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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper
Turkey » İzmir

38.423734, 27.142826

Cumberbatch, Henry Alfred
Whittall, Edward

Sun 7. [7 April 1907] Grey, warm, some rain. Went off at 12.15 to
Burnabat [Bornova]. Elsie W. met me at the station and took me to
her house - the Edward Whittalls. Lunched and spent the afternoon
there. Mr E.W. said that Turkey was getting poorer and poorer. 20
years ago the officials used to be paid, now they are not. Formerly
the taxes used to be collected very mercifully; when a man couldn't
pay he was allowed to get many years into arrears. Now every
penny of these arrears had been squeezed out of the people and
they were paying taxes for 2 years ahead. The Palace takes 5 million
a year instead of the former 1 million; this is to pay for spies and the
palace guard. £40,000 goes from Smyrna [Izmir] vilayet every week
for the palace. The result is almost nothing is left for the working of the
vilayet. He thinks the end must be near. Possibly the govt. will
provoke a movement against the Xians in which case Europe must
intervene. He said the action in Macedonia cd never produce an
effect as long as the Turks were allowed to carry out the decisions of
the Powers. He thinks if Macedonia were granted autonomy the
difference bet. the native Xians would soon settle themselves. He
hopes the next Sultan will not be allowed to ascend the throne without
the promise of some sort of a constitution. He hopes Kiamil Pasha
may be the man to administer it if he is not too old. The Sultan's
health is very shaky. The eldest son is a drunken madman; the next
Burhan ed Din is the Sultan's choice. Reshad is the present Sultan's
younger brother. We went out in the rain to see the garden. He grows
quantities of bulbs for England, propagating them here[?], either
foreign or native. A beautiful pale double daffodil was in flower and
three tulips, saxatile (pale pink) gesnaria (a tall red one with black
marks inside) and elurium, (I think, a red and white with a very pointed
flower). Had tea and then went on to the Richard Whittalls where I
found Mrs van Heemstra. Mr Cumberbatch was calling. Stayed there
to dinner. Dick Whittall showed me photographs of a lovely Greek
statuette found at Cnidus - looked like 4th cent. It is now at the Brit.
Mus. He wants £600 for it and they offer him £250. He considers
Cnidus one of the most promising sites. He has a collection of
pottery, ancient and modern and various odds and ends. Drove
home in the rain, an hour's drive. Mr E.W. says a great change has
come over the attitude of the Turks with regard to the Sultan. 'Abdul
Aziz stayed with his grandfather and after the visit the Turks flocked to
kiss the place where he had stood and slept. Now they openly curse
him, to a European not to one another because they fear spies.
During the recent occupation of Mytilene [Mitilini] some peasants
asked him what was happening. He said it was to get justice for
Macedonia. "Why don't they try to get justice for us" they said " we
are suffering as much." He thinks the only possible salvation is the
education of the women - if it is not too late. It is beginning. He now
sees Turks driving about with their wives which wd have been
unheard of before. Also some of the women see were unveiled.

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