4 pages, 8vo." />
26 February 2004
LAWRENCE, T.E. (1888-1935). Autograph letter signed ("L"), to Farida el Akle, Carchemish, 26 June [1913?]. 4 pages, 8vo.
A fine early letter from Lawrence to his Syrian-Lebanese teacher, Miss Farida el Akle (1882-1976). The only formal course in Arabic he ever had was a two month period at the American Mission School for Girls in Jubail (north of Beirut), which he attended before assuming his archaeological work at Carchemish.
This lengthy letter begins with a humorous apology from Lawrence for not having written: "I am really most extremely sorry for having failed in my promise, if it was a promise, but at present we work 19 hours a day, in the open air mostly, & when we do get to the evening, we are too bothered to do more than write the perfunctory English scribble. I have read no Arabic since our first few weeks here, except your letter, & the last one took me about an hour!...I didn't write to you in English, because you said in a letter of yours (in Arabic & English) that you didn't want a reply: and I always believe what some people say: you and Miss Holmes for some of them. Mrs. Rieder [Lawrence's French teacher at the American Mission School] is not that sort."
"I expect I will turn up at Jebail when you are all beautiful upon the hill-top. If so I shall go up and sleep with Amr, and finish up those sugared carrots: or was it vinegared and salted turnip that I did not see the end of? At any rate we haven't any here, and are very sorry we haven't. They say he [Amr] has half cut his hand off. He shouldn't do things by halves: let him throw his whole heart and soul into every thing he does, the small things as well as the big things. That is the way to get on, & become an alderman or a city councellor or a poor-law guardian."
Reporting on his excavation work: "...we stop on Saturday week: and then the Odyssey begins...[Reginald Campbell] Thompson & I may buy the site we are digging--it's almost as big as Jebail, and the Bagdad railway will cross the river from it, and it is going for £30--and make it, a harbour of refuge for the district..." He imagines, "it would be rather fun living alone in one of these villages: they are all mud-built you know, and quite pleasant. And the Arabic is such amusing stuff. If I could talk it like Dahoum (by the way what does the name Dahoum mean?) you would never be tired of listening to me."
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