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February 6th 1916 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Lieutenant Cyril E Sladden

6th February 1916
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, Seward House, Badsey
Correspondence To
Lieutenant Cyril E Sladden, 9th Worcesters, British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Seward House

Feb 6th 1916

My own dear Cyril

Two letters came from you for me this morning, one posted from Alexandria and one from the next port, the name of which I know but think it better not to mention. I have been there myself and probably know the very office from which you sent your telegram – not so very far from the quay.

I am simply longing to hear something definite from you, so as to know how best to act. You see, darling, when you wrote on Xmas day and asked me if I would be willing to take the earliest opportunity any leave home would give us to get married, you did not know I had left the hospital, and I have been wondering whether my having done so affects the question of the advisability of us taking the step or not. Although I shall not be earning so regularly, at the same time I shall earn more nursing private cases. I got 2 guineas the other day and was only four days with a very light case.

If it is possible, after we are married, while you are at the Front, I suggest I should continue to take cases for Dr Leslie.

I had a complimentary letter from him the other day, as good as a testimonial, and he asks me to let him know when I am free to take another case. Yesterday he called to see your Mother, who is in bed with a chill, which we think we have taken in time to prevent her being ill, and he brought up the subject and told your Father and Mother he was very grateful to them for finding him a nurse and that I had given both him and the parents of my patient great satisfaction.

Taking all this into consideration I am taking it into my own hands to decide that you will consider our financial position favourable enough for us to marry. So I am assuming that your telegram was meant as a hint to make arrangements to get “leave” as soon as you came home, and that you intended me to understand that we should get married while you are at home.

As soon as I hear more definite news from you I will commence to make a few necessary trousseau arrangements so that we shall not have so much of a rush when you get home.

I hardly dare to let myself dwell on the joyous side that the very thought of your return means to me, in case, with the fortune of war, your leave should be cancelled. It all seems too good to be true, that I dare not let my thoughts dwell on it too much.

I am awfully pleased to hear all about the other officers of your Company – news of this kind helps me to realise your life as it is now. I wish I had been here when Mr Neame came over. Don’t you think he would make a very nice best man?! Except that I think Jack would like to be best man. What do you think about it?

What I am picturing to myself is a nice quiet wedding, a few relatives present, a best man and Judy as bridesmaid. Your people have said that when we do get married, they would like it from this house.

I was interested in your remarks about your ideas on moral and social values.

You say that now you judge people by the amount of good they do, and do not condemn them for their faults – because you’ve seen men who have obviously glaring faults do such wonderfully fair things. I am so glad you think like this – it brings us nearer. I remember once walking in the garden at the back of the house, and having an argument with you on much the same point. You saw my point although you acknowledged that it had not struck you in that light before. I said some words to the effect that it was a Sladden failing to condemn others too quickly. You know what a difficulty I have in expressing myself. I think I was trying to convey to you the very idea which you have now proved for yourself. You went on to say that of course my ideas were different to other peoples! This, in connection with the rest of our conversation, and I said that I got my ideas from experience and that they were not as unique as they appeared to be! Isn’t it wonderful that we never quarreled in spite of disagreeing?

I can see from your letters that you are drawing conclusions about life very similar to my own, and I suppose they are the conclusions which most people come to after they have knocked about the world a bit. The experiences you’ve been through far surpasses any I have, but the contact with one’s fellow men is what tells on one’s character, one’s thoughts and one’s ideals.

Before you went abroad the conditions of your life were and had been of a fairly even nature and the best in people is rarely seen under these conditions. The men you met were living under the same conditions, and all their trifling idiosyncrasies showed to disadvantage, whereas put those same men in Gallipoli, and they might have done deeds worthy of the VC.

I cannot imagine why I am sermonizing to such an extent. Trying to keep pace with your grey hairs I expect! Those same grey hairs are and will be very dear to me, Sweetheart, they will be typical of the silver which has been tried and not found wanting.

I hope soon dearest that we shall be together soon when we can be all in all and nothing but death can part us and even then our souls cannot be parted.

Goodnight, Best beloved, God bless you and guard you on the voyage home.

Ever your devoted

Letter Images
Cyril received the letter on 10th March 1916 at Basra.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 3 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference