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!
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.
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.
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!
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”!
On 1 June 1865, Fr Julian Tenison Woods wrote to his friend, W H Archer Esq, from Penola.
This letter perhaps proves what good friends these two really were because anyone else might have taken umbrage at receiving a letter in which most of the sentences are questions!
This month’s letter from Fr Julian Tenison Woods to “My dear Sir”, William Archer, is rather a long one with a considerable number of explanatory endnotes.
However, it is far from a tedious read!
Written from Penola towards the end of 1863, it is a good example of Fr Julian’s command of the English language, his fluent penmanship and his sense of humour. The letter from William Archer, to which he is replying, must have been an interesting one to have caused such a reaction!
In September 1884, Fr Julian Tenison Woods writes to Sir William Archer from Perak.
He has obviously received a very welcome letter from his friend, although it has been a long time coming, and he wants to reply immediately.
Fr Julian has been in the Malay Peninsula for twelve months now and anticipates being able to chat, by and by, with his friend about all he has seen and done. His travels have been extensive, as has his collection of scientific material and knowledge, some of which he acquired while in the company of another priest-botanist, Fr Scortechini. He is full of praise for the Malay people he has encountered but is wary of some of the wildlife, particularly the tigers.