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These variations in spelling have added a good deal to the difficulty of editing her letters especially as reference to expert opinion has occasionally shown that experts themselves do not always agree as to which form of transliteration is the best. But the letters here published, from the time she was twenty until the end of her life, show such an amazing range of many-sided ability that they may seem to those who read them to present a picture worth recording at every stage. The time had not yet come when it was a usual part of a girl's education to go to a University, and it was with some qualms that we consented. Gertrude went to Lady Margaret Hall, in 1886 just before she was eighteen, she left it in June 1888 just before she was twenty, and wound up, after those two years, by taking a brilliant First Class in Modern History. Courtney, who, in a delightful article contributed to the North American Review, entitled "Gertrude Bell, a personal study" and also in her interesting book "Recollected in Tranquillity," has described Gertrude as she was when she first arrived at Lady Margaret Hall-I quote both from the article and the book. "She threw herself with untiring energy into every phase of college life, she swam, she rowed, she played tennis, and hockey, she danced, she spoke in debates; she kept up with modern literature, and told us tales of modern authors, most of whom were her childhood's friends. Kitcat] and I walked across the Green Park to the London Library where I had a delicious rummage with a very amiable sub-librarian who routed out all the editions of Sir Th. Sidney for me to see I took down the names and dates and armed with these I felt prepared to face Bain himself. Mrs Norman Grosvenor] house, I came back here, dressed, and went to Queen Street for a seven o'clock dinner-we were going to the Spanish exhibition after it. The children and I played the race game in the nursery. It was so fine this afternoon, a rough sea almost up to the esplanade. I wouldn't really have changed places with them, and I prefer a Sheikh from Nejd to a dragoman from Jerusalem as a travelling companion.
I have therefore adopted the plan of spelling the names as they are found when they occur in the letters for the first time, and keeping to it. Scholar, poet, historian, archaeologist, art critic, mountaineer, explorer, gardener, naturalist, distinguished servant of the State, Gertrude was all of these, and was recognised by experts as an expert in them all. One of her contemporaries at Lady Margaret was Janet Hogarth, now Mrs. Yet all the time she put in seven hours of work, and at the end of two years she won as brilliant a First Class in the School of Modern History as has ever been won at Oxford." And Many years later Mrs. In the afternoon Sophie [my younger sister, now Mrs. We drove in hansoms to the exhibition and Captain ---- brought me home, I hope that doesn't shock you; I discussed religious beliefs all the way there and very metaphysical conceptions of truth all the way back-that sounds rather steep doesn't it--I love talking to people when they really will talk sensibly and about things which one wants to discuss. They have a great plan but unfortunately they have not hit upon any way of carrying it out, of all catching the measles and being laid up together indefinitely. I walked a long time and then came in and did history for to-morrow. We got to our camping place, Ain el Baida, about ---It's a short march, but there's no water beyond. I was glad to get under the shadow of my tent and to lunch and sleep.
But even these words (there are many others, but I take these two as an example) which have almost become a part of the English language are now spelt differently by experts, and at first sight it is difficult to recognise them in 'Quran' and 'qawas'--which latter form is I believe in accordance with the standardised spelling now being officially introduced in Bagdad. Hogarth, Elizabeth Robins, and Major General Sir Percy Cox, who has had the kindness to read and correct many of the Proofs. And when she was wandering far afield (her wanderings began very early--she went to Roumania when she was twenty-two and to Persia when she was twenty-three) she was always ready to take up her urban or country life at home on her return with the same zest as before, carrying with her, wherever she was, her ardent zest for knowledge, turning the flashlight of her eagerness on to one field of the mind after another and making it her own, reading, assimilating, discussing until the years found her ranged on equal terms beside some of the foremost scholars of her time. Gertrude lived at first at 95 Sloane Street with my mother Lady Olliffe, who took her and Maurice to her heart as if they had been grandchildren of her own. I need only recall the bright promise of her college days, when the vivid, rather untidy, auburn-haired girl of seventeen first came amongst us and took our hearts by storm with her brilliant talk and her youthful confidence in her self and her belongings. Billy [Lascelles] and I sat in the garden and had a long talk so long that he only left himself a quarter of an hour to catch his train. He wanted to take me with him to Paddington and send me back in a hansom, don't be afraid, I didn't go-What would have happened if I had, it was ten o'clock! I had a delightful dancing lesson, learnt two more parts of the sword dance, began the minuet. I think it's great sport; I'm not sorry to be able to do a good turn to an Agail, and he and his Bagdadis are very interesting to talk to, with their dragoman on the box and their mules following behind the crowds of tents.
Gertrude herself in her letters used often to spell the same word in different ways, sometimes because she was trying experiments in transliteration, sometimes deliberately adopting a new way, sometimes because the same word is differently pronounced in Arabic or in Turkish. I am also much indebted to the following for placing at my disposal maps or photographs, letters or portions of letters from Gertrude in their possession, or accounts of her written by themselves: Captain J. To most people outside her own circle Gertrude was chiefly known by her achievements in the East, and it is probably the story of these that they will look for in this book. The pigion was brought into our room it drank some milk Maurice spilt a lot on my bed. The History Lecturer at Queens College at that time was Mr. Gertrude's intelligence and aptitude for history impressed him keenly, and he strongly urged us to let her go to Oxford and go in for the History School. She had a most engaging way of saying 'Well you know, my father says so and so' as a final opinion on every question under discussion-[and indeed to the end of her life Gertrude, with the same absolute confidence would have been capable of still quoting the same authority as final]. Yesterday morning I went to the French Literature class at Caroline's [Hon. It is lovely, you must learn it the first dancing lesson you are here. We had a very agreeable chat and they gave me some gingerbread biscuits, for which I blessed them and we made plans for meeting in Damascus.
From 1919 onwards the confidential detailed letters of many pages, often written day by day, took its place. Then we went downstairs to breakfast Mother and Maurice and I cooked a dinner because it was wet. We had a capital cooking lesson yesterday, made scones and gingerbread and boiled potatoes . There seems to be always a wind here; it was such a hurricane in the afternoon and evening that I thought my tent would go, but it held firm.
In the letters contained in this book there will be found many Eastern names, both of people and places, difficult to handle for those, like myself, not conversant with Arabic. They foreshadow the pictures given in her subsequent family letters of her gradual development on all sides through the years, garnering as she went the almost incredible variety of experiences which culminated and ended in Bagdad. Then after their father's second marriage the two Lascelles boys came into the circle as intimates and cousins, the sons of my sister Mary spoken of in the letters as Auntie Mary, wife of Sir Frank Lascelles. I found them breakfasting on dates,-camels' milk and the bitter black coffee of the Arabs--a peerless drink.
It was fortunate for the recipients that the act of writing, the actual driving of the pen, seemed to be no more of an effort to Gertrude than to remember and record all that the pen set down. [The only remaining entry in the diary is an account of her birthday, the day she was eleven, Monday, 14th of July. Then I found under my pillow a book from nurse then we got up. The little girls think it is a great pity you are coming back so soon, because we are so comfortable. If you let it stand for 12 hours the taste almost goes away, but it remains flat and disagreeable, and I add some lemon juice to it before I drink it. We pitched our tents by a charming temple in the very middle of the ruins--it was before the mules came up, we having got in at 10.
Those letters, varied, witty, enthralling, were a constant joy through the years to all those who read them. He gave me scales a fireplace with pans kitchen furniture. The horses drank eagerly, however, and we went on down a line of columns to the second spring which is much purer, though it, too, tastes strongly of sulphur.
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