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T. E. Lawrence to H.S. Ede



20.1.28.

Dear Ede

Indeed I'm getting steadily worse as a letter-writer: but if you sat in Drigh Road (where at this season there is absolutely no grazing for a camel) your hump too would shrink, and you would be chary of exercise.

Instead I picture you and Aitken sitting on the steps of the staircase by the Sargents, and fishing out portfolios from a brown flood with bent pins and broomsticks. It will be amazingly good for the Tate to have lost all its cellar-collection by an Act of God. I can see 'Lost in Flood' in Aitken's neat handwriting ticketed against purchase after purchase of the Chantrey bequest. Besides you'll now be able to decorate your dining room again. Good luck to the Tate. It deserves it!

Of course your view of death is right, and all that: but it will not save you from a sense of loss when someone you like goes. I had (and perhaps still have) a hedge full of trees: they are old: and whenever one falls I miss something of what used to be the shapeliness of that hedge. So Hogarth is part, a great part, of the background of my life fallen away. He was my realisation of Oxford, the concrete thing which Oxford stood for in my mind. Now Thomas Hardy has followed him into that very rich company. I am sorry for T.H.'s going too, though less so, for T.H. had perfected himself in his work, and went into the grave very poor in spirit. Whereas Hogarth put so much of his force into the acts of living.

My Christmas passed quietly, in the guardroom, where I was one of four on guard. The camp was drunk, as a body: so the guardroom was a good place. I often go there on a holiday, swapping turns with some convivial fellow.

No, I've not been to Kashmir. As a matter of fact I have reasons for staying put: reasons which have kept me within the boundary of our camp since I have been here. So I have not even seen Karachi - which is very far from Kashmir.

My next port of call will be, I hope, Southampton in 1930 or 1932. It seems only a little way off now. The first four years, so the R.A.F. says, are the worst.

Yours ever

T.E.S.

Source: DG 566-7
Checked: dn/
Last revised: 6 January 2006


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