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May 29th 1918 - Letter from George Sladden to his sister, Juliet Sladden

29th May 1918
Correspondence From
George Sladden, BEF
Correspondence To
Juliet Sladden, 13 Bath Road, Bedford Park, London
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter



29 May 1918


My dear Betty


Best of luck in the Inter. Are examiners more lenient in war-time? They ought to be, in consideration of the many distractions that occur to take the mind of everybody off their work. Let us wish that your papers are scanned by an examiner who hasn’t had a servant for several months and is also trying to do part-time war work in addition to the daily round. Add that he (or she) must have a benign temperament, otherwise his troubles would be visited on his examines.


While you are sitting your Inter, I strongly suspect we shall be sitting our final. Professors Lindendorff and Hindenburg (chief examiners for the faculty of the Hohenzollern University) are notorious for not having benign temperaments. Their avowed aim is to fail people every time. Where it can’t be done according to the theory and practice of examination as laid down by Glausewitz they invent little rules of their own as they go along. I feel sure that we aren’t going to enjoy our final a bit. For one things, we have sat it so many times, always with the same result! I suppose one day (to our great surprise - our very great surprise I am sure - we shall suddenly pass. But I don’t think we have done enough revision to manage it this time.


I would rather be in the situation where you were when you wrote than in mine - though there is some superficial similarity. To be sung to - even in scales and arpeggios - by pupils of a good teacher would be passing pleasant. Now on the other bank of the stream where I dwell in one of [?] and tents there is also a feast of song. A Company of ASC are warbling to each other, and there is no accompaniment to form a decent camouflage over the crudity of it. They sing to each other the songs, not of Zion, but written mostly by the Children of Zion for consumption of the American (who is still a child in art letters and music - say what their apologists will). When America has done with the joint it is served up cold in England by more Children of Zion. The English public accepts it thankfully as its ration, knowing no better and being similarly childlike in art, letters and music.


Thus it comes that raucous voiced ASC men who accents are those of London, Yorkshire, Derby and so on - but not in the least those of New England or the Mississippi valley, carol yearningly of Kentucky and Kansas and long to be in Tennessee or Arizona or Charleston or Snakesville or any other beauty spot where Mammy and Daddy would appear to have taken up residence after a belated emigration when they left their own young hopeful to do his best in Horton or Toxteth or Brightside or any other of the watering places of England. A shrewd observer of small things said not long ago that the most noticeable thing about the free and enlightened United States, if their popular songs were to be trusted, was that wherever in God’s Own Country a man might be, he always appeared desperately anxious to go somewhere else. It made him doubt the alleged desirability of the Land of the Free, on the whole, as a place of residence. I share that doubt, for I have read lately quite a fair amount of American light literature. And wherever the characters are not dejected they are weary; where they are not weary they are dull; where they are not dull they are criminal.


Talking of American literature, have you read any of Otto Henry’s? The racial tendencies I have remarked are not absent, but there are many compensations. He is about the best architect of literary skyscrapers I ever met. He piles story on story, each a separate entity, then suddenly claps the roof on, takes you in and puts you in the lift (elevator I ought to say) and shows you how the whole is really one building; each story necessary to support the others. If you want to understand what I mean, read (after your Inter) “Cabbages and Kings”.


So you never got that bit of music after all. (It was “Irish Pictures” by R Ansell, and I don’t know the publishers.) No matter, it is not an epoch-making piece though it is very spirited and melodious and strikingly pictorial in quality. I f you can't get it, get anything you fancy.


No, my dear, I don't fancy my chance of a summer leave. German professors don't believe in vacations and while they impose their will on us I expect the term to continue.


Glad to hear characteristic news of Boo. Also to see that a promise was made in Parliament to try and give leave to those who had done two hot weathers out there. There is some chance now perhaps that officers at least will get it.


I shall be joyfully expecting a letter free from carking cares when you are through with the exam.


Love from


Letter Images
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 3 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service
Record Office Reference