This page contains transcriptions of some of Casey Wood’s correspondence and notes on others that contain information about his collections. It is not intended as a comprehensive calender.
Osler Library manuscript BO 7638 is the ola (palm leaf manuscript) containing the Yogaratanakara. The case also contains the following letters, written from Sri Lanka in the mid-1920’s:
Casey Wood to Lady Osler, Suisse Hotel, Nov 30, 1925
Dear Lady Osler,
My family & I have been lingering on this delectable Island for nearly a year – several months longer than we originally intended to stay. The charms of climate, people, flora, & fauna are too seductive for us to resist, so instead of going to Kashmir to spend this past summer we do not leave until next July, for the summer (in the Vale) of 1926.
I have taken advantage of an acquitance with several Ceylon archaeologists and students of Sinhalese literature to make collections for the various libraries and museums of McGill, and among them ^have secured quite a bit of^ medieval and modern olas (Mss.) on medicine. The latter are becoming very rare but with time & patience ^(and some money)^ I have with the aid of friends, got together a fine series of Mss. in Sinhalese, Pali, Sanskrit, & Burmese – probably all the ordinary and some of the rarer treatises on Eastern medicine & surgery. As two of these early handbooks contain the first mention of some tropical diseases, I write to say that if Sir William’s Library has some of them I shall be glad to contribute one or two more – if you will let me know.
If he has any olas & you can give me their titles I shall probably be able to add one or two not in the Library. Meantime, I am sending you ^herewith^ a copy of a short paper, written at my suggestion by an authority on Sinhalese medical history & literature, on the subject of Ceylon olas.
I was much pleased to hear to Sr. Archibald [Mallack’s] appointment to the N.Y. Academy of Medicine Library. I think both parties to the arrangement are to be congratulated and I have so written him.
In this out-of-the-way place it takes months to forward mail matter. Hence it is that I have just finished Harvey Cushing’s remarkably able & most interesting Life. To my mind it will long endure ass among the delightful, finished and exceptional biographies of this century. It is extensive but not tiresome, extremely interesting without being sensational and in its pages the W.O. we all loved so well stands dress in familiar flesh and blood.
Dr. George Simmons & his niece accompanied us last autumn through India & Ceylon, and are now on their way to Egypt & South Africa. We hope they will join us in Kashmir where we have engaged a couple of houseboats on the Thelum & later to camp for a couple of months in the Himalayan Foothills.
Our niece, Marjory Fyfe, is with us from Los Angeles, so we expect to have a jolly party & to see plenty of birds & flowers.
My wife joins me in best wishes for Xmas & the New Year, and I remain
Very sincerely yours,
Casey A Wood
The draft article by Nell is enclosed with this piece.
The second letter follows:
After Jan 1st, 1926, our address is
House Boat ‘Bendemerr’
13 Norham Gardens,
Dear Lady Osler,
About a year ago, when I first began to collect various items for the McGill Libraries and museums, I asked the expert on OLAS at the Colombo Museum to watch out for a complete copy of the YOGARATNAKARA (early 16th century treatise on AYURVEDIC MEDICINE in Pali-Sinhalese) because, according to Attygalle, it is the first publication to mention Yaws (under the native name Parangi) and to prescribe treatment for that rare tropical disease. I though[t] that if I could find an entire copy of that rare Book-Manuscript (excerpts from the quatrains and partial copies are not uncommon, although really old Sinhalese Olas are getting scarce in Ceylon) it might aspire to a place in the Osler Bibliotheca Prima. Much to my joy, I heard from the Museum that they had secured it for me (in one of the monasteries) an absolutely full copy (dated 1719 AD) and in good condition of the TREATISE. It is covered in one book-mass of 390 leaves – 780 pages.
I have taken the liberty of noting briefly on the tag that accompanies the package which I am mailing you by Intern. Parcel Post. I am sending it without waiting for a reply to my letter to you of Nov. 30 as we are leaving Ceylon somewhat earlier than we first intended.
I may add that the YOGARATNAKARA is described pretty fully in Oriental medical literature, and a brief account in English is given on page xviii of J. Attygalle’s Sinhalese Materia Medica, Colombo, 1917. If it should happen that the Ostler collection already has a copy of this MS., it can be passed on to the general medical collection of McGill. That library already has an incomplete copy (which I gave them in despair of ever finding a complete specimen) which they might in turn present to some ^other^ Canadian medical library.
We have just heard, to our great satisfaction, that the BIOGRAPHY has just gone to a third edition – wonderful but not surprising! I have dropped H.O. a note of congratulation.
Casey A Wood
Wrote Feb 5th