T. E. Lawrence to Sydney 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.
|Source:||SCC 366-7 (also, with small variations, DG 574-5)|
|Last revised:||1 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