Written By: Albert Schweitzer and William Larimer Mellon, Jr.
Translated By: Jeannette Q. Byers
Reviewed English Edition: Syracuse University Press, 1996
Hardcover, 188 pages
Table of Contents
William Larimer Mellon, Jr., was living with his family on his Arizona cattle ranch when he read an article about Schweitzer in Life magazine. He decided to follow in Schweitzer's footsteps, establishing his own hospital in some needy part of the world. Following a meeting in Lambarene between Schweitzer and Mellon's assistant Jack Beau, Mellon enrolled in medical school at Tulane University. He eventually decided to locate his hospital in Haiti. The heir to a substantial Mellon family fortune, Mellon was able to build the hospital using his own funds, and with the cooperation of the Haitian government. The Hopital Albert Schweitzer Haiti was successful and continues to operate.
Schweitzer and Mellon became close friends, writing to each other frequently. Byers has collected the letters and presents them in both English and the original French. Most of the letters describe Schweitzer's and Mellon's great admiration for each other, discuss personnel and other matters related to running hospitals, and express regret that they are so seldom able to meet in person. With Mellon in the role of protege, the letters inevitably deal principally with matters relating to the founding and operation of Hopital Albert Schweitzer Haiti, rather than Schweitzer's work in Lambarene. There is little discussion of Schweitzer's philosophy or daily life, so this volume will be useful primarily to people interested in Mellon's work, rather than those seeking a better understanding of Schweitzer's life and work.
[From a letter by Schweitzer to Mellon, dated 26 January 1964] "The work here keeps me from traveling. It is possible, therefore, that I shall never see my own village again. What comforts me is knowing that my ethic of Reverence for Life is making inroads throughout the world. I never dared hope that my philosophy would be recognized. Please forgive my bad handwriting. I am suffering more and more from writer's cramp, a legacy from my mother."
[From a letter by Schweitzer to Mellon, dated 27 February 1948] "It is not true that I think the world incapable of understanding the thoughts that could create a spirit capable of guiding humanity toward a new future. I believe that those who work toward this new future will form a group and will have a significant influence, due to the power of the truth in the cause they serve."
[From a letter by Mellon to Schweitzer, dated 3 February 1964] "In general, my wife and I get up early--before sun-up. After breakfast she goes to the hospital to help register the patients who are waiting for the clinic. I take care of urgent correspondence before the office opens at 7 o'clock. I spend a few minutes with the head nurse, Mr. Gerard de Vastey, before rounds with the doctors on duty. Quite often I leave my house by car to visit a patient who can't get about easily or who needs home care. Frequently, someone lets me know that Mr. or Mrs. So-and-So is seriously ill but won't come to the hospital. They find all kinds of reasons for not keeping their appointments, but the usual excuse is no money--and actually this is often the case. Aside from the patients, there is also the school, the farm where we are raising cattle, the chicken coop, the dairy, an orphanage, an old folk's home, plus the veterinary clinic and the weaving, ceramic and carpentry shops."
Illustrations Foreword: Gwen Grant Mellon and Rhena Schweitzer Miller Translator's Note The Correspondence in English The Correspondence in French Appendixes: A. "The Greatest Man in the World" [The Life magazine article that inspired Mellon.] B. Letter from Jack Beau to Albert Schweitzer
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