Traditions & Culture of Collecting Articles by and about Collectors, Librarians, and Booksellers
John Fulton-Book Collector, Humanist,
(Reprinted from Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 17 )
LITTLE did I imagine that the request of a young American girl, met by chance at an uncle's house in Hampstead one July evening in 1921, to look up an American Rhodes Scholar going up to Magdalen that October would bring me the closest and most enduring friendship of my life and color its whole pattern. But so it was to turn out. I dutifully made my way down to Magdalen the second Sunday of term. Although it was, I remember, a beautifully mellow autumn afternoon, I found John Fulton in a dressing gown in front of a fire trying to overcome the chilly dankness of his room in the New Buildings overlooking the Deer Park. I introduced myself, and the book he was reading and the other books in the room seemed to forge an immediate link. I remember too being extremely impressed at noticing reprints of several papers by John himself, and rather ruefully having to admit that I had nothing more than a few magazine contributions to my name. I think we took to one another at once, and the inevitable invitation to breakfast I extended before leaving was given and accepted with a mutual sense of expectation.
I was then in my third year at Brasenose, and so living out of College. Neither I nor my landlady had entertained Americans before, and there was no jug of water on the table. John, with that impatience I was to discover to be so typical of him, finding his coffee too hot, unhesitatingly cooled it down from a siphon on the sideboard. To add a further shock, he proceeded to eat marmalade with his bacon and eggs. But his charm and his enthusiasm over my books won me completely. We both had books and pictures, and for a time were to imagine each was better off than was actually so, but there soon came a time when the minuteness of our bank balances was to our mutual amusement discovered. From then on we met with increasing frequency, mostly in the evenings, for John being a scientist often had to work in the labs in the afternoon, and we would sometimes cut Hall and dine at the George or one of the small mushroom restaurants that had sprung up after the War. John never did much at games, although he was a good long jumper, but we walked and went on the river, and he first took me to Lady Osler's for tennis. John's idea was always to get as much exercise as possible in the shortest time: this did not matter so much in singles, but in doubles he was an inveterate and unashamed poacher. Later on in America when he began to put on weight, he tried squash with Lucia, but he confessed that writing a paper on Harvey against time lost him more pounds than the hardest game of squash. In the end he gave up and stuck to walking.
"Open Arms," as 13 Norham Gardens, Oxford, had long been affectionately and widely known, had such a far-reaching and permanent effect on our lives and our book collecting that I make no excuse for dwelling on it in some detail. Lady Osler, after Sir William's death in 1919, had continued to keep open house and to receive the countless visitors who came on an Oslerian pilgrimage, so when John arrived with a letter of introduction, he was warmly welcomed, invited to stay to meals and to use the library and tennis court, and to bring a friend. It turned out that she knew an aunt of mine well, and it was not long before John and I were advanced to the privileged status of "latchkeyers," which virtually gave us the run of the house and of the library in particular. At this time Dr. William Willoughby Francis was compiling the catalogue of Bibliotheca Osleriana preparatory to its final remove to Montreal, and John and I vied with one another in helping to verify bibliographical details at the Bodleian and elsewhere. It is not hard to imagine the devastating effect of this large and rich library on two impressionable and already bookish-minded undergraduates. In one way it obviously meant more to John than to me for he was studying physiology as a preliminary to completing a medical degree, while I, after a strictly classical education, was reading for the newly established school of "Modern Greats"; but even I was dazzled by the Sir Thomas Browne collection, the presentation Kiplings, the magnificent reference books, and was prepared to dip into the "Biographia" and "Litteraria." It was a magic atmosphere for us, and Bill Francis always seemed to have time to discourse learnedly and enchantingly about volumes he was cataloguing or to reminisce about the "Chief." He was a born and humorous raconteur with a prodigious memory, and he was kindness itself to both of us. It gave John enormous pleasure in later life to become a trustee of the Osler Library, and he made a point of attending the meetings in Montreal and renewing his affectionate contacts with its librarian.
Lady Osler, having lost her husband and only son, was a lonely woman, and her two main interests were the completion of the library catalogue and her "young men," on whom she lavished the affection that would otherwise have been devoted to Revere, and she saw to it that they had a chance to meet some of the distinguished doctors, scientists, and others who came to the house in a constant stream. In some indefinable and miraculous way the spirit and example of Osler were kept alive. We knew, I think, his Way of Life by heart, and modelled our own days upon it, boasting of our "cerebral control," and if, before, our interest in antiquarian books had been slight, we soon became confirmed bibliomaniacs.
For John there were profounder effects also. When after taking his finals he decided to stay on at Oxford and read for a D. Phil., it was agreed that his marriage to Lucia Wheatland (her family had been in Oxford all summer) should take place in Oxford to save the return to America and back. John himself was married from 13 Norham Gardens, and I shall never forget how he and I, his best man, were driven to Manchester College Chapel in the back of Mrs. Chapin's open "Fordie" with Mrs. Chapin at the wheel and Lady Osler by her side, both sitting bolt upright in true Bostonian tradition. When Lucia and John returned from their honeymoon to take up a two years' residence at 4 Bradmore Road, just round the corner from "Open Arms," Lady Osler took Lucia under her wing and initiated her into all the mysteries of University social life, shopping in the market, and so forth. Mill Rock was never a slavish copy of "Open Arms," but the spirit that animated it and made it equally famous and beloved owed much to the lessons and atmosphere Lucia and John had imbibed in those formative years in Oxford.
There never was any doubt in the minds of those who knew John at this time that he was an outstanding personality with exceptional ability and powers, who was certain to make his own significant contributions to science and by his example greatly influence others as well. One was immediately struck by his dynamic energy, his intellectual powers, his quick grasp of essentials and his ever-questing mind. When John and I spent four weeks of the last vacation before our Finals together in Devonshire, I had a chance to learn at first hand more about the way he worked. His powers of concentration were phenomenal; he could read for ten hours a day without wilting, and he remembered all he read. In fact, his concentration was such that words often failed to rouse him and some actual physical interruption was necessary, when he would then stammer and take a moment or two to realize his surroundings. Many will recall his stammer when he was excited over a book or an unexpected present. He told me he had stammered quite badly as a boy and had been taught to whistle before he spoke to help cure himself. Like true disciples of Osler we read our favorite authors for half an hour before retiring. John fell asleep as soon as his head touched the pillow, and he rarely dreamed or was restless. He sprang out of bed immediately he wakened and exercised vigorously for five minutes. His range of interests and general knowledge was wide, and a word or an allusion was enough to start him off on some fascinating recital. He had a supreme power of clear thought and lucid expression, and he taught me what little science I know. An interest in pictures nurtured by his father-in-law, Richard Wheatland, and also stimulated by Sir Charles Sherrington, whose pupil he was, remained an abiding joy to him; later, on his wide travels in Europe, he returned again and again to galleries to see old favorites, and he never missed a chance of seeing new pictures if opportunity offered. When he was in Russia for a conference he visited The Hermitage five or six times during his stay. For all his "cerebral control" there was a tender, romantic vein in him, and he could be deeply moved by the lovely interior of some cathedral, by a commemorative service, or some affecting passage in a book, and tears would stand in his eyes.
This is not the place to tell of his scientific achievements, but the fact that, only three years after completing his medical degree and returning to Oxford as a Fellow of Magdalen, he should at the early age of thirty have been called to a chair at Yale, speaks volumes for the impression he had made. Later he could have returned to Oxford, and it must in one sense have been a hard decision to refuse, for so often in his letters he wrote, "I yearn for Oxford." But he was an American, educated in America and he believed it was his duty to devote his most productive years to his own country. Environment probably plays the largest part in making the book collector. I have already written of the Oslerian impact, but the influence began earlier. He once told me that he thought it was insufficiently appreciated how important it was for fourteen- or fifteen-year-olds to have teachers interested in their pupils, and that had it not been for one teacher of English in particular he would probably have chosen some quite humdrum calling. As a boy of fifteen he had made extra pocket-money by shelving books in the St. Paul Public Library, and it gave him enormous pleasure twenty years later, when delivering the Herter Lectures on the Frontal Lobes at Bellevue Medical College, to note that its librarian was the Miss Helen Bayne who had been a fellow worker in this first job. His bookish leanings also received family encouragement, which the Harvard libraries must have increased. His tutor, Harold Laski, was a book collector, and John always spoke warmly of the stimulus received from him. But it was coming to Oxford that gave him the first real chance and impetus to collect old books, and the proximity of bookshops such as Blackwell and Parker, with visits to Cambridge and Edinburgh, made temptation irresistible. The news I sent him of the bookseller David's death recalled the purchase from him of his first Sir Thomas Browne—the 1686 folio-for twelve shillings when he was staying at Cambridge in 1922 with Sir Arthur Shipley. It was in the summer vacation of that year when working in Sir Edward Sharpey Schafer's laboratory in Edinburgh that he laid the foundations of his Boyle collection. Laski had told John that any educated man should have read Boyle's Sceptical Chymist, and he had promptly, October 1919, bought the Everyman edition, which remained with him till his death: he was also encouraged to collect Boyle by his brother-in-law, David Wheatland, who was himself to become a noted collector of scientific books. So in Edinburgh he spent much of his leisure in the second-hand bookshops, and in one, where the shelves were so crowded that the books were in rows three deep, he found in the back row Boyles at one shilling and sixpence each. Because Boyle was at that time unregarded and the prices very low, he rashly concluded that the booksellers might be ignorant about other books as well. He received a rude and salutary jolt when in reply to his innocent inquiry about an unpriced volume he was told the price was one hundred and fifty pounds. It was typical of John that he told this story against himself with a chortle. However, he did also that summer in Edinburgh buy a first edition of Locke's Essay concerning Humane Understanding 1690 for thirty shillings. One can picture John getting at those back rows. A doctor collector friend once said of me, "You should see Arnold tearing the heart out of a bookshop." With John in his heyday I was not in it. No dust or filth deterred him, no ladder was too precarious to daunt him. The highest and lowest shelves always received special attention. His energy and determined meticulous examination were alike inexhaustible. Like his friend, "Lefty" Lewis,* he seemed to have a sixth sense and to know instinctively if there were some treasure waiting for him. Nothing ever annoyed him more than to have books brought him singly for inspection from some hidden recess or basement to which he was not allowed access. He, perhaps unreasonably, wanted to examine these caches with his own eyes. I well remember his angry explosion (no other word describes it) in a London bookshop when treated in this way by a foolish assistant. It was only in later life when increasing weight made stooping or climbing difficult and he had developed an allergy to book dust that he examined the shelves more gingerly and was more content to have special books brought to him. Reginald Hill, then of the Bodleian, has a nice story of going into Blackwell's one day in 1924 and asking when they intended issuing another catalogue of antiquarian medical and scientific books and receiving the reply, "Whenever we manage to get a few good books together, a fellow called Fulton comes along and buys the best of them."
His early letters are full of his finds-lesser as well as major. "In an old clothier's shop at Minehead a superb copy of the second edition of Boswell's Johnson with an A.L.S. from Seward for seven shillings, and a crisp copy in original calf of the 1514 editio princeps of the Aldine Quintilian for two bob!" When I was due to arrive at Bradmore Road a day before his return he wrote, "You will find when you arrive some packages of books denoting our itinerary. You can open any or all of them if you wish, but keep them in piles." He knew I would be itching to undo the string and generously allowed me the pleasure of unpacking the parcels. A fortnight later after a further holiday in Paris he returned, I noted at the time, with fifty precious volumes.
His marriage made it possible for him to collect books in a more extended way, and he was indulged as few book-collector husbands can ever hope to be. His father-in-law, Richard Wheatland, also gave him generous sums to spend on books, although even he at times shook his head and told John he was madly pursuing a rich man's hobby. For John the most important room at 4 Bradmore Road was, of course, his study. Any available wall space not shelved was hung with framed prints and portraits of famous doctors, scientists and members of the Royal Society. Over his desk was a print of Sargent's portrait of Sir William Osler. He had typically devoted certain wedding checks to buying the complete Oxford English Dictionary and complete Dictionary of National Biography. When he returned to Oxford in 1928 and settled at 29 Charlbury Road, these were housed in the dining room in a special case with a reading desk above for convenient reference, and it was nothing for John or a guest to get up in the middle of a meal to consult a volume. "The flighty purpose never is o'ertook unless the deed go with it," a favorite quotation of Osler's, was always ready on John's lips also. (Characteristically, John and Lucia gave me a complete set of the D.N.B. when I got married.) Biographies and diaries had a perennial fascination for John, for he had a deep reverence for all the great figures of the past in medicine, science, and literature, and especially loved the small intimate details and idiosyncrasies that revealed the man and was never tired of recounting them. When the Dictionary of American Biography was started, John was commissioned to write a number of lives of medical and other worthies, notably that of Joseph Priestley whose books he collected in all editions and a useful handlist of which he compiled for private distribution. The restricted limits of these commissioned lives, and the short obituaries of famous scientists prepared, often at short notice, for journals, suited him better, I think, than the larger canvas. His biography of Harvey Cushing was modelled too largely on Cushing's own Life of Osler and, although an admirable tribute, seemed to suffer from an excess of material. With his shorter notices he could always be depended on for a shrewd and succinct appraisal of achievement and a warm appreciation of the personal qualities of his "subject." In fact, the art of the short biography appealed to him enormously, and he confessed that when he opened The Times he instinctively first turned to the obituaries. "That was such a nice notice about so and so," he would write, and one would like to .think that from the Elysian Fields he read and approved and perhaps "blushed at" (a phrase he used when praised) the warm and sympathetic tribute that appeared about himself. And on the exceptional occasions when an obituary appeared prematurely, he chortled wickedly and wondered if the subject had read it. For The Times he had great regard and respect, and I was severely taken to task because I once wrote the Times. John liked literary dignity and thought this was a quality singularly lacking not only in American journalism but in much of American prose as well. "Some day I should like to write something for the Atlantic on the subject—contrasting English and American prose."
In the autumn of 1925, having received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy with the thesis published a year later as the monograph Muscular Contraction and the Reflex Control of Movement (Baltimore, 1926), he returned to America to complete his medical degree at Harvard. Before he sailed he had secured in Paris that July one of his major early finds-the very rare first edition of Pare's Anatomie Universelle 1561. In December 1923 he had carried to Paris at Lady Osler's request the copy of this book which Sir William had willed to the Faculte de Medecine, a coincidence that appealed to him. When he returned to the same shop four years later, he found that they had learnt about Pare meantime, and that a choice copy in pristine state of his Oeuvres 1581 was marked eight thousand francs. "So I departed envious and empty-handed."Back in America they settled at 126 Longwood Avenue, Brookline, and in September he wrote to me: "We've chosen an apartment on the basis of extensive wall space and sunlight—with an outlook unusual in America, namely green gardens both in front and behind. I'm having bookshelves built eight shelves high and fourteen feet long which if books average 1.44 inches in thickness ought to take just 1000 books—this will relieve the congestion in my other shelves. Shall have a front 'den' off the (small) drawing-room for the history of science and medicine. Then also a back study for Work books. Shall try to arrange everything biographical in the dining-room." One wonders what room Lucia had left. At this time he was seeing a great deal of Leonard Mackall, probably one of the most learned and generous bookmen of all time. "Leonard has just spent four days with us-very interesting but most exhausting-sales catalogues, mistaken references, rare volumes, large paper copies. I am dreaming of them." Then there was Dr. Streeter—"have I mentioned Dr. Streeter to you? A man of great intellect and rare personal charm deeply read in all aspects of mediaeval life. But most attractive of all he is a bibliophile. Seven or eight of us meet at his house on Thursday evenings at eight, ostensibly to study mediaeval anatomy-actually to hear the most fascinating informal discourses on life in the Middle Ages illustrated with MSS and early printed books." His days at this time must have been unbelievably full with his medical studies, the preparation of his monograph for the press, and with other papers. By the end of 1928 the collected reprints of papers he had published already numbered fifty, all based on the scientific work he was doing with the exception of his first historical paper, "The Early Phrenological Societies and their journals," read to the Boston Medical History Club, on 28 January 1927. But as he wrote, "What is the use of living if occasionally one does not bite off a little too much?" It was true he had a part-time secretary, a rare luxury for a medical student, and he must have been one of the earliest private users of a dictaphone (bought in October 1927) and he boasted that he dictated for three or four hours each evening. Later he was to carry one about with him on his travels when attending conferences and was thus able to make extensive records of papers and happenings while they were fresh in his memory. Not only did he employ secretaries in London, Oxford, and Paris, but he continued to bombard his hard-worked secretaries at home with discs and tape-recordings. This was one of the secrets of his phenomenal output of books, papers, and correspondence. It amuses me now to read in a letter of 1926: "George Washington was an excellent fellow, for his birthday is giving me a day of leisure in which to write to you and to read Christie's Etienne Dolet," and his later secretarial staff would have smiled rather ruefully to read such words. For it was not long before he was abominating and fulminating about the time wasted by public holidays and cajoling and bribing his secretaries, or at least one of them, to come in and work for him. In fact, he changed in other ways over the years. The Harvard medical student who wrote "I had a very delightful fishing and camping holiday in the woods (of Maine) —my first experience with fly-fishing and I succeeded in catching several large trout, and I longed for my facsimile edition of The Compleat Angler," could not twenty years later be persuaded to stay more than a day in the countryside even though there was a friend's library to console him, for he suffered acutely from hay fever, and he always tried to avoid being in America when the ragwort was at its most virulent. The later, much travelled, sociable bon-vivant might also have smiled to have recalled to him a paragraph from a letter in 1924: "The last two weeks have been hideous. Am so glad to be getting away from it all. Entertaining and going-out, I fear, are not my forte. I envy Montaigne's existence with his study in a tower which no one dared enter, and in which he cultivated himself, in true Socratic fashion." In that same letter he wonders what Sir Thomas Browne, who called it a tragical abomination to be knaved out of our graves, would have thought of Sir Arthur Keith's monograph on his skull and the ceremony of its reinternment.
John was always an early riser and was apt to be impatient with those-especially guests in his own house-who liked to breakfast at nine, and then linger over the papers, when he was itching to get off to the lab or library. The arrival and reading of the morning's mail was always a highlight of the day, and he took great pains to see that its receipt and despatch of replies were as expeditious as possible. In the early Oxford days there was a letter collection at 1 a.m.. which delighted John, for he could dine out in Oxford or London and write and post a thankyou note which would be on the breakfast table of his surprised hosts of the previous evening. Before transatlantic air mail was instituted, he took great care to mark his correspondence to go by a named fast boat. "Your letter came by a slow ten-day boat," he would write reproachfully, and for a while one would study the shipping notices in The Times more carefully, so that he could write on another occasion, "Your letter came in record time." This may sound almost too trivial to record, but it was part and parcel of John's eagerness to get things done and not waste time and to keep in punctilious touch with his countless friends all over the world so that they felt they were his immediate and special concern. He certainly had a genius for friendship. By the same token, he preferred flying-by jet if possible-to any other form of transport.
When John returned to America in 1925, I think he had already made the private resolve to build up a great personal library of medical books. At any rate, by 1928 he wrote, "My purpose in collecting is to acquire a reference library which will make me independent of the larger collections while writing a historical treatise of physiology." When in 1935 the "Trinitarian scheme" was bruited, he again could write:
“Dr. Cushing's library is a much richer and more unified collection than that of Osler, it being especially rich in the early English and the early incunabula period. Klebs's collection, though less rich in rarities, is in some ways almost as remarkable on account of its wealth of material on fifteenth century books. My own collection is the only extensive library on the history of physiology, in the broad sense, that has been brought together privately, so that it will supplement the other two without extensive overlapping.”
How remarkable his own library already was by this date is indicated by the fact that he was able to give Donald Wing five hundred titles for his Wing period 1640-1700. There is no doubt t00 that although John continued active and valuable original research for some years, more especially during the War, his interests were turning more and more to medical history, and this same year he wrote: "A.C.K. [Klebs] is chiding me for my interest in medical history and bibliography, saying I should drop it for ten or fifteen years when I am gaga as he is!" Once the Trinitarian scheme was accepted in principle, there was a most sensible agreement not to encroach on each other's special fields of collecting, so that any further duplication would be avoided. The story of the scheme has been told-in outline at any rate-in the fascinating volume, The Making of a Library, presented by his friends to John on his sixtieth birthday and needs no further gloss from me. The vision, the determination in the face of disappointing delays, and the selfless generosity of the three collector friends have made the Yale Medical Library one of the greatest in the world and have put all future students of medicine in their debt and given them untold riches.
John liked to put his books to good use, and nothing gave him more pleasure than to arrange some special exhibition to celebrate a centenary or some other anniversary. Many a Sunday he devoted to arranging such a display. And not only his own books. In November 1931 he wrote, "My first official duty as Curator of rare scientific books in the new Sterling library was to plan an exhibition illustrating the history of science for a meeting in New Haven of the National Academy-a fairly good collection but there are many gaps which I hope we shall be able to fill when times become a little better." He took books to his lectures to show his pupils or when he was reading a paper to some Society. "Last night I read the enclosed paper to an extraordinary society known as the `Ladies Aid'-an interesting group of about twenty senior people, chiefly obstetricians. It is a dining club which meets once a month and it is apparently their custom to have an informal paper afterwards. I brought a suitcase of books and passed them around during the paper."
In 1933 he arranged a weekly seminar for "anyone interested in books" in his Physiology Department. "The first few sessions will be concerned with the history of ancient bookmaking, the invention of printing, and with the principles of bibliographical description of books printed before 1700. The later sessions will be devoted to the history and description of books important in the growth of physiology and medicine. Materials will be collected for an annotated bibliography of physiology." John himself started the session with "the humanization of bibliography especially of medical bibliography with a brief survey of sources." The book anatomized was Fracastoro's Syphilis 1530. Other papers were on the general anatomy of books, on Vesalius and the bibliography of his book. It is impossible to gauge the success of such an experiment, but enthusiasm is always infectious, and just as John had been stimulated by Sir Charles Sherrington's pulling out rare incunabula from an innocent-looking filing cabinet or by an evening with Geoffrey Keynes-"his books always stir me"-so we may be sure that some of his students felt the vital spark and were to become confirmed bookmen.
John was always a generous donor and lender of books, as many libraries and private collectors bear witness, and if he thought a volume deserved a worthier or more suitable home than his own library, he parted with it. Many of his book-collector friends have such precious volumes on their shelves. Usually when he gave away a book it was a duplicate, so called so as not to embarrass the recipient overmuch. When one gave him a book, he always made one feel that even an unconsidered trifle was a treasure. Here are two typical examples from his letters to me. In acknowledging Malcolm Flemyng's Neuropathia (York, 1740) he wrote (November 1931):
“I am simply delighted to possess it because Flemyng was one of the few English physiologists of the early 18th century and made a number of fundamental contributions in the field of neurophysiology. Among other things he seems to have been aware of the anatomical distinctness of sensory and nerve fibres.... The Neuropathia entitles him to a place among the pioneers of psychiatry and he appears to have had a very clear idea as to the importance of stress and conflict in the genesis of mental disturbance. One of the things that amused me most was the frequent references to Peter Shaw to whom the book is dedicated. He addresses him as "humanissime Shavi"! I wonder if Bernard has ever been so addressed! Heaven forbid! There are also a number of Rabelaisian touches in the poem clothed in the decent obscurity of the Latin tongue. I'm sure you ferreted them out and enjoyed them!”
[September 1933]: “Jehoshaphat! If ever again you see anything bearing the title Studies from the Physiological Laboratory in the University of Cambridge for the good Lord's sake buy them: Only three copies are known, and they are the precursor of the journal of Physiology having been edited by Michael Foster. They are priceless from the point of view of the history of English Physiology. You have sent me part III-some day you may find parts I & II. Why don't you pop down to the shop in Brighton again & have another look [I did but there was no more]. . . .“Well you certainly have given me a thrill!”
Any account of John would be incomplete without a reference to the immense pains he took with all his writings and addresses. As usual, he modestly underrated his ability—here is a passage from a letter early in 1926:
“The rapid development of your style makes me blush especially when I compare it with my own humdrum diction which remains stationary and uncouth. If ever I finish this irksome didactic work in medicine, I may then be able to turn my attention to the gentle art of writing. Being without early training, I feel the difficulty much more keenly. I only hope that a taste for good literature will one day show itself in writing-as it has with you.”
He was always imploring me or some other friend to whom he sent a draft of a paper to watch out for the style and flow of the sentences. He loved to read out some passage from a book he was reading that appealed to him and savor its music and share it with you. He found the presentation of scientific papers at conferences in general pedestrian and often slipshod, and he never failed to express his appreciation of one that was outstanding for the clarity and logical sequence of its arguments and its choice of language.
In the preface to the first edition of his bibliography of Boyle John acknowledged the stimulus of Keynes's bibliography of Sir Thomas Browne in spurring him on, both to continue to collect Boyle's works and to prepare a similar bibliography, and he says much else in that preface about the problems that face the compiler of humanized seventeenth century scientific bibliography. But if I had to pick one quotation that seems best to sum up John's attitude, method, and breadth of vision in this difficult art, I would choose the closing paragraph of a paper he read on 6 May 1935 to the American Association of the History of Medicine, entitled "Relation of the work of Richard Lower and John Mayow to the scientific thought in the seventeenth century," his bibliography of Lower and Mayow having just been published by the Oxford Bibliographical Society. The final paragraph of this (apparently) unprinted paper "embodied the thought I have been attempting to put into words for a long time but never previously succeeded in doing," and reads as follows:
“I hope that this bibliography may not only convey the idea that John Mayow was a lesser, and Richard Lower a greater figure than has been commonly supposed, but the larger thought that scientific ideas should be considered in relation to the soil from which they grew. The man himself—the seed-will always be important, but he cannot be fully understood without knowledge of the intellectual and spiritual forces that nourished him and gave him his full stature. These forces-which constitute the soil—can be recreated in large measure through bibliography, humanized bibliography, if you will, in which the primary objectives of study lie not alone in detailed bibliographical anatomy, but in the more intimate features of a book: its dedication, inscription, owners, preface, footnotes, addenda, and errata, not to mention textual changes in its various editions; these, the more personal attributes of a book, reveal the man who wrote it, the forces which shaped his work, and the audience which he strove to inform. And when bibliographical study is made of a work such as Richard Lower's Tractatus de Corde which has been passed from one generation to another and through the hands of many editors and translators, one is able to estimate the extent to which a seed, richly endowed by nature and environment, has influenced the soil from which we ourselves have sprung.”
The rest of the story of how John gravitated more and more to medical history and bibliography, and of his resignation of his Chair of Physiology to become the first incumbent of the Chair of Medical History at Yale, and of the final triumphant consummation of the "Trinitarian dream" must be left to another place and another pen. After my visit to America in 1939, Isaw John less frequently, although we continued to correspond in the intervals as intensely as ever. When he came over in 1957 to receive an honorary degree at Oxford, he was very ill, and as I said good-bye to him at the airport I feared it was a final farewell. But he made a miraculous recovery and in the summer of 1959,after attending conferences in Argentina and Spain, he was in England again. He came down to St. Albans and seemed to have shed ten years. He was thinner, his eyes were as keen and blue and his mind as alert as ever and there was the eager zest as of old. He reminisced, joked, and looked at books in his own inimitable way, and it was a perfect day. On his return to America, presuming on his newfound strength, he drove himself too hard again, for he hated stagnation. He still planned and hoped to come over for the Royal Society celebrations in the summer of 1960and to be present at my sixtieth birthday party. With his true genius for lasting and loyal friendship he wrote, "June 30th is a sacred date and I shall be there." Death alone prevented him.
*Rather than attempt to cover in the necessarily limited scope of a single paper the whole of John Fulton's adult life, I thought it preferable to write in greater detail of the years 1921-1939, and particularly of the earlier formative years at Oxford and Harvard, which, because they will be less familiar to many, may for that reason perhaps be of special interest. The paper is based on personal knowledge and diaries, and letters and other memoranda written by John Fulton to me. I can only hope that the personal note is not too obtrusive. A.M.M [back]
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