John Abernethy


John Abernethy


A patient complaining of melancholy consulted Dr. Abernethy. After an examination the doctor pronounced, “You need amusement. Go and hear the comedian Grimaldi; he will make you laugh and that will be better for you than any drugs.” Said the patient, “I am Grimaldi.”


There is no short cut, nor “royal road” to the attainment of medical knowledge. The path which we have to pursue is long, difficult, and unsafe. In our progress, we must frequently take up our abode with death and corruption, we must adopt loathsome diseases for our familiar associates, or we shall never be acquainted with their nature and dispositions; we must risk, nay, even injure our own health, in order to be able to preserve, or restore that of others.

~John Abernethy
Biographical Note: 

John Abernethy was a British physician, especially noted as surgeon and teacher. He practiced at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, where he founded a Medical School and a museum of pathological anatomy. Although in fact a generous man, he chose to inspire the confidence of his patients by adopting a brusque demeanour. He is popularly remembered today for having given his name to the Abernethy biscuit, a coarse-meal baked good meant to aid digestion.