Mamma says I am to tell you that everybody who has been speaking to her seems to have been greatly surprised at your having travelled that Sunday night and to be impressed with the inhumanity of “your patients” in letting you go. Mamma thinks possibly this is to cover the case of the young men who didn’t venture… Stornoway, 27th January. 1918

Extract from letter from Mr Gibson to Jean Gibson 27th January 1918

This week, Mr Gibson returns to writing his usual letter to Jean as he’s feeling much better again. He has a lot of educational advice for Jean this week, regarding various classes and subjects, and he also has important updates on Barrie the cat, and Lulu the chicken for Jean to note. The next in our series of letters from the W.J. Gibson collection held by Museum nan Eilean. Please get in touch if you have any comments: archives@cne-siar.gov.uk

Jean dear,

Sunday evening, but I am writing again so as to bring us back into our ordinary routine, which we lost through my being in bed last Sunday.

Mamma, you will be interested to hear, is at present reading Spenser’s “Daphnaida” but you forgot to say what you were to do with it.  “And beard all overgrown That well he seemed to be some wight forlorn.”  This is the passage that is just being read to me, with what moral you can guess, when I mention that I have twice this week sought the barber in vain.  We wd have liked to hear what the other essay subjects were, so that we cd think which we wd have done.

How did the young ladies at the Residence take your place in the English class?  I expect they wd be pleased.  I forgot to say that I told Barrie about it and he immediately started to purr.  I have found my analysis of Bradley’s general views on Shakespeare’s tragic method, and will send it to you.  If you can find time, however, read a chapter or two of his “Shakespearean Tragedy”.  You will find him very interesting.  Also one or two chapters from Raleigh’s “Shakespeare” (English Men of Letters Series) on Shakespeare’s method; I think the last chapter or two.  As you can find time, re-read those of Shakespeare’s plays that you already know, simply to refresh your memory on plot and character.  Nothing so valuable, from the point of view of English, as Shakespeare lore!

Mamma has just been finding in Spenser’s “Da” a parallel to the book of Job – in Canto 1; have you noticed it?

Did you get the prescribed texts:- Dent’s English Miracle Plays and Dent’s (2 vols.) Minor Elizabethan Drama?  If not, you shd lay them in.  I want them afterwards.  You have never mentioned what like Dixon & Grierson’s “English Parnasous” is.  Is it a good anthology?

About your Nat. Phil., where does the shoe pinch?  You used to be strong on barometers, thermometers and calorimeters.  Have you a suitable small textbook?  I think I gave you the little brown book I had.  Your exam. mk. of 65% was quite good, and you’ll probably make more on a Physics paper, if you find time to revise the calculations beforehand.  I forget the date when you said the exam. was to come.

We were pleased to hear that you had all enjoyed “Peter Pan” so much.  We would have liked to be with you to enjoy it too.  You had quite a nice set of Indian meetings evidently.

I forgot to say when I wrote last that I was glad Miss Grainger Stewart had looked you up.  Mamma asked me to let her know last year that you had gone to Aberdeen but I didn’t.  I got quite a good impression of her when I saw her at the Training Centre.  We’ll be interested to hear how the T.C. play comes off when the time comes.

We have been having a dull spell of weather this last week with rain and wind.  It is howling from the S.W. against the study window just now in its oldest and most approved manner.

Thanks for enquiries about my cold.  It is almost quite away now.  Mr. Jenkins was preaching this morning, but looking, poor man, very pale and washed-out after his illness.  Next Sunday is to be his last here.  We were talking for a minute or two this morning to Maud’s father and mother.  We hope Maud keeps well, & is being less overworked than she was.

Dr. Murray’s lecture comes on Wednesday evening.  There was another meeting asking him to become a parliamentary candidate – in Lochs this time.  Mr. Burns was the leading speaker, but Mrs. Burns also took part.  Provost Maclean is to take the chair at the lecture, but I’m sorry to say Mrs. Maclean is very unwell – I’m afraid seriously ill.

Our school exams begin on Monday.  That is something you are now spared, but I’m not sure that the University substitute is any pleasanter?  Wouldn’t the path of knowledge be a fine thing if there were no examn turnpikes to go through?

Barrie is not with us in the study.  He is on the chair in the kitchen.  Oh yes, we see about his newspaper screen each night and “keep him very nice.”  He has a good appetite just now, and is rejoicing that some white fish was available at the week-end.  Lulu is as cheeky as ever and ready to bully – or peck – anybody brave enough to face her.

Mamma says I am to tell you that everybody who has been speaking to her seems to have been greatly surprised at your having travelled that Sunday night and to be impressed with the inhumanity of “your patients” in letting you go.  Mamma thinks possibly this is to cover the case of the young men who didn’t venture.

Now, isn’t this a full sheet, calling for something lengthy in the way of reply.

Our best love.

Papa

P.S. Am enclosing a very picturesque little article on the Waacs*(?) written by Miss “Dollock” for the Sy. Gazette.  Please return.  (Italics written in margin)

*WAACs = Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps?

Ref: 1992.50.64ii/L25

Transcribed by Dawn MacDonald, Museum Visitor Assistant

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