T. E. Lawrence to F. N. Doubleday
So long, so long since I wrote: but to-day there was an earthquake in our life. It poured with rain from dawn - or rather it was pouring before dawn, when we crept miserably out of bed, and it poured on, it pours on, still. So work was unalloyed beastliness, and we scrounged about the sheds and shops, too cold to talk. There is an immense wind from the south-west shaking every tin wall and window.
Our Commanding Officer is so meek a man - and he has a close office with a fire and an airman to stoke it: but suddenly he got up and swore terrible, like the troops in Flanders. 'This, he said or conveyed 'is a wretched day. We'll wash out work'.
And that is the earthquake, for the like has never happened before with this Commanding Officer: and the minorest consequence of the earthquake is that I write to you. Ever since you left Southampton in that ship I have hoped for a cause of writing. Here it is.
Are you well? Of course there are wells and wells. I hope yours is a quiet little one. My life runs so smoothly that I should distrust great happiness as much as I would dislike great misery. In the ranks of a fellow's spiritual ups and downs get modest, like his means and his circumstances.
Motor boat building is all over. A Sunday newspaper blew upon that, with headlines that said more than the truth (imagine, can you, a headline that said less... my mind boggles at it!)
So the Air Ministry chased me quickly out of that job, and out of my lodgings at Hythe: and back I have been in camp at Plymouth for months. There is not much to do at Plymouth, but I have started some lusty and strong-winded hares, which many solemn departments are chasing. It is nice to see one's betters running hard, isn't it?
How is the States: or are the States? If you are a Democrat the election will have pleased you. Page was, so perhaps you are. Frere-Reeves, when I was in London on duty a month ago gave me a news bulletin. Everything suggests that business is a hard fight in America, just now, and I am sorry for that. Wallenstein fought battles on his back, but those were quick battles, full of killing and cannon shots, which can help to pass the time.
Heinemann is all right, I think. They have so much repute now that writers want to gravitate towards them. Frere-Reeves gave me the D.H. Lawrence Letters. I read them all, in daily doses extending over a fortnight. A sad reading, rather because D.H. wrote some lovely novels, and all of them came to me as they appeared, and I had a regard for the silly angry creature. And his letters lack generosity so sadly: couldn't he have said one decent thing about some other man of his profession? Also he was too much on the make. However, I should have been very sorry not to have seen and read those letters. So more power to Frere-Reeves.
Give Mrs. Doubleday my regards, please. This letter is really written with a squint, or two-nibbed pen, one side thinking of you and one of her. May the firm flourish!
No more. Imagine me as very quiet, very calm and quite well-fed. Bovine, in fact: but switching its tail briskly and with an air of pride when it thinks of its only U.S.A. correspondent.
|Last revised:||21 January 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