I am just in from the meeting of the school Literary Society. They had a Gaelic debate: “Has emigration been beneficial to the Highlands?” They went into it with great vim and seemed to enjoy it greatly. Several times it resolved itself into little duels in which there seemed to be excellent bits which brought down the house, and retort would follow retort to everybody’s delight… The affirmative won by 35 votes to 14; some did not vote… Stornoway, 28th Feb. 1917

Extract from letter from Mrs Gibson to Jean Gibson, 28 Feb 1917

This week, Mr Gibson reports on the hotly debated topic at the Literary Society: “Has emigration been beneficial to the Highlands?”. He also notes his concern for the school at the possibility of losing more teachers to the war effort, and, ever practical, Mr Gibson offers advice on Jean’s financial matters. The next in our series of letters from the W.J. Gibson collection held by Museum nan Eilean. Please get in touch if you have any comments: archives@cne-siar.gov.uk

Jean Dear,

I am trying the writing on Wednesday this week to see how it works.  I am just in from the meeting of the school Literary Society.  They had a Gaelic debate:  “Has emigration been beneficial to the Highlands?”  They went into it with great vim and seemed to enjoy it greatly.  Several times it resolved itself into little duels in which there seemed to be excellent bits which brought down the house, and retort would follow retort to everybody’s delight.  In these encounters I noticed that in most cases the young lady had the last word.  Whether the boy in such a case was convinced or only silenced I had no means of knowing.  The affirmative won by 35 votes to 14; some did not vote.

Miss Gammack started work this morning.  She had a good crossing of the Minch, at least she had not been sick.  I took her round some of the buildings and a portion of the staff, and then left her to the tender mercies of IIIA.  I think my first impression was fairly favourable.

We are expecting to lose some more of our Masters owing to a new regulation by the War Office.  I hope we’ll be left with enough to keep going on.  I had a letter this morning from Salonika from John Macritchie (“Pickwick”).  He is well, and seems cheerful.

The Literary Society next week holds an open meeting – musical and dramatic – so Miss Angus is busy.  We are looking forward to it, for as you can guess, things in Stornoway are at their quietest.

We were interested to hear of your visit with Maud to Miss Taylor.  I was delighted to learn that good old Dummy had kept his luck with the cards.  It all comes of his being unable to speak, and so the preservation of the luck by obeying the mandate “Favete linguis” is obviously easy.

I note the details as to the state of the Degree grind.

Be sure, that in the general cheerlessness of the Mathematics difficulty, you do not put it too much aside in favour of the Latin.  But you are probably alive to that danger.  It must have taken you some by surprise to find that your modest percentages in Maths gave you the 12th and 13th places.  I suppose you were quoting to yourself:  “Among the blind…….!”  It should cheer you some, though.  How is Clara getting on with it?

Mamma and I are feeling that with the big rise in prices the amount you pay to the ladies for your board is not sufficient.  What do you think about it?  Mamma mentioned it in a former letter, but I think you forgot about it.

We were amused at your experience of the “early door” in your theatre-going.  It is good you had a chance of seeing a first-rate company, but a pity that it was not in a better play.  If the Compton Company ever visits Aberdeen you must try to see one of their presentations of old English comedy.  Your criticism of Miss Neilson is just the fault that as a rule I have felt like finding in one or more of the personae when I have seen them on the boards – they are too stagey; they don’t do it with enough simplicity and naturalness.

How are the funds running?  You are remembering that you will have Degree fees to pay.  Take out enough in time, as you have to enter your name by a fixed date……  I have just been looking up your Handbook and find the last date is March 3rd for entering the names.  I see your first paper in Latin comes a fortnight from to-morrow, and your Maths is the next day to that.  But keep cheerful.  I should have mentioned that as your Mathems is to count both for the M.A. and B.Sc. course you will need I suppose to enter for both, and, I expect, will have an extra guinea to pay, but they’ll be able to tell you about this at the office.  I hope they do not have a higher standard of pass for B.Sc. than for Arts in the subject.

Now, I’ll have to stop, paper and the patrol-boat are both calling for me to be done.

With our best love.

Papa

Ref: 1990.50.64i/L35

Transcribed by Dawn Macdonald, Archive collections assistant

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