Letter from Grace Osler to her sister, Susan Chapin [Transcript]
Lady Osler reports on her trip from Liverpool to Oxford with Revere. She describes the early stages of the war in England.
Revere will join the Training Corps in College. She writes of her own contributions to the war-effort. She relates news of
family and friends.
[Description courtesy of McGill University.]
About this transcript: Soon after Osler's death in 1919, Lady Osler asked their good friend Dr. Harvey Cushing to write
a biography. For this project, Cushing gathered a wide variety of material, including a substantial amount of Osler correspondence
and other memorabilia borrowed from Osler's family, friends, and colleagues. He employed three secretaries to transcribe
these documents, and later donated the transcripts (along with his other working materials) to the Osler Library. Because
many of the original documents were returned to the owners, the Cushing transcripts constitute the largest and most accessible
collection of Osler's correspondence.
Harvey Cushing's "Life of Sir William Osler" was published by Oxford University Press in 1925, and was awarded
a Pulitzer Prize in 1926.
Number of Image Pages:
3 (2,940,811 Bytes)
1914-08-22 (August 22, 1914)
Transcriber: [Cushing, Harvey]
Original Repository: Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University. Osler Library Archive Collections, P417: Harvey Cushing Fonds
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Sir William: Regius Professor at Oxford, 1905-1919
(Lady Osler to Mrs. Chapin)
(Oxford) Saturday Aug 22nd 1914
I am furious at being so old
I sent off a letter by the Olympic last night and was sorry I hadn't time to write more about all I have heard and done
since Thursday - but I couldn't - we reached Liverpool just too late to catch the 9.30 Oxford train - There was no special
- so we had to wait until 11.30 - After getting off the luggage helped by our ever useful Great Western man we went to see
the Cathedral - this calm proceeding being more to Revere's liking than seeing soldiers - there were plenty everywhere
- on the dock and in front of all Public Buildings. The trip to Oxford was uneventful -we took on two carriage of recruits
at Birmingham and left weeping wives and mothers in the Station. At Oxford we found W. O. Looking very fit well and evidently
thankful to see us, never once saying "Why did you come back" - and listening patiently to the tales of our experiences
& apparently satisfied that Revere had seen one Aunt - two Uncles - two Godfathers - four babies - to Godsons and many
friends. Oxford looked the same and it was hard to believe why we had rushed back. Tea was on the terrace - the garden a mass
of gorgeous blooms - a fresh crop of roses and wonderful snapdragons.
First I talked & told our experiences & then W. O. told his - he left Aberdeen the day we sailed and went to Colonsay
that evening in the yacht - Monday Harry Howard arrived & brought the news - they tried to get away that night all of
them but couldn't. All wires were cut off - in trains used only to move Scotch soldiers & no reservations could be
made. They never got to London until Friday morning I think - Donald Howard has gone to Belgium with his regiment - Harry
waiting for his commission. I think Willie went directly to London where he found Edmond - worried to death about Isabel Meredith
and the Bank - W. O. Evidently spent the following week mostly in London where there is a Canadian Committee to arrange for
the applications coming from Canada - And he undertook to do what he could about the Medical & Nursing applications -
then here a most wonderful work has been done. The Examination Schools have been turned into a thoroughly equipped Hospital
- operating room - p.m. room - Chapel & every detail complete - The courtyard with pavilions built to contain beds.
I think there are 350 beds - The large picture of the Kaiser put in the seller - Opposite, the Masonic Hall has 50 beds
- part of the same organization - Magdalen School turned into Hospital - & 80 beds in the Infirmary grounds - 1000 Territorials
in Christ Ch - Balliol & Keble have been moving on into camps - everyone has come home - all Heads of Colleges but Brasenose
- who is lost in Germany. All helping - all working like slaves. The plan is for our Hospital to receive patients who are
in Netley the big Army Hospital near Southampton - I mean patients there now from the Regular Army. They want that free at
once - to put in the wounded coming across the Channel - then gradually others who come to us. These Military Hospitals have
been established all over the country - 3000 beds in Cambridge etc. - Willie says that the quiet, calm way in which it has
been done could never be believed without seeing it.
Red Cross workers everywhere. Prof. Thomson turned his big laboratory into a workroom and Mrs. Melville Lea & Mrs. Arthur
Thomson started a workroom at once. I could not begin to tell you what they have done - I spent nearly all day there yesterday
& as Mrs. Lea has given out I have been made the Chairman.
It is in the Museum. They have furnished the Hospital with nightshirts & day shirts enough to start with - & I could
not tell you the other things for the soldiers who started. Friday morning I reported to the Hospital and its small hope to
have regular work there, - but fancy this workroom will take much time for the present. Everybody looks very serious &
earnest. W. O. quite different to what I have ever seen him - The newspapers are so different to the American & Canadian
papers - no pictures - except in the small cheap ones - This enormous number of troops has been moved across the Channel and
into France - no one really knows how many -about 150,000. Of course we know so many men - I hardly dare think of the young
ones -Revere meditates & is very quiet. He will join the Training Corps in College at once. I was obliged to go to London
this morning and it is strange to see the red + on Devonshire House.
You would never believe the stories & experiences of people getting home. Isabel Meredith, Dinah & her friend arrived
Thursday. Edmund sent Cooks man to Aix - two attempts - the second time he found a friend in Paris with a big car which he
hired & reached Aix - it took four days from Aix to Boulogne - only allowed one small trunk the car being filled with
petrol tins - They drove rapidly - but were held up every few miles - to show their passports. At night got rooms where they
could but could not sleep on account of tramp of soldiers. I thought Isabel in London today - very weary but so thankful to
get home - she said the kindness at Aix & of the French everywhere could not be exceeded. They passed through miles of
English soldiers as they reached the coast. The Boulogne route is kept open - Calais closed - but of course the timetables
are only made at the moment. Our trains are running subject to change and no responsibility taken except by passenger about
promptness. Orville Bullitt reach London last night after 8 days in trains from Munich - Loulie & Willie left Berlin the
day before the lines were closed - & reached London the Bank Holiday - no trucks no money - Telephoned here - & we
had gone - fortunately saw Cora driving through the street & she took Loulie to Marshall's where she got two gowns
& all she needed - Her trunk turned up yesterday after three weeks. Her maid is near Pau - & can't reach her.
It is the moving of troops in France that makes it so difficult and nearly all motors of been taken. Edmund is at Broxton
with Ellie taking the cure. W. O. Has been up to see him as he is quite ill - but he is improving now. He hopes to sail about
Sept. 6th taking Merediths & Mary & her children. This town is full of Americans waiting - & London too - 2000
left yesterday on the Olympic. Our nice secretary has enlisted but not gone yet - Benning & William are here - we are
only using the motor for necessity & to help tired people - I am cutting down all expenses - so as to have money to use
for the other things - napkin rings & bare table - new sweets - & 2 courses for dinner. The first week, prices went
up in the skies but are better now.
Monday night - had been all day at the workroom - sent off 200 shirts & started much work - We are beginning things for
women & children at odd moments. Nearly all the large houses in London are used for different good works & hundreds
of country houses are turned into Hospitals already - All this Red Cross training has been splendid. Josephine Phelps has
gone to Belgium - is in Brussels. It is almost impossible to explain the feeling. The world is so occupied with the cruelty
in Belgium that ones own troubles & fears seem forgotten: even Mrs. Max Muller calling the Kaiser a "Mad vicious brute".
I was glad to find the dear lady alive - I feared this would kill her. Her son arrived Saturday from Budapest coming through
with the Ambassador returning. The Bucklers were in a Chalet in the Savoy Mountains & were really without a penny - Mr.
B- managed to get through & has gone back on a bicycle with gold - I could write on & on telling what I have heard
but you would be exhausted. Today the news is bad - but one cannot really trust anything. I am sending a copy of the "White
Paper" the report of the Diplomatic transactions & you can see how Sir Edward Grey fought against it - we went to
Ewelme for church yesterday - 30 men have gone from the village & hardly any men in the choir. We please send this to
Dundas - & ask him to send it to Mrs. McCagg - the Spinney Pointe and Pic - & she can send it to Sallie please - it
is not worth much but will not be possible to write everyone -
Motors form an extraordinary part of the movement - The Royal automobile club had 10,000 to use for troops & gentlemen
just handed over their superb cars. Loyalty makes me squirm & weep.