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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Gertrude Bell
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1 entry, paper

Fri 2. [2 January 1903] Went to the Arts Exhibition in the morning.
There are most wonderful stuffs - cloth of gold and gold embroideries
and Cashmere [Jammu and Kashmir] patterns - a fairy tale. And
exquisite carpets also. The silver not so good I thought, but the
jewels past belief. One string of pearls the size of a thrush's egg and
a necklace of pearls and diamonds in great strings which were worth
many lakh. Twice there have been rushes of natives to steal them
and one organised body of thieves came out from Europe with all the
latest improvements in thieving instruments. At 12 we drove up to
Patiala's camp, picking up Oliver on our way. We had a 6 miles'
drive, crossing the Grand Trunk Road. It was delightful up there, trees
and jungles of reeds and a big canal and all the native camps. There
seems to have been a bad slump in booths - up there there are rows
and rows of them untenanted by shopkeepers - just as there are
many homes in the town unlet. On the other hand, an American is said
to have paid 30,000 rupees for a bungalow. Patiala's camp most gay
with coloured lamps edging formal garden beds. Found Lady Arthur
in bed with bronchitis, poor dear. We went through to Patiala's Durbar
Tent where we found the others inspecting the Raja's jewels. He has
the Empress Eugenie's famous diamonds and some most lovely
strings of pearls and emeralds one with pearshaped pearl drops
which must be priceless as the pearls are very well matched and of a
good colour. The coat he wore yesterday is of blue velvet
embroidered with deep bands of pearls, some of them quite large.
There is a fine throne of silver, supported by leopards, native work,
and some beautiful old pictures like miniatures. He is a boy and
succeeded 18 months ago to a spendthrift father who left the state
heavily in debt. Mr Biddulph, the financial advisor, told me he had .......
..... the state. Behind the Durbar Tent are the Raja's private tents set
round a charming green garden with cress for grass and all
decorated with coloured lights. Mr B. told me this installation cost
£20,000. I said "Do you like being run[?] in for all this?" He answered
"I don't suppose anyone who is trying to bring a bankrupt state back
into solvency likes the Durbar" and added indignantly "And it's all
money spent outside the country too!" ie in Delhi. There is no such
place as India! We then saw the elephant trappings, magnificent
velvet inlaid with silver gilt in a very good[?] pattern, all Patiala work,
and Mr B. said they take it and toss it about in the dust. The ankas
charmingly inlaid with turquoises. I photographed the elephants' hut
after it had been put together with some difficulty - everything is tied up
with bits of string. The state howdah of gold and silver is so heavy
that it had to be carried down in a cart to the starting point of the
procession and put on the elephant's back at the last possible
moment. We walked across a field and found the elephants standing
by some palm trees of which they had supplemented the shade by
putting some dust and straw on their heads and backs. The state
elephant has a false tusk! it was out at the time. They stick lamps into
the tusks. We saw him do the torch exercise but without the torches in
the iron bar, and also they made the elephants salaam by lifting up
their trunks. There was a darling baby elephant. The Russells said
that the first night they had been much disturbed by mewing and Lady
A. had gone to her tent door in the middle of the night and called
"Puss, puss!" it was the elephants. The elephants cost about £4 a
month a piece to keep. At lunch I sat between Major Dunlop Smith,
the Resident, and Gilbert. Major D.S. is most charming - his sister
keeps house for him, a nice woman. He told me many tales and said
he was bringing up his little Raja like an Englishman and keeping
every bad influence from him, but he is very Sikh, too Sikh he thinks.
He evidently loves him and is most proud of him. He said that when
he make[?] search in the treasury he found priceless things, old
Jaipur enamel and MSS all stuffed away in tin boxes and bits of rag.
Also armour - they have the coat of mail of every Raja of Patiala - that
only goes back to the 17th cent of course. He is arranging and
cataloguing. There are lovely women's jewels of Indian work. He
told me this tale: old Nabha was to have gone to the Coronation and
all who went were to take a gift with them - the others were not to send
presents. Major DS said "Well how much do you want to give?"
"About 1/2 a lakh" said the Raja. "That's no good" said Major DS
"let me go into your jewel house and find something". So in he went
and rummaged round and in a neglected corner he found a ruby 11/2
inches long with the seals of Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jehan on it.
He said "This is the thing" Nabha and his wazur looked out of the
corners of their eyes and said "That is such a little thing." "Not at all!
not at all! this is what the king would like." So it was agreed. Then
Nabha fell sick and was like to die and cd not go to London: so he
wrote to Major DS and said "Let me send my present." So Major DS
replied "You write a letter and I'll send it." Nabha wrote and said how
he had meant to come and how the hand of God had fallen on him
and how on looking through his jewel house he had found a jewel
which belonged not to him, but to the Emperor of India and he wished
to restore it to its rightful owner. The king was delighted and insisted
on knowing its history. Major DS after much search found that when
the 3 Sikh kings sacked Delhi in the 18th century, this had been part of
the loot. Lady Carew's ruby also has Akbar's seal on it. We talked of
horses and of the great English failure to cross breed with Arabs in
order to raise the height. They got a horse like a small cart horse but
with bones so brittle that they broke at a touch. He said that you cd
scarcely get a good Kathiawar mare now because the dealers had
got it into their heads that the govt didn't like pure breeds. It seems
rather a mistake to have raised the regulation height for polo poneys
[sic], though it's not as high as in England - 14.3 I think here. The small
poneys are every bit as good and the added height makes them
more expensive (as it is the English mare is badly handicapped by
the fact that the Raja pays any sum for his ponys) and the army has
more difficulty in getting horses as they are taken for polo. The
magnificent horse Pertab Singh was riding at the Derbar was a
Kathiwar - a picture of an oriental horse, curving neck, outstretched
tail, high stepping, almost mincing tread. We went on to Kashmir to
call on the Colvins and found her, a very pleasant woman. We then
went to polo and saw Alwar beat the Imp. Cadets, a splendid game
but a walkover for Alwar. The Maharaja was incredibly well mounted
on poneys that played the game as well as he did. Walked round
and talked to Gilbert, Col. Olivier and Lord Dartrey with whom I sat
some time. We went to tea with Lady Barnes and found her a
charming woman. Sir Hugh also came in - he seems a dear. It was
he who arranged the whole Durbar show. Met Sir Walter Laurence
outside his tent who sent me home in his carriage - we had sent away
ours and Mr Bassett took us up to the Barneses. H. [Hugo] decided
not to go to the fireworks so I took Mr Schuster and his valet, Bary[?].
"Your are the only woman I wd go with because you are not afraid"
said Mr S. I thought the real proof of bravery was going with him! We
got [to] the mosque without trouble. Everything lighted with rows and
rows of oil lamps like Roman lamps. They gave a most charming
warm yellow light. The whole Fort and Mosque outlined with them,
which made visible the great breadth of the square - the square which
was cleared during the Mutiny. We sat on the roof of the gallery with
Mr Pemberton. When the great bouquets of rockets went up you
could see the whole immense place packed with people. Mrs Tyler
told me that this was the show the people enjoyed. One native said
"We have never seen anything like it and one said some[?] will not
see the like." Arthur told me that we were very near a row that night.
The Mahommadans were furious because on the day of the Entry the
Viceroy's guests had left bits of ham sandwiches about on the
mosques and they had arranged to stone the escorts - the Viceroy's
escort actually was stoned that night. In the evening all the escorts
received sealed orders to come fully armed which they did. It was a
very near thing but no one knew anything about it. We got in at 1 A.M.
and had some supper. [Written at top of ninth page of entry:] We
nearly had a big row this night. Islam was offended at the Viceroy's
guests' ham sandwiches on the Entry day and resolved to stone the
escorts. Ld. C. [Curzon] sent round sealed orders directly that the
escorts shd be fully armed.

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