T. E. Lawrence to T. B. Marson
You must have pushed the unfortunate Boom up to writing to me. It's a joy to get 'em: but please don't. He has so many better things to do. One of my best memories is of him pushing up those big glasses, and saying plaintively "Marson, may I go".... Now you are out of office you are to be merciful to him. He's so great and clean and splendid a person that he deserves all the best service in the world. It will be a relief to me to hear that he has finally left the Air Ministry. To go on risking himself, after all he's done, seems too wild. He has deserved harbour, after that voyage, with that crew and owners.
Tell him, if ever you see him, that it's time for him to rest. The Air Force is what he'd like it to be, and he's created it after his own image. He must now let the child alone, to take its first steps, and fall down and hurt itself, and find its own way up again, and carry on. All decent birds hop it when their infants have done their first solo. I know it hurts them: I haven't been a parent, but I cut myself off the Arab Movement, though I wake up night after night dreaming I could help 'em again. I could, but that late help is hurtful to the young.
This applies, a little, to that chicken, or game-cock, of yours. He's on the knees of the Gods, now: like Irak: and you and I aren't Gods. Even, sometimes, I think that perhaps H.M.T. isn't... that is in my chilly moments, when all the world seems a failure with which it's a sorry sorrow to be connected. However I know the R.A.F. is "it", always, or nearly always. (One has to be just going on or coming off guard, even in that, you know, sometimes, except at Cranwell, which was a home from home, for the irks.)
[Two words omitted] here met me for the first time, the other day, and trod heavily on my harmless, if unattractive face. I think he must have been reading Robert Graves, and felt that I was a worm. Fortunately Salmond happened along next day, and told him I was all right. So my sheet remains clean. I have a terror about that sheet: if I get a mark on it someone will hoof me out into the street again: and I am too old to go wandering any more.
Incidentally don't take that remark about oldness as a moan. For my rackety life and generally damaged condition, I enjoy the most astonishing health, and it surprises myself when I think about it. In India I'm better than in England. Perhaps my lubricating oil is a bit heavy, and it takes a wisp of sunlight to get it circulating freely. Anyway I see myself signing on to convert my 5 reserve into 5 active, next winter.
I hope you will forget Scotland in the calmness of Gloucestershire. There is some very lovely country there. I could hope that you'd drive a dog-cart: only, of course, it'll be a motor, instead. But dog-carts go with the exile's notions of England. I suppose money is the main difficulty. I've only been three times broke, by Thursday, since they put us on full pay, here. Then I don't drink or smoke, and never go outside the camp bounds: and haven't been in the canteen since last February:- believe me, St. Anthony isn't in it with me now. There is that sheet to be considered. It was different at Cranwell, where I know that Biffy trusted me. So the old cat could pretend to be a kitten.
I enclose you my last letter: 'cause I can't tear 'em up: and it would put me into the guard-room to be found with it.... You can destroy it for me. The yarn about Feisal isn't true: he never asked me for one. As for Cave-Browne-Cave:- of course I'd have given an acre or so of my very part-worn skin to hop round the earth with him. Only they haven't any aircraft hands aboard, and here I'm doing a useful job: so I couldn't very well wish for it. There are things barred to even the most distinguished A.C.Is. (I was promoted that last October!) Can I call myself distinguished, as an A.C.I.? Yes. I think so, fairly. You know I think my reputation is all punk: but it's indubitable that I have one: even I'm in Who's Who!
Sorry for writing you such bosh: but I get sort of wound up sometimes.
Note: 'Boom' - Trenchard
|Last revised:||6 January 2006|
T. E. Lawrence chronology
1888 16 August: born at Tremadoc, Wales
1896-1907: City of Oxford High School for Boys
1907-9: Jesus College, Oxford, B.A., 1st Class Hons, 1909
1910-14: Magdalen College, Oxford (Senior Demy), while working at the British Museum's excavations at Carchemish
1915-16: Military Intelligence Dept, Cairo
1916-18: Liaison Officer with the Arab Revolt
1919: Attended the Paris Peace Conference
1919-22: wrote Seven Pillars of Wisdom
1921-2: Adviser on Arab Affairs to Winston Churchill at the Colonial Office
1922 August: Enlisted in the Ranks of the RAF
1923 January: discharged from the RAF
1923 March: enlisted in the Tank Corps
1923: translated a French novel, The Forest Giant
1924-6: prepared the subscribers' abridgement of Seven Pillars of Wisdom
1927-8: stationed at Karachi, then Miranshah
1927 March: Revolt in the Desert, an abridgement of Seven Pillars, published
1928: completed The Mint, began translating Homer's Odyssey
1929-33: stationed at Plymouth
1931: started working on RAF boats
1932: his translation of the Odyssey published
1933-5: attached to MAEE, Felixstowe
1935 February: retired from the RAF
1935 19 May: died from injuries received in a motor-cycle crash on 13 May
1935 21 May: buried at Moreton, Dorset