Lawrence’s Humour

T E Lawrence in Seven Pillars of Wisdom (p417, Cape 1940 edition)

The Arab respected force a little: he respected craft more, and often had it in enviable degree: but most of all he respected blunt sincerity of utterance, nearly the sole weapon God had excluded from his armament.

The Turk was all things by turn, and so commended himself for such a while as he was not corporately feared. Much lay in the distinction of the corporate and the personal. There were Englishmen whom, individually, the Arabs preferred to any Turk, or foreigner; but on the strength of this, to have generalised and called the Arabs pro-English, would have been a folly. Each stranger made his own poor bed among them.

And later p 527.

[G]ipsy families from the north with the materials of their tinkering trade [came] on donkeys. The [Arab troops] greeted them with a humour I little understood – till I saw that, beside their legitimate profits of handicraft, the women were open to other advances. Praticularly they were easy to [my bodyguards]; and for a while they prospered exceedingly, since our men were eager and very generous.

I also made use of them.

It seemed a pity to be at a loose end so near to Amman, and not to bother to [spy on] it. So Farraj and I hired three of the merry little women, wrapped ourselves up like them, and strolled through the village [sic].

Some Turkish soldiers crossed our party, and taking all five of us for what we looked, grew much too friendly. We showed a coyness, and a good turn of speed for gipsy women, and escaped intact.

For the future I decided to resume my habit of wearing British soldier’s rig in enemy camp. It was too brazen to be suspect.

The irony, and not a mention, of his previous spying visit to Deraa in disguise, which resulted in his own brutal rape. (Anyway, plenty of wit and wisdom. Now in the final 20%)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.