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Date: July 23rd 1916
"My Dear Ones"
Coningsby Dawson

July 23rd, 1916.


We’ve spent all morning on the dock, seeing to our baggage, and have just got leave ashore for two hours. We have had letters handed to us saying that on no account are we to mention anything concerning our passage overseas, neither are we allowed to cable our arrival from the other side until four clear days have elapsed.

You are thinking of me this quiet Sunday morning at the ranch, and I of you. And I am wishing–—  As I wish, I stop and ask myself, "Would I be there if I could have my choice?” And I remember those lines of Emerson’s which you quoted:  

“Though love repine and reason chafe,
There comes a voice without reply,
’Twere man’s perdition to be safe,
When for the Truth he ought to die.”

I wouldn’t turn back if I could, but my heart cries out against “the voice which speaks without reply.”

Things are growing deeper with me in all sorts of ways. Family affections stand out so desirably and vivid, like meadows green after rain. And religion means more. The love of a few dear human people and the love of the divine people out of sight, are all that one has to lean on in the graver hours of life. I hope I come back again—I very much hope I come back again; there are so many finer things that I could do with the rest of my days—bigger things. But if by any chance I should cross the seas to stay, you’ll know that that also will be right and as big as anything that I could do with life, and something that you’ll be able to be just as proud about as if I had lived to fulfil all your other dear hopes for me. I don’t suppose I shall talk of this again. But I wanted you to know that underneath all the lightness and ambition there’s something that I learnt years ago in Highbury [footnote by Carry On's editor William James Dawson: We resided over thirteen years at Highbury, London, N., during my pastorate of the Highbury Quadrant Congregational Church.”]. I’ve become a little child again in God’s hands, with full confidence in His love and wisdom, and a growing trust that whatever He decides for me will be best and kindest.  

This is the last letter I shall be able to send to you before the other boys follow me. Keep brave, dear ones, for all our sakes; don’t let any of us turn cowards whatever ultimately happens. We’ve a tradition to live up to now that we have become a family of soldiers and sailors. I shall long for the time when you come over to England. Where will our meeting be and when? Perhaps the war may be ended and then won’t you be glad that we dared all this sorrow of good-byes?

God bless and keep you,

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