BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND.
45. CHAPTER XLV.
He moved his hands and placed them gently behind her shoulders.
"I am thinking of a great fellow, who was about as old as I am
three hundred years ago, and had already begun a new era in anatomy."
"I can't guess," said Rosamond, shaking her head. "We used to play
at guessing historical characters at Mrs. Lemon's, but not anatomists."
"I'll tell you. His name was Vesalius. And the only way he could get
to know anatomy as he did, was by going to snatch bodies at night,
from graveyards and places of execution."
"Oh!" said Rosamond, with a look of disgust on her pretty face,
"I am very glad you are not Vesalius. I should have thought he
might find some less horrible way than that."
"No, he couldn't," said Lydgate, going on too earnestly to take
much notice of her answer. "He could only get a complete skeleton
by snatching the whitened bones of a criminal from the gallows,
and burying them, and fetching them away by bits secretly, in the
dead of night."
"I hope he is not one of your great heroes," said Rosamond,
half playfully, half anxiously, "else I shall have you getting up
in the night to go to St. Peter's churchyard. You know how angry
you told me the people were about Mrs. Goby. You have enemies
"So had Vesalius, Rosy. No wonder the medical fogies in Middlemarch
are jealous, when some of the greatest doctors living were fierce
upon Vesalius because they had believed in Galen, and he showed
that Galen was wrong. They called him a liar and a poisonous monster.
But the facts of the human frame were on his side; and so he got
the better of them."
"And what happened to him afterwards?" said Rosamond, with some interest.
"Oh, he had a good deal of fighting to the last. And they did
exasperate him enough at one time to make him burn a good deal
of his work. Then he got shipwrecked just as he was coming from
Jerusalem to take a great chair at Padua. He died rather miserably."