Saturday, October 5, 2013

Li Hung Chang Letter Accepting Invitation to be Patron of the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese (1889)

updated October 5, 2013

(English translation)

To the Authorities of the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese:

Gentlemen,—I am in receipt of your letter informing me that I have had the honor of being elected Patron of your College. I also thank you for your desire to perpetuate my name on your College walls.

I wish every success to your benevolent design. I learn that there are between 20 and 30 students in the College studying medicine, and consider it most proper that they should also pay attention to the sister subject of chemistry and understand how to compound and how to analyze, thus ensuring greater accuracy in the diagnosis of disease and the preparation of remedies.

I remark that your countrymen devote themselves to practical research and base their scientific principles on the results of investigations, thus differing from those who rest content with theories.

The happy results which ever attend the treatment of disease on scientific principles are evidence of the advantage to be derived from the constant study of anatomy and chemistry and the consequent illumination of the dark path of knowledge.

There is no doubt that when your admirable project is achieved it will be appreciated and imitated, and that it will, through your students, be a blessing to China.

Trusting that you will prosecute your scheme with unflagging energy, and wishing you my compliments,

I subscribe myself on the accompanying card,

(Sgd.) Li Hung Chang. (Li Hongzhang)

[The above letter was read by James Cantlie, Dean, at the meeting of the College Senate held on October 12, 1889. Li’s patronage was procured by Patrick Manson, co-founder of the College. In 1887 Dr. Manson visited Li who was said to be suffering from cancer of the tongue. Luckily it was only a sublingual abscess, which was successfully opened.]

[Li remained Patron of HKCMC until his death in 1901. HKCMC was absorbed into the University of Hong Kong in 1912, and finally closed in 1915. During the twenty eight years of its existence, the college had admitted 128 students, resulting in 51 licentiates. Exactly how many actually practiced in Hong Kong is unknown.]

[I remember reading the text of the original letter in Chinese about two ~ three years ago, I can no longer remember where from. This is a good lesson why bibliography is important. Likewise, I took  note of the name of the person who had the letter translated into the above English text, I've no idea where I put the note... (10/5/2013)]

Selected bibliography: The British Medical Journal, December 7, 1889, p.1313.


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