CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 3290/2/226
TitleLetter from Amelia Nyasa Laws to her relatives
Date17 February 1918
Extent6 sheets
DescriptionLetter from Amelia Nyasa Laws, 7 Via Venti Settembre, Rome, to her relatives, regarding change back to winter weather; reply from Miss Vernaz that she wants Amelia back but there is little work at the moment; the soldiers currently filling the hospital are 'either ill, not wounded, or they are soldiers that must be réformé or changé d'armes or versé dans le service auxiliaire'; the men are stuck in the hospital because there is a huge amount of paperwork to be completed for them, even though they should really be in a depot; this is the result of being the nearest French hospital to the Italian border; she thinks they will not need Amelia before April, which pleases Uncle; she reports that Mathieu's foot is not at all better; Amelia had had an idea that the Italian retreat would have affected Chambéry, though she could not tell how; however, both Aunt and Uncle think she should offer her services through Mlle. Vernaz to some other hospital; she wrote to say this but still wants to stay in the hospital; visit to Miss Kent and to the sculptor to find out about plaster casts; she is letting her imagination loose on possible applications of this skill on stumps and wounded limbs; she feels she 'may have been unconsciously preparing for a different type of work, adapting light appliances which will make them able to walk and use their hands. They will be unfit for warfare, but it may be possible to fit many for civilian life and take away the bitterness of irremediable mutilation'; Dr. Michaud would be sympathetic to this work; she has also suggested this to Mlle. Vernaz; 'thousands in England have been able to make use of their limbs as few had anticipated (The laboratory at Mulberry Walk has 3,000 ladies occupied in such work and Turin doctors are constantly sending orders for various types of splints to be made at the laboratory there)'; Aunt has made up her mind that Amelia is going to France after Easter regardless; she is interested in the work at the Marchesa's, but is not allowed to do much, probably because of jealousy; Miss Kent has been generous and helpful; she has good models, and they are to work together on an improved system; Mrs. Fenwick is pleased with the work at the laboratorio; she may be able to work there on 'the sticky part' as she dislocated her arm and cannot take much strain; visits of Miss Wall and Miss Hope regarding funding from the American Red Cross for a project of assistance; apparently Miss Wall has been for years a paid agent of the Baptist Mission, but she and her mother were allowed to do very much what they wanted; Mrs. Benton thinks a committee of Protestant ladies should deal with the project of assistance, though Uncle thinks Landels, the Baptist minister, should be in charge; Miss Walls will not give up her work, but thinks Aunt should lead the Protestant ladies in their project; visit from Mrs. Hodges; her husband is naval attaché at the American Embassy and a very pleasant man; Mrs. Hodges was an English widow, and always speaks favourably of Uncle's church, thus earning his favour; she is imposing, and Dr. Brock thinks she must have been very handsome as a girl; she is good at organising things and people, and must always have had means; Mrs. Scriven is assisting her in her bureau of information for American soldiers; Mrs. Scriven is General Scriven's second wife (military attaché at the American Embassy), who has barred her husband's two daughters from the dinner table and alienated his family; the two daughters are old enough to make lives for themselves and should go ahead and do so; argument between Mrs. Scriven and Mrs. Hodges over whether to have as patroness of their bureau the present ambassadress, Mrs. Page, or the previous one who is currently in Rome, Mrs. Draper; Uncle had thought Mrs. Hodges wonderful, but is now being forced to rethink his opinion; Mrs. Brock sent Uncle an invitation to a party for soldiers and sailors, and Uncle wanted Amelia to go and play for them, but Amelia knew it would not be like Chambéry and declined; Uncle was cross at the time, but pleased later when he discovered that the party was 'just a rabble'; there was dancing in the Methodist Church building, and 'one can hardly imagine a more promiscuous arrangement than well-educated girls from refined homes, voluntary workers in the military mission, dancing with men in uniform whom in civilian life they would never have met at a party'; Uncle would have no games, which goes to the other extreme; Mrs. Brock mocked his offer of a talk on some interesting subject and a little music, as it would not have suited the men in question; the matter would have been dealt with more easily in hospital; Mrs. Brock says she does not receive respect, and knows the men do not like her; the matter of the National Anthem has probably died; the situation was not as it had first been portrayed, and Archdeacon Sissons is on the side of Miss Jazdowska [There were Jazdowskis associated with teaching and art in Aberdeen: James Bronislas Jazdowski, son of John, teacher in Aberdeen, graduated from Marischal College in 1856 and according to an annotation of the Search Room student list died in Rome in 1902]; trouble for Uncle at the meeting of the Board of Management for sending home money from his own pocket, hoping that it would come in later from Mrs. Kennedy, Mr. McWhirter and someone else; he says they are under an obligation to send a certain sum home to the mission every year, but the Board objects that they do not have the money to send; Aunt and Amelia are annoyed at Uncle for instituting a Board of Management and then refusing to consult it over such matters; the church 'gets so much in money and service from the household that our quota is sufficient without Uncle doing such things'; Aunt is tiring herself out shopping for food; 'women's daily economics are wasted when men give away liberally at the other end'; W.P. Henderson is trying to make peace with Uncle over Leghorn; Mr. Smith gave a lecture on 'When I was with the Tykes in Belgium', which Amelia considers a sensationalist and vulgar reference to the Yorkshire Regiment to which he was chaplain; Uncle's attendance at a meeting to found an Italo-British club in the Piazza Venezia, though he should not involve himself in anything more; 'a club of that kind is sure to draw a class for which Uncle has no respect', and his Bible Society work should keep him busy enough; she gives details of membership; 'a club of that kind is sure to attract spies'; visit of Mrs. Brock to say that Dr. Brock has been offered a post in Woolwich; she thought the Italo-British club might be suitable for officers passing through, but it will not; letter from Chrissie Simpson, a friend from school, asking about conditions in Rome; she is engaged to a Lieutenant Curr, an artist, currently at the Italian front; they are to be married at his first leave and she thinks of coming out then; Amelia has written to persuade her to stay at home, and thinks her foolish; her family have moved from Joppa to Liberton; 'she should write strengthening letters to Lt. Curr and not think of worrying him by coming here, and being a financial burden on him'; Uncle will be 77 this week and does not look it.
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