23 February 1923 diary of Dr John Stewart Muir (1845-1938) of Selkirk

In Ed. at Branch clinical meeting + dinner. Went in by 10.13. Thaw continuing: calm fair, roads very muddy. Quite a nice day in Ed. + streets dry. Spent half an hour in Nat, Gallery + saw my old friends “Oberon + Titania”1 + Etty’s big pictures 2: saw “The Fast Mail” at Picture House 3 + got some lunch. Then walked via Castle Terrace + Lauriston to R. I. 4 where at 3.30 I took the chair at clinical meeting where some 24 cases were shown in the theatre. Then I called for Julia Pringle5 whom I found in bed. She has been ill with boils + is taking a rest. Was in chair at Branch dinner at the Caley6 at 6.30. Bolam of Newcastle7 – Chairman of Council – on my right + McTice, President of Fife Branch8 on left. Tally 30 present. Pleasant evening. Caird9 proposed my health. I recited “Border Land” + “Adams Request”10 + gave a short sketch of Roger Quin.11 Told the Wilfred Lawson story, the Duke’s soliloquy and the Dalgleishhope episode.12 + came out by last train.

1 Perhaps ‘The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania’, 1849, by Sir Joseph Noel Paton (1821-1901) which “was judged to be ‘picture of the season’ when exhibited in Edinburgh in 1850” [National Galleries of Scotland] but just conceivably its partner image ‘The Reconciliation of Oberon and Titania’, 1847, though this was originally purchased by the Royal Scottish Academy 1848 and was “transferred and presented to the National Gallery of Scotland 1910” [National Galleries of Scotland].

2 William Etty (1787-1849), R.A.

3 ‘The Fast Mail’, 1922, was an American silent melodrama film (now lost) directed by Bernard J Durning and starring Buck Jones and Eileen Percy. It was produced and distributed by the Fox Film Corporation.

4 Dr Muir appears to have approached the Royal Infirmary in Lauriston Place around the south west side of Edinburgh Castle via either the Castle grounds or West Princes Street Gardens.

5 There is a good chance that this refers to Dr Julia Letitia Pringle (1878-1960), M.B. Ch.B., who studied medicine at the Medical College for Women, Edinburgh, graduating in 1903. In the 1921 Census she was recorded at 24 Forfar Road, Dundee, a “medical practitioner” [see also Dr Muir’s diary entries for 23 February 1919 and 20 February 2023].

6 The Caledonian Station Hotel, Edinburgh. There is a description of the clinical meeting and a brief reference to the dinner in “Scotland” The British Medical Journal, vol. 1, no. 3250, 1923, pp. 653–653. JSTOR, accessed 23 Feb. 2023.

8 McTice has not yet been identified.

7 Sir Robert Alfred Bolam (1871-1939), O.B.E., M.D., F.R.C.P., medical practitioner, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and heavily involved in the British Medical Association and the General Medical Council. He was Chair of Council of the British Medical Association, 1920-1927 and Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, 1936-1937. [Br Med J 1939;1:953 and Royal College of Physicians ‘Sir Robert Alfred Bolam’].

9 Francis Mitchell Caird (1853-1926, medical practitioner, sometime Regius Professor of Clinic Surgery at Edinburgh University and near-contemporary of Dr Muir at Edinburgh medical school.

10 Neither poem of ballad has been identified, though both have been recited by Dr Muir previously. Borderland by Henry Lawson (1867-1922) is a possibility: “I am back from up the country, very sorry that I went, | Seeking for the Southern poets’ land whereon to pitch my tent; | I have lost a lot of idols, which were broken on the track, | Burnt a lot of fancy verses, and I’m glad that I am back.”

11 Roger or Rodger Quin or Quinn (1850-1925), Dumfries-born but staying at this time in Selkirkshire and known as the Tramp Bard or Homeless Poet.

12 The Editor assumes that the Wilfred Lawson story, the Duke’s soliloquy and the Dalgleishhope episode are separate but in any case all three are unidentified.

[Source: Scottish Borders Archives & Local History Service SBA/657/26, Dr J S Muir of Selkirk, medical practitioner, journal for 1923]

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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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