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The William Osler Papers

Letter from R. P. Howard to William Osler pdf (3,556,168 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from R. P. Howard to William Osler
NOTE: on p.3, the text runs off the right margin.
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.
Osler, William
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.
Exhibit Category:
Medical Education and Early Career, McGill University, 1870-1884
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 & [ . . . ]
Remain [ . . . ] yours
R. Howard
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