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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Gertrude Bell
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Thurs 18. [18 May 1905] Very hot again, a real scirrocco [sic] day.
Sold a horse, the grey, for £T8 - at least Fattuh sold it for me. Then
drove out to photograph the Sirchale and to the Kara Tai to copy an
inscription over the door of the saint's tomb: "[Arabic characters]", the
rest in Turkish "The soul of a weli is profitable in this world and the
next: Say not "He is dead, or what profit is he more." The soul is
God's sword the body but the sheath: better serves the weapon when
it gleams forth bare. Spent all my spare .... drawing out churches to
scale for Prof R. and fininshed about 3 in the afternoon. Fattuh has
fever poor dear, the result I think of the blow he gave his head at
DaoulÈ. To the consulate where I found the Armenian dragoman and
his wife. When they went we walked through the garden into Fraulein
Gerber's big garden and had tea there under her apricots. A
delicious place free from dust and heat. She only pays a mej a year
for her water. All the water is bought in Konia [Konya (Iconium)] and no
one is allowed to have pipes and taps in his house lest he shd use
too much. The water from springs in Konia is all brackish with salt
petre. Back to the hotel and settled up with Fattuh to whom I gave
31/2 naps bakhshish. Then had a little talk with Ramsay who insisted
on the necessity of an Eng consul saying that the native vice ........ was
less than no good and it was going to be an important place. He also
said that Hampson had been no good at all. I fancy this was because
he was so desperately in love with the wife of a Russian from whom
he had been parted. So to dinner with the Loytveds. We dined on
their balcony, most delicious, with Konia all mysterious under the
moon - the mosque domes and the ruined citadel tower and the
double paeks[?] beyond. Loytved talked much of German enterprize
and said it was all talk and nothing was done. Germany counted not
at all in Asia Minor. The line was not even German in name, it was
Ottoman. The language talked on it was French, of the officials he did
not think there were 10 Germans from C'ple [Istanbul (Constantinople)]
to Konia - there are a few on the Angora [Ankara (Ancyra)] branch -
and the present director is Huguenin a French Swiss. He says
Germans have no enterprize, they dare not risk anything. He has
been at pains to inform leading German firms what agricultural
machinery is required here but not a single response has he had.
English firms have already sent agents. He complains that those
Germans who come out, such as Schreider, do not come to him even.
He supposes that it is the ......... German fear - respect for govt -
bureaucracy I shd say. He greatly admires our colonial ideal. I said it
did not always look so well from the inside. He cannot imagine why
the Emp. took up the Russian line at the beginning of the war and
feels sure that middle class Germany must be all anti Russian. He
says the Emp. much as he admires him, is the first to talk too big. The
interior of Asia Minor is changing very rapidly. Even at the Embassy
in C'ple they have no idea what the real conditions are and he is
surprised to find how little they understand. He talked of the govt, and
said that whatever one might say of 'Abdul Hamed he wd probably
be regarded as a great figure in the future. He had entirely rearmed
his troops and under him immense improvements had taken place in
the country - roads, railways etc - yet he had not burdened the country
with a penny of debt. He is reported to have said in conversation with
a German "If you were sitting on my seat you wd look at things
differently." He is always surrounded by nations who are only
desirous of eating up his kingdom bit by bit. Loytved feels no doubt
that a partial dismemberment of Turkey wd strengthen the country and
particularly if the European provinces were removed. Husne Bey
once when this was said protested loudly. He comes from Salonika
[Thessaloniki (Saloniki)]. We said "Wd you live in Salonika if you
had the choice?" and he admitted that it was only because his family
was all there that he wd live there, if he were alone certainly not. C'ple
or abroad he wd chose [sic]. Loytved says that patriotism is not
known by any Turk even the most enlightened. He is patriotic only for
the tiny place where he was born, his memlaket; he knows nothing of
a national patriotism like that of the Japanese. So home through the
moonlight - Konia will remain thus in my mind - paid my bill and settled
up till 12. \n\nNotes on the railway. Bakhus said the style of the
stations on the new bit of the line, the 1st class waiting rooms and all
the rest, were distinctly insisted on by the Porte. The fares were also
regulated at C'ple and the unduly high 1st class fares were not the
fault of the Co. As long however as they had only one 1st class
compartment in each train it was necessary to keep them high for a
well born Turk when he travelled insisted on travelling alone. The
women never go 1st class. They are not allowed to travel with their
husbands. That is a regulation of the Sultan's own: no man may travel
with his womankind who is a Turkish subject (I don't think this rule is
kept to for I have seen a man with a fez in the same carriage with his
wife) They don't have haramlik carriages but as when women travel
they have to be put alone, that practically makes a haramlik. He
thinks in the future fares will go down especially 1st class fares, when
they get more 1st class carriages. The European rule is 1st class
fare = 2 and 3 together. Here it is double 2nd. It is quite impossible for
the officials to get papers or books. They either don't come at all or
they come so irregularly as to be useless and then with all passages
as to Turkish affairs torn out so that the news on the other side of the
page goes too. The line to Konia is only laid for 60 kils an hour, to
Eregli [(Cybistra Heraclea)] for 100. As for any idea of German
colonists, that was out of the question (- Loytved said it wd be a crime,
they wd be killed by the natives. Syria was quite a different matter, the
colonies were on the sea or near it, they were founded 50 years ago
when things were very different, and they were individual enterprizes
due to a religious idea. His grandfather Hartegg was the founder of
the Haifa colony.) I note that all the faults of the railway or its
extravagances are always put down to a special order from C'ple!
Bakhus said that during the war it was impossible to get people to put
money into the line. They were waiting to see what wd turn up next.
After the war he thought war might be renewed. They wd come the
most crucial question of all, where was it to end on the Gulf? He
understood that Koweit [Al Kuwayt (Kuwait)] was the only possible
place, the coast up to there being so sandy that a port cd only be
made at great expense. The Co. recognised that it wd have to be a
matter of negotiation with England. The price of sending my horse to
C'ple in 2 days wd have been £T10, in 4 £T5.

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