The Archer Letters – Letter Twenty-Two

Fr Julian Tenison Woods’ letter to William Archer on 3 January 1888 from his home in Elizabeth Street, Sydney, was probably not penned by himself. However, he did add his own signature.

The reason for his not writing himself was that a serious deterioration in his health had left him an invalid, unable to use his hands and feet freely. His eyesight was also failing. Yet, despite all this, Fr Julian was continuing to work from his travel notes and prepare articles and scientific papers. His able assistant was Anne Bulger, to whom he had also dictated his Memoirs. (Anne was a member of the lay community of devoted women who cared for Julian in his final invalid years).

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The Archer Letters – Letter Twenty-One

This month’s letter is the only one in this collection that is from William Archer to Fr Julian Tenison Woods. In it Archer welcomes Fr Woods back to Australia after his sojourn in the Far East.

It was written from his home in Melbourne on the feast of Corpus Christi, 1886, and his words are warm and inviting—in anticipation of seeing his good friend once again.  He makes it clear that he is eager to hear all about Fr Julian’s research and to encourage him to speak and write about his experiences.

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The Archer Letters – Letter Twenty

This letter, dated 2 November 1885, from “Father Julian” to “My dear Sir William”, was written from the mountains behind Osaka in Japan.

Fr Julian Tenison Woods had retreated here to indulge his love of botany, geology and solitude.  He seemed to be quite intrigued with Japan, its houses and people and was only too happy to be confined here longer than he expected due to a cholera epidemic “in the plains below”.

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The Archer Letters – Letter Nineteen

This month we read the letter that Fr Julian Tenison Woods wrote to William Archer from Hong Kong on 9 February 1885.

Wherever Fr Julian went he found people who had connections to Australia. In this letter he mentions that he was staying with Sir George Bowen, a former Governor of Victoria (1872-1879). It seems Fr Julian was not too charmed by Sir George because of the introduction he had given to his lecture on mines and minerals in the Malay Peninsula!

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The Archer Letters – Letter Eighteen

Fr Julian is now some months into his travels in Asia.

It seems that his health had been good from August 1883 until the beginning of January 1884, despite the fact that he had endured uncomfortable boat trips while others around him were succumbing to jungle fever.  However, he did get fever in due course and suffered so considerably his doctor advised him not to stay in the country too much longer.

Fr Julian’s opinion of the country is not all that high! He shakes his head at the living conditions, the huge challenge of paganism and the tigers prowling at night.

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The Archer Letters – Letter Seventeen

The letter written by Fr Julian to his friend, William Archer, on 20 June 1878, tells the reader much about the place of science in the life of this priest.

He loves all things scientific but he is always a priest first, attending to his many ecclesiastical duties before spending time pursuing scientific interests – writing papers, visiting museums or taking notes while rambling. At this time Fr Julian is giving a mission at Morpeth, saying Mass, preaching to adults and children, hearing confessions and leading the evening service each day.

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The Archer Letters – Letter Sixteen

This month we read a letter written from Fr Julian Tenison Woods while he is giving a mission at Forbes in May 1878.

There has been a delay in Fr Julian receiving Sir William Archer’s letters due mainly to confusion over the address at which Fr Julian’s mail is held, while he is absent from Sydney giving missions in remote parish areas. It is interesting to note Fr Julian’s membership of two clubs in Sydney, the Union Club and the Australia Club. He was obviously held in high esteem here, in contrast to the wariness he felt among his fellow priests!

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The Archer Letters – Letter Fifteen

The letter written by Fr Julian to William Archer from Penola on 5 September 1865 merits more than a cursory glance.

It is, once again, full of questions and demands of his good friend but, as he says, “Who have I to look but you?” He is grateful that William has recommended a microscope that will suit his purposes, and his pocket.

Written in free and easy conversation style, here Fr Julian’s sense of humour is at its best. He refers to his lack of means and suggests maybe the microscope could magnify his income! “The rule is that all priests say they are poor, the exception being in my case that it is true.” He asks for a book and suggests “get it anywhere – steal it – and tell me the cost to soul and body and I will remit in both senses”!

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