Word has come that John Munro had been awarded the Military Cross for his work during the Somme fighting in the early part of this great offensive. The award, however, had not been intimated until three days after his death. I hear that Angus Maclean, of your class, has been wounded again and is in hospital somewhere. I haven’t got the address yet… Stornoway, 2nd June. 1918

Extract from a letter from Mr Gibson to Jean Gibson 2nd June 1918

In his letter to Jean this week, Mr Gibson provides an account on his sailing out in the “Naughty Lass”. He also has word regarding several lads who have been away at war, including one who was awarded the Military Cross, but sadly, only after he’d died. 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,

We got your letter in comfortable time this week for Saturday morning.  If it suits better to let us have your other one on Wednesday morning, keep to that time.  So the “Dream” was a great success; but you did not tell us anything about your own part in it or how you felt during the ordeal.  And in that we were interested.  We were glad to know you had been to Miss Taylor’s.  She is a nice lady to know and to talk with.  Mr. T. we note has asked you to meet the Honours English ladies; that should be a pleasant experience.  We shall look forward to hearing about it in due course.

We were glad to hear about your visit to Chrissie and Torry.  Mr. Murray is a good man, and we are glad to know that the church is such an active centre of work among the fisher class he liked so well to work among.

It seems a pity that Chrissie should be coming back so soon to Lewis.  There wd be so much better opportunities of continuing her studies if she cd get under an urban board.  It is true that Lewis has agreed to the £80 of an initial salary, but this does not do away with the other argument in favour of a spell on the mainland.

Your societies continue to be interesting we see.  So you are extending your acquaintance with “the most original woman in the University.”  We tried to look up her Univy record, but Miss “Tibbie” Smith was not a good clue to use.  What is her name?  So Mrs. Besant continues to get pulverised!  Well, I don’t think she matters anyhow.  A woman of ill-balanced judgement, always hunting for novelties and extremes, and always in the limelight with propaganda of the views that for the moment claim her support!  Did I tell you that once in my Glasgow days I heard her give a lecture at the time when her hobby was Atheism?  I have always expected that if she chances to live long enough she will finish up in the mother-bosom of the Church of Rome.  That kind of mind frequently finds rest at last for itself in that form of church that claims to speak with absolute authority and so saves the trouble of private judgement.  We agree with your other Circle that the hymns used for congregational purposes wd be capable of improvement.  But it is wonderful how the associations of a lifetime give a sanction and satisfaction to some very mediocre psalms and hymns.

Mamma told you that I wd write Mr. Thom. (& Prof. Jack if necessary) later.  Perhaps it wd be best that we should leave it till you are home.  How do you feel now at the end of the session about the idea yourself?  Have you enough enthusiasm for the Literature side of it to give the impetus required to carry you over the Language hurdle and Mr. Grant’s want of interest?

How are things arranged about Zoo?  You thought there wd be no Degree exam.  How then do they arrange in the case of students who want the two Zoo classes to count as their double-course subject for the M.A.?

We are glad you are getting some general reading done.  Shelley and Benson sound all right.  The latter Mamma is fond of.  About Wordsworth I have always felt very much as you seem to be doing.  Setting aside the Ode on Intimations of Immortality & one or two other things I have never been able to get up any enthusiasm for his poetry, nor even indeed to understand the intense enthusiasm of his admirers.  Yet to Matthew Arnold, if I remember right, he was a poet to be bracketed with Milton – which seems to me the rankest form of heresy!

Now what about your time-table from now until you come?  When does the C.U. Conference take place, & the classes end, etc.?  And how about finances?  Hadn’t we better send on some more money, so that you may not be going short?

Friday was a nice evening, and Mamma and I had been waiting all week for a chance to get out in the N.L. [‘Naughty Lass’], so off we started taking with us a lithe line.  When we got outside Arnish, however, we found too much of a jabble on for comfort so came inside the beacon.  Some distance inside we caught our only fish, a small one of about a pound, but sufficient for Saturday morning’s breakfast.

On Saturday we went out about one o’clock.  It was a pleasant sunny day with gusts of west and north-west wind so we had to keep inside the harbour again.  We pottered about Glunach until about seven o’clock, being twice ashore to eat boiled eggs and potted-meat sandwiches.  We filled ourselves up full of sun and sea-air and felt the better of it.  Mrs. Maclean had her Bible Class over at Arnish for a picnic and they were arriving home at the same time as ourselves and had evidently enjoyed themselves hugely.  We had already seen during the afternoon two black specks on the top of Prince Charlie’s monument, one of which we had felt sure must be Callum Zadok – as indeed it turned out to have been.  The Barrie was sleeping in the sun on his window-sill when we got home.  Much tea was drunk in due course.

This morning we went to the Parish Church, and convoyed Mr. and Mrs. Clark almost home after the service.

Word has come that John Munro had been awarded the Military Cross for his work during the Somme fighting in the early part of this great offensive.  The award, however, had not been intimated until three days after his death.  I hear that Angus Maclean, of your class, has been wounded again and is in hospital somewhere.  I haven’t got the address yet.

I have had letters from Roddie Fraser, Matthew Russell, and a long and interesting one from Mr. Roddie Macrae giving some account of his experience during the German offensive.  Mr. John Macrae has also written from Piershill.  He has been allowed to live out and has had Lily with him, but he expects to be sent out soon.

Mamma has just finished Meredith’s “The Egoist” and is now beginning to re-read “Johnny Gibb of Gushetneuk,” from which she gives me a running selection of choice Aberdeenshire doric.  The Barrie, I see, after sundry repulses has succeeded in getting on to her lap and is now reposing peacefully.  Outside I hear the crakes calling.

Now, this is a good long one.  See you reciprocate.

Best love from both; also from (Ink illustration of Barrie the cat curled up)

Papa

Ref: 1992.50.64ii/L58

Transcribed by Dawn MacDonald, Archive collections assistant

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