Javal had a genius for an infinite capacity for work. He was inspired in youth by the life and achievements of Benjamin Franklin ; and the portrait of this guiding spirit ever after graced his study, and Franklin's admonition that "time is the stuff life is made of" became a motto, ever to be remembered. Javal himself was of the Franklin type and emulated his ideal in consistent industry and manifold interests ; for Javal was not only an ophthalmologist but a legislator, journalist, educational leader, hygienist and social reformer.
When in 1806, at the suggestion of Napoleon, the Jews of France changed their oriental patronymics to the type of surname used by the rest of the French citizenry, Javal's grandfather inscribed his name Jacob on the register. This was miscopied by the clerk as Javal and became the family name thereafter. Leopold, Javal's father, was an associate of the celebrated financier
LEBENSOHN JE. LOUIS ÉMILE JAVAL 1839-1907: A CENTENARY TRIBUTE. Arch Ophthalmol. 1939;21(4):650–661. doi:10.1001/archopht.1939.00860040088009
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