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February 7, 1885

History of the Discovery of the Circulation of the Blood.

JAMA. 1885;IV(6):168. doi:10.1001/jama.1885.02390810028018

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The development of an idea is like the growth of the organism that produces it. It is neither spontaneous, instantaneous, nor in a continuous line of evolution. The first inception is in the observation of a fact. Through other observations and the elaboration of new thought it assumes its embryonic forms; at last the labor of some greater intellect delivers it from its enshrouding mysteries, and it becomes a self-sustaining, active power. In the work before us the author shows this to have been the case respecting the idea of the circulation of the blood.

He reviews the various fragmentary and incomplete notions of the ancient writers, and after showing that the work of Harvey was only incomplete in his ignorance of the capillary circulation, thus recapitulates the principal epochs:

  1. The structure and function of the valves of the heart. Erasistratus, B. C. 304.

  2. The arteries carry blood during life,

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