T. E. Lawrence to F. L. Lucas
I don't want to write tonight, but I must. I'm on Fire Pickets all this week (i.e. distracted and oppressed) and can't settle down to read or write. However if I don't write you'll wonder what's the matter.
Your letter about The Mint delights me because it is really useful. Detailed criticism is the only useful kind. Ever so many thanks. Now I'll run through it and see if there are notes to reply. [18 lines omitted]
Others besides yourself have been troubled by the gap between Depot and Cadet Cottage. I was very unhappy at Farnborough, and decided not to put it on record. [10 words omitted] After it I had 2½ years Tank Corps, which is a different subject, and would I think only confuse the R.A.F. picture. From the Tanks I returned for three days to Uxbridge, the R.A.F. Depot, and went thence to Cranwell, as I describe. That gave me the chance to carry the story straight through. Do you think I ought to expand the 'explanation' into greater length, and detail the Farnborough and Tank Corps digressions? I have some raw notes: but they are pretty grim reading.
My bowels have twice or thrice destroyed my poise of stoical indifference, which is proper to a man of action! A bit of a handicap, is funk: to people of the V.C. class, in which reputation would put me! Of course I know, in myself, that I'm not a brave person: and am not sorry. Most brave people aren't attractive.
In 'Last Post' the all clear signal I handed down the but was that Corporal Abbinett was again in bed! Sorry. Too much compression there, apparently.
I do think that conscious, deliberate exercise is an evil thing: but I didn't class 'prostitution' as important. There are so many prostitutions that one can't take them tragically. [7 lines omitted]
I would like to say much more about Trenchard some day. A very noble and unusual person.
We do regard flying as a sort of ritual: more an art than a science, it is. Unreasonable to expect other people to feel like that, of course: but it is not an unpresentable Crusade: compared with the Lord's Sepulchre.
You don't like my saying that the old Depot is reformed away: and wish for a moral. But I tried not to moralise or condemn more than the instruments through whom the system worked. As a victim I have hardly the right to condemn.
I am glad you feel the difference between Cadet College and Depot. E.M.F. said that Cadet College didn't 'come through' as a happy place. I re-read the MS, before it went to you, and was inclined to disagree with him.
It seemed to me to contain better 'bits' than the first two parts. No doubt they are too 'bitty': a whole Cadet College would be longer than Depot.
Speed is a wonderful thing. I wrote a string of articles about bike rides: but the Motor Cycle paper would not take them - so this is the sole survivor. Last Saturday I had a good run up to London (235 miles) and returned on Sunday. Averaged over 40: and touched 94 at times. A nobly running bike.
Of course one is always apart and intact: but to see another airman in the street is (for me) like one ship sighting another at sea. The sea becomes not lonely, all at once.
Yes, I would like the dedication of your novel: everybody would. You are a very good writer. Your poems (of which I'll write to you when I feel less unworthy of them) prove it. They are a delight.
T E S
|Last revised:||29 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