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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

Reference code
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper
Cumberbatch, Henry Alfred

38.963745, 35.243322

Sat 27. [27 May 1905] Set off at 8.30 to go to Izzet. On the way I met
Najib, his secretary. I don't know whether he intended to stop me, but
at any rate it was too late and I went on. Izzet lives in a little house in a
street in Beshiktash. I rang and the door was a quarter opened. I
asked for someone who cd talk Arabic and a negro boy was brought.
I explained my visit and gave my card and was admitted to a tiny
gloomy room furnished with a cheap European sofa, a table and
some chairs and with 4 bad prints on the wall. No carpet. Presently I
was taken through a gloomy writing room with 2 big desks into a hall
and upstairs into a little room furnished in white and gold imitation
Empire very bad of its kind. There was a huge vase of artificial
flowers in one corner, a cabinet in the other containing malachite
things and other odds and ends and a white and gold table in the
middle with a huge malachite inkstand and the 2 most hideous
imitation Sevres pots I have ever seen. A big photograph of Izzet on
the wall. Presently there came in pretty little lady dressed in white
muslin with pink tassels. She was a Damascene and we talked
Arabic all the time she laughing, half in surprise and half I suspect at
me. Then came in Najib and finally Izzet himself with the little lady
back again - she had gone up to tell him about me, a "friend of the
family" said Najib! Izzet is a small man rather bowed and thin, his
face like his master's deeply lined and with the same anxious watchful
expression. Nervous too, I shd say; he handed his cigarette case to
Najib to have it filled and directly he brought it back began to smoke.
He does not look as if his post was a restful one. He sat carefully with
his back to the light. He was most friendly and said he hoped this wd
be the beginning of a long friendship between us. I replied in suitable
terms! I also told him I understood he was a relation of Harun er
Rashid's which he admitted. As a matter of fact he isn't. The Khalife
married a Mawali, but Hula Pasha, Izzet's father, though he claimed to
be of the Mawali was really of the 'Abid the slaves of the great tribe,
and they will not of course admit the claim to relationship. Izzet is the
5th from nomad life. Then came in 2 Turkish admirals, one of whom
talked English very well, but in a great hurry as if he feared he might
forget before he came to the end of the sentence. The other talked
English too and had been to London. They talked Turkish to Izzet
and I seemed to be getting no further good out of the visit so I rose
and took my leave. One of the Admirals said "Goodbye Miss. I
respect you." There was a man with a wall eye who from his
resemblance to Izzet is I shd think his brother from Damascus
[Dimashq (Esh Sham, Damas)]. Before I left Izzet took me into the
opposite room which he had had decorated in the Syrian style by a
Damascene - very bad coarse work, ugly European furniture in it, a
big photograph of Hula Pasha and a picture of Izzet worked in silk - it
was done in the Lebanon. So I left, very warmly pressed to stay
longer by Najib. Miss Ogilvy came to see me - impertinent woman. I
had to go down to the consulate to see about my passport; Saw Mr
Cumberbatch, Mr Eyres, a man with rather a bitter face who has been
30 years in Turkey. I had some talk with him. He used to be Consul in
Damascus. He gave me bad news of Mr Richards which I was sorry
to hear. So across to Stambul - it was raining but it presently cleared.
Went by Kaik to Phanar where I found a Greek who proved to be the
kavass of the Patriarch. He put himself at my service however and
took me to St Mary Monchliotissa (Kan Jamisi) which is interesting
chiefly as being the only one of the old churches that I have yet seen
that remains Xian. It is just under the great red brick Greek schools
and the whole quarter is Greek. It must have been pulled about and
rebuilt I think for it is any shape. So up to the Fethiyeh, St Mary
Pammakaristos which has a very beautiful S bit built on later I shd
think with a tiny mosaic dome in it (X's head in the middle and the 12
apostle's below, it is pomegranate shape, made[?] in valves[?]) and
outside a most lovely arrangement of little columns and niches. It
must have been pulled about horribly. The present apse is wedge
shaped. Fine view. Then past the Sultan Mahmet to the Eski Imaret
Jamisi, St Saviour Pantipoptes, with a double narthex, good
mouldings on the doors and the pretty arrangement of apses I noticed
in St Theodore Tyrone. The man here refused to take a tip. My next
mosque was St Mary Panachrantos, Fenari Isa Jamisi, but my man
did not know the way and when I realized where we were going - I was
busy eating biscuits - we were near the Kahriyeh. So I protested and
we fetched round an immense circle and then begun to retrace our
steps. We had been walking near an hour and I knew we were going
wrong still so I tipped my man and left him, taking a side street myself
which shortly brought me to the Et Meidan and the church. It is the
double church, but beyond its shape it seemed to me to be of
singularly little interest. There was however a Mektab attached and
forlornly asking the Muallim whether he talked Arabic I found him to be
from Baghdad! So we made friends and he set me on my way and I
got down to the tram and came home, getting in at 4 and eating
cherries by the way. Wrote letters and left them at the Embassy and
Mrs Blocks. At 6.30 Mr Clulow came and insisted on accompanying
me to the station. It was just as well he did for there was an awful
crowd. I had forgotten that my luggage wd be opened and was in
agony for my Antioch [Antakya (Hatay)] head. The good Clulow
offered the man 2 cherciks[?] not to open it - he indignantly refused but
accepted a mejideh without a murmur and we got through
unexamined. Then came the long business of paying for it - finally I
had to show up my passport. By this time it was 5 minutes to train time
and I was in a dreadful hurry. They boggled[?] dreadfully over[?] my
name: Qu'est que c'est Áa Gertrude?" I replied impatiently "C'est un
nom comme Josef." "Ah Josef!" said they much relieved and I
believe I left Turkey under the alias of Josef Bell. When I saw my
luggage in the carriage a gun case and saddle bags I thought I really
must be Josef after all!

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