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Letter from Charles Doughty-Wylie to Gertrude Bell

Letter from Charles Doughty-Wylie to Gertrude Bell written on two days, the 7th and the 11th of December, 1914.

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

8.9806034, 38.7577605

7 December –
British Legation,
Adis Ababa.
My dear –

This evening seeming peaceful I began again to read the book, for at night (which I love best) I can’t just at present read much. And I read and read – in your air & your mind, out of myself & the little world, thanking God for a love like that – and I thought I’d write to you – but here they send me a Cypriot – he had been unjustly arrested and I had sent to have him released – half doubting if I should get him as things are very bad at this moment, as I’ll tell you sometime – but he’s come & I must see him poor devil - & then I’ve got to ride over to the French Legation – There has been a sudden wave against us – They hung my poor syee in the market – They sent Germans to arrest to Cypriot, the thing is being moved – and I am going to unmove it again – one must expect these little setbacks – but it takes me away from you my dear, away from love & peace and dreams of happiness – back to work.

Well, I saw my man – but language lacks - & my interpreters are not here – so while they saddle some horses I come back to you – But the thread for the moment is gone – I mean that wave of thought & passion & gratitude that the book brings – now if you were here I would be considering the line with you – the line to take with the French Minister, so that he marches as I want him – he’s cunning & out for money – for his railway, for the sale of the new artillery – not to commit himself – if there is anything to do that I shall do whole he creeps up later & says it wasn’t him – not a very lofty character I seem to be giving him – but he’s just a rusé old bourgeois - & must be utilised as he is – probably he’ll be a little alarmed and easier to deal with – faux bonhomie –

My dear, my dear, was it to say all these rotten things that a little time ago I was lost in your book and in the thoughts & memories of you? That kingdom of the garden which is yours & mine – and to be banished by a chained up Cypriot & a French Minister? But I’ll go back –


I haven’t written for days – first because I was busy – then because I had the gout – I believe its that which has probably been troubling my eyes as well – but thank god its gone to my foot & I can see all right with glasses even to read – Well – as to the peace – they hung my man without telling me – The Prime Minister has now been in state to express his own & the Prince’s upset – accident trop de yele – subordinate official – etc – all they could say. But the poor devil is dead – however that is a private affair. The French Minister seems to have done what I wanted in it – next they are sending & trying to send in secret (& will send probably) a certain Pan Islamic agent as Governor of the Abyssinian Ogaden – he once took a letter from the Somali Mullah to the Amir but was kicked out of India, went to Constantinople etc and is a very notorious person – Germans & Turks are sending him to make friends with the Mullah – the German story being that the latter has captured Berberah. Then the new religion is taking a big line of its own in the north. It may easily lead to civil war, - the Turkish agents are being sent to the Sudan – To meet the [?] etc of the Mullah I have a man I don’t know called Lawrence coming to Harar in a few days. He’ll be there before my agitator from here – I’m buying if I can the worst of the Sudan agents, but this is difficult – and I’m using the French freely, rather more freely than I care about. The Habesh are making a new fort on the hill over this Legation – why should not they! there is no reason, only that people at the moment talk – Certain things are apt to alarm one’s people, especially when one of them has been unjustly hung.

Its just a wave of no particular importance, but it lends an interest to one’s days. And it is lucky that I am personally liked for some reason. What they want if we were beaten is a sea port – and endless rifles – and no overhanging foreigners –

My wife wired tonight that Beauvais had been requisitioned from her as a fever hospital – naturally they keep them distinct wounded & fevers - & that she was going to wait 8 days for the authorities to say where they wanted her to go – or to offer the Indians the show. Bakalam? It’ll be safe[?] work I know – constant changing & re-equipping is a bit of a job.

My dear – I had in my head such heaps of things to say to you, to answer – but they’ve gone – oh yes – gone. I am so very sorry about poor Dixon – He was once my assistant & rather intimate friend – but for me he’s one of many already – in my regt and out of it – all three of my Somaliland subalterns killed also –

The S. American news is good. Sturdee has done something to redeem his character it seems. I can’t make out about the Russians – is it a check at Lody, coupled with a big success south of Nacons? It looks like that but one can’t know. I’ve just got & read Mallet’s despatches – I should have thought he had done very well – We did not want to fight Turkey - & even if we had to fight her, time gained was much gained I would think – it’s a curious picture of Said Halim & [?] – You didn’t say where Shakespeare had gone?

I am sending to Gore for one Walker to come & do acting Consul. The place is full of lawsuits & I really haven’t time for them. And we have now a special code of law & all sorts of snares of the devil.

No. I don’t believe in the invasion of England – not that it isn’t right to make preparations – of course it is – but they won’t be able to risk it.

What awful things you tell of Alost! I have heard the like before, and they should be published in England – But I agree with you of Yorkshire who said you wouldn’t go away – let the men fight for you if they are men at all – or (which is coming) be made to fight. All women could not go – they’d make a helpless panic & block the lines –

Darley – it was queer – with your last beloved letter comes one from him, my wild man, now Major commanding the 194th Battery 61 Howitzer Brigade. That makes me gasp – not him but the figures – 194 – 61 – must be a joke I think – but it’s a very interesting letter, & there’s one man anyway will fight all right at any time –


How do you do my dear? A line or two – I had lots of things to say, but they won’t get said I don’t suppose – one was myself. I’m better a little – but I can’t bear a boot except for emergency – however it will pass off quietly, this vile disease – Its terrible to think of – gout - & not the first time – If I were you I would give me up – I’ll soon become quite intolerably old & crippled – No particular new developments in the big political world – or not that I have caught hold of. My Harar Pan Islamist is still here – perhaps we’ll do him – for Lawrence gets to Harar in 4 days - & I’ve squared the French to close Jibouti if I want it – But I don’t – even though arms do come in occasionally – To close Jibouti excites Abyssinia more than anything else – its not time yet – I want to calm them slowly and get Tsana signed with the first rosyfingered victory – ridiculous hope really, as the priests will certainly beat me on that.

Is there no news from Egypt? The B. E. A. reverses have been concealed – I don’t quite see what this last wave against us came from – Perhaps it was only the Berbera lie – or was it money? I’ve got the banker coming to lunch tomorrow – but if money where from? Probably it is only the will of God & the blessed instability of human affairs –

No – the things won’t say themselves – my head is still half full of directions to Lawrence – of news for Archer & Wingate - & my foot is full of gout. But my heart is full of you – its there my dear, the kingdom – I can see the treetops – but I can’t get there today over the desert.

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