Johnson approves of Osler's decision to refuse the appointment to the Chair of Botany at McGill University. He would
have liked to view the Thomas Browne relics with Osler. Reflections on the usefulness of relics, pictures, emblems, and other
[Description courtesy of McGill University.]
Soon after Osler's death in 1919, Lady Osler asked their good friend Dr. Harvey Cushing to write a biography. For this
project, Cushing gathered a wide variety of material, including a substantial amount of Osler correspondence and other memorabilia
borrowed from Osler's family, friends, and colleagues. He employed three secretaries to transcribe these documents, and
later donated the transcripts (along with his other working materials) to the Osler Library. Because many of the original
documents were returned to the owners, the Cushing transcripts constitute the largest and most accessible collection of Osler's
Harvey Cushing's "Life of Sir William Osler" was published by Oxford University Press in 1925, and was awarded
a Pulitzer Prize in 1926.
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
4 (1,463,211 Bytes)
1873-02-05 (February 5, 1873)
Johnson, W. A.
Original Repository: Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University. Osler Library Archive Collections, P417: Harvey Cushing Fonds
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Education and Early Career, McGill University, 1870-1884
Weston, Feb. 5, 1873
My dear Osler
Many thanks for the pleasing letter I have just received. I wish I had time to write you fully in answer to it but I have
not & fear putting it off lest I forget it or delay too long. I think you were quite right in refusing a chair of Botany.
I do not see how it could amount to anything of importance. Your friends of course would have been well pleased to have you
in Montreal, well paid, & comparatively free, but it would have never
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been to your permanent benefit. Something better than this will open out for you I feel sure. I would have liked to have been
beside you while examining what remains of old Sir Thos Browne. How markedly England does differ in that particular from this
Country. Though we could put the whole Island into one of our Lakes yet there is more local interest in any one parish, than
there is in the whole of our Dominion. Say what people will about pictures, emblems, relics, & the like, They ever have
been & ever will be the most delightful & I think
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reasonable means of raising the thoughts to higher & holier hopes. The more I use them the more I delight in them. Word
painting according to some eminent men in England is all that is needed but I think they must mean "needed" for wiser
heads than mine. These things do help meditation so much, even if they do not actually create it. For instance, how difficult
it is to recall the warmth of feelings we experience when actually within sight relics connected with great names or events.
Such I suppose is the legitimate use of the crucifix. It certainy is a lively
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incentive to meditation & a wonderful help to it. We protestants do not know half enough of these things, or how to use
Be sure to let me know when you are likely to return perhaps there may be something you could bring: & we must use our
friends. With many & my best wishes for your success.