Letters

2 November 1917

From/To: Gertrude Bell to her father, Sir Hugh Bell

[2 November 1917] Baghdad Nov 2 Dearest Father. The post was liberal this week and brought me Mother's letters of Sep 12 and 20 and yours of Aug 29 and Sep 16. Also Mother's French book which I think excellent and most ingenious. You sent me a lot of interesting pieces which I read with much satisfaction and agreement. Your letter to Mr Howe is quite delightful. I always feel when I read your works such an admiration for your style as well as your matter. It's so lucid and so pointed, so entirely unstrained. It is just you talking, but with the little touch of ordered sequence that is needed to turn talk into writing. Bless you, darling Father. I hand on some of your works to Sir Percy who reads them with grave attention, not unmixed with surprize [sic]. It's all new to him. Bain sent me the soul of a Bp and I was vastly entertained to find "people who visit the Bells" set down as typical of a class of society. Impertinent dog, all the same. I'm glad it isn't a class he Bellongs to.

For my part, I'm quite well. I've even taken to riding again of an early morning, with great profit to my health and spirits. It's ideal now at that hour. The sting has gone out of the sun which has become a cheerful and companionable luminary. Samarra is off for the present. General Cobbe is chasing Turks, and with success. We're chasing them everywhere, east and west. If only we could knock out Turkey as a set off to the Italian disaster - of which we don't yet know the suite et fin. I don't think it's impossible that we may be able to effect something of the kind this winter but it looks as if the big blow would be in Syria, not here. So far they haven't shown much inclination to wait and be struck here, but I don't know enough about it to make guesses worth having.

Nearly all my friends have gone away. Major Generals and Brigadiers are out making war, Captain Balfour has an interesting job in the provinces, Mr Philby a more interesting mission still further away. But I dined this week with my colleagues of the Revenue Office and spent a very pleasant evening on their balcony overlooking the Tigris. We have now got a Judicial Officer, Mr Bonham Carter from the Sudan brother of Bongy and singularly unlike him. He is a polite and formal person, just a trifle desiccated, but from what I've seen of him I should think he knows particularly well what he's about. A highly trained man with a very level head is just what we want and I do welcome him sincerely. I've a feeling that we are all apt to be rather ragged at the edges, but he is carefully hemmed the whole way round. And I like having these Egyptians - Sudanese, rather. Captain Balfour is another and there's also a third, Mr Nalder. They bring a new atmosphere and a fresh point of view which is very good for us. New ideas too.

Yes, of course I agree with you about orders and decorations, new and old as well. They mean so very little and I never can manage to remember who has got them and who hasn't. I'm not likely to think more of mine than of other peoples'. One judges the man by the work one knows he has done and the special laBell which has been affixed doesn't make the least difference. Frequently it's tosh. I'll tell you the person out here who has been worth his weight in gold, the consulting physician, Col. Wilcox [i.e. Willcox] - he got a C.B. by the way, and well deserved it. I don't think there's any one man to whom so many people in the Force have reason to be grateful and are grateful. He is as indefatigable as he is wise. He is the sort of busy man who has infinite leisure for everyone who needs him, and he has acquired a sound understanding of the country as well; there is no one whose advice I would rather have if we ever come to the making of a big medical scheme after the war. But there! we shan't get him. He has a wife and children at home.

Tell Mother the shirts have come and are just what I want. I still hope for the green silk vàtement specially as it has some nice silver buttons on it which Maurice and I used to wear when we were babies and dressed alike. If I had remembered I wouldn't have risked them on seas of war. But perhaps they'll swim through.

Nothing seems to have happened lately. That's why I write all about nothing. I'm deeply interested in what you say about Sir E. Geddes. I wonder if he'll swim through like the buttons. Tell me more. Your very affectionate daughter Gertrude.

Everyone writes in the same key about the Govt. but Lord! who else is there? Give Domnul news of me, I haven't written to him being pressed for time and short of matter.

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