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T. E. Lawrence to Sydney Cockerell


22.3.28

Dear Cockerell

It is very good of you to have kept me so in touch with the passing of the great man. I'm touched that he should have put my bust on his wall. It has there kept better company than any other photo of mine has done.

I hope Mrs Hardy will console herself with time and her friends. The correcting that big book on T.H. will be hard for her: all digging into the past. I was puzzled by the will. It seems to me she may not be well off. The royalties (after a spurt this year and next) will run away very small in the following 20 years: I gather that beyond that she has only £600 a year. I am glad her mother is reprieved for the moment.

Somebody said there was another volume of T.H. poetry to appear: yet the old man told me once that he thought everything worth while had been printed. I wonder if there was stuff he kept back for any reason except that of insufficient goodness. However you are safe to destroy anything of his which does not come up to your standard and his. He was so generously large a poet that his individual lines are of small value.

As regards the D.G.H. book on Doughty, we've agreed to leave it to Billy Hogarth, for the time being. He will probably put it straight himself, being no inconsiderable writer: and I think that he is much the fittest person to do it, if he will.

I confess the Martin Armstrong project does not please me. I do not see what a biography has to do with criticism. The biographer's job is to present the facts of the man's life and work, so far as they have a bearing on the shape of the man's character or person in output: not to appraise him critically. In the case of Doughty the important things would seem to be the collation of the notes on Arabia with the text of Arabia Deserta: and the discovery of the roots of Doughty's style (I think they are ultimately pure Swedish: but it may be older: Icelandic even) and the motives which led him to tackle Dawn in Britain, Adam, and the Cliffs, Clouds, Titans, Mansoul subjects.

These lines would show the man: and the goodness of the poetry (very great, I think, despite the superficial affectation) would be left for the taste of the future to read or reject, as it pleased.

I shall be very glad to be excused doing anything to the book. I feel inclined only to lie down and sleep for ever, as all the best people are doing. Do you think I dare have printed and circulated a card 'to announce cessation of non-business correspondence' to every address in my memory?

Yours

T. E. Shaw

Source: SCC 368-9
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 1 January 2006


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