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T. E. Lawrence to Sydney Cockerell


Dear Cockerell

I've sat staring at your letter for a week: the rest of the Hardy story was so plain there to see. I feel very much for Mrs Hardy who remains like a plant which has grown up in a pot, from which the pot is suddenly stripped. She will find it hard to begin life again, the third time. For T.H. none of us can have great regrets. His life was a triumph, just because it was prolonged for that last, unexpected, twenty years. It must be restfuller, too, to be certainly dead, than to be precariously alive.

Remains the problem of the D.G.H. Doughty book. It is that which out-faces me. I can live, easily, as an airman (but easily only as that). I could die, I hope, willingly, as T.H. would die: but when it comes to writing, writing responsibly, then I dither.

It is out of the question that I should write the Hogarth-Doughty tribute you picture to yourself. My writing is bad: and I'll do no more of it. Agreed that however bad it was the public would buy it, if signed: look at the publicity I've had. But I'd rather starve than feed myself that way: and I think it would be better for the widows to starve than be fed that way. Moral prostitution; no else.

What I had feared was that circumstances might point me out as the one person to oversee and smoothen D.G.H.'s draft chapters: and that if I did much to them I might put a page or two on the back saying what D.G.H. was, and how sorry a botch any successor would have made of his improving: and so I'd taken it up, without experience, hoping that people would easily see my patches in his masonry, and blame my unsightlinesses in the construction on the guilty shoulders. But if Armstrong puts his oar and his name to the book, then my anonymity becomes impossible. It would be unfairly ascribed to him. Three names on a title page are ridiculous. So do for heaven's sake, call the whole job off. I'm sorry you have found the text so incomplete. I'd been hoping that it would smoothly round off the life of D.G.H.: by bringing him back to letters, in the end.

Yours ever


Source: SCC 366-7 (also, with small variations, DG 574-5)
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 1 January 2006

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