[ Bernard Gilliat-Smith (1883-1973), Romany scholar. ] Autograph Letter Signed (in full and as 'B G S') from Constantinople, including references to the hanging of the 'head eunuch', 'the new Selamlik' and 'prisoner solders' at the Seraskerat.

Bernard Gilliat-Smith (1883-1973), Romany scholar and linguist [ Gypsy Lore Society ]
Publication details: 
On letterhead of the Club de Constantinople, Pera [ Turkey ]. 30 April 1909.
SKU: 20010

4pp., 12mo. Aged and worn with closed tears along fold lines. At the time BGS was in the consular service in Istanbul. The recipient (perhaps R. A. Scott Mafie) is not named, and the salutation is in Romany. The letter begins: 'I am about to feast the eve of tomorrow which is the eve of the next day by imbibing a large quantity of Whisky and Soda, first to see how much will be required to produce the desired effect. I am also streaming with a cold in the head due to a hammam last night. The Kurdish youth has left for his country: - many Kurds have been arrested & shot since you left. A rumour which it is impossible to confirm & which sounds to me stupid will have it that a massacre of Christians was imminent & would have taken place if the troops had not entered last Saturday when they did.' He continues – with reference to Sir H. C. A. Eyres, Consul-General at Constantinople, 1905-14 – by describing how he has that day 'asked Eyres's permission and got it and went to the new Selamlik with the “Good Reshad”, Mehmet V as Sultan. It was held at Aya Sofia. I drove up to the Square with Edmonds & made my way to a back entrance of the Mosque facing the Sea and there I saw Mrs: Eyres & daughter & a Kavass in a carriage in spendid view of the Gate where he, He, was to pass. I left Edmonds who would not follow & got through the crowd to the carriage. I was disappointed in the Selamlik. It was crowded & too big, & disorderly & bourgeois, so different to the one you saw in the pretty little mosque on the hill.' He suggests that it may improve 'when the regiments are organized […] but as they will not keep so many soldiers in Constantinople it will never again be what it was.' There has been 'no news yet worth recording of Adbul Hamid. The head eunuch was hung (hanged) on the New Bridge yesterday morning they say.' He 'walked back through narrow streets headed by a band playing one Turkish Air after another, the first the one you know, passed the Sublime Porte & down the Rue de la S. Porte & down to the New Bridge: most !' He is regularly studying Romanian 'in bed – keeps me from wasting too much time on it'. He concludes: 'I don't think we have heard the last of the old man yet. What will Anatolia do? And Arabia?' Postscript, signed 'BGS': 'Yesterday I went up to the seraskerat & saw the prisoner soldiers begging for bread through the grills, bars I mean. - | I avoided the Bazaar & the Spaniard, so as not to have to tell you what he might say!' BGS's career is described by him in Who Was Who: 'Levant Consular Service; served at Constantinople, Sofia, Beirut, Varna, Foreign Office (London), Tabriz, Copenhagen, Sarajevo, Leningrad, Bucharest, New Orleans, Smyrna; retired, 1943'.?>