HEART AND SCIENCE
HEART AND SCIENCE
(OF NEW YORK)
TO READERS IN GENERAL
You are the children of Old Mother England on both sides of the
Atlantic; you form the majority of buyers and borrowers of novels; and
you judge of works of fiction by certain inbred preferences which but
slightly influence the other great public of readers on the continent
The two qualities in fiction which hold the highest rank in your
estimation are: Character and Humour. Incident and dramatic situation
only occupy the second place in your favour. A novel that tells no
story or that blunders perpetually in trying to tell a story--a novel
so entirely devoid of all sense of the dramatic side of human life
that not even a theatrical thief can find anything in it to steal--will
nevertheless be a work that wins (and keeps) your admiration if it has
Humour which dwells on your memory and characters which enlarge the
circle of your friends.
I have myself always tried to combine the different merits of a good
novel in one and the same work; and I have never succeeded in keeping
an equal balance. In the present story you will find the scales
inclining on the whole in favour of character and Humour. This has
not happened accidentally.
Advancing years and health that stands sadly in need of improvement
warn me--if I am to vary my way of work--that I may have little time to
lose. Without waiting for future opportunities I have kept your
standard of merit more constantly before my mind in writing this book
than on some former occasions.
Still persisting in telling you a story--still refusing to get up in
the pulpit and preach or to invade the platform and lecture or to
take you by the buttonhole in confidence and make fun of my Art--it has
been my chief effort to draw the characters with a vigour and breadth
of treatment derived from the nearest and truest view that I could get
of the one model Nature. Whether I shall at once succeed in adding to
the circle of your friends in the world of fiction--or whether you will
hurry through the narrative and only discover on a later reading that
it is the characters which have interested you in the story--remains to
be seen. Either way your sympathy will find me grateful; for either
way my motive has been to please you.
During its periodical publication correspondents noting certain
passages in "Heart and Science" inquired how I came to think of
writing this book. The question may be readily answered in better words
than mine. My book has been written in harmony with opinions which have
an indisputable claim to respect. Let them speak for themselves.
SHAKESPEARE'S OPINION.--"It was always yet the trick of our
English nation if they have a good thing to make it too common."
_(King Henry IV. Part II.)_
WALTER SCOTT'S OPINION--"I am no great believer in the extreme
degree of improvement to be derived from the advancement of Science;
for every study of that nature tends when pushed to a certain extent
to harden the heart." _(Letter to Miss Edgeworth.)_
FARADAY'S OPINION.--"The education of the judgment has for its
first and its last step--Humility." _(Lecture on Mental Education at
the Royal Institution.)_
Having given my reasons for writing the book let me conclude by
telling you what I have kept out of the book.
It encourages me to think that we have many sympathies in common; and
among them that most of us have taken to our hearts domestic pets.
Writing under this conviction I have not forgotten my responsibility
towards you and towards my Art in pleading the cause of the harmless
and affectionate beings of God's creation. From first to last you are
purposely left in ignorance of the hideous secrets of Vivisection. The
outside of the laboratory is a necessary object in my landscape--but I
never once open the door and invite you to look in. I trace in one of
my characters the result of the habitual practice of cruelty (no
matter under what pretence) in fatally deteriorating the nature of
man--and I leave the picture to speak for itself. My own personal
feeling has throughout been held in check. Thankfully accepting the
assistance rendered to me by Miss Frances Power Cobbe by Mrs. H. M.
Gordon and by Surgeon-General Gordon C.B. I have borne in mind (as
they have borne in mind) the value of temperate advocacy to a good
With this your servant withdraws and leaves you to the story.
TO READERS IN PARTICULAR.
If you are numbered among those good friends of ours who are
especially capable of understanding us and sympathising with us be
pleased to accept the expression of our gratitude and to pass over the
lines that follow.
But if you open our books with a mind soured by distrust; if you
habitually anticipate inexcusable ignorance where the course of the
story happens to turn on matters of fact; it is you Sir or Madam whom
I now want.
Not to dispute with you--far from it! I own with sorrow that your
severity does occasionally encounter us on assailable ground. But there
are exceptions even to the stiffest rules. Some of us are not guilty
of wilful carelessness: some of us apply to competent authority when
we write on subjects beyond the range of our own experience. Having
thus far ventured to speak for my colleagues you will conclude that I
am paving the way for speaking next of myself. As our cousins in the
United States say--that is so.
In the following pages there are allusions to medical practice at the
bedside; leading in due course to physiological questions which connect
themselves with the main interest of the novel. In traversing this
delicate ground you have not been forgotten. Before the manuscript
went to the printer it was submitted for correction to an eminent
London surgeon whose experience extends over a period of forty years.
Again: a supposed discovery in connection with brain disease which
occupies a place of importance is not (as you may suspect) the
fantastic product of the author's imagination. Finding his materials
everywhere he has even contrived to make use of Professor
Ferrier--writing on the "Localisation of Cerebral Disease" and closing
a confession of the present result of post-mortem examination of brains
in these words: "We cannot even be sure whether many of the changes
discovered are the cause or the result of the Disease or whether the
two are the conjoint results of a common cause." Plenty of elbow room
here for the spirit of discovery.
On becoming acquainted with "Mrs. Gallilee" you will find her
talking--and you will sometimes even find the author talking--of
scientific subjects in general. You will naturally conclude that it is
"all gross caricature." No; it is all promiscuous reading. Let me spare
you a long list of books consulted and of newspapers and magazines
mutilated for "cuttings"--and appeal to examples once more and for the
When "Mrs. Gallilee" wonders whether "Carmina has ever heard of the
Diathermancy of Ebonite" she is thinking of proceedings at a
conversazione in honour of Professor Helmholtz (reported in the _Times_
of April 12 1881) at which "radiant energy" was indeed converted into
"sonorous vibrations." Again: when she contemplates taking part in a
discussion on Matter she has been slily looking into Chambers's
Encyclopaedia and has there discovered the interesting conditions on
which she can "dispense with the idea of atoms." Briefly not a word of
my own invention occurs when Mrs. Gallilee turns the learned side of
her character to your worships' view.
I have now only to add that the story has been subjected to careful
revision and I hope to consequent improvement in its present form of
publication. Past experience has shown me that you have a sharp eye for
slips of the pen and that you thoroughly enjoy convicting a novelist
by post of having made a mistake. Whatever pains I may have taken to
disappoint you it is quite likely that we may be again indebted to
each other on this occasion. So to our infinite relief on either side
we part friends after all.
London: April 1883
The weary old nineteenth century had advanced into the last twenty
years of its life.
Towards two o'clock in the afternoon Ovid Vere (of the Royal College
of Surgeons) stood at the window of his consulting-room in London
looking out at the summer sunshine and the quiet dusty street.
He had received a warning familiar to the busy men of our time--the
warning from overwrought Nature which counsels rest after excessive
work. With a prosperous career before him he had been compelled (at
only thirty-one years of age) to ask a colleague to take charge of his
practice and to give the brain which he had cruelly wearied a rest of
some months to come. On the next day he had arranged to embark for the
Mediterranean in a friend's yacht.
An active man devoted heart and soul to his profession is not a man
who can learn the happy knack of being idle at a moment's notice. Ovid
found the mere act of looking out of window and wondering what he
should do next more than he had patience to endure.
He turned to his study table. If he had possessed a wife to look after
him he would have been reminded that he and his study table had
nothing in common under present circumstances. Being deprived of
conjugal superintendence he broke though his own rules. His restless
hand unlocked a drawer and took out a manuscript work on medicine of
his own writing. "Surely" he thought "I may finish a chapter before
I go to sea to-morrow?"
His head steady enough while he was only looking out of window began
to swim before he had got to the bottom of a page. The last sentences
of the unfinished chapter alluded to a matter of fact which he had not
yet verified. In emergencies of any sort he was a patient man and a
man of resource. The necessary verification could be accomplished by a
visit to the College of Surgeons situated in the great square called
Lincoln's Inn Fields. Here was a motive for a walk--with an occupation
at the end of it which only involved a question to a Curator and an
examination of a Specimen. He locked up his manuscript and set forth
for Lincoln's Inn Fields.
When two friends happen to meet in the street do they ever look back
along the procession of small circumstances which has led them both
from the starting-point of their own houses to the same spot at the
same time? Not one man in ten thousand has probably ever thought of
making such a fantastic inquiry as this. And consequently not one man
in ten thousand living in the midst of reality has discovered that he
is also living in the midst of romance.
From the moment when the young surgeon closed the door of his house he
was walking blindfold on his way to a patient in the future who was
personally still a stranger to him. He never reached the College of
Surgeons. He never embarked on his friend's yacht.
What were the obstacles which turned him aside from the course that he
had in view? Nothing but a series of trivial circumstances occurring
in the experience of a man who goes out for a walk.
He had only reached the next street when the first of the
circumstances presented itself in the shape of a friend's carriage
which drew up at his side. A bright benevolent face encircled by bushy
white whiskers looked out of the window and a hearty voice asked him
if he had completed his arrangements for a long holiday. Having replied
to this Ovid had a question to put on his side.
"How is our patient Sir Richard?"
"Out of danger."
"And what do the other doctors say now?"
Sir Richard laughed: "They say it's my luck."
"Not convinced yet?"
"Not in the least. Who has ever succeeded in convincing fools? Let's
try another subject. Is your mother reconciled to your new plans?"
"I can hardly tell you. My mother is in a state of indescribable
agitation. Her brother's Will has been found in Italy. And his daughter
may arrive in England at a moment's notice."
"Unmarried?" Sir Richard asked slyly.
"I don't know."
Ovid smiled--not cheerfully. "Do you think my poor mother would be in a
state of indescribable agitation if there was _not_ money?"
Sir Richard was one of those obsolete elderly persons who quote
Shakespeare. "Ah well" he said "your mother is like Kent in King
Lear--she's too old to learn. Is she as fond as ever of lace? and as
keen as ever after a bargain?" He handed a card out of the carriage
window. "I have just seen an old patient of mine" he resumed "in whom
I feel a friendly interest. She is retiring from business by my advice;
and she asks me of all the people in the world to help her in getting
rid of some wonderful 'remnants' at 'an alarming sacrifice!' My kind
regards to your mother--and there's a chance for her. One last word
Ovid. Don't be in too great a hurry to return to work; you have plenty
of spare time before you. Look at my wise dog here on the front seat
and learn from him to be idle and happy."
The great physician had another companion besides his dog. A friend
bound his way had accepted a seat in the carriage. "Who is that
handsome young man?" the friend asked as they drove away.
"He is the only son of a relative of mine dead many years since" Sir
Richard replied. "Don't forget that you have seen him."
"May I ask why?"
"He has not yet reached the prime of life; and he is on the
way--already far on the way--to be one of the foremost men of his time.
With a private fortune he has worked as few surgeons work who have
their bread to get by their profession. The money comes from his late
father. His mother has married again. The second husband is a lazy
harmless old fellow named Gallilee; possessed of one small
attraction--fifty thousand pounds grubbed up in trade. There are two
little daughters by the second marriage. With such a stepfather as I
have described and between ourselves with a mother who has rather
more than her fair share of the jealous envious and money-loving
propensities of humanity my friend Ovid is not diverted by family
influences from the close pursuit of his profession. You will tell me
he may marry. Well! if he gets a good wife she will be a circumstance
in his favour. But so far as I know he is not that sort of man.
Cooler a deal cooler with women than I am--though I am old enough to
be his father. Let us get back to his professional prospects. You heard
him ask me about a patient?"
"Very good. Death was knocking hard at that patient's door when I
called Ovid into consultation with myself and with two other doctors
who differed with me. It was one of the very rare cases in which the
old practice of bleeding was to my mind the only treatment to pursue.
I never told him that this was the point in dispute between me and the
other men--and they said nothing on their side at my express request.
He took his time to examine and think; and he saw the chance of saving
the patient by venturing on the use of the lancet as plainly as I
did--with my forty years' experience to teach me! A young man with that
capacity for discovering the remote cause of disease and with that
superiority to the trammels of routine in applying the treatment has
no common medical career before him. His holiday will set his health
right in next to no time. I see nothing in his way at present--not
even a woman! But" said Sir Richard with the explanatory wink of one
eye peculiar (like quotation from Shakespeare) to persons of the
obsolete old time _"we_ know better than to forecast the weather if a
petticoat influence appears on the horizon. One prediction however I
do risk. If his mother buys any of that lace--I know who will get the
best of the bargain!"
The conditions under which the old doctor was willing to assume the
character of a prophet never occurred. Ovid remembered that he was
going away on a long voyage--and Ovid was a good son. He bought some of
the lace as a present to his mother at parting; and most assuredly
he got the worst of the bargain.
His shortest way back to the straight course from which he had
deviated in making his purchase led him into a by-street near the
flower and fruit market of Covent Garden. Here he met with the second
in number of the circumstances which attended his walk. He found
himself encountered by an intolerably filthy smell.
The market was not out of the direct way to Lincoln's Inn Fields. He
fled from the smell to the flowery and fruity perfumes of Covent
Garden and completed the disinfecting process by means of a basket of
Why did a poor ragged little girl carrying a big baby look with such
longing eyes at the delicious fruit that as a kind-hearted man he
had no alternative but to make her a present of the strawberries? Why
did two dirty boyfriends of hers appear immediately afterwards with
news of Punch in a neighbouring street and lead the little girl away
with them? Why did these two new circumstances inspire him with a fear
that the boys might take the strawberries away from the poor child
burdened as she was with a baby almost as big as herself? When we
suffer from overwrought nerves we are easily disturbed by small
misgivings. The idle man of wearied mind followed the friends of the
street drama to see what happened forgetful of the College of
Surgeons and finding a new fund of amusement in himself.
Arrived in the neighbouring street he discovered that the Punch
performance had come to an end--like some other dramatic performances
of higher pretensions--for want of a paying audience. He waited at a
certain distance watching the children. His doubts had done them an
injustice. The boys only said "Give us a taste." And the liberal
little girl rewarded their good conduct. An equitable and friendly
division of the strawberries was made in a quiet corner.
Where--always excepting the case of a miser or a millionaire--is the
man to be found who could have returned to the pursuit of his own
affairs under these circumstances without encouraging the practice of
the social virtues by a present of a few pennies? Ovid was not that
Putting back in his breast-pocket the bag in which he was accustomed to
carry small coins for small charities his hand touched something which
felt like the envelope of a letter. He took it out--looked at it with
an expression of annoyance and surprise--and once more turned aside
from the direct way to Lincoln's Inn Fields.
The envelope contained his last prescription. Having occasion to
consult the "Pharmacopoeia" he had written it at home and had
promised to send it to the patient immediately. In the absorbing
interest of making his preparations for leaving England it had
remained forgotten in his pocket for nearly two days. The one means of
setting this unlucky error right without further delay was to deliver
his prescription himself and to break through his own rules for the
second time by attending to a case of illness--purely as an act of
The patient lived in a house nearly opposite to the British Museum. In
this northward direction he now set his face.
He made his apologies and gave his advice--and getting out again into
the street tried once more to shape his course for the College of
Surgeons. Passing the walled garden of the British Museum he looked
towards it--and paused. What had stopped him this time? Nothing but a
tree fluttering its bright leaves in the faint summer air.
A marked change showed itself in his face.
The moment before he had been passing in review the curious little
interruptions which had attended his walk and had wondered humorously
what would happen next. Two women meeting him and seeing a smile on
his lips had said to each other "There goes a happy man." If they had
encountered him now they might have reversed their opinion. They would
have seen a man thinking of something once dear to him in the far and
He crossed over the road to the side-street which faced the garden. His
head drooped; he moved mechanically. Arrived in the street he lifted
his eyes and stood (within nearer view of it) looking at the tree.
Hundreds of miles away from London under another tree of that gentle
family this man--so cold to women in after life--had made child-love
in the days of his boyhood to a sweet little cousin long since
numbered with the dead. The present time with its interests and
anxieties passed away like the passing of a dream. Little by little
as the minutes followed each other his sore heart felt a calming
influence breathed mysteriously from the fluttering leaves. Still
forgetful of the outward world he wandered slowly up the street;
living in the old scenes; thinking not unhappily now the old
Where in all London could he have found a solitude more congenial to
a dreamer in daylight?
The broad district stretching northward and eastward from the British
Museum is like the quiet quarter of a country town set in the midst of
the roaring activities of the largest city in the world. Here you can
cross the road without putting limb or life in peril. Here when you
are idle you can saunter and look about safe from collision with
merciless straight-walkers whose time is money and whose destiny is
business. Here you may meet undisturbed cats on the pavement in the
full glare of noontide and may watch through the railings of the
squares children at play on grass that almost glows with the lustre of
the Sussex Downs. This haven of rest is alike out of the way of fashion
and business; and is yet within easy reach of the one and the other.
Ovid paused in a vast and silent square. If his little cousin had
lived he might perhaps have seen his children at play in some such
secluded place as this.
The birds were singing blithely in the trees. A tradesman's boy