Letter #60 From Pte. W J. Wood_ 644539_Virginia Water Camp C.F.C.
To Mrs. W. J. Wood, Box 639, Midland, Ont. Canada
Sept. 21st. 1917
My Dear Little Wife:- Your 16th letter, dated Feb 28th to hand the other day. It had been no further than Smith’s lawn. It contained the verses_ “Sad is any heart.” And these were in fine sympathy with the rest of the news – of Sylvia’s eyes and “Margaret’s” carelessness! Your labors on their behalf. I hope you will not have the same does of unpleasantness the coming winter you suffered last year.
Your 48th and 50th letters to hand yesterday. They were happier, yet, in those in the report of little Tom gravestone’s death is sorrow found. If only for the young fellow, dying a death, unhappy enough at home but intensely more unhappy under the conditions existing in any camp. There is two lives, we know of, gone out in this great struggle without the slightest effect on it, for both Tom and John had scarcely come into action, though they had been months in training. There are thousands of similar cases, so costly is war. And as for myself; I might as well be with you at home, dear heart, than writing to you from here. However let us be thankful for health and hope and present life and safety. We should rejoice in the present and truth the future. We will try to at any rate. I have written days 6 days and events of pleasantness and even now I may mention a book by Oliver Menpes, “Whistler as I knew him” which has been lent to the “Col” by Mr. De Solis. It is a large book full of beautiful reproductions of Whistlers and Menpes etching and paintings as well as the most entertaining and instruction writing on art and artists especially etching and etchers. It is a great treat to me and fills me with hope and encouragement artificially.
I mentioned the arrival of your letters yesterday to the Col. and repeated what you said about the fateful month of August. He said you need not worry about me as he will have me back to you by August next year. He did not explain his reasons for speaking thus so I asked him if he thought the war would be over by that time. But what he said in reply did not seem to be related to his initial remark: he thinks it may be over in a short time though the Allies are preparing for a possible three years more! May Heaven grant us patience in any event!
I got the papers Mr. Greig sent me and saw the photo engraving of the new building. I am very glad to know that artistic values are remembered even in these hours of necessity and is likely to survive them. I will be eagerly awaiting his promised letter. He had seen the pictures spread out on the floor before the walls in the positions they are to occupy on the same walls. He is a tremendously good fellow and I am glad you wrote to him to ask him to size up the show and see where I came out. Speaking of “I” and my conceit, you should see what Menpes writes of his friend Whistler. I most laughable and absurd so it is no sign of lack of genius that I should exhibit a considerable amount of conceit and you should see what Menpes has written about his and his fellow art students thinking they had mastered art only to turn around next day to see that there was more to learn. You and I could have a “lovely time” looking over this delightful book but the laugh would always be on me.
I have just stepped outside to the P.O. to see what the morning mail might have for me: I got your 49th letter and Leon’s with the clippings enclosed. Some of the clippings were more interesting than you might think: I often watched “Dorris Milligan” going by the “shop” to school. She was a fine looking, plump, lively girl and I hope she has not made too great a mistake.
I think that “Hebuer” is the fellow is the chap I got to clean out the closet you remember. It is hard luck for him, if his wife is “taking up with some other man” who calls upon her in the meantime. That is the way it goes when a woman does not remember and be true, or a man either.
You have plenty of chance to do the same, and so have I but of what avail is it, where is the beauty or greatness of it. Like all foolishness it is so easy and ready to begin with us. So easy to cultivate; but how disappointing, the harvest. Yet with all this, you will wonder at caution, and call it jealousy! I could not be jealous over anyone I did not want or love. I would not care! I thought I knew something about human depravity; I am sorry to say I’ve seen a great deal more than I ever wanted to believe possible, but against that I put the great goodness of heart and hand I’ve seen too, and hope grows strong as ever. I think of my little wife as I know here not as she might be and I love her and live for her as the best motive in life. How bitterly I would be stricken were Hebuer’s case mine, yet. I see men here of whom I would expect more for whom such fore would be too good for them. Let our creator help us all to get justice and goodness. In life’s great drama some must play the background’s role or the saint would darkness to relieve his brightness against; No contrast, no variety. On the painter’s palette there must be yellow as well as blue. Clearly while we may choose to be the one, someone must see the other, by choice perhaps? But this leads out of our ken. May our creator learn us to value and choose that which is best!
I was greatly pleased with the improvement and wit in Verne’s last letter. For instance
Is more like a “letter” than . He is a cute kid but the others must not mind me remembering the “babies” I will write them all a letter in good time. I like the letters from Leon and Irene I got today but I would like them to take the writing of a letter very seriously so far as the writing goes. It would be good practice with the pencil or pen to write one over several times. Until the lines straighten out a little, the letters even up to an equal size. I like their composition and style of saying things but in writing as in anything “practice makes perfect” a good writer in business and other correspondence has a distinct advantage, if his or her writing looks practiced, clear, and stylish. My own could be much improved in this respect, but it would be much worse if I did not always try to make it good. Well Dear “Heart of Gold.” “Life’s most prized gift.” I assure you of my love and also the youngsters whom I will try to remember with a letter soon. Your own Hubby.
W. J. Wood