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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Gertrude Bell
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1 entry, paper

Sun 4. [4 January 1903] I drove up to see Lady A. [Arthur] whom I
found still in bed. Gilbert and Flora were there. I arranged that G. shd
come with us on Monday and F. lent me her saddle. Saw Major D.S.
and made all the arrangements. Had a vain search for Miss Gurney
and Mrs Hailey and gave it up in despair. Home and changed and
went to see Sibyl who is ill with a cold. After lunch drove[?] to the
Ajmer Gate and attended a Muhammadan Conference. Walked up
out the platform and sat by Mr Morison who is a charming person and
interpreted for me a dull speech in Urdu. He told me there had been
an interesting speech the day before d...... fanaticism. Presently
came in the Agha Khan, Lord Pembroke and Sir M. Hicks Beach and
things brightened up. Mr M. introduced me to [space left blank] {the
Secretary of the College} with whom I talked in Arabic. The Secretary
of the College, a delightful old man, made an excellent speech in
Urdu much mixed with Persian and Arabic of which I understood most.
The Conference was about turning the College into a University. Mr
M told me that it had recently been decided at the Conference at
Calcutta to leave Sanscrit and Arabic out of the Curriculum. This
seems a great pity as either is an education in itself and far more
comprehensible to the students than ours. They learn Caesar by
wrote and Mr Landon told me of a boy who translated a passage from
the Gallic Wars quite correctly except that he began with the sentence
before and finished a sentence too early! He had learnt text and
translation by heart and understood neither - just as little as they
understand the Excursion. On the other hand Arthur told me that the
Sanscrit College at Benares [Varanasi] is a great failure and the
hotbed of sedition. Lord P. made a fair speech and Sir M.H.B. an
excellent one saying he spoke to them as Lord P. and Lord Kitchener
(he had been there the day before) cd not, as a graduate of an
English University. He said that the East had once been in the
forefront of learning and he hoped it wd return there and in the name of
the University of Oxford he wished them God Speed. Then they went
and I talked a little to the Agha Khan and went too - which I afterwards
regretted as I heard he spoke. Met H. [Hugo] at the massed bands
and talked to Spencer Lyttleton, after which we called on the Baileys
(Central India) and did not find them, and so home. Dined with the
Martindales, Rajputana [Rajasthan], and met the Oliviers, Dunlop
Smiths, Whittakers, Col. Loch, the Pinkeys etc. Sat by Col. Olivier and
enjoyed my dinner immensely. We talked of Oriental secretiveness
which he says is due to centuries of precarious existence and
oppression. I told him my Babi experience in Bombay and he told me
how Pinkey had once been asked how his Raja, Oudeypoor
[Udaipur], had enjoyed a function and had answered "Who can
possibly tell when he is pleased and when he isn't." Col. Olivier told
me of Jaypor [Jaipur] talking to one at the F.O. party and his priceless
necklace of pearls broke and the pearls rolled all over the floor. He
finished his talk without moving a hair. They have such extraordinary
self control. After dinner talked to Col. Loch who has been for 15
years head of the Ajmere [Ajmer] Rajput College. He has just left. He
deplores the breaking down of caste, saying we take away their
social and moral[?] code and give them no other. He strictly
observed all caste rules in the college, rules as to food, but he himself
might go into the boys' kitchens without making the food impure. They
call him Guru and confide in him. He stopped some of the water rules
which were too tiresome. He hates the Cadet Corps, says the ruling
Raja kings[?] ought to be learning to rule from their Residents instead
of fainting[?] about in front of the Viceroy's carriage, also that Col.
Watson has not got the confidence of the boys, e.g. one Bikaner boy
who was hereditary leader of the camel corps, begged with tears in
his eyes to go to Somali Land with the 200 volunteers and was
refused because he was wanted for the Durbar Shows. He was
miserable about it and came and told Col. Loch. Arthur tells me that,
good or bad, they say the Cadet Corps is soon coming to an end.
Got home at 12. [Written at top of fourth page of entry:] Speak the
Truth, Believe in Vedas, Industrious Shop at the Aryan Camp We had
chirping squirrels on our tent roofs.

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