1900-1999 A.D. Assyrian History

1909: Letter, dated May 4, from Gertrude Bell
by The Gertrude Bell Archives, Robinson Library
Posted: Wednesday, August 30, 2000 02:24 pm CST


[4 May 1909] Tuesday May 4. Dearest Mother. I can't tell you how glad I was to have your telegram yesterday. All my letters are hung up below Baghdad - the last news I had of you was a letter from Moll dated March 1 - I can't think how it got through but I was most grateful to her for it. By the way I got 2 telegrams from London yesterday. One was dated May 1 and said that the address Oleous was not registered and they cd not deliver my telegram and the other was dated May 2 and was your answer to my telegram, so I suppose they thought better of it. But it was extraordinarily stupid of them. That accounts for the delay in the delivery of my telegram. I sent my last letter to you in a great hurry as I suddenly found a mail was going. It was very very nice at Mosul [Mawsil, Al]. Mr Young knew Hugo at Trinity; he is very charming and was a delightful host. Mr Wigram and Captain Dickson [see also Dixon] left yesterday and Dr and Mrs Griffeth [see also Griffith] filled their places, their house being dismantled as they are on the point of leaving for England. On Friday Mr Young had a large luncheon party; the German Consul, the French Consul (an intelligent man whom I had met at Aleppo [Halab]) the Griffeths and 3 missionary ladies. On Sunday we lunched with the German Consul and met our French colleague. At tea time Mr Young had an immense reception - to meet Capt. Dickson and me. I talked to the notables of the town from 5 to 7 without stopping; they were brought up in detachments of 2 and 3, it was very funny. Also I met a lot of interesting people, big notables and rogues, and bishops and holy men, whom I saw either in their own houses or in Dr Griffeth's. One way and another I heard and saw a great deal in Mosul. There will be more trouble there, I fear; the town is in a desperate state of anarchy. But it always was, not only under the Constitution. So this morning I left, Mr Young coming with me to the ferry - the bridge, I need scarcely say, is broken - I have not met a bridge in working order yet. It was blazing hot. I sent my caravan on and myself rode up onto the great tell of Kuyunjik which is a part of Nineveh. The walls and palace mounds of Nineveh stretched away on either side and blue bee eaters flew in and out of the excavation galleries - Layard worked here. It was very very beautiful and very striking. Then I turned S and rode through blazing heat across the plains of Assyria, deep in corn. The peasants were harvesting the barley and close on their heels, the locusts alas! were harvesting the wheat, which is still green. It was so hot that I had to go into a house, in a village I passed, to lunch. Early in the afternoon we came to Mar Behnam where there is a wonderful Jacobite monastery, an ancient mound with a round pool at its feet, and a little village. I photographed and took notes in the monastery all the afternoon. My tents were pitched on the slopes of the mound and I sat and watched the people watering their flocks at the pool while the moon rose over Assyria and found it, I expect, very little changed.



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