W-MCP6-1.472 TO THOMAS BAKER MCQUESTEN from his friend Herbert C. Bell
Jun 4 1918 1
From: General Headquarters, American G2 Expeditionary Force Postmark, U.S. A. Postal Service
My Dear Thomas:
I've little as ever to write about unless you can stand the most banal of generalizations. Moreover most of them would probably annoy you. For example you won't like my saying that while no one who is not a monster could want the war, to continue for an unnecessary day it's still doing the British Empire a lot of good and good of a sort that nothing less ghastly could have accomplished in generations. It's odd to think now how little Mr. Britling did see.2 In fact the novelists haven't got there yet. In my way back from my last trip to London, I read Stephen McKenna's Sonia which you doubtless disposed of a year ago. If by chance you haven't read it yet by all means! The author is Reginald McKenna's son and knows the political world in England especially well. There are a lot of other excellent things in it too but it was written before anyone could see how sweeping the changes were going to be. It's a remarkable thing--quite the most striking re-birth of a nation in history. Perhaps an old nation can't become really young again--perhaps it's merely a middle-aged gentleman taking setting-up [sic] exercises but for a all our sakes I prefer the re-birth idea. There is one [piece about?] the Huns in the 19th century. It is almost unbelievable how shaken many traditions are. It is even doubtful whether the two great political parties will survive. A good many people think they will have to combine against a Labor party of unheard of strength. It is
quite generally believed that not more than two elections will be required to give England a Labor Cabinet. America is commencing to seem very old fashioned.
But what rot this seems in view of what is happening. One can't write real letters just now.
Good Luck old man. Regards to the most honorable family.
Herbert C. Bell.3
1 The letter is clearly dated June 4, but the year is taken from the postmark on the envelope, which is "June 7, 1918, U.S.A. Army Postal Service," possibly from somewhere in England or France.
2 Mr. Britling's War was written by H.G. Wells.
3 For more on Herbert bell and the Bell family, see W5199, W4531, W4582.