the time of his death, the chief object which occupied the mind of Harvey was the welfare and improvement of the College of Physicians. At an extraordinary comitia, held 4th July, 1651, the President, Dr. Prujean, read to the assembled fellows, from a written paper, the following proposition: "If I can procure one that will build us a library, and a repository for simples and rarities, such a one as shall be suitable and honorable to the College, will you assent to have it done, or no, and give me leave, and such others as I shall desire, to be the designers and overlookers of the work, both for conveniency and ornament?" This offer was too handsome to meet with other than immediate acquiescence, and, as the Annals express it, "super hâc re promptè gratèque itum est ab omnibus in suffragia." Whether in the course of building the name of the illustrious benefactor transpired we know not, but on the 22nd December, 1652, and before the works were completed, the College testified their regard for Harvey, in a manner as honorable to themselves, as it must have been gratifying to him. They voted the erection of his statue (11) in their hall, with the following inscription :-
Viro monumentis suis immortali,
hoc insuper Collegium Medicorum Londinense
Qui enim sanguini motum
Animalibus ortum dedit, meruit esse
On the 2nd February, 1653-4, by the invitation of Dr. Prujean the President, and Dr. Smith one of the Elects, to whom had been confided the superintendence of the works, the fellows attended at the College, when the doors were thrown open, and Harvey, receiving his assembled colleagues in the new museum, made over to them, on the spot, the title-deeds and his whole interest in the building.
"Die 2o Feb. 1653-4 (qui sine piaculo Fastis nostris eximi nequit,) convenimus omnes, invitatu Dris Prujean Præsidis, et Dris Smith Electoris: nobisque apertæ sunt valvæ in novum Harvæi Musæum. Ubi munificentissimus senex, præsentiâ suâ, gravique ac gratâ oratione, testatus benevolentiam, et omnia fausta precatus non dubitavit sese, uno momento, exuere, nobisque illud integrum, condignâque supellectili ornatum, dare ac dicare, quod vix aliquot annis, in summâ impensarum promptitudine, et quotidianâ operarum copiâ, ad culmen perductum est. Meritissimè ergo, postquam dixisset, adsurrexit ei clarissimus noster Præses, et verbis quæsitissimis, cum honorificâ mentione Dris Hamey, gratias eidem, omnium Collegarum nomine, retulit habuitque. Quem statim excepit, cui id muneris a Præside datum, DrEnt; qui, quâ facultate pollet, commodissimè quæ cogitet, exprimendi; rem ita totam verbis assecutus est, ut, illo audito, Prytaniæi nostri splendor et stabilitas: Prujeani et Smithi nostri suada et cura: Harvæi nostri sumptus studiumque: et Hamæi vestri substratum solum, quantumvis cæco illucessere potuissent: oculis, inquam, omnes tantispèr haud gravatè carere potuissemus; dum ad animum cujusque per aures tam plana ac plena mearet declamante illo gestorum narratio; nisi quis forsan, ad voluptatem augendam et ad fidem potiùs in minùs consuetâ operis præstantiâ firmandam, quàm ad rei intellectum, alterum sensuum testem desideraret." This important addition to the College was, as we learn from Aubrey, a noble building of Roman architecture (of rustic work with Corinthian pilasters,), comprising a great parlour, a kind of convocation room for the fellows to meet in below, and a library above." On the outside, on the frieze, in letters three inches long, was this inscription, "Suasu et curâ Franc. Prujeani Præsidis et Edmundi Smith Elect: inchoata et perfecta est hæc fabrica A.D. MDCLII."
On the 30th September, 1654,(12) the College, in recognition of their obligations, elected Harvey, in his absence, to the office of President, and, proroguing the comitia to the following day, deputed two of the Elects, Dr. Alston and Dr. Hamey, to wait upon him and inform him of his election. "Every act of Harvey's public life that has come down to us is marked," as Dr. Willis observes, "not merely by propriety but by grace." Harvey attended at the adjourned meeting, and in a handsome speech returned thanks for the high honour which had been done him, but respectfully declined the office on account of his age and infirmities; at the same time he recommended the re-election of Dr. Prujean, under whose auspices the affairs of the College had greatly prospered, a suggestion which was at once unanimously complied with. Dr. Prujean, immediately after his election, nominated Harvey one of the Consiliarii, an office which he did not refuse to accept, and to which he was re-appointed in 1655 and 1656.
Harvey still retained his Lumleian lectureship, the duties of which he conscientiously discharged to the last. His life, already prolonged beyond the span allotted to man, and his waning powers yet further broken by repeated and severe attacks of illness, warned him of his approaching end. He had lived to see his grand discovery of the circulation of the blood universally accepted, "and inculcated as a canon in most of the medical schools of Europe;" and he is said by Hobbes to have been "the only one that conquered envy in his lifetime, and saw his new doctrine everywhere established," "Harveius solus quod sciam, doctrinam novam superatâ invidiâ vivens stabilivit." Harvey now prepared for the great change awaiting him, and, in July, 1656, resigned his lectureship, took his leave of the College, and, in so doing, manifested the same zeal for its prosperity as had marked the whole of his former life. On this occasion he put the crowning act to his munificence by giving to the College in perpetuity his patrimonial estate at Burmarsh, in Kent, then valued at 56l per annum. "Com. minora extraord. xxvi Julii, 1656. Nam quatriduò ante, munificus senex Dr. Harvey, fastis nostris honorificè semper commemorandus, præmissâ eleganti oratione, patrium prædium (quod illi hæreditate obvenerat) Collegii usibus in perpetuum addixit; oblatis eam in rem instrumentis publicis. Prælegendi quoque munus (quod multis annis summo cum honore obierat) in Drem Scarburgh transtulit; totumque insuper sodalitium, una cum amicis aliquot aliis, magnifico epulo excepit. Eoque nomine, in illius laudem a Do Præside Dre Alston, atque etiam a Dre Emilie et Dre Scarburgh, concinnè ac nervoseè peroratum est."
Harvey did not long survive; but, worn down by repeated attacks of gout, died 3rd June, 1657.(13) His body was followed far beyond the city walls by a large number of the Fellows of the College.(14) He was buried," says Aubrey, "in a vault at Hempstead, in Essex, which his brother Eliab had built; he was lapt in lead, and on his breast, in great letters, his name, DR. WILLIAM HARVEY."(15) On a tablet in the church we read as follows:-
Cui tam colendo Nomini assurgunt omnes Academiæ;
Qui diurnum Sanguinis Motum post tot Annorum
Millia primus invenit;
Orbi Salutem, Sibi Immortalitatem
Qui ortum et generationem Animalium solus omnium
a Pseudophilosophiâ liberavit:
quod sibi innotuit humanum Genus, seipsam Medicina.
Seren Majest. Jacobo et Carolo Britannorum Monarchis
Archiater et clarissimus,
Collegii Med. Lond. Anatomes et Chirurgiæ Professor
assiduus et felicissimus:
Quibus illustrem construxit Bibliothecam
suoque dotavit et ditavit Patrimonio.
contemplando, sanando, inveniendo
varias domi forisque statuas,
quùm totum circuit Microcosmum
Medincinæ Doctor et Medicorum,
III Junii anno Salutis MDCLVII, Ætat. lxxx,
annorum et famæ satur.
In his will Harvey yet further testified his affection for the College. "Touching my bookes and householdstuffe, pictures, and apparell, of which I have not already disposed, I give to the Colledge of Physicians all my bookes and papers, and my best Persia long carpet, and my blue satin imbroyedyed cushion, one pair of brass and irons, with fireshovell and tongues of brasse, for the ornament of the meeting room I have erected for that purpose. ltem, I give my velvet gowne to my lo. friend Mr. Doctor Searburgh, desiring him and my lo. friend Mr. Doctor Ent to looke over those scattered remnants of my poore librarie, and what bookes, papers, or rare collections they shall thinke fit to present to the Colledge, and the rest to be sold, and with the money buy better."
"In person," says Aubrey, who knew him well, and was one of those who bore his coffin into the vault at Hempstead, "Harvey was not tall, but of the lowest stature; round-faced, olivaster (like wainscot) complexion, little eye - round, very black, full of spirit - his hair black as a raven, but quite white twenty years before he died."
"The private character of this great man" says Aiken,(16) "appears to have been in every respect worthy of his public reputation. Cheerful, candid, and upright, he was not the prey of any mean or ungentle passion. He was as little disposed by nature to detract from the merits of others, or make an ostentatious display of his own, as necessitated to use such methods for advancing his fame. The many antagonists whom his renown and the novelty of his opinions excited were in general treated by him with modest and temperate language, frequently very different from their own; and while he refuted their arguments, he decorated them with all due praises. He lived on terms of perfect harmony and friendship with his brethren of the College, and seems to have been very little ambitious of engrossing a disproportionate share of medical practice. ln extreme old age, pain and sickness were said to have rendered him somewhat irritable in his temper; and as an instance of want of command over himself at that season, it is related that in the paroxysms of the gout he could not be prevented from plunging the affected joint in cold water: but who can think it strange that when his body was almost worn down, the mind should also be debilitated? It is certain that the profoundest veneration for the Great Cause of all those wonders he was so well acquainted with appears eminently conspicuous in every part of his works. He was used to say that he never dissected the body of any animal without discovering something which he had not expected or conceived of, and in which he recognised the hand an all-wise Creator. To this particular agency, and not to the operation of general laws, he ascribed all the phenomena of nature. In familiar conversation Harvey was easy and unassuming, and singularly clear in expressing his ideas. His mind was furnished with an ample store of knowledge, not only in matters connected with his profession, but in most of the objects of liberal inquiry, especially in ancient and modern history, and the science of politics. He took great delight in reading the ancient poets, Virgil in particular, with whose divine productions he is said to have been sometimes so transported as to throw the book from him with exclamations of rapture. To complete his character, he did not want that polish and courtly address which are necessary to the scholar who would also appear as a gentleman."
"Harvey, in his own family circle, must have been affectionate and kind - characteristics of all his brothers - who appear to have lived together through their lives in perfect amity and peace. But our Harvey's sympathies were not limited to his immediate relatives: attachment, friendship was an essential ingredient in his nature. His will, from first to last, is a piece of beautiful humanity, and more than one widow and helpless woman is there provided for. He seems to have been very anxious to live in the memory of his sisters-in-law and of his nephews and nieces, whose legacies are mostly given to the end that they may buy something to keep in remembrance of him. We cannot fancy that Harvey was at any time very eager in the pursuit of wealth. Aubrey tells us that 'for twenty years before he died he took no care of his worldly concerns; but his brother Eliab, who was a very wise and prudent manager, ordered all, not only faithfully but better than he could have done for himself.' The effect of this good management was that Harvey lived, towards the end of his life, in very easy circumstances. Having no costly establishment to maintain, for he always lived with one or other of his brothers in his latter days, and no family to provide for, he could afford to be munificent, as we have seen him, to the College of Physicians, and at his death he is reported to have left as much as twenty thousand pounds to his faithful steward and kind brother Eliab, who always meets us as the guardian angel of our anatomist, in a worldly and material point of view. Honoured be the name and the memory of Eliab Harvey for his good offices to one so worthy! Though of competent estate, in the enjoyment of the highest reputation, and trusted by two sovereign princes in succession, Harvey never suffered his name to be coupled with any of those lower grade titles that were so freely conferred in the time of the First and Second Charles. When we associate Harvey's name with a title at all, it is with the one he fairly won from his masters of Padua; by his contemporaries he is always spoken of as Dr. Harvey; we, in the present day, rightly class him with our Shakespeares and our Miltons, and speak of him as Harvey. Harvey, indeed, had no love of ostentation or display. The very buildings he erected were built at the suggestion and under the auspices of others."
"In Harvey the religious sentiments appear to have been active; the exordium to his will is unusually solemn and grand. He also evinces true and elevated piety throughout the whole course of his work on Generation, and seizes every opportunity of giving utterance to his sense of the immediate agency omnipotence of Deity. He appears, with the ancient philosophers, to have regarded the universe and its parts as actuated by a Supreme and all-pervading Intelligence. He was a great admirer of Virgil, whose religious philosophy he seems, also, in a great measure, to have adopted. Upon the purely Deistic notions of antiquity, however, Harvey unquestionably ingrafted the special faith in Christianity. In connexion with the subject of the term of utero-gestation, he adduces the highest recorded examples as the rule, and speaks of 'Christ, our Saviour, of men the most perfect;' and in his will he further 'most humbly renders his soul to Him that gave it, and to his blessed Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus. (17) "
The fine portrait of Harvey, by Cornelius Jansen, in the library, engraved by Hall, closely corresponds to the former part of Aubrey's description above quoted. It was one of two portraits saved from the great fire of 1666. The bust, which is also in the library, is supposed to be by Scheemakers; it was presented by Dr. Mead, 1st October, 1739; and in the College, in Warwick lane, was supported on a bracket which was inscribed:
Hanc Magni illius Gulielmi Harveii senis octogenarii imaginem, qui sanguinis circuitum primus monstravit, medicinamque rationalem, instituit, ad picturam archetypam, quam in suo servat museo, effictam, honoris causâ hic ponendam curavit Richardus Mead, Med. Reg. A.D. 1739.
On the 25th June, 1659, the College voted the erection of a tablet to his memory: "Destinatur omnium suffragiis, D. Harvæo tabula honoraria, juxta statuam ejus appendenda." The statue and inscription were destroyed in the great fire; but a copy of the latter, on copper, was placed in the College in Warwick lane, and is now in the lecture theatre at Pall Mall East. It conveys so much information that, though long, it ought not to be omitted:
Anglus natu, Galliæ, Italiæ, Germaniæ hospes,
ubique amor et desiderium,
quem omnis terra expetisset civem,
Medicinæ Doctor, Coll Med. Lond. Socius et Consiliarius,
Anatomes, Chirurgiæque Professor,
Regis Jacobi Familiæ, Caroloque Regi Medicus,
gestis, omissisque honoribus, clarus,
quorum alios tulit, oblatos renuit alios,
Laudatis priscorum ingeniis par,
quos honoravit maximè imitando,
docuitque, posteros exemplo,
nullius lacessivit famam,
veritati studens magis quàm gloriæ;
hanc tamen adeptus
industriâ, sagacitate, successu nobilis.
Perpetuos sanguinis æstus circulari gyro,
fugientis, seque sequentis,
primus promulgavit mundo.
Nec passus ultrà mortales sua ignorare primordia,
aureum edidit de ovo atque pullo librum
albæ gallinæ filium.
Sic novis inventis Apollineam ampliavit artem,
atque nostrum Apollinis sacrarium augustius esse
tandem voluit. Suasu enim et curâ DD. Dni Franc Prujeani Præsides
Edmundi Smith Electoris
Senaculum, et de nomine suo Museum horto superstruxit,
quorum alterum plurimis libris et instrumentis chirurgicis,
alterum omnigenâ supellectili ornavit ac instruxit,
Medicinæ patronus simul et alumnus.
Non hic anhela substitit herois virtus, impatiens vinci,
accessit porro munificentiæ decus:
suasu enim et consilio Dni
Dris Edv. Alstoni Præsidis Anno MDCLVI.
rem nostram angustam prius, annuo LVJ. lib. reditu auxit,
paterni fundi ex asse hæredem Collegium dicens, quo nihil illi clarius, nobisve honestius;
unde ædificium sartum tectum perennare;
unde Bibliothecario honorarium suum, suumque Oratori
unde omnibus Sociis annuum suum convivium,
et suum denique (quot menses) conviviolum Censoribus parari,
Ipse etiam pleno theatro gestiens se hæreditate exuere,
in manus Præsidis syngrapham tradidit:
interfuitq' orationi veterum benefactorum, novorumque illicio
et philotesio epulo;
illius auspicium, et pars maxima;
hujus conviva simul et convivator.
Sic postquam satis sibi, satis nobis, satis gloriæ,
(amicis solum non satis, nec satis patriæ), vixerat,
cælicolûm atria subiit
Jun: iii. MDCLVII.
Quem pigebat superis reddere, sed pudebat negare.
Ne mireris igitur, Lector,
si quem marmoreum illic stare vides,
hic totam implevit tabulam:
abi et merere alteram.
In 1766 the College published a noble edition in quarto of Harvey's works, Guilielmi Harveii Opera Omnia a Collegio Medicorum. Londinensi: edita MDCCLXVI. It was edited with great care and accuracy by Dr. Akenside, the poet, and has prefixed to it an elegant life of Harvey, in very choice Latin, from the pen of Dr. Thomas Lawrence.
The College of Physicians possess some interesting memorials of Harvey, two of which may be mentioned. One, the whalebone probe or rod, tipped with silver, with which he demonstrated the parts, in his Lumleian lectures at the College. The other, consisting of six tables of wood, upon which are spread the different blood-vessels and nerves of the human body, carefully dissected out. These were probably prepared by Harvey himself, and are presumed to have been used by him in his lectures. They had long been carefully kept at Burley-on-the-Hill, the seat of the earls of Winchelsea, one of the ancestors of whom, the lord chancellor Nottingham, had married the niece of Harvey. They were presented to the College in 1823 by the earl of Winchelsea, who expressed a hope that these specimens of the scientific researches of Harvey might be deemed worthy of their acceptance, and thought that they could nowhere be so well placed as in the hands of that learned body, of which he had been so distinguished a member (18). They are carefully preserved in the library, in glazed cases, in the centre of the north gallery. Beneath them is the portrait of Harvey; above them is a marble tablet with the following inscription from the pen of Dr. Francis Hawkins.
Tabellis hic positis affixi manent vasorum nervorumque rami, manu ipsius Harveii nostri ut omnino credibile est, è corpore humano excisi oculisque accurate subjecti. Comes Honorabiliss: de Winchelsea et Nottingham Harveiorum sanguine oriundus, Tabellas has Harveianas Collegio Reg. Medicorum Lond. A.S. MDCCCXXIII Henrico Halford Baronetto Præside D.D.D. ut iis demum custodibus committerentur quorum ex cathedra sauguinis cursum perpetuo circuitu mirabiliter actum repertor ipse disertè docuit.
The life of Harvey has been often written - in the General Dictionary, Historical and Critical, folio, Lond., 1738; by Dr. Lawrence, in choice Latin, prefixed to the College edition of Harvey's works; by Aiken "Biographical Memoirs," &c.; and, lastly and most ably, by Dr. Willis, prefixed to his translation into English of Harvey's works, published by the Sydenham Society. To each of these I have been largely indebted in the compilation of the preceding sketch.
[(1) H B Wilson's History of the Parish of St Laurence Pountney, 4to. Lond., 1831, where, at p. 228, there is a pedigree of the Harvey family.
(2) Thomas Harvey, of Folkestone, the father of the discoverer of the circulation of the blood, was born in 1549, and died 12th June 1623, aged 74. He married first Jane, daughter of William Jenkins, by whom he had an only child, a daughter, Julian, who became the wife of Thomas Cullen, of Kent,. Their two sons are mentioned in their uncle, Dr. William Harvey's, will, and are left one hundred pounds apiece. Thomas Harvey married secondly, on the 21st January, 1576-7, Joan, the daughter of Thomas Halke, of Haslingleigh, co Kent, and had by her seven sons and two daughters, of whom the physician was the eldest. She died long before her husband, on the 8th November, 1605, and is buried in Folkestone church. On the flagstone over her is a brass, with the following inscription:
A.D. 1605, Nov. 8. Dyed in ye 50th year of her age, Joan, wife of Thomas Harvey: mother of 7 sons and 2 daughters. A goodly harmless woman, a chaste loveing wife, charitable quiet neighbour, a côfertable friendly matron, prudent diligent huswife, a careful tender harted mother, deere to her husband, reverensed by her children, beloved of her neighbours, elected of God, whose soule rest in heaven, her body in this grave, to her a happy advantage, to hers an unhappy loss.
(3) It was presented to the College by Mr. Beauvoir, of Canterbury, 30th September, 1766.
(4) This MS. was in the British Museum in 1766, when Dr. Lawrence wrote the Life of Harvey prefixed to the College edition of Harvey's works, but it had long been mislaid, as was stated by Dr. Willis in 1847, and by Dr. Rolleston in his Harveian Oration of 1873, pp. 70, 71, and has only recently been recovered.
(5) MS. No. 178, f. 9.
(6) The following was copied by Mr. Peter Cunningham from the Letter Book of the Lord Steward's Office:- "Charles R. Whereas wee have beene graciously pleased to admit Doctor Harvey into the place of Phisicôn in Ordinary to our Royal Person our will and pleasure is that you give order for the set'ling a dyett of three dishes of meate a meale with all incidents thereunto belonginge upon him the said Doctor Harvey and the same to begin from the seventeenth day of July last past and to continue during the time that the said Doctor Harvey shall hould and enjoy the sayd place of Physicôn in ordinary to our royall p'son: for weh this shal be your warrant. Given at our Court at Whitehall the vjth of December 1639. To our right trustie and wel beloved Councillors Sir Henry Vane and Sir Thomas Jermyn Knts Treasurer and Comptroller of our Household or to either of them."
"In the same Collection of Letters and Warrants is a contemporary copy of a Royal Sign Manual Warrant, addressed to the Comptroller of the Household, and dated 'at our manor of York 25 Septr 1640' by which the King gives £200 a year to Dr William Harvey for his diet. This was given in lieu if the three dishes which in those troublous times were not easily obtained. York, and 1640, and Charles I suggest a thousand reflections to the reader of English history."- "Gent. Mag., 1850," p. 136.
(7) This account first appeared in the Treatise of John Betts, M.D., "de Ortu et Natura Sanguinis." 8vo. Lond. 1669; the MS. having been presented to Dr. Betts by Mr. Michael Harvey, nephew of the author, with whom Betts was on terms of intimacy.
(8) Guilielmi Harveii Vita, prefixed to the College edition of Harvey's works. 4to. Lond. 1766, pp. xxxi-ij.
(9) In the inventory which Dr. Merrett, the then Library keeper, gave in on the 22nd October, 1667, of the things saved from the fire, there is no mention of any MSS., and the few books then in his custody are specified.
(10) No. 486, in Ayscough's Catalogue.
(11) It was as we learn from Hamey in the cap and gown of his degress, "statua ejus pileata et togata, marmorque incisum epitaphium, in suo apud nos, musæo." - Bustorum aliquot Reliquiæ.
(12) Non multo post, quantumvis absens, nominator Dr Harvey, inq: præsidem eligitur, plurium tamen votis quam vocibus; cum ob viri grandem ætatem, voluntatemque alias perspectam, irritum fore hunc conatum non unus cognosceret. Nec ultra itum est hodie: placuit solum quid actum esset, significere revocatis Sociis; quique id facerent Dri Harvey legare Dres Alston et Hamey: nee solvere comitia sed in proximum diem Jovis prorogare.
Quo tempore, supra prius recensitos comparuerunt Dres Harvey et Salmon: sed distinebantur alibi Dres Goddard, King, Stanley, Merrett, Dr Wright fiduciariam ut ante, sedem occipat et Socii reliqui suam: quibus omnibus Harvæus, serena fronte gratias egit collatæ in se nuperæ dignitatis, quâ se renunciatum non magis Collegii hujus præsidem, quam medicorum omnium spud Anglos principem, gratissimè agnoscebat. Deprecari tamen hoc manus ob valetudinem ac ætatem præcipue; obnixeque rogare, ut, si Dnus Expræses ad id exorari posset illum denuo in præsidem, eligerent, ut cuius hortatu et consilio hactenus, usus esset in rebus Collegii augendis; eodem gaudere imperioque ejus liceret, donec reliqua, quæ priora (volente Deo) æquatara mox essent, in commune commodum stabiliredtur. Sic rursus præsidis officium in Drem Prujean omnium calculis devolvitur." Annales, 30o Septemb., 1654.
(13) Hamey thus quaintly records this event: "Guilielmi HarvæI fortunatissimi anatomici desiit sanguis moveri tertio Idus Junii, '57 cujus alioqui perennem motum in omnibus verissimè asserverat." Bustorum aliquot Reliquiæ.
(14) "Comitia solennia trimestria 25o Junii, 1657. Monentur Socii, ut togati prosequi velint exequias funeris Dris Harvæi, postero die celebrandas."
(15) Attention having been directed to the condition of Harvey's tomb and remains at Hempstead, the College, at the comitia majora extraordinaria, held the 13th May, 1859, deputed two of the Fellows, Dr. Richard Quain and Dr. Stewart, to make all necessary inquiries respecting the same, and to report thereon to the College. These gentlemen visited Hempstead, on Thursday, 9th June, 1851, and from their report, which was read to the College on the 14th July following, I extract the following interesting particulars:-
We found that the tomb, which contains the remains of Harvey, is a large apartment, the ceiling of which is raised a few feet above the floor of the church. In this chamber we found forty-six coffins placed on the floor, more or less irregularly. Light and air were freely and abundantly admitted to the vault by three open-grated windows. The leaden coffin which contains Harvey's remains we found placed in the more distant part of the vault, in the centre of a row of twelve other coffins, all similar in form and structure. The coffin of Harvey, easily recognised byhis name, which appears in raised letters in the usual situation, is placed immediately beneath one of the open windows. The coffins placed in this row are all peculiar in shape; they most closely resemble Egyptian mummy cases, even to the extent of presenting a delineation or mask of the features. Several of these cases or coffins have collapsed in part, leaving a concave or well-like upper surface, This is the case in a marked degree in the coffin of Harvey. The result has been, that the rain, beating through the open window, exposed to the south-east, has accumulated in the well-shaped hollow on the upper surface, and passed thence into the coffin through a fissure situated towards the feet. At the time of our visit, certainly the lower third, and most probably the whole coffin, was filled with dirty water. The attendant told us that, to the best of her belief, the coffin had been in its present state for many years.
"With a view to remedying this state of things, which should no longer be suffered to exist, we recommend that means be taken to remove the water; that the coffin be repaired, and that, being removed to a less exposed situation in the vault, it be inclosed in an open stone case."
The President, Dr. Mayo, in compliance with a vote of the College, having communicated the substance of the report to the present representatives of the Harvey family, requested that the College of Physicians might be permitted to undertake the duty of adopting the measures therein recommended for the better preservation of the remains of their great benefactor. Such permission was withheld, and, after some considerable delay, Dr. Mayo was informed that the necessary repairs bad been carried out by the family.
(16) Biographical Memoirs of Medicine in Great Britain. 8vo. Lond. 1780, p. 298.
(17) Willis's Life of Harvey, prefixed to his translation of Harvey's Works for the Sydenham Society, p. lxxvi.
(18) 24th March, 1823. The following letter from my Lord Winchelsea, together with the answer by the President, were read to the College: - South Street, Feb. 22, 1823. Sir, I have in my possession some anatomical preparations which belonged to the late Dr. Harvey, which I have great pleasure in offering through you to the College of Physicians, in the hope that they will consider them as worthy of their acceptance, and thinking that these specimens of his scientific researches can be nowhere so well placed as in the hands of that learned body of which he was so distinguished a member. I have the honor to be, Sir, Your most obedient humble servant, WINCHELSEA. To Sir Henry Halford, Bart., President of the Royal College of Physicians.
March 24, 1823. My Lord, I am desired by the Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians assembled, to make their most respectful acknowledgments to your Lordship, and to express their thanks in the strongest terms for one of the most gratifying and valuable presents which the College has ever received. They trace, my Lord, in these interesting remains the first steps by which physic was elevated to the dignity of a science; and though experience has made great improvements in the art of preserving such curious and instructive objects, yet, viewed as specimens of the earliest anatomical preparations ever made to illustrate one of the most important discoveries ever disclosed to mankind for its benefit, by the great master himself, who first expounded the circulation of the blood, these relics are invaluable in the eyes of the College, and will be preserved doubtless to the latest period of their possible duration with religious care. I am, my Lord, with most respectful attachment, your lordship's faithful servant, HENRY HALFORD, President of the Royal College of Physicians. To the Earl of Winchelsea.]
(Volume I, page 124)
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