A Report by T. E. Lawrence’s Tutor David Hogarth

Lawrence“The things he wants not to be are quite numerous; but the things he could be, if he wanted, are more numerous still. He is not fond of being anything, and official categories do not fit him. He can do most things and does some; but to expect him to do a particular thing is rash. Besides being anti-official, he dislikes fighting and Arab clothes, Arab ways, and social functions, civilized or uncivilized. He takes a good deal of trouble about all things but quite a great deal about repelling people whom he attracts, including all sorts and conditions of men and some sorts and conditions of women; but he is beginning to be discouraged by consistent failure, which now and then he does not regret. He has as much interest as faith in himself; but those who share the last are not asked to share the first. He makes fun of others or kings of them, but if anyone tries to make either of him, he runs away. Pushing (not himself) he finds more trouble the unsuspecting body: but if it does not get on as fast as he thinks it should, he pushes it into the gutter and steps to the front. What he thinks is his Law. To think as fast or as far as he thinks is not easy, and still less easy it is to follow up with such swift action. He can be as persuasive as positive; and the tale of those he has hocussed into doing something they never meant to do and are not aware they are doing, is long. It is better to be his partner than his opponent, for when he is not bluffing, he has a way of holding the aces: and he can be ruthless, caring little what eggs he breaks to make his omelettes and ignoring responsibility either for the shells or for the digestion of the mess. Altogether a force felt by many but not yet fully gauged either by others or by himself. He should go far; but it may be driving lonely furrows where at present few expect him to plough.”

From William Rothenstein, Twenty-four Portraits, Allen and Unwin, London, 1920.