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The Harvard Classics Volume 38

Various

Book Overview: 

Joseph Lister was born in London and studied medicine at the University of London and pursued a career as a surgeon in Scotland. He became professor of Surgery in Glasgow and later at Kings College Hospital, in London.

Lister’s contribution to the advancement of surgery cannot be overestimated. Before his work on antisepsis, wounds were often left open to heal, leading to long recoveries, unsightly scarring, and not infrequently amputation or death due to infection. Lister’s work enabled more wounds to be closed primarily with sutures, drastically reducing healing time, scarring, amputations, and deaths due to infection.

Lister retired but was called back to assist in the operation on King Edward VII for appendicitis just days before the King’s coronation. The King later credited Lister for his survival and quick recovery

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ater is drawn in and transmitted to the stomach at each movement of the throat, which movement produces a sound and yields a pulse both to the ear and the touch; in the same way it is with each motion of the heart, when there is the delivery of a quantity of blood from the veins to the arteries a pulse takes place, and can be heard within the chest.

The motion of the heart, then, is entirely of this description, and the one action of the heart is the transmission of the blood and its distribution, by means of the arteries, to the very extremities of the body; so that the pulse which we feel in the arteries is nothing more than the impulse of the blood derived from the heart.

Whether or not the heart, besides propelling the blood, giving it motion locally, and distributing it to the body, adds anything else to it—heat, spirit, perfection,—must be inquired into by— and—by, and decided upon other grounds. So much may suffic. . . Read More