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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Gertrude Bell
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Sun 7. [7 May 1905] Grey morning. Spent the morning washing and
writing letters. Lunched with the Loytveds. I found there an exiled
pasha Tenfik Bey who had kept the first printing press in C'ple
[Istanbul (Constantinople)]. He is banished here with his family he
doesn't know why. He has a most intelligent face and is says Loytved
a very learned man. He employs himself in study, writes a dictionary
and studies botany. Most of the exiles are too much discouraged to
do anything. One who speaks German and has taken a doctor's
degree in Germany sits with his hands folded and says "Do not urge
me - what shd I do? I am unhappy." He does not know why he has
been banished. Loytved says that the enlightened cannot
understand why the Emperor backs up the Sultan. They say if he did
not the Sultan wd not dare to oppress them as he does. Loytved
cannot imagine why they do not end matters with a bomb. He says
they have no Mut and no spirit of self sacrifice. Nothing cd be worse
than the present Sultan and things might be better. The 4th man from
the throne has good in him and might do better. There is absolutely
no foreign trade here of any kind and next to no imports. His post as
consul is only temporary at the wish of the Emperor and he has
nothing to do. He studies the Vilayet. He says it's extraordinary how
they all fear the Sultan, even the old Vali. If it were not that the people
are the best natured in the world there must be a revolution. The
railway has done a great deal of good. The tithes of the vilayet have
doubled and (£T120,000 they were and are now £T300,000) the prices
have more than doubled but the people are not much richer as the
govt takes all the surplus. The work on the line has stopped at the
next station beyond Eregli [(Cybistra Heraclea)]. He sees no
immediate prospect of its going on. But there is the petroleum
scheme in N Mesopotamia and if the oil turns out to be sufficient in
quantity the Co. might accept that concession in lieu of the kilometric
guarantee which the govt is absolutely unable to pay any further. It is
15,500 (16,500?) frs a kilometre, rough and smooth. He says there are
scarcely any Germans employed on the line. Even Zander is going
and the next director is to be Huguenin a French Swiss. Tenfik Bey
tells him that the news from Yemen is that the Imam Hamid ud Din has
taken Sana' [San'a]. There is a certain banished Pasha whose name
is Said Pasha who has become his prime minister there and writes to
the Porte[?] as from one king to another. Rather comic. We drove out
to Monastir where there are lots of hermits caves and an old
monastery cut in the soft rock with a big chapel, not very old - 13th
cent? So to Silleh [Sille] a very interesting place with a population of
old Greeks and muslims. There is a church said to have been
founded by Helena and a very fine rock cut chapel of the same date I
shd say. Carpet making going on among the Greeks. They earn
11/2 to 2 piastres a day, at 10 hours a day. We went and had jam and
water with a charming family and were served by an exquisitely pretty
girl in a red skirt and a yellow kerchief. Saw the carpets some of
which were very fine good work. They are sent to C'ple. One or 2
capitalists direct the work and provide the people with materials and
patterns. They seem to work each in his own house. The railway has
mountain rights for 20 kil. on either side of the line. If these were
developed says Loytved no guarantee wd be necessary. The
country is immensely rich in minerals of all kinds. But the Co. won't
bustle up and develop it. There is no water except in the hills. The
wells on the plain are all brackish with salt petre. There is a scheme
to irrigate the plain which blossoms like the rose directly there is
water. So we drove back and got in about 6.30. At dinner I sat by a
German who is engaged in exporting eggs from Anatolia as far as
Hamburg and to Russia. It pays. They send them overland. They
pay about as much freight up to Haidar Pasha [Haydarpasa] as they
do all the rest of the way.

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