Fillers One hundred years ago

Much ado about a monument

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 16 December 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1519

A monument which it is proposed to erect to Tarnier, the distinguished obstetrician, is giving rise to a good deal of heart- burning in certain sections in the medical world of France.

The design approved by the Committee shows in relief the illustrious professor giving advice to a woman with a child in her arms. He is surrounded, to quote the official description, by a group of his most brilliant disciples, some of whose names are given, the rest being denoted by the inclusive formula “etc.” It is this sentence that has aroused anger in celestial souls, especially in those of pupils who are not included amongst the elect. Some austere critics go so far as to denounce the statue as a mere puff of the brilliant disciples aforesaid, and feeling has run so high that many who had put their names down for subscriptions have withdrawn them. Moreover there are other disciples who take it ill that their individuality should be lost in a too comprehensive “etc.” are asserting their claims and proving by documentary evidence the esteem in which they were held by the great master. By serious persons the controversy will doubtless be regarded as a melancholy illustration either of the morbid passion for advertisement which springs eternal in the human breast, or of the equally morbid jealousy which leads professional men to see an advertisement in every mention of a rival practitioner's name. To those who like Tammas Haggart of Thrums have an eye for the humorous side of things, the incident will appear an amusing example of the pettiness of the human mind even when enlightened by scientific culture and elevated by practice of the noblest of the liberal arts. (BMJ 1900;i:1111.)

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