MAYO, Herbert.

Anatomical and Physiological Commentaries. Number I. August 1822 [–Number II. July 1823, all published].

London: Thomas and George Underwood, [–1823].1822

2 volumes, 8vo, 2 leaves, 120 pages, 8 folding lithographed plates; 2 leaves, 141 pages, 1 leaf (imprint), 7 plates numbered IX–XV. Original brown printed wrappers, neatly rebacked. Library stamp on titles and at foot of upper wrappers, wrappers dust-soiled, but a very good set.

FIRST EDITION. G&M 1390. A very rare and important classic in neurology. Mayo took the next step after Bell and Magendie towards clarifying the problem of reflex action. In the first part, clearly demonstrating the true functions of the facial nerve, Mayo attributed sensory function to the fifth cranial nerve and motor power to the seventh nerve. In the second part he showed that a circumscribed segment of the nervous system sufficed to produced muscular action, and described the phenomenon to which Marshall Hall later applied the term “reflex”. These discoveries of the functions of the nerves of the face, made independently of his teacher Charles Bell, are often but inaccurately attributed to Bell, and the publication of this book was the start of an exceedingly bitter and prolonged controversy. Whereas it can be argued that Bell’s wording is unclear, Mayo’s statement and claim are “clear, precise, and unmistakable” (Dr. R. Druitt, quoted in DNB). This was Mayo’s most important neurological work. In the first part, Mayo included English translations of four essays by Johann Reil on the structure of the human cerebellum, which were originally published in his Archiv für die Physiologie. The eight plates all refer to these essays. McHenry p. 144 (Reil) and p. 199. Spillane p. 229. Fulton, Selected readings in the history of physiology, pp. 285–286. Norman catalogue 1473.


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