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August 27th 1916 - Letter from Arthur Sladden to his sister, Kathleen Sladden

27th August 1916
Correspondence From
Arthur Sladden
Correspondence To
Kathleen Sladden, Seward House, Badsey
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter


My dear Kathleen

I think I owe you a letter. I get out of count with writing these days. I was interested to hear that you and May went to the Oxford conference, and no doubt found it stimulating and helpful. There must be a lot of stir just now in educational circles and an opportunity for some reforms. I see long screeds in the press on the old controversy of classics v science, but not many of the views published shew much balance. For one thing, to most people the word science connotes a laboratory with many test tubes and smelly reagents and a general sense of mess! It should stand for the acquirement of knowledge by methods of experiment and deduction, and include most subjects under the sun; and the chemistry and physics of school is only a small item.

I suppose as a matter of fact, both history, “classics” and literature are all being taught on more scientific and less dogmatic lines than was the case twenty and thirty years ago. The whole notion of evolution as underlying everything material, and perhaps spiritual as well, is gradually permeating all layers of thought.

There again that word Evolution is commonly imaged only in its biological aspect, and then very crudely. I doubt if evolution should rightly be regarded as moving always forward, it seems to have negative phases in most aspects of life; certainly civilizations shew retrogression and collapse leaving no apparent forward effect. I was reading the other day a review of a book written on early inhabitants of Britain, much pre-Roman, and they seem to have got good evidence of the existence of a race far more advanced and cultured (horrid word!) than we have hitherto known of, with arts and crafts of no primitive order, and evidence of extensive inter-communication with many other European nations. In other words, the woad story of our youth has probably scant basis, and our island was a nation and not a backwoods for longer than history will take us. There must be some basis for the Arthurian legends and I’ve never understood when in time they are placed. When you consider it, the preservation of any record in the English climate would be very difficult if there were some hiatus when all buildings went to ruin, and records in store in a damp and cold climate soon perish.

This notion of an early British civilization is rather fascinating I think – one was taught about various invasions, and I know it always left me with an impression that an invasion changed the inhabiting race, which is of course most unlikely. Witness Belgium today or Poland. It makes us less an annexe of the Teutonic race and more ourselves, moulded and intermingled with elements of Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Norman etc.

Kipling and Fletcher’s history manages to convey that idea far better than any other book I’ve read.

To come to modern times, I am very pleased with the photos of Baby, I can see much likeness to my own baby pictures. I expect she will grow darker and more like Mary as time goes on. I hope she helps to keep the household lively; I wish Mary were better. I wonder if it is the lack of undisturbed nights, she is evidently not quite up to the mark. I told her to try and get a girl to help with Baby – it would set her freer and perhaps assist matters, though that wouldn’t remedy the nights.

I hope you had a restful stay at Budleigh and won’t have to return to work too soon. Is Juliet to stay at home over the winter? I wonder Ethel doesn’t take a turn as a VAD. They seem to want plenty of them.

I’m just living for my next leave and watching the weeks pass. As a rule they go quickly, but monotonously without a doubt.

I expect you’re glad now you have not arranged to leave Sydenham at present. Moving now would be a nuisance.

Tell May I mean to write soon. I’m glad she’s able to have a change during her holiday.

With much love
Your affectionate brother Arthur

Letter Images
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 2 double sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service
Record Office Reference