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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her father, Sir Hugh Bell

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Reference code
Bell, Sir Thomas Hugh Lowthian
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Person(s) mentioned
Naji, Haji
Cox, Percy
Wilson, A.T.
Haldane, Aylmer
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter, paper

33.315241, 44.3660671

Baghdad May 16. Sunday Belloved Father. Letters continue to arrive from Mother which I duly return. I hope she will soon begin writing to me instead of to you. I had a note from here enclosing an advertisement of Sybil Thorndyke as Medea - very splendid! I wonder how the play has gone. I enclose 1. Mesop. Rpts[?] which I'm sure you can't bear to be without, 2. a letter from Shaikh Mizhir, 3. a photograph of Fakhri Jamil which he begged me to send you - you remember you dined with him. Everyone continues to ask after you tenderly. I had a very pleasant tea with Fakhri this week - Mr Bullard was there and selected Ashraf. It's always pleasant in Fakhri's house. Afterwards I motored with the Tods into the peninsular near Haji Naji's house where Aurelia and I gathered lots of a beautiful sort of great hemlock and eat apricots in the gardens. This morning being Sunday I rode with Gen. Hambro, a delicious dawdling ride. We called on Haji Naji where we had coffee and mulberries. Did I tell you I have a new pony? he's quite delicious, a little grey Arab, the horse counterpart of my dogs. He is quite young and needs a little teaching, so we take nice confidential rides with the dogs before breakfast, and already he is improving. He is as clever as he can be, jumps exquisitely and climbs in and out of water courses, his little grey feet never making a mistake. My only regret is that you didn't see him, for you would have loved him. He's a gift from Remounts - I trust no M.P. will ever get wind of it! he adds very materially to my pleasure. I ride him both astride and on a side saddle - he doesn't mind which. I've begun weekly parties for young Nationalists in my garden. The first was very well attended by about 30 young men and half a dozen of my colleagues, including Frank and Sir Edgar. Frank thinks it's a capital plan. Ramadhan begins on Wed. so in future I must have my parties about 8.30 after they've had their evening meal. I have a lot of beautiful old Baghdad lanterns which I hang about in my garden - it looks lovely. I shall provide cold drinks and fruit and cake. It will be very interesting to see if it will be a success. Today I took Mrs Bowman to call on the Pachahji ladies - charming gentlewomen they are, the nicest women in Baghdad. The married daughter is not only very pretty but extremely intelligent. She is learning English. Mrs Bowman I think will be a success here. She is very anxious to know all the women and her Arabic is improving - she'll soon talk. Last night I gave a dinner party - Col. Wickham, a most attractive person whom I knew here in the early part of the war; he's now part of the Persian Mil. Mission and has come down to meet the Shah; the Dents - you remember we met them at Ctesiphon - Gen. Hambro and Gen. Lubbock who is back from Bombay. We sat in the lantern-lit garden after dinner and Col. Wickham told achingly funny stories about the Shah's visit to England - he was in attendance. One afternoon Sir Aylmer dropped in after tea and stayed talking for 2 hours. I find him very pleasant, but between ourselves I don't think he's enough of a personality. It doesn't perhaps matter; for it seems probable that he'll be wiped out - this is private. I expect the scheme for reducing the Force to 1 division and making the C. in C. an airman will be carried through. I feel very grave doubts as to the wisdom of it. I don't much believe in the air for permanent purposes. You can only do waspish things with it - but what we want is a calm insistence on the observance of law and order, not malicious little punishments for breaches of them. I wouldn't mind 1 division and a good deal of air if the soldier not the airman were in command. However! Also[?] the scheme is Winston's and I do so profoundly distrust him. If the change takes place it will wipe out the Hambros too, for which I shall be sorry. I don't think he's very happy. A state of transition isn't a comfortable one and I gather he doesn't find Sir Aylmer very human. The whole of G.H.Q. is going up to Persia in a fortnight, so that I shall see no more of more of them, unless I go up too for a week to stay with the C in C. - he has invited me. I'll see. It's beginning to be summer. The temp. just touches 100° - not a bit too hot for me yet and delightful on my roof at night. My dogs have two little mats solemnly spread for them by Zaiyah near my bed on the roof. The only drawback is that they get up occasionally and send a loud defiance to the pariah dogs who are barking in the terrains vagues beyond my garden wall. I can bear the outside but not the inside barking. The Naqib is back. I'm going to take Sir Aylmer to see him tomorrow. I was very glad to get your telegram but sorry to see that you only arrived in Bombay on the 11th. I fear you had a very hurried visit to the Lloyds. It's so immensely amusing to write to you about things here now that you know it all! The Euphrates is still unsatisfactory. We met the representatives of the Arab Govt, came to a settlement about the frontier and thought that all was well. But they are still attacking us south of the frontier they themselves have agreed to, robbing caravans and so forth. It may be tribal mischief which the Arab authorities can't control, or it may be with their connivance. In any case they seem likely to be troublesome and annoying neighbours. The whole business now is idiotic on their part. I suspect we shall see bad businesses in Turkey after the presentation of the peace terms. The Bolshevists have occupied Baku, so Sir Percy will have to go home by Baghdad - I shall be very glad to see him. I've just had a long letter from him. Ever your very affectionate daughter Gertrude. A.T. [Wilson] is being very pleasant but the office, for various reasons - chiefly want of staff - is fearfully at sixes and sevens. I pick my way through! Please show Herbert this letter - it's the part about the military arrangement I want him to see.

IIIF Manifest