CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 3290/2/117
TitleLetter from Amelia Nyasa Laws to her parents, Robert and Maggie Laws
Date8 March 1916
Extent13 sheets
DescriptionLetter from Amelia Nyasa Laws, 7 Via Venti Settembre, Rome, to her parents, thanking for large number of letters; mention of Dorothy Moir and her relatives; Mrs. Daly's nephew was tended by a Turk; the Turks have come into the war against their will and behaved well in the Dardanelles; during the storm at Suvla Bay there was no firing; more comments on the needless damage done by the storm; the Italians are sarcastic about the British retreat but are now less enthusiastic about the war; morale is so poor that there are arguments in Parliament and the King returned from the front for a week in case the Ministry should fall; the army knows it will never gain Trieste and that Gorizia will cost too much; Aunt Amy's visits to Miss Paton; poor contributions to the Aged & Infirm Ministers' Fund; Uncle is still engrossed in his work; sorry to hear of mother's neuritis; she should take things easier now, for fear of having to stop completely if her condition becomes worse; discussion of treatment, including compresses and vaseline; Nora Hunter is still in the Bible Society office; Dr. Ross is very busy at Craighouse and the marriage is indefinitely postponed; Walter is working hard on the estate but may have been called up by now; Bobby is in the Malay States Volunteer Rifles in Singapore; May was working for British prisoners in Germany during the holidays, but is now back as a governess [?] near Greenlaw, Berwickshire; Mrs. Marjoribanks motors to Edinburgh; Mrs. Hunter is very well but Nora herself is going grey; no news of the Cohens; prices of food; division of mission in Livingstonia into district and helpful acquisition of a motor-cycle; no news from Uncle David; Uncle Alex's bills now amount to £36 per annum; he is well, but Uncle worries about being able to support him in the future; Uncle himself is well, fortunately; reference to father's cold; Hale Powers Benton, or Hale Junior, is well again; Mrs. Benton virtually neglects him; she leaves him in the drawing room, without a fire and with the windows open, in the depths of winter, a practice recommended by the doctor for summer months only and because the child's grandmother was consumptive; the child is now being better treated because of his illness; Mrs. Benton is too possessive of her husband; her manners are terrible; it will affect her children; Mr. Gibson cannot stand her; reference to news of Dr. Wilson, Mr. Cullen Young and Mr. W.P. Young; working at the front has all the glory so people who seek it are going there, while much of the hard work is done behind the lines; W.P. Young is a chaplain at one of the camps at Ripon; workers learning English and others squabbling about it; price of butter; their letters are no longer opened on the way; Italy merely delays letters, thus rendering any urgent news of military matters invalid; it is practical, but also suits the Italian mind; Miss Lexie Ross and Adele are still in Edinburgh; Uncle is not helping while the church is in a difficult state financially, and it is hard on Mr. Benton; Uncle condemns Henderson trying to rule Leghorn but he does the same - Aunt calls him 'Pope James'; his financial practices are very lax; if he is ill and out of pocket he will regret it; Aunt wants to economise by only having one servant, but Amelia is against it; it would only mean that she and Aunt would tire themselves to give Uncle more freedom to pay more money into the Church; Aunt is not given the money she should; they no longer buy wine or take cabs; cabs make all their necessary visits much quicker and easier in the climate; Ernesta is becoming a very good servant; she started as blind, deaf and dumb, so she has made a good deal of her life so far; the Russian student, Antoinette (or Tonia), is still writing from Grenoble regarding her development in western Christianity; mention of the contents of her letters; Tonia is suffering from the food at her pension and though she does not want to return early to Russia, it might be a good thing for her health; she is suffering from nerves and has no strength for her exams; reference to trouble between Mrs. Innes and Mrs. Chalmers, who are both unwell; thanks for copy of Miss Gordon's letter; Uncle was sorry to hear of Mr. George's condition; thanks for their news of visits and troop manoeuvres; problems with food supplies; reference to dealing with German steamer on Lake Tanganyika; the Tribuna is the most reliable Italian paper; mention of her accounts and means of dealing with cheques; uncertain summer plans again; Uncle would like to go home; boats are irregular, however; Mr. and Mrs. Gilfillan took 15 hours to cross from Paris to London; the Germans are setting mines in the Channel and recently a P.& O. liner sank in view of Dover Harbour; this may persuade Uncle to go back to Chamonix instead; she is impatient to be doing things and could qualify now for V.A.D. work; Uncle is beginning to realise that she has grown up, and might stop interrogating her about her movements; going home would be best, though; Aunt needs more clothes; her clothes bought recently have been very unsatisfactory; Aunt sees a trip home also as an opportunity for Uncle to prepare for retirement; Aunt Amy also needs a break and to see them; it would give Amelia a chance to prepare herself to be an organist at home; thanks for their allowing her to continue her musical studies; an organist's training must take at least seven years; Mr. Green trained at York Minster; women organists are considered too old at forty, and she does not have the scope she would like in Rome to put all her training to good use; life in the Anglophone community is too stifling and unrealistic in Rome; speculation as to whether Uncle will retire after 50 years of ministry; mention of parents' New Year celebrations and advice to cut down on them for the sake of mother's health; reference to experience of Nurse Henderson on her wedding day; thanks for cheque; improvement in Aunt's health; heavy rain since the Battle of Verdun; when the weather improves she will take Aunt on an outing; reference to Sara Paterson's letter, and to Mr. Barbour's correspondence; long quotation from his letter, including reference to problems with organ in Rome, probably an electrical fault; playing the cathedral organ at Nevers and visit to the hand-blown American organ in Florence; visits to Florence and Fiesole; performances of 'Norma' and 'Tosca'; return of Dr. Brock and the nursing exam papers; progress of the Red Cross units in Tolmezzo and elsewhere; Sara Paterson's letter has an account of her father's death (enclosed, but now not present, not engrossed); Amelia is not attracted by the stage; she does not like operatic plots; particular criticism of the characters in 'Lohengrin', 'Tannhäuser' and 'Carmen'; she wants to teach and continue playing for church services; Mr. Green's personality grates on her though he teaches her a great deal, and because he is her teacher she is able to use the organ at reduced rates; she misses Herr Pfannsteihl and Dr. Spiro; she is trying to learn from Mr. Green how not to teach; she is willing to teach French, German or Italian as well to supplement the organ playing; she does not like to push herself at any one thing at a time for fear of damaging her health; she needs her sleep, and does not get it in the hot weather; she does not enjoy entertaining in the evening, and is afraid that if people know she is a missionary's daughter they would expect her to play the organ, train the choir, etc., voluntarily; she hates meetings; she would work anywhere at home but would not go as far north as Aberdeen, where they have a great conceit of themselves and are mean; 'it is so far north that first class concerts are out of the question'; 'Glasgow is warm-hearted, but showy and vulgar'; 'I like Edinburgh, reserved and cold though it is'; she is reluctant, however, to be too near Aunt Amy and Uncle David, as well as Mrs. Thin; London is a possibility, but everywhere will have its faults so she should just let things take their course; criticism of 'grown-ups' and the fact that they become set in their ways; she might consider helping to teach Sunday School if the opportunity arose; Mr. Green's choir was ruined in a week by a Waldensian preacher training them badly; singing in church strains her own voice; Uncle is having difficulty in rousing the congregation, but keeps trying, and she and Aunt feel sorry for him; the resident congregation has hardly developed in his thirty years there, and he is beginning to miss the liveliness of the visitors; thanking for photographs of the new church being built at Livingstonia; quarrels over the gable, which seems to have links with the Laws and Gray families; Mrs. Kennedy has gifted £75 to the church; mother should write to Aunt Amy's address if she wants any clothing sent out this summer; the money from Thirl is ample to cover the expense.
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