25 September 2008
THOMAS EDWARD LAWRENCE (1888-1935)
Autograph letter signed ('T.E. Shaw') to General Sir Gilbert Clayton, Miranshah, 9 October 1928, 2 pages, folio. Provenance: the Spiro Family Collection.
ON THE KINGDOM OF IRAQ, AND A MESSAGE TO FEISAL. Lawrence voices his reactions to Clayton's belated appointment as high commissioner and commander-in-chief in Iraq ('how very lucky for Irak, that he's been delayed until he's really wanted'). The passage of time increases Lawrence's conviction that 'our efforts during the war have justified themselves, and are proving happier and better than I'd ever hoped. And some of this good progress is surely due to my keeping out of an area that I care too much for?'. He sends a message to Feisal ('Tell him that I thought a great deal of him during the war: and that I think far more of him now. He has lasted splendidly'), with slightly flippant comments on the newly-instituted 'Order of the Two Rivers', which Lawrence is half inclined to claim: 'After all, I'm almost a foundation-member of his kingdom ... if he can remember our talks of old days in Winterton's house, and in Mr Churchill's house, and in the Suez Canal? ... perhaps he's forgotten with what difficulty, against what prejudice we began. By "we", I meant him & me. The Kingdom of Irak depended on such slender causes: & I'm so proud of it now'.
Sir Gilbert Clayton (1875-1929) was Lawrence's chief at the Arab Bureau, and was to be a key figure in the reshaping of the Middle East after the war; he had barely taken up his appointment in Iraq in 1929 however when he died of a heart attack while playing polo.
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