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The William Osler Papers

Letter from Grace Osler to her sister, Susan Chapin [Transcript] pdf (778,901 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Grace Osler to her sister, Susan Chapin [Transcript]
Lady Osler comments on the hardships of the war, including the constant stream of visitors in her home. She writes of Revere, Campbell and Osler's activities in the war. Jack [John McCrae?], Harry Wright, Ralph Osler, Charlie Bath, May Osborne's boy, Allen Meredith and Ellie Bowen have been among the many guests in the Oslers' home. She describes her observations of the war and reports on her continued humanitarian efforts. 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:
2 (778,901 Bytes)
1915-07-30 (July 30, 1915)
Osler, Grace
Chapin, Susan
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.
Exhibit Category:
Sir William: Regius Professor at Oxford, 1905-1919
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
(Lady Osler to Mrs. Chapin)
(Oxford) July 30th (1915)
Dear Sister
A year ago tonight we were in London before sailing - What a year!! - And what years there may be before us. No matter what happens I shall never live to see a normal life again. To me it is so awful not to be physically made uncomfortable by the war - And yet I don't know what to do. I am cutting down food all the time & is difficult in this house on account of people coming - I have begun servants vacations by sending Ethel today thinking we should be alone - and behold 3 Canadian Soldiers have asked to come for the weekend - Your letters come on Monday always and are such a pleasure - I wonder for you are expecting to go to the sea at all - I am sure you must all be in a state of anxiety about Germany's reply - I can't help feeling that Germany is doing her utmost to involve America - She knows that Europe will be crippled for years after the war is over and there will be America prosperous & untouched - You'll be in yet - I firmly believe. We hear that American Red + nurses are being called home - That reminds me that Mrs. Dexter sent another batch of letters of her daughter from Lapanne - W. O. Has never looked at one or written her - nor have I. The girl has left Lapanne now - having had a bad throat - I think she is arranging to run the Nursing work at the Front in a Khaki uniform. Revere writes twice a week. They have many trials and tribulations - Are ready for patients now - perhaps have them -Harvard Hospital is next them. Revere sent for his bicycle as he has errands to do in the town when he can always use the motor or Ambulance. I forwarded it through Harrod. It has been a trying time for the men - Campbell Howard particularly waiting & waiting. I saw a Medical Officer Saturday, just back from France - who said there were 30,000 Empty beds in France - British ones. Here in Oxford there are 700 - One Cannot understand it. Cliveden is full - & many Medical cases - W. O. spends Every Monday there & intensely interesting cases. The new wards are splendid - Phoebe and I went to Folkestone last Friday - We found it really a very attractive spot - far more so on the sea front then Paignton. The hotel on a high Cliff. The Grand simply full of Canadians and 40,000 in Camp within a radius of seven miles - Hugh Osler & his wife in the Hotel -Hugh able to sleep there - a large portion of his Battalion sent over & he is kept to train new man coming over from Canada - Jack & his wife were there from the Camp in Yorkshire - Campbell came from Dover where he is training - & brought fellow officers to dine each night. Harry Wright was there and asked particularly for you - he's acting Sanitary Officer at a big camp - then there was Ralph Osler back from the trenches - Charlie Bath - May Osborns boy & Allen Meredith - Really it nearly broke my heart to see them all - & so bright & Cheerful - Ellie Bowen had come for Sunday too, so we were large party - Phoebe saw a hundred men she knew. We motored to all the Camps and had tea at Harry's Mess on Saturday. We stopped to see the Queen's Canadian hospital where Phoebe goes - the additions there are splendid and they will soon be ready. Lady Markham has arranged a double room so Willie & I can stay there - or the Donald Armours. We also motored to Dover and Saw all the defenses - I longed for you. The camps on the Downs are wonderful. There has been so much rain that Everything is vividly green & the masses of white tents & thousands of horses really wonderful. Phoebe & I walked to the docks and poked about as much as we could - We saw sections of net - steel -that cross the channel and are being held up by immense buoys. A number of submarines have been caught in them undoubtedly. From Dover & Folkestone there's a regular roadway across to France for the ships - transports - Hospital Ships & passenger boats - protected on either side by destroyers. One could see them from the Cliff and from the Hotel easily. At night there are lights on the destroyers or on some ships - changing each night - some steady - some flashing - never twice alike. It is astounding to think of the amount of thought & ingenuity involved by every branch of defense in this war. The young Osler wives near their husbands camps have taken a house at Hythe the next place to Folkestone -as they dislike the Hotel and want to stay over as long as their Men are in England. Their pluck and courage is amazing - & all the babies in Canada. Harry Wright is overjoyed for his wife is coming - Mr. & Mrs. Blake are bringing her over and I fancy they will take a house near there somewhere - Phoebe and I left Monday morning and came home through London - glad as usual to get back here - On our return we found a most worrying wire from Norman - Who has blood poison from a p.m. Pricked his finger - His own Hospital at Wimereux was ready to move so they took him at once into Boulogne. The General in Chief was called in and to W. O. had been hearing from him each day - His temp is now down, and he's doing well - Bill has also been to see him & wired he was better - but evidently he has had a close shave - & will be much upset I know for he was very downhearted before - Campbell you should see - he looks such a beauty in his uniform - His friends seem devoted to him. I had really quite a holiday from work - but have been added hard today - We have made 150 sets of pyjamas for Somerville - Yesterday afternoon I took Nurses in the Car to Ewelme & had tea - also arrange the rooms for our young Magdalen friend Mr. Langstaff who has gone there to stay. The Ramsey Wrights are just back from a visit in S. Devon & feeling much better. Dr. Camac is working in the Paignton Hospital for a little while, some of the men are away - he may go to Lapanne. Archie has a household of officers at the Guests place in Rutlandshire - nervous cases - very trying & worrying. I saw Cora in London Monday & she has asked us to come whenever we can to Houghton as she will be there alone - And can only use three bedrooms, so officers are quartered in her house and 150 men in her stables. I do not mean to go away except for 24 hours. W. O. says he shall go to France as soon as they have medical Cases at McGill & be gone a month. Marion has just called me up. Bob is busy & delighted. Mrs. Van Buren is wonderfully well -Bess at St. Moritz. The Januarys staying at Hamble - Mrs. Somerville still working with her Scots & wild about them. She was horrified at having to come in roaring drunk the other afternoon after they had there furlough papers & pay. I think you better send this to Sallie for I can't write another long letter. The shoes & stockings are a comfort. I am putting the 3 pounds into a fund for a Canadian prisoner in Germany - I have one already - Ted Bath, Ruth Bath's son, tell Ruth Coxe. I can send them food and Tobacco - & Lady Drummond is sending me another man. The parcels go free by posts and must be such a comfort - The mere getting them brings variety into their lives. Ted Bath has one English Officer with him - 400 Russians & 200 French - The garden is lovely - Phoebe takes large baskets each morning to Doris & Phyllis. Bening has gone to the Dardanelles, William still at Headington - Enoch in Balliol - & training in the Park - W. O. is hopeless about a Secretary - I try to help but he won't let me - In my absence he filled your bed & floor with books in the top of all the shelves in the Sitting room.
I'm afraid you can never read this long letter. Phoebe looks perfectly beautiful -
Much - much love -
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