W-MCP6-1.449 TO THOMAS BAKER MCQUESTEN from his friend Dr. Norman Leslie
Nov 3 1914
From: Savoy Hotel, London [England]
My dear T.B. [Thomas Baker McQuesten]
Heat,heat--such heat.1 There is a place called Simpsons not far from this hotel. It is such a place. Along one side are leather stalls. In the middle are tables and chairs all old fashioned but modernized bright & comfortable. You select a stall you take slowly, everything is deliberate, the menu and you order soup ox tail by preference. Oh what soup. You sup slowly with [bovine?] calm. Then you again scour the blessed bill. You decide on roast beef or mutton, who wouldn't! The waiter in a smart voice cries "roast beef no.5". There is a soft trundling sound and comes a gentleman (gentle is as gentle does) pushing a little waggon [sic] with a blazing flame. Seated at this table is a roast such as Dickens raved about. The gentleman is no longer young, he is perhaps a little puffy under the eyes but he is a true attendant to the shrine of meat--glorious meat. His is now an honourable service. In a rich fruity and rather meaty voice, he says "underdone with a bit of the outside fat sir" You faintly say yes. Slowly is the glistening blade drawn across the hard steel. Gently fall the weeping slices and in a moment you are in heaven. You don't eat it, you absorb it. Your voice becomes thick, you become purple, and you wheeze but you are in [accord?] with John Bull. Long may he waver, all this for 2/ [two shillings] which also includes such fripperies as potatoes and bread. The soup costs 9d [nine pence] "Cheap and fillin" I peopled (good that) the seat next [here?] with you.
That is one impression of London 'tho I must say all over England they feed well. Encountered much different impression in the Abbey. I saw St. Paul's in the a.m. It represented present & great Britain grand & mighty. In the afternoon we saw the Abbey. It represents greater Britain, just England and then gradually the great Empire. Service was just starting and we stayed. The beautiful voices soared high through the arches. I sat & thought I was thrilled. It was greater then I expected. We did not see the details as there was no time after service, just walked around. I looked at the floor and almost jumped aside. I was standing on the name Tennyson. We were in the poets corner. It is a queer idea putting the names where one can walk on them isn't it? I got a broad impression but a great one, greater for being at a time like this. There were a number of Belgian soldiers about, bandaged and lame but smiling. "Je te salut" they say & grin. In a corner by himself sat a man middle aged wounded silent & brooding, with two pitifully small bundles beside him, turned out! the wreckage of war, a peasant, he has done no harm to any yet he is here. Someone will have to pay. Well my lad I have become very sentimental which perhaps is bad but one feels more strongly when he has had a loss himself. Take trouble some time and write me. Hamilton has become very far away. We are at present inactive. I wish they would let us do something.
Norman V. Leslie
P.S. My mistake I have used two sheets you can make them out. This is a grand hotel but we get 1/2 rates.
1 Following is a list of some of the letters (in our archive) from Dr. Norman Leslie to his friend Thomas Baker McQuesten about his war service in WWI from 1914 to 1918. The letters begin on the ship going over to England and continue through his service there and as surgeon in France in the trenches, which he describes graphically. For the full chronological list see:
W-MCP7-1.099 This letter may be an indication that McQuesten was arranging for a job for Dr. Norman Leslie at Niagara.