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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to Lieutenant Robin White R.N.



I will never be a sailor, I'm afraid: born too late, though my father had yachts and used to take me with him from my fourth year: but my attempted accomplishment is motor-boating, a very different art, and as difficult. Sailing has only wind and water, and the two-party system is simply to work. With power all manner of complications enter and the art becomes exquisite, and subtler. Only it isn't sailing! 

Last week we ran down from Southampton here in 7 hours in one of the new R.A.F. boats: and this morning (it being most rough and horrid). We chased the Keppel out beyond Rame Head, till she took over too much water for 20 m.p.h. and turned back to the Sound. We turned back, willingly, and kept station till within the breakwater: then home: but the poor Keppel has to wait out there. 

My own boat is in the shed, till I finish these R.A.F. tests. Almost sick of speed boating, I am, now. 

What is the Viscount?  It sounds like an unarmoured ship, and should not be the smallest of its class, or rank, or shouldn't it be the Viscountess?  "She" says the incarnate sailor, stroking the gangway of the Iron Duke, "can be a perfect bitch in a cross-sea."  "He surely" I suggest, but incarnate deny it. What can a mere airman say? 

Yours sincerely,

T. E. Shaw

I should, properly, have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient Servant: but proprieties have been observed with the Lieut at the top. Unless you are a Commander now. I hope so.

Source: DG 721-2
Checked: dn/
Last revised: 28 November 2008

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