Letters

2 March 1900

From/To: Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Dame Florence Bell

Friday 2. [2 March 1900] Today came the joyful news of the relief of Ladysmith. Mr Dunn told me - blessed be the fate of the bringers of good tidings. Dr R. is very glum over it. I was pleased to be able to tell him that we had captured a lot of Germans with Cronje's force. May their dwelling be destroyed! as we say in Arabic. All foreigners take the view of "hit a fellow your own size." I should like to see them fight a skilful foe in his own difficult country, 3 weeks' sea journey from their base. Roberts and Kitchener have done marvels and I fancy we have found a very able general in French. And then these people talk, not one of whose soldiers or generals has ever been under fire. It has been a delicious day - the tourists have gone and peace reigns in the hotel. I planted a lot of new plants in the Consulate garden and then rode my horse round by Bethany ['Eizariya] and the Mount of Olives. He was charmed to be out and as for me, I could have stood rain and a lame beast after the news I had just heard. I then took out one of the Rosens' horses, who had been ill and in the stable for 3 weeks so that he wasn't to be trusted to a kavass, and rode him for an hour and met some fellaheen who gave me lovely trails of white clematis - nice people, they are! - and then I came in to my lesson, well pleased. The Arabs are delighted at the war news - all their sympathies are with us, a feeling which is much enhanced by the spreading of German influence in the Levant. They one and all hate the Germans - colonists, tourists, there is no exception; and the Emperor's visit did a good deal to strengthen their hatred. The amount of ill feeling he left behind him is almost incredible, but you may begin to understand it when I tell you that he presented all the Mohammidan [sic] officials at the Haram with imitation silver medals stamped with the cross! They look upon it as an insult.



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