Billeder på siden

discoveries of which he knew nothing. While he had been dawdling away his days in the performance of petty functions, science had been advancing. Vesalius grew sad. He felt himself a Lost Leader. Old memories awoke. He remembered how, long ago, he had taught anatomy to eager students. He recalled his own enthusiasm, his disputes, his demonstrations, his discoveries. Fallopius even went so far as to point out some errors that Vesalius had made; Vesalius was enraged, but the effect was wholesome. While preparing an answer to Fallopius, his better nature reasserted itself. He determined to quit the pathologic court of Spain, and once again devote himself to the pursuit of knowledge.

About this time, after an obscure illness, a nobleman died, whereupon Vesalius decided to perform an autopsy, to determine, if possible, the disease which carried off this grandee. With his skilled hand he opened the chest but then Vesalius saw, and all present saw, what they had not thought to see a beating heart. The breezes carried the unpleasant news, the enemies of Vesalius accused him of impiety and murder, and the Inquisition sentenced the great anatomist to death. (According to a less-known story, Vesalius was thus condemned because while dissecting the mistress of a priest he discovered unmistakable evidence that Christ's bachelor had not kept his vows as to chastity.) But Philip II interceded for his Archiatrus, and as the merciless monarch was influential with the merciless institution, the punishment of Vesalius was commuted to a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. There is a story that Vesalius undertook this journey voluntarily, to get rid of the vigorous tongue of his wife. In this multiplicity of versions it is difficult to reach the truth, but it is generally believed - and there is contemporary testimony to support it — that it was to escape the fires of the Inquisition that Vesalius sailed over the waters to Palestine.

[ocr errors]

Not Jerusalem is the Holy Land, not Sinai's top, nor the Mount of Olives; not the Sea of the Plain, or the Pool of

Siloam, and neither the waters of Merom nor the wilderness of Judea can claim the sacred name; neither the valley of Achor nor the fountain near Jericho, not Jacob's well nor where the river of Jordan rolls, but the land where man works for the welfare of man,- this is Holy Land.

Gabriel Fallopius died young, and the Venetian senate invited Vesalius to again fill the Paduan professorship thus made vacant. So Vesalius left the palm-trees of Cyprus and sailed to the Ionian Sea. The winds blew, the billows rose like mad, an infuriated storm broke forth, and under the blue Italian sky, on the beauteous Isle of Zante, whose laurels and myrtles have been sung by old Homer and Virgil, the anatomist was wrecked.

A wandering goldsmith entered a wretched hut and was startled to see a corpse on the floor a corpse that Andreas Vesalius would never dissect. The winds of heaven destroyed his life, but could not wipe out the remembrance of his lifework. He perished in hunger and misery, but bequeathed to posterity an immortal name. Whenever we think of the pathfinders who advanced the progress of science, we evoke a picture of the intrepid Vesalius, knife in hand, battling against the tyranny of tradition.




Fine old Ambrose Paré, that quaint and delicious writer, the surgeon of princes, and the prince of surgeons.

OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES. Nor was Paré great on the positive side of progress only; he was no less resolute in confutation of fabulous lore. If he believed in his puppy dog fat-and how could he resign a secret remedy which had cost him so many prayers!—he denounced, with an audacity which in our tepid and skeptical times we can scarcely appreciate, the bogus virtues of mummy and unicorn. As great personages would marvel that he had not administered mummy in their lacerations, Paré was aroused to indite his opinion of the stuff; and the King must have been annoyed to read farther that the horn of the unicorn of St Denis, for which he had refused 100,000 crowns, was but an old woman's charm.


[ocr errors]

THE French were invading Turin. All armies are alike, and on their victorious way the soldiers of Francis I demolished the villas, broke the wheels of the mills, threw the nether stones in the thrifty brook, polluted the wells, poisoned the springs, staved-in the wine-casks, burnt the barns with the golden grain, and killed the cattle that fed on the fodder.

At the Pass of Suze the battle began — for the forts and trenches of the enemy blocked the way. The French gained steadily, and their foes retreated to the castle on the hillChateau de Villane. The conquerors followed in pursuit, and the hoofs of their horses made impressions on the wounded and the dying.

And from the dizzy precipices came another army - also greedy. Thru the reddened air swept the huge vultures, and fastening their talons in the bodies of the dead, they gorged themselves like leeches on the neck of a full-blooded peasant-woman.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


Night descended silently- like the vultures. The field was strewn with horrors.

« ForrigeFortsæt »