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).
This letter portrays a man determined not to be overcome by his physical disabilities. Fr Julian’s mind was alert and active and, despite all, he was still able to get his thoughts on paper very successfully.
Fr Julian describes his brother, Terry, as having had his purgatory in this world – maybe the same words could be applied to himself. Here we see a man of suffering, trapped in a failing body, yet still living as fully as he possibly could. It appears that he did not feel imprisoned and his tone is cheerful.
It is highly probable that William Archer treasured this letter.
This month we present a twenty-second letter, written from Sydney in January 1888: