Dr. Trudeau died in 1915. The statue of him was proposed in 1917. Patients raised money during WWI. It was very difficult to get money and metal during the war. Installed in August, 1918, the statue, known as the Trudeau Memorial, was made by Gutzon Borglum, sculptor of Mt. Rushmore. The bronze statue illustrates the typical posture of a tuberculosis patient with a blanket folded on lap to keep warm (a pamphlet told patients exactly how to fold it). It is considered a good likeness of Dr. Trudeau. The statue was moved from the Sanatorium property when Trudeau Institute opened in 1964. A plaque on the pedestal has one of Dr. Trudeau's favorite quotes. The quote is in French. Translated, it reads: To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always."
British Medical Journal - 7 October 1967: L. M. Payne
"Guérir quelquefois, Soulager souvent, Consoler toujours"
The number of people who have sought for the origin of this quotation must be legion and those who have guessed at its source no less. These words have been used to summarize the vocation of both doctor and nurse. They have been attributed to people as widely separated in time as Hippocrates and Florence Nightingale, Paré and Edward Livingston Trudeau. In a recent paper they were attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes. The author had taken it from the Practice of Dynamic Psychiatry by J. H. Masserman, p. 359 (Philadelphia, 1955). It is significant that of all the quotations found at the beginning of each chapter this one alone lacked the precise reference, the author's name only being given. The fact that these words are found in Latin, French, and English does not make it any easier to document their earliest use. They are found in a window in the New York Academy of Medicine. They are part of the nurses' window in Guildford Cathedral. In a stained-glass window on the history of medicine in the Mayo Clinic they form part of the Lister window, in the description of which the saying is attributed to Trudeau.
This may be because W. B. James, at a memorial meeting to Dr. E. L. Trudeau in January 1916, told how he had first heard from him a quotation which, they used to agree, briefly and comprehensively described the ideal aim of a physician - "Guérir quelquefois, solager souvent, consoler toujours"; or it may be because at Saranac Lake these words are found on the memorial statue of Trudeau in the grounds of the Trudeau Institute and beneath an oil painting in the library.
Since the dedication of the statue in August 1918, if not before, the librarian of he local public library, in common with many other librarians the world over, has sought in vain, far and wide, for the origin of this quotation.
When Sir Theodore Fox in his Harveian Oration used this quotation as "the classical summary of the doctor's vocation" he avoided attributing it to any author. A. L. Donaldson said that Dr. Trudeau exemplified to the full the maxim of a great French Physician which he was very fond of quoting. This may refer to Armand Trousseau; but a search of his works by one librarian has produced nothing nearer than ". . . one infirmité sans gravité, u'on ne put guar espérer guérir, mais qu'on ne peut toujours soulager" (Clinique médicale de l'Hotel de Die de Paris, 2nd ed., vol. 3, p. 781, Paris, 1865). A similar saying is found in Paré in Canons et regimes chirurgiques de l'auteur: "L'office du bon médecin best de guérir la malady due still ne vent a settee fin, au Moines faut-il quail la pale." Witkowski, either alone or in co-operation with Cabanes, has written a number of works comprising medical anecdotes and quotations. In one of these he reproduces words attributed to Asclepiades: "the duty of a physician is to cure diseases safely, quickly and happily." It was not until 1909 that Witkowski and Cabanes published a book with a chapter headed "Proverbs et dictons sur les médecins" which had original quotations in italic and comments in roman type. Beneath the quotation "La présence d'un Médecin profits beaucoup," which is preceded by the words "Au XV siecle, on disait," there is this sentence in roman: "Son role best de guérir quelquefois, solacer solvent, et consoler toujours."
In the light of this it may or may not be naive to suggest that in this form the quotation is no older than 1909, or the date when Witkowski and Cabanes collected the material for their book; it is clear, however, that a misreading of this book would account for the quotation being regarded as fifteenth century or earlier. Perhaps it is one of those sayings which have, so to speak, evolved with the passage of time. Professor Ackerknecht, who provided the reference to Paré, thinks it is proverbial. In the Latin and English versions of Paré's Canons there has been some rearrangement as compared with the original French, with the result that there are two now fairly close together which embody the sentiments of cure, relief and comfort:
6. It is the part of a good Physition to heale the disease, or certainly to bring it to a better passe, as nature shall give leave.
10. You shall comfort the Patient with hope of recoverie, even when as there is danger of death.
By recording known published references earlier than Witkowski some light may be thrown on its origin, even if the actual source cannot be found.