Request a high resolution copy

Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

Reference code
Gertrude Bell
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper

Mon 26. [26 January 1903] Pouring rain, but it cleared about 11 and
we drove down to see the Afghan Mission. Went into the schools
which were empty owing to the rain, but saw Mr Hoare teaching a
college class English. They teach Sanscrit and Arabic here. The
other languages of the place are Urdu, Pushtu, Punjabi, Persian and
Cashmiri! On to the hospital where we introduced ourselves to Mr
Waldegrave and then to Dr Lankester the younger of 2 Dr brothers -
an earnest religious enthusiast whose real purpose is conversion.
He says it's uphill work and pointed out a Pathan boy "who is an
Inquirer. He is quite ready to relinquish Islam." He said "I wdn't have
left home only for the medical work. I came to spread the name of the
Master." He had a gentle and noble face, we discussed conversion
a little. We went onto the roof and I saw the mud and filth of the great
caravanserais washed up against the walls of the tidy hospital courts.
He said the city was indescribably wicked. One is given pause at
these things for after all in what other faith do you find men of this kind?
The fairy story is a necessity I believe. The hospital admirable, like
a clean caravanserai; they don't try to make it too European. The
people come in whole families at a time and are lodged in separate
rooms. Some women even. They come from the depths of
Afghanistan. The Hindus feed themselves. So on to the Duchess of
Connaught's hospital, a nice clean place, where I did not,
unfortunately, see the ladies. An Armenian girl (from Kabul) showed
me over. Went in to the big mosque on my way back. The Grants
came to see us after lunch. At 4.30 to the Waldegraves. She is a
charming woman. There was also a very nice sister of his who is in
the Soldiers' Home, and Lady Carbery, dullish. On to the Grants -
charming. He told tales. The Afridi country is more under us than
under the Amir, the tribes being subsedised [sic] by us and we
practically are responsible for their quiet. Kohat road is therefore
Afridi. There are 2 factories in that valley, one of guns, good in all but
the sights, and one of false rupees! If they raided Afghanistan the
Amir wd appeal to us to stop them. Mrs G. is Mrs Hanmer's sister.
Dined with the Waldegraves. She said the Anglo Indian society is
awful. All the women deteriorate - they go every afternoon and gossip
at the Club. He told these tales: Dr Penner [i.e. Pennell] of Bann has a
wonderful hold on the Waziri people. A man came in with a bullet in
his leg, placed there by an uncle, and asked to have it extracted: "I
suppose" he said "I shall have your uncle in next, with your bullet in
his leg?" "No, no! Sahib. I am a better shot than my uncle." In our last
frontier fight (Terah [Tirah]?) one tribe absolutely refused to come in
when all the others had made terms. What brought them in was the
threat that they wd not be allowed to inlist [sic] in the Khyber Rifles! A
man from Kabul arrived here went to the hospital and said he had 55
rupees inside him which he had swallowed in order not to pay dues or
to be robbed and would they cut them out as he wanted the money to
get to Calcutta. They said he wd probably die, but he insisted. The
operation was done and 55 rupees extracted an hour after which he
drank at one gulp a glass of milk which ought to have been given in
sips, and then recovered. At the end he accused the Dr of having
subtracted 3 rupees, saying he had certainly swallowed 58. As to
knifing tales: the Col. of the Hampshire was shot 2 years ago on the
polo ground by one who came out to shoot the Governor - or
whatever he was then. The Hampshires determined to go into the
town at night and kill every soul there but were fortunately stopped in
time - there wd have been a most unholy row. They caught and
hanged a man, but not the right one. Two Englishmen were stabbed
at the station some 3 years ago. Mr Grant says the weekly butcher's
bill on the Khyber - amongst Afridis - has been known to reach 40 well
known men. He says things are much easier since the establishment
of the Frontier Province. The Punjab were quite unbiassed, but quite
ignorant of frontier matters and with the best will in the world couldn't
decide. Now all decisions, practically, are taken by Col. Deane, who
is the greatest Frontier expert. Much agitated by finding that Muni has
stolen 50 rupees.

Reproduction Conditions
To obtain high resolution copies of any of these images and details of reproduction fees please contact us
IIIF Manifest