21 December 1922 diary of Dr John Stewart Muir (1845-1938) of Selkirk

Was called up by ’Phone at 5.20 for Jas. Mitchell, Henderland.1 It was a dark night but calm + some frost. Mitchell had Angina Pect.2 Gave him a hypo of Morph + Atrop.3 Got back a little after 9. Lovely sunrise but it soon clouded over + was damp + drizzly all day. Motored over to Woll Rigg.4 Wrote some Xmas letters5 to Somers6, Mrs Taylor7, Jas. Russell8 Agatha Sprot9, Charlie Boucher10 + Jessie Hayes.11 Called at Kirklea + gave W.H.O.12 a copy of Rorie’s poems13 as an “antidote to “Adventure Square”.14

1 Assume James Mitchell, senior (about 1854-1929) of Henderland, Megget, Selkirkshire. At the 1921 Census the family comprised James Mitchell senior aet 67, James Mitchell junior, 35, Mary Richardson Mitchell, 33, Isabella Shiel Mitchell, 26, and Eliza Dalgleish Mitchell, 25.

2 Angina pectoris or angina is chest pain.

3 Morphia and Atropine appear to be used to relieve pain and to reduce the spasmodic effects of the attack.

4 Perhaps to see William Dewar of Woll Rigg, Ashkirk, who had his hand lacerated when sawing a branch off a tree on 28 November 1922.

5 If the communication seems arbitrary it may be because Dr Muir sent cards late in reaction to cards he himself had received, see diary entries for 24 December 1914 and 24 December 1917.

6 The Editor speculates that this refers to the Somers, a Belgian evacuee family in Selkirk during the First World War see Dr Muir’s diary, 26 December 1914, but see also diary entry for 24 December 1920.

7 Conceivably Rhoda Taylor née Macintyre, later White (1873-). She had married, 1905, at Callander, Alexander ‘Sandy’ Taylor (about 1872-1917), M.A., LL.B., Sheriff-Substitute of Forfar who was killed in April 1917 near Fampoux, Arras. Rhoda re-married, 27 June 1921, Paddington, London, Samuel White, manufacturer, of ‘Highlands’, Taunton, Somerset. See Dr Muir’s diary for 31 December 1915 “… Had dinner party … Major & Mrs Taylor (he being Sheriff-Substitute of Forfar).”

8 James Russell is unidentified.

9 Agatha Elizabeth Margareta Sprot, later Purvis (1874-1962), daughter of John Sprot, army officer, and Cecilia Elizabeth Doveton.

10 Charles James ‘Charlie’ Boucher (1877-1947), locum to Dr Muir in 1902, but see also diary entry for 20 December 1922.

11 Jessie Geddes Thomson Hayes née Muir (1860-1930), daughter of Alexander Muir and thus Dr Muir’s niece, but see also diary entry for 20 December 1922.

12 William Henry ‘W H’ or ‘Will’ Ogilvie (1869-1963), author, journalist and one of Australia’s great Bush poets, living at Kirklea, Ashkirk.

13 Perhaps ‘The Auld Doctor, and Other Poems and Songs in Scots’ by David Rorie (1867-1946), D.S.O., M.D.C.M, D.P.H., doctor, folklorist and poet whose poem ‘Tam and the Leeches’ Dr Muir had recited at a Jubilee Nurses Concert on 30 November 2022 (“Faith there’s a hantle queer complaints | To cheenge puir sinners into saints | An’ mony divers ways o’ deein’ | That doctors hae a chance o’ seein’ | The Babylonian scartit bricks | To tell his doots o’ Death’s dark tricks.” etc).

14 Dr Muir’s second cousin Jean Frances Guthrie Smith (1895-1949), a poet, had published ‘Adventure Square’ (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1922) and on 20 October Dr Muir recorded that Ogilvie had written saying “All brains + brilliance without any melody or a right word or suggestion that makes the heart beat quicker or the blood run warm.”

[Source: Scottish Borders Archives & Local History Service SBA/657/25, Dr J S Muir of Selkirk, medical practitioner, journal for 1922]

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Archivist, interests include Dr John Stewart Muir 1845-1938) of Selkirk, general practitioner, and Seton Paul Gordon (1886–1977), naturalist, author and photographer

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