- Project Runeberg -  The story of San Michele /
410

(1929) [MARC] Author: Axel Munthe - Tema: Medicine
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My friend the Swedish Minister in Rome
showed me only the other day the copy of a
letter of mine written nearly twenty years ago.
The original he said he had forwarded to the
Swedish Foreign Office for perusal and
meditation. It was a belated answer to a repeated
official request from the Swedish Legation that
I should at least have the decency to
acknowledge with thanks the receipt of the Messina
medal bestowed on me by the Italian
Government for something I was supposed to have done
during the earthquake. The letter ran as
follows:


Your Excellency,

“My guiding principle in the matter of
decorations has so far been only to accept a
decoration if I had done nothing whatsoever to
deserve it. A glance at the Red Book will make
you realize the remarkable results of my strict
adherence to this principle during a number of
years. The new method suggested by your
Excellency’s letter, i.e. to seek public recognition
for what little useful work I may have tried to
do, seems to me a risky undertaking of doubtful
practical value. It would only bring confusion
into my philosophy, and it might irritate the
immortal gods. I slipped unnoticed out of the
cholera slums of Naples, I mean to do the same
from the ruins of Messina. I need no
commemorative medal to remember what I saw.”

* * *

As it happens, I must admit that this letter
is all humbug. The Swedish Minister never

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