CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 3290/2/215
TitleLetter from Amelia Nyasa Laws to her parents, Robert and Maggie Laws
Date17 November - 4 December 1917
Extent9 sheets
DescriptionLetter from Amelia Nyasa Laws, 7 Via Venti Settembre, Rome, to her parents, regarding her accounts; she has sent her bank book to the Clydesdale Bank so that she will not be worried about it being lost in the post; ready cash is important at present; arrangements with Aunt and Uncle for Chambéry expenses; they are prepared for immediate travel if necessary, with papers and money to hand all the time, though the situation is not alarming; Amelia has asked Mrs. Daly to keep in touch with her parents by telegram in case of emergency; thanks for explanatory letter from parents regarding Manitoba Mort. Trust; she has just made her will; sheet of comparative prices for foodstuffs; thanks for her education; comments on what she has achieved in organ work; she may teach some day; at the moment she can see what she has achieved in terms of education, but cannot see what she is to do with it; she is still expecting them to permit her to return to Chambéry, which is a 'very nice prospect'; she seems to have Uncle's tacit consent; her playing will not be wasted there and the massage is good for her finger strength; she will never be able to manage long stretches on the piano, but they are not necessary on the organ; she has learned, from playing for the pleasure of others at Chambéry, the dash in her playing that she could never obtain through lessons; her voice is mending gradually; the wounded did not ask too much, understanding that massage had to come first; the hospital is good at granting 'liberty of thought and action'; she has had no news lately from Tonia, but no doubt Russian mails are disturbed with recent events; thanks for medical explanations; she has read them and found them bewildering, but knows she will need them later; she is very careful about infection in hospital and washes her hands with disinfectant between patients; the French appreciated that but in Italy she was considered mad; obscure references to possible sexual harassment from a patient; the 'skeleton' she had to treat at Chambéry had had his knee removed because it would not heal after weeks of treatment, but this was 'due to himself', a reference probably to venereal disease - 'the causes of his conduct were more likely due to impulse and ignorance of physical and moral laws than a corrupt outlook ... he had been punished ...yet he ... expected to marry correctly like the rest'; account of a patient to whom she explained that fashion would not mean she would raise her hemlines and lower her necklines; she thought his young wife frivolous, but astonished him by saying that 'she had a right to his moral best'; she blames mothers for not training the right attitude into their sons; contrast between women to be admired and women to marry; her argument with the Abbé who does not approve of education for women, yet has all the advantage of what she has studied in languages, music and anatomy; he says 'Man must not be surpassed. He must always be the superior'; one of her patients wanted a sensible wife but did not find that social conditions allowed him to look for one; her massage often led to odd confidences about their ideals in marriage; 'as a rule the finest characters have delicate nervous systems'; the men were not selected for their trades because of aptitude, but because of what their fathers did or what the local trade was, and many had suffered before the war ever started; some very intelligent men had had no education and so were bored and fidgety; she would not mind working in a male orphanage - she likes the boyish outlook with its lack of sentimentalism, and feels she could do some good there; they are mentally the same at 20 as they are physically at 2; they are 'very nice' at 30, but set in their ways and 'uninteresting and unattractive' by 40; they have been unable to fulfil their own ideals and so dismiss those of their juniors as worthless; Aunt Amy seems to be settled at Liberton, but though she is grateful for their gifts to help her make ends meet, she still has notions and odd ways which probably do not help her to economise; she is staying with Mrs. Todd; Miss Telford has wisely told her to stop giving gifts as she needs every penny at present; she has taken a seat in the Liberton church but has not given up her connexion with 'the Barclay'; she is not sensible in her outlays, and should look to her physical fitness or else Uncle will have further expenses in connexion with her; they can already see 'the proofs of nervous weakness'; if they give freely to her she gives it away; the 25,000 Scriptures lost in the 'Drake' were insured, and Uncle has not drawn attention to their loss in case 'the fact becoming known, it might be done on purpose another time'; mention of account by a Mr. G. McArthur in South Africa of a native of Nyasaland named Honok, who was educated by the Roman congregation, and Uncle has written to him; Dr. Shepherd did not visit them and may not have passed through Rome; probably Brindisi, like Taranto, is closed to civilian traffic, so he may have sailed from Marseilles; Father is not to worry about Uncle Aleck, who is Uncle's burden - if he did not have that expense, he would just put more money back into church funds; he still returns £50 to the mission committee because Pontresina was given up, but he never claims any extra money for extra work through either the church or the Bible Society; he wants to take his stipend in francs rather than sterling because the exchange rate is favourable to sterling and it would give him more, despite the fact that it does not cost the mission more - a reminder that Aunt's illness cost £100 has made him think again; men are too devoted to their work; thanks for letters, via Aunt Amy; the Germans, according to the papers, are surrounded in German East Africa and 'the war there is within sight of the end. May it really be so!'; Aunt Amy's move to Liberton, 'the country', has been debated for some time but it had to be her decision; she was in a bad district in Edinburgh but night time outings in the country would be impossible; Appin Cottage seems to suit her, however, and her landlady is amenable; Amelia herself would rather live in a large institution than ever in lodgings; lodgings are 'morally unhealthy'; Aunt Amy's friends can be a little domineering, including Miss Beilby and Miss Richardson; she seems to get on well with the Todds, and is doing her own room to save Mrs. Todd the work as she is resting her foot after 'the accident'; thanks for cheque and reassurances that she has enough money; greetings from Maria.
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