From the Richmond Times, 4/26/1901, p. 1, c. 1

Banquet on Occasion of Veteran’s Retirement.
Loving Cup Presented by His Professional Associates.
Nearly One Hundred of the Best Known Physicians of Richmond Assemble to Honor Their Distinguished Brother – Many Addresses Were Made.

The banquet tendered by the medical profession of Richmond at the Commonwealth Club last night to Dr. J. B. McCaw upon the occasion of his retirement after fifty-seven years of the active practice of medicine, has seldom been surpassed in brilliancy and unique feature.

“One of our number has voluntarily dropped out of the ranks of the ranks of the profession,” said Dr. Ross, in making the introductory speech as toastmaster, “not through the disability of advancing years nor from the desertion of clientele, but because he wants to rest.”

This feature of the occasion will make it remarkable – this voluntary laying aside of the armor by a knight so distinguished as is Dr. McCaw, and his determination to spend the evening of his days an onlooker of the fray in which he has won such brilliant honors and won such brilliant honors and worn them so worthily.


Between eighty and ninety of the best known physicians and surgeons of Richmond gathered about the board in the beautiful banquet hall at the Commonwealth Club.

Dr. George Ross, as toastmaster, stood at the head of the board as the guests filled into the hall. There was no time for applause of his clever poetic invitation to seats, but it deserved it. He said:

“Somewhere I’ve heard it whispered,
That the culinary art,
In the daily life of Doctors,
Plays conspicuously a part,
That they’re ready for their breakfast,
At dinner rarely whine,
Are at banquets simply radiant,
If they know the brand of wine.
Should this allegation fit you,
Sons of Esculapius – each
Pray be seated and have served you
All the good things in your reach.”


Two hours were spent in discussing the elaborate menu, and then Dr. Ross, seated at the head, arose and rapped for order. He said in part:

“The occasion which brings us together is most unique in the history of the medical profession of this city. One of our number has voluntarily fallen out the ranks. His retirement has not been made necessary by disease; nor incapacity for his work; nor by the desertion of his clientele; nor for having reached the ‘sere and yellow stage’ of human life. Happily he is crowned with the honors which do, and of right should, come to a well spent, well rounded life. He can proudly boast the unbroken, the intensifying love of those for whom he has labored so long and so faithfully and so efficiently. Nay, more; he knows that he enjoys the abiding confidence and esteem of the rank and file of his professional brethren; that to each one of them his walk and conversation have been an inspiration and a joy. He felt then that he was entitled, as he is, to rest from his labors.

“To-night we are assembled to do honor to him, to proffer to the grasp of cordial good-will to give him a full-hearted Godspeed on professional leave-taking; to invoke the Divine blessing on him; to express the hope, most earnestly, that the princely James B. McCaw, sweet, gentle, tender and sympathetic as he has always been, splendid in his personality, may long remain a conspicuous figure in our midst; an exemplar worthy of all emulation; a very Saul of old, head and shoulders above them all.”


There was prolonged applause as Dr. Brock, who was very happily introduced, arose, and it was some little time before he could begin. Dr. Brock paid a splendid tribute to the personal character and professional achievements of Dr. McCaw, and then, in humorous and wholly interesting way, discussed his days at the Medical College of Virginia, when “Old Gymnotus,” as the boys called Dr. McCaw, was professor of chemistry. Then Dr. Brocy, the old Confederate in him coming to the front, as usual, sketched the record of Dr. McCaw in ‘61 ‘65, when he had charge of the great Confederate hospital at Howard’s Grove, containing 5,000 beds, continued to occupy the chair of chemistry at the Medical College of Virginia, and at the same time kept up an enormous private practice.

“We are here to-night because we honor and love Jim McCaw,” said Dr. Brock. “And I feel that in honoring him we honor ourselves, boy,” and he dropped into easy vernacular. “I want to propose three cheers for our honored guest.”

Dr. Brock gave the hips, and “hurrahs” were supplied with a will that aroused the neighbors.


Then Dr. Ross introduced Dr. George Ben Johnston, who was seated next to Dr. McCaw, who was on the toastmaster’s right, or course.

There was a roar of applause as the distinguished surgeon arose. Dr. Johnston’s response was very brief, but was most happy. He thought the assemblage of scientific brethren to honor Dr. McCaw was more significant than the crowd which meets the warrior returning from the field of victory. Perhaps no man had done more for the medical profession in Virginia than Dr. McCaw. He declared the Medical College of Virginia would always honor him and revere his memory, and concluded by a beautifully earnest tribute to his personal and professional character.

Dr. Ross, in presenting Dr. Hugh M. Taylor, said:

“Shall youth be silent when age has sounded her peans of praise? Shall she not rather be heard while she sings of the beauty of ‘brethren dwelling together in unity.” Very graceful is the compliment paid the University College of Medicine in inviting one of her staff to be the ‘loving cup’ bearer – the token and pledge of the love of the whole profession for our retiring brother; and very happy am I that to Dr. Hugh M. Taylor – he of facile and finished speech – has been assigned the pleasing task of presenting it.”

“The grandest achievement of man is the attainment of the love of his fellow-men,” said Dr. Taylor in beginning his address. He is an eloquent speaker, and his presentation of the beautiful silver loving cup was a gem of its kind.


The loud calls for McCaw brought the venerable physician to his feet, at which there was an outburst of applause so prolonged that it seemed as though he would not be allowed to begin. There was absolute stillness when he commenced his brief address of thanks.

“There are so many items of joy in this gathering I know not where to begin,” he said. “One of the greatest men of his country – General Grant – said, ‘let us have peace.’ I say to you to-night, my brethren, ‘let us have peace.’ Let us dwell together in fraternity and unity.” He was interrupted by applause.

“I am not broken down – I am not going to die soon,” continued Dr. McCaw. “I want to rest, but during the next ten years you boys are going to see a great deal of me – more than ever. I don’t want to die. There is so much to be done in the world.” He then alluded to what had been accomplished in medicine and surgery since he became a physician fifty-seven years ago, and declared the world was full of miracles performed daily. He declared the Hippocratic Creed as beautiful as the Apostolic Creed.

“I am not disabled – I am just lazy and want to rest,” said Dr. McCaw. “I am determined to have a good time. I want to thank you all, and in conclusion I desire that we drink to the memory of my dear friend Hunter McGuire.”

The toast was drunk, and then Dr. Reed led in the singing of Auld Lang Syne.

After the old song there were calls for various of the doctors present, who responded briefly. These impromptu addresses were made by Dr. J. Allison Hodges, Dr. J. N. Upshur, Dr. A. G. Brown and Dr. Daniel J. Coleman.

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