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May 12, 1962


JAMA. 1962;180(6):488-489. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050190050013

Albrecht von Haller, a distinguished physician of the 18th century, was one of the most prolific medical writers of all time. He was born into a patrician family in Bern, Switzerland, whose members held positions of state. In carrying on this tradition in later life, Haller was appointed "Magistrate Without Portfolio" in his native city.

One of the requirements for matriculation in the secondary schools (Gymnasium) was the composition of an original essay in Latin. Being a child prodigy, Albrecht chose a more difficult task—the essay was prepared in faultless Greek. He was skilled in yet another language, the Chaldean of the ancient Semitic tribes of the Tigris and Euphrates. But language was only the means for more complete expression; it was not the goal. Other areas of accomplishment included poetry, botany, philosophy, physiology, anatomy, clinical medicine, historical science, and biography. While in school he assembled a biography of more