T. E. Lawrence to Ernest Thurtle
I nearly rang up your house last Wednesday, when I was in London on duty, and invited myself to tea. Only after all it seemed nicer* to go-out along the Embankment. I hadn't been in London for a while, and so wanted to see it. They have smashed Lambeth Bridge, and will now destroy Charing Cross. If it was Westminster, now, I should not grieve. Westminster is too wide, and rather tinny. I like it only for the Wordsworth sonnet.
I tried to sum up the loss I felt when the Tories went out, and found that I was sorry Philip Sassoon had lost the Air Ministry. Also I feared that Tom Jones would regret losing Baldwin.
Perhaps he will not. I am glad you partly like Montague. Lord Thomson does not hold my respect, not that I know him, but he wrote a bad book, and took a peerage.
You are amusing about Trotsky: but he's so much one of the big figures of the world that I'd like England to have the honour of housing him. I confess I am not afraid of him or his work. If the country isn't contented enough to refuse revolution, then I'm a very poor judge of a situation.
Don't fly off with the idea that I laud this contentment: I think the planet is in a damnable condition, which no change of party, or social reform, will do more than palliate insignificantly. What is wanted is a new master species - birth control for us, to end the human race in 50 years - and then a clear field for some cleaner mammal. I suppose it must be a mammal?
Your attempt to abolish Church Parade was good. To achieve it you must proceed administratively. The House publicity renders such reforms impossible. Lobby the Archbishop of Canterbury. Persuade him to suggest it to the P.M. See that the change is put on grounds of true religion. Persuade the P.M. to whisper it to the S. of S. for War. Then ask your question... and the S. of S. with a pleased smirk says 'The matter has been the subject of ripe consideration in my department, and I am glad to say that the Chaplain General has worked out a scheme (for putting into force immediately) which will meet the changed conditions of our time, in the matter of religious observance.' Always get it settled before you speak to more than two ears at once.
You, too, have seen how close my reputation sticks. Will you believe that the Foreign Office asked, that day I was in London, if they were sure I was not now in Kurdistan, where tribesmen are fighting the Persian troops? The imbecility of official minds.
Democratise the Services? 0 Lord, that doesn't matter. Make them decent for all classes, please, by delivering us of superstitions and callousnesses.
*This reads frightfully rude. It was a hot day, my uniform felt as tight as an alderman's skin, my boots as heavy as lead, my legs like balusters. The embankment was really nicer than the tube to Golder's Green.
|Last revised:||8 March 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