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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

Reference code
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper

33.5138073, 36.2765279

Fri. 27. [27 January 1911] Went round the E and N walls with Mr
Hillelson. Starting from Bab {Tuma} esh Sharki. There seems to
have been a straight moulded lintel under both the arches here - the
moulding broken off short under the arches. Good bit of the E wall with
the lower courses of reused big stones, possibly Seleucid. At the end
a fine rectangular Moslem bastion - Mamluk? Thereunder a sort of
outside porch with domes and a Cufic inscription together with another
saying that somebody repaired a building of Khalid al Walid. So to
Bab Tuma, Mamluk, with reused Seleucid stones to the N of it. A very
good piece of wall here. Turning to the N a fine piece of Moslem wall
above a canal. Then the Moslem Bab es Salam. Here the wall turns
inwards and a stream runs under some arches, Roman or Moslem
work, probably Moslem. Photographed it from a cafÈ. Into the town
through Bab es Salam and presently found the Moslem wall again at
Bab el Hadid (or Bab el Amara both names used). But it is here a
little outside the classical wall, for just within it is the great round arch
which Mr H. thinks was a city gate called Bab es Sitt Al'iyeh or Alkiyeh
(probably in that case Seleucid) and within that the Seleucid temenos
gate called Bab ej Jami with a big bit of the Seleucid buttressed wall
to the E of it. N of the Bab el Hadid is the Moslem gate Bab el Farraj.
Bad cold and the weather very cold so I stayed in for the rest of the
day. Mutran Pasha came to call and talked of the difficulty of
populating Syria and therefore the greater difficulty of getting
population for Mesopot. He wants the Euphrates rly before the
irrigation and thinks that the latter can only be done very slowly. He
thinks Austria will give Turkey a loan for the next deficit. Turkey would
not take Egypt as a gift because of the increase to the Arab
population of the empire. Then came Selim with the Mutesarrif of the
Hauran, a nice Turk recently from Yemen which he says is all quiet.
Then Dr Mackinnon. Selim stayed long. He says Parl. govt. is
absurd. What they ought to have is a good body of ministers with a
good Conseil d'Etat of 24 members, 1/3 [one third] appointed by the
Sultan. The Const. ought not to have been granted for 4 or 5 years so
that the people might have had time to travel and see how to do
things. It wd have been less expensive than being a deputy in C'ple
[Istanbul (Constantinople)]. It is now impossible to get anything done
in C'ple. The Valis write ask[?] to be authorized to take action and get
no answer. There is no one to bribe as in the old days, and if they
appeal to one of the deputies of the vilayet the others will all work
against him out of jealousy. Right that the Vali shd no longer have
judicial power but he ought to have much greater administrative
powers. The college of electors for the big Syrian vilayet is 150,
composed of members of municipal bodies and of the administrative
councils of the vilayet - kaimmakamliks, mutesarrifletes[?] and the
vilayet council. Selib has no vote except for these. At the recent
election, at which Asali was elected, he had 28 votes. There were 19
candidates {including} In the first election 2 Xians stood but of
different persuasions and they stood very low in the poll. This time
also some Xians stood. The candidates propose themselves. They
give out no programme, Mr Hillelson tells me. This time one man
published an electoral address in the Muktabas and he only got 2
votes. The candidates represent no party and no one knows what
their views are. The man elected does not represent any majority in
the college because the votes are split between so many. Mr
Hillelson says many of the country voters were still voting for Shukri
who is one of the sitting deputies, but here he is perhaps wrong.
Selim thinks the separate administration of the Lebanon ought to be
given up. The province must now be Ottoman but the powers shd
insist on certain stipulations with regard to taxation and the
appointment of officials. Many Lebanese people now holding high
office in Egypt might well be induced to come back and take part at
the administration of the province. Awful storm.

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