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T. E. Lawrence to Sir Herbert Baker



Drigh Road

20.1.28.

Dear H.B.

I don't write, for I have nothing to say: and many people write me business letters, demanding answers: which use up all my spare cash on two-anna stamps. How could there be anything to say from Drigh Road?

The Viceroy came: we worked for weeks beforehand, collecting dust to throw in his eyes. There was a daily punishment list as long as my arm, in his honour.* When the day came I dodged off on a side duty: so set no eyes on him, nor he on me. Ditto the King of Afghanistan. These big men are too big to catch an insect.

Drigh Road will hold me, inshallah, till the end of my term in India. Not yet have I crossed the bounds of camp. I moon about inside, and think of nothing, or of Hogarth and Hardy, who have died.

I'm glad the South African buildings are ripening with time. All the world speaks well of them:- which must make you quake sometimes in the night watches. I'd like to see them.

The Bank won't look well while it's half up and half down. I hope you'll scrape the old wall, somehow, to make the whole less of a magpie when it's finished. I'll be back to see it nearly done: and have promised myself the Bank as the goal of my first walk in London. You cannot imagine how I'm looking forward to getting home. But it's too far ahead yet for me to afford to say so often. A weakening entertainment, that thought of getting home.

Cameron paints very quietly, and very pastorally, and rather affectionately, I think. He may be a good team-leader for your decorators. Kennington has rather forsworn painting for sculpture, and is abroad somewhere - or was, months ago. I'm glad you've booked Anrep.

I should sell the S.P. if I were you. No book is worth £600 to anyone of moderate income. I feel inclined to sell one, and print a thin-paper edition of four copies, for my private amusement. A pocket edition. Why not? Or rather why? Nothing doing, really. There are always good reasons for not doing.

'Trevelyan got a new idea of Christianity', did he! Not a good idea, probably. You know I meant once to write a book on the background of Christ... Galilee and Syria, social, intellectual and artistic, of 40 B.C. It would make an interesting book. As good as Renan's Life of Jesus should have been, if only he had had the wit to leave out the central figure.

I encouraged Graves, to give my reputation the coup de grace. A premature 'life' will do more to disgust the select and superior people (the R.A.F. call them the 'toffee-nosed') than anything. Observe the reaction on yourself.** Admirable! I can only get peace, now, by being digested and tipped out on the rubbish heap. The 'lying quiet' game I've played out, and lost over. Mrs. Bernard Shaw sends me many reviews of Graves' book, and the general tone of them is that they are fed up with my subject.

I wonder why Curtis wants to encase the dagger. Arabia does not produce any wood except the palm-wood, which resembles boiled beef in texture: except of course acacia: and in gardens fruit trees: and hard thorns, which you reject. They build with Indian teak, at Mecca and Jiddah.

The fellows who come down from New Delhi, where there is a small, fortunate, unit tell me it's a posh place. Not very satisfying, critically, perhaps, but at least the right spirit.

An advantage of this filthy brown paper which India gives us is that it breaks brittly into brown flaky dust after a short exposure to light. So my 'life and letters' will not include this effort. Adds a new terror to letter-writing, that sort of threat.

T.E.S.

* I was fortunate. Sheet still clean.

** Laurentian, that sudden insult. I thought I'd sloughed off those manners with the names.

Source: DG 567-569
Checked: dn/
Last revised: 9 January 2006


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