T. E. Lawrence, fully Thomas Edward Lawrence

T. E.
Lawrence, fully Thomas Edward Lawrence
1888
1935

British Author, Archaeologist, Military Officer and Diplomat

Author Quotes

I prefer lies to truth, especially when the lies are about me.

Many men would take the death-sentence without a whimper, to escape the life-sentence which fate carries in her other hand.

The common base of all the Semitic creeds, winners or losers, was the ever present idea of world-worthlessness. Their profound reaction from matter led them to preach bareness, renunciation, poverty; and the atmosphere of this invention stifled the minds of the desert pitilessly. A first knowledge of their sense of the purity of rarefaction was given me in early years, when we had ridden far out over the rolling plains of North Syria to a ruin of the Roman period which the Arabs believed was made by a prince of the border as a desert-palace for his queen. The clay of its building was said to have been kneaded for greater richness, not with water, but with the precious essential oils of flowers. My guides, sniffing the air like dogs, led me from crumbling room to room, saying, 'This is jessamine, this violet, this rose'. But at last Dahoum drew me: 'Come and smell the very sweetest scent of all', and we went into the main lodging, to the gaping window sockets of its eastern face, and there drank with open mouths of the effortless, empty, eddyless wind of the desert, throbbing past. That slow breath had been born somewhere beyond the distant Euphrates and had dragged its way across many days and nights of dead grass, to its first obstacle, the man-made walls of our broken palace. About them it seemed to fret and linger, murmuring in baby-speech. 'This,' they told me, 'is the best: it has no taste.' My Arabs were turning their backs on perfumes and luxuries to choose the things in which mankind had had no share or part.

The vicarious policemanship which was the strongest emotion of Englishmen towards another man's muddle, in their case was replaced by the instinct to pass by as discreetly far as possible on the other side.

Author says he suffered from both a craving to be famous and a horror of being known to like being known.

I wrote my will across the sky, in stars.

Men have looked upon the desert as barren land, the free holding of whoever chose; but in fact each hill and valley in it had a man who was its acknowledged owner and would quickly assert the right of his family or clan to it, against aggression.

The desert is an ocean in which no oar is dipped.

The Wahabis, followers of a fanatical Moslem heresy, had imposed their strict rules on easy and civilized Kasim. In Kasim there was but little coffee-hospitality, much prayer and fasting, no tobacco, no artistic dalliance with women, no silk clothes, no gold and silver head-ropes or ornaments. Everything was forcibly pious or forcibly puritanical.

But suppose we were an influence (as we might be), an idea, a thing invulnerable, intangible, without front or back, drifting about like a gas? Armies were like plants, immobile as a whole, firm-rooted, nourished through long stems to the head, we might be a vapor, blowing where we listed. Our kingdoms lay in each man's mind, as we wanted nothing material to live on, so perhaps we offered nothing material to the killing. It seemed a regular soldier might be helpless without a target. He would own the ground he sat on, and what he could poke his rifle at.

If I could talk it like Dahoum, you would never be tired of listening to me.

Misery, anger, indignation, discomfort-those conditions produce literature. Contentment-never. So there you are.

The desert was held in a crazed communism by which Nature and the elements were for the free use of every known friendly person for his own purposes and no more.

Then rose up the horror which would make civilized man shun justice like a plague if he had not the needy to serve him as hangmen for wages.

By day the hot sun fermented us; and we were dizzied by the beating wind. At night we were stained by dew, and shamed into pettiness by the innumerable silences of stars.

If you wear Arab things, wear the best. Clothes are significant among the tribes, and you must wear the appropriate, and appear at ease in them. Dress like a Sherif, if they agree to it.

My will had gone and I feared to be alone, lest the winds of circumstance, or power, or lust, blow my empty soul away.

The dreamers of the day are dangerous... for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.

There could be no honor in sure success, but much might be wrested from a sure defeat

Cling tight to your sense of humor. You will need it every day.

Immorality, I know. Immortality, I cannot judge.

Nine-tenths of tactics are certain, and taught in books: but the irrational tenth is like the kingfisher flashing across the pool, and that is the test of generals. It can only be ensured by instinct, sharpened by thought practicing the stroke so often that at the crisis it is as natural as a reflex.

The fringes of their deserts were strewn with broken faiths.

There is an ideal standard somewhere and only that matters and I cannot find it. Hence the aimlessness.

Do not try and do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do it tolerably than you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not win it for them.

First Name
T. E.
Last Name
Lawrence, fully Thomas Edward Lawrence
Birth Date
1888
Death Date
1935
Bio

British Author, Archaeologist, Military Officer and Diplomat