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The William Osler Papers

Letter from W. H. Howell to William Osler pdf (1,975,011 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from W. H. Howell to William Osler
In this letter, Howell talks about Osler's letter ("Whole-Time Clinical Professors") to Ira Remsen about the full-time clinical faculty debate at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
3 (1,975,011 Bytes)
1911-10-05 (October 5, 1911)
Howell, W. H.
Osler, William
Original Repository: Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University. Bibliotheca Osleriana
BO #7651
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Exhibit Category:
Sir William: Regius Professor at Oxford, 1905-1919
Metadata Record Whole-Time Clinical Professors (September 1, 1911) pdf (3,172,648 Bytes) ocr (14,194 Bytes)
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
October 5, 1911
My dear Sir William -
Your note about the great discussion which has been disturbing us so much was received and appreciated. I am afraid that I do not wholly agree with your point of view and I am exceedingly sorry that you cannot advocate the vision that the majority of us believe in namely that it would be a great advantage to the science of medicine if the clinical teachers were relieved of the distractions of an outside practice -- the laboratory man have taken I believe an entirely disinterested attitude in the whole discussion. [ . . . ] would have been greatly to our personal advantage, but [ . . . ] seemed to us to promise more
for the advancement of medicine. Moreover as I understand it there is not a ghost of a chance that these Rockefeller people will consider seriously giving money to the laboratories. They are interested in what they believe is a great reform in clinical teaching and if we do not agree with them is likely that they will try some other place -- possibly St. Louis. In which event I fancy that we will be performing as the second fiddle in years hence. We are all tired of the discussion here and personally I hope that they will make us an offer in definite form which we can accept or reject. They are slow in making any concrete proposition for it seems I suppose that they are not satisfied with our attitude. I regret that you sent your letter as it will probably make them less willing to take action and besides you have independence, another feature which does not
commend itself to the laboratory men. Your statement that the clinical men have done better scientific work than the laboratory men implies that in your opinion we are a sorry lot. If the clinical men have been able to carry out a successful private practice and earn handsome incomes and in the little time left have contributed to medical science work of more value than those who have given all their time to such labors why it is [ . . . ] that the laboratory men are a mediocre lot or the clinical men are a set of geniuses. I don't accept your statement myself and in making it you have been I believe as unjust as you accuse Flexner of being toward the clinicians. If you had contented yourself with saying that their work on the whole had been of more value I could let it pass without comment but
to say that their scientific work has been of more value is a horse of another color. Did you only look into the investigators from the laboratory side in a critical way! I hope not for I should be sorry to have you [ . . . ] such a poor opinion of our productiveness. I will not attempt to present the arguments on our side as I know that you are familiar with them. In man's [ . . . ] of them you have paid the highest [ . . . ] to investigators work on medicine and disclosed your belief that "The leaves of the tree of science have [ . . . ] for the healing of the nations." For my part I am convinced that the developments taking place in consequence of the presentation of methods of experimental investigation which the clinical branches must [ . . . ] lead to the formation of a new body of clinical teachers -- and to the opportunity to lead that movement and my pride in the school has made me desire someday that we shall have this honor.
My best wishes and congratulations upon your [ . . . ] honors
Sincerely yours
W. H. Howell
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