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.”
To his very dear friend, doctor Argent, the excellent and accomplished President of the royal College of physicians, and to other learned physicians, his most esteemed colleagues.
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