Letter from Grace Osler to her sister, Susan Chapin [Transcript]
Lady Osler writes of the devastating effect the war has had on Oxford. Revere will remain in College and in the Training
Corps until they hear further news. Lady Osler has joined the board of the Red Cross. Robert Bacon visited at Oxford. She
writes of her continued efforts to help Belgian refugees. Osler is very busy helping in 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 (2,461,833 Bytes)
1915-01-17 (January 17, 1915)
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)
Sunday 4. P.m. 17th (Jan., 1915)
In the drawing room!
I feel that my last letters had seemed rather occurred in unsatisfactory and I often think my letters must really not contain
what you would most like to know - Views & opinions about the War and the progress - or whatever it may be. It is very
difficult not to be personal because I have no one else and you understand. One can hardly realize this is the first Sunday
in a New Term - were it not for this nice, comfy house I should like to go away and not see Oxford until it is all over -
for it is so pathetic. The Situation in the University grows serious - the income being entirely cut down in certain directions
- Fees for degrees - Entrance fees -tutors fees & many others. There are large numbers of men quartered in colleges and
the Regiment or Gov pay for that - so that is a source of income. In the same way in lodgings, otherwise the lodging keepers
would be lost. Four thousand soldiers keep money circulating in the Town but also many unpleasant things circulating. Very
Tra-la-la looking girls and decay are looking ladies - but one never really knows. I sent a letter to Ned yesterday trying
to explain about Revere - a cable came from Dr. Birkett saying for him to get training in [a] military hospital to be his
Private orderly - so Willie thought he better work in College & the training Corps until the letters came & dates
etc. settled - & probably he could arrange the Commission for the Canadian Corps more easily for this College Corps. I
hope it will all work out well & he may be satisfied - is so we shall be quite satisfied - I think you will understand
this explanation. Bobbie launched here today & no one else. We had a cozy time and W. O. Gave the boys information on
the subject of Thyroid & other glands - telling it in rather an interesting, practical way that interested them. We are
having the first glorious day for weeks - clear & fresh with no wind - The floods have gone down. W. O. Has been two days
on Salisbury Plain seeing the Hospitals & sick men. They have had a ghastly time there I can tell you & Willie says
he is not seen such mud since he was a boy. The winter really could not have been worse. Essentially Red + report which seem
to be very interesting - I have just gone on the Red + Board - and got it at the first Meeting. All these private Hospitals
seem so wonderful. The singer one is the best in this neighborhood. The Harcourts have wounded Belgian officers at Nuneham.
Mrs. H- has just telephoned me to know whatever she shall do with and officer's wife & children who arrived in their
village and not a spot for them & they speak no English. Each day something happens like that. Mrs. Somerville had a Belgian
last weekend - a woman from Louvain looking for her son - a wounded soldier & all she heard was he had been sent to England.
She started to search & found him in our Hospital - she arrived with 4 francs, fortunately Monica had seen the man and
got her mother to take the mother. This Red + branch covers the County of Oxford - and at the meeting were so many mothers
whose hearts must have been splitting with sorrow and yet so good & plucky - plotting on - doing for others - you know-
Fancy what a nice thing happened yesterday. Bob Bacon telephoned from Nuneham to know if you might call it 4 o'clock.
He came and stayed 2 hours nearly. He was perfectly charming & so full of interesting experiences - He says he shall burst
if he doesn't get into khaki. Really Martha has been simply wonderful - in the raising of money & he says Mrs. Terry
P. Whitney has given or spent about $275,000. Everyone says the Neuilly Hospital is a wonder & now they have another ready
to open near Soissons & Ambulances without number. Bob says he flies back and forth from Paris to London helping us you
can - he knows he ought to go home but simply can't now, must stay & help. He has been trying to get the American
Commission taking food to put him in the way of helping the French - back of the German line - who no one else can reach him.
Bob of course was very blue about this "American Note" & shipping business - and of course does not all approved
Wilson - I feel very uneasy about it but do not mention it to any one - certainly no one but a pro-German could expect England
to let copper go by here bound for Germans -
Wanda M. M. And I were quite depressed by a letter she had from Nina Moltke & thought it very pro-German but Mrs. M. M.
thought it only diplomatic. The M. M. children are such bright spots -They adore Willie and come in constantly - calling out
"William, where are you?"
Really Sue, Miss Danielsons things are wonderful - & that Mrs. Walker from Manchester by the Sea - don't forget to
tell me who she is - many cold Belgians are having a splendid blankets & 12 have gone to a Hospital for wounded French.
Encloses from a charming lady who has charge of 3 children & I sent some of the delicious "Bunny blankets." Madame
Persyn the wife of a Professor from Ghent is having a baby 15th of February - already 5 children under 6 1/2 - I have the
money for her to stay at the Acland home 4 weeks - but do not expect she will be willing - Everything is ready - She came
with her husband to see the things & wept. I have that little old fashioned trunk of Aunt Nan's lined with pink sateen
& a slip over of grey with a pink rose - a basket covered with the same and everything in white and pink - Miss Danielson's
baby bundles provided so much - it has cost very little. You may hear from President Lowell about a professor who is going
to Harvard. I have written him to find out where and how they can live. His name is Dupriez - and I believe another prof.
Goes at the same time - he goes to lecture in Law - staying to summer. They are living at Cambridge but came to see me about
going over & to see a wounded friend in the Hospital. Madam Dupriez speaks English nicely & is quite attractive. They
have four children, & insist on taking them to. I've tried to persuade her to leave them or stay with them here &
let him go - but she will not. They are sailing on the St. Louis Feb. 6th I think & I shall ask Sallie & Mabel Fitzgerald
to meet them & start them for Boston & I thought if Sallie wired you - you would help them to Cambridge - & told
Mr. Lowell to let you know where they would be going - I shall write more about it later -
Here is a wire from Norman at Liverpool - come to look for a job - Poor Willie - he never has a chance to breathe he is so
busy helping - also his interest in the wounds - & results of wounds is intense - I think the new Edition of the Practice
of Medicine will be a War Volume - with medical wounds - He is all the time urging man on about History of cases - & is
having a campaign on typhoid inoculation - All these things read as though you would find us living on the edge of a volcano
of excitement and yet it really doesn't seem so.
Tuesday. Norman arrived looking so well & very bright - he will soon have something to do in a Military Hospital - is
probably settled for Revere most satisfactorily - He will go to the Military Hospital at the Astor's place - which will
be opened in ten days - Help with the organization - under a good man - Get an excellent training & be ready to join
Dr. Birkett as his private orderly officer when he comes. He is very pleased - and W. O. more than thankful - They have 200
beds, ambulances etc. It seems a very good start and a chance for Revere to learn a lot and give out a great deal too in time.
They hope to be established in France as a Base Hospital - and so relieved and thankful it is settled at least it seems to
- If the question is asked of what he's doing you can say - preparing to be on the McGill Staff - by-bye