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With the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth occurring next month it is appropriate to reflect on some of the remarkable advice Polonius gave to Laertes as the latter departed for Paris. There are those who insist that Shakespeare wrote this paternal speech with tongue in cheek. Others consider it a kind of silver rule: Do unto yourself as you would have others do unto you. Whatever interpretation Shakespeare intended, however, becomes unimportant beside what he might have said had he been the editor of a medical journal. In that event he would have made Polonius a professor of medicine instead of lord chamberlain, and Laertes his student, instead of his son. Instead of a room in Polonius' house, the scene would have been acted in a room in Polonius's department, with Laertes about to leave for a major research center where he will publish or perish. Shakespeare also would have
POLONIUS' COUNSEL TO AUTHORS. JAMA. 1964;187(12):947. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03060250065017