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T. E. Lawrence to Ernest Thurtle



Dear Thurtle,

I hope you successfully pass the test next month, and go back again for seven years. If your people win, do try and carry them with you about the death penalty. I feel it a blot and reflection upon your fellow-humans who have been brought to enlist in the Services.

Yesterday I met Lady Astor, who said nice things about you. She's sickening, too, with election fever. I hope she gets in. A rare creature: very swift and yet kind.

I will call, if I can: but I'll promise not to keep on calling! My feet are happy when they tramp up down London: and to go into a house breaks the rhythm, and is a deprivation. A little of it is good, as variety: but if I did all I should, there would be no street-time left.

I've been in London (for a night) twice, since March 7. Not bad. Last run took 4 hrs 44 minutes to do - and about two days to recover from!

If the public would let me choose the next House of Commons, it would be a decent and friendly little gathering. One despairs rather, though, over this electing business. Hot blood isn't a good counsellor.

I must put in a last word about my abnormality. Anyone who had gone up so fast as I went (remember that I was almost entirely self-made: my father had five sons, and only £300 a year) and had seen so much of the inside of the top of the world might well lose his aspirations, and get weary of the ordinary motives of action, which had moved him till he reached the top. I wasn't a King or Prime Minister, but I made 'em, or played with them, and after that there wasn't much more, in that direction, for me to do. So abnormal an experience ought to have queered me for good - unless my skin was as thick as a door-mat. What feels abnormal is my retirement from active life at 35 - instead of 75. So much the luckier, surely.

Here's a good little poem of F.L. Lucas, a Cambridge don and very subtle fellow, to cap my not very imaginative explanations.


T.E. Shaw


Ernest Thurtle and Nancy Astor were standing for Parliament at a forthcoming General Election.

Two stanzas omitted, beginning 'They laid Protesilaus to his sleep', from a poem by F.L. Lucas published in Time and Memory (London, Hogarth Press, 1929)

Source: DG 653-654  
Checked: dn/  
Last revised: 30 January 2006  

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