Lettre 7

Publié le par Catherine Traverso

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British Library, Oriental & India Collections, London.

MSS EUR C740.

 

Latakia July the 12th 1803 (sic)

 

Madam

 

I shall allow you to laugh at the little details I shall enter into, provided I can flatter myself they may prove useful to you upon your intended journey. I understand that you mean to ride, in that case, it will be absolutely necessary to have two walking grooms to relieve each other because the sudden appearance of a party of Arabs mounted on mares, often occasion the horses to misbehave & to require a man at hand to separate those who fight. These grooms ought to take it by turns to ride a strong horse, which ought constantly to keep behind you, carrying a small tent about five or six feet in diameter, a carpet & cushion, a bisack containing on one side a milk kettle (which you will find very useful when you meet some Arabs flocks & are poisoned with bad water) & on the other a pot de chambre (en français dans le texte). Imagine Madam a plain which seems never to end, & consider what you are to do when you travel eight or nine hours together? it will be in vain to seek a bush or tree for any little purpose, besides you will not be allowed to stray from the party, the only way therefore is to pitch yr tent near them, saying you wish to repose, or eat, which is always considered as a sensible proposition, particularly if you order coffee for the people.

As to dress, the most shabby you can possibly wear will be the best, a veil of course, yr riding upon a side saddle is out of the question, more even in Syria, than in the desert. I was dressed like an Arab, only to be distinguished by my pale face, but I went independant of Pachas, caravans or Consular dignity, & Had to make up my way as I cd amongst savages, I also carried water & provisions upon my own horse, for fear of accidents.

Having an hereditary passion for horses, I can enter into Mr Riches feelings about his favorite, bring him most certainly, it will please both Turks & Arabs, positively give them a high opinion of Mr R's understanding; for Mr North with all his wit & all his learning, was considered a fool from the moment he was seen on horseback. The favorite as well as any other valuable horse you may bring, must have chains which (sic) lock to fetter them at night, or you will lose them you know not how. I strongly recommend both to Mr Rich & yourself a good supply of pelises & abas, as the climate in the desert is so variable. An Aba I consider as the most useful, the most sensible, & the most Philosophical of garments, & let me inhabit what part of the globe I may I shall never in future be without an aba. I wish that my praise of this dress cd induce you to adopt it, as I think you wd find great comfort in it. I know not the nature of Mr R. complaint but sd it be attended with fever, he will find nothing so useful as a saline draught upon a journey. The bad water is not likely only to disgust him, but at the same time to make him ill. Pray take the greatest care that yr supply of lemons are not seen, or it will be impossible to keep them, this advice stands good with tobacco & every other article most necessary to yr & Mr Rs comfort, besides you sd take nearly twice of what you generally consume in the same time, for it will be spoilt, or stollen (sic), or twisted out of you in some way or other. I cannot expect you to forgive me for thus boring you with so long a letter, untill (sic) you have felt very cold, & have been well tormented by Arabs & Palmyrenes, then perhaps you will do me the justice to believe that I have been induced to dwell upon trifles with the hope of rendering yr journey the most pleasant.

I am Madam

Your Obedient Humble Sert

Hester Lucy Stanhope

P.S. at Damascus Mr Rich even cannot be dressed as a Frank, much less you, but console yourself with thinking that if you wore the most becoming English dress in the world it wd be despised by both Turks & their women. Before I lost my wardrobe in the shipwreck, the women used to ask me eternally, why do you not wear Aleppo stuff & Brusa silks, why wear one row of pearls for bracelets instead of twenty, why such ugly shoes? &c &c  A very handsome dress of the country appears to me what they are most likely to admire. Another thing is both you & Mr R. will be expected to make presents every step you go. Therefore as shawls are not so common here as at Bagdad, it might answer to you to bring a supply of different qualities. All the handsome briddles come from Constantinople & Egypt. Swords & [?] are also always vastly acceptable presents. I mention this not being aware of Mr R. determination upon the subjects of presents.

Publié dans Epistolaire

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