Howard knows that Osler would have preferred to teach Practical Physiology than Botany. He hopes Osler understands that the
offer of the Chair of Botany was made by McGill in an attempt to develop a connection between Osler and the University. McGill
is so poor and needy that it could not fund a lectureship in Practical Physiology at present. He advises Osler to concentrate
on general practice and to obtain a degree from the F.R.C.S. in Edinburgh.
[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. Many of the original documents
were returned to the owners. The originals that were retained, together with the Cushing transcripts, constitute the largest
and most accessible collection of Osler's correspondence.
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:
6 (3,556,168 Bytes)
1872-10-06 (October 6, 1872)
Howard, R. P.
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
Montreal 6th Oct. '72
My dear Osler
You will have rec'd by the mail which immediately preceded this the Dean's reply to your letter and although Botany
may not be as congenial a hybrid to you as Practical Physiology I hope you will feel that the college is doing what it can
towards advancing of [ . . . ] & securing for you some official commission with the University - If I understand Dr. Dawson
correctly he looks forward
[END PAGE ONE]
[BEGIN PAGE TWO]
Not only to having you advise the Montreal class in botany but ultimately the art class as well -- which would of course make
you pay more and if you felt competent it appeared to me probable that he would entrust Zoology as well to your care.
The University is so far too needy and it has not the means of endowing a chair and practical physiology and as a new professor
has just [ . . . ] upon the Chair of Institutes, it remains to be seen how far it might be necessary
[END PAGE TWO]
[BEGIN PAGE THREE]
or convenient to establish lectures as practical physiology at present -- while it is quite plain that you must qualify yourself
for the [ . . . ] practice of your profession. I am of opinion that you will be wise to cultivate those more scientific departments
for which you have an aptitude & with which you have already done some work -- it occurs to me that two or three hours
a day in a physiological laboratory need not prevent you from having already done the work of a [ . . . ] hospital & even
[END PAGE THREE]
[BEGIN PAGE FOUR]
from pursuing your studies in gross anatomy -- after you have finished your work [ . . . ], named us 1st place [ . . . ] go
too far many think under some of the [ . . . ] -- histologists Virchow, or Reidfleisch in Berlin or Bonn or Vienna -- your
scientific education will be one of the best introductions to practice & will I have no doubt secure your position as
a teacher in a very short time and some of the best Medical Schools in this country. At that point I have no
[END PAGE FOUR]
[BEGIN PAGE FIVE]
doubt -- although, of course you must decide for yourself and I offer the advice which personal regards suggests -- in this
rapidly growing country in which the Medical Schools are alive & enterprising, a man possessed of any scientific training
beyond the average of his fellows sure to make himself felt & more or less appreciated & the time must come when his
services will be sought
[END PAGE FIVE]
[BEGIN PAGE SIX]
While there you take a dressership or a [ . . . ] clerk place as [ . . . ] hospital & familiarize yourself with practices
& ophthalmoscopes & stethoscopes & whatnot, I would not omit working in the laboratory so many hours in the week,
even [ . . . ]. I saw no immediate prospects of teaching practical physiology -- however botany is so directly related to
physiology & both to pathological histology that the time
[END PAGE SIX]
[BEGIN PAGE SEVEN]
given to the latter two will not altogether [ . . . ] to the past. Dr. Dawson indeed told me that scientific botany [ . .
. ] is not taught, & that you will have two resort to [ . . . ] for special instruction in it, just as is necessary for
thorough learning a practical physiology.
Excuse this long & rambling letter, which you are only to regard as [ . . . ] as my own views for your consideration and
guidance - I am glad to hear that you feel up to work & in good spirits
[END PAGE SEVEN]
[BEGIN PAGE EIGHT]
Hope you have rec'd Dr. Wrights order from Merck for the books. If you can spare the money [ . . . ], I would advise you
to run up to Edinburgh for the F.R.C.S. -- which will cost exactly 5 pounds. Remaining back here it will do you no harm to
have a diploma from the "Old Country" although [ . . . ] more than if obtained here.
Remember me kindly to [ . . . ] -- drop me a line now & then when you can spare the time. Let me know of your design as
I am interested in them.
With many wishes for a happy Xmas & to yourself & [ . . . ]