September 9, 1956
Doctor Linus Pauling
California Institute of Technology
Dear Doctor Pauling:
I could not fall asleep last night. I picked up this week's issue of Time, and came upon the news: a superlatively endowed individual was to labor in behalf of the ill-begotten. I felt tremulous with excitement - as I imagine people of a former age felt when they had read of a prince of the nobility, taking up the cudgels on behalf of the serfs and slaves. You are a prince of the new nobility and, by your announcement alone, you have already gifted the hopeless with the supreme gift of hope. If your efforts should culminate in fruitful achievement, you will have liberated the most oppressed minority of mankind, and redressed the most crying injustice of all, the biological; for the human tragedy is not to be born and to die, but to be born and not to grow.
There must be countless number of people all over the world who, having learned of your decision, can no longer regard you as a stranger. No matter how lonely your labors may seem at times, your laboratory will be humming at all times with the prayers of your unknown friends, well-wishers, and would-be beneficiaries. If few should have the audacity to write you, and fewer still to address you in person, they must assure you nevertheless that the news, emanating from Pasadena, transcends in importance all the screaming headlines of today.
Nor should you feel that you have but a small staff with which to do battle. You have had a vast army all along which, with weapons of their own forging, has
- 2 -
fought the enemies of indifference, penuriousness, cruelty, stupidity and ignorance, and inflamed the desire and hope for victory. Now we can rejoice: we're no longer leader-less, we've got us a general.
As a private of many years of faithful service, I stand at ease while I tell you that I anticipate some unlooked-for benefits from your research; for it may inspire some of your distinguished colleagues to tackle the obverse side of your problem; namely, how to promote that measure of mental, moral and physical excellence which, in a world of technological excellence, has become imperative.
In any event, you have caused me a happy moment which is not doomed to be swept away into the maelstrom of memory, but is destined to grow richer every day, nurtured by you and your associates. Can any man be in greater debt to his fellow man? I am glad to acknowledge it.
Eugene J. Hochman