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Updated July 2012

T. E. Lawrence to his family


11 April 1911

[. . .] Mother is right about a letter having fallen through: I sent off one from Beyrout just before embarking for Haifa. In case it never appears I got the films and was very glad of them, and saw Mr. Parfit on the Sunday: he sent the usual messages, and came up to Aintab (close to here) a week ago. He meant to come across and see us, but did not feel too energetic, and was rather hurried: so I will not see him again till I get back to Beyrout. Just now we are expecting Professor Sayce, and Miss G. Bell, and Meissner Pasha (who is the Bagdad Railway). Arnie must not run to win the Cup: if so he deserves to lose: the things you get by trying after are never worth the things that, if too set on the end, you will pass over by the way. I would be very glad for him to get the cup; but later on I want him to learn to laugh at it. A.T.P. Williams (Jesus College) has written to me asking for the Thesis. He may have it, if Mr. Barker does not object. He is his tutor. Williams is in for History this year: but I don't suppose he would find much call to mention architecture. I think Frank is quite wise to give up the idea of a profession of the learned sort. All his tastes are in other directions, so far as one can see. Of course the Army is not one and the same in all its branches (thank goodness!) and he can choose a decent side of it. At the same time if he could get a Channel Islands scholarship it would be much the easiest and readiest and cheapest way to a commission.

There are always the University ones going for competition, of not an unattainable standard, and to have been at Oxford would make the way much easier for a man of small means. Poor Father! his sons are not going to support his years by the gain of their professions and trades. One a missionary: one an artist of sorts and a wanderer after sensations; one thinking of lay education work: one in the army, and one too small to think. None of us can ever afford to keep a wife: still the product of fairly healthy brains and tolerable bodies will not be all worthless in this world. One of us must surely get something of the unattainable we are all feeling after. That's a comfort: and we are all going for the same thing under different shapes: Do you know we illustrate the verse about heart, soul, mind, body? Will Arnie prove the strength that will make it all perfect and effective?  Frank's toes can (like other candidates) be operated on. Consult Dr. Gibson if you do anyone. He knows the dodges of the red-tape fence. But let him in any case try for the Scholarship unless Mr. Cave says it is not worth the continued preparation. The ordinary route into the Army is less pleasant than by Oxford and the O.T.C. Glad you sent Miss Holmes her cheque. She is doing a hard work, under great handicaps. If Will wants a little preliminary breathing time he might do far worse than try his hand at her boys' school. There is such need in Syria for taste, as well as good will. I hope to go back to Miss Holmes for a visit when we finish digging (end of June). I left a portmanteau there, and have a bag here: I'll walk down slowly (2½ months perhaps). Weather just now perfect. Euphrates in flood. I forget (after 6 weeks ) what my reference to Harosheth is: it stands at the entrance of Esdraelon.

Digging is tremendous fun, and most exciting and interesting. The results so far are not nearly enough to justify a second season (I'll write about them soon) but the thing is (as I have said perhaps) like Pandora's box, with Hope in the last spit of earth. I have had some good pottery lately. Mr. Hogarth returns next week: he hopes to get to Oxford about mid-May, and shortly after will publish interim report in The Times. I'll ask him to let you know when. He has been most exceedingly good to me all through: taught me a tremendous lot about everything from digging to Greek erotic verse: He'll help in my Meleager: whom he enjoys also.


The dig will probably last another 5 weeks: after that we go to Tell Ahmar for trial pits: then to Harran, and after back to Aleppo: about end of June: write there c/o Consul, till June, 6.


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Source: HL 147-8
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 8 April 2006


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