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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.
She was able at the close of a day of exciting travel to toss a complete account of it on to paper for her family, often covering several closely written quarto pages. Then the time came when she ceased to write a diary. We now have out some yellow crocus and primroses snodrops and primroses. The record, the celebrations, and all the presents seem amusingly childish for a little girl who was reading Green's history before breakfast, and devouring every book she could find.] When I woke up I went to see the time. When we were ready we went into Mother's room and there I found a hopping toad from Auntie Bessie dinner set from Mother, watering can from Papa. We shall be delighted to have you though, one's own society palls after a time. I was too sleepy to be very hungry, but someone brought a big bowl of milk and I ate sour bread and dibbis, while the brother of the Sheikh talked to me and the howling wind scattered the sand over us. Besides these home letters, she found time for a large =and varied correspondence with friends outside her home circle both male and female, among the former being some of the most distinguished men of her time. Went to bed tired, had a little talk not fun and went to sleep. [Gertrude never entirely mastered the art of spelling, and all her life long there were certain words in her letters that were always spelt wrong. I have read Swinburne's Jonson which I will keep for you, it is quite excellent. The stone used here is a beautiful white limestone that looks like marble and weathers a golden yellow, like the Acropolis. I got up feeling extremely brisk, and spent the whole morning exploring Palmyra. I am returning by the ordinary tourist route, The old high road across the desert. These were usually addressed to her father and dispatched to her family by every mail and by every extra opportunity. We had soup fish mince crockets Puding, cheese and butter and desert. What with one thing and another, it was before I could retire and wash and go to bed, but I then slept most blissfully for a couple of hours; after which I had tea and received all the worthies of the town-the Mudir is an old Turk, who talks much less Arabic than I do--and when I had sent them away happy I walked Out and down the street of columns into the Temple of the Sun--the town, I should say, for it is nearly all included within its enormous outer walls. As I rode over the hill, Palmyra looked like a beautiful ghost in the pale stormy light.Her devotion to him, her whole-hearted admiration, the close and satisfying companionship between them, their deep mutual affection--these were to both the very foundation of existence until the day she died. The effect however on Gertrude's "Oxfordy manner" of the society of foreign diplomats was not all that Lady Lascelles had hoped, for it is recorded that on one occasion when a distinguished foreign Statesman was discussing some of the international problems of Central Europe, Gertrude said to him, to the stupefaction of her listeners and the dismay of her hostess: "Il me semble, Monsieur, que vous n'avez pas saisi l'esprit du peuple allemand." There is no doubt that according to the ordinary canons of demeanour it was a mistake for Gertrude to proffer, as we have been shown on more occasions than one, her opinions, let alone her criticisms, to her superiors in age and experience. I think the reason the books were so high was because of the dinner party-it was before I began to keep house wasn't it, so I am not responsible, though I feel as if I were. Presently he grabbed her hand and said "do you see that young lady in a blue jacket? "Well," said he in an awestruck voice, "she took a first in history!! Molly informed me in the pride of newly acquired knowledge that there were at least 11,000 castles in his time! Ahmed, my guide, put another two on his camel and I told the muleteers to bring the other four, so that we should have enough water for our beasts and could sleep comfortably in the desert.
[This is the earliest letter extant from Gertrude, dated when she was six years old. But it was all part of her entire honesty and independence of judgment: and the time was to come when many a distinguished foreign statesman not only listened to the opinions she proffered but accepted them and acted on them. I paid everything but the butcher with what you sent, and had over 1 pound balance which I have kept for next time. So we all played at jumping over a string, not a very cooling occupation, till fortunately Miss Thomson came and called them in. There is no water between Ain el Baida and Karyatein, three hours on.
Through all her wanderings, whether far or near, she kept in the closest touch with her home, always anxious to share her experiences and impressions with her family, to chronicle for their benefit all that happened to her, important or unimportant: whether a stirring tale of adventure or an account of a dinner party. wide: the other two one for each little girl of nainsook which is a shade finer and will she says wash better, 13d. We rode down to one of the two springs to which it owes its existence, a plentiful supply of the clearest water, but so much impregnated with sulphur that the whole world round it smells of sulphur.