Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to H. S. Ede
I have not been so long about answering as it has seemed. The Press have still been troublesome, and so I have spent this fine month almost wholly in wandering about the south-country. Very beautiful; all very beautiful. But I have wanted to settle here instead. Ungrateful creature, man!
Now I have persuaded the local police to patrol the place during daylight hours I keep indoors. It works, so far: but soon I shall have used up my firewood, and then what? Perhaps the pressmen will tire soonest.
About your cheque. I have looked at if for two days, wanting to take it for your sake, but reluctant. You see, it is an experiment I am making... have I saved enough to live on in decency, or must I make more? The sooner I can find the answer to that, the better for me. If I take your £30, that will carry me over in unexpected ease for twelve months, and next year I might feel the need of it.
As for the Brough, that is easy. I have licensed it, and yesterday rode into Poole to buy some necessary fittings for the house. It goes like stink, and is altogether a marvellous machine. But I should hesitate to call it necessary. A Rolls-Royce goes like... scent, shall we say?... and is a marvellous machine; but I am certain that a Rolls is not necessary to my pleasure. I want to find out if the Brough is. If it is, I shall have to save somewhere else, live below estimate, or make more, to be able to afford it. My earning power is potentially considerable: but I hate using it.
You will observe that the whole essay is deliberate, an endeavour to enjoy idleness. That is (by modern standards) not a very moral aim. I do not care. I feel that I have worked throughout a reasonably long working life, given all I can to every cause which harnessed me, and earned a rest. My 'expectation' is less than 20 years, and the last few years of that 20 will be diminishingly pleasant, as infirmities increase. If I am to taste the delights of natural England, as has been my life's wish, I must do it before I grow really old. And I must do it on my own: not at others' expense.
I have no dependents, no sense of public spirit, or of duty to my neighbour. I like to live alone for 80% of my days, and to be let alone by 80% of my fellow-men, and all my fellow-women below 60 years of age. The golden rule seems to direct me to live peacefully in my cottage.
I hope you will find me here some day: not yet, for all is at sixes and sevens, as in a besieged town: but soon. The district is good for walking: and if I cannot put you up or feed you properly, why surely the neighbourhood can. What is Bournemouth for?
Your book. I can't settle to it. These claims are distracting. So I send it back. Economics are like tides. We fail to harness them, yet the ebb and flow. The right thing would be to chart them, but nobody can distinguish their moon. Sorry to be unhelpful.
|Last revised:||15 January 2005|
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