the credit of the original observer, who, indeed, ought to have congratulated himself on the—for his welfare— fortunate turn of events. All this has reference to Great Britain and America.
Then came the time, the “ divisions” and “brigades” being complete and ready, and eager to take the field, when the general principle of an antithetic alternation of generations, with an actual tangible continuity of germ-cells from generation to generation, had to be applied to the special case of cancer or malignant disease. Since it has long been one of my maxims in research to reap and garner the harvest completely, leaving as little gleanings as possible for others, this application of the general principle could not be left undone. Cancer stood defiantly in the way, and an immediate decisive campaign against it was inevitable.
New conclusions were reached, one after the other, and in due course these were published. Mankind in general, and medical mankind in particular, were supposed to be waiting the advent of some new scientific discovery concerning the nature of cancer, in the hope that this would lead ultimately to success in its non-operative medical treatment. The reception given to the new conclusions in Great Britain was hardly in accord with that which, in a scientific era, might have been foreseen. The scientific investigator might have been attacking some of the most sacred and deeply rooted religious and moral convictions of mankind concerning cancer or malignant disease. The physical martyrdom was lacking; but there are, as I can testify from experience, many more ways than one of burning a scientific man at the stake.
Two of the discoveries referred to by von Baer—those of Copernicus and Harvey—had this feature in common: