Wednesday’s meeting of the Literary was a Scientific Evening… and the boys of the Sixth “did” some electrical and chemical experiments. It was just the worst kind of night for frictional electricity – damp, sodden and steaming – and not all of the experiments came off… Stornoway, 7 Dec. 1916

This week, in the next in our selection of letters from the W.J. Gibson collection, Mr Gibson reports on science experiments which didn’t quite go to plan, more staff changes at the Nicolson Institute and a route march by moonlight for the boys of the School Training Corps.  If you have any comments please contact us: archives@cne-siar.gov.uk.

Jean dear,

There was small notepaper at hand but I thought you would prefer the big sheet, so I made a trip to the study for an exercise-book.

Mamma, I am glad to say, is a good deal better, but she is not quite right yet; her head still “swims” a good deal. My great difficulty as you can guess is to get her to be moderate in the work. It is so easy for her to see things that need doing, and to be unhappy until she has done them.

I don’t think there is much in the way of school news this week. Wednesday’s meeting of the Literary was a Scientific Evening, and was open. A number of younger pupils were present. Mr Ewen was in the chair, and the boys of the Sixth “did” some electrical and chemical experiments. It was just the worst kind of night for frictional electricity – damp, sodden and steaming – and not all of the experiments came off. When they came to their oxygen exper.s they discovered that some of the visitors, seeing the gas cylinders in one of the sinks had been inquisitive enough to lift them out to see what was in them. As you will guess, there was nothing in them when those experimenting came to deal with them. Dr. and Mrs. Murray were up; also Mamma. 

To-night has been our usual drill, and we have had a little route-march in the moonlight. Did I mention that Mr. Roderick Macrae is to go on service next week? We are advt.g [advertising] to try to get a lady substitute. To-morrow after school we are to have a staff cup of tea in the usual way to say good-bye. Miss Mair is to leave Stor.y on New Year’s Day and is to sail, I think, on the 5th.

You will be sorry to hear that Miss Fraser has sent in her resignation. She has not been in good health for some time back and feels that she cannot keep on longer. The doctor she consulted in Glasgow, and whose treatment she is taking, wishes her to take things as easily as possible and to avoid any stress or worry. She has been a very long time in the school, and we shall certainly miss her a good deal.

We got the “Alma Mater” you sent, and will preserve it for you. We enjoyed the youthful flavour of some of the jokes in “Thay haif said”. You were right, some of the poetry was very good indeed. Send us each copy as it comes out. The first piece you contribute yourself you can call our attention to; it will be Lewisian, I suppose. I was wondering how the Galsworthy and the Henry James papers would strike you. I see you think of them as too flowery. Well, Nicolsonians should be free from that vice. The first time you have a chance of hearing Prof. Jack, take it. I want to hear how he strikes you. I see from one of the “A.M.” jokes that he still wears his locks long as he did in the days of his youth.

If you find time you might read one or two of Galsworthy’s plays. You could probably get “Strife”, a good one to begin with, from the University library.

We were interested to hear of Miss Bruce and you making yourselves useful at the supplying of stores to the rest room. I think the room has been a great boon.

We were glad to hear how the Rennies were. Mamma had a letter this week from Mrs Anderson (“Cathie”) telling us about the baby and the spoon. Which reminds me that I am long owing Mr. Anderson a letter. Give them our compliments when you are over on Sunday. Also our best regards to Mr. Taylor when you see him on Saturday. I rather think I am owing a letter there too.

You were asking about next year’s work. I thought of Moral Phil., and Natural Philosophy (Sytem.ic in winter and Lab. in summer). There was also a question as to whether you should or should not take French the same year. It is not needed for your degree, so whether you wd. take it or not at Abd. wd. depend on whether it is a good class or not. I have my doubts from what I have heard, but you should enquire from someone who is taking the class. How have the exams. got on this week? There is a fine sporting interest in having them so often.

Mamma had a letter from Bessie, which I enclose. We note that references to dress are numerous. To judge from what Bessie says you seem to have fallen among a much more sensible set of girls than she has. Wasn’t Jane just like herself calling out to the procession of Medicals in the dark for “Bessie!”? Mamma is going to a B.W.T.A. “social” to-morrow. She says I am to ask if the girls of the Residence talk politics at all, and if so, what they think of Lloyd George. That will be a tester.

Our best love, little She-an.

Yours,

Papa.

Ref: 1992.50.64i/L14

Transcribed by Hazel Tocock, Museum Visitor Assistant

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