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T. E. Lawrence to Robert Graves


Cattewater,
Plymouth

5.5.29

Dear RG.

Forget the typing. It is a new machine, on which I am to be efficient tomorrow: this is Sunday, and I'm taking my rawness off on it, by typing a dozen private letters, before tackling any RAF stuff. [Omission] Honestly, RG, hasn't the scale of your judgement been out lately? It is not my business, and I cherish my own freedom to do as I like too much to dream of interfering: but you had been so drastic in your condemnations of ordinary people, of late, but I've been afraid to stay near you. You see, I know by the best of all proof (contiguity with ordinary men in barracks) how ordinary I am; and because ordinariness is not wholly a flattering feeling, I have been led to look for my own likes in ordinary people: and from that I have grown to see the ordinariness in nearly everyone. But whereas that makes you rage and condemn, it makes me feel akin and friendly. I like your stuff, because so often you seem to me to say clearly something that all our generation is trying to say. There is no monopoly of feeling: lots of people are feeling like you: but only an occasional man can say it decently. It is a great thing to have the power of words: but it does not make one man different from another in kind, as something like LR. said when we last met half-implied. 

God Almighty, what a sermon when you are down with an abscess (that is rotten, but cures itself) and unhappy and do not want to ramble about inside the meaning of life. It is raining here, has been raining dismally since last night. I have done a Church Parade, and the Hut is full of wireless and gramophone music (by the way, I never thanked you for the new Sophy, which added a new horror to a life of weeks. Sophy is always a battleground, like all things vitally vigorous. The Hut is divided into pro-Sophy and anti-Sophy, and squabbled as nearly as Huts can squabble) and I've come back into the office to hammer out this stuff for you. I should be doing Camp Standing Orders, Order no 15 (Fire Orders), but it is too cold for my fingers to type sensibly: also I've been thinking about you since yesterday when the letter came. There is a horrible little trawler outside, that keeps on edging nearer and nearer to the rocks on the South side of the Camp. I suppose it's the wind, dragging her anchor. They are getting steam on her, to save the expense of a tug. If she does not get her steam going in the next hour or two, the little beast will go ashore in front of the cookhouse, and then the duty boat (for one of whose crew I'm a standby this afternoon) will have to go out and do the life-saving stunt. It is humiliating to save someone's life at no risk to one's own. Also it is as cold as charity. Since I came back from India, I have been always cold. I wish England could be towed that some thousand miles to the south. [16 lines omitted]

Source: DG 658-9
Checked: dn/
Last revised: 29 October 2008


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