William Godwin's Diary


John Abernethy (1764-1831) was in 1813 the assistant surgeon at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London. He was an enormously popular lecturer, first lecturing in a private house not far from the hospital. However, by the early 1790s his success persuaded the authorities to build an auditorium inside the hospital, an important step in the gradual emergence of St. Bartholomew’s as a medical school. The topic of the lecture Godwin attends is unknown, but Abernethy’s work promoted and developed John Hunter’s theory of vitality, exploring the connections between physiology, mind and virtuous action. He deplored scepticism, which he saw as characteristically French, and also opposed animal experimentation on similarly patriotic grounds.

See DNB.