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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to his family


Cairo

12 February 1915

Address

Intelligence Office,
  Cairo.

Well, here goes for another empty letter: my bicycle is here: very many thanks for getting it out so quickly: I wish the W.O. would send out maps equally promptly. You ask about the other people in the Office: well Newcombe and Woolley you have heard of. There is Hough ex-consul at Jaffa... pleasant and nothing more: there is Lloyd, an M.P. (I should think probably Conservative, but you never know) who is a director of a bank, and used to be Attaché at Constantinople. He is Welsh, but sorry for it: small, dark, very amusing... speaks Turkish well, and French, German and Italian: some Spanish, Arabic and Hindustani... also Russian. He is quite pleasant, but exceedingly noisy.

Then there is Aubrey Herbert, who is a joke, but a very nice one: he is too short-sighted to read or recognise anyone: speaks Turkish well, Albanian, French, Italian, Arabic, German... was for a time chairman of the Balkan League, of the Committee of Union and Progress, and of the Albanian Revolution Committee. He fought through the Yemen wars, and
the Balkan wars with the Turks, and is friends with them all. Then there is Père Jaussen, a French Dominican monk, of Jerusalem. He speaks Arabic wonderfully well, and preceded us in wanderings in Sinai. We praise his work very highly in the Wilderness of Zin. He is very amusing, and very clever: and very useful as interpreter...

There is also Graves The Times correspondent, and very learned in the Turkish army organisation. I think that is about all. We meet very few other people, except officers on business... see a good deal of them, from General Maxwell downwards. He is a very queer person: almost weirdly good-natured, very cheerful, with a mysterious gift of prophesying what will happen, and a marvellous carelessness about what might happen. There couldn't be a better person to command in Egypt. He takes the whole job as a splendid joke.

The Turks are off for the time being. The troops that attacked us last week were from Smyrna (Turks) and from Nablous and Jerusalem and Gaza: there were no men from Aleppo, and very few from Damascus: our prisoners are very comfortable, and very content here: when they have been a few weeks in idleness they will be less pleased.

Lady Evelyn Cobbold turned up, on her usual winter visit to Egypt.... I am to have dinner with her tonight.

Dr. Mackinnon is here: he is doing medical work, and Dr. Scrimgeour of Nazareth is looking after the prisoners.

Cox is being paid 15/- a day for me: so I hope that my account
there will be clear. There are no carpets in Cairo that I want to buy: you don't get good ones under £50 here: so don't expect anything at present... perhaps when I get back to Carchemish

N.

Source: HL 301-2
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 1 January 2006


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