Victorian Origins of William Osier’s Philosemitism?(Report)

Victorian Origins of William Osier's Philosemitism?(Report)

Featherstone Osier, an Anglican missionary to the new world of British Canada, gave the name William to his new son. He held up the new baby to the marching Protestant crowd celebrating William of Orange and his Protestant victory over Catholics at the Battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1849. Catholics in Ireland to this day still see the Orange Order marches as provocative attempts to “show who is boss,” while Protestants see any attempt to deny them the right to walk through traditional routes as a move to restrict their freedom to celebrate their Protestant identity. The question raised many times is how William Osler, given his provincial, strictly parochial Protestant background, become so ecumenical, so liberal and universal in his broadminded vision and tolerance of other religions. We know that Osler read and reread Religio Medici, written by his hero and spiritual mentor, Sir Thomas Browne, and the book was placed in his coffin. Despite prejudiced remarks against Catholics, Jews, Muslims, blacks, and women in this work, Osler seemed unaffected by this aspect of Browne. Osler had the highest regard for Browne’s open-mindedness relative to his era, stating that Browne had “become denationalized so far as his human sympathies were concerned.”

Victorian Origins of William Osier's Philosemitism?(Report)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *