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Carry On Letters in War-Time   By: (1883-1959)

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Carry On

By Lieutenant Coningsby Dawson

CARRY ON

[Illustration: Lieutenant Coningsby Dawson Canadian Field Artillery]

CARRY ON

LETTERS IN WAR TIME

BY

CONINGSBY DAWSON

NOVELIST AND SOLDIER

WITH AN INTRODUCTION AND NOTES

BY HIS FATHER, W.J. DAWSON

FRONTISPIECE

1917

WHEN THE WAR'S AT AN END

At length when the war's at an end And we're just ourselves, you and I, And we gather our lives up to mend, We, who've learned how to live and to die:

Shall we think of the old ambition For riches, or how to grow wise, When, like Lazarus freshly arisen, We've the presence of Death in our eyes?

Shall we dream of our old life's passion, To toil for our heart's desire, Whose souls War has taken to fashion With molten death and with fire?

I think we shall crave the laughter Of the wind through trees gold with the sun, When our strife is all finished, after The carnage of War is done.

Just these things will then seem worth while: How to make Life more wondrously sweet; How to live with a song and a smile, How to lay our lives at Love's feet.

ERIC P. DAWSON, Sub. Lieut . R.N.V.R.

INTRODUCTION

The letters in this volume were not written for publication. They are intimate and personal in a high degree. They would not now be published by those to whom they are addressed, had they not come to feel that the spirit and temper of the writer might do something to strengthen and invigorate those who, like himself, are called on to make great sacrifices for high causes and solemn duties.

They do not profess to give any new information about the military operations of the Allies; this is the task of the publicist, and at all times is forbidden to the soldier in the field. Here and there some striking or significant fact has been allowed to pass the censor; but the value of the letters does not lie in these things. It is found rather in the record of how the dreadful yet heroic realities of war affect an unusually sensitive mind, long trained in moral and romantic idealism; the process by which this mind adapts itself to unanticipated and incredible conditions, to acts and duties which lie close to horror, and are only saved from being horrible by the efficacy of the spiritual effort which they evoke. Hating the brutalities of War, clearly perceiving the wide range of its cruelties, yet the heart of the writer is never hardened by its daily commerce with death; it is purified by pity and terror, by heroism and sacrifice, until the whole nature seems fresh annealed into a finer strength.

The intimate nature of these letters makes it necessary to say something about the writer.

Coningsby Dawson graduated with honours in history from Oxford in 1905, and in the same year came to the United States with the intention of taking a theological course at Union Seminary. After a year at the Seminary he reached the conclusion that his true lifework lay in literature, and he at once began to fit himself for his vocation. In the meantime his family left England, and we had made our home in Taunton, Massachusetts. Here, in a quiet house, amid lawns and leafy elms, he gave himself with indefatigable ardour to the art of writing. He wrote from seven to ten hours a day, producing many poems, short stories, and three novels. Few writers have ever worked harder to attain literary excellence, or have practised a more austere devotion to their art. I often marvelled how a young man, fresh from a brilliant career at the greatest of English Universities, could be content with a life that was so widely separated from association with men and affairs. I wondered still more at the patience with which he endured the rebuffs that always await the beginner in literature, and the humility with which he was willing to learn the hard lessons of his apprenticeship in literary form... Continue reading book >>




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