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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

Reference code
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper
Rice, Cecil Spring
Rice, Florence Spring
Syria ยป Aleppo

36.2021047, 37.1342603

Sat. Feb. 13. [13 February 1909] Wrote letters and out to the bank at
10 where Jusef joined me. We went to see an old church that Sakkar
had told me about, near the Khan Wazir - it is now a basmaji, dye
place. The work is Arab. A centralized building with a dome over the
middle but no columns. The dome had fallen, it had been set on
stalactite pendentives. The apse was a square, deep livan with large
chambers on either side. To the left the dome was standing, brick on
pendentives. I doubt whether it was not a mosque but had no
compass with me to determine the orientation. So to the fort and to the
Abp Kadi whom I found in his room with a cold. He told me how his
people came to him for everything, complaints, difficulties, misdeeds;
he had their complete confidence and they told him what they told no
one. It was very difficult to give them an enlightened view of religion:
they are so fanatical. He tries to show them that a good Moslem will
go to heaven whereas a bad Xian won't. If he attempts to prove to
them that every small event is not a miracle from Heaven, they
immediately conclude that the miracles in the Bible are not to be
believed. (Here they show more logic than the Abp would have
admitted!) When he enters a house it is the custom that he shd
sprinkle holy water; this they regard with a superstitious reverence that
is perfectly preposterous. But with the poor people he cannot dare to
point out that the benefits they attach to the ceremony are not given it
on the authority of any known scripture: they wd instantly lose faith in
all other rites. He told me a curious story of a woman of his
congregation in Paris who had a dangerous and successful
operation. She insisted on regarding it as a miracle of the Virgin's, to
the immense annoyance of her doctor, and was only dissuaded from
publishing the account of the said miracle by the Abp's finally
convincing her that it wd give unbelievers reason to mock. He says
the iconostasis does not occur before the 8th c but the sanctuary was
marked off much earlier by low stone or wooden slabs. He supposes
the Greek church took this from the Jews. Lunched with Mme Koch
and afterwards rode to 'Ain Tell on my new mare accompanied by
Jusef. On a mill there, I saw 2 Mamluk lions over the door, and inside
there was a fine basalt door. All these had been dug out of the tell.
Some Xians were engaged in dying [sic] at the Spring. One cheerful
person said that if the Constitution had been worth anything the poor
wd not have to work like that. I said At least you have your
namusiyyeh[?] cheaper and he admitted that that was something. So
to tea with the Christies. He told me the Jews had been settled here
since the time of the Maccabees. There is an old synagogue which
contains a Hebrew bible, written (I think written) by Maimonides in the
13th c - a very important text. So to Mrs Koch's where I met M. Henrich.
An English Colonel has arrived here. His name is Bailward and he
had stayed with the Spring Rices at Tehran [(Teheran)]. He is deaf
and not very enlightened.

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