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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her father, Sir Hugh Bell

Letter in which Bell discusses the continued indecision of the Assembly in regards to the Treaty, whilst also providing an overview of her activities during her trip to Qaraghan. She also notes her sadness at the departure of Esme Dobbs and Iltyd, whilst adding that she has met with Major Salisbury Jones, the new liason officer at Beirut.
Reference code
Bell, Sir Thomas Hugh Lowthian
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Person(s) mentioned
Cornwallis, Ken
Dobbs, Esme
Hussein, Feisal bin al-
Eskell, Sassoon
Clayton, Iltyd
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter, paper
Iraq ยป Baghdad

33.315241, 44.3660671

Baghdad May 14 Darling Father. We're still in our slough of despond, and oh! I'm getting so tired of it. They will and they won't, and they're all standing shivering on the brink of what they want to do and daren't, pass the Treaty. It really is being a weary time.
However, we escaped four days of it, very delightfully - it was a great success, the time at Qaraghan. We started off four, Iltyd Clayton, Lionel Smith, Ken and I, and reached Qaraqhan at 5.30 a.m. on Tuesday 6th. Iltyd had brought quantities of 'Iraq Army tents and he and Lionel and I pitched a beautiful camp on some high ground above the river while Ken slept and slept. And there we stayed for four delicious days, except Iltyd who, alas had to go back next day for a medical board. It was never hot; we had a drop of rain every night and a delicious wind all day. Our programme was to breakfast about 10, very lazily; Ken and I played Mah Jongg from 11 to 1 regularly; at 3.30 we went off somewhere in a trolley on the line, thanks to the kindness of a charming man called Harding who is the local railway engineer. We all loved him. Twice we went up to the junction of the Hulwan [Alwand] and the Diyala [(Sirwan)], a lovely place, where I bathed and walked about the hills while the others fished. They seemed to like it - so did the fish who were never caught. The third day Mr Harding took us up in the trolley to Khanaqin - about an hour - where I went and called on the widow of Mustafa Pasha Bajlan - you remember, the old boy to whom you gave your pencil. The fourth day we went down an hour to the Jabal Hamrin [Hamrin, Jabal] and saw the place where Norton Griffiths and Co. propose to build their enormous dam - if they ever do it.

In the evenings we played Mah Jongg, except the first night when Mr Harding dined and we played Bridge. We lived on the fat of the land and went to bed at 10. Ken and Lionel came back looking different people. Yes, it was very nice.

Iltyd and he and Dr Sinderson dined with me on Sunday, and on Monday Iltyd went on leave and Esme Dobbs left too. I miss them dreadfully. Sunday morning I spent in my Museum and in visiting various Ministers in their offices and discussing the situation. Sasun came to lunch. I've quarrelled with him dreadfully, I'm sorry to say, because he refuses to stand for a vacant seat in the Assembly - vacated to let him in. I think he is very wrong, for it's really only pique.

That's really all I've done, except that on Monday I went to tea with the King and found him very hopeful.

Today there lunched at the Residency and came home afterwards with me a charming boy called Major Salisbury Jones - absurd name - who is Major McCallum's successor as liason officer at Beyrout [Beyrouth (Beirut)]. He is very interesting and intelligent - I hope he will come over again.

I'm waiting for two old turbans, the Minister of Justice and the Qadhi, who expressed a desire to call on me. I hope they'll come soon for I want to ride before dinner. - They came, nice old things.

I have your letter and Mother's of Ap. 29. What a time you're having with princes and things, haven't you. In the matter of the hat I'm most grateful to Mother. The mules have come and are exactly what I want.

There, dearest, this is an unusually short letter, for me. Your very affectionate daughter Gertrude

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