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January 21st 1915 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Cyril E Sladden Esq

21st January 1915
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, The Nurses' Home, The General Hospital, Birmingham
Correspondence To
Cyril E Sladden Esq, 9th Worcesters, billeted at Briardene, Cliddesden Road, Basingstoke
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

The Nurses’ Home, General Hospital, Birmingham

Jan 21st 1915

My own dear Cyril

You are a brick to have written as I asked you and told me what you feel was lacking in my character.

Do you know, darling, I am awfully glad you told me because I have not been in the least conscious of having acted as you say I do, sometimes.  Far from being offended or worried I am delighted you told me, because it is the last impression I ever want you to have that I do not give you full credit for having formed an unprejudiced opinion as to the right course I ought to take.  Now, I’ll let you in to a little secret.  Your advice, or a more appropriate expression although old-fashioned is, your counsel, about my work in the theatre, has been of the greatest help and comfort to me – if it had not been for your encouraging letters I should more than likely have gone under.  You advised me knowing I do not like the work and you knew the right thing for me to do was to persevere.  In my own mind I gave you full credit, dear, but it never struck me that you would have liked me to tell you.  

This is one of the differences between a man and a woman.  A woman knows these things by instinct, a man is not so subtle (used in the right sense of the word) he needs more “showing” as it were, than a woman.

The one big occasion when I did not take your advice wholly was when I did not tell Mother when I was leaving her in London.  But, darling, I quite saw and appreciated that you were right and I was wrong and I am sure I have admitted as much to you.

The very fact that I seem to seek your advice, although I may not in so many words deliberately ask for it, shows that I must put faith in your judgement.  If there is lack of faith anywhere it is in my own judgement, and when yours coincides with mine I am always glad although perhaps at first I may seem to think it valueless, but I don’t really, and have not been conscious of looking or seeming to think it worthless.

But, Sweetheart, as I said before, I am really very, very pleased to know how you have felt in the matter.  I think, dear, although you are better in this respect than you used to be, you take me too seriously very often.  Don’t be so fearful of saying anything you think may hurt my feelings if it is true.  A woman always respects a man who does not spoil her!

When I tease you, and you think I am really serious, you must make me talk sense and then you’ll get at what I really mean!   You see, I live in constant dread of making you conceited!!!  So it would not have done to let you see how much value I put on the least little word from you!  You know, really, that you’ve only to lift your little finger and I’d do anything for you.  I’d even die for you if need be.

I wish I had the power of speech more when I am with you.  If you knew all the things I want and long to say to you when I am with you and seem absolutely powerless to do so.  It is fear I think of getting out of one’s usual self-control as it were, we both have a horror of getting out of balance as it were.

My love for you is as deep as any woman’s can be and sometimes I wonder whether any man appreciates the extent of a woman’s love.

We’d go through fire and water for the man we love.  Men are more material, don’t you think?  I must qualify this somewhat sweeping statement by telling you that I do think you are one of the least material of men and you seem to become less so the longer I know you.

The part of your nature I love most is that which prompted you to tell me once that you would wish to marry me even if I had some dreadful accident.  I felt then that you loved me for myself alone - and very few women rest content until they have won this proof of a man’s devotion.

You cannot imagine how life strikes a young girl when she first realizes its mysteries.  She hates herself and she hates most men.  I know you’ll hardly believe it but it is a fact that many girls go through this phase.  The girls who frivol (I mean the nice girls who go in for harmless flirtations) are generally those who are most ignorant of the world and you meet them later in life and find them changed because they realize the deep seriousness of life.

I don’t quite know why I am rambling on in this strain - and it is high time I went to sleep so Goodnight, dear Heart, and thank you again so much for having told me what troubled you in me.  I hope I have been able to show you that I have not meant to ignore your advice – it has just been thoughtlessness on my part and quite superficial for I do value it. 

All my love from

Your own Mela

PS - I am conscious of many serious faults in myself.  I’m afraid Love is Blind!!!

My dragoon guard has left hospital.  He actually wrote to me!  He addressed the letter Miss Constable Esq.

I enjoyed the Lecture on L’esprit Belge very much.  It was delivered by the Belgian National poet.

Letter Images
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 3 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference