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Letter from Charles Doughty-Wylie to Gertrude Bell

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

8.9806034, 38.7577605

21 November. British Legation, Adis Ababa. My dear Gertrude – I do love your letters – your daily visits to me in my Mappin terrace, bless you dear – I love these – and you – I got Sir V. C’s most interesting article – the ‘lessons’ as you call them of politics are alluring – the thing which I find it hard to see is why statesmen such as Grey or Asquith can, having once lifted the public skirt & seen the resealing trimmings, ever allow anything to stand between them and [?] to meet them – I hate democracy – but I suppose the thing holds – you must work with the tools you have and never down them – to sulk useless in a corner – Yes – as I said, I love you & your letters – I like to hear of 3am rushes to meet hysterical female refugees - & the general righting & sorting which follow your efficient hands - & of your meetings - & the fine helpful spirit of it all – and of the autumn leaves – and your pride & joy in your brother – its all you, your aura. I behind African bars – no – terraces have ditches or some d-d thing but its all the same – I exiled bless you for all of it. With your letter came French’s despatches – simple enough – he hides or has forgotten the earlier gulf between the French & him, as of course he would – and as a fighting record it is grand – I saw Philip’s name, & many others that I knew. Herbert Hamilton was more or less an old friend & my regiment does not seem to have been much engaged so far. One result of this war as of all wars will be mutual friendship & respect between the fighting men on both sides – a real understanding with Germany may be possible – the real Germany. As for this country, I have now to wait – nothing doing except that – I see some chiefs & sometimes Lij Yasu – I publish news – I tell them things quietly & they listen - & that’s about all – The German Turkish intrigue here is strong, but I think its weakening. The great Arab border chief, he of the gold mines, whom they have been urging to raid the Sudan with Lij Yasu’s rifles, is safe I think – secretly he talks & listens to me – soon openly he will come & see me. But in Harar the mullah is I expect getting arms - & the revenues in B. E. A. have yet to be discounted – they will have their effect. Perhaps a raid or two. There are so many stories. Lij Yasu is the son of a converted Moslem, King Mikhail – Mikhail gathers they say 100,000 men to make himself Emperor instead of his son - & to die for the ancient faith – All tosh I think – but I have to think of such a match as that might light the Sudan & Somaliland. Some of the Indians & Yemen Arabs are suspect – bought they say – that’s all in the day’s work – once a week or rather less often I take a day off & go & shoot – My eyes are better – or rather I have settled into goggles & don’t suffer except sometimes at night – the day of the mail for instance. And I never write to the F. O. because they’re busy – but to Wingate & Aden & Berbera. What shall I tell you? it makes the long evening less lonely, less of a dream or a desire, to say things – shall I tell you of the Foreign Minister’s marriage? The cunning [?] marries with Lij Yasu’s half sister, a woman of 50, 4 times a widow, fat, ugly, but very influential. What an old friend of mine used to call, “an executive lady”. By Abyssinian law all property is divided – He has robbed for years – she & Lij Yasu take back half – all Arab quacks, and a Turkish doctor, make a harvest in phietres & aphrodisiacs – and feastings & merry makings. I send champagne & gorgeous curtains, but glory be escape the feasts, for many of my friends are dying. No – I don’t want to talk of that – if you were here we’d go & see the show & the queerness & I’d tell you what it all meant - & you’d know by instinct faster than I told you – and so back we’d come with the Sikhs behind us – to peace and ourselves - & things that matter. Those fights in Belgium. I can’t get them out of my head – the bitter cold wet trenches - & the joy of the charge repulsed - & the long shelling over – and the glorious counter attack. I can never forgive Thesiger - & my old friends will never forgive me. I am so pleased to see the attack on the Shall-el Arab – But I can’t remember how far it is from Fao to Mohammesah – I think about 50 miles – or is it less – I wonder what happened to the Residency in Baghdad & to all our friends there – I never saw Saba-ed- Din in Constant: did you? but I have so often heard him talked of – What is happening in Smyrna? & Constantinople itself. Wingate wires to me that the Sudan & Egypt are perfectly quiet, and that a good harvest in the Sudan is worth an Army Corps – what then is my lake worth? Lij Yasu talks of going to see it – but I don’t expect he will – How will an occupation as for as the Kaseem[?] river square with Russia? But if she has Constant her cup is full. We might take all Mesopotamia – But all that will be in the providence & foreknowledge of God. My wife is in Paris – where sent I don’t know – But she will be in her real element & working harder than anybody. From the Red X I have no news, & Lij Yasu has never produced his 500 bulls – not that I care – we can run the thing for 6 months – who can see farther than that? My dear, I talk & talk – tomorrow night I will sleep on a hill side inshallah and at dawn creep through thickets & across mountain glades for bushbuck where they graze – its lovely this stalk and I must teach you - & then hit or miss, the coming back to the world & the four hours ride back home to telegrams & the typewriter. But probably something will turn up & I shan’t go – I’m a High Court, woe is me – under a special act – how I hate it - & they come & bore me to death with their advocates & lies & common petty swindles - & their beastly bankruptcies & things – good Lord deliver me – I hate the law - & I’m really the appeal court and in a legal difficulty now that my Consul is heavenly happy with the heavy guns – However its all in the day’s work. And I’m American Consul – their traders are very active now – circulars about the war by every mail – but I do not hold myself bound to supplant our Trade by theirs. Let them send their own man. My dear – my dear – I’ll go to bed - & perhaps I’ll say to you all the things I haven’t said in this letter – and which I never will say to you –

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