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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

33.8937913, 35.5017767

Sun 31 [31 January 1909] Reached Beyrout [Beyrouth (Beirut)] at 6.
Fattuh and the head kavass met me. Got through the Custom House
without showing my passport and with nothing opened. Went to the
Cumberbatchs. Rain showers, no snow on the lower hills. \n\nNotes
of talk - from Dr Jessop: \n\nthe 2 deputies are Suleiman el Bustani
(Xian) and Mudha es Salh Moslem. The former is a very
distinguished man of letters, a Maronite of the Lebanon half way to
Saida [Sidon]. He has translated the Iliad into Arabic with a very
remarkable preface comparing pre Moham. with French poetry. The
latter is a large landowner native of Saida. His record is not faultless
but it was difficult to find a Moslem with no reproach of bribery. He has
done well. He has already got an order from the Mejlis for the
enlarging of the Custom House, now lamentable insufficient. Bastani
at a banquet in C'ple [Istanbul (Constantinople)] made a speech in
Turkish, Arabic, Greek and French. The elections passed here with
the utmost order and in the best manner. Story of Kiamil as
Mutesserrif of Homs [Hims](?) The treatment of the Nosairiyyeh was
so bad that no Turk cd go into the mts without an escort of 150 men.
On the other hand an American missionary of Lattakiyyeh went in
alone and was always well received. Kiamil represented that Turkish
policy in the mts was wrong and shd be altered. He was ordered from
C'ple to hold his tongue and obey orders. When he was Wali here a
prize tract was published by an English missionary Soc. dealing with
truth, the absence of it among natives and the frequency of bribes.
The Wali said it was contrary to law and must be suppressed. The
reply came but why if it was true. He said it was like the man who
interfellated a one eyed judge thus: Oh one eyed judge I know that t...
can't[?] right the way, oh one eyed judge etc. To which he said: Well if
I am one eyed, I don't wish to be reminded of it. The pamphlet finally
slipped through. \n\nFrom Mr. C: \n\nThe Committee here had been
formed and after the proclamation of the Const. came out into the
open. Later a member of the Salonica [Thessaloniki (Saloniki)]
Committee Col. Saad ed Din and others came and reformed it. The
members were then secret. They still remain to watch sift and report.
If any complaint is to be addressed to them a letter must be sent to the
Committee of Beyrout and posted in the Turkish post. They then look
into the matter, go to the Wali or report to Salonica. A member goes
to the Wali every day at least. When the Const. was proclaimed the
Wali Mehmet Ali fled in terror and took refuge with the English Consul
who was then in the mts. He {sent him} fled to the coast but he was
intercepted and sent to C'ple where he has remained unmolested.
The present Wali, Edhem Pasha, is the 4th since his removal. He
was preceeded by Nazim who is now in Damascus [Dimashq (Esh
Shams, Damas)]. Nazim rather licked the boots of the Com. so
anxious was he to stand well. He was rather suspect because of the
share he took in the Armenian massacres in C'ple at which time he
was {head} prefect of the police. \n\nDruzes of the Hauran: report
says that 10 {regiments} battalions 7-8000 are to be sent from
Damascus to bring them to order. They have been turbulent lately
and the feuds with the Arabs continue. \n\nMesopotamian irregation
[sic]. Already from C'ple people are buying up lands in view of an
increase in Mesop. Za'rifeh the banker. Merchants here are
preparing to do the same and in Cairo people are thinking of it.
Landed proprietors in Syria are now paying personal attention to
these lands rather than use the money to speculate in Cairo.
\n\nPrisoners were not let loose here. The mob asked for it but it {was
refused mainly owing to the representations of Mr C.} but the
Committee refused. The Austrian boycott was held up for nearly a
couple of months as the merchants found it was doing so much harm.
It is now replaced. \n\nMr C. and I went to see the old Blisses (Dr
Howard was away) who are now very old. He was in bed with a cold
but I had a talk with him, mainly about Modern Egypt. Then we went
on to see Dr Jessop who came out with the Blisses I think 54 years
ago. A nice daughter. A dim young man came to dinner. \n\n[Written
at top of page:] Cotton at Haifa - sursoks[?] etc

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