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JAMA Revisited
July 9, 2019

Current Comment

Author Affiliations

July 12, 1919

JAMA. 1919;73(2):110- 111.

JAMA. 2019;322(2):176. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.15418
A New Memorial to Pasteur

Soon after the conclusion of the armistice, a new and apparently very successful dramatic experiment was attempted in Paris. A dramatist well known heretofore as a specialist in “amorous psychology,” M. Sacha Guitry, has had presented a play without a female character, a single-minded portrayal of a hero of humanity, Louis Pasteur;1 in the opinion of critics, at least, it is an entire success.

Pasteur is shown in a sort of aureole of hero worship as patriot, as scientist, and as passionate well wisher of mankind in general and in particular. He brooks no opposition to what he knows to be right, he fights bitterly against the conservatism which would nullify his progress, and when successively he receives all the honors which France and other countries can bestow, he is grateful and modest. The third act offers the exciting occasion of the first antirabic inoculation of the little boy, Joseph Meister, and the event is utilized with considerable effect to emphasize the sympathetic warmth of Pasteur’s nature as the fitting complement of scientific ability. Pasteur’s speech is full of the expression of his ideals, taken in part from actual public addresses. “Do not search for those who will give you advice; look rather for those who will set you an example.” “Labor and persevere”—it is the keynote of his life, of a life in which the only element of importance is his work, which, however, is always actuated by the high purpose of improving the lot of man. The final words of the play, written in the year 1918, are the words of Pasteur himself: “And I believe absolutely that knowledge and peace will triumph over ignorance and war, and that men will work together, not to destroy, but to build.”

The piece is interesting, not only as an effort to present a great man of science to popular applause, but also because it has apparently met the approval of critics and theater goers. The dramatic aspects of Pasteur’s life are of necessity pushed to the fore, but it does not seem that his character is distorted.

William Osler’s Birthday

By happy coincidence, the date of issue of this number of TheJournal is the day on which the medical professions of Great Britain and the United States combine to honor Sir William Osler on his seventieth birthday. The occasion is fraught with good omens, for no other physician has done more to bring peace and concord among his fellows "where’er his stages may have been," and no living man has done more to unify the medical professions of the United States and the mother country.

An impressive record of his achievement is afforded in the nineteen contributions which make up the July number of the Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, each of them written by a colleague or pupil whose knowledge of Osler is intimate enough to be authoritative. Not least of these is the exhaustive and accurate bibliography of Osler’s 730 contributions to the literature of medicine (1870-1919) by the librarian of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. It is significant that the two papers so far published in 1919 are both of them contributions to clinical medicine. Through his own contributions and his personal influence, Osler has given a greater stimulation to the study and investigation of medical history in this country than any other living man. Those who have seen his unrivaled collection of original texts and documents relating to epoch-making discoveries and advances in medicine predict that its catalogue, informed as it will be with Osler’s big humanism, will take its place as one of the great monuments of medical bibliography. The story of Osler’s life is a simple record: Canadian born (1849), the son of an Ontario clergyman, and M.D. of McGill University (1872), a graduate student in London clinics and German laboratories (1872-1874), lecturer and professor of the Institutes of Medicine at Montreal (1874-1884), and successively professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (1884-1889) and the Johns Hopkins University (1889-1894), Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford since 1904.…

Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.
Editor’s Note: JAMA Revisited is transcribed verbatim from articles published previously, unless otherwise noted.
Guitry, Sacha: Pasteur, pièce en cinq actes, La Petite Illustration, n. s. No. 1 (Paris, March 1, 1919).