Leyden: Johann Maire, 1639.
Third, but second complete, edition of the single most important and famous medical book ever published, containing Harvey’s discovery and experimental proof of the circulation of the blood, which created a revolution in physiology comparable to the Copernican revolution in astronomy. Harvey’s discovery was to become “the cornerstone of modern physiology and medicine” (Garrison-Morton). De motu cordis “is probably the most important book in the history of medicine. What Vesalius was to anatomy, Harvey was to physiology; the whole scientific outlook on the human body was transformed, and behind almost every important medical advance in modern times lies the work of Harvey” (Heirs of Hippocrates). This is the earliest edition that collectors can reasonably expect to obtain, the first edition (Frankfurt, 1628) being of the greatest rarity. The second edition (Venice, 1635), published with the Exercitationes of Emilio Parigiano (known as Parisanus), one of Harvey’s many opponents, was fragmentary, lacking the plates, parts of the introduction and chapters I and XVI. In this edition, the publisher Maire restored these passages, included the illustrations, and also added the criticism and denials of James Primerose (Animadversiones, 1630) as a separate tract at the end of the book. The text of Harvey’s treatise is printed passage by passage alternatively with the refutations of Parigiano.
Provenance: S. Cunbert (ownership inscription “Bibliotheca medica 1722” on title); J.W.F. Stoll, Cologne 1796 (engraved bookplate); D. Lemberg, 1838 (owners name on title); Warren G. Smirl (his sale, Sotheby's London, 11 November 1994, lot 166, £18,400); Christie’s New York, 14 April 2005, lot 120, $45,600).
“William Harvey (1578-1657), educated at Cambridge and Padua, became a successful physician in London. He was appointed physician to St Bartholomew’s Hospital and to both James I and Charles I, and he accompanied the latter at the battle of Edgehill.
“Galen had regarded the veins as serving to convey to all parts of the body the nourishing blood elaborated in the liver. He recognized that both veins and arteries contained blood, and assumed that the arterial blood — clearly differentiable from the venous blood by its colour — was replenished where necessary from the venous supply through the septum of the heart. Sixteenth-century anatomists like Vesalius recognized that the septum was solid. The earliest published reference to the pulmonary or lesser circulation — passage of the blood from the right to the left side of the heart through the lungs — is in Servetus’s theological treatise of I553, but as this was virtually unknown to medical men, the first real public enunciation must be regarded as the clear statement by Realdus Columbus in De Re Anatomica (1559). In I603 Harvey’s teacher, Fabricius of Aquapendente, published a monograph on the valves in the veins — previously noted by others — the purpose of which he only partially understood.
“It was left for Harvey to combine these discoveries, to conceive the idea of a circulation of the entire blood system, and demonstrate it conclusively by an exhaustive series of dissections and physiological experiments. For twenty years Harvey pursued his objective in both human and comparative anatomy. He proved experimentally that the blood’s motion is continuous and always in one direction, and that its actual amount and velocity makes it a physical impossibility for it to do otherwise than return to the heart by the venous route, the heart being itself a muscle and acting as a pump. He showed how the whole of the blood passes through the lungs, is returned to the left side of the heart, then passes through the general circulation and returns to the right side; he even suspected the existence of the capillaries connecting the smallest arteries with the smallest veins, but without the microscope he could not see them. They were discovered in 1661 by Malpighi.The arguments and demonstrations marshaled by Harvey were too cogent to admit of long resistance, and his work was accepted by medical men in his lifetime. Descartes used the discovery as a basis for his mechanistic physiology; English experimental scientists regarded the discovery as of equal importance with Copernican astronomy or Galilean physics; Lower supplemented Harvey’s work by discovering the role of the lungs in supplying the arterial blood with air. With all this, Harvey’s work did not effect any change in medical practice nor fundamentally alter contemporary views on physiology” (PMM).
It is significant that this edition was published at Leyden for, as Gjersten remarks, “it was in Holland that Harvey received his earliest and most committed support” (Classics of Science, p. 178). In his Discours de la Méthode (published the year before this edition by Harvey by the same publisher, Maire), Descartes had approved of the establishment of circulation, but differed with Harvey in the mechanism which achieved it: “he did not view the heart as a muscular pump but rather as an expansion chamber in which the blood is heated, rarefied and thus forced out of the heart. The Harveyan thesis was defended by an English physician, Roger Drake, at Leyden in 1640 and was further supported by publications from Sylvius (1614-72), Walaeus (1604-49) and Du Roy (1598-1679), all emanating from Leyden about the same time” (ibid., p. 179).
Heirs of Hippocrates 417; Grolier/Medicine 27 (first edition); Keynes 3; NLM/Krivatsy 5329; Parkinson and Lumb 1147; PMM 127 (first edition); Waller 4089; Wellcome I, 3070.
Two parts in one volume, 4to (187 x 134 mm), pp. , 267 , [1-2] 3-84, with two engraved plates, the two unsigned leaves ‘Ad lectorem’ bound at the beginning of part 2. Contemporary vellum, small closed crack to upper capital, some light spotting to first few leaves [bound with] Becker, Daniel. Medicus microcosmus seu Spagyria Microscosmi tripo auctior & correctior, exhibens Medicinam Corpore Hominis... , 170,  pp. Leiden: Jacob Marci, 1633. Custom cloth folding case.