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History of Nursing in Pacific Canada

[Letter from Ethel Johns to Eileen C. Flanagan] Johns, Ethel 1954-11-16

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 4519 West Fifteenth Ave.,
Vancouver, 8  B*C*
November 16, 1954
Dear ECF :
You must th nk that I am an ungrateful pig not even to have acknowledged your
intriguing and provocative gift*  Please believe that " The Boad to Mecca" has been much
enjpyed^ though not necessarily approved in spots* The gentleman's attitude toward women,
for instance* By the way, did you^ happen to read the review of it in a recent "Atlantic"?
The reviewer (like yours truly) was put off by the rather lush sensuousness and yet (again
like EJ) ended up by feeling that it was a great book*  The flash-backs are a bit confusing
but once one gets the thread not really so very difficult to follow* And the desert is there
— not even Gertrude Bell or Freya Stark managed to evoke it as he has done* I had read
Br P§nfieldfs book not long before so was more or less in the vein*  Evidently he too had
been deeply affected by that strange country*
To pass from the sublime to the ridiculous, EJ's magnum opus goes forward to you with
the fervent hope that you will deal with it gently. My  own ahare of the history deals, as you
will see, with the Victorian age and has been written by a totally unreconstructed mid-
Victorian. I tried very hard to preserve at least a degree of objectivity concerning the
part played by the Canadians — Osier, Hampton and Bobb — and was comforted to find tjtat
so high an authority as the Bean of the Hopkins Medical School thought that I had succeeded*
The book has had a modest success I'm glad to say and has sold unexpectedly well among
Baltimoreans in general, outside of the medical and nursing fraternities* I nearly burst
with pride when I heard that THE PBATT LIBBABY, than which there is no whicher, had actually
exhibited it in their display window as the book of the week* "The Old Lady Shows her
Medals", excuse it please*   ^o more, no more.
It has been a queer mixed-up sort of a summer* More illness than I like among friends
and contemporaries though at the moment situations are less acute in that respect* On the
cheerful side — literary earnings have encouraged me in horrid extravagance and I now rejoice
in a new electric stove AND an oil heater that are superb.. Didn't enjoy getting them put in
 and on one occasion when there were three stoves and five very large men all present together
in my little house I felt that the world was too much with me late and soon and that things
were getting a little too much for m$. Hov/ever, the soothing influence of the garden
helped to straighten me out although goodness knows there weren't many days when it was fit
to go out in it* Nevertheless, the flowers managed to bloom and as for the lawn it was really
emerald — and no watering either*
^ot as many intellectual sprees this year as last but a week or so ago we did have W*H *
Auden out at the University, He spent a whole hour reading his own poetry ~ most of it
recent and pretty abstract. Not food for babes, either. But the students gave him a whale of
a reception even though he did not really read very well* I had hoped he might touch upon
his own philosophy hy way of explanation* But no, he was austere and left us to struggle
alone. One of the poemrf he read ia in the last Atlantic —   "Plains"
" But I cannot see a plain without a shudder;-
Oh God, please, please, don't ever make me live there*"
What price Alberta and Saskatchewan? ^hey can be beautiful but I think I know what
the man means* He"finished up with a poem called (I think) Compline* And that rather shook
me though I don't know why*
""id you get a look at M ^fcdes France? If so, I enry you* He has my warm heart and ought
to be appointed Dictator of France, preferably for life* Incidentally, the Alliance Francaise
had itself quite an evening the other night when a man from the department of French in the
University, himself a Frenchman and a Maqui, gave us his unexpurgated version of what France
looked like to him last summer* It was pretty grim* He had really got down to the grass
roots, out in the provinces and away from Paris* You couldn't help wondering what will happen if the Mendes government is overthrown and his guess is that it will be.
Oh, I wish we could have a good talk sometime* xhe world is pretty interesting
jus£ now,  isn't it?
n;   , ~:       y-       ,      i(  GJJi*^    ^ -   r&XAu.
LKJ-J2AP- ^v- jfTJ\A^      ,


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