Lettre 4

Publié le par Catherine Traverso

Many, many thanks to Mrs Sandra Stelts, Curator of the Special Collections Library

Rare Books and Manuscripts
Special Collections Library
Pennsylvania State University

Lady Hester Stanhope
1993 - 0016R/Vf Lit

From the Convent of Mar Elias upon Mount Lebanon
May the 27 1814


My dear Cousin [Admiral Sir Sidney Smith, 1764-1838],

What is become of you that you do not write to me? have you not ages ago received two letters (duplicates) to tell you that I mean to remain in Syria till next Spring. I learnt with regret the other day than (sic) an officer (who had left Malta only in Febry) & who had in charge a large packet of letters for me, had been shipwrecked upon the coast  of Egypt, all the lives on board were saved, but my letters lost. I cannot say how much this hurts me, as I am so anxious both about persons & things at this moment.
I know you like discoveries therefore I shall communicate to you one which I have made, & which I hope will hereafter prove useful, but like the cowpox I take [for] granted it will at first be much abused & doubted. I had heard of a stone two years ago which I was told was mentioned by a Persian author as having been tried with great success upon buboes in the plague. At last after much trouble & expence I procured one of these stones & had the experiment first tried by Turks, who gave a most favorable account of its effect, but that did not content me, I was afraid of being deceived, so a short time ago I sought out a poor family who had been driven from their home, that infection might not spread in the village they belonged to, & witnessed myself the application of the stone. I took three Turks with me, my own servant, a Cairene, my surveyor & a Turkish barber whom I ordered to make a slight incision upon the buboe of a boy of 12 years old (who cd neither walk nor stand) & there to apply the stone, which sucked like  a leech & remained on for four hours, when put into warm milk it discharged its venom & turned it sour. The boy fell asleep & slept till morning, when he woke the great heat had left him & he cd stand alone, the third day I went again to see him (only having sent the 2d) three of the family who had the plague were all dead but the boy half recovered, well enough to walk & meet me. Six in all had died of the plague but that was before I went to see them. I saw the boy again a few days ago & he was carrying a load. You will say perhaps that it is not unnatural  for one in a family to recover, but what I wished to prove was, whether the stone really stuck on as it did, it certainly drew from the sleepiness which came over the boy, just like that which some persons have with a blister. I have written an account of this experiment to Sir J. bankes. One of those made by a Turk, an aga whose attestation  I have got, is still more remarkable, his wife was quite given over  & her head turned to the East to die, he applied the stone which stuck on 12 hours & the woman recovered. You see I am not idle, & am no coward, if I were either I sd not be yr Cousin. I believe there is little doubt but I had the plague myself at Latakia. My own Doctor knew nothing about it only having once seen at a distance a woman who had it, & the doctor of the country who likewise attended me, never had treated it but out of window where he sticks himself up, & gives medicine for the sake of selling it only. Every body with the plague is not affected alike & because I did not vomit, having every other symtom (sic) to the highest degree, they wd not at first believe it was the plague, & laughed at me for thinking so.
Now I think I have talked enough about the plague & myself, & must tell you that yr friend the Emir Beechir is well, I had a letter from him a few days ago he was then at Aine El Assal not far from Balbeck. The Emir Hydar was with him, he also wrote to me. I have lost one of my very great friends at Damascus, a great Effendi who fell a victim to the plague, & also the wife of Achmet Bey (Abdallah's Pachas son) a sweet Circassian who had the most beautiful smile in the world. Nassiff Pacha & almost all his women, Mamalukes etc are no more. Topal Ali & Ali Agar the two great  [?] rebels who the pacha of Aleppo was ordered by the Porte to subdue, have fled into the desert. The Wahabees still keep their ground against Mohamet Ali  & who has sent for more troops to assist him. My subjects the Bedouins are encamped to eastward of Palmyra the plague has prevented them from coming this year to the borders of the desert. to be Queen of the Arabs & Queen of the Jews is rather extrardinary but notwithstanding it is so. No people can be more civil to me than the Jewish nation, I really believe my name has something to do with it, but the principal reason is the known friendship which Haim the famous Jew who directs everything in the Pachalic of Acre, bears me. He is about the cleverest man I ever knew, et vrai Politique! I had a party of abt five & twenty Jews, just before the plague broke out, a vastly rich shrewd old fellow from Bagdad amused me much with his histories of great men in that part of the world. He has taken very great pains to persuade me to go there, & says I have no idea how I shall be received. All this wd have bored anyone, but you, but I know you like to hear even little circumstances which relate to this part of the world & I know that if it sd be my fate to leave it, few things wd interest me more than to hear what is going forward in that delightful spot which I think no one can inhabit without becoming attached to. Here I am at all events till next Spring as the plague is in every great town in the interior & upon the coast likewise. I have made my habitation here very commodious & consider myself now as a subject of yr friend the Prince. Do write to him a long french letter which will answer all purposes, my dragoman shall translate it into Arab. He is very young but a good soul & trustworthy. When I took Damiani he was ill, but out of charity I sd have kept on yr old  servant after Beaudin had recovered , but it was impossible he had drank his senses away, & I cd [mot barré, illisible] not [mot barré, illisible] make anything of him. he is idle & proud beyond description, & blunders from morning till night. All that he seems to have a clear idea of are the shawls which he wore in your service. Public news is wonderful, but I know of none later than the taking of Lyons. Peace I suppose is nearly certain, if so why not send home yr fat ship with its Captain, & if there is no plague just visit once more the scenes of old for amusement, for health. At all events I must have news of you to content yr friends in this country before I leave it, & be so good as to recollect how long letters are reaching one. There is no plague at present at Cyprus for that reason it is probable that there will be no a more constant communication between that place & Malta, Sicily, etc. than any other near me. Your letters therefore wd come quicker perhaps if directed to the care of the English Consul at that place who wd forward to me immediately. I wrote you a great ['packet' barré] volume before I fell ill last Novr, the Doctor wrote you also from Latakia I believe, & I wrote again from Seyde in Feby last I think it was, & he made a duplicate of the letter. All I recd from you were previous to writing any of these letters. Nuns in their cells do not in general write romances therefore if this letter is devoid of imagination etc you must not wonder at it, it is suivant les regles. Let Mr Secy Browne in one corner, an out lawed smuggler in another, & a hump backed Midshipman in a third (who broke his back spying from the top mast in a gale of wind at Murat ['changing' barré] turning his coat, [mot barré, illisible] & is therefore incapacitated for a sailor & now turned confidential Secy to your Excellency) arrange all these people well, & like Cesar dictate to all & let one be a letter to me. I suppose the printing press works morning & night, therefore I might as well profit by a few of its creations. Adieu I will trespass no longer upon yr valuable time.
Believe me my dear Cousin
Yrs sincerely & affectionately


I have got pretty stout again thank God
May 29 I have just heard that the plague has broken out in Cyprus & that the rich Bagdad Jew is dead. I have never seen any thing of the Priest you mentioned, & am glad of it, for I hate Priests I saw too much of them in the Holy Land.

Publié dans Epistolaire

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dissertation proposal 20/08/2009 09:09

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

Catherine Traverso 20/08/2009 14:03

I've been working on this on and off for almost a year now, glad you found it of interest and said so. Thanks for your visit and comment. Nice day to you