I cherish the hope that this little work may appeal to doctors, to medical students, and to those of the public who are interested in a narration of the progress of knowledge, and who realize that the investigation of the body in health and disease has been one of the most important features of human endeavour.
The medical profession deserves censure for neglect of its own history, and pity 'tis that so many practitioners know nothing of the story of their art. For this reason many reputed discoveries are only re-discoveries; as Bacon wrote: "Medicine is a science which hath been, as we have said, more professed than laboured, and yet more laboured than advanced; the labour having been, in my judgment, rather in circle than in progression. For I find much iteration, and small progression." Of late years, however, the History of Medicine has been coming into its kingdom. Universities are establishing courses of lectures on the subject, and the Royal Society of Medicine recently instituted a historical section.
The material I have used in this book has been gathered from many sources, and, as far as possible, references have been given, but I have sought for, and taken, information wherever it could best be found. As Montaigne wrote: "I have here only made a nosegay of culled flowers, and have brought nothing of my own but the thread that ties them together."
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About the Author
Elliott was educated at Wellington College and spent one year at the University of Otago Medical School. His father then sent him to the University of Edinburgh to complete his medical course. As a senior student he served with the medical corps in the South African War (1899-1902). As a result his father, who was ideologically opposed to the war and upset that Elliott had interrupted his studies, withdrew further financial support. Elliott had to obtain odd jobs and use his savings from military service to complete his medical education. He would later repay his father and the rift was repaired.
Graduating MB, ChB in 1902, Elliott returned to New Zealand the following year and was the first house surgeon at Wellington District Hospital. He then began a surgical and general practice, serving also as honorary surgeon to the hospital. On 12 December 1905, at Wellington, he was married by his father to Annie Allan Forbes from Edinburgh; they were to have five children. In 1912 Elliott took the Edinburgh MD degree. He became a fellow of the American College of Surgeons in 1926 and, the following year, a foundation fellow of the College of Surgeons of Australasia.