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Letter from Charles Doughty-Wylie to Gertrude Bell

Letter from Charles Doughty-Wylie to Gertrude Bell written over multiple days from the 24th of October to the 1st of November, 1914.

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Reference code
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Wylie, Charles Hotham Montagu Doughty-
Person(s) mentioned
Deedes, Wyndham
Wylie, Lilian [Judith] Doughty-
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter plus envelope, paper

8.9806034, 38.7577605

24 October.
British Legation,
Adis Ababa.
My dear.

Thank you for your letter – long and interesting as ever – even though, oh provokingly prudent, you docked out so much for fear of capture by the Kelonisch Zeitung – And for those extremely good, land & water articles – far the most business like things I’ve read. The Round Table didn’t come.

As for me – it seems there’s no use growling. I’m still in my cage – so we won’t talk of it – but its damnable – I’m glad you understand –

I like the story of your father & K, the uniforms & quarters – they’d get on like a house on fire, as real men of affairs always do.

As for you yourself there was a little corner of you in the letter – I love to have you talk about yourself. As to the war, I love to have you talk of that too – But I won’t – not from a cage. Tonight I have the news of the 21st – evening – desperate fighting at Dixmude Nieuport – Menin Ypres – But Nieuport – Has Ostend been abandoned then? But it must have been – All goes well, but there’s something in the last telegram I don’t like – some presage (imaginary I hope) of disaster – “By the latest news, the allies were holding their positions” – no I don’t like it – However there must be setbacks – there must be Antwerps – [?]

I got a letter from my wife at Aden (she’ll be in France now) in which she said that only half the Indian contingent had gone through – only half – it seems slow – short of ships I suppose, & where are the Canada men & Australians?

I see already the loss of many acquaintances & some friends – we shall all lose – and all win – And courage isn’t the best of things – only the second – or perhaps no certainly part of the first – “kindness is another’s trouble, courage is your own” –

Thank you my dear for talking to Tyrrell about me – What they say means nothing to me – not even if they were to give me Thesiger’s place or a better one – no – and I know that they cannot, even if they wanted to. He had been fighting for his country – (intelligence – its all the same thing to a civilian anyway – but that’s spiteful & abominable) can they afterwards put him down – no – or us, but there is not up to put him to – He isn’t good enough man [sic] to go up – no I’m done – In a little time I go out of this when I discretely can – but that is no fun as I can see – or want to see - One thing, I won’t go to Basreh – I’ll hide from my kind & grow a garden & see you sometimes inshallah –

I can’t even help in the Anglo Ethiopian hospital – only smooth the way for Italy here - & do hours of rotten work, clerk’s work, - for nothing is possible nothing that matters during this war.

If Turkey is going to move, why doesn’t she? We shall weather it I believe – Mallet must be busy. I’ve been teaching Pan Islamism & Germanism here – from Horar to the Sudan it burns – stoked by a Turkish acquaintance – Its all the wonderful religion – but even under that & stronger lies colours – black against white – He gave a capitulation dinner to 500 Arabs, Indians, Horaris, Somalis etc - & is in touch with the Somali mullah – I want a man in Horar, But I haven’t got one. Dodds who was there is with his yeomanry – lucky devil – but he is a perfectly rotten consul in such a position. Its Somaliland & the Sudan we have to think of. Did I ever tell you of the secret letters from Menelik to the Khalifu? I find or rather I hear that Germany told Abyssinia to be ready for a blow, when the hour struck – when they were in Paris – when Ethiopia should have Eritrea & Jibuti [sic] & the like - & the Sultan Morroco, Tunis, Tripoli, & Egypt. Brave words –

As for the Arab counterpoise, I believe the Idrisi & the Yemen would help much. There is a good man in Aden one Col. Jacob, but he is ill – The Resident a certain General Sir J. Bell (no relation?) is a whisky Anglo Indian idiot –

Oct 31.

Just a month your letter took – the one written from Penrhos – I love your letters – you asked did they well me things I would not otherwise know – why but yes – millions – and the most interesting – And your books – and your papers my dear – and the thought which lies behind them – I love that – I’ll never thank you – not in words – but you are gold – gold –

Last night I read your letter, other people’s letters – the official things, very dull – land & water – six daily times - & some pictures – Tonight I had some people to dinner & have at last got rid of them, written four letters, and sat down for a few minutes with you – I ought to be writing the Intelligence Report – but I’ve got till noon tomorrow, so that will have to keep – There’s very little to put in it – Yesterday with the Prince for two hours we talked of Italy & peace & Tsana – The Treaty he said he’d like to sign but the priests were against it – and everyone was frightened of the war – The Italian Minister who took up 2 hours told me they had at last occupied Valona – good – for so if there comes a quarrel with the Turk they are in it – and they could not have occupied Valona without an understanding with us & France and Greece – At least I guess that’s it – out of my prison –

& then came a cypher. Telling me of the rising by de Wet & Beyers – bad news – I shan’t publish it yet – it will have a very bad effect here, and I’ll wait a little, but not too long, or it will be in Reuter – Everybody has heard of De Wet here.

A Syrian campaign against Egypt takes some doing. I am not much afraid of it – but coupled with S. Africa & a riot in Calcutta something could be made of it no doubt. You tell me bad news of Ireland – I thought it was all right there – north & south - & it turns out to be only north – The Captain of the brevvy [?] was a boy with me & a very old friend – Herbert Hamilton another friend - & many more – they that clutch at the shining skirts of victory – Both battalions of my regiment will be in France – and I who have seen 3 times as much fighting as any of them do accounts wrong & make hay & write reports – and all for that ass Thesiger –

Take me out Gertrude – its full moon – we’ll go in to the garden and smell the hay & pretend we forget these things – and we might for a time – tamen usque recurret [rough Latin translation: “she will always come back”] –

Antwerp is a blow - & I don’t understand it yet – still the army got out – or so they say. But what about Dutch neutrality now? Can it bear such a test as that?

I would like to get back to the moor and the hay, but I haven’t got you, and I can’t. So I’ll go to bed –

1 Nov –

I finished the Intelligence – copied out & published the war telegrams – there’s nobody else to do it, clerk’s work, and it takes up much time, but is highly necessary – and then I opened your books, the parcels not the books – they’ll come later. Bembardi 2v. 2 – M[?] the Kaiser, von Bülow’s book - & the Round Table. My dear how splendid of you! I thank you 1000 times – they’ll pass me well through the lonely evenings – and teach me much – Now I must be off as I have to see Colli (the Italian Minister) –

that night.

Goodnight my dear – I can’t write I find by lamp light tonight – Too much reading the papers – I’ll take a day off & go after snipe tomorrow –


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