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August 9, 1965

The Infamous William Osler

JAMA. 1965;193(6):436-438. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090060026006

Prophetic indeed was Osler's address, before the New York Academy of Medicine in 1897, when he warned physicians against toying with the Delilah of the press, for "sooner or later she is sure to play the harlot, and has left many a man shorn of his strength."1 In 1905 the harlot turned on Osler.

Late in February he gave his valedictory address at Johns Hopkins University, a few weeks before he left America to begin his work as Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford. Osler's address, the source of his unfortunate notoriety, was "The Fixed Period." Considering the subsequent out-cry, it is interesting that Osler took the step, unusual for him, of reading his speech to a small gathering of friends, the day prior to its public delivery. None saw any offense in his words, and no objection was made.2

His address is divided into two sections. In

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