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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to Nancy Astor


Mount Batten

19.1.30.

Dear Lady Astor,

What an undisciplined person you are! I was given positive orders to cease from meeting you, so far as that lay in my power: so I can't come and see you. It would not be fair to the terms on which I have been in the R.A.F. for the last eight years, and on which I hope to serve for five years more.

I haven't got a heart: only the former site of one, with a monument there to say that it has been removed and the area it occupied turned into a public garden, in pursuance of the slum-clearance scheme.

I know, respect and like Tom Jones.

I am duty crew here (one week's engrossment in motor boats on the Sound and Caltewater) so cannot be spared for the Naval Conference. 'Sink the Lot' would be my advice, only alas I have not been asked it!

I was 'taken' to Flete: the Wing Commander promised in my name, and asked so warmly that I couldn't (lacking a heart) say 'No'. It shall not happen again.

I sit very tightly in Camp, working hard to make myself petrol money for next summer's activities. Next summer, I hope to motor-bike and speed-boat and fly a bit: the last if I can get Sir John Salmond (now my lord and master) to relax Trenchard's order against my flying.

I should like to hear Lord Thomson's opinion of my abilities! My opinion of his character hasn't been asked for, but I'm quite willing to hand it on through your 'curious but direct' way if you think it would be wholesome. It is not very kindly.

Alas, I am out of date. I cannot conceive why Lionel should want Geoffrey Dawson to see Malcolm McDonald: or why any of them, backwards or forwards, should want to see another. However cats may look at kings. Only I mustn't look at you. That proves that you aren't a king, and me not a cat. That proves that you aren't a cat and me not a king. I wish I felt as safe, for you, as I do for myself.

You are distinctly unsatisfactory about [name omitted]: please allow Mrs. Shaw, who is as wise as 10,000 of you and me, to look at her and say the right word. I do not trust the judgement of anyone in either the House of Commons or the House of Lords.

Yours ever

T.E. Shaw

Japanese sunset effect obtainable by underlining the "I" in letters for your enjoyment and necessary inaction please. You will notice that I win by three to one.

Source: DG 678-9
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 31 January 2006


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