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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her father, Sir Hugh Bell

Letter in which Bell provides an update on Iraqi politics, particularly relating to the formation of the Cabinet, whilst also commenting on her recent social activities. She notes the forthcoming return of Sir Henry Dobbs and his wife, Lady Esme Dobbs, to Baghdad, and remarks upon recent events in Syria and Trans Jordan.
Reference code
Bell, Sir Thomas Hugh Lowthian
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Person(s) mentioned
Cornwallis, Ken
Dobbs, Esme
Dobbs, Henry
Hussein, Feisal bin al-
Askari, Ja'far al-
Sa'id, Nuri al-
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter, paper
Iraq ยป Baghdad

33.315241, 44.3660671

Baghdad Nov 21 Darling Father. We've been Cabinet making all the week and have not quite finished. Ja'far is P.M., that's settled; and I hope my dear friend, the Qadhi of Mosul [Mawsil, Al], gets office. Sabih Beg is in, the portfolio not yet settled; if its Public Works I shall have no further trouble about my Antiquities Law. I've personally intervened to head them off a very pernicious Shi'ah with whose faits et gestes I've been familiar since 1918 and haven't found them good. Nuri remains in Defence and one 'Ali Jaudat, whom I myself like, goes to Interior. I've written a beautiful letter to Muhsin Beg Sa'dun, and vive le roi, I've asked his successor, 'Ali Jaudat to dinner tomorrow. My invitation was accepted with enthusiasm. I hope Muhsin Beg will now be a President of the Constituent Assembly; he's the very best choice.
My existence is one of prolonged gaiety, it seems to me. On Friday I had an Arab dinner party - Abdullah Beg Dalaimi[?], an excellent young man, now Qaimmaqam of Kadhimain [(Al Kazimiyah)] and on the next list for Mutasarrif of a Division; Daud Beg Haidari, one of the King's Chamberlains, and [space left blank]. To meet them Squadron Leader Bass, Intelligence, A.H.Q.; and Major Longrigg, with whom you stayed at Kirkuk - he has now come to Baghdad. It was quite successful as those things go.

On Saturday I dined with the Air Marshal to meet the Quetta Staff College Party - I had met them lunching at Sir Henry's a few days before and taken them shopping in the bazaar. Nice people and a very pleasant evening. I love Sir John Salmond - he's just become engaged, you know, to Monica Grenfell. On Sunday morning I rode out to see Sir John and the Quetta party inspect the 'Iraq army - it did rather well, I thought.

I went out shooting in the afternoon with Ken Cornwallis (it's such divine weather that to go out anywhere is pure joy) and in the evening he and Nigel Davidson and Major Maclean dined and played Bridge. Major Maclean is on the 'Iraq Army staff and has now come to Baghdad - he lives with Ken. He is very nice; his wife before she married was with me at the Red X, a widow. She married him and died when her baby was born, poor little thing. On Monday afternoon I went to a quite excellent lecture given by Dr Hewett (head of the American school in Mexico) on ancient American religions. The Hewetts left next day - I'm sorry; I liked them so much. He wants me to come and lecture in America, but I shall not; think of the newspaper interviews! On Tuesday I went to tea with the Chadirjis - Rauf is still very full of his visit to Rounton. And that evening I had to dinner and Bridge Mr and Mrs Munro and Ken. The interesting history of the Munros is that he was Commercial Secretary at the Embassy, Constantinople [Istanbul] and she the wife of Another. They ran away with one another and he had to leave the service and has got a job in the Ottoman Bank. She's pleasant and very pretty, but if I had been she I wouldn't have taken so much trouble about Mr Munro who is a bounder. However, they play Bridge well.

Sir Henry is in Basrah [Basrah, Al (Basra)], meeting Lady Dobbs; I believe they arrive on Saturday and I'm looking forward very much to her coming. It will be very amusing to have someone so alert and intelligent. My work is very amusing too - you should see the grave letters I indite to the High Commissioner in Syria and similar bigwigs! It entertains me. By the way, M. de Caix, as we anticipated, is not coming back. They are doing pretty badly in Syria, where the feeling against them grows. And we're doing pretty badly in Palestine - 'Abdullah in Trans Jordania worse. I should think some day they will eject him and he'll deserve it. He has overdrawn the whole of his Civil List in the first seven months of the year and the country, as you realize, isn't able to supply unlimited demands. He squanders the money on subsidies to shaikhs which enrages the tax payers among whom the shaikhs are not included.

Nov. 22. Major Maclean tells me there's a new race game which everyone in London is playing. That would be the very thing when I have sticky dinner parties with people who don't play Bridge. Would you be very kind and send me the apparatus if it's not expensive. I don't know whether the sending of Zaid to London is going to materialize but I still hope it may. Ever your very affectionate daughter, step-mother and father. Gertrude.

IIIF Manifest