The first words I come back to in my green-bound book are:
WHEN I first gave my mind to vivisections...Vivisections? Why didn't you say so? William Harvey talks about the circulation of the blood today. I'm still tired from my trip so I'm just going to use bullet points as my medium-of-opining:
• Granted, I have a most interesting man in the world level thirst for 17th-century prose, but I really think they should let some of the schoolkids read this. I just have a feeling they'd like hearing about Harvey's love of getting his hands dirty:
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...(Emphasis added in the hope that you will go, "Ew! Gross!") I think what I like about it is the DIY culture of it. No grant proposals in those days -- all you need is some translucent shrimp:
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 like the "particular friends." You don't ask just anybody over for shrimp-viewing.
• I had no idea when Harvey discovered the circulation of the blood. (SPOILER: this treatise was published in 1628.) I think I had him confused with Edward Jenner, the vaccination dude. And Joseph Lister is someone else entirely. I am pretty sure about King Gillette and the safety razor, however.
• Which says to me that the history of science ought to be better taught, i.e. taught at all. Of course to me, who likes history better than science, that seems interesting. Probably to most students it would seem like making broccoli seem interesting by mixing it with mashed beets.
• And finally, do not read this passage without brushing up on what auricles are and what they do. Harvey assumes that you are a keen student of auricles.
UPDATE: In an e-mail my father adds: "I am reminded of all the gruesome , but what must have been interesting, experiments conducted regularly that Pepys attends at Gresham College e.g. giving a dog a potion made from tobacco to see its reaction -- I think it died. The curiosity and investigative factors commingling. Later when there was a universal fascination with electricity sparked by Franklin's experiments and observations, I remember reading about someone suspending an orphan by the living room chandelier to demonstrate to the assembled company after dinner some amazing property of electricity and passing a electrical charge throught the child. I think the orphan was not immediately harmed but no one was around to assay the long term effects."