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Updated July 2012

T. E. Lawrence to his family


Aleppo

March 1 1911

I have got a bundle of letters here today and yesterday, the Stevenson, and down to Father's letter of the eighth. I'll send you off a line tonight, for the days are rather busy in getting things. We reached here last night, over a snow-covered line from Damascus: nothing of note. The second man is very much alive: pleasant though. We will get on all right together. Mr. Hogarth has £1700 still unspent: that will carry us on for 9 months digging: it is possible that I won't get back this year: especially if digging starts again in March: but it is more likely that the B.M. will refuse to continue. In any case I will stay as long as they will have me. We are going to be very well fitted up in stores: Mr. Hogarth has a huge consignment of things coming out (9 sorts of jam; 3 varieties of tea, and other things in proportion), and more is being got here. I expect to go across soon with Thompson and begin a survey of the ground. Thompson has a complete Shakespeare, Mr Hogarth a Dante and some French novels, and I a complete Spencer. I am looking forward to the Golden Legend, when it arrives. The Stevenson will be invaluable. I had not expected it so soon. As for the tin cases of the films, I won't carry them. Aleppo is indescribably dirty just now: the streets are like mud geysers when a carriage plunges into them. I saw one this afternoon drive over the edge of an embankment, and disappear to the top of its hood. The horses were got out. A mule kicked a bucket-full of the compound into my face in the suk: and I was plastered all over and temporarily blinded by it. I am revelling in the bazaar here of course. We have got 35/- worth of pistachio nuts, and as much more of Turkish delight, and Arab sweetmeats. The Thompson man has a weekly parcel of books coming out. I can commend the example: only that they would be a nuisance to bring back. If we do decide to dig on into November however I may ask for a Francis Thompson and a Rabelais and a Virgil or Lucretius. There is no need of any of them now. It seems likely that I will take particular charge of the pottery found: that would be a business very much to my taste. By the way I picked up ridiculously cheap in Damascus a little blue red and green Rhodian vase that Mother may like. It is a drawing room piece though comparatively late as Rhodian pottery goes: pretty all the same. If we dig till November I will not do any wandering this year, beyond the minimum required to satisfy Magdalen. I will ask Mr. Hogarth what that will be. Jesus of course will not require a cup now: they are all tho' to be of one established model: you know I do not give what I think good to other people, unless there is a chance of their liking it too! C/o British Consul Aleppo is the best address. Not a bad plan to write [Aleppo, in Arabic characters] in the left hand bottom corner opposite 'Aleppo': but not really necessary.

The post is still disorganised with Beyrout yet snowed in. I cannot, and Miss Holmes and Mrs. Reider could not, think of anything for Omar and Miss F. as presents. Fountain pens one cannot write Arabic with. I am sorry Wink. is not coming: but Mr. Hogarth himself takes no salary... Am sorry to hear you have been unwell to the extent of Dr. W. 'Remember it is better to keep well than to get well': your advice recoils on your own head, for I am a valetudinarian compared with yourself. Thank Will for his letter: the Aleppo button is the effect of a fly: I only hope I may be able to cover it by a beard if it comes. Frank's letter is a great success: also his repairs of the lamp. I wonder if he will find the acetylene acceptable: it cannot be relit or run on small charges: or could not. His revolver practice sounds excellent. I hope he tries to shoot without taking aim. The only practical way is almost to throw your bullet like a stone, at the object: you can do that in a flurry. The M.S. was Arabic: a Greek service book. The revolver was the Mauser. Bicycle must be treated delicately I fancy. The frame whipped under me in France the last tour so that it had to be trued in Rouen. The barring of football may be a blessing in disguise. Father's letter I will answer later when I have had a little breathing space: but he is right in that but for the wonderful chance of the oak we would put off the hall a year or 6 months. A letter from Florence arrived.

N.

 

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Source: HL 137-9
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 8 April 2006

 



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