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T. E. Lawrence to his mother



That is much better: when we do not write so rapidly, our letters have time to reach their destinations and answer their questions: so that we do not need to repeat everything many times. It is not as though I had much to say. Life with me is much the same, from week to week, or from year to year: in camp at Farnborough, or at Bovington, or at Cranwell, or at Drigh Road. One room is like another, in barracks, and one airman is like another airman. We do not have changes or adventures. We stay still, and are physically taken care of, like stock cattle.

I am glad you thought to leave England for a little. They say, in the papers, that it has been cold there, and wintry. It feels improbable, out here, where the climate is hardly varied from January to January, where it is never hot, and very seldom cold. Karachi seems to have struck the mean of the world's climates, and to exist in a perpetual temperateness of heat and sunshine. Yet it is a dreary place, because the weather is too same to have a character. Too long a succession Of perfect weeks brings monotony.

Italy, you have chosen: and Rome, of all places in Italy. Now I could have understood some little village in the hills. Did you ever read D. H. Lawrence's marvellous novel The Lost Girl... with its pictures of country life, very high up, in Italy? One of the most beautiful of modern stories, told by a master of English prose. You can get a 3/6 edition of it, published by Martin Secker. In such a house as that you might be quiet.

Yes, that sending of the parcel was a pity. I have been much troubled by parcels: the great warm heart of the British and American public seems to yearn over people who write, and they send me incongruous things: so I have my private way of getting the things I ask for: and the Post Office (which in India means the Customs) have my instructions not to notify to me the other things. I do not know what happens to them: perhaps they are sent back as not delivered (but the Stores will have their rules against that, for it would involve them in expense), perhaps they are sold out here to pay Customs charges. Also registered letters are not delivered to me. I found that they were only afflictions. My post is unmanageably great. I have had to make a rule not to spend more than 3/- a week in stamps and stationery, to answer the letters I get: and that means very many letters go without their replies. I cannot answer more than one in three of what I receive, and even what I do write is too much. It taxes my spare time valuelessly: for my opinions and ideas are not useful to anyone else, and it is no pleasure to me to put them on paper. Some day I dream of putting round a little printed card to everyone... 'Many thanks for your letter, which I should have endeavoured to answer, only that I have determined lately to write no more letters that are not of a strictly business character.' It would be a saving of time and tissue... but I am afraid of causing more talk.


Source: HL 370-71
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 12 ebruary 2006

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