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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Dame Florence Bell

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Bell, Dame Florence Eveleen Eleanore
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
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1 letter plus envelope
Iraq ยป Baghdad

33.315241, 44.3660671

Baghdad Nov 16 Private Dearest Mother. Your letter of Oct 13 has this moment arrived and puts into words what has been so much in my mind. We sit here and have the very doubtful advantage of getting the news of Asia from all quarters - all the secret reports from everywhere pass through our hands, and the impression left on one's mind is one of unmitigated intrigue, turmoil and revolution. Of course it's that which the report writers are there to recount, and we on our side do just the same. We're not engaged in telling one another about the middle class oriental families who sit down peacefully every night to their dish of rice. Yet there must be a good many of them - I know there are some in Baghdad though I don't write about them. And as you say the fact that within a month, sometimes within a few hours, we hear of most of the meetings of revolutionary societies and the doings of all the wild fowl from China to Peru makes us look at the world with very different eyes from the people who didn't know that Napoleon had taken ship from Elba. I sometimes hope that it's not the crumbling of the universe that I'm watching but the customary dropping of this bit of rock and that bit of sod which fall at every tide, only I'm now so acutely conscious of the splash of each in turn. At the same time, though I lay this hope to heart, it does't quite cover all the phenomena and though I won't say there never was such chaos, I'm free to admit that there has seldom been worse, so far as I can judge, since perhaps that which accompanied the fall of the Roman empire - absit omen!
It's immensely, almost too immensely, interesting to be in such close touch with it. This is just scribbled to catch the post, in between innumerable visitors. Of a morning I feel as if most of the rumours of Baghdad surged into my office. Your very affectionate daughter Gertrude

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