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February 1963

Sir William Osler: Aphorisms from His Bedside Teachings and Writings

Arch Intern Med. 1963;111(2):264-265. doi:10.1001/archinte.1963.03620260124023

I had not heard of this book until I read of it recently in Dr. Noel Poynter's remarkable quarterly catalogue, Current Work in Medical History. To me it was all new, together with William Bean's 2 introductions (1951) and (1961) and that of the late John Fulton. In his postscriptive introduction William Bean treats of Osler's strange melancholy and wonders at its source. Did Osler really know more sorrow than others? Did he feel the loss of his son more than other parents feel their bereavements? I do not think so; the melancholy seems to have been acquired while he was young.

Before I hazard my own guess at this, let me tell you how Osler appeared to me as a student and recent graduate. He was little more than the depressing textbook I was obliged to con by rote. Every disease had its etiology, pathology, course, and prognosis, but

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