Letter from Charles Doughty-Wylie to Gertrude Bell written over two days from the 6th to the 7th of November, 1914.
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4 November. 1914 British Legation, Adis Ababa. It was written a month ago that letter of yours, from you to me, of love and comfort – and it does comfort me as far as anything can – because you understand – I bless you for it walker in the garden - & thank you – I’ve been alone now for a month & more – and you’ve did me good – not that it is harder for me alone – it isn’t – it is easier – All day one or another has come to condole with me because Maurice of Battenberg was killed – to them feudal minded it is a great thing – to me just nothing more than any subaltern whom I did not know – but the archbishop, the War Minister, and deputations of British subjects come to groan over God’s will – and so night has come & no work done to speak of - & whatever else happens I must write to you – But I’m not yet in the garden – the things you said of the life outside – of Winston at Antwerp – where I should say he was much de trop – of Kitchener – oh so many things you say that I would not know – and then the Turkish coup - & the puzzling over what comes next – Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy – Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Somaliland, India – I wonder – “here lies a mortal whose mind was always bewildered with wonder” – and still it wasn’t of this that I sat down to write – great & absorbing as it is – I don’t believe much in that attack on Egypt over the desert – Napoleon & Alexander passed it – but with small forces – only there must be no stop stabbing in the back in Egypt & blowing up of the canal by German agents – If it is fairly tried there lies in it an overwhelming disaster for the Turks for a retreat over that desert! No, I doubt if it will come to much – What I think will be worse will be towns, already probably so bled bare by requisition, soon to be burned, the Christian part of them – lighted by Louvain & Termonde [Dendermonde] – I am sorry for [?] & Beyreut - & many places where you & I have wandered. Further off & more unknown than these. Re Abana brought me a printed Arabic document, printed in Zur Berne I think, which had been sent to him anonymously – exhorting Islam to war on France & England - & someone sent me another pamphlet in French from Zurich which is an attack on Catholicism – If even here we get them, how many will there be in Egypt and in India – there is a Moslem movement here – I had a Turk to see me today war or no – he came to tell me lies to see if I had any idea if they were lies of not – he isn’t any wiser – They will want a good man in Egypt. I think Maxwell will do – he’s clever & knows them – but the Agency is void & must ache – In the [?] end of things it is good – it will clear up & clean down things dirty & stained – but of course it is a blow now – and I thought as they hadn’t began – (the stupid laggard how hard it would have been 3 months ago) – they wouldn’t do it now – I think the declaration about the Holy places wise – but rather want to know why drag in Mesopotamia – would it please the Arabs? I think probably not – they would like the Turk ousted - & its worth having a hand in those parts for the future - I’d have Hodeidah & Kamsan also, & give back Hodeidah perhaps to a new Yemen – The Germans here are bursting with joy – they have taken Paris! – if they are asked how they know, they know it is so – it must be – god tells them – there will be only 2 powers in the world – the Kaiser & Islam – What they are trying to do is to light Somaliland & the Sudan – But I don’t think much harm will come of it – they are such idiots - & overdo it – I think I’ve got a man for Harar, - but don’t know who – from Berbera – he’s wanted for a time and I can’t go – It was an old Moslem kingdom & it arms the mullah – I’ve turned the Habesh on – for it was there that the priest & the Jibuti [sic] woman led Mohammed Grein who conquered all this country. But then again I work slowly – I don’t want to overdo it & start a massacre of Moslems or anything idiotic & unpleasant – so I did it through the bishop, & through side doors – if it goes too far I can check it, or if not far enough kick it forward again – My lake and water must lie still in their hills – its no good talking of that now – not yet – Now lets talk – Have I said enough of the everyday that maps me round – underneath & through it all I have been talking to you answering your letters but I haven’t found the words yet – do you want them? And you’re sending me another book – another wonderful book of your heart, like the one that lies at Con’s to my grief – but this one will find me all alone to read and love it – Still I can’t talk – you have it always – silver speech – I so nearly never – though I love to sit in the garden & listen – it is like the passion of love that comes wave after wave till we swim lost in lifting seas – and ebb to silence and sleep and work and men & things – but through all dust and littleness we know its there – yes we know it is there, - but I talk like a fool, as if I or any man by talking thought can reach that sea – No – never – nor talk about it – but there it lies, like father ocean – didn’t he keep Aphrodite safe to & love for men worship? A little more – you show me the trail of so many things – I don’t understand the [?] popularity of K & now the other thing – He is a man anyway – and not a party politician – But it seems incredibly stupid about the Red X. I’m glad we’ve sent to France – But all the same the Red X though they ought to know us well enough, and though we offered them £5000 – have never answered my telegram except by asking if I would put them a ward in their base hospital which I had never offered to do – I suppose they’ll write in time. I know little Keogh their head in France to be a good man, but I haven’t much idea of the others – and Treeves is a perfect old idiot – but then doctors are always difficult – nearly always – I had words with one is Pretoria once when I de passage had to listen to his tosh – to them there is only one thing their own show – like the party politicians aforesaid/ Today’s wires please me – I would have given almost anything in the world to have seen the 1st Army Corps repulse the Germans as they did – Even the brief telegraph sounds like a trumpet – I’ve been working all day – but I found time to make a halting translation to my Sikhs – they listened like the fighting men they are with something like tears of joy. I’ve got a little go of fever too which is a bore – a mail day – with things to do – but I’ve nearly done – I see the London Scottish had a drive – they’d love it – but I didn’t know that Terriers were out of England yet – Cavalry in the trenches means horses short – that’ll be serious directly. They tell me (the Sikhs) that the whole town is in a ferment over the news from Turkey – there are many Moslems here – they say, bazaar talk, that the Sultan had ordered every Moslem to fight all over the world – what is the Sennanssi[?] doing? Jacob in Aden is ill – a great pity – but they had long wasted him – he wanted to go into Yemen long ago – they might use Fitzmaurice - & there’s a first class little man called Clayton in Cairo – in the Sudan Agency. By the numbers I lack 3 telegrams today – will they say anything of Italy, Greece & Roumania? But what rot all this must be when you get it – dead & finished – I would like to know what has happened to Jemal Pasha & Talaat – Did they resign? I think not, though neither would want the war so far as I know – they’ll be useful in making peace. So we saved about £96,000 a year by answering cyphers – It was high time - & Egypt follows of course – I wonder what the Valona arrangement is – one thing is plain I think, that Greece will go as far as the Skumbi[?] – But I can’t see through the north – who will have Durazzo? Servia will have Cattaro if she chooses for she will amalgamate with Montenegro & won’t need to fight the Glegs – Abyssinian dignitaries continue to come – I once thought of writing a book and gathered a translation of the history of Mohammed Grein – its useful – reads like Xenophon & his parasangs – then Mohammed marched to … & destroyed 50 churches etc etc. next day 20 – next day 70 – for his father a monk was killed because for a midnight service in his [?] he did over his shoulders a woman’s garment by mistake - & she fled & brought up her boy a Moslem to slay the monks & rest her soul. Also – what rot I’m talking, but I have fever and it helps – you help I mean – also I gave been indirectly bribing the local Rufus Isaacs – the King’s mouth they call him here – a monkey like old villain, the Lord Chief Justice – I gave him a rifle in a lordly box - & now he won’t have my poor syce[?] killed because his horse ran away with him & killed an old woman by accident – for that is the law here – a life for a life – and I’ve bought the woman’s relations – for though I might protect him while I’m here (but with great difficulty as he is in their hands) directly I went away he would be killed at once/ My dear do you mind all the tosh? Its like the humming of one of the giant moths we have here – round my room and my lamps they beat drumming like tambe – trying like me to get out – when I can I catch them and turn them out to the flowers – I’m humming to you – Will you catch me & turn me into the garden – And yet even you can’t do that – What was it you said that one human being can do for another – everything – even in absence – oh no – queen of the desert – “there is one heart you shall never take him to” – We can’t, we can’t – alone we live and die. And only shout across gulfs to those we love – the rest is love in a mist and lovely – but it isn’t true – you can’t take me out – only for a time – no matter how loud I hum – But for a time – what more does man want? Why should we care because it isn’t for ever and altogether? Its greedy to despise ministers & sign for ages – But because I said I had fever your dear kindness may be troubled – well then, I haven’t – only a very little, which is of real use to me, for so I shall probably escape a French lunch tomorrow and be left in peace – Now I must go back – to finish & send off the translation of the Aluna’s document – from Bem Boibeft – written by a German – so called Moslem – And I haven’t got out – tonight perhaps, going wandering – or tomorrow morning in dim dawn. And then no – for I think of cold trenches and a shivering sentry – also in his turn in thinking of his relief & hot tea – Did I tell you of the document “In the name of God the merciful” – one no doubt of many thousands circulated by certain Germans or their lovers – “of the oath taken by the Russians, English and French which the devil condemned them to swear” – and of Belgium & the French invasion of it – sworn to by the German Conqueror – Archad Billah – of how England lusts to possess the whole world – of the false news she gives – of the 300,000 prisoners in Germany – how you oh Moslemin will suffer injustice from England, how she will come & take your country, and you shall be slaves – etc etc. It isn’t important – yet I send it – have we a man in Bern – who does this? My dear my dear – this is the humming of the moth – what I want is you and the garden – to be free of myself – ma salaami – Bless you my dear – I wake up at night & bless you because you love me – that is worth the world and all that’s in it. Dick.