Witley, March 7, 1917

Wednesday       Mild and rainy no letter yet this week am feeling good a little depressed

Archie Wills reported rather nastier weather:

“Getting a real taste of March. The famous English East winds are sure howling. Snow is in the air.”(1)

Perhaps it was that East wind that depressed Percy–the wind to which John Jarndyce attributed “every disappointment he could not conceal, rather than blame the real cause of it or disparage or depreciate any one.” (2)

Esther Summerson, the narrator in this chapter of Bleak House, calls the East  an “unlucky wind,”chosen by “petulant people [as] the stalking-horses of their splenetic and gloomy humours.” (2)

sherlock-holmes-the-last-bowArthur Conan Doyle identifies the East wind with the Great War, in a story set in August 1914, though not published until 1917. He has succeeded in intercepting papers intended to be taken out of Britain by a German spy, but before they deliver their captive to Scotland Yard, Holmes pauses with Dr. Watson for what may be “the last quiet talk we shall ever have.”

“There’s an east wind coming, Watson.”
“I think not, Holmes. It is very warm.”
“There’s an east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it’s God’s own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared.” (3)

So people needed to believe in 1917.

(1) Wills, Archie. Diary. 4:11-12 March 7, 1917. Archie Wills Fonds, University of Victoria Archives. Copyright 2007, University of Victoria.
(2) Dickens, Charles. Bleak House. 1852-1852. Chapter 6.
(3) Conan Doyle, Arthur. “His Last Bow.” His Last Bow. London: John Murray, 1917. originally published in The Strand, with the illustration above.

Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”

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