CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 3290/2/237
TitleLetter from Amelia Nyasa Laws to her parents, Robert and Maggie Laws
Date22 - 29 April 1918
Extent7 sheets
DescriptionLetter from Amelia Nyasa Laws, 7 Via Venti Settembre, Rome, to her parents, thanking for sudden arrival of letters; letter from Mrs. Fleming, who has sent some money specifically for Aunt's use in the summer; she has also dropped some heavy hints to Uncle about appreciating Amelia's help but letting her go with a good will; expenses are so heavy in Rome that Ernesta will have to go - she is also becoming lazy, and grumbles about her food which is unfair as they are all cutting back; Maria does her best but is constricted in terms of time; she is worth her salary; she and Aunt are dedicated in their grocery shopping; the supply of groceries is deeply corrupted; oil is now to be rationed to half a litre per person per month, nothing to those who also have no butter; what is available is made from nuts and is sometimes inedible; a crop of olives was destroyed last year to keep the price up; Aunt Amy is still keeping letters for too long; her lodgings are not completely satisfactory but are all right; Miss Telford still does not reply to letters; Germany now seems to be trying to compel Holland to give up her neutrality; Germany wants a path to the sea, which will increase Britain's peril; Foch is a good appointment but the war in France is terrible; the British leaders are probably not very good; according to the Canadian Lieutenant who visited recently, the French leaders are better because the British officers are stubborn and do not allow of opinions other than their own; many are idle; Germany is now active in the Crimea; British and French reinforcements have been called to France from Italy; Uncle wondered if they should try Bormio for the summer, but Vita advised against it and the whole war zone, in case Austria's efforts disturbed Milan as well as Venetia; Uncle defends conditions in Rome, but the population is sick of war; 'self-interest is the one controlling force'; Uncle thinks Amelia hears too many rumours, and he is so used to the Italian state of affairs that he is only shocked when something affects him personally; the contadini can be forgiven as they are poor and uneducated, but the aristocrats and the rich make one wonder how the men at the front can think it worthwhile fighting at all; comments on parents' Christmas service, and the difficulties of finding teachers at Livingstonia; surprise at seeing further references to war in German East Africa; perhaps Germans slipped back from some Portuguese territory; the Waldensians' sympathies are perhaps questionable, but they have lost support from German donors which is significant; Giampiccoli wants still to return home (to Scotland) to plead for funds for an orphanage for the children of fallen Waldensians; 'It is time the Waldensians made their religion more attractive in the middle class section of the nation'; newspaper article explaining retreat; Mr. G[Gibson?] has reported that the American planes have had to be sent back to America; 'they were too slim, their motors were made by machinery instead of by hand, and they were totally unfit for their purpose, for they fell down when acting in war-conditions'; the French, whose planes are so good, should have sent engineers to America to supervise the building of motors; Lloyd George is predicting another 7 to 8 months of this offensive, and there are rumours of another two years to go; 'our Highlanders are on the Germans' 'black list' for their amazing fighting qualities. The Black Watch, Royal Scots and Camerons are specially referred to in to-day's paper'; mention of the Chalmers family's unfortunate departure from Livingstonia and hopes for a better journey for them; reference to educational ambitions and Mrs. Adamson's response to the sudden increase in families; Nano Robson's eldest son has been killed; her daughter was married recently to a Belgian officer and is in the Congo; Mr. and Mrs. Adam Philip's elder boy is missing; mention of sleep problems of E. Bote; Uncle thinks Mr. Christie Reid is old at 71, but that he himself is young at 77; the war is a strain on those who were looking forward to a peaceful retirement; the list of those who want Rome when Uncle retires now includes the Blakes, the Irvings, the Smiths and the Geddeses; there will probably be another request from the War Office for the manse if the war goes on; there are government offices everywhere in the city, including in buildings once hotels; the Continental Committee's funds are very low, and if the building were taken that might settle matters; Dr. Miller thinks that Genoa will 'blossom as the rose' after the war; commerce is not likely to improve that fast; the Americans have opened a bank there; families should not be brought to Italy, as young people, if weak, fade fast, and if they are strong they hate the morale; even Uncle now wonders if the visitors will return, for families will not have the means to stay in Rome as they did before; the corruption will not end with the war; Uncle should have retired at his jubilee; Mr. Gibson is not slow to spot when Uncle simply re-writes an old sermon; Mrs. Hodges and Mrs. Clement are still polite; Uncle is not up to the work, which is no shame at his age; like Miss Forster Walker he takes offence if anyone refers to age; he should have gone to cooler climes last summer, but is cross if anyone refers to that, either; he is looking old because of a headcold and the prospect of the Presbytery; he has had a fire on this week despite the scirocco; he has been so tired that he has blamed the food, as he must always find fault with someone else; he sits and reads too much instead of taking exercise; he wants a week at the seaside and they hope he will take it; Aunt is also shrinking a little, but is sweet about aging; they fear that he will become an invalid and that Dr. Brock will not be there to help; Mr. Bragg is helpless now at the Blue Nuns; Uncle is too stubborn and will not recognise his own weaknesses; Mrs. Evans never left him anything in recognition of his friendship; Amelia is still in occasional correspondence with Miss Gatliff; Marie lives with her mother near Geneva; Uncle Alec's expenses are also increasing, and the steward wrote to say that he needed a complete outfit of underclothing and a new suit, which Uncle provided, though he remarked 'Why are so many useful lives being taken and useless ones left?' Uncle is afraid of having to live off a small pension, but in the meantime he gives too much back to the church from his salary; he should really have retired when Aunt was ill, when the church was doing well and he himself was healthy; he no longer takes an interest in archaeology, which Amelia thinks proves that he was never really interested in it but used it to raise his congregations; he has wasted the war years in useless meetings; pleased to hear that Mr. C. Young has recovered from B.W. Fever; Annie Brown's husband, the Rev. P. McGregor, has had a narrow escape in the latest offensive; account of his time in a dugout; some of the soldiers think that the ministers working for the Y.M.C.A. are simply on six-month holidays at the association's expense; Annie will be busy with two children and church work in Greenock, and she has lost two brothers in action; Mr. Mackenzie has been appointed a member of the Sailors' Society and representative for Naples, Genoa and Leghorn; he is no longer to be principal of Harley College as both it and Harley House have been sold; his two younger sons are at the front.
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