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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to Ernest Thurtle


I have not been very good lately, perhaps. When your letter came I said Nunc dimittis... and the servant through whose faithfulness this great work had come about didn't seem to matter. He had done his duty: that was all.

Then the Lords gave me a fright. Lord Allenby too, whom I like and admire. Surely if I had been in London, able to see him he would at least have kept silence -if not supported you.

Yet... doesn't it make you surer you were right, to see all the General Staff opposing you?

In the end you downed the Lords, as you had downed the Government. I feel it is a blessed victory. The old state of law hurt me. It was such a damnable judgement upon our own flesh and blood.

There are 1000 other Service reforms which should be carried through, to make them abreast - in morality and decency - of normal public life and opinion. Perhaps you may do more, in your time: but this effort will have made you very marked, for the moment. Perhaps you should break out in a new path for the next few months, to re-habilitate yourself.

I haven't really said thank you for all you did: because I feel that it was only your duty really. People who care anything at all about their countries don't like to see them fouling themselves.

Curse the Brass Hats: poor reptiles. They always swear that these things are necessary to discipline. A word in your ear - discipline itself is not necessary. We fight better without it. Yet being Englishmen we are born with it, and can no more lose it than our finger nails.

Go on pulling the right strings. It gave me, after yourself, perhaps the next purest joy in England.


T E Shaw

Source: DG 689-90
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 2 February 2006

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