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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

Reference code
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper
Littmann, Enno

33.5138073, 36.2765279

Wed March 1 [1 March 1905] Cloudy at first, very cold. I went out
early with Mikhail - no it was fine and I went at 10 with Salim Beg to the
house of Mir Ali Pasha Abdul Kadir. We called on Muhammad Pasha
Jerudi on the way, but he was out. The Mirs have a whole quarter of
the town. 'Abd ul Kadir built this house and it is consequently[?] not
rich in decoration though very charming in shape and arrangement.
The usual court with bahra and oranges. Mir Ali was in Beirut
[Beyrouth]. He is the eldest and cleverest of the sons and he is
married to a sister of Izzet Pasha's which gives him a great influence.
We saw prints and photographs of 'Abdul Kadir - always in his white
Algerian robes. One represents him descending the steps at
Versailles with Nap III. Prints too of his soldiery, cavalry and infantry.
Also his arms, one enormously long gun, and the sword Nap III gave
him, decorated with jewels. Also 3 or 4 silver mounted swords which
came last year from Ibn er Rashid with whom the family have a
traditional friendship. Then to the stables. We crossed the stream at
the back of the house by a bridge and got into a garden full of violets.
Mir Ali has a couple of most lovely mares. His stables are large and
airy. We were shown round by a most respectable Major Dono[?].
There was also one in a agal who is a Xian and is being persecuted
to change his religion. He has taken refuge in the Mir's house. It was
in this house that all the Xians were given asylum during the
massacres of '60. We lunched in the Suk at an excellent restaurant -
Dimitri I think - pillau, leben, meats, vegetables stewed in oil, cream
cheese with a sort of sweet custard on it, all delicious. Near the hotel
we met Mir 'Abdullah who had just been to call. We took him back
and I had a very interesting conversation about Ibn Rashid. He says I
cd go in with one of them perfectly[?]. He seems to think the war is
over. The native newspapers say that Ibn Sa'oud has sent polite
telegrams to the Sultan asking him why he should support Ibn er
Rashid for that he himself is the faithful friend of the Khalifa of the
Faithful and that the Sultan is going to ..... Ibn er Rashid. We talked of
Abdul Aziz and of the Druzes and all the politics of thereabouts.
Abdulla is the most intelligent after 'Ali and a delightful person. He
has on his card Abdullah, du poins Abdul Kadir. Then came Mr Butler
and Dr Littmann, then Asadi bearing the cards he had written for me,
and then the Vali with Nicolai Adami in attendance, directeur adjoint
politique du vilayet de Syrie - he talks excellent English. They left
about 4.30. The Vali, Nazim Pasha, is a well mannered anxious
nervous sort of man - no wonder, he stands between intriguing C'ple
[Istanbul (Constantinople)] and an unruly population of Druzes and
Bedouin. He has been in Damascus [Dimashq (Esh Sham, Damas)]
8 years, kept on partly because he is too important a person to be
allowed to live in C'ple and partly because the Haj [Hajj] railway was
begun by him and he knows about it. He is enlightened and well
meaning and has not known how to gain the affection of Damascus, if
indeed that is possible, clean handed and straight. We then drove off
up the Barada valley and called on the Mir Omar. We found him in his
garden in a dressing gown, embroidered smoking cap and slippers.
This was a property of 'Abdul Kadir's and he died here but the house
was recently burnt down and Omar has rebuilt it. He is a mighty hunter
- his pointer walks freely about the house. There were plants in pots
everywhere - as indeed in all their houses. We went up to a pavilion
on the roof where hyacinths were growing in pots and watched the sun
set on the snowy hills and talked of Nejd [Najd]. 'Abdullah thought it
wd be easier from Jerusalem [(El Quds esh Sherif, Yerushalayim)] but
Omar thinks we cd slip out from Karyatein [Al Qaryatayn]. He thinks it
would cost £1000. Dussaud means to go - I must hurry up! So home
at dusk. I still have a violent cold in the head which gets worse by day
and goes at night.

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