Ronald Ross’s speech at the Nobel Banquet in Stockholm, December 10, 1902
Your Royal Highnesses,
grefve Mörner and gentlemen,
I beg to thank you for the very great honour you have done me in drinking to my health this evening; and you, Professor Mörner, for the eloquent and flattering terms in which you proposed the toast. I beg to accept the honour, not only for myself, but for all those who have laboured so long at the important subject of malaria. Permit me, at this auspicious moment, to mention the names of some of those to whom humanity owes so much, but who have not always been as fortunate as myself in receiving reward for their labours. I will begin with the great name of Laveran, who more than twenty years ago discovered the cause of malaria and created a new branch of science – Laveran, that true man of science who has honoured me by permitting me to call him my master. I will mention next the names of Golgi, that most distinguished Italian; of Danilewsky, of Marchiafava, and Celli, of Kelsch, of Mannaberg, of Bignami, Romanowsky, Sakharof, Canalis, Bastianelli, Dionisi, Vandyke Carter, the two Plehns, Ziemann, Thayer, and not least, MacCallum, who, with a host of others no less meritorious, consolidated the discovery of Laveran. Turning now to the subject of malaria and mosquitoes, I must first mention those who created the hypothesis, namely King, in America, Koch, in Germany, Laveran, in France, and particularly Manson, in England, whose profound induction formed the basis of my own humble endeavours, and whom I shall always esteem one of my masters. Now permit me the honour of naming those who in all parts of the world confirmed and amplified those elements of the truth which I had found in India – the great Koch and his German colleagues; Bignami, Bastianelli, and Celli, in Italy; Daniels, Stephens, Christophers, Ziemann, Annett, Dutton, Elliott, Van der Scheer, Van Birlekom, Manson and his son, Fernside James, Nuttall, Austen, Theobald, Howard and many others. Nor let us by any means forget those who are endeavouring to turn these discoveries to practical account for the saving of human life on a large scale, particularly Koch, Sir William MacGregor, Celli, Logan Taylor and Gorgas; and, not least, Sir Alfred Jones and those merchants of London and Liverpool who are spending their money freely for the same great cause.
In conclusion, gentlemen, I hope you will permit me to utter a personal note. I cannot help comparing the present moment with that when, seven years ago, I commenced the researches for which you have today given me such great honour. I cannot help remembering the dingy little military hospital, the old cracked microscope, and the medicine bottles which constituted all the laboratory and apparatus which I possessed for the purpose of attacking one of the most redoubtable of scientific problems. Today I have received in this most beautiful capital of the north, the most distinguished of all scientific honours from the hand of your king himself. Gentlemen, I can do no more than thank you.
Prior to the speech, Professor the Count K.A.H. Mörner, Rector of the Royal Caroline Institute, addressed the laureate:
It is a long way from Sweden to India. But we will accompany you – in our thoughts – back to the scene of your efforts and success.
Your enterprise about malaria was a troublesome one. Far from scientific centres and their resources, occupied by your duties, being an army surgeon, you wished to pave the way for science, where other investigators had tried it in vain.
Thousands of experiments were made; the door to the sought-for realm of science remained closed. Many inquirers would have thought they were going wrong. But for your perseverance and your faithful belief in the value of Manson’s induction, you would have shrunk from the difficulties.
At last your assiduous efforts and your penetrative genius gained the victory and gave an extensive solution of the malaria-problem.
Already once before today I have mentioned the importance of your work. Your followers – if they be just – will testify, that your discoveries have been the basis, from which the knowledge of malaria has of late proceeded so successfully.
You have yourself taken part in working out the matter. I beg to draw attention to the malariaexpeditions in Africa, of which you have been a partaker. I venture to express the conviction that in the future science will be still more indebted to you.
Now your results are a common wealth that gives the investigators the possibility of advancing, each in his sphere, the knowledge concerning malaria. If we would follow the propagation of your discoveries and visit all the places, where they are used for whetting weapons against malaria, we must go round the world. But we return and join in congratulating you on your exceedingly beautiful work and pledge your health.