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Updated July 2012

T. E. Lawrence to Will Lawrence


Jan. 31, 1911

This letter goes more particularly to Will. Ordinarily they are to be taken as delivered from the second-best chair in the Morning-room, with Mother perhaps as principal listener: but this one is for Will, not as a reward for writing so often and satisfactorily (which would be to attempt a return in kind) but because his last letter was heavy with the sense of responsibility.

Mr. Jane's review was spendid:- though written with personal animus. I wonder who the man was. It will increase the circulation enormously but will not tend to soothe the Press, or make his work successful as a text-book. I have written to him: of course you could see that the reviewer was either hair-splitting or blundering in his criticisms: he did not so much as grasp the central idea of the argument.

We get The Times foreign edition: so have been quite up to date. The 'Anarchist' troubles have been acute, evidently. They will find out soon that they were burglars!  I don't think Richards told you anything without my justification: except that I did not give him enough data. I told him all I knew and we could think of in our time: but we are so busy always when we get together. I will write to him about the length of the house. He is only trying to carry out what he believes to be my wishes, though I asked him to consider his own ideas only. A 40-foot hall would be more beautiful that's all. I hope he will give up the idea so far as it is inconvenient.

I am not as sanguine as himself about the early start of printing. His own enthusiasm is enormous, and a little catching: so with him I lose a little of my (inherited) Scotch caution. It would be very splendid if he had made a beginning on the final stock of type by my return: but he will be kept busy with the building first. Your character of him seems to me very apt and fairly complete: though I must say I think some of the 'snobbery' which gives such an unpleasant conceit to his judgments comes rather from lack of understanding, than intentionally. Richards is exceedingly narrow in his outlook and interests, and is too apt to condemn generally where he does not find the particular colour and cast of thought that appeals to him. He is not at all intellectual, but an artist to the finger-tips. The lack of spontaneity is only evident in matters such as King's Stephen and Hewlett. As soon as you get him on what he thinks really good he loses entirely his critical sense, and becomes a most fiery prophet. He has said things to me of an intimacy and directness which are beyond anyone else I have met. Altogether though he is a most complex and difficult personality, and I do not think he will get any better on acquaintance. He is quite in earnest about the printing: just as I am. I fancy we each of us trust the other entirely in that, without any great love, personally. But he will do his best for the press, and I also, so that only a little savoir vivre is necessary to make a very satisfactory partnership. I am most fortunate to have found a man of tremendous gift to whom craftmanship is at once a dream and an inspiration. You will remember that it is the ideals of not over-sentimental beings which usually realize most completely their aim. They may not be very high ideals, but they come into practice so far as an ideal may without disappearing. I think even Mr. Jane would be satisfied if our association produced the book of modern times. We hope no more than the wages of creation, and the meat and drink promised with them in Ecclesiastes (3). To do the best of anything (or to try to do it) is not waste of opportunity:- and to be keeper of a Museum would not be my best, any more than to teach history: I want something in which I can use all these things instead of being used by one of them.

Your poet is interesting. Though how a 'decadent' could be much use I cannot understand. There is certainly no place for the professional poet, qua poet, just now: but we can all present poetry to others in different ways. Do not worry overmuch over work. The main thing is to spread yourself at present, and for that you will probably find history best. Read as much in the originals as you can: whenever you can appreciate the mode of thought of another age or country (or even person) you have gained a new world. I am sorry to hear of Father's cough: but your weather has not been worse than ours this week. I never saw such storms: and no way of heating the house either. I hope he will find relief soon from it: he was so well the last two winters.

Good for Lang. The Iceland Journal will be a pleasure. If the coming reprint of the 1611 Bible is satisfactory in paper and print and price please get one. The facsimile would be best, if it is not on glazed paper. We will want one for our reprint in any way.

The 'wauri' has not yet put in an appearance: or his tail.

I have exhausted my envelopes!


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Source: HL 131-3
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 8 April 2006


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