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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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

41.0082376, 28.9783589

Mon 22. [22 May 1905] Out early shopped and went to Nowell about
my camp then across the bridge and up through Stambul to the Debt
where I went into Hugh Poynter's office and left a letter for Hamdy.
Wonderful view from the Council chamber. Found a note from Mrs
Sykes asking me to lunch but I cd not go as I had settled to go with Sir
E. Poynter to the Walls. She came at 1 and I went with her to the Pera
Palace and sat for a quarter of an hour talking to him. Then to the
Serkejeh station where I met Hugh, Sir E. and Professor Van Millingen
of Robert College We went by train to the last station before the 7
Towers, then got out and walked up to St John Studius which is
probably the oldest church in C'ple [Istanbul (Constantinople)]. The
Atrium remains (cf Kyz Kala) and the columns of the narthex with the
architrave over them. The church has tumbled in but one can still see
the double line of columns (some old verde antica and some
imitation) The capitals all encased in stucco. Below is a great
columned cistern with Corinthian import capitals very fine. So we
walked up to the 7 Towers and looked at the Golden Gate, the
splendid marble[?] of it glittering in the sun, and climbed to the top of
one of the towers to see the view. Then down to the Marble Tower by
the sea, most magnificent its golden feet washed by the blue water.
So we walked all along outside the Walls till we came to the gate
above the great dip and then we had coffee and turned in and took a
train home, eating cherries by the way. Got in at 7 and at 8 dined with
the Blocks. They are charming and he is perfectly delightful. We
talked Turkish politics all the evening. Block says the French have
behaved very badly in the recent doings They have been trying to
get an outrageous sum for their quays and in the matter of the Rayyak
[Rayak] Hama [Hamah] railway they are indefensible. The govt has
been paying them the guarantee up to Aleppo [Halab] all the time
and they have done nothing for it. The railway is useless and willl
never pay. Once the German line from Aleppo to Alexandretta
[Iskenderun (Alexandria ad Issum)] is made traffic on it will practically
cease This line is sure to come - as soon as the Sultan is dead Mr B.
thinks we certainly ought to come in over the Baghdad line. Our
demand for the Board was preposterous - 30 Eng. 30 French, 30
German and 10 neutral - and cd never be agreed to. As to the
difficulty over the laying of the Gulf bit at once £100000 to Izzet and
£50000 to the Sultan wd end it. If we do not, they will certainly make
the line without us and find another harbour than Koweit [Al Kuwayt
(Kuwait)]. There are others to the north which we tried most unjustly to
get included in Koweit's territory but did not succeed. The Germans
have come well out of the recent negotiations. They have only sold
Krupp guns to Turkey and these Turkey wanted and cd get nowhere
else. He thinks we ought to have made friends with Ibn er Rashid
long ago but I do not agree with him there on account of the character
of the 2 men. Saoud is the better ally. All Turkey thinks we have
helped Ibn es Sa'oud in Yemen and the justification for the idea is that
we have certainly sold them guns, but this only and the way of trade.
He scoffs at the fuss about Xians in Macedonia and Armenians and
says they are all of a kind and the Muslemin interests are far better
worth protecting. Begin by reforming Pera says he. The Sultan
spends all the revenues on his spies. They are everywhere, in every
house and hotel and no man is safe from being taken up and exiled at
a moment's notice. Recently one of the Sultan's sons in law was
banished to Brusa [Bursa] - no the son of his son in law I think.
Anyway he had an intrigue with a daughter of Abdul Aziz and they
were foolish enough to write. Off he went. As a result the
Constantinopolitains may not even go to Brusa now to drink the
waters lest they should intrigue with him! We have lost immensely
here by our abandonment of the Young Turkish party. During the
Boer War 17 of them presented an address of sympathy to the
Ambassador. There were at once imprisoned. Block protested so
much that Sir N. O'C [Nicholas O'Conor] did something on their behalf
saying that they had only expressed the Sultan's sentiments, and they
were let out. But one by one they were reimprisoned on various
charges, tortured, banished, some fled, others were imprisoned and
exiled. And Sir N. O'C refused to do anything saying they were
accused of plots not of Eng. sympathies. He thinks Esh Shweibe[?]
and his brothers were probably banished at the instance of Sir N. O'C
who reported them to be intriguing against Koweit. In the case of Fuad
Pasha Block did all he knew to stir Sir N O'C on his behalf but cd not
get him to move. He is now in Damascus [Dimashq (Esh Sham,
Damas)]. We sat on the balcony after dinner while he told us tales.
The Poynters awfully bored!

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