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Title: Eothen - with an introduction and notes
Author: Kinglake, A. W.
Language: English
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                          [Picture: Book cover]

                        [Picture: Eastern Travel]



                                  EOTHEN


                                   _By_
                              A. W. KINGLAKE

                     _WITH AN INTRODUCTION AND NOTES_
                                 BY ANON

                                * * * * *

                          _WITH A FRONTISPIECE_
                            _FROM A PAINTING_
                              BY THE AUTHOR

                                * * * * *

                                  LONDON
                              METHUEN & CO.
                          36 ESSEX STREET, W.C.
                                  MDCCCC

                                * * * * *

    Πρὸς ᾒῶ τε καί ήλἱου ἀνατολὰς ὲποιέετο τὴν ὀδὁν.—HEROD. vii. 58.



CONTENTS

CHAP.                                   PAGE.
            INTRODUCTION                  vii
            PREFACE                      xxxv
        I.  OVER THE BORDER                 1
       II.  TURKISH TRAVELLING             14
      III.  CONSTANTINOPLE                 30
       IV.  THE TROAD                      41
        V.  INFIDEL SMYRNA                 50
       VI.  GREEK MARINERS                 63
      VII.  CYPRUS                         74
     VIII.  LADY HESTER STANHOPE           82
       IX.  THE SANCTUARY                 111
        X.  THE MONKS OF PALESTINE        115
       XI.  GALILEE                       123
      XII.  MY FIRST BIVOUAC              128
     XIII.  THE DEAD SEA                  137
      XIV.  THE BLACK TENTS               144
       XV.  PASSAGE OF THE JORDAN         148
      XVI.  TERRA SANTA                   155
     XVII.  THE DESERT                    175
    XVIII.  CAIRO AND THE PLAGUE          202
      XIX.  THE PYRAMIDS                  231
       XX.  THE SPHINX                    235
      XXI.  CAIRO TO SUEZ                 237
     XXII.  SUEZ                          246
    XXIII.  SUEZ TO GAZA                  253
     XXIV.  GAZA TO NABLUS                261
      XXV.  MARIAM                        267
     XXVI.  THE PROPHET DAMOOR            278
    XXVII.  DAMASCUS                      284
   XXVIII.  PASS OF THE LEBANON           293
     XXIX.  SURPRISE OF SATALIEH          298
            APPENDIX                      308



INTRODUCTION


I


_EOTHEN_ is the earliest work of Alexander William Kinglake, best known
as the historian of the Crimean War.  It is an account of a tour—or
rather of selected adventures which occurred during a tour—undertaken in
the Levant in 1834, but was not published until ten years later.  The
biographical notices of the Author are somewhat meagre, as by his dying
directions all his papers were destroyed.  He was born near Taunton in
1809, and educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, at which
latter he is said to have been the friend of Thackeray and Tennyson.  On
leaving college he started on his Oriental tour with Lord Pollington (the
Methley of _Eothen_), and on returning to England was called to the Bar
at Lincoln’s Inn, and obtained a lucrative practice.  But the life was
too tame to suit his taste.  In 1845 he visited Algeria, and went through
a campaign with the flying column of St. Arnaud; and in 1854 went to the
Crimea with Lord Raglan, and was present at the battle of Alma.  On
returning to England he decided to go into politics, and was elected for
Bridgewater in 1857 in the Liberal interest.  He seems to have been a
poor speaker, and to have exercised little parliamentary influence; but
we are told that in 1859 he was strongly opposed to the Conspiracy Bill,
which was introduced after Orsini’s attempt to murder Napoleon III., and
that in 1860 he denounced the cession of Nice and Savoy to France.  In
both cases he was apparently actuated by his personal dislike of
Napoleon, which is evident in his historical works.  In 1868 he was again
returned for Bridgewater, but unseated on petition, for bribery.  One
might have supposed that he had acquired this habit in the East, but his
biographers assert that he knew nothing of the irregularities which were
committed by his agents.  But the chief business of his later life was
the composition of the _History of the War in the Crimea_, of which the
first two volumes appeared in 1863, and the seventh and eighth
(completing the work) in 1887.  He died in 1891.



II


His earlier and less ambitious, though perhaps more charming, book was
rejected by several publishers, but proved an immense success.  It caught
the popular fancy at once, and after the lapse of more than fifty years
still maintains an honourable position.  In the year after its first
appearance it passed through three editions, containing several
variations from the _editio princeps_ which have attracted the attention
of those who are interested in bibliography.  It is only fair to reprint
the book with these corrections, which seem mostly due to the author’s
laudable desire for greater accuracy.  For instance, he was apparently
seized with qualms as to his assertion (end of chap. xiii.) that when he
emerged from the Dead Sea after bathing therein his “skin was thickly
encrusted with sulphate of magnesia,” and cautiously substituted “salts”
for the more chemical expression.  Yet I observe that the most recent
Encyclopædia states that “the water of the Dead Sea is characterised by
the presence of a large quantity of magnesian salts,” so perhaps his
first statement was not so wrong after all.  He also found that he had
talked of Jove when he should have said Neptune in his account of the
Troad, and, conceiving a mistrust of the former deity, removed his name
not only from this passage but also from chap. xviii., in which he
altered “That touch was worthy of Jove” into “In that touch was true
hospitality.”  I confess that I think this regard for truth might have
moved him to expunge his account of the advances made to him by the young
ladies of Bethlehem (end of chap. xvi.); I cannot believe that narrative
to be even probable, but anyone may retort that my scepticism is due to
the absence of those attractive qualities which Kinglake possessed.

In chap. xvi. he says that shrouds are dipped in the holy water of the
Jordan and “preserved as a burial dress which shall inure” (later
editions “enure”) “for salvation in the realms of death.”  Some critical
scholar of eminence should be called upon to emend or explain this
mysterious passage.  At least, if people are allowed to print such things
in the nineteenth century what right have we to emend the classical
authors when they choose to be unintelligible?

The truth is that _Eothen_, despite its great literary merits, is often
comfortably slipshod.  And very properly so, for if there is to be any
correspondence between subject and style, it must be inappropriate for a
traveller recounting confidentially his diversions and mishaps to adopt
the phraseology of Gibbon.  Matthew Arnold, in his “Essay on the Literary
Influence of Academies,” selected the _History of the Crimean War_ as an
example of what he called the Corinthian style.  _Eothen_ certainly
presents specimens of this manner, but they are hardly characteristic; it
is often “urbane,” and has “the warm glow, blithe movement, and pliancy
of life,” which, according to the critic’s definition, Corinthians lack.
It is not devoid of unity, but it is many sided and kaleidoscopic.  The
author varies from the trivial to the solemn, from boisterous exuberance
to careful austerity, from flippancy to rhapsody, and is perhaps never
quite serious.  One wonders whether one is reading a clever but somewhat
slangy letter, or a long-meditated essay polished and repolished by
incessant _labor limæ_.  Perhaps between 1834 and 1844 he worked up and
rearranged old spontaneous effusions, as indeed his preface suggests.  He
often writes like a schoolboy, and sometimes like a philosopher; he is at
his best when he records what he has seen in phrases not without rhetoric
and not without humour, but distinct and clear as his own impressions.
“The foot falls noiseless in the crumbling soil of an Eastern city, and
silence follows you still.  Again and again you meet turbans, and faces
of men, but they have nothing for you—no welcome—no wonder—no wrath—no
scorn—they look upon you as we do upon a December’s fall of snow—as a
‘seasonable,’ unaccountable, uncomfortable work of God, that may have
been sent for some good purpose to be revealed hereafter.”  How vivid and
how true!

But perhaps the reader may ask, as I ask myself, whether an introduction
to _Eothen_ is really necessary.  The book is so simple and complete in
itself that it seems to require no explanation or commentary.  But for
the benefit of those who are not acquainted with the Levant of to-day, it
is well to explain that the sixty-four years which have elapsed since
Kinglake made his Eastern tour have brought about important changes in
the extent, and some few in the condition, of the Turkish Empire.  The
“unchanging East” is a popular phrase which is only true in a very
limited sense.  It has arisen chiefly from the habit of pious publishers
of representing Abraham in the costume of a modern Bedouin Sheikh, and it
is peculiarly audacious to apply it to regions like Constantinople and
Egypt, which have witnessed exceptional vicissitudes and undergone
remarkable changes,—political, religious, and linguistic.  It is however
just to say that the Turk is unchanging,—and it is to the presence of the
Turk that are due the peculiar characteristics of the Levant, as the
region visited by Kinglake may conveniently be termed; like the Bourbons,
he forgets nothing and learns nothing; as he was on the day when he
entered Europe, so he was in 1834 and so he is now.  The boundaries of
Turkey have changed; there are now no Pashas at Belgrade, or even at
Sofia; and Ottoman territory is no longer plague-stricken.  But whenever
one crosses the Turkish frontier, one may find functionaries like the
delightful potentate of Karagholookoldour, and be conscious of effecting
within the space of a few hundred yards a change greater than can be
experienced in any amount of travel in other European countries,
including Russia.  One passes from regions where people have roughly the
same habits and ideas as ourselves—where they believe in political
economy, get drunk in public, sit upon chairs, and do not feel there is
anything indelicate in mentioning their wives—to a land where people do
none of these things, where the naked desolation of the country at the
side of the railway offers a startling contrast to the smug prosperity of
the Balkan States, where people prefer to sit curled up on hard sofas,
and where it is bad taste to condole with a man on his wife’s death.

In 1834, the year of Kinglake’s journey, Turkey in Europe was
considerably more extensive than at the present day.  Greece had already
revolted and been recognised as an independent state.  Wallachia and
Moldavia were in process of securing their freedom.  But the territories
now known as Bulgaria, Bosnia, and Herzegovina were still integral
portions of the Ottoman Empire; and though Servia (in which the scene of
the opening chapters of _Eothen_ is laid) had been constituted a
principality under Milosh Obrenovich as prince, in 1830, several of the
fortresses were still garrisoned by Ottoman troops, which accounts for
the presence of the Pasha at Belgrade.  It is interesting to observe that
though our Author must have proceeded to Adrianople straight across
Bulgaria, he never mentions the name of that country.  This apparently
strange omission is really quite natural.  The Bulgarians, though in some
ways the most vigorous element among the Balkan races, passed through
greater trials than the Servians or Roumanians, and for a time lost their
national consciousness more completely.  They were nearer Constantinople,
and therefore any political movement was more easily kept in check; while
all the religious and educational establishments of the country were in
the hands of Greek priests who practically proscribed the Bulgarian
language.  I have been informed by a gentleman who has resided forty
years in Turkey, that when he first entered the Ottoman dominions every
educated Bulgarian called himself a Greek, and would have been ashamed to
employ his national designation, which was hardly in general use before
the movement of 1860.  Another striking omission of _Eothen_ is that it
contains hardly any allusion to the Sultan.  At the present day the
descendant of Osman, who claims to be also the successor of the Prophet,
is a well-known figure to the British public.  The _Pall Mall Gazette_
familiarly calls him “The Shadow.” {xiv}  The friends of the Armenians
hold him personally responsible for the massacres; and a modern Kinglake,
even if bent on avoiding “political disquisitions,” would certainly
describe the Selamlik or weekly visit of the Sovereign to the mosque.
You cannot travel in Turkey without hearing the name of “Our Master”
(Effendimiz) or “the Imperial Person” (Zat-i-Shahane) daily mentioned,
and feeling that his wishes (which usually do not coincide with those of
European travellers, and affect the minutest details) are the only real
power in the country.  This state of things is due almost entirely to the
personal energy of the present occupant of the Ottoman throne, who for
good or evil has succeeded in concentrating all power into his hands, and
in displaying the greatest example of practical autocracy ever seen.  In
1834 Mahmoud was Sultan, one of the most vigorous of Ottoman princes, but
then near his end, and doubtless wearied out by a reign of constant
reverse and ineffectual efforts at reform.

The Armenian question, like the Bulgarian, is of recent date, and we
consequently find that Kinglake says as little of the one as of the
other; but he often speaks of the doings of Mehemet Ali and his son
Ibrahim Pasha, which at this period formed one of the chief
preoccupations of the Porte.  Mehemet Ali was a native of Cavalla who
held a military command in Egypt.  In the troubles which succeeded the
French occupation of that country, at the beginning of the century, he
succeeded in making himself head of the popular party in Cairo, ousted
the Turkish Governor, and established himself in his place.  He was
recognised by the Porte in 1805, and the Khediviate was subsequently made
hereditary in his family.  At this time the Mamluks (or descendants of
the Turkish Guard instituted by the Sultans of Egypt in the thirteenth
century) occupied a position somewhat similar to that of the Janissaries
at Constantinople.  Mehemet Ali, like Sultan Mahmoud, felt that this
military _imperium in imperio_ rendered fixed Government impossible, and
determined to consolidate his own rule by breaking the power of the
Mamluks.  He did so by inviting their leaders to a banquet, at which they
were surprised and massacred.  The Sultan, in return for his recognition
of Mehemet Ali as ruler of Egypt, made use of him during some years to
keep in order various rebellious provinces of the Empire.  He was first
ordered to quell the Wahabi insurrection in Arabia, and his campaign
there is alluded to in chap. xviii.  These people were a sort of
Mohammedan Puritans {xvi} who had made themselves masters of the Holy
Cities of Mecca and Medina.  Mehemet Ali sent against them his son Tosun,
who captured Mecca in 1813, but died, and was replaced by his younger
brother Ibrahim Pasha, who is often mentioned in _Eothen_.  He finally
concluded the Wahabi war in 1818, and is next heard of fighting against
Greece, which was beginning the struggle for independence.  Mehemet Ali
was again called upon to assist the Sultan in suppressing rebellion, and
again sent his son to represent him.  Ibrahim captured Missolonghi in
1825, but was defeated in 1827 by the united fleets at Navarino, under
Sir Edward Codrington, and retired from Greece.  In return for these
services Mehemet Ali claimed that the Pashalik of Syria should be added
to his dominions.  The Sultan refused the request of his powerful vassal;
but the latter picked a quarrel with the Turkish governor of Syria, and
sent Ibrahim to invade the province.  Ibrahim not only made a triumphal
entry into Damascus, but defeated the Turkish Army at Beilan and advanced
into Asia Minor, where he routed a second force, sent against him by the
Sultan, near Konia, in December 1832.  The defeated Turkish troops joined
the Egyptians, Ibrahim advanced victoriously to Broussa, and had
Constantinople at his mercy.  The Sultan in his extremity called the
Russians to his assistance.  The Treaty of Unkiar Iskelesi was concluded
in 1833; Ibrahim was obliged to retire, but the Pashaliks of Syria and
Adana were given to Mehemet Ali, and treated with great rigour, as
mentioned in chap. xv.  At the time of Kinglake’s visit to Egypt the
plague seems to have been the one absorbing preoccupation of everyone in
Cairo, and we learn little from him of the normal state of the country at
this period.  The most remarkable of his Egyptian sayings is the prophecy
at the end of the chapter called “The Sphinx.”  “The Englishman leaning
far over to hold his loved India will plant a firm foot on the banks of
the Nile and sit in the seats of the faithful.”  To have made this
prediction at a time when India was still under the Company, when we had
no interests in North-East Africa or the Red Sea, before the Suez Canal
was a serious project, perhaps before we had occupied Aden, {xvii} is
indeed an example of no ordinary political foresight.

Such was the political condition of the lands which Kinglake visited, and
of many aspects of which he gives a most living picture.  In his
diverting preface he disclaims all intention of being instructive, of
describing manners and customs, still less of discussing political and
social questions.  Perhaps his narrative sometimes reminds the reader of
his statement (chap. viii.) that a story may be false as a mere fact but
perfectly true as an illustration.  Some great writers impart durability
to their work by selecting from a mass of details such traits as are
important and characteristic, and passing lightly over what is
transitory.  For instance, the main impression left by Thackeray’s novels
is not that the life there described is old-fashioned, but that it is in
essentials the life of to-day.  So, too, in _Eothen_ a reader acquainted
with the East hardly notices anachronisms.  Judged as a description of
the Levant of 1898, it is inaccurate, or rather inadequate, almost
exclusively on account of its omissions.  But the principal descriptions,
incidents, and portraits—the Mohammedan quarter at Belgrade, the
conversation between the Pasha and the Dragoman, the meeting of the two
Englishmen in the desert, Dimitri and Mysseri—are, if considered as
types, as true to nature to-day as they were sixty years ago, and
doubtless will be sixty years hence.

Kinglake treats the Levant in the only way it ought to be treated if it
is to be enjoyed—half-seriously.  Those whom business or philanthropy
oblige to devote to it any real exertion, sentiment, or interest, lay up
for themselves nothing but disillusion and disappointment, for, whether
they are fascinated by the picturesque and manly virtues of the Moslems,
or roused to honourable indignation by the slaughter and oppression of
their fellow-Christians, they will find in the end that, as Lord
Salisbury once said, they have put their money on the wrong horse.  In
the Eastern Derby there are no winning horses.  One after another they
have all disappointed their backers; the faults of Eastern Christendom
brought about and still keep up the rule of the Turk, and few who have an
adequate knowledge of the facts of the case believe either that the
Christians are happy under that rule or that they furnish in themselves
the elements of anything much better.

Yet this dreary tragedy—this daily round of oppression and misgovernment,
varied by outbursts of interracial fury—has a brighter side.  To the mere
spectator, to the intelligent traveller with literary taste and a sense
of humour, the surface of Levantine life is a stream of perpetual
amusement, often broadening into comedy, and sometimes bursting all
bounds and breaking into a screaming farce.  The number and variety of
races and languages afford infinite possibilities of misunderstanding and
mistranslation (which it must be admitted are the basis of many good
stories); the Orientalised European and the Europeanised Oriental are
alike inexpressibly droll.  Their very crimes have an element of the
burlesque, which seems to disarm censure and remove the whole transaction
to a non-moral sphere where ordinary rules of right and wrong do not
apply.  The Turk, if not precisely witty himself, is at least the cause
of wit in others.  Extreme Asiatic dignity amidst ludicrously undignified
European surroundings, a mixture of pomp and homeliness, power and
childishness, give rise to humorous anecdotes of a peculiar and very
characteristic flavour, examples of which may be found in several works
besides _Eothen_, notably Robert Curzon’s _Monasteries of the Levant_.
Another excellent illustration is supplied by Vazoff’s _Under the Yoke_,
a translation of which has been published in English.  It is an
historical novel, written by a Bulgarian burning with indignation against
the Ottoman rule.  Yet the Turkish Caimmakam, as drawn by a bitter enemy,
is no bloody tyrant, but an exquisitely diverting old gentleman whose
every appearance is hailed by the reader with impatient delight.  As the
violence of the Turk, so also the dishonesty and corruption of the Rayah
seem to lose their enormity when viewed in this gentle, humorous light.
The swindling is so palpable, and yet so gravely decorous in its external
forms, that it ceases to shock; it is so universal that in the end no one
seems to have suffered much wrong.  To vary the celebrated remark about
the Scilly Islanders, one may say that these people gain a precarious
livelihood by taking bribes from one another.  Again the elaborate and
ceremonious phraseology essential to all literary composition in the East
enables a writer to make intrinsically preposterous assertions with a
gravity which renders criticism impossible.  What reply can be given to
the officials who assert that Armenians commit suicide in order to throw
suspicion on certain excellent Kurds residing in their neighbourhood? or
who when called upon to explain why they have incarcerated a foreign
traveller under circumstances of extreme indignity, blandly reply that
“the said gentleman was indeed hospitably entertained in the Government
buildings”?

This last instance shows that Oriental travelling must not be undertaken
without due precautions.  A certain retinue, and sufficient influence to
secure the courtesy of the authorities (which Kinglake evidently had),
are essential.  With them the traveller acquires a feeling, often
manifest in _Eothen_, that he is a sultan possessed of absolute authority
over his surroundings.  There is just enough hardship to make comparative
comfort seem luxury, just enough danger to make it pleasant, when all is
over, to hear from what perils one has escaped.  Should, however, any
reader be inclined to use _Eothen_ as a practical manual, he must be
cautious in following some of its precepts.  Kinglake constantly insists
that intimidation, haughtiness, and defiance of all regulations are the
only means of impressing Orientals; and chronicles with great
satisfaction his own exploits in this line, concluding with “the Surprise
of Satalieh.”  What he says is true enough as long as the Oriental
believes that the traveller is a prince in his own country, and that any
interference with his mad whims will bring severe punishment.  But
unfortunately the secret is out.  Enlightened officials are well aware
that many Englishmen are not cousins of the Queen, and have a shrewd
suspicion that hindrances placed in the way of the prying European are
not displeasing to the Imperial Government.  The “Lord of London,” who
fifty years ago obtained a firman which made every provincial official
bow before him, may now be kept waiting days or weeks for a travelling
passport; and, unless he uses tact as well as bumptiousness, may find
himself in a position to write to the _Times_ about the interior of
Turkish provincial prisons, and become the subject of a Blue Book.  Still
even now, if travellers will be cautious and polite in dealing with
people of whose language and customs they are profoundly ignorant, and
not bluster unless they know very well what they are about (for I admit
that bluster has its uses), they will find travelling more interesting,
diverting, and enjoyable in the Levant than in any other part of the
world.

I write these lines as I sit in the hall of the largest hotel in New
York, a newly arrived stranger, somewhat dazed by the bustle and the
glare.  The whole establishment is on a greater scale than anything else
in the world—except its own bills.  Everything is made of gold and
marble, including, I fancy, the food—at least this hypothesis plausibly
reconciles the quality and texture of the viands with the value the
vendors seem to attach to them.  Enormous lifts shoot their living
freights up into spheres unseen, or engulf them in abysmal chasms.  All
round people are ringing electric bells, telephoning, telegraphing,
stenographing, polygraphing, and generally communicating their ideas
about money to their fellow-creatures by any means rather than the voice
which God put in the larynx for the purpose of quiet conversation.  On
one side an operatic concert is being performed, on the other porters and
luggage jostle a brilliant throng of fashionably dressed people.  It is
as if someone had given an evening party at a railway station.  “Whirr!
whirr! all by wheels! whizz! whizz! all by steam!” and electricity, as
the immortal Pasha of Karagholookoldour would have said.  Now my mind
(like the Pasha’s) comprehends locomotives, and I am an enthusiast for
progress, but amidst all the whizz and whirr and ringing of electric
bells, my memory turns somewhat regretfully to a hotel where I resided
not long ago in the “Exalted Country”—that fine old Stamboul’s jargon is
so much more soothing to the tongue than the strange abbreviations and
initials they use over here—which was certainly more interesting, and
not, I think, more uncomfortable than this Transatlantic Caravanserai.
Perhaps I shall write an introduction congenial to the Shade of Kinglake
(if indeed the Shades are interested in new editions of their works) if
instead of instituting a comparison between the Levant of to-day and of
1834, I recount a journey to the town of Karakeui in the year of grace
1898, and describe the local hotel.  Let not the reader in pursuit of
that “sound learning” which Kinglake kept at arm’s length rashly identify
Karakeui with the first town he finds on the map bearing that name.  The
Turk has not a great variety of local designations.  When possible he
adopts one from some other language, treating it with the scant courtesy
which long-winded, infidel polysyllables deserve (_e.g._ Edirné, Fílibé,
for Adrianople and Phílippopoli); but when forced to have recourse to his
own invention he calls most places Karakeui (or Blacktown), except those
which are dubbed Oldtown, Newtown, or Whitetown.

It has been justly said that the East begins on the other side of Vienna,
but, out of deference to the susceptibilities of the Magyars, who
consider themselves in the van of civilisation, the Orient Express
affects to be extremely European during its transit through Hungary.  It
bustles and shakes, and is very uncomfortable.  In Servia it is more at
its ease, though it still makes a pretence of thinking that time is money
by only stopping ten minutes at every station.  In Bulgaria it ceases to
imitate Western ways, and becomes frankly Oriental, reposing for half an
hour at spots where there are no passengers and no traffic.  The part of
the journey which lies on Turkish territory follows a singularly tortuous
and corkscrew course, across a perfectly level plain which presents no
obvious engineering difficulties.  The Porte confided the construction of
this line to an eminent Israelite at a remuneration of so much for every
kilometre built.  The eminent Israelite was straightway possessed by the
spirit of his ancestors, and made a large fortune by laying the rails
along a road as lengthy and complicated as that selected by Moses when he
spent forty years in traversing a distance which anyone else can
accomplish in a few days.

On arriving in Turkey we are at once seized by the representatives of the
Board of Health.  After all, times have indeed changed since _Eothen_ was
written.  Instead of being put in quarantine by Europe, Turkey now puts
Europe in quarantine.  It is true that good Moslems still hold that men’s
souls leave their bodies when God calls them, and count it impious to
suppose that neglect or precaution can hasten or delay the Divine
summons.  But though the Porte are not disposed to amend the sanitary
condition of Mecca, they enforce quarantine regulations all round
Constantinople with fanatical rigour.  This is due partly to the fears of
the Palace, and partly, I think, to a sense of humour.  It is an
excellent joke to apply a parody of European rules to Europeans in the
name of sanitary science: to keep a set of fussy business people waiting
a few days because they have come from a country which has not imposed
quarantine on another country where there has been a doubtful case of
cholera, or to detain a ship with a valuable cargo while embassies and
merchants scream that thousands of pounds are being lost daily.  On the
present occasion we are told we must wait a day under inspection, to see
if we develop the symptoms of any terrible malady, and are accordingly
lodged in damp little wooden huts on a muddy plain, where we are
certainly likely to fall ill even if hale and hearty on arriving.
Turkish soldiers prevent us from crossing an imaginary line and
contaminating the surrounding desert.  The quarantine doctor, however,
explains to me that he has a peculiar respect for my character, sanitary
and general, and would like to take a walk with me outside the limits of
the establishment.  He has a remarkable pedigree.  His father was a
Bohemian monk who found convent life too narrow for his taste, and
accordingly embraced Islam.  Once within the true fold he made up for
lost time by marrying as many wives as his new liberty allowed, and this
is one of the results.  He confides to me that his one ambition is to
wear decorations, and that in return for his civilities strangers of
distinction have procured for him the orders of their respective
countries.  The Siamese Minister, who recently passed through, made him a
Commander of the Order of the White Elephant.  Could I not obtain for him
the Order of the Garter?  Doubtless I possess it myself.  With blushing
mendacity I lead him to believe that I do, but explain that the
distinction is only given to Englishmen and not to foreigners.  I see
that he does not believe me, and meditates revenge.  Before we leave the
quarantine station we have to be disinfected.  The doctor attaches a
garden hose to a reservoir filled with a fetid and corrosive fluid.  The
victims are led up one by one by the military authorities as if to
execution, and the jet is turned upon them, causing their garments to
burst out into leprous spots.  I see by the doctor’s eye that he means to
make me pay for my unfriendliness in the matter of the decoration, and
therefore, casting scruple to the winds, I assure him that if he will
only treat me gently he shall have the Fourth Class of the Garter.  He is
at once all civility and consideration, and when I am led up in front of
his infernal machine, directs an odoriferous douche to the right and
left, leaving me unwetted in the middle.

Truly the way into Turkey is beset with as many difficulties as the road
to paradise.  After the quarantine comes the Custom House.  The entry of
most things is absolutely prohibited, and those which do enter pay a high
duty.  Books are treated with incredible severity.  No work is allowed to
pass the frontier which hints that the Turks were ever defeated, or that
the Ottoman Government or the Mohammedan religion have any imperfections.
Turkish officials having found by experience that very little European
literature comes up to their high standard, simply confiscate as
“seditious” every publication which mentions Turkey or the Mohammedan
East.  _Eothen_, even without the present highly seditious preface, is
placed on the index, as are also Shakespeare, Byron, Dante, the
_Encyclopædia Britannica_, Baedeker, and Murray.  In practice, of course,
certain familiar _argumenta ad hominem_ modify this Draconian system, but
even the golden key sometimes fails to open the door.  The officials
watch one another, and know that they are much more likely to obtain a
Turkish decoration by confiscating some infamous historian who is not
ashamed to say that the Turks were once driven out of Hungary than they
are to receive the Garter for letting his calumnies in.  But there is an
end to all troubles, even on the Turkish frontier, and at last we are
allowed to proceed to Karakeui, where I ultimately alight at the hotel.

Karakeui lies on a plateau, under a range of snowy mountains which
glitter with strange distinctness in the pure translucent air.  A forest
of minarets bears testimony to the piety of the place.  It is the sacred
month of Ramazan, and at sunset they will be festooned with lights and
blaze like columns of fire, while in the mosque below myriads of little
oil lamps will shed their soft glow on the bowing crowds, the plashing
fountains, and the names of saints and prophets blazoned on the walls in
green and red.  In the streets is a motley throng of men and animals.
Strings of camels and pack-horses, dogs, sheep, and turkeys are mixed up
with the human crowd.  Bulgarians and Servians quarrel in the bazaar, and
denounce one another to the Turks.  They each claim exclusive rights over
the only Christian Church, and the Governor, to end the dispute, has shut
it up altogether.  A few Greeks are occupied in making large fortunes,
and are ready to expatiate on the Hellenic Idea, and to explain how, from
a certain peculiar point of view, the late war may be regarded as a
victory for Greece.  Albanians, armed with many weapons, and with
moustaches as long as their own rifles, swagger through the crowd which
respectfully makes way for them.

The hotel is kept by an Armenian, who left his native village on account
of what are beautifully termed the “events” which occurred there.  Having
been inspired by these occurrences with a wholesome respect for the
followers of the Prophet, he is a little apt to recoup himself at the
expense of his co-religionists; but the local Ottoman authorities, to
whose care I am duly recommended as being “one of those who wish well to
the Sublime Government,” have sternly informed him that I am not to be
fleeced.  (I wonder if the Governor of New York would address a similar
warning to the proprietor of this hotel.)  The establishment is
constructed in the form of a quadrangle.  The central space is a
quagmire, wherein are embedded, and, so to speak, held as hostages for
payment, the vehicles in which the travellers have arrived.  The ground
floor of the surrounding buildings is devoted to stabling.  Outside the
first floor, and above the aforesaid quagmire, runs a gallery, from which
open a number of cells, bare and whitewashed, devoid of all furniture,
but, contrary to what might be expected, scrupulously clean.  A marble
bath is not, as in New York, attached to each apartment, but in response
to a suitable shout a boy brings a brass jug and basin, pours water over
your hands and wipes them on an embroidered towel.  There is no table and
no bed.  When you are disposed to sleep, a pile of rugs is spread on the
floor.  If you want to write, you naturally sit on your heels and hold
your paper in your hand—an attitude which, at least in the case of
Europeans, tends to restrain exuberance and keep literary composition
within due limits.  At meal times a little table like a high stool is
brought in.  The guests squat round it on their heels, and eat with their
fingers out of a large saucer set on a broad tin tray.  Turkish dinners
consist of a quantity of dishes, generally at least seven or eight, and
sometimes as many as twenty; but each is only tasted and rapidly removed.
At first it looks somewhat mysterious when people apparently wrap up some
pieces of string in brown paper and eat the parcel with avidity.  But the
string is cheese drawn out like very attenuated vermicelli, and the brown
paper sheets of very thin bread which serve as a tablecloth and napkin as
well as for food.  During Ramazan no Moslem may eat, drink, or smoke
between sunrise and sunset.  The latter phenomenon is announced by a
cannon, and some minutes before the gun fires a hungry crowd is gathered
round the table waiting for the blessed sound.  Then follows half an hour
of rapid, silent nutrition, for Turks do not talk at table.  Afterwards,
an hour or more of prayer; and then the earlier part of the night, until
at least twelve or one, is devoted to visiting or attending the puppet
show called Karagyöz. {xxxi}  Half an hour before dawn people go round
the town beating drums, and the faithful hurriedly take a last meal
before the morning cannon announces the dawn.

My neighbour in the room on the right is a spy appointed by the Imperial
Government to watch over my doings.  He is a charming companion, and I
fancy has a very pretty talent for the composition of imaginative
literature.  My only regret is that I have never seen the daily reports
which he draws up on my conduct.  They are, I believe, replete with
incident, and are excellent specimens of a new and interesting variety of
fiction.  The room on my left is occupied by the Christian Vice-Governor
of the Province, who was appointed some months ago under immense pressure
from the Powers, met by such resistance on the part of the Porte that one
might have supposed his nomination was a deadly blow to the Turkish
Empire.  It is a wise plan of the Porte’s never to make the most trivial
concession without opposing a resistance, which is often successful, and
always seems to enhance the importance of the point in dispute.  But the
concession once made, means are soon discovered to deprive it of all its
value, and the positions of victors and vanquished in the game prove to
be reversed.  In the present case the Christian Vice-Governor found that
none of his co-religionists were disposed to let him lodgings; and the
local authorities, with a tender solicitude for his welfare, represented
to him that there was a strong feeling against him in the town, and that
he would be much more comfortable in the hotel; predicting (like
Kinglake’s prophet, Damoor) that if he went out into the streets, or
meddled in the administration, he would arouse that excitable sentiment
known as Mussulman religious feeling.  Like the Jews of Safet, the
Christian Vice-Governor thought that the predictions of such practical
men were not to be disregarded, and takes his ease in his inn with as
good a grace as he can muster.  Another interesting occupant of the hotel
is the Turkish inspector of Reforms.  To rightly understand the duties of
this functionary it must be remembered that the Turkish Government is
divided into two parts, which have no connection with one another:
_firstly_, the real Government, which is hard to comprehend, but of which
one gets a dim idea by observation on the spot; and _secondly_, the show
Government, intended to impress Europe, and having as chief practical
result the enrichment of telegraphic agencies.  Two common manifestations
of the show Government are circulars to the Powers, and commissions
despatched to the Provinces to rectify abuses.  The present Commissioner
has come to inspect reforms, and from the official language used
respecting him it may be supposed that his mission is to tend and water
the new institutions which are springing up like a luxuriant vegetation
in a favourable climate, but at the same time to exercise a fatherly
control, prevent the country from rushing into downright republicanism,
and not permit the Christians to positively oppress their weaker
Mohammedan brethren.  He is a very affable man, with a broad, smiling
face, and an amiable rotundity of person which causes his gorgeous
uniform to burst its buttons and gape at critical points.  He pays me
long visits for the purpose of political discussion, being, as he calls
it, _tout à fait dans les idées libérales_, and in order that this
outpouring of radical views may not be interrupted, he brings a soldier
to mount guard over the door.  No tortures could make me disclose the
Commissioner’s confidences.  I will merely observe that the long fasts of
Ramazan are irksome to an enlightened mind, and that liberal theologians
hold that a mixture of brandy and champagne does not fall under the
Prophet’s ban, inasmuch as it cannot accurately be described as either
wine or spirits.

Very different is the room at the end of the passage.  No guard is needed
here.  The door stands proudly open, and all the world may see that no
crumb of bread or drop of water enters from sunrise to sunset.  In the
middle of a low sofa sits, cross-legged, a Hodja, clad in striped silk.
He is no ordinary country parson, but a noted preacher invited to tour in
the provinces during Ramazan, and hold what in other countries would be
called revival meetings.  His thin nervous face shows that he is not a
real Turk.  Probably he is of Arab extraction, and in any case he burns
with a Semitic indignation against those who “ascribe companions to God.”
Round him sit in a solemn circle the notables of the town,—stout, devout
men of the churchwarden order, who, to judge from the heavy sighs and
puffs which they occasionally emit, do not share the Hodja’s fierce joy
in trampling on the desires of the flesh.  To-morrow he will preach in
the Great Mosque with a sword in his hand, in token that the building was
once a Christian Church and has been won from the infidel.  I tell the
Commissioner for Reforms that I think this dangerous and injudicious.  He
explains that the whole point of the ceremony lies in the fact that the
sword is sheathed, as a token that religious discord is at an end, and
that an era of mutual love and toleration has commenced.  But when I
think of that nervous, fanatical face, the green garments, the ample
turban, the amulets and the sword, I cannot help suspecting that it is
better to be a Christian traveller than a Christian resident at Karakeui.



Preface to the First Edition


                             Addressed by the
                       Author to One of His Friends

WHEN you first entertained the idea of travelling in the East you asked
me to send you an outline of the tour which I had made, in order that you
might the better be able to choose a route for yourself.  In answer to
this request I gave you a large French map, on which the course of my
journeys had been carefully marked; but I did not conceal from myself
that this was rather a dry mode for a man to adopt when he wished to
impart the results of his experience to a dear and intimate friend.  Now,
long before the period of your planning an Oriental tour I had intended
to write some account of my Eastern travels.  I had, indeed, begun the
task, and had failed; I had begun it a second time, and failing again,
had abandoned my attempt with a sensation of utter distaste.  I was
unable to speak out, and chiefly, I think, for this reason, that I knew
not to whom I was speaking.  It might be you, or perhaps our Lady of
Bitterness, {xxxv} who would read my story, or it might be some member of
the Royal Statistical Society, and how on earth was I to write in a way
that would do for all three?

Well, your request for a sketch of my tour suggested to me the idea of
complying with your wish by a revival of my twice-abandoned attempt.  I
tried; and the pleasure and confidence which I felt in speaking to you
soon made my task so easy, and even amusing, that after a while (though
not in time for your tour) I completed the scrawl from which this book
was originally printed.

The very feeling, however, which enabled me to write thus freely,
prevented me from robing my thoughts in that grave and decorous style
which I should have maintained if I had professed to lecture the public.
Whilst I feigned to myself that you, and you only, were listening, I
could not by any possibility speak very solemnly.  Heaven forbid that I
should talk to my own genial friend as though he were a great and
enlightened community, or any other respectable aggregate!

Yet I well understood that the mere fact of my professing to speak to you
rather than to the public generally could not perfectly excuse me for
printing a narrative too roughly worded, and accordingly, in revising the
proof-sheets, I have struck out those phrases which seemed to be less fit
for a published volume than for intimate conversation.  It is hardly to
be expected, however, that correction of this kind should be perfectly
complete, or that the almost boisterous tone in which many parts of the
book were originally written should be thoroughly subdued.  I venture,
therefore, to ask, that the familiarity of language still possibly
apparent in the work may be laid to the account of our delightful
intimacy, rather than to any presumptuous motive.  I feel, as you know,
much too timidly, too distantly, and too respectfully toward the public
to be capable of seeking to put myself on terms of easy fellowship with
strange and casual readers.

It is right to forewarn people (and I have tried to do this as well as I
can, by my studiously unpromising title-page) {xxxvii} that the book is
quite superficial in its character.  I have endeavoured to discard from
it all valuable matter derived from the works of others, and it appears
to me that my efforts in this direction have been attended with great
success.  I believe I may truly acknowledge that from all details of
geographical discovery, or antiquarian research—from all display of
“sound learning and religious knowledge”—from all historical and
scientific illustrations—from all useful statistics—from all political
disquisitions—and from all good moral reflections, the volume is
thoroughly free.

My excuse for the book is its truth.  You and I know a man fond of
hazarding elaborate jokes, who, whenever a story of his happens not to go
down as wit, will evade the awkwardness of the failure by bravely
maintaining that all he has said is pure fact.  I can honestly take this
decent though humble mode of escape.  My narrative is not merely
righteously exact in matters of fact (where fact is in question), but it
is true in this larger sense—it conveys, not those impressions which
_ought to have been_ produced upon any “well-constituted mind,” but those
which were really and truly received at the time of his rambles by a
headstrong and not very amiable traveller, whose prejudices in favour of
other people’s notions were then exceedingly slight.  As I have felt, so
I have written; and the result is, that there will often be found in my
narrative a jarring discord between the associations properly belonging
to interesting sites, and the tone in which I speak of them.  This
seemingly perverse mode of treating the subject is forced upon me by my
plan of adhering to sentimental truth, and really does not result from
any impertinent wish to tease or trifle with readers.  I ought, for
instance, to have felt as strongly in Judæa as in Galilee, but it was not
so in fact.  The religious sentiment (born in solitude) which had heated
my brain in the sanctuary of Nazareth was rudely chilled at the foot of
Zion by disenchanting scenes, and this change is accordingly disclosed by
the perfectly worldly tone in which I speak of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

My notion of dwelling precisely upon those matters which happened to
interest me, and upon none other, would of course be intolerable in a
regular book of travels.  If I had been passing through countries not
previously explored, it would have been sadly perverse to withhold
careful descriptions of admirable objects merely because my own feelings
of interest in them may have happened to flag; but where the countries
which one visits have been thoroughly and ably described, and even
artistically illustrated by others, one is fully at liberty to say as
little (though not quite so much) as one chooses.  Now a traveller is a
creature not always looking at sights; he remembers (how often!) the
happy land of his birth; he has, too, his moments of humble enthusiasm
about fire and food, about shade and drink; and if he gives to these
feelings anything like the prominence which really belonged to them at
the time of his travelling, he will not seem a very good teacher.  Once
having determined to write the sheer truth concerning the things which
chiefly have interested him, he must, and he will, sing a sadly long
strain about self; he will talk for whole pages together about his
bivouac fire, and ruin the ruins of Baalbec with eight or ten cold lines.

But it seems to me that this egotism of a traveller, however incessant,
however shameless and obtrusive, must still convey some true ideas of the
country through which he has passed.  His very selfishness, his habit of
referring the whole external world to his own sensations, compels him, as
it were, in his writings to observe the laws of perspective;—he tells you
of objects, not as he knows them to be, but as they seemed to him.  The
people and the things that most concern him personally, however mean and
insignificant, take large proportions in his picture, because they stand
so near to him.  He shows you his dragoman, and the gaunt features of his
Arabs—his tent, his kneeling camels, his baggage strewed upon the sand;
but the proper wonders of the land—the cities, the mighty ruins and
monuments of bygone ages, he throws back faintly in the distance.  It is
thus that he felt, and thus he strives to repeat the scenes of the Elder
World.  You may listen to him for ever without learning much in the way
of statistics; but, perhaps, if you bear with him long enough, you may
find yourself slowly and faintly impressed with the realities of Eastern
travel.

My scheme of refusing to dwell upon matters which failed to interest my
own feelings has been departed from in one instance—namely, in my detail
of the late Lady Hester Stanhope’s conversation on supernatural topics.
The truth is, that I have been much questioned on this subject, and I
thought that my best plan would be to write down at once all that I could
ever have to say concerning the personage whose career has excited so
much curiosity amongst Englishwomen.  The result is, that my account of
the lady goes to a length which is not justified either by the importance
of the subject, or by the extent to which it interested the narrator.

You will see that I constantly speak of “my People,” “my Party,” “my
Arabs,” and so on, using terms which might possibly seem to imply that I
moved about with a pompous retinue.  This of course was not the case.  I
travelled with the simplicity proper to my station, as one of the
industrious class, who was not flying from his country because of ennui,
but was strengthening his will, and tempering the metal of his nature,
for that life of toil and conflict in which he is now engaged.  But an
Englishman journeying in the East must necessarily have with him dragomen
capable of interpreting the Oriental languages; the absence of wheeled
carriages obliges him to use several beasts of burthen for his baggage,
as well as for himself and his attendants; the owners of the horses, or
camels, with _their_ slaves or servants, fall in as part of his train;
and altogether, the cavalcade becomes rather numerous, without, however,
occasioning any proportionate increase of expense.  When a traveller
speaks of all these followers in mass, he calls them his “people,” or his
“troop,” or his “party,” without intending to make you believe that he is
therefore a Sovereign Prince.

You will see that I sometimes follow the custom of the Scots in
describing my fellow-countrymen by the names of their paternal homes.

Of course all these explanations are meant for casual readers.  To you,
without one syllable of excuse or deprecation, and in all the confidence
of a friendship that never yet was clouded, I give the long-promised
volume, and add but this one “Goodbye!” for I dare not stand greeting you
here.



CHAPTER I
OVER THE BORDER


AT Semlin I still was encompassed by the scenes and the sounds of
familiar life; the din of a busy world still vexed and cheered me; the
unveiled faces of women still shone in the light of day.  Yet, whenever I
chose to look southward, I saw the Ottoman’s fortress—austere, and darkly
impending high over the vale of the Danube—historic Belgrade.  I had
come, as it were, to the end of this wheel-going Europe, and now my eyes
would see the splendour and havoc of the East.

The two frontier towns are less than a cannon-shot distant, and yet their
people hold no communion. {1}  The Hungarian on the north, and the Turk
and Servian on the southern side of the Save are as much asunder as
though there were fifty broad provinces that lay in the path between
them.  Of the men that bustled around me in the streets of Semlin there
was not, perhaps, one who had ever gone down to look upon the stranger
race dwelling under the walls of that opposite castle.  It is the plague,
and the dread of the plague, that divide the one people from the other.
All coming and going stands forbidden by the terrors of the yellow flag.
If you dare to break the laws of the quarantine, you will be tried with
military haste; the court will scream out your sentence to you from a
tribunal some fifty yards off; the priest, instead of gently whispering
to you the sweet hopes of religion, will console you at duelling
distance; and after that you will find yourself carefully shot, and
carelessly buried in the ground of the lazaretto.

When all was in order for our departure we walked down to the precincts
of the quarantine establishment, and here awaited us a “compromised” {2}
officer of the Austrian Government, who lives in a state of perpetual
excommunication.  The boats, with their “compromised” rowers, were also
in readiness.

After coming in contact with any creature or thing belonging to the
Ottoman Empire it would be impossible for us to return to the Austrian
territory without undergoing an imprisonment of fourteen days in the
odious lazaretto.  We felt, therefore, that before we committed ourselves
it was important to take care that none of the arrangements necessary for
the journey had been forgotten; and in our anxiety to avoid such a
misfortune, we managed the work of departure from Semlin with nearly as
much solemnity as if we had been departing this life.  Some obliging
persons, from whom we had received civilities during our short stay in
the place, came down to say their farewell at the river’s side; and now,
as we stood with them at the distance of three or four yards from the
“compromised” officer, they asked if we were perfectly certain that we
had wound up all our affairs in Christendom, and whether we had no
parting requests to make.  We repeated the caution to our servants, and
took anxious thought lest by any possibility we might be cut off from
some cherished object of affection:—were they quite sure that nothing had
been forgotten—that there was no fragrant dressing-case with its
gold-compelling letters of credit from which we might be parting for
ever?—No; all our treasures lay safely stowed in the boat, and we were
ready to follow them to the ends of the earth.  Now, therefore, we shook
hands with our Semlin friends, who immediately retreated for three or
four paces, so as to leave us in the centre of a space between them and
the “compromised” officer.  The latter then advanced, and asking once
more if we had done with the civilised world, held forth his hand.  I met
it with mine, and there was an end to Christendom for many a day to come.

We soon neared the southern bank of the river, but no sounds came down
from the blank walls above, and there was no living thing that we could
yet see, except one great hovering bird of the vulture race, flying low,
and intent, and wheeling round and round over the pest-accursed city.

But presently there issued from the postern a group of human
beings—beings with immortal souls, and possibly some reasoning faculties;
but to me the grand point was this, that they had real, substantial, and
incontrovertible turbans.  They made for the point towards which we were
steering, and when at last I sprang upon the shore, I heard, and saw
myself now first surrounded by men of Asiatic blood.  I have since ridden
through the land of the Osmanlees, from the Servian border to the Golden
Horn—from the Gulf of Satalieh to the tomb of Achilles; but never have I
seen such ultra-Turkish looking fellows as those who received me on the
banks of the Save.  They were men in the humblest order of life, having
come to meet our boat in the hope of earning something by carrying our
luggage up to the city; but poor though they were, it was plain that they
were Turks of the proud old school, and had not yet forgotten the fierce,
careless bearing of their once victorious race.

Though the province of Servia generally has obtained a kind of
independence, yet Belgrade, as being a place of strength on the frontier,
is still garrisoned by Turkish troops under the command of a Pasha.
Whether the fellows who now surrounded us were soldiers, or peaceful
inhabitants, I did not understand: they wore the old Turkish costume;
vests and jackets of many and brilliant colours, divided from the loose
petticoat-trousers by heavy volumes of shawl, so thickly folded around
their waists as to give the meagre wearers something of the dignity of
true corpulence.  This cincture enclosed a whole bundle of weapons; no
man bore less than one brace of immensely long pistols, and a yataghan
(or cutlass), with a dagger or two of various shapes and sizes; most of
these arms were inlaid with silver, and highly burnished, so that they
contrasted shiningly with the decayed grandeur of the garments to which
they were attached (this carefulness of his arms is a point of honour
with the Osmanlee, who never allows his bright yataghan to suffer from
his own adversity); then the long drooping mustachios, and the ample
folds of the once white turbans, that lowered over the piercing eyes, and
the haggard features of the men, gave them an air of gloomy pride, and
that appearance of trying to be disdainful under difficulties, which I
have since seen so often in those of the Ottoman people who live, and
remember old times; they seemed as if they were thinking that they would
have been more usefully, more honourably, and more piously employed in
cutting our throats than in carrying our portmanteaus.  The faithful
Steel (Methley’s Yorkshire servant) stood aghast for a moment at the
sight of his master’s luggage upon the shoulders of these warlike
porters, and when at last we began to move up he could scarcely avoid
turning round to cast one affectionate look towards Christendom, but
quickly again he marched on with steps of a man, not frightened exactly,
but sternly prepared for death, or the Koran, or even for plural wives.

The Moslem quarter of a city is lonely and desolate.  You go up and down,
and on over shelving and hillocky paths through the narrow lanes walled
in by blank, windowless dwellings; you come out upon an open space
strewed with the black ruins that some late fire has left; you pass by a
mountain of castaway things, the rubbish of centuries, and on it you see
numbers of big, wolflike dogs lying torpid under the sun, with limbs
out-stretched to the full, as if they were dead; storks, or cranes,
sitting fearless upon the low roofs, look gravely down upon you; the
still air that you breathe is loaded with the scent of citron, and
pomegranate rinds scorched by the sun, or (as you approach the bazaar)
with the dry, dead perfume of strange spices.  You long for some signs of
life, and tread the ground more heavily, as though you would wake the
sleepers with the heel of your boot; but the foot falls noiseless upon
the crumbling soil of an Eastern city, and silence follows you still.
Again and again you meet turbans, and faces of men, but they have nothing
for you—no welcome—no wonder—no wrath—no scorn—they look upon you as we
do upon a December’s fall of snow—as a “seasonable,” unaccountable,
uncomfortable work of God, that may have been sent for some good purpose,
to be revealed hereafter.

Some people had come down to meet us with an invitation from the Pasha,
and we wound our way up to the castle.  At the gates there were groups of
soldiers, some smoking, and some lying flat like corpses upon the cool
stones.  We went through courts, ascended steps, passed along a corridor,
and walked into an airy, whitewashed room, with an European clock at one
end of it, and Moostapha Pasha at the other; the fine, old, bearded
potentate looked very like Jove—like Jove, too, in the midst of his
clouds, for the silvery fumes of the _narghile_ {6} hung lightly circling
round him.

The Pasha received us with the smooth, kind, gentle manner that belongs
to well-bred Osmanlees; then he lightly clapped his hands, and instantly
the sound filled all the lower end of the room with slaves; a syllable
dropped from his lips which bowed all heads, and conjured away the
attendants like ghosts (their coming and their going was thus swift and
quiet, because their feet were bare, and they passed through no door, but
only by the yielding folds of a purder).  Soon the coffee-bearers
appeared, every man carrying separately his tiny cup in a small metal
stand; and presently to each of us there came a pipe-bearer, who first
rested the bowl of the _tchibouque_ at a measured distance on the floor,
and then, on this axis, wheeled round the long cheery stick, and
gracefully presented it on half-bended knee; already the well-kindled
fire was glowing secure in the bowl, and so, when I pressed the amber lip
{7} to mine, there was no coyness to conquer; the willing fume came up,
and answered my slightest sigh, and followed softly every breath
inspired, till it touched me with some faint sense and understanding of
Asiatic contentment.

Asiatic contentment!  Yet scarcely, perhaps, one hour before I had been
wanting my bill, and ringing for waiters, in a shrill and busy hotel.

In the Ottoman dominions there is scarcely any hereditary influence
except that which belongs to the family of the Sultan; and wealth, too,
is a highly volatile blessing, not easily transmitted to the descendant
of the owner.  From these causes it results that the people standing in
the place of nobles and gentry are official personages, and though many
(indeed the greater number) of these potentates are humbly born and bred,
you will seldom, I think, find them wanting in that polished smoothness
of manner, and those well-undulating tones which belong to the best
Osmanlees.  The truth is, that most of the men in authority have risen
from their humble station by the arts of the courtier, and they preserve
in their high estate those gentle powers of fascination to which they owe
their success.  Yet unless you can contrive to learn a little of the
language, you will be rather bored by your visits of ceremony; the
intervention of the interpreter, or dragoman as he is called, is fatal to
the spirit of conversation.  I think I should mislead you if I were to
attempt to give the substance of any particular conversation with
Orientals.  A traveller may write and say that “the Pasha of So-and-so
was particularly interested in the vast progress which has been made in
the application of steam, and appeared to understand the structure of our
machinery—that he remarked upon the gigantic results of our manufacturing
industry—showed that he possessed considerable knowledge of our Indian
affairs, and of the constitution of the Company, and expressed a lively
admiration of the many sterling qualities for which the people of England
are distinguished.”  But the heap of commonplaces thus quietly attributed
to the Pasha will have been founded perhaps on some such talking as
this:—

_Pasha_.—The Englishman is welcome; most blessed among hours is this, the
hour of his coming.

_Dragoman_ (to the traveller).—The Pasha pays you his compliments.

_Traveller_.—Give him my best compliments in return, and say I’m
delighted to have the honour of seeing him.

_Dragoman_ (to the Pasha).—His lordship, this Englishman, Lord of London,
Scorner of Ireland, Suppressor of France, has quitted his governments,
and left his enemies to breathe for a moment, and has crossed the broad
waters in strict disguise, with a small but eternally faithful retinue of
followers, in order that he might look upon the bright countenance of the
Pasha among Pashas—the Pasha of the everlasting Pashalik of
Karagholookoldour.

_Traveller_ (to his dragoman).—What on earth have you been saying about
London?  The Pasha will be taking me for a mere cockney.  Have not I told
you _always_ to say that I am from a branch of the family of Mudcombe
Park, and that I am to be a magistrate for the county of Bedfordshire,
only I’ve not qualified, and that I should have been a deputy-lieutenant
if it had not been for the extraordinary conduct of Lord Mountpromise,
and that I was a candidate for Goldborough at the last election, and that
I should have won easy if my committee had not been bought.  I wish to
Heaven that if you _do_ say anything about me, you’d tell the simple
truth.

_Dragoman_ [is silent].

_Pasha_.—What says the friendly Lord of London? is there aught that I can
grant him within the Pashalik of Karagholookoldour?

_Dragoman_ (growing sulky and literal).—This friendly Englishman—this
branch of Mudcombe—this head-purveyor of Goldborough—this possible
policeman of Bedfordshire, is recounting his achievements, and the number
of his titles.

_Pasha_.—The end of his honours is more distant than the ends of the
earth, and the catalogue of his glorious deeds is brighter than the
firmament of heaven!

_Dragoman_ (to the traveller).—The Pasha congratulates your Excellency.

_Traveller_.—About Goldborough?  The deuce he does!—but I want to get at
his views in relation to the present state of the Ottoman Empire.  Tell
him the Houses of Parliament have met, and that there has been a speech
from the throne, pledging England to preserve the integrity of the
Sultan’s dominions.

_Dragoman_ (to the Pasha).—This branch of Mudcombe, this possible
policeman of Bedfordshire, informs your Highness that in England the
talking houses have met, and that the integrity of the Sultan’s dominions
has been assured for ever and ever by a speech from the velvet chair.

_Pasha_.—Wonderful chair!  Wonderful houses!—whirr! whirr! all by
wheels!—whiz! whiz! all by steam!—wonderful chair! wonderful houses!
wonderful people!—whirr! whirr! all by wheels!—whiz! whiz! all by steam!

_Traveller_ (to the dragoman).—What does the Pasha mean by that whizzing?
he does not mean to say, does he, that our Government will ever abandon
their pledges to the Sultan?

_Dragoman_.—No, your Excellency; but he says the English talk by wheels,
and by steam.

_Traveller_.—That’s an exaggeration; but say that the English really have
carried machinery to great perfection; tell the Pasha (he’ll be struck
with that) that whenever we have any disturbances to put down, even at
two or three hundred miles from London, we can send troops by the
thousand to the scene of action in a few hours.

_Dragoman_ (recovering his temper and freedom of speech).—His Excellency,
this Lord of Mudcombe, observes to your Highness, that whenever the
Irish, or the French, or the Indians rebel against the English, whole
armies of soldiers, and brigades of artillery, are dropped into a mighty
chasm called Euston Square, and in the biting of a cartridge they arise
up again in Manchester, or Dublin, or Paris, or Delhi, and utterly
exterminate the enemies of England from the face of the earth.

_Pasha_.—I know it—I know all—the particulars have been faithfully
related to me, and my mind comprehends locomotives.  The armies of the
English ride upon the vapours of boiling caldrons, and their horses are
flaming coals!—whirr! whirr! all by wheels!—whiz! whiz! all by steam!

_Traveller_ (to his dragoman).—I wish to have the opinion of an
unprejudiced Ottoman gentleman as to the prospects of our English
commerce and manufactures; just ask the Pasha to give me his views on the
subject.

_Pasha_ (after having received the communication of the dragoman).—The
ships of the English swarm like flies; their printed calicoes cover the
whole earth; and by the side of their swords the blades of Damascus are
blades of grass.  All India is but an item in the ledger-books of the
merchants, whose lumber-rooms are filled with ancient thrones!—whirr!
whirr! all by wheels!—whiz! whiz! all by steam!

_Dragoman_.—The Pasha compliments the cutlery of England, and also the
East India Company.

_Traveller_.—The Pasha’s right about the cutlery (I tried my scimitar
with the common officers’ swords belonging to our fellows at Malta, and
they cut it like the leaf of a novel).  Well (to the dragoman), tell the
Pasha I am exceedingly gratified to find that he entertains such a high
opinion of our manufacturing energy, but I should like him to know,
though, that we have got something in England besides that.  These
foreigners are always fancying that we have nothing but ships, and
railways, and East India Companies; do just tell the Pasha that our rural
districts deserve his attention, and that even within the last two
hundred years there has been an evident improvement in the culture of the
turnip, and if he does not take any interest about that, at all events
you can explain that we have our virtues in the country—that we are a
truth-telling people, and, like the Osmanlees, are faithful in the
performance of our promises.  Oh! and, by the bye, whilst you are about
it, you may as well just say at the end that the British yeoman is still,
thank God! the British yeoman.

_Pasha_ (after hearing the dragoman).—It is true, it is true:—through all
Feringhistan the English are foremost and best; for the Russians are
drilled swine, and the Germans are sleeping babes, and the Italians are
the servants of songs, and the French are the sons of newspapers, and the
Greeks they are weavers of lies, but the English and the Osmanlees are
brothers together in righteousness; for the Osmanlees believe in one only
God, and cleave to the Koran, and destroy idols; so do the English
worship one God, and abominate graven images, and tell the truth, and
believe in a book, and though they drink the juice of the grape, yet to
say that they worship their prophet as God, or to say that they are
eaters of pork, these are lies—lies born of Greeks, and nursed by Jews!

_Dragoman_.—The Pasha compliments the English.

_Traveller_ (rising).—Well, I’ve had enough of this.  Tell the Pasha I am
greatly obliged to him for his hospitality, and still more for his
kindness in furnishing me with horses, and say that now I must be off.

_Pasha_ (after hearing the dragoman, and standing up on his divan).
{13}—Proud are the sires, and blessed are the dams of the horses that
shall carry his Excellency to the end of his prosperous journey.  May the
saddle beneath him glide down to the gates of the happy city, like a boat
swimming on the third river of Paradise.  May he sleep the sleep of a
child, when his friends are around him; and the while that his enemies
are abroad, may his eyes flame red through the darkness—more red than the
eyes of ten tigers!  Farewell!

_Dragoman_.—The Pasha wishes your Excellency a pleasant journey.

So ends the visit.



CHAPTER II
TURKISH TRAVELLING


IN two or three hours our party was ready; the servants, the Tatar, the
mounted Suridgees, {14a} and the baggage-horses, altogether made up a
strong cavalcade.  The accomplished Mysseri, {14b} of whom you have heard
me speak so often, and who served me so faithfully throughout my Oriental
journeys, acted as our interpreter, and was, in fact, the brain of our
corps.  The Tatar, you know, is a Government courier properly employed in
carrying despatches, but also sent with travellers to speed them on their
way, and answer with his head for their safety.  The man whose head was
thus pledged for our precious lives was a glorious-looking fellow, with
the regular and handsome cast of countenance which is now characteristic
of the Ottoman race. {14c}  His features displayed a good deal of serene
pride, self-respect, fortitude, a kind of ingenuous sensuality, and
something of instinctive wisdom, without any sharpness of intellect.  He
had been a Janissary (as I afterwards found), and kept up the odd strut
of his old corps, which used to affright the Christians in former
times—that rolling gait so comically pompous, that a close imitation of
it, even in the broadest farce, would be looked upon as a very rough
over-acting of the character.  It is occasioned in part by dress and
accoutrements.  The weighty bundle of weapons carried upon the chest
throws back the body so as to give it a wonderful portliness, and,
moreover, the immense masses of clothes that swathe his limbs force the
wearer in walking to swing himself heavily round from left to right, and
from right to left.  In truth, this great edifice of woollen, and cotton,
and silk, and silver, and brass, and steel is not at all fitted for
moving on foot; it cannot even walk without frightfully discomposing its
fair proportions; and as to running—our Tatar ran _once_ (it was in order
to pick up a partridge that Methley had winged with a pistol-shot), and
really the attempt was one of the funniest misdirections of human energy
that wondering man ever saw.  But put him in his stirrups, and then is
the Tatar himself again: there he lives at his pleasure, reposing in the
tranquillity of that true home (the home of his ancestors) which the
saddle seems to afford him, and drawing from his pipe the calm pleasures
of his “own fireside,” or else dashing sudden over the earth, as though
for a moment he felt the mouth of a Turcoman steed, and saw his own
Scythian plains lying boundless and open before him.

It was not till his subordinates had nearly completed their preparations
for their march that our Tatar, “commanding the forces,” arrived; he came
sleek and fresh from the bath (for so is the custom of the Ottomans when
they start upon a journey), and was carefully accoutred at every point.
From his thigh to his throat he was loaded with arms and other implements
of a campaigning life.  There is no scarcity of water along the whole
road from Belgrade to Stamboul, but the habits of our Tatar were formed
by his ancestors and not by himself, so he took good care to see that his
leathern water-flask was amply charged and properly strapped to the
saddle, along with his blessed _tchibouque_.  And now at last he has
cursed the Suridgees in all proper figures of speech, and is ready for a
ride of a thousand miles; but before he comforts his soul in the marble
baths of Stamboul he will be another and a lesser man; his sense of
responsibility, his too strict abstemiousness, and his restless energy,
disdainful of sleep, will have worn him down to a fraction of the sleek
Moostapha that now leads out our party from the gates of Belgrade.

The Suridgees are the men employed to lead the baggage-horses.  They are
most of them gipsies.  Their lot is a sad one: they are the last of the
human race, and all the sins of their superiors (including the horses)
can safely be visited on them.  But the wretched look often more
picturesque than their betters; and though all the world despise these
poor Suridgees, their tawny skins and their grisly beards will gain them
honourable standing in the foreground of a landscape.  We had a couple of
these fellows with us, each leading a baggage-horse, to the tail of which
last another baggage-horse was attached.  There was a world of trouble in
persuading the stiff angular portmanteaus of Europe to adapt themselves
to their new condition and sit quietly on pack-saddles, but all was right
at last, and it gladdened my eyes to see our little troop file off
through the winding lanes of the city, and show down brightly in the
plain beneath.  The one of our party that seemed to be most out of
keeping with the rest of the scene was Methley’s Yorkshire servant, who
always rode doggedly on in his pantry jacket, looking out for
“gentlemen’s seats.”

Methley and I had English saddles, but I think we should have done just
as well (I should certainly have seen more of the country) if we had
adopted saddles like that of our Tatar, who towered so loftily over the
scraggy little beast that carried him.  In taking thought for the East,
whilst in England, I had made one capital hit which you must not forget—I
had brought with me a pair of common spurs.  These were a great comfort
to me throughout my horseback travels, by keeping up the cheerfulness of
the many unhappy nags that I had to bestride; the angle of the Oriental
stirrup is a very poor substitute for spurs.

The Ottoman horseman, raised by his saddle to a great height above the
humble level of the back that he bestrides, and using an awfully sharp
bit, is able to lift the crest of his nag, and force him into a strangely
fast shuffling walk, the orthodox pace for the journey.  My comrade and
I, using English saddles, could not easily keep our beasts up to this
peculiar amble; besides, we thought it a bore to be _followed_ by our
attendants for a thousand miles, and we generally, therefore, did duty as
the rearguard of our “grand army”; we used to walk our horses till the
party in front had got into the distance, and then retrieve the lost
ground by a gallop.

We had ridden on for some two or three hours; the stir and bustle of our
commencing journey had ceased, the liveliness of our little troop had
worn off with the declining day, and the night closed in as we entered
the great Servian forest.  Through this our road was to last for more
than a hundred miles.  Endless, and endless now on either side, the tall
oaks closed in their ranks and stood gloomily lowering over us, as grim
as an army of giants with a thousand years’ pay in arrear.  One strived
with listening ear to catch some tidings of that forest world within—some
stirring of beasts, some night-bird’s scream, but all was quite hushed,
except the voice of the cicalas that peopled every bough, and filled the
depths of the forest through and through, with one same hum
everlasting—more stilling than very silence.

At first our way was in darkness, but after a while the moon got up, and
touched the glittering arms and tawny faces of our men with light so pale
and mystic, that the watchful Tatar felt bound to look out for demons,
and take proper means for keeping them off; forthwith he determined that
the duty of frightening away our ghostly enemies (like every other
troublesome work) should fall upon the poor Suridgees, who accordingly
lifted up their voices, and burst upon the dreadful stillness of the
forest with shrieks and dismal howls.  These precautions were kept up
incessantly, and were followed by the most complete success, for not one
demon came near us.

Long before midnight we reached the hamlet in which we were to rest for
the night; it was made up of about a dozen clay huts, standing upon a
small tract of ground hardly won from the forest.  The peasants that
lived there spoke a Slavonic dialect, and Mysseri’s knowledge of the
Russian tongue enabled him to talk with them freely.  We took up our
quarters in a square room with white walls and an earthen floor, quite
bare of furniture, and utterly void of women.  They told us, however,
that these Servian villagers lived in happy abundance, but that they were
careful to conceal their riches, as well as their wives.

The burthens unstrapped from the pack-saddles very quickly furnished our
den; a couple of quilts spread upon the floor, with a carpet-bag at the
head of each, became capital sofas—portmanteaus, and hat-boxes, and
writing-cases, and books, and maps, and gleaming arms soon lay strewed
around us in pleasant confusion.  Mysseri’s canteen too began to yield up
its treasures, but we relied upon finding some provisions in the village.
At first the natives declared that their hens were mere old maids and all
their cows unmarried; but our Tatar swore such a grand sonorous oath, and
fingered the hilt of his yataghan with such persuasive touch, that the
land soon flowed with milk, and mountains of eggs arose.

And soon there was tea before us, with all its unspeakable fragrance, and
as we reclined on the floor, we found that a portmanteau was just the
right height for a table; the duty of candlesticks was ably performed by
a couple of intelligent natives; the rest of the villagers stood by the
open doorway at the lower end of the room, and watched our banqueting
with grave and devout attention.

The first night of your first campaign (though you be but a mere peaceful
campaigner) is a glorious time in your life.  It is so sweet to find
one’s self free from the stale civilisation of Europe!  Oh, my dear ally,
when first you spread your carpet in the midst of these Eastern scenes,
do think for a moment of those your fellow-creatures, that dwell in
squares, and streets, and even (for such is the fate of many!) in actual
country houses; think of the people that are “presenting their
compliments,” and “requesting the honour,” and “much regretting,”—of
those that are pinioned at dinner-tables, or stuck up in ballrooms, or
cruelly planted in pews,—ay, think of these, and so remembering how many
poor devils are living in a state of utter respectability, you will glory
the more in your own delightful escape.

I am bound to confess, however, that with all its charms a mud floor
(like a mercenary match) does certainly promote early rising.  Long
before daybreak we were up, and had breakfasted; after this there was
nearly a whole tedious hour to endure whilst the horses were laden by
torchlight; but this had an end, and at last we went on once more.
Cloaked, and sombre, at first we made our sullen way through the
darkness, with scarcely one barter of words; but soon the genial morn
burst down from heaven, and stirred the blood so gladly through our
veins, that the very Suridgees, with all their troubles, could now look
up for an instant, and almost seem to believe in the temporary goodness
of God.

The actual movement from one place to another, in Europeanised countries,
is a process so temporary—it occupies, I mean, so small a proportion of
the traveller’s entire time—that his mind remains unsettled, so long as
the wheels are going; he may be alive enough to external objects of
interest, and to the crowding ideas which are often invited by the
excitement of a changing scene, but he is still conscious of being in a
provisional state, and his mind is constantly recurring to the expected
end of his journey; his ordinary ways of thought have been interrupted,
and before any new mental habits can be formed he is quietly fixed in his
hotel.  It will be otherwise with you when you journey in the East.  Day
after day, perhaps week after week and month after month, your foot is in
the stirrup.  To taste the cold breath of the earliest morn, and to lead,
or follow, your bright cavalcade till sunset through forests and mountain
passes, through valleys and desolate plains, all this becomes your MODE
OF LIFE, and you ride, eat, drink, and curse the mosquitoes as
systematically as your friends in England eat, drink, and sleep.  If you
are wise, you will not look upon the long period of time thus occupied in
actual movement as the mere gulf dividing you from the end of your
journey, but rather as one of those rare and plastic seasons of your life
from which, perhaps, in after times you may love to date the moulding of
your character—that is, your very identity.  Once feel this, and you will
soon grow happy and contented in your saddle-home.  As for me and my
comrade, however, in this part of our journey we often forgot Stamboul,
forgot all the Ottoman Empire, and only remembered old times.  We went
back, loitering on the banks of Thames—not grim old Thames of “after
life,” that washes the Parliament Houses, and drowns despairing girl—but
Thames, the “old Eton fellow,” that wrestled with us in our boyhood till
he taught us to be stronger than he.  We bullied Keate, and scoffed at
Larry Miller, and Okes; we rode along loudly laughing, and talked to the
grave Servian forest as though it were the “Brocas clump.”

Our pace was commonly very slow, for the baggage-horses served us for a
drag, and kept us to a rate of little more than five miles in the hour,
but now and then, and chiefly at night, a spirit of movement would
suddenly animate the whole party; the baggage-horses would be teased into
a gallop, and when once this was done, there would be such a banging of
portmanteaus, and such convulsions of carpet-bags upon their panting
sides, and the Suridgees would follow them up with such a hurricane of
blows, and screams, and curses, that stopping or relaxing was scarcely
possible; then the rest of us would put our horses into a gallop, and so,
all shouting cheerily, would hunt, and drive the sumpter beasts like a
flock of goats, up hill and down dale, right on to the end of their
journey.

The distances at which we got relays of horses varied greatly; some were
not more than fifteen or twenty miles, but twice, I think, we performed a
whole day’s journey of more than sixty miles with the same beasts.

When at last we came out from the forest our road lay through scenes like
those of an English park.  The green sward unfenced, and left to the free
pasture of cattle, was dotted with groups of stately trees, and here and
there darkened over with larger masses of wood, that seemed gathered
together for bounding the domain, and shutting out some “infernal”
fellow-creature in the shape of a newly made squire; in one or two spots
the hanging copses looked down upon a lawn below with such sheltering
mien, that seeing the like in England you would have been tempted almost
to ask the name of the spendthrift, or the madman who had dared to pull
down “the old hall.”

There are few countries less infested by “lions” than the provinces on
this part of your route.  You are not called upon to “drop a tear” over
the tomb of “the once brilliant” anybody, or to pay your “tribute of
respect” to anything dead or alive.  There are no Servian or Bulgarian
litterateurs with whom it would be positively disgraceful not to form an
acquaintance; you have no staring, no praising to get through; the only
public building of any interest that lies on the road is of modern date,
but is said to be a good specimen of Oriental architecture; it is of a
pyramidical shape, and is made up of thirty thousand skulls, contributed
by the rebellious Servians in the early part (I believe) of this century:
I am not at all sure of my date, but I fancy it was in the year 1806 that
the first skull was laid. {23}  I am ashamed to say that in the darkness
of the early morning we unknowingly went by the neighbourhood of this
triumph of art, and so basely got off from admiring “the simple grandeur
of the architect’s conception,” and “the exquisite beauty of the
fretwork.”

There being no “lions,” we ought at least to have met with a few perils,
but the only robbers we saw anything of had been long since dead and
gone.  The poor fellows had been impaled upon high poles, and so propped
up by the transverse spokes beneath them, that their skeletons, clothed
with some white, wax-like remains of flesh, still sat up lolling in the
sunshine, and listlessly stared without eyes.

One day it seemed to me that our path was a little more rugged than
usual, and I found that I was deserving for myself the title of
Sabalkansky, or “Transcender of the Balcan.”  The truth is, that, as a
military barrier, the Balcan is a fabulous mountain.  Such seems to be
the view of Major Keppell, who looked on it towards the east with the eye
of a soldier, and certainly in the Sophia Pass, which I followed, there
is no narrow defile, and no ascent sufficiently difficult to stop, or
delay for long time, a train of siege artillery.

Before we reached Adrianople, Methley had been seized with we knew not
what ailment, and when we had taken up our quarters in the city he was
cast to the very earth by sickness.  Andrianople enjoyed an English
consul, and I felt sure that, in Eastern phrase, his house would cease to
be his house, and would become the house of my sick comrade.  I should
have judged rightly under ordinary circumstances, but the levelling
plague was abroad, and the dread of it had dominion over the consular
mind.  So now (whether dying or not, one could hardly tell), upon a quilt
stretched out along the floor, there lay the best hope of an ancient
line, without the material aids to comfort of even the humblest sort, and
(sad to say) without the consolation of a friend, or even a comrade worth
having.  I have a notion that tenderness and pity are affections
occasioned in some measure by living within doors; certainly, at the time
I speak of, the open-air life which I have been leading, or the wayfaring
hardships of the journey, had so strangely blunted me, that I felt
intolerant of illness, and looked down upon my companion as if the poor
fellow in falling ill had betrayed a want of spirit.  I entertained, too,
a most absurd idea—an idea that his illness was partly affected.  You see
that I have made a confession: this I hope—that I may always hereafter
look charitably upon the hard, savage acts of peasants, and the cruelties
of a “brutal” soldiery.  God knows that I strived to melt myself into
common charity, and to put on a gentleness which I could not feel, but
this attempt did not cheat the keenness of the sufferer; he could not
have felt the less deserted because that I was with him.

We called to aid a solemn Armenian (I think he was), half soothsayer,
half hakim or doctor, who, all the while counting his beads, fixed his
eyes steadily upon the patient, and then suddenly dealt him a violent
blow on the chest.  Methley bravely dissembled his pain, for he fancied
that the blow was meant to try whether or not the plague were on him.

Here was really a sad embarrassment—no bed; nothing to offer the invalid
in the shape of food save a piece of thin, tough, flexible, drab-coloured
cloth, made of flour and mill-stones in equal proportions, and called by
the name of “bread”; then the patient, of course, had no “confidence in
his medical man,” and on the whole, the best chance of saving my comrade
seemed to lie in taking him out of the reach of his doctor, and bearing
him away to the neighbourhood of some more genial consul.  But how was
this to be done?  Methley was much too ill to be kept in his saddle, and
wheel carriages, as means of travelling, were unknown.  There is,
however, such a thing as an “araba,” a vehicle drawn by oxen, in which
the wives of a rich man are sometimes dragged four or five miles over the
grass by way of recreation.  The carriage is rudely framed, but you
recognise in the simple grandeur of its design a likeness to things
majestic; in short, if your carpenter’s son were to make a “Lord Mayor’s
coach” for little Amy, he would build a carriage very much in the style
of a Turkish araba.  No one had ever heard of horses being used for
drawing a carriage in this part of the world, but necessity is the mother
of innovation as well as of invention.  I was fully justified, I think,
in arguing that there were numerous instances of horses being used for
that purpose in our own country—that the laws of nature are uniform in
their operation over all the world (except Ireland)—that that which was
true in Piccadilly, must be true in Adrianople—that the matter could not
fairly be treated as an ecclesiastical question, for that the
circumstance of Methley’s going on to Stamboul in an araba drawn by
horses, when calmly and dispassionately considered, would appear to be
perfectly consistent with the maintenance of the Mahometan religion as by
law established.  Thus poor, dear, patient Reason would have fought her
slow battle against Asiatic prejudice, and I am convinced that she would
have established the possibility (and perhaps even the propriety) of
harnessing horses in a hundred and fifty years; but in the meantime
Mysseri, well seconded by our Tatar, put a very quick end to the
controversy by having the horses put to.

It was a sore thing for me to see my poor comrade brought to this, for
young though he was, he was a veteran in travel.  When scarcely yet of
age he had invaded India from the frontiers of Russia, and that so
swiftly, that measuring by the time of his flight the broad dominions of
the king of kings were shrivelled up to a dukedom, and now, poor fellow,
he was to be poked into an araba, like a Georgian girl!  He suffered
greatly, for there were no springs for the carriage, and no road for the
wheels; and so the concern jolted on over the open country with such
twists, and jerks, and jumps, as might almost dislocate the supple tongue
of Satan.

All day the patient kept himself shut up within the lattice-work of the
araba, and I could hardly know how he was faring until the end of the
day’s journey, when I found that he was not worse, and was buoyed up with
the hope of some day reaching Constantinople.

I was always conning over my maps, and fancied that I knew pretty well my
line, but after Adrianople I had made more southing than I knew for, and
it was with unbelieving wonder, and delight, that I came suddenly upon
the shore of the sea.  A little while, and its gentle billows were
flowing beneath the hoofs of my beast; but the hearing of the ripple was
not enough communion, and the seeing of the blue Propontis was not to
know and possess it—I must needs plunge into its depth and quench my
longing love in the palpable waves; and so when old Moostapha (defender
against demons) looked round for his charge, he saw with horror and
dismay that he for whose life his own life stood pledged was possessed of
some devil who had driven him down into the sea—that the rider and the
steed had vanished from earth, and that out among the waves was the
gasping crest of a post-horse, and the ghostly head of the Englishman
moving upon the face of the waters.

We started very early indeed on the last day of our journey, and from the
moment of being off until we gained the shelter of the imperial walls we
were struggling face to face with an icy storm that swept right down from
the steppes of Tartary, keen, fierce, and steady as a northern conqueror.
Methley’s servant, who was the greatest sufferer, kept his saddle until
we reached Stamboul, but was then found to be quite benumbed in limbs,
and his brain was so much affected that when he was lifted from his horse
he fell away in a state of unconsciousness, the first stage of a
dangerous fever.

Our Tatar, worn down by care and toil, and carrying seven heavens full of
water in his manifold jackets and shawls, was a mere weak and vapid
dilution of the sleek Moostapha, who scarce more than one fortnight
before came out like a bridegroom from his chamber to take the command of
our party.

Mysseri seemed somewhat over-wearied, but he had lost none of his
strangely quiet energy.  He wore a grave look, however, for he now had
learnt that the plague was prevailing at Constantinople, and he was
fearing that our two sick men, and the miserable looks of our whole
party, might make us unwelcome at Pera.

We crossed the Golden Horn in a caïque.  As soon as we had landed, some
woebegone-looking fellows were got together and laden with our baggage.
Then on we went, dripping, and sloshing, and looking very like men that
had been turned back by the Royal Humane Society as being incurably
drowned.  Supporting our sick, we climbed up shelving steps and threaded
many windings, and at last came up into the main street of Pera, humbly
hoping that we might not be judged guilty of plague, and so be cast back
with horror from the doors of the shuddering Christians.

Such was the condition of our party, which fifteen days before had filed
away so gaily from the gates of Belgrade.  A couple of fevers and a
north-easterly storm had thoroughly spoiled our looks.

The interest of Mysseri with the house of Giuseppini was too powerful to
be denied, and at once, though not without fear and trembling, we were
admitted as guests.



CHAPTER III
CONSTANTINOPLE


EVEN if we don’t take a part in the chant about “mosques and minarets,”
we can still yield praises to Stamboul.  We can chant about the harbour;
we can say, and sing, that nowhere else does the sea come so home to a
city; there are no pebbly shores—no sand bars—no slimy river-beds—no
black canals—no locks nor docks to divide the very heart of the place
from the deep waters.  If being in the noisiest mart of Stamboul you
would stroll to the quiet side of the way amidst those cypresses
opposite, you will cross the fathomless Bosphorus; if you would go from
your hotel to the bazaars, you must go by the bright, blue pathway of the
Golden Horn, that can carry a thousand sail of the line.  You are
accustomed to the gondolas that glide among the palaces of St. Mark, but
here at Stamboul it is a 120-gun ship that meets you in the street.
Venice strains out from the steadfast land, and in old times would send
forth the chief of the State to woo and wed the reluctant sea; but the
stormy bride of the Doge is the bowing slave of the Sultan.  She comes to
his feet with the treasures of the world—she bears him from palace to
palace—by some unfailing witchcraft she entices the breezes to follow her
{31} and fan the pale cheek of her lord—she lifts his armed navies to the
very gates of his garden—she watches the walls of his _serai_—she stifles
the intrigues of his ministers—she quiets the scandals of his courts—she
extinguishes his rivals, and hushes his naughty wives all one by one.  So
vast are the wonders of the deep!

All the while that I stayed at Constantinople the plague was prevailing,
but not with any degree of violence.  Its presence, however, lent a
mysterious and exciting, though not very pleasant, interest to my first
knowledge of a great Oriental city; it gave tone and colour to all I saw,
and all I felt—a tone and a colour sombre enough, but true, and well
befitting the dreary monuments of past power and splendour.  With all
that is most truly Oriental in its character the plague is associated; it
dwells with the faithful in the holiest quarters of their city.  The
coats and the hats of Pera are held to be nearly as innocent of infection
as they are ugly in shape and fashion; but the rich furs and the costly
shawls, the broidered slippers and the gold-laden saddle-cloths, the
fragrance of burning aloes and the rich aroma of patchouli—these are the
signs that mark the familiar home of plague.  You go out from your
queenly London—the centre of the greatest and strongest amongst all
earthly dominions—you go out thence, and travel on to the capital of an
Eastern Prince, you find but a waning power, and a faded splendour, that
inclines you to laugh and mock; but let the infernal Angel of Plague be
at hand, and he, more mighty than armies, more terrible than Suleyman in
his glory, can restore such pomp and majesty to the weakness of the
Imperial city, that if, _when HE is there_, you must still go prying
amongst the shades of this dead empire, at least you will tread the path
with seemly reverence and awe.

It is the firm faith of almost all the Europeans living in the East that
plague is conveyed by the touch of infected substances, and that the
deadly atoms especially lurk in all kinds of clothes and furs.  It is
held safer to breathe the same air with a man sick of the plague, and
even to come in contact with his skin, than to be touched by the smallest
particle of woollen or of thread which may have been within the reach of
possible infection.  If this be a right notion, the spread of the malady
must be materially aided by the observance of a custom prevailing amongst
the people of Stamboul.  It is this: when an Osmanlee dies, one of his
dresses is cut up, and a small piece of it is sent to each of his friends
as a memorial of the departed—a fatal present, according to the opinion
of the Franks, for it too often forces the living not merely to remember
the dead man, but to follow and bear him company.

The Europeans during the prevalence of the plague, if they are forced to
venture into the streets, will carefully avoid the touch of every human
being whom they pass.  Their conduct in this respect shows them strongly
in contrast with the “true believers”; the Moslem stalks on serenely, as
though he were under the eye of his God, and were “equal to either fate”;
the Franks go crouching and slinking from death, and some (those chiefly
of French extraction) will fondly strive to fence out destiny with
shining capes of oilskin!

For some time you may manage by great care to thread your way through the
streets of Stamboul without incurring contact, for the Turks, though
scornful of the terrors felt by the Franks, are generally very courteous
in yielding to that which they hold to be a useless and impious
precaution, and will let you pass safe if they can.  It is impossible,
however, that your immunity can last for any length of time if you move
about much through the narrow streets and lanes of a crowded city.

As for me, I soon got “compromised.”  After one day of rest, the prayers
of my hostess began to lose their power of keeping me from the pestilent
side of the Golden Horn.  Faithfully promising to shun the touch of all
imaginable substances, however enticing, I set off very cautiously, and
held my way uncompromised till I reached the water’s edge; but before my
caïque was quite ready some rueful-looking fellows came rapidly shambling
down the steps with a plague-stricken corpse, which they were going to
bury amongst the faithful on the other side of the water.  I contrived to
be so much in the way of this brisk funeral, that I was not only touched
by the men bearing the body, but also, I believe, by the foot of the dead
man, as it hung lolling out of the bier.  This accident gave me such a
strong interest in denying the soundness of the contagion theory, that I
did in fact deny and repudiate it altogether; and from that time, acting
upon my own convenient view of the matter, I went wherever I chose,
without taking any serious pains to avoid a touch.  It seems to me now
very likely that the Europeans are right, and that the plague may be
really conveyed by contagion; but during the whole time of my remaining
in the East, my views on this subject more nearly approached to those of
the fatalists; and so, when afterwards the plague of Egypt came dealing
his blows around me, I was able to live amongst the dying without that
alarm and anxiety which would inevitably have pressed upon my mind if I
had allowed myself to believe that every passing touch was really a
probable death-stroke.

And perhaps as you make your difficult way through a steep and narrow
alley, shut in between blank walls, and little frequented by passers, you
meet one of those coffin-shaped bundles of white linen that implies an
Ottoman lady.  Painfully struggling against the obstacles to progression
interposed by the many folds of her clumsy drapery, by her big mud-boots,
and especially by her two pairs of slippers, she works her way on full
awkwardly enough, but yet there is something of womanly consciousness in
the very labour and effort with which she tugs and lifts the burthen of
her charms.  She is closely followed by her women slaves.  Of her very
self you see nothing except the dark, luminous eyes that stare against
your face, and the tips of the painted fingers depending like rosebuds
from out of the blank bastions of the fortress.  She turns, and turns
again, and carefully glances around her on all sides, to see that she is
safe from the eyes of Mussulmans, and then suddenly withdrawing the
_yashmak_, {34} she shines upon your heart and soul with all the pomp and
might of her beauty.  And this, it is not the light, changeful grace that
leaves you to doubt whether you have fallen in love with a body, or only
a soul; it is the beauty that dwells secure in the perfectness of hard,
downright outlines, and in the glow of generous colour.  There is fire,
though, too—high courage and fire enough in the untamed mind, or spirit,
or whatever it is, which drives the breath of pride through those
scarcely parted lips.

You smile at pretty women—you turn pale before the beauty that is great
enough to have dominion over you.  She sees, and exults in your
giddiness; she sees and smiles; then presently, with a sudden movement,
she lays her blushing fingers upon your arm, and cries out, “Yumourdjak!”
(Plague! meaning, “there is a present of the plague for you!”)  This is
her notion of a witticism.  It is a very old piece of fun, no doubt—quite
an Oriental Joe Miller; but the Turks are fondly attached, not only to
the institutions, but also to the jokes of their ancestors; so the lady’s
silvery laugh rings joyously in your ears, and the mirth of her women is
boisterous and fresh, as though the bright idea of giving the plague to a
Christian had newly lit upon the earth.

Methley began to rally very soon after we had reached Constantinople; but
there seemed at first to be no chance of his regaining strength enough
for travelling during the winter, and I determined to stay with my
comrade until he had quite recovered; so I bought me a horse, and a “pipe
of tranquillity,” {35} and took a Turkish phrase-master.  I troubled
myself a great deal with the Turkish tongue, and gained at last some
knowledge of its structure.  It is enriched, perhaps overladen, with
Persian and Arabic words, imported into the language chiefly for the
purpose of representing sentiments and religious dogmas, and terms of art
and luxury, entirely unknown to the Tartar ancestors of the present
Osmanlees; but the body and the spirit of the old tongue are yet alive,
and the smooth words of the shopkeeper at Constantinople can still carry
understanding to the ears of the untamed millions who rove over the
plains of Northern Asia.  The structure of the language, especially in
its more lengthy sentences, is very like to the Latin: {36} the subject
matters are slowly and patiently enumerated, without disclosing the
purpose of the speaker until he reaches the end of his sentence, and then
at last there comes the clenching word, which gives a meaning and
connection to all that has gone before.  If you listen at all to speaking
of this kind, your attention, rather than be suffered to flag, must grow
more and more lively as the phrase marches on.

The Osmanlees speak well.  In countries civilised according to the
European plan the work of trying to persuade tribunals is almost all
performed by a set of men, the great body of whom very seldom do anything
else; but in Turkey this division of labour has never taken place, and
every man is his own advocate.  The importance of the rhetorical art is
immense, for a bad speech may endanger the property of the speaker, as
well as the soles of his feet and the free enjoyment of his throat.  So
it results that most of the Turks whom one sees have a lawyer-like habit
of speaking connectedly, and at length.  Even the treaties continually
going on at the bazaar for the buying and selling of the merest trifles
are carried on by speechifying rather than by mere colloquies, and the
eternal uncertainty as to the market value of things in constant sale
gives room enough for discussion.  The seller is for ever demanding a
price immensely beyond that for which he sells at last, and so occasions
unspeakable disgust in many Englishmen, who cannot see why an honest
dealer should ask more for his goods than he will really take!  The truth
is, however, that an ordinary tradesman of Constantinople has no other
way of finding out the fair market value of his property.  The difficulty
under which he labours is easily shown by comparing the mechanism of the
commercial system in Turkey with that of our own country.  In England, or
in any other great mercantile country, the bulk of the things bought and
sold goes through the hands of a wholesale dealer, and it is he who
higgles and bargains with an entire nation of purchasers by entering into
treaty with retail sellers.  The labour of making a few large contracts
is sufficient to give a clue for finding the fair market value of the
goods sold throughout the country; but in Turkey, from the primitive
habits of the people, and partly from the absence of great capital and
great credit, the importing merchant, the warehouseman, the wholesale
dealer, the retail dealer, and the shopman, are all one person.  Old
Moostapha, or Abdallah, or Hadgi Mohamed waddles up from the water’s edge
with a small packet of merchandise, which he has bought out of a Greek
brigantine, and when at last he has reached his nook in the bazaar he
puts his goods before the counter, and himself upon it; then laying fire
to his _tchibouque_ he “sits in permanence,” and patiently waits to
obtain “the best price that can be got in an open market.”  This is his
fair right as a seller, but he has no means of finding out what that best
price is except by actual experiment.  He cannot know the intensity of
the demand, or the abundance of the supply, otherwise than by the offers
which may be made for his little bundle of goods; so he begins by asking
a perfectly hopeless price, and then descends the ladder until he meets a
purchaser, for ever

             “Striving to attain
    By shadowing out the unattainable.”

This is the struggle which creates the continual occasion for debate.
The vendor, perceiving that the unfolded merchandise has caught the eye
of a possible purchaser, commences his opening speech.  He covers his
bristling broadcloths and his meagre silks with the golden broidery of
Oriental praises, and as he talks, along with the slow and graceful
waving of his arms, he lifts his undulating periods, upholds and poises
them well, till they have gathered their weight and their strength, and
then hurls them bodily forward with grave, momentous swing.  The possible
purchaser listens to the whole speech with deep and serious attention;
but when it is over _his_ turn arrives.  He elaborately endeavours to
show why he ought not to buy the things at a price twenty times larger
than their value.  Bystanders attracted to the debate take a part in it
as independent members; the vendor is heard in reply, and coming down
with his price, furnishes the materials for a new debate.  Sometimes,
however, the dealer, if he is a very pious Mussulman, and sufficiently
rich to hold back his ware, will take a more dignified part, maintaining
a kind of judicial gravity, and receiving the applicants who come to his
stall as if they were rather suitors than customers.  He will quietly
hear to the end some long speech that concludes with an offer, and will
answer it all with the one monosyllable “Yok,” which means distinctly
“No.”

I caught one glimpse of the old heathen world.  My habits for studying
military subjects had been hardening my heart against poetry; for ever
staring at the flames of battle, I had blinded myself to the lesser and
finer lights that are shed from the imaginations of men.  In my reading
at this time I delighted to follow from out of Arabian sands the feet of
the armed believers, and to stand in the broad, manifest storm-track of
Tartar devastation; and thus, though surrounded at Constantinople by
scenes of much interest to the “classical scholar,” I had cast aside
their associations like an old Greek grammar, and turned my face to the
“shining Orient,” forgetful of old Greece and all the pure wealth she
left to this matter-of-fact-ridden world.  But it happened to me one day
to mount the high grounds overhanging the streets of Pera.  I sated my
eyes with the pomps of the city and its crowded waters, and then I looked
over where Scutari lay half veiled in her mournful cypresses.  I looked
yet farther and higher, and saw in the heavens a silvery cloud that stood
fast and still against the breeze: it was pure and dazzling white, as
might be the veil of Cytherea, yet touched with such fire, as though from
beneath the loving eyes of an immortal were shining through and through.
I knew the bearing, but had enormously misjudged its distance and
underrated its height, and so it was as a sign and a testimony, almost as
a call from the neglected gods, and now I saw and acknowledged the snowy
crown of the Mysian Olympus!



CHAPTER IV {41}
THE TROAD


METHLEY recovered almost suddenly, and we determined to go through the
Troad together.

My comrade was a capital Grecian.  It is true that his singular mind so
ordered and disposed his classic lore as to impress it with something of
an original and barbarous character—with an almost Gothic quaintness,
more properly belonging to a rich native ballad than to the poetry of
Hellas.  There was a certain impropriety in his knowing so much Greek—an
unfitness in the idea of marble fauns, and satyrs, and even Olympian
gods, lugged in under the oaken roof and the painted light of an odd, old
Norman hall.  But Methley, abounding in Homer, really loved him (as I
believe) in all truth, without whim or fancy; moreover, he had a good
deal of the practical sagacity

    “Of a Yorkshireman hippodamoio,”

and this enabled him to apply his knowledge with much more tact than is
usually shown by people so learned as he.

I, too, loved Homer, but not with a scholar’s love.  The most humble and
pious among women was yet so proud a mother that she could teach her
firstborn son no Watts’ hymns, no collects for the day; she could teach
him in earliest childhood no less than this, to find a home in his
saddle, and to love old Homer, and all that old Homer sung.  True it is,
that the Greek was ingeniously rendered into English, the English of Pope
even, but not even a mesh like that can screen an earnest child from the
fire of Homer’s battles.

I pored over the _Odyssey_ as over a story-book, hoping and fearing for
the hero whom yet I partly scorned.  But the _Iliad_—line by line I
clasped it to my brain with reverence as well as with love.  As an old
woman deeply trustful sits reading her Bible because of the world to
come, so, as though it would fit me for the coming strife of this
temporal world, I read and read the _Iliad_.  Even outwardly, it was not
like other books; it was throned in towering folios.  There was a preface
or dissertation printed in type still more majestic than the rest of the
book; this I read, but not till my enthusiasm for the _Iliad_ had already
run high.  The writer compiling the opinions of many men, and chiefly of
the ancients, set forth, I know not how quaintly, that the _Iliad_ was
all in all to the human race—that it was history, poetry, revelation;
that the works of men’s hands were folly and vanity, and would pass away
like the dreams of a child, but that the kingdom of Homer would endure
for ever and ever.

I assented with all my soul.  I read, and still read; I came to know
Homer.  A learned commentator knows something of the Greeks, in the same
sense as an oil-and-colour man may be said to know something of painting;
but take an untamed child, and leave him alone for twelve months with any
translation of Homer, and he will be nearer by twenty centuries to the
spirit of old Greece; _he_ does not stop in the ninth year of the siege
to admire this or that group of words; _he_ has no books in his tent, but
he shares in vital counsels with the “king of men,” and knows the inmost
souls of the impending gods; how profanely he exults over the powers
divine when they are taught to dread the prowess of mortals! and most of
all, how he rejoices when the God of War flies howling from the spear of
Diomed, and mounts into heaven for safety!  Then the beautiful episode of
the Sixth Book: the way to feel this is not to go casting about, and
learning from pastors and masters how best to admire it.  The impatient
child is not grubbing for beauties, but pushing the siege; the women vex
him with their delays, and their talking; the mention of the nurse is
personal, and little sympathy has he for the child that is young enough
to be frightened at the nodding plume of a helmet; but all the while that
he thus chafes at the pausing of the action, the strong vertical light of
Homer’s poetry is blazing so full upon the people and things of the
_Iliad_, that soon to the eyes of the child they grow familiar as his
mother’s shawl; yet of this great gain he is unconscious, and on he goes,
vengefully thirsting for the best blood of Troy, and never remitting his
fierceness till almost suddenly it is changed for sorrow—the new and
generous sorrow that he learns to feel when the noblest of all his foes
lies sadly dying at the Scæan gate.

Heroic days are these, but the dark ages of schoolboy life come closing
over them.  I suppose it is all right in the end, yet, by Jove, at first
sight it does seem a sad intellectual fall from your mother’s
dressing-room to a buzzing school.  You feel so keenly the delights of
early knowledge; you form strange mystic friendships with the mere names
of mountains, and seas, and continents, and mighty rivers; you learn the
ways of the planets, and transcend their narrow limits, and ask for the
end of space; you vex the electric cylinder till it yields you, for your
toy to play with, that subtle fire in which our earth was forged; you
know of the nations that have towered high in the world, and the lives of
the men who have saved whole empires from oblivion.  What more will you
ever learn?  Yet the dismal change is ordained, and then, thin meagre
Latin (the same for everybody), with small shreds and patches of Greek,
is thrown like a pauper’s pall over all your early lore.  Instead of
sweet knowledge, vile, monkish, doggerel grammars and graduses,
dictionaries and lexicons, and horrible odds and ends of dead languages,
are given you for your portion, and down you fall, from Roman story to a
three-inch scrap of “Scriptores Romani,”—from Greek poetry down, down to
the cold rations of “Poetæ Græci,” cut up by commentators, and served out
by schoolmasters!

It was not the recollection of school nor college learning, but the
rapturous and earnest reading of my childhood, which made me bend forward
so longingly to the plains of Troy.

Away from our people and our horses, Methley and I went loitering along
by the willow banks of a stream that crept in quietness through the low,
even plain.  There was no stir of weather overhead, no sound of rural
labour, no sign of life in the land; but all the earth was dead and
still, as though it had lain for thrice a thousand years under the leaden
gloom of one unbroken Sabbath.

Softly and sadly the poor, dumb, patient stream went winding and winding
along through its shifting pathway; in some places its waters were
parted, and then again, lower down, they would meet once more.  I could
see that the stream from year to year was finding itself new channels,
and flowed no longer in its ancient track, but I knew that the springs
which fed it were high on Ida—the springs of Simois and Scamander!

It was coldly and thanklessly, and with vacant, unsatisfied eyes that I
watched the slow coming and gliding away of the waters.  I tell myself
now, as a profane fact, that I did stand by that river (Methley gathered
some seeds from the bushes that grew there), but since that I am away
from his banks, “divine Scamander” has recovered the proper mystery
belonging to him as an unseen deity; a kind of indistinctness, like that
which belongs to far antiquity, has spread itself over my memory, of the
winding stream that I saw with these very eyes.  One’s mind regains in
absence that dominion over earthly things which has been shaken by their
rude contact.  You force yourself hardily into the material presence of a
mountain, or a river, whose name belongs to poetry and ancient religion,
rather than to the external world; your feelings wound up and kept ready
for some sort of half-expected rapture are chilled, and borne down for
the time under all this load of real earth and water; but let these once
pass out of sight, and then again the old fanciful notions are restored,
and the mere realities which you have just been looking at are thrown
back so far into distance, that the very event of your intrusion upon
such scenes begins to look dim and uncertain, as though it belonged to
mythology.

It is not over the plain before Troy that the river now flows; its waters
have edged away far towards the north, since the day that “divine
Scamander” (whom the gods call Xanthus) went down to do battle for Ilion,
“with Mars, and Phoebus, and Latona, and Diana glorying in her arrows,
and Venus the lover of smiles.”

And now, when I was vexed at the migration of Scamander, and the total
loss or absorption of poor dear Simois, how happily Methley reminded me
that Homer himself had warned us of some such changes!  The Greeks in
beginning their wall had neglected the hecatombs due to the gods, and so
after the fall of Troy Apollo turned the paths of the rivers that flow
from Ida, and sent them flooding over the wall, till all the beach was
smooth and free from the unhallowed works of the Greeks.  It is true I
see now, on looking to the passage, that Neptune, when the work of
destruction was done, turned back the rivers to their ancient ways:

             “ . . . ποταμους δ᾽ ετρεψε νεεσθαι
    Καρ᾽ ροον ήπερ προσθεν ιεν καλλιρροον ὑδωρ,”

but their old channels passing through that light pervious soil would
have been lost in the nine days’ flood, and perhaps the god, when he
willed to bring back the rivers to their ancient beds, may have done his
work but ill: it is easier, they say, to destroy than it is to restore.

We took to our horses again, and went southward towards the very plain
between Troy and the tents of the Greeks, but we rode by a line at some
distance from the shore.  Whether it was that the lay of the ground
hindered my view towards the sea, or that I was all intent upon Ida, or
whether my mind was in vacancy, or whether, as is most like, I had
strayed from the Dardan plains all back to gentle England, there is now
no knowing, nor caring, but it was not quite suddenly indeed, but rather,
as it were, in the swelling and falling of a single wave, that the
reality of that very sea-view, which had bounded the sight of the Greeks,
now visibly acceded to me, and rolled full in upon my brain.  Conceive
how deeply that eternal coastline, that fixed horizon, those island
rocks, must have graven their images upon the minds of the Grecian
warriors by the time that they had reached the ninth year of the siege!
conceive the strength, and the fanciful beauty, of the speeches with
which a whole army of imagining men must have told their weariness, and
how the sauntering chiefs must have whelmed that daily, daily scene with
their deep Ionian curses!

And now it was that my eyes were greeted with a delightful surprise.
Whilst we were at Constantinople, Methley and I had pored over the map
together.  We agreed that whatever may have been the exact site of Troy,
the Grecian camp must have been nearly opposite to the space betwixt the
islands of Imbros and Tenedos,

    “Μεσσηγυς Τενεδοιο και Ιμβρου παιπαλοεσσης,”

but Methley reminded me of a passage in the _Iliad_ in which Neptune is
represented as looking at the scene of action before Ilion from above the
island of Samothrace.  Now Samothrace, according to the map, appeared to
be not only out of all seeing distance from the Troad, but to be entirely
shut out from it by the intervening Imbros, which is a larger island,
stretching its length right athwart the line of sight from Samothrace to
Troy.  Piously allowing that the dread Commoter of our globe might have
seen all mortal doings, even from the depth of his own cerulean kingdom,
I still felt that if a station were to be chosen from which to see the
fight, old Homer, so material in his ways of thought, so averse from all
haziness and overreaching, would have _meant_ to give the god for his
station some spot within reach of men’s eyes from the plains of Troy.  I
think that this testing of the poet’s words by map and compass may have
shaken a little of my faith in the completeness of his knowledge.  Well,
now I had come; there to the south was Tenedos, and here at my side was
Imbros, all right, and according to the map, but aloft over Imbros, aloft
in a far-away heaven, was Samothrace, the watch-tower of Neptune!

So Homer had appointed it, and so it was; the map was correct enough, but
could not, like Homer, convey _the whole truth_.  Thus vain and false are
the mere human surmises and doubts which clash with Homeric writ!

Nobody whose mind had not been reduced to the most deplorable logical
condition could look upon this beautiful congruity betwixt the _Iliad_
and the material world and yet bear to suppose that the poet may have
learned the features of the coast from mere hearsay; now then, I
believed; now I knew that Homer had _passed along here_, that this vision
of Samothrace over-towering the nearer island was common to him and to
me.

After a journey of some few days by the route of Adramiti and Pergamo we
reached Smyrna.  The letters which Methley here received obliged him to
return to England.



CHAPTER V
INFIDEL SMYRNA


SMYRNA, or Giaour Izmir, “Infidel Smyrna,” as the Mussulmans call it, is
the main point of commercial contact betwixt Europe and Asia.  You are
there surrounded by the people, and the confused customs of many and
various nations; you see the fussy European adopting the East, and
calming his restlessness with the long Turkish “pipe of tranquillity”;
you see Jews offering services, and receiving blows; {50} on one side you
have a fellow whose dress and beard would give you a good idea of the
true Oriental, if it were not for the _gobe-mouche _expression of
countenance with which he is swallowing an article in the _National_; and
there, just by, is a genuine Osmanlee, smoking away with all the majesty
of a sultan, but before you have time to admire sufficiently his tranquil
dignity, and his soft Asiatic repose, the poor old fellow is ruthlessly
“run down” by an English midshipman, who had set sail on a Smyrna hack.
Such are the incongruities of the “infidel city” at ordinary times; but
when I was there, our friend Carrigaholt {51} had imported himself and
his oddities as an accession to the other and inferior wonders of Smyrna.

I was sitting alone in my room one day at Constantinople, when I heard
Methley approaching my door with shouts of laughter and welcome, and
presently I recognised that peculiar cry by which our friend Carrigaholt
expresses his emotions; he soon explained to us the final causes by which
the fates had worked out their wonderful purpose of bringing him to
Constantinople.  He was always, you know, very fond of sailing, but he
had got into such sad scrapes (including, I think, a lawsuit) on account
of his last yacht, that he took it into his head to have a cruise in a
merchant vessel, so he went to Liverpool, and looked through the craft
lying ready to sail, till he found a smart schooner that perfectly suited
his taste.  The destination of the vessel was the last thing he thought
of; and when he was told that she was bound for Constantinople, he merely
assented to that as a part of the arrangement to which he had no
objection.  As soon as the vessel had sailed, the hapless passenger
discovered that his skipper carried on board an enormous wife, with an
inquiring mind and an irresistible tendency to impart her opinions.  She
looked upon her guest as upon a piece of waste intellect that ought to be
carefully tilled.  She tilled him accordingly.  If the dons at Oxford
could have seen poor Carrigaholt thus absolutely “attending lectures” in
the Bay of Biscay, they would surely have thought him sufficiently
punished for all the wrongs he did them whilst he was preparing himself
under their care for the other and more boisterous University.  The
voyage did not last more than six or eight weeks, and the philosophy
inflicted on Carrigaholt was not entirely fatal to him; certainly he was
somewhat emaciated, and, for aught I know, he may have subscribed
somewhat too largely to the “Feminine-right-of-reason Society”; but it
did not appear that his health had been seriously affected.  There was a
scheme on foot, it would seem, for taking the passenger back to England
in the same schooner—a scheme, in fact, for keeping him perpetually
afloat, and perpetually saturated with arguments; but when Carrigaholt
found himself ashore, and remembered that the skipperina (who had
imprudently remained on board) was not there to enforce her suggestions,
he was open to the hints of his servant (a very sharp fellow), who
arranged a plan for escaping, and finally brought off his master to
Giuseppini’s hotel.

Our friend afterwards went by sea to Smyrna, and there he now was in his
glory.  He had a good, or at all events a gentleman-like, judgment in
matters of taste, and as his great object was to surround himself with
all that his fancy could dictate, he lived in a state of perpetual
negotiation.  He was for ever on the point of purchasing, not only the
material productions of the place, but all sorts of such fine ware as
“intelligence,” “fidelity,” and so on.  He was most curious, however, as
the purchaser of the “affections.”  Sometimes he would imagine that he
had a marital aptitude, and his fancy would sketch a graceful picture, in
which he appeared reclining on a divan, with a beautiful Greek woman
fondly couched at his feet, and soothing him with the witchery of her
guitar.  Having satisfied himself with the ideal picture thus created, he
would pass into action; the guitar he would buy instantly, and would give
such intimations of his wish to be wedded to a Greek as could not fail to
produce great excitement in the families of the beautiful Smyrniotes.
Then again (and just in time perhaps to save him from the yoke) his dream
would pass away, and another would come in its stead; he would suddenly
feel the yearnings of a father’s love, and willing by force of gold to
transcend all natural preliminaries, he would issue instructions for the
purchase of some dutiful child that could be warranted to love him as a
parent.  Then at another time he would be convinced that the attachment
of menials might satisfy the longings of his affectionate heart, and
thereupon he would give orders to his slave-merchant for something in the
way of eternal fidelity.  You may well imagine that this anxiety of
Carrigaholt to purchase not only the scenery, but the many _dramatis
personæ_ belonging to his dreams, with all their goodness and graces
complete, necessarily gave an immense stimulus to the trade and intrigue
of Smyrna, and created a demand for human virtues which the moral
resources of the place were totally inadequate to supply.  Every day
after breakfast this lover of the good and the beautiful held a levee,
which was often exceedingly amusing.  In his ante-room there would be not
only the sellers of pipes and slippers and shawls, and suchlike Oriental
merchandise; not only embroiderers and cunning workmen patiently striving
to realise his visions of Albanian dresses; not only the servants
offering for places, and the slave-dealer tendering his sable ware; but
there would be the Greek master, waiting to teach his pupil the grammar
of the soft Ionian tongue, in which he was to delight the wife of his
imagination; and the music-master, who was to teach him some sweet
replies to the anticipated sounds of the fancied guitar; and then, above
all, and proudly eminent with undisputed preference of _entrée_, and
fraught with the mysterious tidings on which the realisation of the whole
dream might depend, was the mysterious match-maker, {54} enticing and
postponing the suitor, yet ever keeping alive in his soul the love of
that pictured virtue, whose beauty (unseen by eyes) was half revealed to
the imagination.

You would have thought that this practical dreaming must have soon
brought Carrigaholt to a bad end, but he was in much less danger than you
would suppose; for besides that the new visions of happiness almost
always came in time to counteract the fatal completion of the preceding
scheme, his high breeding and his delicately sensitive taste almost
always came to his aid at times when he was left without any other
protection; and the efficacy of these qualities in keeping a man out of
harm’s way is really immense.  In all baseness and imposture there is a
coarse, vulgar spirit, which, however artfully concealed for a time, must
sooner or later show itself in some little circumstance sufficiently
plain to occasion an instant jar upon the minds of those whose taste is
lively and true.  To such men a shock of this kind, disclosing the
_ugliness_ of a cheat, is more effectively convincing than any mere
proofs could be.

Thus guarded from isle to isle, and through Greece, and through Albania,
this practical Plato with a purse in his hand, carried on his mad chase
after the good and the beautiful, and yet returned in safety to his home.
But now, poor fellow! the lowly grave, that is the end of men’s romantic
hopes, has closed over all his rich fancies, and all his high
aspirations; he is utterly married!  No more hope, no more change for
him—no more relays—he must go on Vetturini-wise to the appointed end of
his journey!

Smyrna, I think, may be called the chief town and capital of the Grecian
race, against which you will be cautioned so carefully as soon as you
touch the Levant.  You will say that I ought not to confound as one
people the Greeks living under a constitutional Government with the
unfortunate Rayahs who “groan under the Turkish yoke,” but I can’t see
that political events have hitherto produced any strongly marked
difference of character.  If I could venture to rely (which I feel that I
cannot at all do) upon my own observation, I should tell you that there
was more heartiness and strength in the Greeks of the Ottoman Empire than
in those of the new kingdom.  The truth is, that there is a greater field
for commercial enterprise, and even for Greek ambition, under the Ottoman
sceptre, than is to be found in the dominions of Otho.  Indeed the
people, by their frequent migrations from the limits of the
constitutional kingdom to the territories of the Porte, seem to show
that, on the whole, they prefer “groaning under the Turkish yoke” to the
honour of “being the only true source of legitimate power” in their own
land.

For myself, I love the race; in spite of all their vices, and even in
spite of all their meannesses, I remember the blood that is in them, and
still love the Greeks.  The Osmanlees are, of course, by nature, by
religion, and by politics, the strong foes of the Hellenic people; and as
the Greeks, poor fellows! happen to be a little deficient in some of the
virtues which facilitate the transaction of commercial business (such as
veracity, fidelity, etc.), it naturally follows that they are highly
unpopular with the European merchants.  Now these are the persons through
whom, either directly or indirectly, is derived the greater part of the
information which you gather in the Levant, and therefore you must make
up your mind to hear an almost universal and unbroken testimony against
the character of the people whose ancestors invented virtue.  And strange
to say, the Greeks themselves do not attempt to disturb this general
unanimity of opinion by any dissent on their part.  Question a Greek on
the subject, and he will tell you at once that the people are
_traditori_, and will then, perhaps, endeavour to shake off his fair
share of the imputation by asserting that his father had been dragoman to
some foreign embassy, and that he (the son), therefore, by the law of
nations, had ceased to be Greek.

“E dunque no siete traditore?”

“Possibile, signor, ma almeno Io no sono Greco.”

Not even the diplomatic representatives of the Hellenic kingdom are free
from the habit of depreciating their brethren.  I recollect that at one
of the ports in Syria a Greek vessel was rather unfairly kept in
quarantine by order of the Board of Health, which consisted entirely of
Europeans.  A consular agent from the kingdom of Greece had lately
hoisted his flag in the town, and the captain of the vessel drew up a
remonstrance, which he requested his consul to present to the Board.

“Now, _is_ this reasonable?” said the consul; “is it reasonable that I
should place myself in collision with all the principal European
gentlemen of the place for the sake of you, a Greek?”  The skipper was
greatly vexed at the failure of his application, but he scarcely even
questioned the justice of the ground which his consul had taken.  Well,
it happened some time afterwards that I found myself at the same port,
having gone thither with the view of embarking for the port of Syra.  I
was anxious, of course, to elude as carefully as possible the quarantine
detentions which threatened me on my arrival, and hearing that the Greek
consul had a brother who was a man in authority at Syra, I got myself
presented to the former, and took the liberty of asking him to give me
such a letter of introduction to his relative at Syra as might possibly
have the effect of shortening the term of my quarantine.  He acceded to
this request with the utmost kindness and courtesy; but when he replied
to my thanks by saying that “in serving an Englishman he was doing no
more than his strict duty commanded,” not even my gratitude could prevent
me from calling to mind his treatment of the poor captain who had the
misfortune of not being an alien in blood to his consul and appointed
protector.

I think that the change which has taken place in the character of the
Greeks has been occasioned, in great measure, by the doctrines and
practice of their religion.  The Greek Church has animated the Muscovite
peasant, and inspired him with hopes and ideas which, however humble, are
still better than none at all; but the faith, and the forms, and the
strange ecclesiastical literature which act so advantageously upon the
mere clay of the Russian serf, seem to hang like lead upon the ethereal
spirit of the Greek.  Never in any part of the world have I seen
religious performances so painful to witness as those of the Greeks.  The
horror, however, with which one shudders at their worship is
attributable, in some measure, to the mere effect of costume.  In all the
Ottoman dominions, and very frequently too in the kingdom of Otho, the
Greeks wear turbans or other head-dresses, and shave their heads, leaving
only a rat’s-tail at the crown of the head; they of course keep
themselves covered within doors as well as abroad, and they never remove
their headgear merely on account of being in a church; but when the Greek
stops to worship at his proper shrine, then, and then only, he always
uncovers; and as you see him thus with shaven skull and savage tail
depending from his crown, kissing a thing of wood and glass, and cringing
with base prostrations and apparent terror before a miserable picture,
you see superstition in a shape which, outwardly at least, is sadly
abject and repulsive.

The fasts, too, of the Greek Church produce an ill effect upon the
character of the people, for they are not a mere farce, but are carried
to such an extent as to bring about a real mortification of the flesh;
the febrile irritation of the frame operating in conjunction with the
depression of the spirits occasioned by abstinence, will so far answer
the objects of the rite, as to engender some religious excitement, but
this is of a morbid and gloomy character, and it seems to be certain,
that along with the increase of sanctity, there comes a fiercer desire
for the perpetration of dark crimes.  The number of murders committed
during Lent is greater, I am told, than at any other time of the year.  A
man under the influence of a bean dietary (for this is the principal food
of the Greeks during their fasts) will be in an apt humour for enriching
the shrine of his saint, and passing a knife through his next-door
neighbour.  The moneys deposited upon the shrines are appropriated by
priests; the priests are married men, and have families to provide for;
they “take the good with the bad,” and continue to recommend fasts.

Then, too, the Greek Church enjoins her followers to keep holy such a
vast number of saints’ days as practically to shorten the lives of the
people very materially.  I believe that one-third out of the number of
days in the year are “kept holy,” or rather, _kept stupid_, in honour of
the saints; no great portion of the time thus set apart is spent in
religious exercises, and the people don’t betake themselves to any such
animating pastimes as might serve to strengthen the frame, or invigorate
the mind, or exalt the taste.  On the contrary, the saints’ days of the
Greeks in Smyrna are passed in the same manner as the Sabbaths of
well-behaved Protestant housemaids in London—that is to say, in a steady
and serious contemplation of street scenery.  The men perform this duty
_at the doors_ of their houses, the women _at the windows_, which the
custom of Greek towns has so decidedly appropriated to them as the proper
station of their sex, that a man would be looked upon as utterly
effeminate if he ventured to choose that situation for the keeping of the
saints’ days.  I was present one day at a treaty for the hire of some
apartments at Smyrna, which was carried on between Carrigaholt and the
Greek woman to whom the rooms belonged.  Carrigaholt objected that the
windows commanded no view of the street.  Immediately the brow of the
majestic matron clouded, and with all the scorn of a Spartan mother she
coolly asked Carrigaholt, and said, “Art thou a tender damsel that thou
wouldst sit and gaze from windows?”  The man whom she addressed, however,
had not gone to Greece with any intention of placing himself under the
laws of Lycurgus, and was not to be diverted from his views by a Spartan
rebuke, so he took care to find himself windows after his own heart, and
there, I believe, for many a month, he kept the saints’ days, and all the
days intervening, after the fashion of Grecian women.

Oh! let me be charitable to all who write, and to all who lecture, and to
all who preach, since even I, a layman not forced to write at all, can
hardly avoid chiming in with some tuneful cant!  I have had the heart to
talk about the pernicious effects of the Greek holidays, to which I owe
some of my most beautiful visions!  I will let the words stand, as a
humbling proof that I am subject to that immutable law which compels a
man with a pen in his hand to be uttering every now and then some
sentiment not his own.  It seems as though the power of expressing
regrets and desires by written symbols were coupled with a condition that
the writer should from time to time express the regrets and desires of
other people; as though, like a French peasant under the old régime, one
were bound to perform a certain amount of work _upon the public
highways_.  I rebel as stoutly as I can against this horrible _corvée_.
I try not to deceive you—I try to set down the thoughts which are fresh
within me, and not to pretend any wishes, or griefs, which I do not
really feel; but no sooner do I cease from watchfulness in this regard,
than my right hand is, as it were, seized by some false angel, and even
now, you see, I have been forced to put down such words and sentences as
I ought to have written if really and truly I had wished to disturb the
saints’ days of the beautiful Smyrniotes!

Which, Heaven forbid! for as you move through the narrow streets of the
city at these times of festival, the transom-shaped windows suspended
over your head on either side are filled with the beautiful descendants
of the old Ionian race; all (even yonder empress that sits throned at the
window of that humblest mud cottage) are attired with seeming
magnificence; their classic heads are crowned with scarlet, and loaded
with jewels or coins of gold, the whole wealth of the wearer; {61} their
features are touched with a savage pencil, which hardens the outline of
eyes and eyebrows, and lends an unnatural fire to the stern, grave looks
with which they pierce your brain.  Endure their fiery eyes as best you
may, and ride on slowly and reverently, for facing you from the side of
the transom, that looks longwise through the street, you see the one
glorious shape transcendent in its beauty; you see the massive braid of
hair as it catches a touch of light on its jetty surface, and the broad,
calm, angry brow; the large black eyes, deep set, and self-relying like
the eyes of a conqueror, with their rich shadows of thought lying darkly
around them; you see the thin fiery nostril, and the bold line of the
chin and throat disclosing all the fierceness, and all the pride,
passion, and power that can live along with the rare womanly beauty of
those sweetly turned lips.  But then there is a terrible stillness in
this breathing image; it seems like the stillness of a savage that sits
intent and brooding, day by day, upon some one fearful scheme of
vengeance, but yet more like it seems to the stillness of an Immortal,
whose will must be known, and obeyed without sign or speech.  Bow
down!—Bow down and adore the young Persephonie, transcendent Queen of
Shades!



CHAPTER VI
GREEK MARINERS


I sailed from Smyrna in the _Amphitrite_, a Greek brigantine, which was
confidently said to be bound for the coast of Syria; but I knew that this
announcement was not to be relied upon with positive certainty, for the
Greek mariners are practically free from the stringency of ship’s papers,
and where they will, there they go.  However, I had the whole of the
cabin for myself and my attendant, Mysseri, subject only to the society
of the captain at the hour of dinner.  Being at ease in this respect,
being furnished too with plenty of books, and finding an unfailing source
of interest in the thorough Greekness of my captain and my crew, I felt
less anxious than most people would have been about the probable length
of the cruise.  I knew enough of Greek navigation to be sure that our
vessel would cling to earth like a child to its mother’s knee, and that I
should touch at many an isle before I set foot upon the Syrian coast; but
I had no invidious preference for Europe, Asia, or Africa, and I felt
that I could defy the winds to blow me upon a coast that was blank and
void of interest.  My patience was extremely useful to me, for the cruise
altogether endured some forty days, and that in the midst of winter.

According to me, the most interesting of all the Greeks (male Greeks) are
the mariners, because their pursuits and their social condition are so
nearly the same as those of their famous ancestors.  You will say, that
the occupation of commerce must have smoothed down the salience of their
minds; and this would be so perhaps, if their mercantile affairs were
conducted according to the fixed business-like routine of Europeans; but
the ventures of the Greeks are surrounded by such a multitude of imagined
dangers (and from the absence of regular marts, in which the true value
of merchandise can be ascertained), are so entirely speculative, and
besides, are conducted in a manner so wholly determined upon by the
wayward fancies and wishes of the crew, that they belong to enterprise
rather than to industry, and are very far indeed from tending to deaden
any freshness of character.

The vessels in which war and piracy were carried on during the years of
the Greek Revolution became merchantmen at the end of the war; but the
tactics of the Greeks, as naval warriors, were so exceedingly cautious,
and their habits as commercial mariners are so wild, that the change has
been more slight than you might imagine.  The first care of Greeks (Greek
Rayahs) when they undertake a shipping enterprise is to procure for their
vessel the protection of some European power.  This is easily managed by
a little intriguing with the dragoman of one of the embassies at
Constantinople, and the craft soon glories in the ensign of Russia, or
the dazzling Tricolor, or the Union Jack.  Thus, to the great delight of
her crew, she enters upon the ocean world with a flaring lie at her peak,
but the appearance of the vessel does no discredit to the borrowed flag;
she is frail indeed, but is gracefully built, and smartly rigged; she
always carries guns, and, in short, gives good promise of mischief and
speed.

The privileges attached to the vessel and her crew by virtue of the
borrowed flag are so great, as to imply a liberty wider even than that
which is often enjoyed in our more strictly civilised countries, so that
there is no pretence for saying that the development of the true
character belonging to Greek mariners is prevented by the dominion of the
Ottoman.  These men are free, too, from the power of the great
capitalist, whose sway is more withering than despotism itself to the
enterprises of humble venturers.  The capital employed is supplied by
those whose labour is to render it productive.  The crew receive no
wages, but have all a share in the venture, and in general, I believe,
they are the owners of the whole freight.  They choose a captain, to whom
they entrust just power enough to keep the vessel on her course in fine
weather, but not quite enough for a gale of wind; they also elect a cook
and a mate.  The cook whom we had on board was particularly careful about
the ship’s reckoning, and when under the influence of the keen
sea-breezes we grew fondly expectant of an instant dinner, the great
author of _pilafs_ would be standing on deck with an ancient quadrant in
his hands, calmly affecting to take an observation.  But then to make up
for this the captain would be exercising a controlling influence over the
soup, so that all in the end went well.  Our mate was a Hydriot, a native
of that island rock which grows nothing but mariners and mariners’ wives.
His character seemed to be exactly that which is generally attributed to
the Hydriot race; he was fierce, and gloomy, and lonely in his ways.  One
of his principal duties seemed to be that of acting as counter-captain,
or leader of the opposition, denouncing the first symptoms of tyranny,
and protecting even the cabin-boy from oppression.  Besides this, when
things went smoothly he would begin to prognosticate evil, in order that
his more lighthearted comrades might not be puffed up with the seeming
good fortune of the moment.

It seemed to me that the personal freedom of these sailors, who own no
superiors except those of their own choice, is as like as may be to that
of their seafaring ancestors.  And even in their mode of navigation they
have admitted no such an entire change as you would suppose probable.  It
is true that they have so far availed themselves of modern discoveries as
to look to the compass instead of the stars, and that they have
superseded the immortal gods of their forefathers by St. Nicholas in his
glass case, {66} but they are not yet so confident either in their
needle, or their saint, as to love an open sea, and they still hug their
shores as fondly as the Argonauts of old.  Indeed, they have a most
unsailor-like love for the land, and I really believe that in a gale of
wind they would rather have a rock-bound coast on their lee than no coast
at all.  According to the notions of an English seaman, this kind of
navigation would soon bring the vessel on which it might be practised to
an evil end.  The Greek, however, is unaccountably successful in escaping
the consequences of being “jammed in,” as it is called, upon a lee-shore.

These seamen, like their forefathers, rely upon no winds unless they are
right astern or on the quarter; they rarely go _on_ a wind if it blows at
all fresh, and if the adverse breeze approaches to a gale, they at once
fumigate St. Nicholas, and put up the helm.  The consequence, of course,
is that under the ever-varying winds of the Ægean they are blown about in
the most whimsical manner.  I used to think that Ulysses, with his ten
years’ voyage, had taken his time in making Ithaca, but my experience in
Greek navigation soon made me understand that he had had, in point of
fact, a pretty good “average passage.”

Such are now the mariners of the Ægean: free, equal amongst themselves,
navigating the seas of their forefathers with the same heroic, and yet
childlike, spirit of venture, the same half-trustful reliance upon
heavenly aid, they are the liveliest images of true old Greeks that time
and the new religions have spared to us.

With one exception, our crew were “a solemn company,” {67} and yet,
sometimes, when all things went well, they would relax their austerity,
and show a disposition to fun, or rather to quiet humour.  When this
happened, they invariably had recourse to one of their number, who went
by the name of “Admiral Nicolou.”  He was an amusing fellow, the poorest,
I believe, and the least thoughtful of the crew, but full of rich humour.
His oft-told story of the events by which he had gained the sobriquet of
“Admiral” never failed to delight his hearers, and when he was desired to
repeat it for my benefit, the rest of the crew crowded round with as much
interest as if they were listening to the tale for the first time.  A
number of Greek brigs and brigantines were at anchor in the bay of
Beyrout.  A festival of some kind, particularly attractive to the
sailors, was going on in the town, and whether with or without leave I
know not, but the crews of all the craft, except that of Nicolou, had
gone ashore.  On board his vessel, however, which carried dollars, there
was, it would seem, a more careful, or more influential captain, who was
able to enforce his determination that one man, at least, should be left
on board.  Nicolou’s good nature was with him so powerful an impulse,
that he could not resist the delight of volunteering to stay with the
vessel whilst his comrades went ashore.  His proposal was accepted, and
the crew and captain soon left him alone on the deck of his vessel.  The
sailors, gathering together from their several ships, were amusing
themselves in the town, when suddenly there came down from betwixt the
mountains one of those sudden hurricanes which sometimes occur in
southern climes.  Nicolou’s vessel, together with four of the craft which
had been left unmanned, broke from her moorings, and all five of the
vessels were carried out seaward.  The town is on a salient point at the
southern side of the bay, so that “that Admiral” was close under the eyes
of the inhabitants and the shore-gone sailors when he gallantly drifted
out at the head of his little fleet.  If Nicolou could not entirely
control the manœuvres of the squadron, there was at least no human power
to divide his authority, and thus it was that he took rank as “Admiral.”
Nicolou cut his cable, and thus for the time saved his vessel; for the
rest of the fleet under his command were quickly wrecked, whilst “the
Admiral” got away clear to the open sea.  The violence of the squall soon
passed off, but Nicolou felt that his chance of one day resigning his
high duties as an admiral for the enjoyments of private life on the
steadfast shore mainly depended upon his success in working the brig with
his own hands, so after calling on his namesake, the saint (not for the
first time, I take it), he got up some canvas, and took the helm: he
became equal, he told us, to a score of Nicolous, and the vessel, as he
said, was “manned with his terrors.”  For two days, it seems, he cruised
at large, but at last, either by his seamanship, or by the natural
instinct of the Greek mariners for finding land, he brought his craft
close to an unknown shore, that promised well for his purpose of running
in the vessel; and he was preparing to give her a good berth on the
beach, when he saw a gang of ferocious-looking fellows coming down to the
point for which he was making.  Poor Nicolou was a perfectly unlettered
and untutored genius, and for that reason, perhaps, a keen listener to
tales of terror.  His mind had been impressed with some horrible legend
of cannibalism, and he now did not doubt for a moment that the men
awaiting him on the beach were the monsters at whom he had shuddered in
the days of his childhood.  The coast on which Nicolou was running his
vessel was somewhere, I fancy, at the foot of the Anzairie Mountains, and
the fellows who were preparing to give him a reception were probably very
rough specimens of humanity.  It is likely enough that they might have
given themselves the trouble of putting “the Admiral” to death, for the
purpose of simplifying their claim to the vessel and preventing
litigation, but the notion of their cannibalism was of course utterly
unfounded.  Nicolou’s terror had, however, so graven the idea on his
mind, that he could never afterwards dismiss it.  Having once determined
the character of his expectant hosts, the Admiral naturally thought that
it would be better to keep their dinner waiting any length of time than
to attend their feast in the character of a roasted Greek, so he put
about his vessel, and tempted the deep once more.  After a further cruise
the lonely commander ran his vessel upon some rocks at another part of
the coast, where she was lost with all her treasures, and Nicolou was but
too glad to scramble ashore, though without one dollar in his girdle.
These adventures seem flat enough as I repeat them, but the hero
expressed his terrors by such odd terms of speech, and such strangely
humorous gestures, that the story came from his lips with an unfailing
zest, so that the crew, who had heard the tale so often, could still
enjoy to their hearts’ content the rich fright of the Admiral, and still
shuddered with unabated horror when he came to the loss of the dollars.

The power of listening to long stories (for which, by the bye, I am
giving you large credit) is common, I fancy, to most sailors, and the
Greeks have it to a high degree, for they can be perfectly patient under
a narrative of two or three hours’ duration.  These long stories are
mostly founded upon Oriental topics, and in one of them I recognised with
some alteration an old friend of the _Arabian Nights_.  I inquired as to
the source from which the story had been derived, and the crew all agreed
that it had been handed down unwritten from Greek to Greek.  Their
account of the matter does not, perhaps, go very far towards showing the
real origin of the tale; but when I afterwards took up the _Arabian
Nights_, I became strongly impressed with a notion that they must have
sprung from the brain of a Greek.  It seems to me that these stories,
whilst they disclose a complete and habitual knowledge of things Asiatic,
have about them so much of freshness and life, so much of the stirring
and volatile European character, that they cannot have owed their
conception to a mere Oriental, who for creative purposes is a thing dead
and dry—a mental mummy, that may have been a live king just after the
Flood, but has since lain balmed in spice.  At the time of the Caliphat
the Greek race was familiar enough to Baghdad: they were the merchants,
the pedlars, the barbers, and intriguers-general of south-western Asia,
and therefore the Oriental materials with which the Arabian tales were
wrought must have been completely at the command of the inventive people
to whom I would attribute their origin.

We were nearing the isle of Cyprus when there arose half a gale of wind,
with a heavy chopping sea.  My Greek seamen considered that the weather
amounted not to a half, but to an integral gale of wind at the very
least, so they put up the helm, and scudded for twenty hours.  When we
neared the mainland of Anadoli the gale ceased, and a favourable breeze
sprung up, which brought us off Cyprus once more.  Afterwards the wind
changed again, but we were still able to lay our course by sailing
close-hauled.

We were at length in such a position, that by holding on our course for
about half an hour we should get under the lee of the island and find
ourselves in smooth water, but the wind had been gradually freshening; it
now blew hard, and there was a heavy sea running.

As the grounds for alarm arose, the crew gathered together in one close
group; they stood pale and grim under their hooded capotes like monks
awaiting a massacre, anxiously looking by turns along the pathway of the
storm and then upon each other, and then upon the eye of the captain who
stood by the helmsman.  Presently the Hydriot came aft, more moody than
ever, the bearer of fierce remonstrance against the continuing of the
struggle; he received a resolute answer, and still we held our course.
Soon there came a heavy sea, that caught the bow of the brigantine as she
lay jammed in betwixt the waves; she bowed her head low under the waters,
and shuddered through all her timbers, then gallantly stood up again over
the striving sea, with bowsprit entire.  But where were the crew?  It was
a crew no longer, but rather a gathering of Greek citizens; the shout of
the seamen was changed for the murmuring of the people—the spirit of the
old Demos was alive.  The men came aft in a body, and loudly asked that
the vessel should be put about, and that the storm be no longer tempted.
Now then, for speeches.  The captain, his eyes flashing fire, his frame
all quivering with emotion—wielding his every limb, like another and a
louder voice, pours forth the eloquent torrent of his threats and his
reasons, his commands and his prayers; he promises, he vows, he swears
that there is safety in holding on—safety, _if Greeks will be brave_!
The men hear and are moved; but the gale rouses itself once more, and
again the raging sea comes trampling over the timbers that are the life
of all.  The fierce Hydriot advances one step nearer to the captain, and
the angry growl of the people goes floating down the wind, but they
listen; they waver once more, and once more resolve, then waver again,
thus doubtfully hanging between the terrors of the storm and the
persuasion of glorious speech, as though it were the Athenian that
talked, and Philip of Macedon that thundered on the weather-bow.

Brave thoughts winged on Grecian words gained their natural mastery over
terror; the brigantine held on her course, and reached smooth water at
last.  I landed at Limasol, the westernmost port of Cyprus, leaving the
vessel to sail for Larnaca, where she was to remain for some days.



CHAPTER VII
CYPRUS


THERE was a Greek at Limasol who hoisted his flag as an English
vice-consul, and he insisted upon my accepting his hospitality.  With
some difficulty, and chiefly by assuring him that I could not delay my
departure beyond an early hour in the afternoon, I induced him to allow
my dining with his family instead of banqueting all alone with the
representative of my Sovereign in consular state and dignity.  The lady
of the house, it seemed, had never sat at table with a European.  She was
very shy about the matter, and tried hard to get out of the scrape, but
the husband, I fancy, reminded her that she was theoretically an
Englishwoman, by virtue of the flag that waved over her roof, and that
she was bound to show her nationality by sitting at meat with me.
Finding herself inexorably condemned to bear with the dreaded gaze of
European eyes, she tried to save her innocent children from the hard fate
awaiting herself, but I obtained that all of them (and I think there were
four or five) should sit at the table.  You will meet with abundance of
stately receptions and of generous hospitality, too, in the East, but
rarely, very rarely in those regions (or even, so far as I know, in any
part of southern Europe) does one gain an opportunity of seeing the
familiar and indoor life of the people.

This family party of the good consul’s (or rather of mine, for I
originated the idea, though he furnished the materials) went off very
well.  The mamma was shy at first, but she veiled the awkwardness which
she felt by affecting to scold her children, who had all of them, I
think, immortal names—names too which they owed to tradition, and
certainly not to any classical enthusiasm of their parents.  Every
instant I was delighted by some such phrases as these, “Themistocles, my
love, don’t fight.”—“Alcibiades, can’t you sit still?”—“Socrates, put
down the cup.”—“Oh, fie! Aspasia don’t.  Oh! don’t be naughty!”  It is
true that the names were pronounced Socrāhtie, Aspāhsie—that is,
according to accent, and not according to quantity—but I suppose it is
scarcely now to be doubted that they were so sounded in ancient times.

To me it seems, that of all the lands I know (you will see in a minute
how I connect this piece of prose with the Isle of Cyprus), there is none
in which mere wealth, mere unaided wealth, is held half so cheaply; none
in which a poor devil of a millionaire, without birth, or ability,
occupies so humble a place as in England.  My Greek host and I were
sitting together, I think, upon the roof of the house (for that is the
lounging-place in Eastern climes), when the former assumed a serious air,
and intimated a wish to converse upon the subject of the British
Constitution, with which he assured me that he was thoroughly acquainted.
He presently, however, informed me that there was one anomalous
circumstance attended upon the practical working of our political system
which he had never been able to hear explained in a manner satisfactory
to himself.  From the fact of his having found a difficulty in his
subject, I began to think that my host might really know rather more of
it than his announcement of a thorough knowledge had led me to expect.  I
felt interested at being about to hear from the lips of an intelligent
Greek, quite remote from the influence of European opinions, what might
seem to him the most astonishing and incomprehensible of all those
results which have followed from the action of our political
institutions.  The anomaly, the only anomaly which had been detected by
the vice-consular wisdom, consisted in the fact that Rothschild (the late
money-monger) had never been the Prime Minister of England!  I gravely
tried to throw some light upon the mysterious causes that had kept the
worthy Israelite out of the Cabinet, but I think I could see that my
explanation was not satisfactory.  Go and argue with the flies of summer
that there is a power divine, yet greater than the sun in the heavens,
but never dare hope to convince the people of the south that there is any
other God than Gold.

My intended journey was to the site of the Paphian temple.  I take no
antiquarian interest in ruins, and care little about them, unless they
are either striking in themselves, or else serve to mark some spot on
which my fancy loves to dwell.  I knew that the ruins of Paphos were
scarcely, if at all, discernible, but there was a will and a longing more
imperious than mere curiosity that drove me thither.

For this just then was my pagan soul’s desire—that (not forfeiting my
inheritance for the life to come) it had yet been given me to live
through this world to live a favoured mortal under the old Olympian
dispensation—to speak out my resolves to the listening Jove, and hear him
answer with approving thunder—to be blessed with divine councils from the
lips of Pallas Athēnie—to believe—ay, only to believe—to believe for one
rapturous moment that in the gloomy depths of the grove, by the
mountain’s side, there were some leafy pathway that crisped beneath the
glowing sandal of Aphrodētie—Aphrodētie, not coldly disdainful of even a
mortal’s love!  And this vain, heathenish longing of mine was father to
the thought of visiting the scene of the ancient worship.

The isle is beautiful.  From the edge of the rich, flowery fields on
which I trod to the midway sides of the snowy Olympus, the ground could
only here and there show an abrupt crag, or a high straggling ridge that
up-shouldered itself from out of the wilderness of myrtles, and of the
thousand bright-leaved shrubs that twined their arms together in lovesome
tangles.  The air that came to my lips was warm and fragrant as the
ambrosial breath of the goddess, infecting me, not (of course) with a
faith in the old religion of the isle, but with a sense and apprehension
of its mystic power—a power that was still to be obeyed—obeyed by _me_,
for why otherwise did I toil on with sorry horses to “where, for HER, the
hundred altars glowed with Arabian incense, and breathed with the
fragrance of garlands ever fresh”?  {77}

I passed a sadly disenchanting night in the cabin of a Greek priest—not a
priest of the goddess, but of the Greek Church; there was but one humble
room, or rather shed, for man, and priest, and beast.  The next morning I
reached Baffa (Paphos), a village not far distant from the site of the
temple.  There was a Greek husbandman there who (not for emolument, but
for the sake of the protection and dignity which it afforded) had got
leave from the man at Limasol to hoist his flag as a sort of
deputy-provisionary-sub-vice-pro-acting-consul of the British sovereign:
the poor fellow instantly changed his Greek headgear for the cap of
consular dignity, and insisted upon accompanying me to the ruins.  I
would not have stood this if I could have felt the faintest gleam of my
yesterday’s pagan piety, but I had ceased to dream, and had nothing to
dread from any new disenchanters.

The ruins (the fragments of one or two prostrate pillars) lie upon a
promontory, bare and unmystified by the gloom of surrounding groves.  My
Greek friend in his consular cap stood by, respectfully waiting to see
what turn my madness would take, now that I had come at last into the
presence of the old stones.  If you have no taste for research, and can’t
affect to look for inscriptions, there is some awkwardness in coming to
the end of a merely sentimental pilgrimage; when the feeling which
impelled you has gone, you have nothing to do but to laugh the thing off
as well as you can, and, by the bye, it is not a bad plan to turn the
conversation (or rather, allow the natives to turn it) towards the
subject of hidden treasures.  This is a topic on which they will always
speak with eagerness, and if they can fancy that you, too, take an
interest in such matters, they will not only think you perfectly sane,
but will begin to give you credit for some more than human powers of
forcing the obscure earth to show you its hoards of gold.

When we returned to Baffa, the vice-consul seized a club with the quietly
determined air of a brave man resolved to do some deed of note.  He went
into the yard adjoining his cottage, where there were some thin,
thoughtful, canting cocks, and serious, low-church-looking hens,
respectfully listening, and chickens of tender years so well brought up,
as scarcely to betray in their conduct the careless levity of youth.  The
vice-consul stood for a moment quite calm, collecting his strength; then
suddenly he rushed into the midst of the congregation, and began to deal
death and destruction on all sides.  He spared neither sex nor age; the
dead and dying were immediately removed from the field of slaughter, and
in less than an hour, I think, they were brought on the table, deeply
buried in mounds of snowy rice.

My host was in all respects a fine, generous fellow.  I could not bear
the idea of impoverishing him by my visit, and I consulted my faithful
Mysseri, who not only assured me that I might safely offer money to the
vice-consul, but recommended that I should give no more to him than to
“the other,” meaning any other peasant.  I felt, however, that there was
something about the man, besides the flag and the cap, which made me
shrink from offering coin, and as I mounted my horse on departing I gave
him the only thing fit for a present that I happened to have with me, a
rather handsome clasp-dagger, brought from Vienna.  The poor fellow was
ineffably grateful, and I had some difficulty in tearing myself from out
of the reach of his thanks.  At last I gave him what I supposed to be the
last farewell, and rode on, but I had not gained more than about a
hundred yards when my host came bounding and shouting after me, with a
goat’s-milk cheese in his hand, which he implored me to accept.  In old
times the shepherd of Theocritus, or (to speak less dishonestly) the
shepherd of the “Poetæ Græci,” sung his best song; I in this latter age
presented my best dagger, and both of us received the same rustic reward.

It had been known that I should return to Limasol, and when I arrived
there I found that a noble old Greek had been hospitably plotting to have
me for his guest.  I willingly accepted his offer.  The day of my arrival
happened to be the birthday of my host, and in consequence of this there
was a constant influx of visitors, who came to offer their
congratulations.  A few of these were men, but most of them were young,
graceful girls.  Almost all of them went through the ceremony with the
utmost precision and formality; each in succession spoke her blessing, in
the tone of a person repeating a set formula, then deferentially accepted
the invitation to sit, partook of the proffered sweetmeats and the cold,
glittering water, remained for a few minutes either in silence or engaged
in very thin conversation, then arose, delivered a second benediction,
followed by an elaborate farewell, and departed.

The bewitching power attributed at this day to the women of Cyprus is
curious in connection with the worship of the sweet goddess, who called
their isle her own.  The Cypriote is not, I think, nearly so beautiful in
face as the Ionian queens of Izmir, but she is tall, and slightly formed;
there is a high-souled meaning and expression, a seeming consciousness of
gentle empire, that speaks in the wavy line of the shoulder, and winds
itself like Cytherea’s own cestus around the slender waist; then the
richly-abounding hair (not enviously gathered together under the
head-dress) descends the neck, and passes the waist in sumptuous braids.
Of all other women with Grecian blood in their veins the costume is
graciously beautiful, but these, the maidens of Limasol—their robes are
more gently, more sweetly imagined, and fall like Julia’s cashmere in
soft, luxurious folds.  The common voice of the Levant allows that in
face the women of Cyprus are less beautiful than their brilliant sisters
of Smyrna; and yet, says the Greek, he may trust himself to one and all
the bright cities of the Ægean, and may yet weigh anchor with a heart
entire, but that so surely as he ventures upon the enchanted isle of
Cyprus, so surely will he know the rapture or the bitterness of love.
The charm, they say, owes its power to that which the people call the
astonishing “politics” (_πολιτικη_) of the women, meaning, I fancy, their
tact and their witching ways: the word, however, plainly fails to express
one half of that which the speakers would say.  I have smiled to hear the
Greek, with all his plenteousness of fancy, and all the wealth of his
generous language, yet vainly struggling to describe the ineffable spell
which the Parisians dispose of in their own smart way by a summary “Je ne
sçai quoi.”

I went to Larnaca, the chief city of the isle, and over the water at last
to Beyrout.



CHAPTER VIII
LADY HESTER STANHOPE {82}


BEYROUT on its land side is hemmed in by the Druses, who occupy all the
neighbouring highlands.

Often enough I saw the ghostly images of the women with their exalted
horns stalking through the streets, and I saw too in travelling the
affrighted groups of the mountaineers as they fled before me, under the
fear that my party might be a company of income-tax commissioners, or a
press-gang enforcing the conscription for Mehemet Ali; but nearly all my
knowledge of the people, except in regard of their mere costume and
outward appearance, is drawn from books and despatches, to which I have
the honour to refer you.

I received hospitable welcome at Beyrout from the Europeans as well as
from the Syrian Christians, and I soon discovered that their standing
topic of interest was the Lady Hester Stanhope, who lived in an old
convent on the Lebanon range, at the distance of about a day’s journey
from the town.  The lady’s habit of refusing to see Europeans added the
charm of mystery to a character which, even without that aid, was
sufficiently distinguished to command attention.

Many years of Lady Hester’s early womanhood had been passed with Lady
Chatham at Burton Pynsent, and during that inglorious period of the
heroine’s life her commanding character, and (as they would have called
it in the language of those days) her “condescending kindness” towards my
mother’s family, had increased in them those strong feelings of respect
and attachment which her rank and station alone would have easily won
from people of the middle class.  You may suppose how deeply the quiet
women in Somersetshire must have been interested, when they slowly
learned by vague and uncertain tidings that the intrepid girl who had
been used to break their vicious horses for them was reigning in
sovereignty over the wandering tribes of Western Asia!  I know that her
name was made almost as familiar to me in my childhood as the name of
Robinson Crusoe—both were associated with the spirit of adventure; but
whilst the imagined life of the castaway mariner never failed to seem
glaringly real, the true story of the Englishwoman ruling over Arabs
always sounded to me like fable.  I never had heard, nor indeed, I
believe, had the rest of the world ever heard, anything like a certain
account of the heroine’s adventures; all I knew was, that in one of the
drawers which were the delight of my childhood, along with attar of roses
and fragrant wonders from Hindustan, there were letters carefully
treasured, and trifling presents which I was taught to think valuable
because they had come from the queen of the desert, who dwelt in tents,
and reigned over wandering Arabs.

This subject, however, died away, and from the ending of my childhood up
to the period of my arrival in the Levant, I had seldom even heard a
mentioning of the Lady Hester Stanhope, but now, wherever I went, I was
met by the name so familiar in sound, and yet so full of mystery from the
vague, fairy-tale sort of idea which it brought to my mind; I heard it,
too, connected with fresh wonders, for it was said that the woman was now
acknowledged as an inspired being by the people of the mountains, and it
was even hinted with horror that she claimed to be _more than a prophet_.

I felt at once that my mother would be sadly sorry to hear that I had
been within a day’s ride of her early friend without offering to see her,
and I therefore despatched a letter to the recluse, mentioning the maiden
name of my mother (whose marriage was subsequent to Lady Hester’s
departure), and saying that if there existed on the part of her ladyship
any wish to hear of her old Somersetshire acquaintance, I should make a
point of visiting her.  My letter was sent by a foot-messenger, who was
to take an unlimited time for his journey, so that it was not, I think,
until either the third or the fourth day that the answer arrived.  A
couple of horsemen covered with mud suddenly dashed into the little court
of the “locanda” in which I was staying, bearing themselves as
ostentatiously as though they were carrying a cartel from the Devil to
the Angel Michael: one of these (the other being his attendant) was an
Italian by birth (though now completely orientalised), who lived in my
lady’s establishment as doctor nominally, but practically as an upper
servant; he presented me a very kind and appropriate letter of
invitation.

It happened that I was rather unwell at this time, so that I named a more
distant day for my visit than I should otherwise have done, and after
all, I did not start at the time fixed.  Whilst still remaining at
Beyrout I received this letter, which certainly betrays no symptom of the
pretensions to divine power which were popularly attributed to the
writer:—

    “SIR,—I hope I shall be disappointed in seeing you on Wednesday, for
    the late rains have rendered the river Damoor if not dangerous, at
    least very unpleasant to pass for a person who has been lately
    indisposed, for if the animal swims, you would be immerged in the
    waters.  The weather will probably change after the 21st of the moon,
    and after a couple of days the roads and the river will be passable,
    therefore I shall expect you either Saturday or Monday.

    “It will be a great satisfaction to me to have an opportunity of
    inquiring after your mother, who was a sweet, lovely girl when I knew
    her.—Believe me, sir, yours sincerely,

                                                    HESTER LUCY STANHOPE.”

Early one morning I started from Beyrout.  There are no regularly
established relays of horses in Syria, at least not in the line which I
took, and you therefore hire your cattle for the whole journey, or at all
events for your journey to some large town.  Under these circumstances
you have no occasion for a Tatar (whose principal utility consists in his
power to compel the supply of horses).  In other respects, the mode of
travelling through Syria differs very little from that which I have
described as prevailing in Turkey.  I hired my horses and mules (for I
had some of both) for the whole of the journey from Beyrout to Jerusalem.
The owner of the beasts (who had a couple of fellows under him) was the
most dignified member of my party; he was, indeed, a magnificent old man,
and was called Shereef, or “holy”—a title of honour which, with the
privilege of wearing the green turban, he well deserved, not only from
the blood of the Prophet that flowed in his veins, but from the
well-known sanctity of his life and the length of his blessed beard.

Mysseri, of course, still travelled with me, but the Arabic was not one
of the seven languages which he spoke so perfectly, and I was therefore
obliged to hire another interpreter.  I had no difficulty in finding a
proper man for the purpose—one Demetrius, or, as he was always called,
Dthemetri, a native of Zante, who had been tossed about by fortune in all
directions.  He spoke the Arabic very well, and communicated with me in
Italian.  The man was a very zealous member of the Greek Church.  He had
been a tailor.  He was as ugly as the devil, having a thoroughly Tatar
countenance, which expressed the agony of his body or mind, as the case
might be, in the most ludicrous manner imaginable.  He embellished the
natural caricature of his person by suspending about his neck and
shoulders and waist quantities of little bundles and parcels, which he
thought too valuable to be entrusted to the jerking of pack-saddles.  The
mule that fell to his lot on this journey every now and then, forgetting
that his rider was a saint, and remembering that he was a tailor, took a
quiet roll upon the ground, and stretched his limbs calmly and lazily,
like a good man awaiting a sermon.  Dthemetri never got seriously hurt,
but the subversion and dislocation of his bundles made him for the moment
a sad spectacle of ruin, and when he regained his legs, his wrath with
the mule became very amusing.  He always addressed the beast in language
which implied that he, as a Christian and saint, had been personally
insulted and oppressed by a Mahometan mule.  Dthemetri, however, on the
whole proved to be a most able and capital servant.  I suspected him of
now and then leading me out of my way in order that he might have the
opportunity of visiting the shrine of a saint; and on one occasion, as
you will see by and by, he was induced by religious motives to commit a
gross breach of duty; but putting these pious faults out of the question
(and they were faults of the right side), he was always faithful and true
to me.

I left Saïde (the Sidon of ancient times) on my right, and about an hour,
I think, before sunset began to ascend one of the many low hills of
Lebanon.  On the summit before me was a broad, grey mass of irregular
building, which from its position, as well as from the gloomy blankness
of its walls, gave the idea of a neglected fortress.  It had, in fact,
been a convent of great size, and like most of the religious houses in
this part of the world, had been made strong enough for opposing an inert
resistance to any mere casual band of assailants who might be unprovided
with regular means of attack: this was the dwelling-place of the
Chatham’s fiery granddaughter.

The aspect of the first court which I entered was such as to keep one in
the idea of having to do with a fortress rather than a mere peaceable
dwelling-place.  A number of fierce-looking and ill-clad Albanian
soldiers were hanging about the place, and striving to bear the curse of
tranquillity as well as they could: two or three of them, I think, were
smoking their _tchibouques_, but the rest of them were lying torpidly
upon the flat stones, like the bodies of departed brigands.  I rode on to
an inner part of the building, and at last, quitting my horses, was
conducted through a doorway that led me at once from an open court into
an apartment on the ground floor.  As I entered, an Oriental figure in
male costume approached me from the farther end of the room with many and
profound bows, but the growing shades of evening prevented me from
distinguishing the features of the personage who was receiving me with
this solemn welcome.  I had always, however, understood that Lady Hester
Stanhope wore the male attire, and I began to utter in English the common
civilities that seemed to be proper on the commencement of a visit by an
uninspired mortal to a renowned prophetess; but the figure which I
addressed only bowed so much the more, prostrating itself almost to the
ground, but speaking to me never a word.  I feebly strived not to be
outdone in gestures of respect; but presently my bowing opponent saw the
error under which I was acting, and suddenly convinced me that, at all
events, I was not _yet_ in the presence of a superhuman being, by
declaring that he was not “miladi,” but was, in fact, nothing more or
less god-like than the poor doctor, who had brought his mistress’s letter
to Beyrout.

Her ladyship, in the right spirit of hospitality, now sent and commanded
me to repose for a while after the fatigues of my journey, and to dine.

The cuisine was of the Oriental kind, which is highly artificial, and I
thought it very good.  I rejoiced too in the wine of the Lebanon.

Soon after the ending of the dinner the doctor arrived with miladi’s
compliments, and an intimation that she would be happy to receive me if I
were so disposed.  It had now grown dark, and the rain was falling
heavily, so that I got rather wet in following my guide through the open
courts that I had to pass in order to reach the presence chamber.  At
last I was ushered into a small apartment, which was protected from the
draughts of air passing through the doorway by a folding screen; passing
this, I came alongside of a common European sofa, where sat the lady
prophetess.  She rose from her seat very formally, spoke to me a few
words of welcome, pointed to a chair which was placed exactly opposite to
her sofa at a couple of yards’ distance, and remained standing up to the
full of her majestic height, perfectly still and motionless, until I had
taken my appointed place; she then resumed her seat, not packing herself
up according to the mode of the Orientals, but allowing her feet to rest
on the floor or the footstool; at the moment of seating herself she
covered her lap with a mass of loose white drapery which she held in her
hand.  It occurred to me at the time that she did this in order to avoid
the awkwardness of sitting in manifest trousers under the eye of a
European, but I can hardly fancy now that with her wilful nature she
would have brooked such a compromise as this.

The woman before me had exactly the person of a prophetess—not, indeed,
of the divine sibyl imagined by Domenichino, so sweetly distracted
betwixt love and mystery, but of a good business-like, practical
prophetess, long used to the exercise of her sacred calling.  I have been
told by those who knew Lady Hester Stanhope in her youth, that any notion
of a resemblance betwixt her and the great Chatham must have been
fanciful; but at the time of my seeing her, the large commanding features
of the gaunt woman, then sixty years old or more, certainly reminded me
of the statesman that lay dying {90a} in the House of Lords, according to
Copley’s picture.  Her face was of the most astonishing whiteness; {90b}
she wore a very large turban, which seemed to be of pale cashmere shawls,
so disposed as to conceal the hair; her dress, from the chin down to the
point at which it was concealed by the drapery which she held over her
lap, was a mass of white linen loosely folding—an ecclesiastical sort of
affair, more like a surplice than any of those blessed creations which
our souls love under the names of “dress” and “frock” and “bodice” and
“collar” and “habit-shirt” and sweet “chemisette.”

Such was the outward seeming of the personage that sat before me, and
indeed she was almost bound by the fame of her actual achievements, as
well as by her sublime pretensions, to look a little differently from the
rest of womankind.  There had been something of grandeur in her career.
After the death of Lady Chatham, which happened in 1803, she lived under
the roof of her uncle, the second Pitt, and when he resumed the
Government in 1804, she became the dispenser of much patronage, and sole
secretary of state for the department of Treasury banquets.  Not having
seen the lady until late in her life, when she was fired with spiritual
ambition, I can hardly fancy that she could have performed her political
duties in the saloons of the Minister with much of feminine sweetness and
patience.  I am told, however, that she managed matters very well indeed:
perhaps it was better for the lofty-minded leader of the House to have
his reception-rooms guarded by this stately creature, than by a merely
clever and managing woman; it was fitting that the wholesome awe with
which he filled the minds of the country gentlemen should be aggravated
by the presence of his majestic niece.  But the end was approaching.  The
sun of Austerlitz showed the Czar madly sliding his splendid army like a
weaver’s shuttle from his right hand to his left, under the very eyes—the
deep, grey, watchful eyes of Napoleon; before night came, the coalition
was a vain thing—meet for history, and the heart of its great author was
crushed with grief when the terrible tidings came to his ears.  In the
bitterness of his despair he cried out to his niece, and bid her “ROLL UP
THE MAP OF EUROPE”; there was a little more of suffering, and at last,
with his swollen tongue (so they say) still muttering something for
England, he died by the noblest of all sorrows.

Lady Hester, meeting the calamity in her own fierce way, seems to have
scorned the poor island that had not enough of God’s grace to keep the
“heaven-sent” Minister alive.  I can hardly tell why it should be, but
there is a longing for the East very commonly felt by proud-hearted
people when goaded by sorrow.  Lady Hester Stanhope obeyed this impulse.
For some time, I believe, she was at Constantinople, where her
magnificence and near alliance to the late Minister gained her great
influence.  Afterwards she passed into Syria.  The people of that
country, excited by the achievements of Sir Sidney Smith, had begun to
imagine the possibility of their land being occupied by the English, and
many of them looked upon Lady Hester as a princess who came to prepare
the way for the expected conquest.  I don’t know it from her own lips, or
indeed from any certain authority, but I have been told that she began
her connection with the Bedouins by making a large present of money (£500
it was said—immense in piastres) to the Sheik whose authority was
recognised in that part of the desert which lies between Damascus and
Palmyra.  The prestige created by the rumours of her high and undefined
rank, as well as of her wealth and corresponding magnificence, was well
sustained by her imperious character and her dauntless bravery.  Her
influence increased.  I never heard anything satisfactory as to the real
extent or duration of her sway, but it seemed that for a time at least
she certainly exercised something like sovereignty amongst the wandering
tribes. {92}  And now that her earthly kingdom had passed away she strove
for spiritual power, and impiously dared, as it was said, to boast some
mystic union with the very God of very God!

A couple of black slave girls came at a signal, and supplied their
mistress as well as myself with lighted _tchibouques_ and coffee.

The custom of the East sanctions, and almost commands, some moments of
silence whilst you are inhaling the first few breaths of the fragrant
pipe.  The pause was broken, I think, by my lady, who addressed to me
some inquiries respecting my mother, and particularly as to her marriage;
but before I had communicated any great amount of family facts, the
spirit of the prophetess kindled within her, and presently (though with
all the skill of a woman of the world) she shuffled away the subject of
poor, dear Somersetshire, and bounded onward into loftier spheres of
thought.

My old acquaintance with some of “the twelve” enabled me to bear my part
(of course a very humble one) in a conversation relative to occult
science.  Milnes once spread a report, that every gang of gipsies was
found upon inquiry to have come last from a place to the westward, and to
be about to make the next move in an eastern direction; either therefore
they were to be all gathered together towards the rising of the sun by
the mysterious finger of Providence, or else they were to revolve round
the globe for ever and ever: both of these suppositions were highly
gratifying, because they were both marvellous; and though the story on
which they were founded plainly sprang from the inventive brain of a
poet, no one had ever been so odiously statistical as to attempt a
contradiction of it.  I now mentioned the story as a report to Lady
Hester Stanhope, and asked her if it were true.  I could not have touched
upon any imaginable subject more deeply interesting to my hearer, more
closely akin to her habitual train of thinking.  She immediately threw
off all the restraint belonging to an interview with a stranger; and when
she had received a few more similar proofs of my aptness for the
marvellous, she went so far as to say that she would adopt me as her
_élève_ in occult science.

For hours and hours this wondrous white woman poured forth her speech,
for the most part concerning sacred and profane mysteries; but every now
and then she would stay her lofty flight and swoop down upon the world
again.  Whenever this happened I was interested in her conversation.

She adverted more than once to the period of her lost sway amongst the
Arabs, and mentioned some of the circumstances that aided her in
obtaining influence with the wandering tribes.  The Bedouin, so often
engaged in irregular warfare, strains his eyes to the horizon in search
of a coming enemy just as habitually as the sailor keeps his “bright
look-out” for a strange sail.  In the absence of telescopes a
far-reaching sight is highly valued, and Lady Hester possessed this
quality to an extraordinary degree.  She told me that on one occasion,
when there was good reason to expect a hostile attack, great excitement
was felt in the camp by the report of a far-seeing Arab, who declared
that he could just distinguish some moving objects upon the very farthest
point within the reach of his eyes.  Lady Hester was consulted, and she
instantly assured her comrades in arms that there were indeed a number of
horses within sight, but that they were without riders.  The assertion
proved to be correct, and from that time forth her superiority over all
others in respect of far sight remained undisputed.

Lady Hester related to me this other anecdote of her Arab life.  It was
when the heroic qualities of the Englishwoman were just beginning to be
felt amongst the people of the desert, that she was marching one day,
along with the forces of the tribe to which she had allied herself.  She
perceived that preparations for an engagement were going on, and upon her
making inquiry as to the cause, the Sheik at first affected mystery and
concealment, but at last confessed that war had been declared against his
tribe on account of its alliance with the English princess, and that they
were now unfortunately about to be attacked by a very superior force.  He
made it appear that Lady Hester was the sole cause of hostility betwixt
his tribe and the impending enemy, and that his sacred duty of protecting
the Englishwoman whom he had admitted as his guest was the only obstacle
which prevented an amicable arrangement of the dispute.  The Sheik hinted
that his tribe was likely to sustain an almost overwhelming blow, but at
the same time declared, that no fear of the consequences, however
terrible to him and his whole people, should induce him to dream of
abandoning his illustrious guest.  The heroine instantly took her part:
it was not for her to be a source of danger to her friends, but rather to
her enemies, so she resolved to turn away from the people, and trust for
help to none save only her haughty self.  The Sheiks affected to dissuade
her from so rash a course, and fairly told her that although they (having
been freed from her presence) would be able to make good terms for
themselves, yet that there were no means of allaying the hostility felt
towards her, and that the whole face of the desert would be swept by the
horsemen of her enemies so carefully as to make her escape into other
districts almost impossible.  The brave woman was not to be moved by
terrors of this kind, and bidding farewell to the tribe which had
honoured and protected her, she turned her horse’s head and rode straight
away from them, without friend or follower.  Hours had elapsed, and for
some time she had been alone in the centre of the round horizon, when her
quick eye perceived some horsemen in the distance.  The party came nearer
and nearer; soon it was plain that they were making towards her, and
presently some hundreds of Bedouins, fully armed, galloped up to her,
ferociously shouting, and apparently intending to take her life at the
instant with their pointed spears.  Her face at the time was covered with
the _yashmak_, according to Eastern usage, but at the moment when the
foremost of the horsemen had all but reached her with their spears, she
stood up in her stirrups, withdrew the _yashmak_ that veiled the terrors
of her countenance, waved her arm slowly and disdainfully, and cried out
with a loud voice “Avaunt!” {96}  The horsemen recoiled from her glance,
but not in terror.  The threatening yells of the assailants were suddenly
changed for loud shouts of joy and admiration at the bravery of the
stately Englishwoman, and festive gunshots were fired on all sides around
her honoured head.  The truth was, that the party belonged to the tribe
with which she had allied herself, and that the threatened attack as well
as the pretended apprehension of an engagement had been contrived for the
mere purpose of testing her courage.  The day ended in a great feast
prepared to do honour to the heroine, and from that time her power over
the minds of the people grew rapidly.  Lady Hester related this story
with great spirit, and I recollect that she put up her _yashmak_ for a
moment in order to give me a better idea of the effect which she produced
by suddenly revealing the awfulness of her countenance.

With respect to her then present mode of life, Lady Hester informed me,
that for her sin she had subjected herself during many years to severe
penance, and that her self-denial had not been without its reward.  “Vain
and false,” said she, “is all the pretended knowledge of the
Europeans—their doctors will tell you that the drinking of milk gives
yellowness to the complexion; milk is my only food, and you see if my
face be not white.”  Her abstinence from food intellectual was carried as
far as her physical fasting.  She never, she said, looked upon a book or
a newspaper, but trusted alone to the stars for her sublime knowledge;
she usually passed the nights in communing with these heavenly teachers,
and lay at rest during the daytime.  She spoke with great contempt of the
frivolity and benighted ignorance of the modern Europeans, and mentioned
in proof of this, that they were not only untaught in astrology, but were
unacquainted with the common and every-day phenomena produced by magic
art.  She spoke as if she would make me understand that all sorcerous
spells were completely at her command, but that the exercise of such
powers would be derogatory to her high rank in the heavenly kingdom.  She
said that the spell by which the face of an absent person is thrown upon
a mirror was within the reach of the humblest and most contemptible
magicians, but that the practice of such-like arts was unholy as well as
vulgar.

We spoke of the bending twig by which, it is said, precious metals may be
discovered.  In relation to this, the prophetess told me a story rather
against herself, and inconsistent with the notion of her being perfect in
her science; but I think that she mentioned the facts as having happened
before the time at which she attained to the great spiritual authority
which she now arrogated.  She told me that vast treasures were known to
exist in a situation which she mentioned, if I rightly remember, as being
near Suez; that Napoleon, profanely brave, thrust his arm into the cave
containing the coveted gold, and that instantly his flesh became palsied,
but the youthful hero (for she said he was great in his generation) was
not to be thus daunted; he fell back characteristically upon his brazen
resources, and ordered up his artillery; but man could not strive with
demons, and Napoleon was foiled.  In after years came Ibrahim Pasha, with
heavy guns, and wicked spells to boot, but the infernal guardians of the
treasure were too strong for him.  It was after this that Lady Hester
passed by the spot, and she described with animated gesture the force and
energy with which the divining twig had suddenly leaped in her hands.
She ordered excavations, and no demons opposed her enterprise; the vast
chest in which the treasure had been deposited was at length discovered,
but, lo and behold, it was full of pebbles!  She said, however, that the
times were approaching in which the hidden treasures of the earth would
become available to those who had true knowledge.

Speaking of Ibrahim Pasha, Lady Hester said that he was a bold, bad man,
and was possessed of some of those common and wicked magical arts upon
which she looked down with so much contempt.  She said, for instance,
that Ibrahim’s life was charmed against balls and steel, and that after a
battle he loosened the folds of his shawl and shook out the bullets like
dust.

It seems that the St. Simonians once made overtures to Lady Hester.  She
told me that the Père Enfantin (the chief of the sect) had sent her a
service of plate, but that she had declined to receive it.  She delivered
a prediction as to the probability of the St. Simonians finding the
“mystic mother,” and this she did in a way which would amuse you.
Unfortunately I am not at liberty to mention this part of the woman’s
prophecies; why, I cannot tell, but so it is, that she bound me to
eternal secrecy.

Lady Hester told me that since her residence at Djoun she had been
attacked by a terrible illness, which rendered her for a long time
perfectly helpless; all her attendants fled, and left her to perish.
Whilst she lay thus alone, and quite unable to rise, robbers came and
carried away her property. {99}  She told me that they actually unroofed
a great part of the building, and employed engines with pulleys, for the
purpose of hoisting out such of her valuables as were too bulky to pass
through doors.  It would seem that before this catastrophe Lady Hester
had been rich in the possession of Eastern luxuries; for she told me that
when the chiefs of the Ottoman force took refuge with her after the fall
of Acre, they brought their wives also in great numbers.  To all of these
Lady Hester, as she said, presented magnificent dresses; but her
generosity occasioned strife only instead of gratitude, for every woman
who fancied her present less splendid than that of another with equal or
less pretension, became absolutely furious: all these audacious guests
had now been got rid of, but the Albanian soldiers, who had taken refuge
with Lady Hester at the same time, still remained under her protection.

In truth, this half-ruined convent, guarded by the proud heart of an
English gentlewoman, was the only spot throughout all Syria and Palestine
in which the will of Mehemet Ali and his fierce lieutenant was not the
law.  More than once had the Pasha of Egypt commanded that Ibrahim should
have the Albanians delivered up to him, but this white woman of the
mountain (grown classical not by books, but by very pride) answered only
with a disdainful invitation to “come and take them.”  Whether it was
that Ibrahim was acted upon by any superstitious dread of interfering
with the prophetess (a notion not at all incompatible with his character
as an able Oriental commander), or that he feared the ridicule of putting
himself in collision with a gentlewoman, he certainly never ventured to
attack the sanctuary, and so long as the Chatham’s granddaughter breathed
a breath of life there was always this one hillock, and that too in the
midst of a most populous district, which stood out, and kept its freedom.
Mehemet Ali used to say, I am told, that the Englishwoman had given him
more trouble than all the insurgent people of Syria and Palestine.

The prophetess announced to me that we were upon the eve of a stupendous
convulsion, which would destroy the then recognised value of all property
upon earth; and declaring that those only who should be in the East at
the time of the great change could hope for greatness in the new life
that was now close at hand, she advised me, whilst there was yet time, to
dispose of my property in poor frail England, and gain a station in Asia.
She told me that, after leaving her, I should go into Egypt, but that in
a little while I should return into Syria.  I secretly smiled at this
last prophecy as a “bad shot,” for I had fully determined after visiting
the Pyramids to take ship from Alexandria for Greece.  But men struggle
vainly in the meshes of their destiny.  The unbelieved Cassandra was
right after all; the plague came, and the necessity of avoiding the
quarantine, to which I should have been subjected if I had sailed from
Alexandria, forced me to alter my route.  I went down into Egypt, and
stayed there for a time, and then crossed the desert once more, and came
back to the mountains of the Lebanon, exactly as the prophetess had
foretold.

Lady Hester talked to me long and earnestly on the subject of religion,
announcing that the Messiah was yet to come.  She strived to impress me
with the vanity and the falseness of all European creeds, as well as with
a sense of her own spiritual greatness: throughout her conversation upon
these high topics she carefully insinuated, without actually asserting,
her heavenly rank.

Amongst other much more marvellous powers, the lady claimed to have one
which most women, I fancy, possess, namely, that of reading men’s
characters in their faces.  She examined the line of my features very
attentively, and told me the result, which, however, I mean to keep
hidden.

One favoured subject of discourse was that of “race,” upon which she was
very diffuse, and yet rather mysterious.  She set great value upon the
ancient French {102} (not Norman blood, for that she vilified), but did
not at all appreciate that which we call in this country “an old family.”
She had a vast idea of the Cornish miners on account of their race, and
said, if she chose, she could give me the means of rousing them to the
most tremendous enthusiasm.

Such are the topics on which the lady mainly conversed, but very often
she would descend to more worldly chat, and then she was no longer the
prophetess, but the sort of woman that you sometimes see, I am told, in
London drawing-rooms—cool, decisive in manner, unsparing of enemies, full
of audacious fun, and saying the downright things that the sheepish
society around her is afraid to utter.  I am told that Lady Hester was in
her youth a capital mimic, and she showed me that not all the queenly
dullness to which she had condemned herself, not all her fasting and
solitude, had destroyed this terrible power.  The first whom she
crucified in my presence was poor Lord Byron.  She had seen him, it
appeared, I know not where, soon after his arrival in the East, and was
vastly amused at his little affectations.  He had picked up a few
sentences of the Romanic, with which he affected to give orders to his
Greek servant.  I can’t tell whether Lady Hester’s mimicry of the bard
was at all close, but it was amusing; she attributed to him a curiously
coxcombical lisp.

Another person whose style of speaking the lady took off very amusingly
was one who would scarcely object to suffer by the side of Lord Byron—I
mean Lamartine, who had visited her in the course of his travels.  The
peculiarity which attracted her ridicule was an over-refinement of
manner: according to my lady’s imitation of Lamartine (I have never seen
him myself), he had none of the violent grimace of his countrymen, and
not even their usual way of talking, but rather bore himself mincingly,
like the humbler sort of English dandy. {103}

Lady Hester seems to have heartily despised everything approaching to
exquisiteness.  She told me, by the bye (and her opinion upon that
subject is worth having), that a downright manner, amounting even to
brusqueness, is more effective than any other with the Oriental; and that
amongst the English of all ranks and all classes there is no man so
attractive to the Orientals, no man who can negotiate with them half so
effectively, as a good, honest, open-hearted, and positive naval officer
of the old school.

I have told you, I think, that Lady Hester could deal fiercely with those
she hated.  One man above all others (he is now uprooted from society,
and cast away for ever) she blasted with her wrath.  You would have
thought that in the scornfulness of her nature she must have sprung upon
her foe with more of fierceness than of skill; but this was not so, for
with all the force and vehemence of her invective she displayed a sober,
patient, and minute attention to the details of vituperation, which
contributed to its success a thousand times more than mere violence.

During the hours that this sort of conversation, or rather discourse, was
going on our _tchibouques_ were from time to time replenished, and the
lady as well as I continued to smoke with little or no intermission till
the interview ended.  I think that the fragrant fumes of the latakiah
must have helped to keep me on my good behaviour as a patient disciple of
the prophetess.

It was not till after midnight that my visit for the evening came to an
end.  When I quitted my seat the lady rose and stood up in the same
formal attitude (almost that of a soldier in a state of “attention”)
which she had assumed at my entrance; at the same time she let go the
drapery which she had held over her lap whilst sitting and allowed it to
fall to the ground.

The next morning after breakfast I was visited by my lady’s secretary—the
only European, except the doctor, whom she retained in her household.
This secretary, like the doctor, was Italian, but he preserved more signs
of European dress and European pretensions than his medical fellow-slave.
He spoke little or no English, though he wrote it pretty well, having
been formerly employed in a mercantile house connected with England.  The
poor fellow was in an unhappy state of mind.  In order to make you
understand the extent of his spiritual anxieties, I ought to have told
you that the doctor {105} (who had sunk into the complete Asiatic, and
had condescended accordingly to the performance of even menial services)
had adopted the common faith of all the neighbouring people, and had
become a firm and happy believer in the divine power of his mistress.
Not so the secretary.  When I had strolled with him to a distance from
the building, which rendered him safe from being overheard by human ears,
he told me in a hollow voice, trembling with emotion, that there were
times at which he doubted the divinity of “milèdi.”  I said nothing to
encourage the poor fellow in that frightful state of scepticism which, if
indulged, might end in positive infidelity.  I found that her ladyship
had rather arbitrarily abridged the amusements of her secretary,
forbidding him from shooting small birds on the mountain-side.  This
oppression had aroused in him a spirit of inquiry that might end fatally,
perhaps for himself, perhaps for the “religion of the place.”

The secretary told me that his mistress was greatly disliked by the
surrounding people, whom she oppressed by her exactions, and the truth of
this statement was borne out by the way in which my lady spoke to me of
her neighbours.  But in Eastern countries hate and veneration are very
commonly felt for the same object, and the general belief in the
superhuman power of this wonderful white lady, her resolute and imperious
character, and above all, perhaps, her fierce Albanians (not backward to
obey an order for the sacking of a village), inspired sincere respect
amongst the surrounding inhabitants.  Now the being “respected” amongst
Orientals is not an empty or merely honorary distinction, but carries
with it a clear right to take your neighbour’s corn, his cattle, his
eggs, and his honey, and almost anything that is his, except his wives.
This law was acted upon by the princess of Djoun, and her establishment
was supplied by contributions apportioned amongst the nearest of the
villages.

I understood that the Albanians (restrained, I suppose, by the dread of
being delivered up to Ibrahim) had not given any very troublesome proofs
of their unruly natures.  The secretary told me that their rations,
including a small allowance of coffee and tobacco, were served out to
them with tolerable regularity.

I asked the secretary how Lady Hester was off for horses, and said that I
would take a look at the stable.  The man did not raise any opposition to
my proposal, and affected no mystery about the matter, but said that the
only two steeds which then belonged to her ladyship were of a very humble
sort.  This answer, and a storm of rain then beginning to descend,
prevented me at the time from undertaking my journey to the stable, which
was at some distance from the part of the building in which I was
quartered, and I don’t know that I ever thought of the matter afterwards
until my return to England, when I saw Lamartine’s eye-witnessing account
of the horse saddled by the hands of his Maker!

When I returned to my apartment (which, as my hostess told me, was the
only one in the whole building that kept out the rain) her ladyship sent
to say that she would be glad to receive me again.  I was rather
surprised at this, for I had understood that she reposed during the day,
and it was now little later than noon.  “Really,” said she, when I had
taken my seat and my pipe, “we were together for hours last night, and
still I have heard nothing at all of my old friends; now _do_ tell me
something of your dear mother and her sister; I never knew your father—it
was after I left Burton Pynsent that your mother married.”  I began to
make slow answer, but my questioner soon went off again to topics more
sublime, so that this second interview, which lasted two or three hours,
was occupied by the same sort of varied discourse as that which I have
been describing.

In the course of the afternoon the captain of an English man-of-war
arrived at Djoun, and her ladyship determined to receive him for the same
reason as that which had induced her to allow my visit, namely, an early
intimacy with his family.  I and the new visitor, who was a pleasant,
amusing person, dined together, and we were afterwards invited to the
presence of my lady, with whom we sat smoking and talking till midnight.
The conversation turned chiefly, I think, upon magical science.  I had
determined to be off at an early hour the next morning, and so at the end
of this interview I bade my lady farewell.  With her parting words she
once more advised me to abandon Europe and seek my reward in the East,
and she urged me too to give the like counsels to my father, and tell him
that “_She had said it_.”

Lady Hester’s unholy claim to supremacy in the spiritual kingdom was, no
doubt, the suggestion of fierce and inordinate pride most perilously akin
to madness, but I am quite sure that the mind of the woman was too strong
to be thoroughly overcome by even this potent feeling.  I plainly saw
that she was not an unhesitating follower of her own system, and I even
fancied that I could distinguish the brief moments during which she
contrived to believe in herself, from those long and less happy intervals
in which her own reason was too strong for her.

As for the lady’s faith in astrology and magic science, you are not for a
moment to suppose that this implied any aberration of intellect.  She
believed these things in common with those around her, for she seldom
spoke to anybody except crazy old dervishes, who received her alms, and
fostered her extravagancies, and even when (as on the occasion of my
visit) she was brought into contact with a person entertaining different
notions, she still remained uncontradicted.  This _entourage_ and the
habit of fasting from books and newspapers were quite enough to make her
a facile recipient of any marvellous story.

I think that in England we are scarcely sufficiently conscious of the
great debt we owe to the wise and watchful press which presides over the
formation of our opinions, and which brings about this splendid result,
namely, that in matters of belief the humblest of us are lifted up to the
level of the most sagacious, so that really a simple cornet in the Blues
is no more likely to entertain a foolish belief about ghosts or
witchcraft, or any other supernatural topic, than the Lord High
Chancellor or the Leader of the House of Commons.  How different is the
intellectual régime of Eastern countries!  In Syria and Palestine and
Egypt you might as well dispute the efficacy of grass or grain as of
magic.  There is no controversy about the matter.  The effect of this,
the unanimous belief of an ignorant people upon the mind of a stranger,
is extremely curious, and well worth noticing.  A man coming freshly from
Europe is at first proof against the nonsense with which he is assailed,
but often it happens that after a little while the social atmosphere in
which he lives will begin to infect him, and if he has been unaccustomed
to the cunning of fence by which Reason prepares the means of guarding
herself against fallacy, he will yield himself at last to the faith of
those around him, and this he will do by sympathy, it would seem, rather
than from conviction.  I have been much interested in observing that the
mere “practical man,” however skilful and shrewd in his own way, has not
the kind of power that will enable him to resist the gradual impression
made upon his mind by the common opinion of those whom he sees and hears
from day to day.  Even amongst the English (whose good sense and sound
religious knowledge would be likely to guard them from error) I have
known the calculating merchant, the inquisitive traveller, and the
post-captain, with his bright, wakeful eye of command—I have known all
these surrender themselves to the _really_ magic-like influence of other
people’s minds.  Their language at first is that they are “staggered,”
leading you by that expression to suppose that they had been witnesses to
some phenomenon, which it was very difficult to account for otherwise
than by supernatural causes; but when I have questioned further, I have
always found that these “staggering” wonders were not even specious
enough to be looked upon as good “tricks.”  A man in England who gained
his whole livelihood as a conjurer would soon be starved to death if he
could perform no better miracles than those which are wrought with so
much effect in Syria and Egypt; _sometimes_, no doubt, a magician will
make a good hit (Sir John once said a “good thing”), but all such
successes range, of course, under the head of mere “tentative miracles,”
as distinguished by the strong-brained Paley.



CHAPTER IX
THE SANCTUARY


I crossed the plain of Esdraelon and entered amongst the hills of
beautiful Galilee.  It was at sunset that my path brought me sharply
round into the gorge of a little valley, and close upon a grey mass of
dwellings that lay happily nestled in the lap of the mountain.  There was
one only shining point still touched with the light of the sun, who had
set for all besides; a brave sign this to “holy” Shereef and the rest of
my Moslem men, for the one glittering summit was the head of a minaret,
and the rest of the seeming village that had veiled itself so meekly
under the shades of evening was Christian Nazareth!

Within the precincts of the Latin convent in which I was quartered there
stands the great Catholic church which encloses the sanctuary, the
dwelling of the blessed Virgin. {111}  This is a grotto of about ten feet
either way, forming a little chapel or recess, to which you descend by
steps.  It is decorated with splendour.  On the left hand a column of
granite hangs from the top of the grotto to within a few feet of the
ground; immediately beneath it is another column of the same size, which
rises from the ground as if to meet the one above; but between this and
the suspended pillar there is an interval of more than a foot; these
fragments once formed a single column, against which the angel leant when
he spoke and told to Mary the mystery of her awful blessedness.  Hard by,
near the altar, the holy Virgin was kneeling.

I had been journeying (cheerily indeed, for the voices of my followers
were ever within my hearing, but yet), as it were, in solitude, for I had
no comrade to whet the edge of my reason, or wake me from my noonday
dreams.  I was left all alone to be taught and swayed by the beautiful
circumstances of Palestine travelling—by the clime, and the land, and the
name of the land, with all its mighty import; by the glittering freshness
of the sward, and the abounding masses of flowers that furnished my
sumptuous pathway; by the bracing and fragrant air that seemed to poise
me in my saddle, and to lift me along as a planet appointed to glide
through space.

And the end of my journey was Nazareth, the home of the blessed Virgin!
In the first dawn of my manhood the old painters of Italy had taught me
their dangerous worship of the beauty that is more than mortal, but those
images all seemed shadowy now, and floated before me so dimly, the one
overcasting the other, that they left me no one sweet idol on which I
could look and look again and say, “Maria mia!”  Yet they left me more
than an idol; they left me (for to them I am wont to trace it) a faint
apprehension of beauty not compassed with lines and shadows; they touched
me (forgive, proud Marie of Anjou!)—they touched me with a faith in
loveliness transcending mortal shapes.

I came to Nazareth, and was led from the convent to the sanctuary.  Long
fasting will sometimes heat my brain and draw me away out of the
world—will disturb my judgment, confuse my notions of right and wrong,
and weaken my power of choosing the right: I had fasted perhaps too long,
for I was fevered with the zeal of an insane devotion to the heavenly
queen of Christendom.  But I knew the feebleness of this gentle malady,
and knew how easily my watchful reason, if ever so slightly provoked,
would drag me back to life.  Let there but come one chilling breath of
the outer world, and all this loving piety would cower and fly before the
sound of my own bitter laugh.  And so as I went I trod tenderly, not
looking to the right nor to the left, but bending my eyes to the ground.

The attending friar served me well; he led me down quietly and all but
silently to the Virgin’s home.  The mystic air was so burnt with the
consuming flames of the altar, and so laden with incense, that my chest
laboured strongly, and heaved with luscious pain.  There—there with
beating heart the Virgin knelt and listened.  I strived to grasp and hold
with my riveted eyes some one of the feigned Madonnas, but of all the
heaven-lit faces imagined by men there was none that would abide with me
in this the very sanctuary.  Impatient of vacancy, I grew madly strong
against Nature, and if by some awful spell, some impious rite, I could—Oh
most sweet Religion, that bid me fear God, and be pious, and yet not
cease from loving!  Religion and gracious custom commanded me that I fall
down loyally and kiss the rock that blessed Mary pressed.  With a half
consciousness, with the semblance of a thrilling hope that I was plunging
deep, deep into my first knowledge of some most holy mystery, or of some
new rapturous and daring sin, I knelt, and bowed down my face till I met
the smooth rock with my lips.  One moment—one moment my heart, or some
old pagan demon within me, woke up, and fiercely bounded; my bosom was
lifted, and swung, as though I had touched her warm robe.  One moment,
one more, and then the fever had left me.  I rose from my knees.  I felt
hopelessly sane.  The mere world reappeared.  My good old monk was there,
dangling his key with listless patience, and as he guided me from the
church, and talked of the refectory and the coming repast, I listened to
his words with some attention and pleasure.



CHAPTER X
THE MONKS OF PALESTINE


WHENEVER you come back to me from Palestine we will find some “golden
wine” {115} of Lebanon, that we may celebrate with apt libations the
monks of the Holy Land, and though the poor fellows be theoretically
“dead to the world,” we will drink to every man of them a good long life,
and a merry one!  Graceless is the traveller who forgets his obligations
to these saints upon earth; little love has he for merry Christendom if
he has not rejoiced with great joy to find in the very midst of
water-drinking infidels those lowly monasteries, in which the blessed
juice of the grape is quaffed in peace.  Ay! ay! we will fill our glasses
till they look like cups of amber, and drink profoundly to our gracious
hosts in Palestine.

Christianity permits, and sanctions, the drinking of wine, and of all the
holy brethren in Palestine there are none who hold fast to this gladsome
rite so strenuously as the monks of Damascus; not that they are more
zealous Christians than the rest of their fellows in the Holy Land, but
that they have better wine.  Whilst I was at Damascus I had my quarters
at the Franciscan convent there, and very soon after my arrival I asked
one of the monks to let me know something of the spots that deserved to
be seen.  I made my inquiry in reference to the associations with which
the city had been hallowed by the sojourn and adventures of St. Paul.
“There is nothing in all Damascus,” said the good man, “half so well
worth seeing as our cellars;” and forthwith he invited me to go, see, and
admire the long range of liquid treasure that he and his brethren had
laid up for themselves on earth.  And these I soon found were not as the
treasures of the miser, that lie in unprofitable disuse; for day by day,
and hour by hour, the golden juice ascended from the dark recesses of the
cellar to the uppermost brains of the friars.  Dear old fellows! in the
midst of that solemn land their Christian laughter rang loudly and
merrily, their eyes kept flashing with joyous bonfires, and their heavy
woollen petticoats could no more weigh down the springiness of their
paces, than the filmy gauze of a _danseuse_ can clog her bounding step.

You would be likely enough to fancy that these monastics are men who have
retired to the sacred sites of Palestine from an enthusiastic longing to
devote themselves to the exercise of religion in the midst of the very
land on which its first seeds were cast; and this is partially, at least,
the case with the monks of the Greek Church, but it is not with
enthusiasts that the Catholic establishments are filled.  The monks of
the Latin convents are chiefly persons of the peasant class from Italy
and Spain, who have been handed over to these remote asylums by order of
their ecclesiastical superiors, and can no more account for their being
in the Holy Land, than men of marching regiments can explain why they are
in “stupid quarters.”  I believe that these monks are for the most part
well conducted men, punctual in their ceremonial duties, and altogether
humble-minded Christians.  Their humility is not at all misplaced, for
you see at a glance (poor fellows!) that they belong to the _lag remove_
of the human race.  If the taking of the cowl does not imply a complete
renouncement of the world, it is at least (in these days) a thorough
farewell to every kind of useful and entertaining knowledge, and
accordingly the low bestial brow and the animal caste of those almost
Bourbon features show plainly enough that all the intellectual vanities
of life have been really and truly abandoned.  But it is hard to quench
altogether the spirit of inquiry that stirs in the human breast, and
accordingly these monks inquire—they are _always_ inquiring—inquiring for
“news”!  Poor fellows! they could scarcely have yielded themselves to the
sway of any passion more difficult of gratification, for they have no
means of communicating with the busy world except through European
travellers; and these, in consequence I suppose of that restlessness and
irritability that generally haunt their wanderings, seem to have always
avoided the bore of giving any information to their hosts.  As for me, I
am more patient and good-natured, and when I found that the kind monks
who gathered round me at Nazareth were longing to know the real truth
about the General Bonaparte who had recoiled from the siege of Acre, I
softened my heart down to the good humour of Herodotus, and calmly began
to “sing history,” telling my eager hearers of the French Empire and the
greatness of its glory, and of Waterloo and the fall of Napoleon!  Now my
story of this marvellous ignorance on the part of the poor monks is one
upon which (though depending on my own testimony) I look “with
considerable suspicion.”  It is quite true (how silly it would be to
invent anything so witless!), and yet I think I could satisfy the mind of
a “reasonable man” that it is false.  Many of the older monks must have
been in Europe at the time when the Italy and the Spain from which they
came were in act of taking their French lessons, or had parted so lately
with their teachers, that not to know of “the Emperor” was impossible,
and these men could scarcely, therefore, have failed to bring with them
some tidings of Napoleon’s career.  Yet I say that that which I have
written is true—the one who believes because I have said it will be right
(she always is), whilst poor Mr. “reasonable man,” who is convinced by
the weight of my argument, will be completely deceived.

In Spanish politics, however, the monks are better instructed.  The
revenues of the monasteries, which had been principally supplied by the
bounty of their most Catholic majesties, have been withheld since
Ferdinand’s death, and the interests of these establishments being thus
closely involved in the destinies of Spain, it is not wonderful that the
brethren should be a little more knowing in Spanish affairs than in other
branches of history.  Besides, a large proportion of the monks were
natives of the Peninsula.  To these, I remember, Mysseri’s familiarity
with the Spanish language and character was a source of immense delight;
they were always gathering around him, and it seemed to me that they
treasured like gold the few Castilian words which he deigned to spare
them.

The monks do a world of good in their way; and there can be no doubting
that previously to the arrival of Bishop Alexander, with his numerous
young family and his pretty English nursemaids, they were the chief
propagandists of Christianity in Palestine.  My old friends of the
Franciscan convent at Jerusalem some time since gave proof of their
goodness by delivering themselves up to the peril of death for the sake
of duty.  When I was their guest they were forty I believe in number, and
I don’t recollect that there was one of them whom I should have looked
upon as a desirable life-holder of any property to which I might be
entitled in expectancy.  Yet these forty were reduced in a few days to
nineteen.  The plague was the messenger that summoned them to a taste of
real death; but the circumstances under which they perished are rather
curious; and though I have no authority for the story except an Italian
newspaper, I harbour no doubt of its truth, for the facts were detailed
with minuteness, and strictly corresponded with all that I knew of the
poor fellows to whom they related.

It was about three months after the time of my leaving Jerusalem that the
plague set his spotted foot on the Holy City.  The monks felt great
alarm; they did not shrink from their duty, but for its performance they
chose a plan most sadly well fitted for bringing down upon them the very
death which they were striving to ward off.  They imagined themselves
almost safe so long as they remained within their walls; but then it was
quite needful that the Catholic Christians of the place, who had always
looked to the convent for the supply of their spiritual wants, should
receive the aids of religion in the hour of death.  A single monk
therefore was chosen, either by lot or by some other fair appeal to
destiny.  Being thus singled out, he was to go forth into the
plague-stricken city, and to perform with exactness his priestly duties;
then he was to return, not to the interior of the convent, for fear of
infecting his brethren, but to a detached building (which I remember)
belonging to the establishment, but at some little distance from the
inhabited rooms.  He was provided with a bell, and at a certain hour in
the morning he was ordered to ring it, _if he could_; but if no sound was
heard at the appointed time, then knew his brethren that he was either
delirious or dead, and another martyr was sent forth to take his place.
In this way twenty-one of the monks were carried off.  One cannot well
fail to admire the steadiness with which the dismal scheme was carried
through; but if there be any truth in the notion that disease may be
invited by a frightening imagination, it is difficult to conceive a more
dangerous plan than that which was chosen by these poor fellows.  The
anxiety with which they must have expected each day the sound of the
bell, the silence that reigned instead of it, and then the drawing of the
lots (the odds against death being one point lower than yesterday), and
the going forth of the newly-doomed man—all this must have widened the
gulf that opens to the shades below.  When his victim had already
suffered so much of mental torture, it was but easy work for big bullying
pestilence to follow a forlorn monk from the beds of the dying, and
wrench away his life from him as he lay all alone in an outhouse.

In most, I believe in all, of the Holy Land convents there are two
personages so strangely raised above their brethren in all that dignifies
humanity, that their bearing the same habit, their dwelling under the
same roof, their worshipping the same God (consistent as all this is with
the spirit of their religion), yet strikes the mind with a sense of
wondrous incongruity; the men I speak of are the “Padre Superiore,” and
the “Padre Missionario.”  The former is the supreme and absolute governor
of the establishment over which he is appointed to rule, the latter is
entrusted with the more active of the spiritual duties attaching to the
Pilgrim Church.  He is the shepherd of the good Catholic flock, whose
pasture is prepared in the midst of Mussulmans and schismatics; he keeps
the light of the true faith ever vividly before their eyes, reproves
their vices, supports them in their good resolves, consoles them in their
afflictions, and teaches them to hate the Greek Church.  Such are his
labours, and you may conceive that great tact must be needed for
conducting with success the spiritual interests of the Church under
circumstances so odd as those which surround it in Palestine.

But the position of the Padre Superiore is still more delicate; he is
almost unceasingly in treaty with the powers that be, and the worldly
prosperity of the establishment over which he presides is in great
measure dependent upon the extent of diplomatic skill which he can employ
in its favour.  I know not from what class of churchmen these personages
are chosen, for there is a mystery attending their origin and the
circumstance of their being stationed in these convents, which Rome does
not suffer to be penetrated.  I have heard it said that they are men of
great note, and, perhaps, of too high ambition in the Catholic Hierarchy,
who, having fallen under the grave censure of the Church, are banished
for fixed periods to these distant monasteries.  I believe that the term
during which they are condemned to remain in the Holy Land is from eight
to twelve years.  By the natives of the country, as well as by the rest
of the brethren, they are looked upon as superior beings; and rightly
too, for Nature seems to have crowned them in her own true way.

The chief of the Jerusalem convent was a noble creature; his worldly and
spiritual authority seemed to have surrounded him, as it were, with a
kind of “court,” and the manly gracefulness of his bearing did honour to
the throne which he filled.  There were no lords of the bedchamber, and
no gold sticks and stones in waiting, yet everybody who approached him
looked as though he were being “presented”; every interview which he
granted wore the air of an “audience”; the brethren as often as they came
near bowed low and kissed his hand; and if he went out, the Catholics of
the place that hovered about the convent would crowd around him with
devout affection, and almost scramble for the blessing which his touch
could give.  He bore his honours all serenely, as though calmly conscious
of his power to “bind and to loose.”



CHAPTER XI
GALILEE


NEITHER old “sacred” {123} himself, nor any of his helpers, knew the road
which I meant to take from Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee and from thence
to Jerusalem, so I was forced to add another to my party by hiring a
guide.  The associations of Nazareth, as well as my kind feeling towards
the hospitable monks, whose guest I had been, inclined me to set at
naught the advice which I had received against employing Christians.  I
accordingly engaged a lithe, active young Nazarene, who was recommended
to me by the monks, and who affected to be familiar with the line of
country through which I intended to pass.  My disregard of the popular
prejudices against Christians was not justified in this particular
instance by the result of my choice.  This you will see by and by.

I passed by Cana and the house in which the water had been turned into
wine; I came to the field in which our Saviour had rebuked the Scotch
Sabbath-keepers of that period, by suffering His disciples to pluck corn
on the Lord’s Day; I rode over the ground on which the fainting multitude
had been fed, and they showed me some massive fragments—the relics, they
said, of that wondrous banquet, now turned into stone.  The petrifaction
was most complete.

I ascended the height on which our Lord was standing when He wrought the
miracle.  The hill was lofty enough to show me the fairness of the land
on all sides, but I have an ancient love for the mere features of a lake,
and so forgetting all else when I reached the summit, I looked away
eagerly to the eastward.  There she lay, the Sea of Galilee.  Less stern
than Wast Water, less fair than gentle Windermere, she had still the
winning ways of an English lake; she caught from the smiling heavens
unceasing light and changeful phases of beauty, and with all this
brightness on her face, she yet clung so fondly to the dull he-looking
mountain at her side, as though she would

    “Soothe him with her finer fancies,
    Touch him with her lighter thought.” {124}

If one might judge of men’s real thoughts by their writings, it would
seem that there are people who can visit an interesting locality and
follow up continuously the exact train of thought that ought to be
suggested by the historical associations of the place.  A person of this
sort can go to Athens and think of nothing later than the age of
Pericles; can live with the Scipios as long as he stays in Rome; can go
up in a balloon, and think how resplendently in former times the now
vacant and desolate air was peopled with angels, how prettily it was
crossed at intervals by the rounds of Jacob’s ladder!  I don’t possess
this power at all; it is only by snatches, and for few moments together,
that I can really associate a place with its proper history.

“There at Tiberias, and along this western shore towards the north, and
upon the bosom too of the lake, our Saviour and His disciples”—away flew
those recollections, and my mind strained eastward, because that that
farthest shore was the end of the world that belongs to man the dweller,
the beginning of the other and veiled world that is held by the strange
race, whose life (like the pastime of Satan) is a “going to and fro upon
the face of the earth.”  From those grey hills right away to the gates of
Bagdad stretched forth the mysterious “desert”—not a pale, void, sandy
tract, but a land abounding in rich pastures, a land without cities or
towns, without any “respectable” people or any “respectable” things, yet
yielding its eighty thousand cavalry to the beck of a few old men.  But
once more—“Tiberias—the plain of Gennesareth—the very earth on which I
stood—that the deep low tones of the Saviour’s voice should have gone
forth into eternity from out of the midst of these hills and these
valleys!”—Ay, ay, but yet again the calm face of the lake was uplifted,
and smiled upon my eyes with such familiar gaze, that the “deep low
tones” were hushed, the listening multitudes all passed away, and instead
there came to me a dear old memory from over the seas in England, a
memory sweeter than Gospel to that poor wilful mortal, me.

I went to Tiberias, and soon got afloat upon the water.  In the evening I
took up my quarters in the Catholic church, and the building being large
enough, the whole of my party were admitted to the benefit of the same
shelter.  With portmanteaus and carpet bags, and books and maps, and
fragrant tea, Mysseri soon made me a home on the southern side of the
church.  One of old Shereef’s helpers was an enthusiastic Catholic, and
was greatly delighted at having so sacred a lodging.  He lit up the altar
with a number of tapers, and when his preparations were complete, he
began to perform his orisons in the strangest manner imaginable.  His
lips muttered the prayers of the Latin Church, but he bowed himself down
and laid his forehead to the stones beneath him after the manner of a
Mussulman.  The universal aptness of a religious system for all stages of
civilisation, and for all sorts and conditions of men, well befits its
claim of divine origin.  She is of all nations, and of all times, that
wonderful Church of Rome!

Tiberias is one of the four holy cities, {126} according to the Talmud,
and it is from this place, or the immediate neighbourhood of it, that the
Messiah is to arise.

Except at Jerusalem, never think of attempting to sleep in a “holy city.”
Old Jews from all parts of the world go to lay their bones upon the
sacred soil, and as these people never return to their homes, it follows
that any domestic vermin which they may bring with them are likely to
become permanently resident, so that the population is continually
increasing.  No recent census had been taken when I was at Tiberias, but
I know that the congregation of fleas which attended at my church alone
must have been something enormous.  It was a carnal, self-seeking
congregation, wholly inattentive to the service which was going on, and
devoted to the one object of having my blood.  The fleas of all nations
were there.  The smug, steady, importunate flea from Holywell Street; the
pert, jumping _puce_ from hungry France, the wary, watchful _pulce_ with
his poisoned stiletto; the vengeful _pulga_ of Castile with his ugly
knife; the German _floh_ with his knife and fork, insatiate, not rising
from table; whole swarms from all the Russias, and Asiatic hordes
unnumbered—all these were there, and all rejoiced in one great
international feast.  I could no more defend myself against my enemies
than if I had been _pain à discretion_ in the hands of a French patriot,
or English gold in the claws of a Pennsylvanian Quaker.  After passing a
night like this you are glad to pick up the wretched remains of your body
long, long before morning dawns.  Your skin is scorched, your temples
throb, your lips feel withered and dried, your burning eyeballs are
screwed inwards against the brain.  You have no hope but only in the
saddle and the freshness of the morning air.



CHAPTER XII
MY FIRST BIVOUAC


THE course of the Jordan is from the north to the south, and in that
direction, with very little of devious winding, it carries the shining
waters of Galilee straight down into the solitudes of the Dead Sea.
Speaking roughly, the river in that meridian is a boundary between the
people living under roofs and the tented tribes that wander on the
farther side.  And so, as I went down in my way from Tiberias towards
Jerusalem, along the western bank of the stream, my thinking all
propended to the ancient world of herdsmen and warriors that lay so close
over my bridle arm.

If a man, and an Englishman, be not born of his mother with a natural
Chiffney-bit in his mouth, there comes to him a time for loathing the
wearisome ways of society; a time for not liking tamed people; a time for
not dancing quadrilles, not sitting in pews; a time for pretending that
Milton and Shelley, and all sorts of mere dead people, were greater in
death than the first living Lord of the Treasury; a time, in short, for
scoffing and railing, for speaking lightly of the very opera, and all our
most cherished institutions.  It is from nineteen to two or three and
twenty perhaps that this war of the man against men is like to be waged
most sullenly.  You are yet in this smiling England, but you find
yourself wending away to the dark sides of her mountains, climbing the
dizzy crags, exulting in the fellowship of mists and clouds, and watching
the storms how they gather, or proving the mettle of your mare upon the
broad and dreary downs, because that you feel congenially with the yet
unparcelled earth.  A little while you are free and unlabelled, like the
ground that you compass; but civilisation is coming and coming; you and
your much-loved waste lands will be surely enclosed, and sooner or later
brought down to a state of mere usefulness; the ground will be curiously
sliced into acres and roods and perches, and you, for all you sit so
smartly in your saddle, you will be caught, you will be taken up from
travel as a colt from grass, to be trained and tried, and matched and
run.  All this in time, but first come Continental tours and the moody
longing for Eastern travel.  The downs and the moors of England can hold
you no longer; with large strides you burst away from these slips and
patches of free land; you thread your path through the crowds of Europe,
and at last, on the banks of Jordan, you joyfully know that you are upon
the very frontier of all accustomed respectabilities.  There, on the
other side of the river (you can swim it with one arm), there reigns the
people that will be like to put you to death for _not_ being a vagrant,
for _not_ being a robber, for _not_ being armed and houseless.  There is
comfort in that—health, comfort, and strength to one who is dying from
very weariness of that poor, dear, middle-aged, deserving, accomplished,
pedantic, and painstaking governess, Europe.

I had ridden for some hours along the right bank of Jordan when I came to
the Djesr el Medjamé (an old Roman bridge, I believe), which crossed the
river.  My Nazarene guide was riding ahead of the party, and now, to my
surprise and delight, he turned leftwards, and led on over the bridge.  I
knew that the true road to Jerusalem must be mainly by the right bank of
Jordan, but I supposed that my guide was crossing the bridge at this spot
in order to avoid some bend in the river, and that he knew of a ford
lower down by which we should regain the western bank.  I made no
question about the road, for I was but too glad to set my horse’s hoofs
upon the land of the wandering tribes.  None of my party except the
Nazarene knew the country.  On we went through rich pastures upon the
eastern side of the water.  I looked for the expected bend of the river,
but far as I could see it kept a straight southerly course; I still left
my guide unquestioned.

The Jordan is not a perfectly accurate boundary betwixt roofs and tents,
for soon after passing the bridge I came upon a cluster of huts.  Some
time afterwards the guide, upon being closely questioned by my servants,
confessed that the village which we had left behind was the last that we
should see, but he declared that he knew a spot at which we should find
an encampment of friendly Bedouins, who would receive me with all
hospitality.  I had long determined not to leave the East without seeing
something of the wandering tribes, but I had looked forward to this as a
pleasure to be found in the desert between El Arish and Egypt; I had no
idea that the Bedouins on the east of Jordan were accessible.  My delight
was so great at the near prospect of bread and salt in the tent of an
Arab warrior, that I wilfully allowed my guide to go on and mislead me.
I saw that he was taking me out of the straight route towards Jerusalem,
and was drawing me into the midst of the Bedouins; but the idea of his
betraying me seemed (I know not why) so utterly absurd, that I could not
entertain it for a moment.  I fancied it possible that the fellow had
taken me out of my route in order to attempt some little mercantile
enterprise with the tribe for which he was seeking, and I was glad of the
opportunity which I might thus gain of coming in contact with the
wanderers.

Not long after passing the village a horseman met us.  It appeared that
some of the cavalry of Ibrahim Pasha had crossed the river for the sake
of the rich pastures on the eastern bank, and that this man was one of
the troopers.  He stopped and saluted; he was obviously surprised at
meeting an unarmed, or half-armed, cavalcade, and at last fairly told us
that we were on the wrong side of the river, and that if we proceeded we
must lay our account with falling amongst robbers.  All this while, and
throughout the day, my Nazarene kept well ahead of the party, and was
constantly up in his stirrups, straining forward and searching the
distance for some objects which still remained unseen.

For the rest of the day we saw no human being; we pushed on eagerly in
the hope of coming up with the Bedouins before nightfall.  Night came,
and we still went on in our way till about ten o’clock.  Then the
thorough darkness of the night, and the weariness of our beasts (which
had already done two good days’ journey in one), forced us to determine
upon coming to a standstill.  Upon the heights to the eastward we saw
lights; these shone from caves on the mountain-side, inhabited, as the
Nazarene told us, by rascals of a low sort—not real Bedouins, men whom we
might frighten into harmlessness, but from whom there was no willing
hospitality to be expected.

We heard at a little distance the brawling of a rivulet, and on the banks
of this it was determined to establish our bivouac.  We soon found the
stream, and following its course for a few yards, came to a spot which
was thought to be fit for our purpose.  It was a sharply cold night in
February, and when I dismounted I found myself standing upon some wet
rank herbage that promised ill for the comfort of our resting-place.  I
had bad hopes of a fire, for the pitchy darkness of the night was a great
obstacle to any successful search for fuel, and, besides, the boughs of
trees or bushes would be so full of sap in this early spring, that they
would not be easily persuaded to burn.  However, we were not likely to
submit to a dark and cold bivouac without an effort, and my fellows
groped forward through the darkness, till after advancing a few paces
they were happily stopped by a complete barrier of dead prickly bushes.
Before our swords could be drawn to reap this welcome harvest it was
found to our surprise that the fuel was already hewn and strewed along
the ground in a thick mass.  A spot for the fire was found with some
difficulty, for the earth was moist and the grass high and rank.  At last
there was a clicking of flint and steel, and presently there stood out
from darkness one of the tawny faces of my muleteers, bent down to near
the ground, and suddenly lit up by the glowing of the spark which he
courted with careful breath.  Before long there was a particle of dry
fibre or leaf that kindled to a tiny flame; then another was lit from
that, and then another.  Then small crisp twigs, little bigger than
bodkins, were laid athwart the glowing fire.  The swelling cheeks of the
muleteer, laid level with the earth, blew tenderly at first and then more
boldly upon the young flame, which was daintily nursed and fed, and fed
more plentifully when it gained good strength.  At last a whole armful of
dry bushes was piled up over the fire, and presently, with a loud cheery
crackling and crackling, a royal tall blaze shot up from the earth and
showed me once more the shapes and faces of my men, and the dim outlines
of the horses and mules that stood grazing hard by.

My servants busied themselves in unpacking the baggage as though we had
arrived at an hotel—Shereef and his helpers unsaddled their cattle.  We
had left Tiberias without the slightest idea that we were to make our way
to Jerusalem along the desolate side of the Jordan, and my servants
(generally provident in those matters) had brought with them only, I
think, some unleavened bread and a rocky fragment of goat’s-milk cheese.
These treasures were produced.  Tea and the contrivances for making it
were always a standing part of my baggage.  My men gathered in circle
round the fire.  The Nazarene was in a false position from having misled
us so strangely, and he would have shrunk back, poor devil, into the cold
and outer darkness, but I made him draw near and share the luxuries of
the night.  My quilt and my pelisse were spread, and the rest of my party
had all their capotes or pelisses, or robes of some sort, which furnished
their couches.  The men gathered in circle, some kneeling, some sitting,
some lying reclined around our common hearth.  Sometimes on one,
sometimes on another, the flickering light would glare more fiercely.
Sometimes it was the good Shereef that seemed the foremost, as he sat
with venerable beard the image of manly piety—unknowing of all geography,
unknowing where he was or whither he might go, but trusting in the
goodness of God and the clinching power of fate and the good star of the
Englishman.  Sometimes, like marble, the classic face of the Greek
Mysseri would catch the sudden light, and then again by turns the
ever-perturbed Dthemetri, with his old Chinaman’s eye and bristling,
terrier-like moustache, shone forth illustrious.

I always liked the men who attended me on these Eastern travels, for they
were all of them brave, cheery-hearted fellows; and although their
following my career brought upon them a pretty large share of those toils
and hardships which are so much more amusing to gentlemen than to
servants, yet not one of them ever uttered or hinted a syllable of
complaint, or even affected to put on an air of resignation.  I always
liked them, but never perhaps so much as when they were thus grouped
together under the light of the bivouac fire.  I felt towards them as my
comrades rather than as my servants, and took delight in breaking bread
with them, and merrily passing the cup.

The love of tea is a glad source of fellow-feeling between the Englishman
and the Asiatic.  In Persia it is drunk by all, and although it is a
luxury that is rarely within the reach of the Osmanlees, there are few of
them who do not know and love the blessed _tchäi_.  Our camp-kettle,
filled from the brook, hummed doubtfully for a while, then busily bubbled
under the sidelong glare of the flames; cups clinked and rattled; the
fragrant steam ascended, and soon this little circlet in the wilderness
grew warm and genial as my lady’s drawing-room.

And after this there came the _tchibouque_—great comforter of those that
are hungry and wayworn.  And it has this virtue—it helps to destroy the
_gêne_ and awkwardness which one sometimes feels at being in company with
one’s dependants; for whilst the amber is at your lips, there is nothing
ungracious in your remaining silent, or speaking pithily in short
inter-whiff sentences.  And for us that night there was pleasant and
plentiful matter of talk; for the where we should be on the morrow, and
the wherewithal we should be fed, whether by some ford we should regain
the western bank of Jordan, or find bread and salt under the tents of a
wandering tribe, or whether we should fall into the hands of the
Philistines, and so come to see death—the last and greatest of all “the
fine sights” that there be—these were questionings not dull nor wearisome
to us, for we were all concerned in the answers.  And it was not an
all-imagined morrow that we probed with our sharp guesses, for the lights
of those low Philistines, the men of the caves, still hung over our
heads, and we knew by their yells that the fire of our bivouac had shown
us.

At length we thought it well to seek for sleep.  Our plans were laid for
keeping up a good watch through the night.  My quilt and my pelisse and
my cloak were spread out so that I might lie spokewise, with my feet
towards the central fire.  I wrapped my limbs daintily round, and gave
myself positive orders to sleep like a veteran soldier.  But I found that
my attempt to sleep upon the earth that God gave me was more new and
strange than I had fancied it.  I had grown used to the scene which was
before me whilst I was sitting or reclining by the side of the fire, but
now that I laid myself down at length it was the deep black mystery of
the heavens that hung over my eyes—not an earthly thing in the way from
my own very forehead right up to the end of all space.  I grew proud of
my boundless bedchamber.  I might have “found sermons” in all this
greatness (if I had I should surely have slept), but such was not then my
way.  If this cherished self of mine had built the universe, I should
have dwelt with delight on “the wonders of creation.”  As it was, I felt
rather the vain-glory of my promotion from out of mere rooms and houses
into the midst of that grand, dark, infinite palace.

And then, too, my head, far from the fire, was in cold latitudes, and it
seemed to me strange that I should be lying so still and passive, whilst
the sharp night breeze walked free over my cheek, and the cold damp clung
to my hair, as though my face grew in the earth and must bear with the
footsteps of the wind and the falling of the dew as meekly as the grass
of the field.  Besides, I got puzzled and distracted by having to endure
heat and cold at the same time, for I was always considering whether my
feet were not over-devilled and whether my face was not too well iced.
And so when from time to time the watch quietly and gently kept up the
languishing fire, he seldom, I think, was unseen to my restless eyes.
Yet, at last, when they called me and said that the morn would soon be
dawning, I rose from a state of half-oblivion not much unlike to sleep,
though sharply qualified by a sort of vegetable’s consciousness of having
been growing still colder and colder for many and many an hour.



CHAPTER XIII
THE DEAD SEA


THE grey light of the morning showed us for the first time the ground
which we had chosen for our resting-place.  We found that we had
bivouacked upon a little patch of barley plainly belonging to the men of
the caves.  The dead bushes which we found so happily placed in readiness
for our fire had been strewn as a fence for the protection of the little
crop.  This was the only cultivated spot of ground which we had seen for
many a league, and I was rather sorry to find that our night fire and our
cattle had spread so much ruin upon this poor solitary slip of corn-land.

The saddling and loading of our beasts was a work which generally took
nearly an hour, and before this was half over daylight came.  We could
now see the men of the caves.  They collected in a body, amounting, I
should think, to nearly fifty, and rushed down towards our quarters with
fierce shouts and yells.  But the nearer they got the slower they went;
their shouts grew less resolute in tone, and soon ceased altogether.  The
fellows, however, advanced to a thicket within thirty yards of us, and
behind this “took up their position.”  My men without premeditation did
exactly that which was best; they kept steadily to their work of loading
the beasts without fuss or hurry; and whether it was that they
instinctively felt the wisdom of keeping quiet, or that they merely
obeyed the natural inclination to silence which one feels in the early
morning, I cannot tell, but I know that, except when they exchanged a
syllable or two relative to the work they were about, not a word was
said.  I now believe that this quietness of our party created an
undefined terror in the minds of the cave-holders and scared them from
coming on; it gave them a notion that we were relying on some resources
which they knew not of.  Several times the fellows tried to lash
themselves into a state of excitement which might do instead of pluck.
They would raise a great shout and sway forward in a dense body from
behind the thicket; but when they saw that their bravery thus gathered to
a head did not even suspend the strapping of a portmanteau or the tying
of a hatbox, their shout lost its spirit, and the whole mass was
irresistibly drawn back like a wave receding from the shore.

These attempts at an onset were repeated several times, but always with
the same result.  I remained under the apprehension of an attack for more
than half an hour, and it seemed to me that the work of packing and
loading had never been done so slowly.  I felt inclined to tell my
fellows to make their best speed, but just as I was going to speak I
observed that every one was doing his duty already; I therefore held my
peace and said not a word, till at last Mysseri led up my horse and asked
me if I were ready to mount.

We all marched off without hindrance.

After some time we came across a party of Ibrahim’s cavalry, which had
bivouacked at no great distance from us.  The knowledge that such a force
was in the neighbourhood may have conduced to the forbearance of the
cave-holders.

We saw a scraggy-looking fellow nearly black, and wearing nothing but a
cloth round the loins; he was tending flocks.  Afterwards I came up with
another of these goatherds, whose helpmate was with him.  They gave us
some goat’s milk, a welcome present.  I pitied the poor devil of a
goat-herd for having such a very plain wife.  I spend an enormous
quantity of pity upon that particular form of human misery.

About midday I began to examine my map and to question my guide, who at
last fell on his knees and confessed that he knew nothing of the country
in which we were.  I was thus thrown upon my own resources, and
calculating that on the preceding day we had nearly performed a two days’
journey, I concluded that the Dead Sea must be near.  In this I was
right, for at about three or four o’clock in the afternoon I caught a
first sight of its dismal face.

I went on and came near to those waters of death.  They stretched deeply
into the southern desert, and before me, and all around, as far away as
the eye could follow, blank hills piled high over hills, pale, yellow,
and naked, walled up in her tomb for ever the dead and damned Gomorrah.
There was no fly that hummed in the forbidden air, but instead a deep
stillness; no grass grew from the earth, no weed peered through the void
sand; but in mockery of all life there were trees borne down by Jordan in
some ancient flood, and these, grotesquely planted upon the forlorn
shore, spread out their grim skeleton arms, all scorched and charred to
blackness by the heats of the long silent years.

I now struck off towards the débouchure of the river; but I found that
the country, though seemingly quite flat, was intersected by deep
ravines, which did not show themselves until nearly approached.  For some
time my progress was much obstructed; but at last I came across a track
which led towards the river, and which might, as I hoped, bring me to a
ford.  I found, in fact, when I came to the river’s side that the track
reappeared upon the opposite bank, plainly showing that the stream had
been fordable at this place.  Now, however, in consequence of the late
rains the river was quite impracticable for baggage-horses.  A body of
waters about equal to the Thames at Eton, but confined to a narrower
channel, poured down in a current so swift and heavy, that the idea of
passing with laden baggage-horses was utterly forbidden.  I could have
swum across myself, and I might, perhaps, have succeeded in swimming a
horse over; but this would have been useless, because in such case I must
have abandoned not only my baggage, but all my attendants, for none of
them were able to swim, and without that resource it would have been
madness for them to rely upon the swimming of their beasts across such a
powerful stream.  I still hoped, however, that there might be a chance of
passing the river at the point of its actual junction with the Dead Sea,
and I therefore went on in that direction.

Night came upon us whilst labouring across gullies and sandy mounds, and
we were obliged to come to a standstill quite suddenly upon the very edge
of a precipitous descent.  Every step towards the Dead Sea had brought us
into a country more and more dreary; and this sandhill, which we were
forced to choose for our resting-place, was dismal enough.  A few slender
blades of grass, which here and there singly pierced the sand, mocked
bitterly the hunger of our jaded beasts, and with our small remaining
fragment of goat’s-milk rock by way of supper, we were not much better
off than our horses.  We wanted, too, the great requisite of a cheery
bivouac-fire.  Moreover, the spot on which we had been so suddenly
brought to a standstill was relatively high and unsheltered, and the
night wind blew swiftly and cold.

The next morning I reached the débouchure of the Jordan, where I had
hoped to find a bar of sand that might render its passage possible.  The
river, however, rolled its eddying waters fast down to the “sea” in a
strong, deep stream that shut out all hope of crossing.

It now seemed necessary either to construct a raft of some kind, or else
to retrace my steps and remount the banks of the Jordan.  I had once
happened to give some attention to the subject of military bridges—a
branch of military science which includes the construction of rafts and
contrivances of the like sort—and I should have been very proud indeed if
I could have carried my party and my baggage across by dint of any idea
gathered from Sir Howard Douglas or Robinson Crusoe.  But we were all
faint and languid from want of food, and besides there were no materials.
Higher up the river there were bushes and river plants, but nothing like
timber; and the cord with which my baggage was tied to the pack-saddles
amounted altogether to a very small quantity, not nearly enough to haul
any sort of craft across the stream.

And now it was, if I remember rightly, that Dthemetri submitted to me a
plan for putting to death the Nazarene, whose misguidance had been the
cause of our difficulties.  There was something fascinating in this
suggestion, for the slaying of the guide was of course easy enough, and
would look like an act of what politicians call “vigour.”  If it were
only to become known to my friends in England that I had calmly killed a
fellow-creature for taking me out of my way, I might remain perfectly
quiet and tranquil for all the rest of my days, quite free from the
danger of being considered “slow”; I might ever after live on upon my
reputation, like “single-speech Hamilton” in the last century, or “single
sin—” in this, without being obliged to take the trouble of doing any
more harm in the world.  This was a great temptation to an indolent
person, but the motive was not strengthened by any sincere feeling of
anger with the Nazarene.  Whilst the question of his life and death was
debated he was riding in front of our party, and there was something in
the anxious writhing of his supple limbs that seemed to express a sense
of his false position, and struck me as highly comic.  I had no crotchet
at that time against the punishment of death, but I was unused to blood,
and the proposed victim looked so thoroughly capable of enjoying life (if
he could only get to the other side of the river), that I thought it
would be hard for him to die merely in order to give me a character for
energy.  Acting on the result of these considerations, and reserving to
myself a free and unfettered discretion to have the poor villain shot at
any future moment, I magnanimously decided that for the present he should
live, and not die.

I bathed in the Dead Sea.  The ground covered by the water sloped so
gradually, that I was not only forced to “sneak in,” but to walk through
the water nearly a quarter of a mile before I could get out of my depth.
When at last I was able to attempt to dive, the salts held in solution
made my eyes smart so sharply, that the pain which I thus suffered,
together with the weakness occasioned by want of food, made me giddy and
faint for some moments, but I soon grew better.  I knew beforehand the
impossibility of sinking in this buoyant water, but I was surprised to
find that I could not swim at my accustomed pace; my legs and feet were
lifted so high and dry out of the lake, that my stroke was baffled, and I
found myself kicking against the thin air instead of the dense fluid upon
which I was swimming.  The water is perfectly bright and clear; its taste
detestable.  After finishing my attempts at swimming and diving, I took
some time in regaining the shore, and before I began to dress I found
that the sun had already evaporated the water which clung to me, and that
my skin was thickly encrusted with salts.



CHAPTER XIV
THE BLACK TENTS


MY steps were reluctantly turned towards the north.  I had ridden some
way, and still it seemed that all life was fenced and barred out from the
desolate ground over which I was journeying.  On the west there flowed
the impassable Jordan, on the east stood an endless range of barren
mountains, and on the south lay that desert sea that knew not the
plashing of an oar; greatly therefore was I surprised when suddenly there
broke upon my ear the long, ludicrous, persevering bray of a donkey.  I
was riding at this time some few hundred yards ahead of all my party
except the Nazarene (who by a wise instinct kept closer to me than to
Dthemetri), and I instantly went forward in the direction of the sound,
for I fancied that where there were donkeys, there too most surely would
be men.  The ground on all sides of me seemed thoroughly void and
lifeless, but at last I got down into a hollow, and presently a sudden
turn brought me within thirty yards of an Arab encampment.  The low black
tents which I had so long lusted to see were right before me, and they
were all teeming with live Arabs—men, women, and children.

I wished to have let my party behind know where I was, but I recollected
that they would be able to trace me by the prints of my horse’s hoofs in
the sand; and having to do with Asiatics, I felt the danger of the
slightest movement which might be looked upon as a sign of irresolution.
Therefore, without looking behind me, without looking to the right or to
the left, I rode straight up towards the foremost tent.  Before this was
strewed a semi-circular fence of dead boughs, through which there was an
opening opposite to the front of the tent.  As I advanced, some twenty or
thirty of the most uncouth-looking fellows imaginable came forward to
meet me.  In their appearance they showed nothing of the Bedouin blood;
they were of many colours, from dingy brown to jet black, and some of
these last had much of the negro look about them.  They were tall,
powerful fellows, but awfully ugly.  They wore nothing but the Arab
shirts, confined at the waist by leathern belts.

I advanced to the gap left in the fence, and at once alighted from my
horse.  The chief greeted me after his fashion by alternately touching
first my hand and then his own forehead, as if he were conveying the
virtue of the touch like a spark of electricity.  Presently I found
myself seated upon a sheepskin, which was spread for me under the sacred
shade of Arabian canvas.  The tent was of a long, narrow, oblong form,
and contained a quantity of men, women, and children so closely huddled
together, that there was scarcely one of them who was not in actual
contact with his neighbour.  The moment I had taken my seat the chief
repeated his salutations in the most enthusiastic manner, and then the
people having gathered densely about me, got hold of my unresisting hand
and passed it round like a claret jug for the benefit of everybody.  The
women soon brought me a wooden bowl full of buttermilk, and welcome
indeed came the gift to my hungry and thirsty soul.

After some time my party, as I had expected, came up, and when poor
Dthemetri saw me on my sheepskin, “the life and soul” of this ragamuffin
party, he was so astounded, that he even failed to check his cry of
horror; he plainly thought that now, at last, the Lord had delivered me
(interpreter and all) into the hands of the lowest Philistines.

Mysseri carried a tobacco-pouch slung at his belt, and as soon as its
contents were known the whole population of the tent began begging like
spaniels for bits of the beloved weed.  I concluded from the abject
manner of these people that they could not possibly be thoroughbred
Bedouins, and I saw, too, that they must be in the very last stage of
misery, for poor indeed is the man in these climes who cannot command a
pipeful of tobacco.  I began to think that I had fallen amongst thorough
savages, and it seemed likely enough that they would gain their very
first knowledge of civilisation by ravishing and studying the contents of
my dearest portmanteaus, but still my impression was that they would
hardly venture upon such an attempt.  I observed, indeed, that they did
not offer me the bread and salt which I had understood to be the pledges
of peace amongst wandering tribes, but I fancied that they refrained from
this act of hospitality, not in consequence of any hostile determination,
but in order that the notion of robbing me might remain for the present
an “open question.”  I afterwards found that the poor fellows had no
bread to offer.  They were literally “out at grass.”  It is true that
they had a scanty supply of milk from goats, but they were living almost
entirely upon certain grass stems, which were just in season at that time
of the year.  These, if not highly nourishing, are pleasant enough to the
taste, and their acid juices come gratefully to thirsty lips.



CHAPTER XV
PASSAGE OF THE JORDAN


AND now Dthemetri began to enter into a negotiation with my hosts for a
passage over the river.  I never interfered with my worthy dragoman upon
these occasions, because from my entire ignorance of the Arabic I should
have been quite unable to exercise any real control over his words, and
it would have been silly to break the stream of his eloquence to no
purpose.  I have reason to fear, however, that he lied transcendently,
and especially in representing me as the bosom friend of Ibrahim Pasha.
The mention of that name produced immense agitation and excitement, and
the Sheik explained to Dthemetri the grounds of the infinite respect
which he and his tribe entertained for the Pasha.  A few weeks before
Ibrahim had craftily sent a body of troops across the Jordan.  The force
went warily round to the foot of the mountains on the east, so as to cut
off the retreat of this tribe, and then surrounded them as they lay
encamped in the vale; their camels, and indeed all their possessions
worth taking, were carried off by the soldiery, and moreover the then
Sheik, together with every tenth man of the tribe, was brought out and
shot.  You would think that this conduct on the part of the Pasha might
not procure for his “friend” a very gracious reception amongst the people
whom he had thus despoiled and decimated; but the Asiatic seems to be
animated with a feeling of profound respect, almost bordering upon
affection, for all who have done him any bold and violent wrong; and
there is always, too, so much of vague and undefined apprehension mixed
up with his really well-founded alarms, that I can see no limit to the
yielding and bending of his mind when it is wrought upon by the idea of
power.

After some discussion the Arabs agreed, as I thought, to conduct me to a
ford, and we moved on towards the river, followed by seventeen of the
most able-bodied of the tribe, under the guidance of several grey-bearded
elders, and Sheik Ali Djoubran at the head of the whole detachment.  Upon
leaving the encampment a sort of ceremony was performed, for the purpose,
it seemed, of ensuring, if possible, a happy result for the undertaking.
There was an uplifting of arms, and a repeating of words that sounded
like formulæ, but there were no prostrations, and I did not understand
that the ceremony was of a religious character.  The tented Arabs are
looked upon as very bad Mahometans. {149}

We arrived upon the banks of the river—not at a ford, but at a deep and
rapid part of the stream, and I now understood that it was the plan of
these men, if they helped me at all, to transport me across the river by
some species of raft.  But a reaction had taken place in the opinions of
many, and a violent dispute arose upon a motion which seemed to have been
made by some honourable member with a view to robbery.  The fellows all
gathered together in circle, at a little distance from my party, and
there disputed with great vehemence and fury for nearly two hours.  I
can’t give a correct report of the debate, for it was held in a barbarous
dialect of the Arabic unknown to my dragoman.  I recollect I sincerely
felt at the time that the arguments in favour of robbing me must have
been almost unanswerable, and I gave great credit to the speakers on my
side for the ingenuity and sophistry which they must have shown in
maintaining the fight so well.

During the discussion I remained lying in front of my baggage, which had
all been taken from the pack-saddles and placed upon the ground.  I was
so languid from want of food, that I had scarcely animation enough to
feel as deeply interested as you would suppose in the result of the
discussion.  I thought, however, that the pleasantest toys to play with
during this interval were my pistols, and now and then, when I listlessly
visited my loaded barrels with the swivel ramrods, or drew a sweet,
musical click from my English firelocks, it seemed to me that I exercised
a slight and gentle influence on the debate.  Thanks to Ibrahim Pasha’s
terrible visitation the men of the tribe were wholly unarmed, and my
advantage in this respect might have counterbalanced in some measure the
superiority of numbers.

Mysseri (not interpreting in Arabic) had no duty to perform, and he
seemed to be faint and listless as myself.  Shereef looked perfectly
resigned to any fate.  But Dthemetri (faithful terrier!) was bristling
with zeal and watchfulness.  He could not understand the debate, which
indeed was carried on at a distance too great to be easily heard, even if
the language had been familiar; but he was always on the alert, and now
and then conferring with men who had straggled out of the assembly.  At
last he found an opportunity of making a proposal, which at once produced
immense sensation; he offered, on my behalf, that if the tribe should
bear themselves loyally towards me, and take my party and my baggage in
safety to the other bank of the river, I should give them a _teskeri_, or
written certificate of their good conduct, which might avail them
hereafter in the hour of their direst need.  This proposal was received
and instantly accepted by all the men of the tribe there present with the
utmost enthusiasm.  I was to give the men, too, a _baksheish_, that is, a
present of money, which is usually made upon the conclusion of any sort
of treaty; but although the people of the tribe were so miserably poor,
they seemed to look upon the pecuniary part of the arrangement as a
matter quite trivial in comparison with the _teskeri_.  Indeed the sum
which Dthemetri promised them was extremely small, and not the slightest
attempt was made to extort any further reward.

The council now broke up, and most of the men rushed madly towards me,
and overwhelmed me with vehement gratulations; they caressed my boots
with much affection, and my hands were severely kissed.

The Arabs now went to work in right earnest to effect the passage of the
river.  They had brought with them a great number of the skins which they
use for carrying water in the desert; these they filled with air, and
fastened several of them to small boughs which they cut from the banks of
the river.  In this way they constructed a raft not more than about four
or five feet square, but rendered buoyant by the inflated skins which
supported it.  On this a portion of my baggage was placed, and was firmly
tied to it by the cords used on my pack-saddles.  The little raft with
its weighty cargo was then gently lifted into the water, and I had the
satisfaction to see that it floated well.

Twelve of the Arabs now stripped, and tied inflated skins to their loins;
six of the men went down into the river, got in front of the little raft,
and pulled it off a few feet from the bank.  The other six then dashed
into the stream with loud shouts, and swam along after the raft, pushing
it from behind.  Off went the craft in capital style at first, for the
stream was easy on the eastern side; but I saw that the tug was to come,
for the main torrent swept round in a bend near the western bank of the
river.

The old men, with their long grey grisly beards, stood shouting and
cheering, praying and commanding.  At length the raft entered upon the
difficult part of its course; the whirling stream seized and twisted it
about, and then bore it rapidly downwards; the swimmers flagged, and
seemed to be beaten in the struggle.  But now the old men on the bank,
with their rigid arms uplifted straight, sent forth a cry and a shout
that tore the wide air into tatters, and then to make their urging yet
more strong they shrieked out the dreadful syllables, “’Brahim Pasha!”
The swimmers, one moment before so blown and so weary, found lungs to
answer the cry, and shouting back the name of their great destroyer, they
dashed on through the torrent, and bore the raft in safety to the western
bank.

Afterwards the swimmers returned with the raft, and attached to it the
rest of my baggage.  I took my seat upon the top of the cargo, and the
raft thus laden passed the river in the same way, and with the same
struggle as before.  The skins, however, not being perfectly air-tight,
had lost a great part of their buoyancy, so that I, as well as the
luggage that passed on this last voyage, got wet in the waters of Jordan.
The raft could not be trusted for another trip, and the rest of my party
passed the river in a different and (for them) much safer way.  Inflated
skins were fastened to their loins, and thus supported, they were tugged
across by Arabs swimming on either side of them.  The horses and mules
were thrown into the water and forced to swim over.  The poor beasts had
a hard struggle for their lives in that swift stream; and I thought that
one of the horses would have been drowned, for he was too weak to gain a
footing on the western bank, and the stream bore him down.  At last,
however, he swam back to the side from which he had come.  Before dark
all had passed the river except this one horse and old Shereef.  He, poor
fellow, was shivering on the eastern bank, for his dread of the passage
was so great, that he delayed it as long as he could, and at last it
became so dark that he was obliged to wait till the morning.

I lay that night on the banks of the river, and at a little distance from
me the Arabs kindled a fire, round which they sat in a circle.  They were
made most savagely happy by the tobacco with which I supplied them, and
they soon determined that the whole night should be one smoking festival.
The poor fellows had only a cracked bowl, without any tube at all, but
this morsel of a pipe they handed round from one to the other, allowing
to each a fixed number of whiffs.  In that way they passed the whole
night.

The next morning old Shereef was brought across.  It was a strange sight
to see this solemn old Mussulman, with his shaven head and his sacred
beard, sprawling and puffing upon the surface of the water.  When at last
he reached the bank the people told him that by his baptism in Jordan he
had surely become a mere Christian.  Poor Shereef!—the holy man! the
descendant of the Prophet!—he was sadly hurt by the taunt, and the more
so as he seemed to feel that there was some foundation for it, and that
he really might have absorbed some Christian errors.

When all was ready for departure I wrote the _teskeri_ in French and
delivered it to Sheik Ali Djoubran, together with the promised
_baksheish_; he was exceedingly grateful, and I parted in a very friendly
way from this ragged tribe.

In two or three hours I gained Rihah, a village said to occupy the site
of ancient Jericho.  There was one building there which I observed with
some emotion, for although it may not have been actually standing in the
days of Jericho, it contained at this day a most interesting collection
of—modern loaves.

Some hours after sunset I reached the convent of Santo Saba, and there
remained for the night.



CHAPTER XVI
TERRA SANTA


THE enthusiasm that had glowed, or seemed to glow, within me for one
blessed moment when I knelt by the shrine of the Virgin at Nazareth, was
not rekindled at Jerusalem.  In the stead of the solemn gloom and the
deep stillness that of right belonged to the Holy City, there was the hum
and the bustle of active life.  It was the “height of the season.”  The
Easter ceremonies drew near.  The pilgrims were flocking in from all
quarters; and although their objects were partly at least of a religious
character, yet their “arrivals” brought as much stir and liveliness to
the city as if they had come up to marry their daughters.

The votaries who every year crowd to the Holy Sepulchre are chiefly of
the Greek and Armenian Churches.  They are not drawn into Palestine by a
mere sentimental longing to stand upon the ground trodden by our Saviour,
but rather they perform the pilgrimage as a plain duty strongly
inculcated by their religion.  A very great proportion of those who
belong to the Greek Church contrive at some time or other in the course
of their lives to achieve the enterprise.  Many in their infancy and
childhood are brought to the holy sites by their parents, but those who
have not had this advantage will often make it the main object of their
lives to save money enough for this holy undertaking.

The pilgrims begin to arrive in Palestine some weeks before the Easter
festival of the Greek Church.  They come from Egypt, from all parts of
Syria, from Armenia and Asia Minor, from Stamboul, from Roumelia, from
the provinces of the Danube, and from all the Russias.  Most of these
people bring with them some articles of merchandise, but I myself believe
(notwithstanding the common taunt against pilgrims) that they do this
rather as a mode of paying the expenses of their journey, than from a
spirit of mercenary speculation.  They generally travel in families, for
the women are of course more ardent than their husbands in undertaking
these pious enterprises, and they take care to bring with them all their
children, however young; for the efficacy of the rites does not depend
upon the age of the votary, so that people whose careful mothers have
obtained for them the benefit of the pilgrimage in early life, are saved
from the expense and trouble of undertaking the journey at a later age.
The superior veneration so often excited by objects that are distant and
unknown shows not perhaps the wrongheadedness of a man, but rather the
transcendent power of his imagination.  However this may be, and whether
it is by mere obstinacy that they poke their way through intervening
distance, or whether they come by the winged strength of fancy, quite
certainly the pilgrims who flock to Palestine from the most remote homes
are the people most eager in the enterprise, and in number too they bear
a very high proportion to the whole mass.

The great bulk of the pilgrims make their way by sea to the port of
Jaffa.  A number of families charter a vessel amongst them, all bringing
their own provisions, which are of the simplest and cheapest kind.  On
board every vessel thus freighted there is, I believe, a priest, who
helps the people in their religious exercises, and tries (and fails) to
maintain something like order and harmony.  The vessels employed in this
service are usually Greek brigs or brigantines and schooners, and the
number of passengers stowed in them is almost always horribly excessive.
The voyages are sadly protracted, not only by the land-seeking,
storm-flying habits of the Greek seamen, but also by their endless
schemes and speculations, which are for ever tempting them to touch at
the nearest port.  The voyage, too, must be made in winter, in order that
Jerusalem may be reached some weeks before the Greek Easter, and thus by
the time they attain to the holy shrines the pilgrims have really and
truly undergone a very respectable quantity of suffering.  I once saw one
of these pious cargoes put ashore on the coast of Cyprus, where they had
touched for the purpose of visiting (not Paphos, but) some Christian
sanctuary; I never saw (no, never even in the most horridly stuffy
ballroom) such a discomfortable collection of human beings.  Long huddled
together in a pitching and rolling prison, fed on beans, exposed to some
real danger and to terrors without end, they had been tumbled about for
many wintry weeks in the chopping seas of the Mediterranean.  As soon as
they landed they stood upon the beach and chanted a hymn of thanks; the
chant was morne and doleful, but really the poor people were looking so
miserable that one could not fairly expect from them any lively
outpouring of gratitude.

When the pilgrims have landed at Jaffa they hire camels, horses, mules,
or donkeys, and make their way as well as they can to the Holy City.  The
space fronting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre soon becomes a kind of
bazaar, or rather, perhaps, reminds you of an English fair.  On this spot
the pilgrims display their merchandise, and there too the trading
residents of the place offer their goods for sale.  I have never, I
think, seen elsewhere in Asia so much commercial animation as upon this
square of ground by the church door; the “money-changers” seemed to be
almost as brisk and lively as if they had been _within_ the temple.

When I entered the church I found a babel of worshippers.  Greek, Roman,
and Armenian priests were performing their different rites in various
nooks and corners, and crowds of disciples were rushing about in all
directions, some laughing and talking, some begging, but most of them
going round in a regular and methodical way to kiss the sanctified spots,
and speak the appointed syllables, and lay down the accustomed coin.  If
this kissing of the shrines had seemed as though it were done at the
bidding of enthusiasm, or of any poor sentiment even feebly approaching
to it, the sight would have been less odd to English eyes; but as it was,
I stared to see grown men thus steadily and carefully embracing the
sticks and the stones, not from love or from zeal (else God forbid that I
should have stared!), but from a calm sense of duty; they seemed to be
not “working out,” but _transacting_ the great business of salvation.

Dthemetri, however, who generally came with me when I went out, in order
to do duty as interpreter, really had in him some enthusiasm.  He was a
zealous and almost fanatical member of the Greek Church, and had long
since performed the pilgrimage, so now great indeed was the pride and
delight with which he guided me from one holy spot to another.  Every now
and then, when he came to an unoccupied shrine, he fell down on his knees
and performed devotion; he was almost distracted by the temptations that
surrounded him; there were so many stones absolutely requiring to be
kissed, that he rushed about happily puzzled and sweetly teased, like
“Jack among the maidens.”

A Protestant, familiar with the Holy Scriptures, but ignorant of
tradition and the geography of modern Jerusalem, finds himself a good
deal “mazed” when he first looks for the sacred sites.  The Holy
Sepulchre is not in a field without the walls, but in the midst, and in
the best part of the town, under the roof of the great church which I
have been talking about.  It is a handsome tomb of oblong form, partly
subterranean and partly above ground, and closed in on all sides except
the one by which it is entered.  You descend into the interior by a few
steps, and there find an altar with burning tapers.  This is the spot
which is held in greater sanctity than any other at Jerusalem.  When you
have seen enough of it you feel perhaps weary of the busy crowd, and
inclined for a gallop; you ask your dragoman whether there will be time
before sunset to procure horses and take a ride to Mount Calvary.  Mount
Calvary, signor?—eccolo! it is _upstairs_—on the _first floor_.  In
effect you ascend, if I remember rightly, just thirteen steps, and then
you are shown the now golden sockets in which the crosses of our Lord and
the two thieves were fixed.  All this is startling, but the truth is,
that the city having gathered round the Sepulchre, which is the main
point of interest, has crept northward, and thus in great measure are
occasioned the many geographical surprises that puzzle the “Bible
Christian.”

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre comprises very compendiously almost all
the spots associated with the closing career of our Lord.  Just there, on
your right, He stood and wept; by the pillar, on your left, He was
scourged; on the spot, just before you, He was crowned with the crown of
thorns; up there He was crucified, and down here He was buried.  A
locality is assigned to every, the minutest, event connected with the
recorded history of our Saviour; even the spot where the cock crew when
Peter denied his Master is ascertained, and surrounded by the walls of an
Armenian convent.  Many Protestants are wont to treat these traditions
contemptuously, and those who distinguish themselves from their brethren
by the appellation of “Bible Christians” are almost fierce in their
denunciation of these supposed errors.

It is admitted, I believe, by everybody that the formal sanctification of
these spots was the act of the Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine,
but I think it is fair to suppose that she was guided by a careful regard
to the then prevailing traditions.  Now the nature of the ground upon
which Jerusalem stands is such, that the localities belonging to the
events there enacted might have been more easily, and permanently,
ascertained by tradition than those of any city that I know of.
Jerusalem, whether ancient or modern, was built upon and surrounded by
sharp, salient rocks intersected by deep ravines.  Up to the time of the
siege Mount Calvary of course must have been well enough known to the
people of Jerusalem; the destruction of the mere buildings could not have
obliterated from any man’s memory the names of those steep rocks and
narrow ravines in the midst of which the city had stood.  It seems to me,
therefore, highly probable that in fixing the site of Calvary the Empress
was rightly guided.  Recollect, too, that the voice of tradition at
Jerusalem is quite unanimous, and that Romans, Greeks, Armenians, and
Jews, all hating each other sincerely, concur in assigning the same
localities to the events told in the Gospel.  I concede, however, that
the attempt of the Empress to ascertain the sites of the minor events
cannot be safely relied upon.  With respect, for instance, to the
certainty of the spot where the cock crew, I am far from being convinced.

Supposing that the Empress acted arbitrarily in fixing the holy sites, it
would seem that she followed the Gospel of St. John, and that the
geography sanctioned by her can be more easily reconciled with that
history than with the accounts of the other Evangelists.

The authority exercised by the Mussulman Government in relation to the
holy sites is in one view somewhat humbling to the Christians, for it is
almost as an arbitrator between the contending sects (this always, of
course, for the sake of pecuniary advantage) that the Mussulman lends his
contemptuous aid; he not only grants, but enforces toleration.  All
persons, of whatever religion, are allowed to go as they will into every
part of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but in order to prevent
indecent contests, and also from motives arising out of money payments,
the Turkish Government assigns the peculiar care of each sacred spot to
one of the ecclesiastic bodies.  Since this guardianship carries with it
the receipt of the coins which the pilgrims leave upon the shrines, it is
strenuously fought for by all the rival Churches, and the artifices of
intrigue are busily exerted at Stamboul in order to procure the issue or
revocation of the firmans by which the coveted privilege is granted.  In
this strife the Greek Church has of late years signally triumphed, and
the most famous of the shrines are committed to the care of their
priesthood.  They possess the golden socket in which stood the cross of
our Lord, whilst the Latins are obliged to content themselves with the
apertures in which were inserted the crosses of the two thieves.  They
are naturally discontented with that poor privilege, and sorrowfully look
back to the days of their former glory—the days when Napoleon was
Emperor, and Sebastiani ambassador at the Porte.  It seems that the
“citizen” sultan, old Louis Philippe, has done very little indeed for
Holy Church in Palestine.

Although the pilgrims perform their devotions at the several shrines with
so little apparent enthusiasm, they are driven to the verge of madness by
the miracle displayed before them on Easter Saturday.  Then it is that
the Heaven-sent fire issues from the Holy Sepulchre.  The pilgrims all
assemble in the great church, and already, long before the wonder is
worked, they are wrought by anticipation of God’s sign, as well as by
their struggles for room and breathing space, to a most frightful state
of excitement.  At length the chief priest of the Greeks, accompanied (of
all people in the world) by the Turkish Governor, enters the tomb.  After
this, there is a long pause, and then suddenly from out of the small
apertures on either side of the sepulchre there issue long, shining
flames.  The pilgrims now rush forward, madly struggling to light their
tapers at the holy fire.  This is the dangerous moment, and many lives
are often lost.

The year before that of my going to Jerusalem, Ibrahim Pasha, from some
whim, or motive of policy, chose to witness the miracle.  The vast church
was of course thronged, as it always is on that awful day.  It seems that
the appearance of the fire was delayed for a very long time, and that the
growing frenzy of the people was heightened by suspense.  Many, too, had
already sunk under the effect of the heat and the stifling atmosphere,
when at last the fire flashed from the sepulchre.  Then a terrible
struggle ensued; many sunk and were crushed.  Ibrahim had taken his
station in one of the galleries, but now, feeling perhaps his brave blood
warmed by the sight and sound of such strife, he took upon himself to
quiet the people by his personal presence, and descended into the body of
the church with only a few guards.  He had forced his way into the midst
of the dense crowd, when unhappily he fainted away; his guards shrieked
out, and the event instantly became known.  A body of soldiers recklessly
forced their way through the crowd, trampling over every obstacle that
they might save the life of their general.  Nearly two hundred people
were killed in the struggle.

The following year, however, the Government took better measures for the
prevention of these calamities.  I was not present at the ceremony,
having gone away from Jerusalem some time before, but I afterwards
returned into Palestine, and I then learned that the day had passed off
without any disturbance of a fatal kind.  It is, however, almost too much
to expect that so many ministers of peace can assemble without finding
some occasion for strife, and in that year a tribe of wild Bedouins
became the subject of discord.  These men, it seems, led an Arab life in
some of the desert tracts bordering on the neighbourhood of Jerusalem,
but were not connected with any of the great ruling tribes.  Some whim or
notion of policy had induced them to embrace Christianity; but they were
grossly ignorant of the rudiments of their adopted faith, and having no
priest with them in their desert, they had as little knowledge of
religious ceremonies as of religion itself.  They were not even capable
of conducting themselves in a place of worship with ordinary decorum, but
would interrupt the service with scandalous cries and warlike shouts.
Such is the account the Latins give of them, but I have never heard the
other side of the question.  These wild fellows, notwithstanding their
entire ignorance of all religion, are yet claimed by the Greeks, not only
as proselytes who have embraced Christianity generally, but as converts
to the particular doctrines and practice of their Church.  The people
thus alleged to have concurred in the great schism of the Eastern Empire
are never, I believe, within the walls of a church, or even of any
building at all, except upon this occasion of Easter; and as they then
never fail to find a row of some kind going on by the side of the
sepulchre, they fancy, it seems, that the ceremonies there enacted are
funeral games of a martial character, held in honour of a deceased
chieftain, and that a Christian festival is a peculiar kind of battle,
fought between walls, and without cavalry.  It does not appear, however,
that these men are guilty of any ferocious acts, or that they attempt to
commit depredations.  The charge against them is merely that by their way
of applauding the performance, by their horrible cries and frightful
gestures, they destroy the solemnity of divine service, and upon this
ground the Franciscans obtained a firman for the exclusion of such
tumultuous worshippers.  The Greeks, however, did not choose to lose the
aid of their wild converts merely because they were a little backward in
their religious education, and they therefore persuaded them to defy the
firman by entering the city _en masse_ and overawing their enemies.  The
Franciscans, as well as the Government authorities, were obliged to give
way, and the Arabs triumphantly marched into the church.  The festival,
however, must have seemed to them rather flat, for although there may
have been some “casualties” in the way of eyes black and noses bloody,
and women “missing,” there was no return of “killed.”

Formerly the Latin Catholics concurred in acknowledging (but not, I hope,
in working) the annual miracle of the heavenly fire, but they have for
many years withdrawn their countenance from this exhibition, and they now
repudiate it as a trick of the Greek Church.  Thus of course the violence
of feeling with which the rival Churches meet at the Holy Sepulchre on
Easter Saturday is greatly increased, and a disturbance of some kind is
certain.  In the year I speak of, though no lives were lost, there was,
as it seems, a tough struggle in the church.  I was amused at hearing of
a taunt that was thrown that day upon an English traveller.  He had taken
his station in a convenient part of the church, and was no doubt
displaying that peculiar air of serenity and gratification with which an
English gentleman usually looks on at a row, when one of the Franciscans
came by, all reeking from the fight, and was so disgusted at the coolness
and placid contentment of the Englishman (who was a guest at the
convent), that he forgot his monkish humility as well as the duties of
hospitality, and plainly said, “You sleep under our roof, you eat our
bread, you drink our wine, and then when Easter Saturday comes you don’t
fight for us!”

Yet these rival Churches go on quietly enough till their blood is up.
The terms on which they live remind one of the peculiar relation
subsisting at Cambridge between “town and gown.”

These contests and disturbances certainly do not originate with the
lay-pilgrims, the great body of whom are, as I believe, quiet and
inoffensive people.  It is true, however, that their pious enterprise is
believed by them to operate as a counterpoise for a multitude of sins,
whether past or future, and perhaps they exert themselves in after life
to restore the balance of good and evil.  The Turks have a maxim which,
like most cynical apophthegms, carries with it the buzzing trumpet of
falsehood as well as the small, fine “sting of truth.”  “If your friend
has made the pilgrimage once, distrust him; if he has made the pilgrimage
twice, cut him dead!”  The caution is said to be as applicable to the
visitants of Jerusalem as to those of Mecca, but I cannot help believing
that the frailties of all the hadjis, {166} whether Christian or
Mahometan, are greatly exaggerated.  I certainly regarded the pilgrims to
Palestine as a well-disposed orderly body of people, not strongly
enthusiastic, but desirous to comply with the ordinances of their
religion, and to attain the great end of salvation as quietly and
economically as possible.

When the solemnities of Easter are concluded the pilgrims move off in a
body to complete their good work by visiting the sacred scenes in the
neighbourhood of Jerusalem, including the wilderness of John the Baptist,
Bethlehem, and, above all, the Jordan, for to bathe in those sacred
waters is one of the chief objects of the expedition.  All the
pilgrims—men, women, and children—are submerged _en chemise_, and the
saturated linen is carefully wrapped up and preserved as a burial-dress
that shall enure for salvation in the realms of death.

I saw the burial of a pilgrim.  He was a Greek, miserably poor, and very
old; he had just crawled into the Holy City, and had reached at once the
goal of his pious journey and the end of his sufferings upon earth.
There was no coffin nor wrapper, and as I looked full upon the face of
the dead I saw how deeply it was rutted with the ruts of age and misery.
The priest, strong and portly, fresh, fat, and alive with the life of the
animal kingdom, unpaid, or ill paid for his work, would scarcely deign to
mutter out his forms, but hurried over the words with shocking haste.
Presently he called out impatiently, “Yalla!  Goor!”  (Come! look
sharp!), and then the dead Greek was seized.  His limbs yielded inertly
to the rude men that handled them, and down he went into his grave, so
roughly bundled in that his neck was twisted by the fall, so twisted,
that if the sharp malady of life were still upon him the old man would
have shrieked and groaned, and the lines of his face would have quivered
with pain.  The lines of his face were not moved, and the old man lay
still and heedless, so well cured of that tedious life-ache, that nothing
could hurt him now.  His clay was _itself again_—cool, firm, and tough.
The pilgrim had found great rest.  I threw the accustomed handful of the
holy soil upon his patient face, and then, and in less than a minute, the
earth closed coldly around him.

I did not say “alas!” (nobody ever does that I know of, though the word
is so frequently written).  I thought the old man had got rather well out
of the scrape of being alive, and poor.

The destruction of the mere buildings in such a place as Jerusalem would
not involve the permanent dispersion of the inhabitants, for the rocky
neighbourhood in which the town is situate abounds in caves, which would
give an easy refuge to the people until they gained an opportunity of
rebuilding their dwellings; therefore I could not help looking upon the
Jews of Jerusalem as being in some sort the representatives, if not the
actual descendants, of the rascals who crucified our Saviour.  Supposing
this to be the case, I felt that there would be some interest in knowing
how the events of the Gospel history were regarded by the Israelites of
modern Jerusalem.  The result of my inquiry upon this subject was, so far
as it went, entirely favourable to the truth of Christianity.  I
understood that _the performance of the miracles was not doubted by any
of the Jews in the place_.  All of them concurred in attributing the
works of our Lord to the influence of magic, but they were divided as to
the species of enchantment from which the power proceeded.  The great
mass of the Jewish people believe, I fancy, that the miracles had been
wrought by aid of the powers of darkness, but many, and those the more
enlightened, would call Jesus “the good Magician.”  To Europeans
repudiating the notion of all magic, good or bad, the opinion of the Jews
as to the agency by which the miracles were worked is a matter of no
importance; but the circumstance of their admitting that those miracles
_were in fact performed_, is certainly curious, and perhaps not quite
immaterial. {169}

If you stay in the Holy City long enough to fall into anything like
regular habits of amusement and occupation, and to become, in short, for
a time “a man about town” at Jerusalem, you will necessarily lose the
enthusiasm which you may have felt when you trod the sacred soil for the
first time, and it will then seem almost strange to you to find yourself
so entirely surrounded in all your daily pursuits by the designs and
sounds of religion.  Your hotel is a monastery, your rooms are cells, the
landlord is a stately abbot, and the waiters are hooded monks.  If you
walk out of the town you find yourself on the Mount of Olives, or in the
Valley of Jehoshaphat, or on the Hill of Evil Counsel.  If you mount your
horse and extend your rambles you will be guided to the wilderness of St.
John, or the birthplace of our Saviour.  Your club is the great Church of
the Holy Sepulchre, where everybody meets everybody every day.  If you
lounge through the town, your Bond Street is the Via Dolorosa, and the
object of your hopeless affections is some maid or matron all forlorn,
and sadly shrouded in her pilgrim’s robe.  If you would hear music, it
must be the chanting of friars; if you look at pictures, you see virgins
with mis-fore-shortened arms, or devils out of drawing, or angels
tumbling up the skies in impious perspective.  If you would make any
purchases, you must go again to the church doors, and when you inquire
for the manufactures of the place, you find that they consist of
double-blessed beads and sanctified shells.  These last are the favourite
tokens which the pilgrims carry off with them.  The shell is graven, or
rather scratched, on the white side with a rude drawing of the Blessed
Virgin, or of the Crucifixion, or some other scriptural subject.  Having
passed this stage it goes into the hands of a priest.  By him it is
subjected to some process for rendering it efficacious against the
schemes of our ghostly enemy.  The manufacture is then complete, and is
deemed to be fit for use.

The village of Bethlehem lies prettily couched on the slope of a hill.
The sanctuary is a subterranean grotto, and is committed to the
joint-guardianship of the Romans, Greeks, and Armenians, who vie with
each other in adorning it.  Beneath an altar gorgeously decorated, and
lit with everlasting fires, there stands the low slab of stone which
marks the holy site of the Nativity; and near to this is a hollow scooped
out of the living rock.  Here the infant Jesus was laid.  Near the spot
of the Nativity is the rock against which the Blessed Virgin was leaning
when she presented her babe to the adoring shepherds.

Many of those Protestants who are accustomed to despise tradition
consider that this sanctuary is altogether unscriptural, that a grotto is
not a stable, and that mangers are made of wood.  It is perfectly true,
however, that the many grottoes and caves which are found among the rocks
of Judea were formerly used for the reception of cattle.  They are so
used at this day.  I have myself seen grottoes appropriated to this
purpose.

You know what a sad and sombre decorum it is that outwardly reigns
through the lands oppressed by Moslem sway.  Mahometans make beauty their
prisoner, and enforce such a stern and gloomy morality, or at all events,
such a frightfully close semblance of it, that far and long the wearied
traveller may go without catching one glimpse of outward happiness.  By a
strange chance in these latter days it happened that, alone of all the
places in the land, this Bethlehem, the native village of our Lord,
escaped the moral yoke of the Mussulmans, and heard again, after ages of
dull oppression, the cheering clatter of social freedom, and the voices
of laughing girls.  It was after an insurrection, which had been raised
against the authority of Mehemet Ali, that Bethlehem was freed from the
hateful laws of Asiatic decorum.  The Mussulmans of the village had taken
an active part in the movement, and when Ibrahim had quelled it, his
wrath was still so hot, that he put to death every one of the few
Mahometans of Bethlehem who had not already fled.  The effect produced
upon the Christian inhabitants by the sudden removal of this restraint
was immense.  The village smiled once more.  It is true that such sweet
freedom could not long endure.  Even if the population of the place
should continue to be entirely Christian, the sad decorum of the
Mussulmans, or rather of the Asiatics, would sooner or later be restored
by the force of opinion and custom.  But for a while the sunshine would
last, and when I was at Bethlehem, though long after the flight of the
Mussulmans, the cloud of Moslem propriety had not yet come back to cast
its cold shadow upon life.  When you reach that gladsome village, pray
Heaven there still may be heard there the voice of free, innocent girls.
It will sound so dearly welcome!

To a Christian, and thoroughbred Englishman, not even the licentiousness
which generally accompanies it can compensate for the oppressiveness of
that horrible outward decorum, which turns the cities and the palaces of
Asia into deserts and gaols.  So, I say, when you see and hear them,
those romping girls of Bethlehem will gladden your very soul.  Distant at
first, and then nearer and nearer the timid flock will gather around you,
with their large burning eyes gravely fixed against yours, so that they
see into your brain; and if you imagine evil against them, they will know
of your ill thought before it is yet well born, and will fly and be gone
in the moment.  But presently, if you will only look virtuous enough to
prevent alarm, and vicious enough to avoid looking silly, the blithe
maidens will draw nearer and nearer to you, and soon there will be one,
the bravest of the sisters, who will venture right up to your side and
touch the hem of your coat, in playful defiance of the danger, and then
the rest will follow the daring of their youthful leader, and gather
close round you, and hold a shrill controversy on the wondrous formation
that you call a hat, and the cunning of the hands that clothed you with
cloth so fine; and then, growing more profound in their researches, they
will pass from the study of your mere dress to a serious contemplation of
your stately height, and your nut-brown hair, and the ruddy glow of your
English cheeks.  And if they catch a glimpse of your ungloved fingers,
then again will they make the air ring with their sweet screams of wonder
and amazement, as they compare the fairness of your hand with their
warmer tints, and even with the hues of your own sunburnt face.
Instantly the ringleader of the gentle rioters imagines a new sin; with
tremulous boldness she touches, then grasps your hand, and smoothes it
gently betwixt her own, and pries curiously into its make and colour, as
though it were silk of Damascus, or shawl of Cashmere.  And when they see
you even then still sage and gentle, the joyous girls will suddenly and
screamingly, and all at once, explain to each other that you are surely
quite harmless and innocent, a lion that makes no spring, a bear that
never hugs, and upon this faith, one after the other, they will take your
passive hand, and strive to explain it, and make it a theme and a
controversy.  But the one, the fairest and the sweetest of all, is yet
the most timid; she shrinks from the daring deeds of her playmates, and
seeks shelter behind their sleeves, and strives to screen her glowing
consciousness from the eyes that look upon her.  But her laughing sisters
will have none of this cowardice; they vow that the fair one _shall_ be
their ’complice, _shall_ share their dangers, _shall_ touch the hand of
the stranger; they seize her small wrist, and drag her forward by force,
and at last, whilst yet she strives to turn away, and to cover up her
whole soul under the folds of downcast eyelids, they vanquish her utmost
strength, they vanquish your utmost modesty, and marry her hand to yours.
The quick pulse springs from her fingers, and throbs like a whisper upon
your listening palm.  For an instant her large timid eyes are upon you;
in an instant they are shrouded again, and there comes a blush so
burning, that the frightened girls stay their shrill laughter, as though
they had played too perilously, and harmed their gentle sister.  A
moment, and all with a sudden intelligence turn away and fly like deer,
yet soon again like deer they wheel round and return, and stand, and gaze
upon the danger, until they grow brave once more.

“I regret to observe, that the removal of the moral restraint imposed by
the presence of the Mahometan inhabitants has led to a certain degree of
boisterous, though innocent, levity in the bearing of the Christians, and
more especially in the demeanour of those who belong to the younger
portion of the female population; but I feel assured that a more thorough
knowledge of the principles of their own pure religion will speedily
restore these young people to habits of propriety, even more strict than
those which were imposed upon them by the authority of their Mahometan
brethren.”  Bah! thus you might chant, if you chose; but loving the
truth, you will not so disown sweet Bethlehem; you will not disown or
dissemble your right good hearty delight when you find, as though in a
desert, this gushing spring of fresh and joyous girlhood.



CHAPTER XVII
THE DESERT


GAZA is upon the verge of the Desert, to which it stands in the same
relation as a seaport to the sea.  It is there that you _charter_ your
camels (“the ships of the Desert”), and lay in your stores for the
voyage.

These preparations kept me in the town for some days.  Disliking
restraint, I declined making myself the guest of the Governor (as it is
usual and proper to do), but took up my quarters at the caravanserai, or
“khan,” as they call it in that part of Asia.

Dthemetri had to make the arrangements for my journey, and in order to
arm himself with sufficient authority for doing all that was required, he
found it necessary to put himself in communication with the Governor.
The result of this diplomatic intercourse was that the Governor, with his
train of attendants, came to me one day at my caravanserai, and formally
complained that Dthemetri had grossly insulted him.  I was shocked at
this, for the man was always attentive and civil to me, and I was
disgusted at the idea of his having been rewarded with insult.  Dthemetri
was present when the complaint was made, and I angrily asked him whether
it was true that he had really insulted the Governor, and what the deuce
he meant by it.  This I asked with the full certainty that Dthemetri, as
a matter of course, would deny the charge, would swear that a “wrong
construction had been put upon his words, and that nothing was further
from his thoughts,” etc. etc., after the manner of the parliamentary
people, but to my surprise he very plainly answered that he certainly
_had_ insulted the Governor, and that rather grossly, but, he said, it
was quite necessary to do this in order to “strike terror and inspire
respect.”  “Terror and respect!  What on earth do you mean by that
nonsense?”—“Yes, but without striking terror and inspiring respect, he
(Dthemetri) would never be able to force on the arrangements for my
journey, and vossignoria would be kept at Gaza for a month!”  This would
have been awkward, and certainly I could not deny that poor Dthemetri had
succeeded in his odd plan of inspiring respect, for at the very time that
this explanation was going on in Italian the Governor seemed more than
ever, and more anxiously, disposed to overwhelm me with assurances of
goodwill, and proffers of his best services.  All this kindness, or
promise of kindness, I naturally received with courtesy—a courtesy that
greatly perturbed Dthemetri, for he evidently feared that my civility
would undo all the good that his insults had achieved.

You will find, I think, that one of the greatest drawbacks to the
pleasure of travelling in Asia is the being obliged, more or less, to
make your way by bullying.  It is true that your own lips are not soiled
by the utterance of all the mean words that are spoken for you, and that
you don’t even know of the sham threats, and the false promises, and the
vainglorious boasts, put forth by your dragoman; but now and then there
happens some incident of the sort which I have just been mentioning,
which forces you to believe, or suspect, that your dragoman is habitually
fighting your battles for you in a way that you can hardly bear to think
of.

A caravanserai is not ill adapted to the purposes for which it is meant.
It forms the four sides of a large quadrangular court.  The ground floor
is used for warehouses, the first floor for guests, and the open court
for the temporary reception of the camels, as well as for the loading and
unloading of their burthens, and the transaction of mercantile business
generally.  The apartments used for the guests are small cells opening
into a corridor, which runs round the four sides of the court.

Whilst I lay near the opening of my cell looking down into the court
below, there arrived from the Desert a caravan, that is, a large
assemblage of travellers.  It consisted chiefly of Moldavian pilgrims,
who to make their good work even more than complete had begun by visiting
the shrine of the Virgin in Egypt, and were now going on to Jerusalem.
They had been overtaken in the Desert by a gale of wind, which so drove
the sand and raised up such mountains before them, that their journey had
been terribly perplexed and obstructed, and their provisions (including
water, the most precious of all) had been exhausted long before they
reached the end of their toilsome march.  They were sadly wayworn.  The
arrival of the caravan drew many and various groups into the court.
There was the Moldavian pilgrim with his sable dress and cap of fur and
heavy masses of bushy hair; the Turk, with his various and brilliant
garments; the Arab, superbly stalking under his striped blanket, that
hung like royalty upon his stately form; the jetty Ethiopian in his
slavish frock; the sleek, smooth-faced scribe with his comely pelisse,
and his silver ink-box stuck in like a dagger at his girdle.  And mingled
with these were the camels, some standing, some kneeling and being
unladen, some twisting round their long necks and gently stealing the
straw from out of their own pack-saddles.

In a couple of days I was ready to start.  The way of providing for the
passage of the Desert is this: there is an agent in the town who keeps
himself in communication with some of the desert Arabs that are hovering
within a day’s journey of the place.  A party of these upon being
guaranteed against seizure or other ill-treatment at the hands of the
Governor come into the town, bringing with them the number of camels
which you require, and then they stipulate for a certain sum to take you
to the place of your destination in a given time.  The agreement which
they thus enter into includes a safe conduct through their country as
well as the hire of the camels.  According to the contract made with me I
was to reach Cairo within ten days from the commencement of the journey.
I had four camels, one for my baggage, one for each of my servants, and
one for myself.  Four Arabs, the owners of the camels, came with me on
foot.  My stores were a small soldier’s tent, two bags of dried bread
brought from the convent at Jerusalem, and a couple of bottles of wine
from the same source, two goatskins filled with water, tea, sugar, a cold
tongue, and (of all things in the world) a jar of Irish butter which
Mysseri had purchased from some merchant.  There was also a small sack of
charcoal, for the greater part of the Desert through which we were to
pass is destitute of fuel.

The camel kneels to receive her load, and for a while she will allow the
packing to go on with silent resignation; but when she begins to suspect
that her master is putting more than a just burthen upon her poor hump
she turns round her supple neck and looks sadly upon the increasing load,
and then gently remonstrates against the wrong with the sigh of a patient
wife.  If sighs will not move you, she can weep.  You soon learn to pity,
and soon to love, her for the sake of her gentle and womanish ways.

You cannot, of course, put an English or any other riding saddle upon the
back of a camel, but your quilt or carpet, or whatever you carry for the
purpose of lying on at night, is folded and fastened on to the
pack-saddle upon the top of the hump, and on this you ride, or rather
sit.  You sit as a man sits on a chair when he sits astride and faces the
back of it.  I made an improvement on this plan.  I had my English
stirrups strapped on to the cross-bars of the pack-saddle, and thus by
gaining rest for my dangling legs, and gaining too the power of varying
my position more easily than I could otherwise have done, I added very
much to my comfort.  Don’t forget to do as I did.

The camel, like the elephant, is one of the old-fashioned sort of animals
that still walk along upon the (now nearly exploded) plan of the ancient
beasts that lived before the Flood.  She moves forward both her near legs
at the same time, and then awkwardly swings round her off shoulder and
haunch so as to repeat the manœuvre on that side.  Her pace, therefore,
is an odd, disjointed and disjoining, sort of movement that is rather
disagreeable at first, but you soon grow reconciled to it.  The height to
which you are raised is of great advantage to you in passing the burning
sands of the Desert, for the air at such a distance from the ground is
much cooler and more lively than that which circulates beneath.

For several miles beyond Gaza the land, which had been plentifully
watered by the rains of the last week, was covered with rich verdure, and
thickly jewelled with meadow flowers so fresh and fragrant that I began
to grow almost uneasy, to fancy that the very Desert was receding before
me, and that the long-desired adventure of passing its “burning sands”
was to end in a mere ride across a field.  But as I advanced the true
character of the country began to display itself with sufficient
clearness to dispel my apprehensions, and before the close of my first
day’s journey I had the gratification of finding that I was surrounded on
all sides by a tract of real sand, and had nothing at all to complain of
except that there peeped forth at intervals a few isolated blades of
grass, and many of those stunted shrubs which are the accustomed food of
the camel.

Before sunset I came up with an encampment of Arabs (the encampment from
which my camels had been brought), and my tent was pitched amongst
theirs.  I was now amongst the true Bedouins.  Almost every man of this
race closely resembles his brethren.  Almost every man has large and
finely formed features; but his face is so thoroughly stripped of flesh,
and the white folds from his headgear fall down by his haggard cheeks so
much in the burial fashion, that he looks quite sad and ghastly.  His
large dark orbs roll slowly and solemnly over the white of his deep-set
eyes; his countenance shows painful thought and long-suffering, the
suffering of one fallen from a high estate.  His gait is strangely
majestic, and he marches along with his simple blanket as though he were
wearing the purple.  His common talk is a series of piercing screams and
cries, {181} more painful to the ear than the most excruciating fine
music that I ever endured.

The Bedouin women are not treasured up like the wives and daughters of
other Orientals, and indeed they seemed almost entirely free from the
restraints imposed by jealousy.  The feint which they made of concealing
their faces from me was always slight.  They never, I think, wore the
_yashmak_ properly fixed.  When they first saw me they used to hold up a
part of their drapery with one hand across their faces, but they seldom
persevered very steadily in subjecting me to this privation.  Unhappy
beings! they were sadly plain.  The awful haggardness that gave something
of character to the faces of the men was sheer ugliness in the poor
women.  It is a great shame, but the truth is that, except when we refer
to the beautiful devotion of the mother to her child, all the fine things
we say and think about women apply only to those who are tolerably
good-looking or graceful.  These Arab women were so plain and clumsy,
that they seemed to me to be fit for nothing but another and a better
world.  They may have been good women enough so far as relates to the
exercise of the minor virtues, but they had so grossly neglected the
prime duty of looking pretty in this transitory life, that I could not at
all forgive them.  They seemed to feel the weight of their guilt, and to
be truly and humbly penitent.  I had the complete command of their
affections, for at any moment I could make their young hearts bound and
their old hearts jump by offering a handful of tobacco, and yet, believe
me, it was not in the first _soirée_ that my store of Latakia was
exhausted.

The Bedouin women have no religion.  This is partly the cause of their
clumsiness.  Perhaps if from Christian girls they would learn how to
pray, their souls might become more gentle, and their limbs be clothed
with grace.

You who are going into their country have a direct personal interest in
knowing something about “Arab hospitality”; but the deuce of it is, that
the poor fellows with whom I have happened to pitch my tent were scarcely
ever in a condition to exercise that magnanimous virtue with much
_éclat_.  Indeed, Mysseri’s canteen generally enabled me to outdo my
hosts in the matter of entertainment.  They were always courteous,
however, and were never backward in offering me the _youart_, a kind of
whey, which is the principal delicacy to be found amongst the wandering
tribes.

Practically, I think, Childe Harold would have found it a dreadful bore
to make “the Desert his dwelling-place,” for at all events, if he adopted
the life of the Arabs he would have tasted no solitude.  The tents are
partitioned, not so as to divide the Childe and the “fair spirit” who is
his “minister” from the rest of the world, but so as to separate the
twenty or thirty brown men that sit screaming in the one compartment from
the fifty or sixty brown women and children that scream and squeak in the
other.  If you adopt the Arab life for the sake of seclusion you will be
horribly disappointed, for you will find yourself in perpetual contact
with a mass of hot fellow-creatures.  It is true that all who are inmates
of the same tent are related to each other, but I am not quite sure that
that circumstance adds much to the charm of such a life.  At all events,
before you finally determine to become an Arab try a gentle experiment.
Take one of those small, shabby houses in Mayfair, and shut yourself up
in it with forty or fifty shrill cousins for a couple of weeks in July.

In passing the Desert you will find your Arabs wanting to start and to
rest at all sorts of odd times.  They like, for instance, to be off at
one in the morning, and to rest during the whole of the afternoon.  You
must not give way to their wishes in this respect.  I tried their plan
once, and found it very harassing and unwholesome.  An ordinary tent can
give you very little protection against heat, for the fire strikes
fiercely through single canvas, and you soon find that whilst you lie
crouching and striving to hide yourself from the blazing face of the sun,
his power is harder to bear than it is where you boldly defy him from the
airy heights of your camel.

It had been arranged with my Arabs that they were to bring with them all
the food which they would want for themselves during the passage of the
Desert, but as we rested at the end of the first day’s journey by the
side of an Arab encampment, my camel men found all that they required for
that night in the tents of their own brethren.  On the evening of the
second day, however, just before we encamped for the night, my four Arabs
came to Dthemetri, and formally announced that they had not brought with
them one atom of food, and that they looked entirely to my supplies for
their daily bread.  This was awkward intelligence.  We were now just two
days deep in the Desert, and I had brought with me no more bread than
might be reasonably required for myself and my European attendants.  I
believed at the moment (for it seemed likely enough) that the men had
really mistaken the terms of the arrangement, and feeling that the bore
of being put upon half rations would be a less evil (and even to myself a
less inconvenience) than the starvation of my Arabs, I at once told
Dthemetri to assure them that my bread should be equally shared with all.
Dthemetri, however, did not approve of this concession; he assured me
quite positively that the Arabs thoroughly understood the agreement, and
that if they were now without food they had wilfully brought themselves
into this strait for the wretched purpose of bettering their bargain by
the value of a few paras’ worth of bread.  This suggestion made me look
at the affair in a new light.  I should have been glad enough to put up
with the slight privation to which my concession would subject me, and
could have borne to witness the semi-starvation of poor Dthemetri with a
fine, philosophical calm, but it seemed to me that the scheme, if scheme
it were, had something of audacity in it, and was well enough calculated
to try the extent of my softness.  I well knew the danger of allowing
such a trial to result in a conclusion that I was one who might be easily
managed; and therefore, after thoroughly satisfying myself from
Dthemetri’s clear and repeated assertions that the Arabs had really
understood the arrangement, I determined that they should not now violate
it by taking advantage of my position in the midst of their big Desert,
so I desired Dthemetri to tell them that they should touch no bread of
mine.  We stopped, and the tent was pitched.  The Arabs came to me, and
prayed loudly for bread.  I refused them.

“Then we die!”

“God’s will be done!”

I gave the Arabs to understand that I regretted their perishing by
hunger, but that I should bear this calmly, like any other misfortune not
my own, that, in short, I was happily resigned to _their_ fate.  The men
would have talked a great deal, but they were under the disadvantage of
addressing me through a hostile interpreter; they looked hard upon my
face, but they found no hope there; so at last they retired as they
pretended, to lay them down and die.

In about ten minutes from this time I found that the Arabs were busily
cooking their bread!  Their pretence of having brought no food was false,
and was only invented for the purpose of saving it.  They had a good bag
of meal, which they had contrived to stow away under the baggage upon one
of the camels in such a way as to escape notice.  In Europe the detection
of a scheme like this would have occasioned a disagreeable feeling
between the master and the delinquent, but you would no more recoil from
an Oriental on account of a matter of this sort, than in England you
would reject a horse that had tried, and failed, to throw you.  Indeed, I
felt quite good-humouredly towards my Arabs, because they had so woefully
failed in their wretched attempt, and because, as it turned out, I had
done what was right.  They too, poor fellows, evidently began to like me
immensely, on account of the hard-heartedness which had enabled me to
baffle their scheme.

The Arabs adhere to those ancestral principles of bread-baking which have
been sanctioned by the experience of ages.  The very first baker of bread
that ever lived must have done his work exactly as the Arab does at this
day.  He takes some meal and holds it out in the hollow of his hands,
whilst his comrade pours over it a few drops of water; he then mashes up
the moistened flour into a paste, which he pulls into small pieces, and
thrusts into the embers.  His way of baking exactly resembles the craft
or mystery of roasting chestnuts as practised by children; there is the
same prudence and circumspection in choosing a good berth for the morsel,
the same enterprise and self-sacrificing valour in pulling it out with
the fingers.

The manner of my daily march was this.  At about an hour before dawn I
rose and made the most of about a pint of water, which I allowed myself
for washing.  Then I breakfasted upon tea and bread.  As soon as the
beasts were loaded I mounted my camel and pressed forward.  My poor
Arabs, being on foot, would sometimes moan with fatigue and pray for
rest; but I was anxious to enable them to perform their contract for
bringing me to Cairo within the stipulated time, and I did not therefore
allow a halt until the evening came.  About midday, or soon after,
Mysseri used to bring up his camel alongside of mine, and supply me with
a piece of bread softened in water (for it was dried hard like board),
and also (as long as it lasted) with a piece of the tongue; after this
there came into my hand (how well I remember it) the little tin cup
half-filled with wine and water.

As long as you are journeying in the interior of the Desert you have no
particular point to make for as your resting-place.  The endless sands
yield nothing but small stunted shrubs; even these fail after the first
two or three days, and from that time you pass over broad plains, you
pass over newly reared hills, you pass through valleys that the storm of
the last week has dug, and the hills and the valleys are sand, sand,
sand, still sand, and only sand, and sand and sand again.  The earth is
so samely that your eyes turn towards heaven—towards heaven, I mean, in
the sense of sky.  You look to the sun, for he is your taskmaster, and by
him you know the measure of the work that you have done, and the measure
of the work that remains for you to do.  He comes when you strike your
tent in the early morning, and then, for the first hour of the day as you
move forward on your camel, he stands at your near side and makes you
know that the whole day’s toil is before you; then for a while, and a
long while, you see him no more, for you are veiled and shrouded, and
dare not look upon the greatness of his glory, but you know where he
strides overhead by the touch of his flaming sword.  No words are spoken,
but your Arabs moan, your camels sigh, your skin glows, your shoulders
ache, and for sights you see the pattern and the web of the silk that
veils your eyes and the glare of the outer light.  Time labours on; your
skin glows and your shoulders ache, your Arabs moan, your camels sigh,
and you see the same pattern in the silk, and the same glare of light
beyond, but conquering Time marches on, and by and by the descending sun
has compassed the heaven, and now softly touches your right arm, and
throws your lank shadow over the sand right along on the way to Persia.
Then again you look upon his face, for his power is all veiled in his
beauty, and the redness of flames has become the redness of roses; the
fair, wavy cloud that fled in the morning now comes to his sight once
more, comes blushing, yet still comes on, comes burning with blushes, yet
hastens and clings to his side.

Then arrives your time for resting.  The world about you is all your own,
and there, where you will, you pitch your solitary tent; there is no
living thing to dispute your choice.  When at last the spot had been
fixed upon and we came to a halt, one of the Arabs would touch the chest
of my camel and utter at the same time a peculiar gurgling sound.  The
beast instantly understood and obeyed the sign, and slowly sunk under me
till she brought her body to a level with the ground, then gladly enough
I alighted.  The rest of the camels were unloaded and turned loose to
browse upon the shrubs of the desert, where shrubs there were, or where
these failed, to wait for the small quantity of food that was allowed
them out of our stores.

My servants, helped by the Arabs, busied themselves in pitching the tent
and kindling the fire.  Whilst this was doing I used to walk away towards
the east, confiding in the print of my foot as a guide for my return.
Apart from the cheering voices of my attendants I could better know and
feel the loneliness of the Desert.  The influence of such scenes,
however, was not of a softening kind, but filled me rather with a sort of
childish exultation in the self-sufficiency which enabled me to stand
thus alone in the wideness of Asia—a shortlived pride, for wherever man
wanders he still remains tethered by the chain that links him to his
kind; and so when the night closed around me I began to return, to
return, as it were, to my own gate.  Reaching at last some high ground I
could see, and see with delight, the fire of our small encampment, and
when at last I regained the spot it seemed to me a very home that had
sprung up for me in the midst of these solitudes.  My Arabs were busy
with their bread; Mysseri rattling teacups; the little kettle, with her
odd old-maidish looks, sat humming away old songs about England; and two
or three yards from the fire my tent stood prim and tight, with open
portal, and with welcoming look, like “the old arm-chair” of our lyrist’s
“sweet Lady Anne.”

At the beginning of my journey the night breeze blew coldly; when that
happened, the dry sand was heaped up outside round the skirts of the
tent, and so the wind, that everywhere else could sweep as he listed
along those dreary plains, was forced to turn aside in his course and
make way, as he ought, for the Englishman.  Then within my tent there
were heaps of luxuries—dining-rooms, dressing-rooms, libraries, bedrooms,
drawing-rooms, oratories, all crowded into the space of a hearthrug.  The
first night, I remember, with my books and maps about me, I wanted light;
they brought me a taper, and immediately from out of the silent Desert
there rushed in a flood of life unseen before.  Monsters of moths, of all
shapes and hues, that never before perhaps had looked upon the shining of
a flame, now madly thronged into my tent, and dashed through the fire of
the candle till they fairly extinguished it with their burning limbs.
Those who had failed in attaining this martyrdom suddenly became serious,
and clung despondingly to the canvas.

By and by there was brought to me the fragrant tea and big masses of
scorched and scorching toast, and the butter that had come all the way to
me in this Desert of Asia from out of that poor, dear, starving Ireland.
I feasted like a king, like four kings, like a boy in the fourth form.

When the cold, sullen morning dawned, and my people began to load the
camels, I always felt loath to give back to the waste this little spot of
ground that had glowed for a while with the cheerfulness of a human
dwelling.  One by one the cloaks, the saddles, the baggage, the hundred
things that strewed the ground and made it look so familiar—all these
were taken away and laid upon the camels.  A speck in the broad tracts of
Asia remained still impressed with the mark of patent portmanteaus and
the heels of London boots; the embers of the fire lay black and cold upon
the sand, and these were the signs we left.

My tent was spared to the last, but when all else was ready for the start
then came its fall; the pegs were drawn, the canvas shivered, and in less
than a minute there was nothing that remained of my genial home but only
a pole and a bundle.  The encroaching Englishman was off, and instant
upon the fall of the canvas, like an owner who had waited and watched,
the genius of the Desert stalked in.

To servants, as I suppose of any other Europeans not much accustomed to
amuse themselves by fancy or memory, it often happens that after a few
days journeying the loneliness of the Desert will become frightfully
oppressive.  Upon my poor fellows the access of melancholy came heavy,
and all at once, as a blow from above; they bent their necks, and bore it
as best they could, but their joy was great on the fifth day when we came
to an oasis called Gatieh, for here we found encamped a caravan (that is,
an assemblage of travellers) from Cairo.  The Orientals living in cities
never pass the Desert except in this way; many will wait for weeks, and
even for months, until a sufficient number of persons can be found ready
to undertake the journey at the same time—until the flock of sheep is big
enough to fancy itself a match for wolves.  They could not, I think,
really secure themselves against any serious danger by this contrivance,
for though they have arms, they are so little accustomed to use them, and
so utterly unorganised, that they never could make good their resistance
to robbers of the slightest respectability.  It is not of the Bedouins
that such travellers are afraid, for the safe conduct granted by the
chief of the ruling tribe is never, I believe, violated, but it is said
that there are deserters and scamps of various sorts who hover about the
skirts of the Desert, particularly on the Cairo side, and are anxious to
succeed to the property of any poor devils whom they may find more weak
and defenceless than themselves.

These people from Cairo professed to be amazed at the ludicrous
disproportion between their numerical forces and mine.  They could not
understand, and they wanted to know, by what strange privilege it is that
an Englishman with a brace of pistols and a couple of servants rides
safely across the Desert, whilst they, the natives of the neighbouring
cities, are forced to travel in troops, or rather in herds.  One of them
got a few minutes of private conversation with Dthemetri, and ventured to
ask him anxiously whether the English did not travel under the protection
of evil demons.  I had previously known (from Methley, I think, who had
travelled in Persia) that this notion, so conducive to the safety of our
countrymen, is generally prevalent amongst Orientals.  It owes its
origin, partly to the strong wilfulness of the English gentleman (which
not being backed by any visible authority, either civil or military,
seems perfectly superhuman to the soft Asiatic), but partly too to the
magic of the banking system, by force of which the wealthy traveller will
make all his journeys without carrying a handful of coin, and yet when he
arrives at a city will rain down showers of gold.  The theory is, that
the English traveller has committed some sin against God and his
conscience, and that for this the evil spirit has hold of him, and drives
him from his home like a victim of the old Grecian furies, and forces him
to travel over countries far and strange, and most chiefly over deserts
and desolate places, and to stand upon the sites of cities that once were
and are now no more, and to grope among the tombs of dead men.  Often
enough there is something of truth in this notion; often enough the
wandering Englishman is guilty (if guilt it be) of some pride or
ambition, big or small, imperial or parochial, which being offended has
made the lone place more tolerable than ballrooms to him, a sinner.

I can understand the sort of amazement of the Orientals at the scantiness
of the retinue with which an Englishman passes the Desert, for I was
somewhat struck myself when I saw one of my countrymen making his way
across the wilderness in this simple style.  At first there was a mere
moving speck on the horizon.  My party of course became all alive with
excitement, and there were many surmises.  Soon it appeared that three
laden camels were approaching, and that two of them carried riders.  In a
little while we saw that one of the riders wore European dress, and at
last the travellers were pronounced to be an English gentleman and his
servant.  By their side there were a couple, I think, of Arabs on foot,
and this was the whole party.

You, you love sailing; in returning from a cruise to the English coast
you see often enough a fisherman’s humble boat far away from all shores,
with an ugly black sky above and an angry sea beneath.  You watch the
grizzly old man at the helm carrying his craft with strange skill through
the turmoil of waters, and the boy, supple-limbed, yet weather-worn
already, and with steady eyes that look through the blast, you see him
understanding commandments from the jerk of his father’s white eyebrow,
now belaying and now letting go, now scrunching himself down into mere
ballast, or baling out death with a pipkin.  Stale enough is the sight,
and yet when I see it I always stare anew, and with a kind of Titanic
exultation, because that a poor boat with the brain of a man and the
hands of a boy on board can match herself so bravely against black heaven
and ocean.  Well, so when you have travelled for days and days over an
Eastern desert without meeting the likeness of a human being, and then at
last see an English shooting-jacket and his servant come listlessly
slouching along from out of the forward horizon, you stare at the wide
unproportion between this slender company and the boundless plains of
sand through which they are keeping their way.

This Englishman, as I afterwards found, was a military man returning to
his country from India, and crossing the Desert at this part in order to
go through Palestine.  As for me, I had come pretty straight from
England, and so here we met in the wilderness at about half-way from our
respective starting-points.  As we approached each other it became with
me a question whether we should speak.  I thought it likely that the
stranger would accost me, and in the event of his doing so I was quite
ready to be as sociable and chatty as I could be according to my nature;
but still I could not think of anything particular that I had to say to
him.  Of course, among civilised people the not having anything to say is
no excuse at all for not speaking, but I was shy and indolent, and I felt
no great wish to stop and talk like a morning visitor in the midst of
those broad solitudes.  The traveller perhaps felt as I did, for except
that we lifted our hands to our caps and waved our arms in courtesy, we
passed each other as if we had passed in Bond Street.  Our attendants,
however, were not to be cheated of the delight that they felt in speaking
to new listeners and hearing fresh voices once more.  The masters,
therefore, had no sooner passed each other than their respective servants
quietly stopped and entered into conversation.  As soon as my camel found
that her companions were not following her she caught the social feeling
and refused to go on.  I felt the absurdity of the situation, and
determined to accost the stranger if only to avoid the awkwardness of
remaining stuck fast in the Desert whilst our servants were amusing
themselves.  When with this intent I turned round my camel I found that
the gallant officer who had passed me by about thirty or forty yards was
exactly in the same predicament as myself.  I put my now willing camel in
motion and rode up towards the stranger, who seeing this followed my
example and came forward to meet me.  He was the first to speak.  He was
much too courteous to address me as if he admitted the possibility of my
wishing to accost him from any feeling of mere sociability or
civilian-like love of vain talk.  On the contrary, he at once attributed
my advances to a laudable wish of acquiring statistical information, and
accordingly, when we got within speaking distance, he said, “I daresay
you wish to know how the plague is going on at Cairo?”  And then he went
on to say, he regretted that his information did not enable him to give
me in numbers a perfectly accurate statement of the daily deaths.  He
afterwards talked pleasantly enough upon other and less ghastly subjects.
I thought him manly and intelligent, a worthy one of the few thousand
strong Englishmen to whom the empire of India is committed.

The night after the meeting with the people of the caravan, Dthemetri,
alarmed by their warnings, took upon himself to keep watch all night in
the tent.  No robbers came except a jackal, that poked his nose into my
tent from some motive of rational curiosity.  Dthemetri did not shoot him
for fear of waking me.  These brutes swarm in every part of Syria, and
there were many of them even in the midst of the void sands that would
seem to give such poor promise of food.  I can hardly tell what prey they
could be hoping for, unless it were that they might find now and then the
carcass of some camel that had died on the journey.  They do not marshal
themselves into great packs like the wild dogs of Eastern cities, but
follow their prey in families, like the place-hunters of Europe.  Their
voices are frightfully like to the shouts and cries of human beings.  If
you lie awake in your tent at night you are almost continually hearing
some hungry family as it sweeps along in full cry.  You hear the exulting
scream with which the sagacious dam first winds the carrion, and the
shrill response of the unanimous cubs as they sniff the tainted air,
“Wha! wha! wha! wha! wha! wha!  Whose gift is it in, mamma?”

Once during this passage my Arabs lost their way among the hills of loose
sand that surrounded us, but after a while we were lucky enough to
recover our right line of march.  The same day we fell in with a Sheik,
the head of a family, that actually dwells at no great distance from this
part of the Desert during nine months of the year.  The man carried a
matchlock, of which he was very proud.  We stopped and sat down and
rested a while for the sake of a little talk.  There was much that I
should have liked to ask this man, but he could not understand
Dthemetri’s language, and the process of getting at his knowledge by
double interpretation through my Arabs was unsatisfactory.  I discovered,
however (and my Arabs knew of that fact), that this man and his family
lived habitually for nine months of the year without touching or seeing
either bread or water.  The stunted shrub growing at intervals through
the sand in this part of the Desert enables the camel mares to yield a
little milk, which furnishes the sole food and drink of their owner and
his people.  During the other three months (the hottest of the months, I
suppose) even this resource fails, and then the Sheik and his people are
forced to pass into another district.  You would ask me why the man
should not remain always in that district which supplies him with water
during three months of the year, but I don’t know enough of Arab politics
to answer the question.  The Sheik was not a good specimen of the effect
produced by the diet to which he is subjected.  He was very small, very
spare, and sadly shrivelled, a poor, over-roasted snipe, a mere cinder of
a man.  I made him sit down by my side, and gave him a piece of bread and
a cup of water from out of my goatskins.  This was not very tempting
drink to look at, for it had become turbid, and was deeply reddened by
some colouring matter contained in the skins, but it kept its sweetness,
and tasted like a strong decoction of Russia leather.  The Sheik sipped
this, drop by drop, with ineffable relish, and rolled his eyes solemnly
round between every draught, as though the drink were the drink of the
Prophet, and had come from the seventh heaven.

An inquiry about distances led to the discovery that this Sheik had never
heard of the division of time into hours; my Arabs themselves, I think,
were rather surprised at this.

About this part of my journey I saw the likeness of a fresh-water lake.
I saw, as it seemed, a broad sheet of calm water, that stretched far and
fair towards the south, stretching deep into winding creeks, and hemmed
in by jutting promontories, and shelving smooth off towards the shallow
side.  On its bosom the reflected fire of the sun lay playing, and
seeming to float upon waters deep and still.

Though I knew of the cheat, it was not till the spongy foot of my camel
had almost trodden in the seeming waters that I could undeceive my eyes,
for the shore-line was quite true and natural.  I soon saw the cause of
the phantasm.  A sheet of water heavily impregnated with salts had filled
this great hollow, and when dried up by evaporation had left a white
saline deposit, that exactly marked the space which the waters had
covered, and thus sketched a good shore-line.  The minute crystals of the
salt sparkled in the sun, and so looked like the face of a lake that is
calm and smooth.

The pace of the camel is irksome, and makes your shoulders and loins ache
from the peculiar way in which you are obliged to suit yourself to the
movements of the beast, but you soon, of course, become inured to this,
and after the first two days this way of travelling became so familiar to
me, that (poor sleeper as I am) I now and then slumbered for some moments
together on the back of my camel.  On the fifth day of my journey the air
above lay dead, and all the whole earth that I could reach with my utmost
sight and keenest listening was still and lifeless as some dispeopled and
forgotten world that rolls round and round in the heavens through wasted
floods of light.  The sun, growing fiercer and fiercer, shone down more
mightily now than ever on me he shone before, and as I dropped my head
under his fire, and closed my eyes against the glare that surrounded me,
I slowly fell asleep, for how many minutes or moments I cannot tell, but
after a while I was gently awakened by a peal of church bells, my native
bells, the innocent bells of Marlen, that never before sent forth their
music beyond the Blaygon hills!  My first idea naturally was that I still
remained fast under the power of a dream.  I roused myself and drew aside
the silk that covered my eyes, and plunged my bare face into the light.
Then at least I was well enough wakened, but still those old Marlen bells
rung on, not ringing for joy, but properly, prosily, steadily, merrily
ringing “for church.”  After a while the sound died away slowly.  It
happened that neither I nor any of my party had a watch by which to
measure the exact time of its lasting, but it seemed to me that about ten
minutes had passed before the bells ceased.  I attributed the effect to
the great heat of the sun, the perfect dryness of the clear air through
which I moved, and the deep stillness of all around me.  It seemed to me
that these causes, by occasioning a great tension, and consequent
susceptibility, of the hearing organs, had rendered them liable to tingle
under the passing touch of some mere memory that must have swept across
my brain in a moment of sleep.  Since my return to England it has been
told me that like sounds have been heard at sea, and that the sailor
becalmed under a vertical sun in the midst of the wide ocean has listened
in trembling wonder to the chime of his own village bells.

At this time I kept a poor shabby pretence of a journal, which just
enabled me to know the day of the month and the week according to the
European calendar, and when in my tent at night I got out my pocket-book
I found that the day was Sunday, and roughly allowing for the difference
of time in this longitude, I concluded that at the moment of my hearing
that strange peal the church-going bells of Marlen must have been
actually calling the prim congregation of the parish to morning prayer.
The coincidence amused me faintly, but I could not pluck up the least
hope that the effect which I had experienced was anything other than an
illusion, an illusion liable to be explained (as every illusion is in
these days) by some of the philosophers who guess at Nature’s riddles.
It would have been sweeter to believe that my kneeling mother by some
pious enchantment had asked, and found, this spell to rouse me from my
scandalous forgetfulness of God’s holy day, but my fancy was too weak to
carry a faith like that.  Indeed, the vale through which the bells of
Marlen send their song is a highly respectable vale, and its people (save
one, two, or three) are wholly unaddicted to the practice of magical
arts.

After the fifth day of my journey I no longer travelled over shifting
hills, but came upon a dead level, a dead level bed of sand, quite hard,
and studded with small shining pebbles.

The heat grew fierce; there was no valley nor hollow, no hill, no mound,
no shadow of hill nor of mound, by which I could mark the way I was
making.  Hour by hour I advanced, and saw no change—I was still the very
centre of a round horizon; hour by hour I advanced, and still there was
the same, and the same, and the same—the same circle of flaming sky—the
same circle of sand still glaring with light and fire.  Over all the
heaven above, over all the earth beneath, there was no visible power that
could balk the fierce will of the sun: “he rejoiced as a strong man to
run a race; his going forth was from the end of the heaven, and his
circuit unto the ends of it; and there was nothing hid from the heat
thereof.”  From pole to pole, and from the east to the west, he
brandished his fiery sceptre as though he had usurped all heaven and
earth.  As he bid the soft Persian in ancient times, so now, and fiercely
too, he bid me bow down and worship him; so now in his pride he seemed to
command me, and say, “Thou shalt have none other gods but me.”  I was all
alone before him.  There were these two pitted together, and face to
face—the mighty sun for one, and for the other this poor, pale, solitary
self of mine, that I always carry about with me.

But on the eighth day, and before I had yet turned away from Jehovah for
the glittering god of the Persians, there appeared a dark line upon the
edge of the forward horizon, and soon the line deepened into a delicate
fringe, that sparkled here and there as though it were sewn with
diamonds.  There, then, before me were the gardens and the minarets of
Egypt and the mighty works of the Nile, and I (the eternal Ego that I
am!)—I had lived to see, and I saw them.

When evening came I was still within the confines of the Desert, and my
tent was pitched as usual; but one of my Arabs stalked away rapidly
towards the west, without telling me of the errand on which he was bent.
After a while he returned; he had toiled on a graceful service; he had
travelled all the way on to the border of the living world, and brought
me back for token an ear of rice, full, fresh, and green. The next day I
entered upon Egypt, and floated along (for the delight was as the delight
of bathing) through green wavy fields of rice, and pastures fresh and
plentiful, and dived into the cold verdure of groves and gardens, and
quenched my hot eyes in shade, as though in deep, rushing waters.



CHAPTER XVIII
CAIRO AND THE PLAGUE {202}


CAIRO and plague!  During the whole time of my stay the plague was so
master of the city, and showed itself so staringly in every street and
every alley, that I can’t now affect to dissociate the two ideas.

When coming from the Desert I rode through a village which lies near to
the city on the eastern side, there approached me with busy face and
earnest gestures a personage in the Turkish dress.  His long flowing
beard gave him rather a majestic look, but his briskness of manner, and
his visible anxiety to accost me, seemed strange in an Oriental.  The man
in fact was French, or of French origin, and his object was to warn me of
the plague, and prevent me from entering the city.

“Arrêtez-vous, monsieur, je vous en prie—arrêtez-vous; il ne faut pas
entrer dans la ville; la peste y règne partout.”

“Oui, je sais, {203a} mais—”

“Mais monsieur, je dis la peste—la peste; c’est de LA PESTE qu’il est
question.”

“Oui, je sais, mais—”

“Mais monsieur, je dis encore LA PESTE—LA PESTE.  Je vous conjure de ne
pas entrer dans la ville—vous seriaz dans une ville empestée.”

“Oui, je sais, mais—”

“Mais monsieur, je dois donc vous avertir tout bonnement que si vous
entrez dans la ville, vous serez—enfin vous serez COMPROMIS!” {203b}

“Oui, je sais, mais—”

The Frenchman was at last convinced that it was vain to reason with a
mere Englishman, who could not understand what it was to be
“compromised.”  I thanked him most sincerely for his kindly meant
warning; in hot countries it is very unusual indeed for a man to go out
in the glare of the sun and give free advice to a stranger.

When I arrived at Cairo I summoned Osman Effendi, who was, as I knew, the
owner of several houses, and would be able to provide me with apartments.
He had no difficulty in doing this, for there was not one European
traveller in Cairo besides myself.  Poor Osman! he met me with a
sorrowful countenance, for the fear of the plague sat heavily on his
soul.  He seemed as if he felt that he was doing wrong in lending me a
resting-place, and he betrayed such a listlessness about temporal
matters, as one might look for in a man who believed that his days were
numbered.  He caught me too soon after my arrival coming out from the
public baths, {204} and from that time forward he was sadly afraid of me,
for he shared the opinions of Europeans with respect to the effect of
contagion.

Osman’s history is a curious one.  He was a Scotchman born, and when very
young, being then a drummer-boy, he landed in Egypt with Fraser’s force.
He was taken prisoner, and according to Mahometan custom, the alternative
of death or the Koran was offered to him; he did not choose death, and
therefore went through the ceremonies which were necessary for turning
him into a good Mahometan.  But what amused me most in his history was
this, that very soon after having embraced Islam he was obliged in
practice to become curious and discriminating in his new faith, to make
war upon Mahometan dissenters, and follow the orthodox standard of the
Prophet in fierce campaigns against the Wahabees, {205} who are the
Unitarians of the Mussulman world.  The Wahabees were crushed, and Osman
returning home in triumph from his holy wars, began to flourish in the
world.  He acquired property, and became _effendi_, or gentleman.  At the
time of my visit to Cairo he seemed to be much respected by his brother
Mahometans, and gave pledge of his sincere alienation from Christianity
by keeping a couple of wives.  He affected the same sort of reserve in
mentioning them as is generally shown by Orientals.  He invited me,
indeed, to see his harem, but he made both his wives bundle out before I
was admitted.  He felt, as it seemed to me, that neither of them would
bear criticism, and I think that this idea, rather than any motive of
sincere jealousy, induced him to keep them out of sight.  The rooms of
the harem reminded me of an English nursery rather than of a Mahometan
paradise.  One is apt to judge of a woman before one sees her by the air
of elegance or coarseness with which she surrounds her home; I judged
Osman’s wives by this test, and condemned them both.  But the strangest
feature in Osman’s character was his inextinguishable nationality.  In
vain they had brought him over the seas in early boyhood; in vain had he
suffered captivity, conversion, circumcision; in vain they had passed him
through fire in their Arabian campaigns, they could not cut away or burn
out poor Osman’s inborn love of all that was Scotch; in vain men called
him Effendi; in vain he swept along in Eastern robes; in vain the rival
wives adorned his harem: the joy of his heart still plainly lay in this,
that he had three shelves of books, and that the books were thoroughbred
Scotch—the Edinburgh this, the Edinburgh that, and above all, I
recollect, he prided himself upon the “Edinburgh Cabinet Library.”

The fear of the plague is its forerunner.  It is likely enough that at
the time of my seeing poor Osman the deadly taint was beginning to creep
through his veins, but it was not till after I had left Cairo that he was
visibly stricken.  He died.

As soon as I had seen all that I wanted to see in Cairo and in the
neighbourhood I wished to make my escape from a city that lay under the
terrible curse of the plague, but Mysseri fell ill, in consequence, I
believe, of the hardships which he had been suffering in my service.
After a while he recovered sufficiently to undertake a journey, but then
there was some difficulty in procuring beasts of burthen, and it was not
till the nineteenth day of my sojourn that I quitted the city.

During all this time the power of the plague was rapidly increasing.
When I first arrived, it was said that the daily number of “accidents” by
plague, out of a population of about two hundred thousand, did not exceed
four or five hundred, but before I went away the deaths were reckoned at
twelve hundred a day.  I had no means of knowing whether the numbers
(given out, as I believe they were, by officials) were at all correct,
but I could not help knowing that from day to day the number of the dead
was increasing.  My quarters were in a street which was one of the chief
thoroughfares of the city.  The funerals in Cairo take place between
daybreak and noon, and as I was generally in my rooms during this part of
the day, I could form some opinion as to the briskness of the plague.  I
don’t mean this for a sly insinuation that I got up every morning with
the sun.  It was not so; but the funerals of most people in decent
circumstances at Cairo are attended by singers and howlers, and the
performances of these people woke me in the early morning, and prevented
me from remaining in ignorance of what was going on in the street below.

These funerals were very simply conducted.  The bier was a shallow wooden
tray, carried upon a light and weak wooden frame.  The tray had, in
general, no lid, but the body was more or less hidden from view by a
shawl or scarf.  The whole was borne upon the shoulders of men, who
contrived to cut along with their burthen at a great pace.  Two or three
singers generally preceded the bier; the howlers (who are paid for their
vocal labours) followed after, and last of all came such of the dead
man’s friends and relations as could keep up with such a rapid
procession; these, especially the women, would get terribly blown, and
would straggle back into the rear; many were fairly “beaten off.”  I
never observed any appearance of mourning in the mourners: the pace was
too severe for any solemn affectation of grief. {207}

When first I arrived at Cairo the funerals that daily passed under my
windows were many, but still there were frequent and long intervals
without a single howl.  Every day, however (except one, when I fancied
that I observed a diminution of funerals), these intervals became less
frequent and shorter, and at last, the passing of the howlers from morn
till noon was almost incessant.  I believe that about one-half of the
whole people was carried off by this visitation.  The Orientals, however,
have more quiet fortitude than Europeans under afflictions of this sort,
and they never allow the plague to interfere with their religious usages.
I rode one day round the great burial-ground.  The tombs are strewed over
a great expanse, among the vast mountains of rubbish (the accumulations
of many centuries) which surround the city.  The ground, unlike the
Turkish “cities of the dead,” which are made so beautiful by their dark
cypresses, has nothing to sweeten melancholy, nothing to mitigate the
odiousness of death.  Carnivorous beasts and birds possess the place by
night, and now in the fair morning it was all alive with fresh
comers—alive with dead.  Yet at this very time, when the plague was
raging so furiously, and on this very ground, which resounded so
mournfully with the howls of arriving funerals, preparations were going
on for the religious festival called the Kourban Bairam.  Tents were
pitched, and _swings hung for the amusement of children_—a ghastly
holiday; but the Mahometans take a pride, and a just pride, in following
their ancient customs undisturbed by the shadow of death.

I did not hear, whilst I was at Cairo, that any prayer for a remission of
the plague had been offered up in the mosques.  I believe that however
frightful the ravages of the disease may be, the Mahometans refrain from
approaching Heaven with their complaints until the plague has endured for
a long space, and then at last they pray God, not that the plague may
cease, but that it may go to another city!

A good Mussulman seems to take pride in repudiating the European notion
that the will of God can be eluded by eluding the touch of a sleeve.
When I went to see the pyramids of Sakkara I was the guest of a noble old
fellow, an Osmanlee, whose soft rolling language it was a luxury to hear
after suffering, as I had suffered of late, from the shrieking tongue of
the Arabs.  This man was aware of the European ideas about contagion, and
his first care therefore was to assure me that not a single instance of
plague had occurred in his village.  He then inquired as to the progress
of the plague at Cairo.  I had but a bad account to give.  Up to this
time my host had carefully refrained from touching me out of respect to
the European theory of contagion, but as soon as it was made plain that
he, and not I, would be the person endangered by contact, he gently laid
his hand upon my arm, in order to make me feel sure that the circumstance
of my coming from an infected city did not occasion him the least
uneasiness.  In that touch there was true hospitality.

Very different is the faith and the practice of the Europeans, or rather,
I mean of the Europeans settled in the East, and commonly called
Levantines.  When I came to the end of my journey over the Desert I had
been so long alone, that the prospect of speaking to somebody at Cairo
seemed almost a new excitement.  I felt a sort of consciousness that I
had a little of the wild beast about me, but I was quite in the humour to
be charmingly tame, and to be quite engaging in my manners, if I should
have an opportunity of holding communion with any of the human race
whilst at Cairo.  I knew no one in the place, and had no letters of
introduction, but I carried letters of credit, and it often happens in
places remote from England that those “advices” operate as a sort of
introduction, and obtain for the bearer (if disposed to receive them)
such ordinary civilities as it may be in the power of the banker to
offer.

Very soon after my arrival I went to the house of the Levantine to whom
my credentials were addressed.  At his door several persons (all Arabs)
were hanging about and keeping guard.  It was not till after some delay,
and the passing of some communications with those in the interior of the
citadel, that I was admitted.  At length, however, I was conducted
through the court, and up a flight of stairs, and finally into the
apartment where business was transacted.  The room was divided by an
excellent, substantial fence of iron bars, and behind this grille the
banker had his station.  The truth was, that from fear of the plague he
had adopted the course usually taken by European residents, and had shut
himself up “in strict quarantine”—that is to say, that he had, as he
hoped, cut himself off from all communication with infecting substances.
The Europeans long resident in the East, without any, or with scarcely
any, exception, are firmly convinced that the plague is propagated by
contact, and by contact only; that if they can but avoid the touch of an
infecting substance they are safe, and that if they cannot, they die.
This belief induces them to adopt the contrivance of putting themselves
in that state of siege which they call “quarantine.”  It is a part of
their faith that metals, and hempen rope, and also, I fancy, one or two
other substances, will not carry the infection; and they likewise believe
that the germ of pestilence, which lies in an infected substance, may be
destroyed by submersion in water, or by the action of smoke.  They
therefore guard the doors of their houses with the utmost care against
intrusion, and condemn themselves, with all the members of their family,
including any European servants, to a strict imprisonment within the
walls of their dwelling.  Their native attendants are not allowed to
enter at all, but they make the necessary purchases of provisions, which
are hauled up through one of the windows by means of a rope, and are then
soaked in water.

I knew nothing of these mysteries, and was not therefore prepared for the
sort of reception which I met with.  I advanced to the iron fence, and
putting my letter between the bars, politely proffered it to Mr. Banker.
Mr. Banker received me with a sad and dejected look, and not “with open
arms,” or with any arms at all, but with—a pair of tongs!  I placed my
letter between the iron fingers, which picked it up as if it were a
viper, and conveyed it away to be scorched and purified by fire and
smoke.  I was disgusted at this reception, and at the idea that anything
of mine could carry infection to the poor wretch who stood on the other
side of the grille, pale and trembling, and already meet for death.  I
looked with something of the Mahometan’s feeling upon these little
contrivances for eluding fate; and in this instance, at least, they were
vain.  A few more days, and the poor money-changer, who had striven to
guard the days of his life (as though they were coins) with bolts and
bars of iron—he was seized by the plague, and he died.

To people entertaining such opinions as these respecting the fatal effect
of contact, the narrow and crowded streets of Cairo were terrible as the
easy slope that leads to Avernus.  The roaring ocean and the beetling
crags owe something of their sublimity to this—that if they be tempted,
they can take the warm life of a man.  To the contagionist, filled as he
is with the dread of final causes, having no faith in destiny nor in the
fixed will of God, and with none of the devil-may-care indifference which
might stand him instead of creeds—to such one, every rag that shivers in
the breeze of a plague-stricken city has this sort of sublimity.  If by
any terrible ordinance he be forced to venture forth, he sees death
dangling from every sleeve, and as he creeps forward, he poises his
shuddering limbs between the imminent jacket that is stabbing at his
right elbow and the murderous pelisse that threatens to mow him clean
down as it sweeps along on his left.  But most of all, he dreads that
which most of all he should love—the touch of a woman’s dress; for
mothers and wives, hurrying forth on kindly errands from the bedsides of
the dying, go slouching along through the streets more wilfully and less
courteously than the men.  For a while it may be that the caution of the
poor Levantine may enable him to avoid contact, but sooner or later
perhaps the dreaded chance arrives; that bundle of linen, with the dark
tearful eyes at the top of it, that labours along with the voluptuous
clumsiness of Grisi—she has touched the poor Levantine with the hem of
her sleeve!  From that dread moment his peace is gone; his mind, for ever
hanging upon the fatal touch, invites the blow which he fears.  He
watches for the symptoms of plague so carefully, that sooner or later
they come in truth.  The parched mouth is a sign—his mouth _is_ parched;
the throbbing brain—his brain _does_ throb; the rapid pulse—he touches
his own wrist (for he dares not ask counsel of any man lest he be
deserted), he touches his wrist, and feels how his frighted blood goes
galloping out of his heart; there is nothing but the fatal swelling that
is wanting to make his sad conviction complete; immediately he has an odd
feel under the arm—no pain, but a little straining of the skin; he would
to God it were his fancy that were strong enough to give him that
sensation.  This is the worst of all; it now seems to him that he could
be happy and contented with his parched mouth and his throbbing brain and
his rapid pulse, if only he could know that there were no swelling under
the left arm; but dare he try?—In a moment of calmness and deliberation
he dares not, but when for a while he has writhed under the torture of
suspense, a sudden strength of will drives him to seek and know his fate.
He touches the gland, and finds the skin sane and sound, but under the
cuticle there lies a small lump like a pistol-bullet, that moves as he
pushes it.  Oh! but is this for all certainty, is this the sentence of
death?  Feel the gland of the other arm; there is not the same lump
exactly, yet something a little like it: have not some people glands
naturally enlarged?—would to Heaven he were one!  So he does for himself
the work of the plague, and when the Angel of Death, thus courted, does
indeed and in truth come, he has only to finish that which has been so
well begun; he passes his fiery hand over the brain of the victim, and
lets him rave for a season, but all chance-wise, of people and things
once dear, or of people and things indifferent.  Once more the poor
fellow is back at his home in fair Provence, and sees the sun-dial that
stood in his childhood’s garden; sees part of his mother, and the
long-since-forgotten face of that little dead sister (he sees her, he
says, on a Sunday morning, for all the church bells are ringing); he
looks up and down through the universe, and owns it well piled with bales
upon bales of cotton, and cotton eternal—so much so that he feels, he
knows, he swears he could make that winning hazard, if the billiard table
would not slant upwards, and if the cue were a cue worth playing with;
but it is not—it’s a cue that won’t move—his own arm won’t move—in short,
there’s the devil to pay in the brain of the poor Levantine, and perhaps
the next night but one he becomes the “life and the soul” of some
squalling jackal family who fish him out by the foot from his shallow and
sandy grave.

Better fate was mine.  By some happy perverseness (occasioned perhaps by
my disgust at the notion of being received with a pair of tongs) I took
it into my pleasant head that all the European notions about contagion
were thoroughly unfounded; that the plague might be providential or
“epidemic” (as they phrase it), but was not contagious; and that I could
not be killed by the touch of a woman’s sleeve, nor yet by her blessed
breath.  I therefore determined that the plague should not alter my
habits and amusements in any one respect.  Though I came to this resolve
from impulse, I think that I took the course which was in effect the most
prudent, for the cheerfulness of spirits which I was thus enabled to
retain discouraged the yellow-winged angel, and prevented him from taking
a shot at me.  I, however, so far respected the opinion of the Europeans,
that I avoided touching when I could do so without privation or
inconvenience.  This endeavour furnished me with a sort of amusement as I
passed through the streets.  The usual mode of moving from place to place
in the city of Cairo is upon donkeys, of which great numbers are always
in readiness, with donkey-boys attached.  I had two who constantly (until
one of them died of the plague) waited at my door upon the chance of
being wanted.  I found this way of moving about exceedingly pleasant, and
never attempted any other.  I had only to mount my beast, and tell my
donkey-boy the point for which I was bound, and instantly I began to
glide on at a capital pace.  The streets of Cairo are not paved in any
way, but strewed with a dry sandy soil, so deadening to sound, that the
footfall of my donkey could scarcely be heard.  There is no _trottoir_,
and as you ride through the streets you mingle with the people on foot.
Those who are in your way, upon being warned by the shouts of the
donkey-boy, move very slightly aside, so as to leave you a narrow lane,
through which you pass at a gallop.  In this way you glide on
delightfully in the very midst of crowds, without being inconvenienced or
stopped for a moment.  It seems to you that it is not the donkey but the
donkey-boy who wafts you on with his shouts through pleasant groups, and
air that feels thick with the fragrance of burial spice.  “Eh! Sheik, Eh!
Bint,—reggalek,—shumalek,” etc. etc.—“O old man, O virgin, get out of the
way on the right—O virgin, O old man, get out of way on the left—this
Englishman comes, he comes, he comes!”  The narrow alley which these
shouts cleared for my passage made it possible, though difficult, to go
on for a long way without touching a single person, and my endeavours to
avoid such contact were a sort of game for me in my loneliness, which was
not without interest.  If I got through a street without being touched, I
won; if I was touched, I lost—lost a deuce of stake, according to the
theory of the Europeans; but that I deemed to be all nonsense—I only lost
that game, and would certainly win the next.

There is not much in the way of public buildings to admire at Cairo, but
I saw one handsome mosque, to which an instructive history is attached.
A Hindustanee merchant having amassed an immense fortune settled in
Cairo, and soon found that his riches in the then state of the political
world gave him vast power in the city—power, however, the exercise of
which was much restrained by the counteracting influence of other wealthy
men.  With a view to extinguish every attempt at rivalry the Hindustanee
merchant built this magnificent mosque at his own expense.  When the work
was complete, he invited all the leading men of the city to join him in
prayer within the walls of the newly built temple, and he then caused to
be massacred all those who were sufficiently influential to cause him any
jealousy or uneasiness—in short, all “the respectable men” of the place;
after this he possessed undisputed power in the city and was greatly
revered—he is revered to this day.  It seemed to me that there was a
touching simplicity in the mode which this man so successfully adopted
for gaining the confidence and goodwill of his fellow-citizens.  There
seems to be some improbability in the story (though not nearly so gross
as it might appear to an European ignorant of the East, for witness
Mehemet Ali’s destruction of the Mamelukes, a closely similar act, and
attended with the like brilliant success), {217} but even if the story be
false as a mere fact, it is perfectly true as an illustration—it is a
true exposition of the means by which the respect and affection of
Orientals may be conciliated.

I ascended one day to the citadel, which commands a superb view of the
town.  The fanciful and elaborate gilt-work of the many minarets gives a
light and florid grace to the city as seen from this height, but before
you can look for many seconds at such things your eyes are drawn
westward—drawn westward and over the Nile, till they rest upon the
massive enormities of the Ghizeh Pyramids.

I saw within the fortress many yoke of men all haggard and woebegone, and
a kennel of very fine lions well fed and flourishing: I say _yoke_ of
men, for the poor fellows were working together in bonds; I say a
_kennel_ of lions, for the beasts were not enclosed in cages, but simply
chained up like dogs.

I went round the bazaars: it seemed to me that pipes and arms were
cheaper here than at Constantinople, and I should advise you therefore if
you go to both places to prefer the market of Cairo.  I had previously
bought several of such things at Constantinople, and did not choose to
encumber myself, or to speak more honestly, I did not choose to
disencumber my purse by making any more purchases.  In the open
slave-market I saw about fifty girls exposed for sale, but all of them
black, or “invisible” brown.  A slave agent took me to some rooms in the
upper storey of the building, and also into several obscure houses in the
neighbourhood, with a view to show me some white women.  The owners
raised various objections to the display of their ware, and well they
might, for I had not the least notion of purchasing; some refused on
account of the illegality of the proceeding, {218} and others declared
that all transactions of this sort were completely out of the question as
long as the plague was raging.  I only succeeded in seeing one white
slave who was for sale, but on this one the owner affected to set an
immense value, and raised my expectations to a high pitch by saying that
the girl was Circassian, and was “fair as the full moon.”  After a good
deal of delay I was at last led into a room, at the farther end of which
was that mass of white linen which indicates an Eastern woman.  She was
bid to uncover her face, and I presently saw that, though very far from
being good-looking, according to my notion of beauty, she had not been
inaptly described by the man who compared her to the full moon, for her
large face was perfectly round and perfectly white.  Though very young,
she was nevertheless extremely fat.  She gave me the idea of having been
got up for sale, of having been fattened and whitened by medicines or by
some peculiar diet.  I was firmly determined not to see any more of her
than the face.  She was perhaps disgusted at this my virtuous resolve, as
well as with my personal appearance; perhaps she saw my distaste and
disappointment; perhaps she wished to gain favour with her owner by
showing her attachment to his faith: at all events, she holloaed out very
lustily and very decidedly that “she would not be bought by the infidel.”

Whilst I remained at Cairo I thought it worth while to see something of
the magicians, because I considered that these men were in some sort the
descendants of those who contended so stoutly against the superior power
of Aaron.  I therefore sent for an old man who was held to be the chief
of the magicians, and desired him to show me the wonders of his art.  The
old man looked and dressed his character exceedingly well; the vast
turban, the flowing beard, and the ample robes were all that one could
wish in the way of appearance.  The first experiment (a very stale one)
which he attempted to perform for me was that of showing the forms and
faces of my absent friends, not to me, but to a boy brought in from the
streets for the purpose, and said to be chosen at random.  A _mangale_
(pan of burning charcoal) was brought into my room, and the magician
bending over it, sprinkled upon the fire some substances which must have
consisted partly of spices or sweetly burning woods, for immediately a
fragrant smoke arose that curled around the bending form of the wizard,
the while that he pronounced his first incantations.  When these were
over the boy was made to sit down, and a common green shade was bound
over his brow; then the wizard took ink, and still continuing his
incantations, wrote certain mysterious figures upon the boy’s palm, and
directed him to rivet his attention to these marks without looking aside
for an instant.  Again the incantations proceeded, and after a while the
boy, being seemingly a little agitated, was asked whether he saw anything
on the palm of his hand.  He declared that he saw a kind of military
procession, with flags and banners, which he described rather minutely.
I was then called upon to name the absent person whose form was to be
made visible.  I named Keate.  You were not at Eton, and I must tell you,
therefore, what manner of man it was that I named, though I think you
must have some idea of him already, for wherever from utmost Canada to
Bundelcund—wherever there was the whitewashed wall of an officer’s room,
or of any other apartment in which English gentlemen are forced to kick
their heels, there likely enough (in the days of his reign) the head of
Keate would be seen scratched or drawn with those various degrees of
skill which one observes in the representations of saints.  Anybody
without the least notion of drawing could still draw a speaking, nay
scolding, likeness of Keate.  If you had no pencil, you could draw him
well enough with a poker, or the leg of a chair, or the smoke of a
candle.  He was little more (if more at all) than five feet in height,
and was not very great in girth, but in this space was concentrated the
pluck of ten battalions.  He had a really noble voice, which he could
modulate with great skill, but he had also the power of quacking like an
angry duck, and he almost always adopted this mode of communication in
order to inspire respect.  He was a capital scholar, but his ingenuous
learning had _not_ “softened his manners” and _had_ “permitted them to be
fierce”—tremendously fierce; he had the most complete command over his
temper—I mean over his _good_ temper, which he scarcely ever allowed to
appear: you could not put him out of humour—that is, out of the
_ill_-humour which he thought to be fitting for a headmaster.  His red
shaggy eyebrows were so prominent, that he habitually used them as arms
and hands for the purpose of pointing out any object towards which he
wished to direct attention; the rest of his features were equally
striking in their way, and were all and all his own; he wore a
fancy-dress partly resembling the costume of Napoleon, and partly that of
a widow-woman.  I could not by any possibility have named anybody more
decidedly differing in appearance from the rest of the human race.

“Whom do you name?”—“I name John Keate.”—“Now, what do you see?” said the
wizard to the boy.—“I see,” answered the boy, “I see a fair girl with
golden hair, blue eyes, pallid face, rosy lips.”  _There_ was a shot!  I
shouted out my laughter to the horror of the wizard, who perceiving the
grossness of his failure, declared that the boy must have known sin (for
none but the innocent can see truth), and accordingly kicked him
downstairs.

One or two other boys were tried, but none could “see truth”; they all
made sadly “bad shots.”

Notwithstanding the failure of these experiments, I wished to see what
sort of mummery my magician would practise if I called upon him to show
me some performances of a higher order than those which had been
attempted.  I therefore entered into a treaty with him, in virtue of
which he was to descend with me into the tombs near the Pyramids, and
there evoke the devil.  The negotiation lasted some time, for Dthemetri,
as in duty bound, tried to beat down the wizard as much as he could, and
the wizard, on his part, manfully stuck up for his price, declaring that
to raise the devil was really no joke, and insinuating that to do so was
an awesome crime.  I let Dthemetri have his way in the negotiation, but I
felt in reality very indifferent about the sum to be paid, and for this
reason, namely, that the payment (except a very small present which I
might make or not, as I chose) was to be _contingent on success_.  At
length the bargain was made, and it was arranged that after a few days,
to be allowed for preparation, the wizard should raise the devil for two
pounds ten, play or pay—no devil, no piastres.

The wizard failed to keep his appointment.  I sent to know why the deuce
he had not come to raise the devil.  The truth was, that my Mahomet had
gone to the mountain.  The plague had seized him, and he died.

Although the plague had now spread terrible havoc around me, I did not
see very plainly any corresponding change in the looks of the streets
until the seventh day after my arrival.  I then first observed that the
city was _silenced_.  There were no outward signs of despair nor of
violent terror, but many of the voices that had swelled the busy hum of
men were already hushed in death, and the survivors, so used to scream
and screech in their earnestness whenever they bought or sold, now showed
an unwonted indifference about the affairs of this world: it was less
worth while for men to haggle and haggle, and crack the sky with noisy
bargains, when the great commander was there, who could “pay all their
debts with the roll of his drum.”

At this time I was informed that of twenty-five thousand people at
Alexandria, twelve thousand had died already; the destroyer had come
rather later to Cairo, but there was nothing of weariness in his strides.
The deaths came faster than ever they befell in the plague of London; but
the calmness of Orientals under such visitations, and the habit of using
biers for interment, instead of burying coffins along with the bodies,
rendered it practicable to dispose of the dead in the usual way, without
shocking the people by any unaccustomed spectacle of horror.  There was
no tumbling of bodies into carts, as in the plague of Florence and the
plague of London.  Every man, according to his station, was properly
buried, and that in the usual way, except that he went to his grave in a
more hurried pace than might have been adopted under ordinary
circumstances.

The funerals which poured through the streets were not the only public
evidence of deaths.  In Cairo this custom prevails: At the instant of a
man’s death (if his property is sufficient to justify the expense)
professional howlers are employed.  I believe that these persons are
brought near to the dying man when his end appears to be approaching, and
the moment that life is gone they lift up their voices and send forth a
loud wail from the chamber of death.  Thus I knew when my near neighbours
died; sometimes the howls were near, sometimes more distant.  Once I was
awakened in the night by the wail of death in the next house, and another
time by a like howl from the house opposite; and there were two or three
minutes, I recollect, during which the howl seemed to be actually
_running_ along the street.

I happened to be rather teased at this time by a sore throat, and I
thought it would be well to get it cured if I could before I again
started on my travels.  I therefore inquired for a Frank doctor, and was
informed that the only one then at Cairo was a young Bolognese refugee,
who was so poor that he had not been able to take flight, as the other
medical men had done.  At such a time as this it was out of the question
to _send_ for a European physician; a person thus summoned would be sure
to suppose that the patient was ill of the plague, and would decline to
come.  I therefore rode to the young doctor’s residence.  After
experiencing some little difficulty in finding where to look for him, I
ascended a flight or two of stairs and knocked at his door.  No one came
immediately, but after some little delay the medico himself opened the
door, and admitted me.  I of course made him understand that I had come
to consult him, but before entering upon my throat grievance I accepted a
chair, and exchanged a sentence or two of commonplace conversation.  Now
the natural commonplace of the city at this season was of a gloomy sort,
“Come va la peste?” (how goes the plague?) and this was precisely the
question I put.  A deep sigh, and the words, “Sette cento per giorno,
signor” (seven hundred a day), pronounced in a tone of the deepest
sadness and dejection, were the answer I received.  The day was not
oppressively hot, yet I saw that the doctor was perspiring profusely, and
even the outside surface of the thick shawl dressing-gown, in which he
had wrapped himself, appeared to be moist.  He was a handsome,
pleasant-looking young fellow, but the deep melancholy of his tone did
not tempt me to prolong the conversation, and without further delay I
requested that my throat might be looked at.  The medico held my chin in
the usual way, and examined my throat.  He then wrote me a prescription,
and almost immediately afterwards I bade him farewell, but as he
conducted me towards the door I observed an expression of strange and
unhappy watchfulness in his rolling eyes.  It was not the next day, but
the next day but one, if I rightly remember, that I sent to request
another interview with my doctor.  In due time Dthemetri, who was my
messenger, returned, looking sadly aghast—he had “_met_ the medico,” for
so he phrased it, “coming out from his house—in a bier!”

It was of course plain that when the poor Bolognese was looking at my
throat, and almost mingling his breath with mine, he was stricken of the
plague.  I suppose that the violent sweat in which I found him had been
produced by some medicine, which he must have taken in the hope of curing
himself.  The peculiar rolling of the eyes which I had remarked is, I
believe, to experienced observers, a pretty sure test of the plague.  A
Russian acquaintance of mine, speaking from the information of men who
had made the Turkish campaigns of 1828 and 1829, told me that by this
sign the officers of Sabalkansky’s force were able to make out the
plague-stricken soldiers with a good deal of certainty.

It so happened that most of the people with whom I had anything to do
during my stay at Cairo were seized with plague, and all these died.
Since I had been for a long time _en route_ before I reached Egypt, and
was about to start again for another long journey over the Desert, there
were of course many little matters touching my wardrobe and my travelling
equipments which required to be attended to whilst I remained in the
city.  It happened so many times that Dthemetri’s orders in respect to
these matters were frustrated by the deaths of the tradespeople and
others whom he employed, that at last I became quite accustomed to the
peculiar manner which he assumed when he prepared to announce a new death
to me.  The poor fellow naturally supposed that I should feel some
uneasiness at hearing of the “accidents” which happened to persons
employed by me, and he therefore communicated their deaths as though they
were the deaths of friends.  He would cast down his eyes and look like a
man abashed, and then gently, and with a mournful gesture, allow the
words, “Morto, signor,” to come through his lips.  I don’t know how many
of such instances occurred, but they were several, and besides these (as
I told you before), my banker, my doctor, my landlord, and my magician
all died of the plague.  A lad who acted as a helper in the house which I
occupied lost a brother and a sister within a few hours.  Out of my two
established donkey-boys, one died.  I did not hear of any instance in
which a plague-stricken patient had recovered.

Going out one morning I met unexpectedly the scorching breath of the
kamsin wind, and fearing that I should faint under the horrible
sensations which it caused, I returned to my rooms.  Reflecting, however,
that I might have to encounter this wind in the Desert, where there would
be no possibility of avoiding it, I thought it would be better to brave
it once more in the city, and to try whether I could really bear it or
not.  I therefore mounted my ass and rode to old Cairo, and along the
gardens by the banks of the Nile.  The wind was hot to the touch, as
though it came from a furnace.  It blew strongly, but yet with such
perfect steadiness, that the trees bending under its force remained fixed
in the same curves without perceptibly waving.  The whole sky was
obscured by a veil of yellowish grey, that shut out the face of the sun.
The streets were utterly silent, being indeed almost entirely deserted;
and not without cause, for the scorching blast, whilst it fevers the
blood, closes up the pores of the skin, and is terribly distressing,
therefore, to every animal that encounters it.  I returned to my rooms
dreadfully ill.  My head ached with a burning pain, and my pulse bounded
quick and fitfully, but perhaps (as in the instance of the poor
Levantine, whose death I was mentioning) the fear and excitement which I
felt in trying my own wrist may have made my blood flutter the faster.

It is a thoroughly well believed theory, that during the continuance of
the plague you can’t be ill of any other febrile malady—an unpleasant
privilege that! for ill I was, and ill of fever, and I anxiously wished
that the ailment might turn out to be anything rather than plague.  I had
some right to surmise that my illness may have been merely the effect of
the hot wind; and this notion was encouraged by the elasticity of my
spirits, and by a strong forefeeling that much of my destined life in
this world was yet to come, and yet to be fulfilled.  That was my
instinctive belief, but when I carefully weighed the probabilities on the
one side and on the other, I could not help seeing that the strength of
argument was all against me.  There was a strong antecedent likelihood in
_favour_ of my being struck by the same blow as the rest of the people
who had been dying around me.  Besides, it occurred to me that, after
all, the universal opinion of the Europeans upon a medical question, such
as that of contagion, might probably be correct, and _if it were_, I was
so thoroughly “compromised,” and especially by the touch and breath of
the dying medico, that I had no right to expect any other fate than that
which now seemed to have overtaken me.  Balancing as well as I could all
the considerations which hope and fear suggested, I slowly and
reluctantly came to the conclusion that, according to all merely
reasonable probability, the plague had come upon me.

You would suppose that this conviction would have induced me to write a
few farewell lines to those who were dearest, and that having done that,
I should have turned my thoughts towards the world to come.  Such,
however, was not the case.  I believe that the prospect of death often
brings with it strong anxieties about matters of comparatively trivial
import, and certainly with me the whole energy of the mind was directed
towards the one petty object of concealing my illness until the latest
possible moment—until the delirious stage.  I did not believe that either
Mysseri or Dthemetri, who had served me so faithfully in all trials,
would have deserted me (as most Europeans are wont to do) when they knew
that I was stricken by plague, but I shrank from the idea of putting them
to this test, and I dreaded the consternation which the knowledge of my
illness would be sure to occasion.

I was very ill indeed at the moment when my dinner was served, and my
soul sickened at the sight of the food; but I had luckily the habit of
dispensing with the attendance of servants during my meal, and as soon as
I was left alone I made a melancholy calculation of the quantity of food
which I should have eaten if I had been in my usual health, and filled my
plates accordingly, and gave myself salt, and so on, as though I were
going to dine.  I then transferred the viands to a piece of the
omnipresent _Times_ newspaper, and hid them away in a cupboard, for it
was not yet night, and I dared not throw the food into the street until
darkness came.  I did not at all relish this process of fictitious
dining, but at length the cloth was removed, and I gladly reclined on my
divan (I would not lie down) with the _Arabian Nights_ in my hand.

I had a feeling that tea would be a capital thing for me, but I would not
order it until the usual hour.  When at last the time came, I drank deep
draughts from the fragrant cup.  The effect was almost instantaneous.  A
plenteous sweat burst through my skin, and watered my clothes through and
through.  I kept myself thickly covered.  The hot, tormenting weight
which had been loading my brain was slowly heaved away.  The fever was
extinguished.  I felt a new buoyancy of spirits, and an unusual activity
of mind.  I went into my bed under a load of thick covering, and when the
morning came, and I asked myself how I was, I found that I was thoroughly
well.

I was very anxious to procure, if possible, some medical advice for
Mysseri, whose illness prevented my departure.  Every one of the European
practising doctors, of whom there had been many, had either died or fled.
It was said, however, that there was an Englishman in the medical service
of the Pasha who quietly remained at his post, but that he never engaged
in private practice.  I determined to try if I could obtain assistance in
this quarter.  I did not venture at first, and at such a time as this, to
ask him to visit a servant who was prostrate on the bed of sickness, but
thinking that I might thus gain an opportunity of persuading him to
attend Mysseri, I wrote a note mentioning my own affair of the sore
throat, and asking for the benefit of his medical advice.  He instantly
followed back my messenger, and was at once shown up into my room.  I
entreated him to stand off, telling him fairly how deeply I was
“compromised,” and especially by my contact with a person actually ill
and since dead of plague.  The generous fellow, with a good-humoured
laugh at the terrors of the contagionists, marched straight up to me, and
forcibly seized my hand, and shook it with manly violence.  I felt
grateful indeed, and swelled with fresh pride of race because that my
countryman could carry himself so nobly.  He soon cured Mysseri as well
as me, and all this he did from no other motives than the pleasure of
doing a kindness and the delight of braving a danger.

At length the great difficulty {230} which I had had in procuring beasts
for my departure was overcome, and now, too, I was to have the new
excitement of travelling on dromedaries.  With two of these beasts and
three camels I gladly wound my way from out of the pest-stricken city.
As I passed through the streets I observed a fanatical-looking elder, who
stretched forth his arms, and lifted up his voice in a speech which
seemed to have some reference to me.  Requiring an interpretation, I
found that the man had said, “The Pasha seeks camels, and he finds them
not; the Englishman says, ‘Let camels be brought,’ and behold, there they
are!”

I no sooner breathed the free, wholesome air of the Desert than I felt
that a great burden which I had been scarcely conscious of bearing was
lifted away from my mind.  For nearly three weeks I had lived under peril
of death; the peril ceased, and not till then did I know how much alarm
and anxiety I had really been suffering.



CHAPTER XIX
THE PYRAMIDS


I went to see and to explore the Pyramids.

Familiar to one from the days of early childhood are the forms of the
Egyptian Pyramids, and now, as I approached them from the banks of the
Nile, I had no print, no picture before me, and yet the old shapes were
there; there was no change; they were just as I had always known them.  I
straightened myself in my stirrups, and strived to persuade my
understanding that this was real Egypt, and that those angles which stood
up between me and the West were of harder stuff, and more ancient than
the paper pyramids of the green portfolio.  Yet it was not till I came to
the base of the great Pyramid that reality began to weigh upon my mind.
Strange to say, the bigness of the distinct blocks of stones was the
first sign by which I attained to feel the immensity of the whole pile.
When I came, and trod, and touched with my hands, and climbed, in order
that by climbing I might come to the top of one single stone, then, and
almost suddenly, a cold sense and understanding of the Pyramid’s enormity
came down, overcasting my brain.

Now try to endure this homely, sick-nursish illustration of the effect
produced upon one’s mind by the mere vastness of the great Pyramid.  When
I was very young (between the ages, I believe, of three and five years
old), being then of delicate health, I was often in time of night the
victim of a strange kind of mental oppression.  I lay in my bed perfectly
conscious, and with open eyes, but without power to speak or to move, and
all the while my brain was oppressed to distraction by the presence of a
single and abstract idea, the idea of solid immensity.  It seemed to me
in my agonies that the horror of this visitation arose from its coming
upon me without form or shape, that the close presence of the direst
monster ever bred in hell would have been a thousand times more tolerable
than that simple idea of solid size.  My aching mind was fixed and
riveted down upon the mere quality of vastness, vastness, vastness, and
was not permitted to invest with it any particular object.  If I could
have done so, the torment would have ceased.  When at last I was roused
from this state of suffering, I could not of course in those days
(knowing no verbal metaphysics, and no metaphysics at all, except by the
dreadful experience of an abstract idea)—I could not of course find words
to describe the nature of my sensations, and even now I cannot explain
why it is that the forced contemplation of a mere quality, distinct from
matter, should be so terrible.  Well, now my eyes saw and knew, and my
hands and my feet informed my understanding that there was nothing at all
abstract about the great Pyramid—it was a big triangle, sufficiently
concrete, easy to see, and rough to the touch; it could not, of course,
affect me with the peculiar sensation which I have been talking of, but
yet there was something akin to that old nightmare agony in the terrible
completeness with which a mere mass of masonry could fill and load my
mind.

And Time too; the remoteness of its origin, no less than the enormity of
its proportions, screens an Egyptian Pyramid from the easy and familiar
contact of our modern minds; at its base the common earth ends, and all
above is a world—one not created of God, not seeming to be made by men’s
hands, but rather the sheer giant-work of some old dismal age weighing
down this younger planet.

Fine sayings! but the truth seems to be after all, that the Pyramids are
quite of this world; that they were piled up into the air for the
realisation of some kingly crotchets about immortality, some priestly
longing for burial fees; and that as for the building, they were built
like coral rocks by swarms of insects—by swarms of poor Egyptians, who
were not only the abject tools and slaves of power, but who also ate
onions for the reward of their immortal labours! {233}  The Pyramids are
quite of this world.

I of course ascended to the summit of the great Pyramid, and also
explored its chambers, but these I need not describe.  The first time
that I went to the Pyramids of Ghizeh there were a number of Arabs
hanging about in its neighbourhood, and wanting to receive presents on
various pretences; their Sheik was with them.  There was also present an
ill-looking fellow in soldier’s uniform.  This man on my departure
claimed a reward, on the ground that he had maintained order and decorum
amongst the Arabs.  His claim was not considered valid by my dragoman,
and was rejected accordingly.  My donkey-boys afterwards said they had
overheard this fellow propose to the Sheik to put me to death whilst I
was in the interior of the great Pyramid, and to share with him the
booty.  Fancy a struggle for life in one of those burial chambers, with
acres and acres of solid masonry between one’s self and the daylight!  I
felt exceedingly glad that I had not made the rascal a present.

I visited the very ancient Pyramids of Aboukir and Sakkara.  There are
many of these, and of various shapes and sizes, and it struck me that,
taken together, they might be considered as showing the progress and
perfection (such as it is) of pyramidical architecture.  One of the
Pyramids at Sakkara is almost a rival for the full-grown monster at
Ghizeh; others are scarcely more than vast heaps of brick and stone:
these last suggested to me the idea that after all the Pyramid is nothing
more nor less than a variety of the sepulchral mound so common in most
countries (including, I believe, Hindustan, from whence the Egyptians are
supposed to have come).  Men accustomed to raise these structures for
their dead kings or conquerors would carry the usage with them in their
migrations, but arriving in Egypt, and seeing the impossibility of
finding earth sufficiently tenacious for a mound, they would approximate
as nearly as might be to their ancient custom by raising up a round heap
of stones—in short, conical pyramids.  Of these there are several at
Sakkara, and the materials of some are thrown together without any order
or regularity.  The transition from this simple form to that of the
square angular pyramid was easy and natural, and it seemed to me that the
gradations through which the style passed from infancy up to its mature
enormity could plainly be traced at Sakkara.



CHAPTER XX
THE SPHINX


AND near the Pyramids, more wondrous and more awful than all else in the
land of Egypt, there sits the lonely Sphinx.  Comely the creature is, but
the comeliness is not of this world.  The once worshipped beast is a
deformity and a monster to this generation; and yet you can see that
those lips, so thick and heavy, were fashioned according to some ancient
mould of beauty—some mould of beauty now forgotten—forgotten because that
Greece drew forth Cytherea from the flashing foam of the Ægean, and in
her image created new forms of beauty, and made it a law among men that
the short and proudly wreathed lip should stand for the sign and the main
condition of loveliness through all generations to come.  Yet still there
lives on the race of those who were beautiful in the fashion of the elder
world, and Christian girls of Coptic blood will look on you with the sad,
serious gaze, and kiss you your charitable hand with the big pouting lips
of the very Sphinx.

Laugh and mock if you will at the worship of stone idols, but mark ye
this, ye breakers of images, that in one regard the stone idol bears
awful semblance of Deity—unchangefulness in the midst of change; the same
seeming will, and intent for ever, and ever inexorable!  Upon ancient
dynasties of Ethiopian and Egyptian kings; upon Greek, and Roman; upon
Arab and Ottoman conquerors; upon Napoleon dreaming of an Eastern Empire;
upon battle and pestilence; upon the ceaseless misery of the Egyptian
race; upon keen-eyed travellers—Herodotus yesterday, and Warburton {236}
to-day: upon all and more, this unworldly Sphinx has watched, and watched
like a Providence with the same earnest eyes, and the same sad, tranquil
mien.  And we, we shall die, and Islam will wither away, and the
Englishman, leaning far over to hold his loved India, will plant a firm
foot on the banks of the Nile, and sit in the seats of the Faithful, and
still that sleepless rock will lie watching, and watching the works of
the new, busy race with those same sad, earnest eyes, and the same
tranquil mien everlasting.  You dare not mock at the Sphinx.



CHAPTER XXI
CAIRO TO SUEZ


THE “dromedary” of Egypt and Syria is not the two-humped animal described
by that name in books of natural history, but is, in fact, of the same
family as the camel, to which it stands in about the same relation as a
racer to a cart-horse.  The fleetness and endurance of this creature are
extraordinary.  It is not usual to force him into a gallop, and I fancy
from his make that it would be quite impossible for him to maintain that
pace for any length of time; but the animal is on so large a scale, that
the jogtrot at which he is generally ridden implies a progress of perhaps
ten or twelve miles an hour, and this pace, it is said, he can keep up
incessantly, without food, or water, or rest, for three whole days and
nights.

Of the two dromedaries which I had obtained for this journey, I mounted
one myself, and put Dthemetri on the other.  My plan was to ride on with
Dthemetri to Suez as rapidly as the fleetness of the beasts would allow,
and to let Mysseri (who was still weak from the effects of his late
illness) come quietly on with the camels and baggage.

The trot of the dromedary is a pace terribly disagreeeble to the rider,
until he becomes a little accustomed to it; but after the first half-hour
I so far schooled myself to this new exercise, that I felt capable of
keeping it up (though not without aching limbs) for several hours
together.  Now, therefore, I was anxious to dart forward, and annihilate
at once the whole space that divided me from the Red Sea.  Dthemetri,
however, could not get on at all.  Every attempt which he made to trot
seemed to threaten the utter dislocation of his whole frame, and indeed I
doubt whether anyone of Dthemetri’s age (nearly forty, I think), and
unaccustomed to such exercise, could have borne it at all easily;
besides, the dromedary which fell to his lot was evidently a very bad
one; he every now and then came to a dead stop, and coolly knelt down, as
though suggesting that the rider had better get off at once and abandon
the attempt as one that was utterly hopeless.

When for the third or fourth time I saw Dthemetri thus planted, I lost my
patience, and went on without him.  For about two hours, I think, I
advanced without once looking behind me.  I then paused, and cast my eyes
back to the western horizon.  There was no sign of Dthemetri, nor of any
other living creature.  This I expected, for I knew that I must have far
out-distanced all my followers.  I had ridden away from my party merely
by way of gratifying my impatience, and with the intention of stopping as
soon as I felt tired, until I was overtaken.  I now observed, however
(this I had not been able to do whilst advancing so rapidly), that the
track which I had been following was seemingly the track of only one or
two camels.  I did not fear that I had diverged very largely from the
true route, but still I could not feel any reasonable certainty that my
party would follow any line of march within sight of me.

I had to consider, therefore, whether I should remain where I was, upon
the chance of seeing my people come up, or whether I would push on alone,
and find my way to Suez.  I had now learned that I could not rely upon
the continued guidance of any track, but I knew that (if maps were right)
the point for which I was bound bore just due east of Cairo, and I
thought that, although I might miss the line leading most directly to
Suez, I could not well fail to find my way sooner or later to the Red
Sea.  The worst of it was that I had no provision of food or water with
me, and already I was beginning to feel thirst.  I deliberated for a
minute, and then determined that I would abandon all hope of seeing my
party again in the Desert, and would push forward as rapidly as possible
towards Suez.

It was not, I confess, without a sensation of awe that I swept with my
sight the vacant round of the horizon, and remembered that I was all
alone, and unprovisioned in the midst of the arid waste; but this very
awe gave tone and zest to the exultation with which I felt myself
launched.  Hitherto, in all my wandering, I had been under the care of
other people—sailors, Tatars, guides, and dragomen had watched over my
welfare, but now at last I was here in this African desert, and I
_myself, and no other, had charge of my life_.  I liked the office well.
I had the greatest part of the day before me, a very fair dromedary, a
fur pelisse, and a brace of pistols, but no bread and no water; for that
I must ride—and ride I did.

For several hours I urged forward my beast at a rapid though steady pace,
but now the pangs of thirst began to torment me.  I did not relax my
pace, however, and I had not suffered long when a moving object appeared
in the distance before me.  The intervening space was soon traversed, and
I found myself approaching a Bedouin Arab mounted on a camel, attended by
another Bedouin on foot.  They stopped.  I saw that, as usual, there hung
from the pack-saddle of the camel a large skin water-flask, which seemed
to be well filled.  I steered my dromedary close up alongside of the
mounted Bedouin, caused my beast to kneel down, then alighted, and
keeping the end of the halter in my hand, went up to the mounted Bedouin
without speaking, took hold of his water-flask, opened it, and drank long
and deep from its leathern lips.  Both of the Bedouins stood fast in
amazement and mute horror; and really, if they had never happened to see
a European before, the apparition was enough to startle them.  To see for
the first time a coat and a waistcoat with the semblance of a white human
head at the top, and for this ghastly figure to come swiftly out of the
horizon upon a fleet dromedary, approach them silently and with a
demoniacal smile, and drink a deep draught from their water-flask—this
was enough to make the Bedouins stare a little; they, in fact, stared a
great deal—not as Europeans stare, with a restless and puzzled expression
of countenance, but with features all fixed and rigid, and with still,
glassy eyes.  Before they had time to get decomposed from their state of
petrifaction I had remounted my dromedary, and was darting away towards
the east.

Without pause or remission of pace I continued to press forward, but
after a while I found to my confusion that the slight track which had
hitherto guided me now failed altogether.  I began to fear that I must
have been all along following the course of some wandering Bedouins, and
I felt that if this were the case, my fate was a little uncertain.

I had no compass with me, but I determined upon the eastern point of the
horizon as accurately as I could by reference to the sun, and so laid
down for myself a way over the pathless sands.

But now my poor dromedary, by whose life and strength I held my own,
began to show signs of distress; a thick, clammy, and glutinous kind of
foam gathered about her lips, and piteous sobs burst from her bosom in
the tones of human misery.  I doubted for a moment whether I would give
her a little rest, a relaxation of pace, but I decided that I would not,
and continued to push forward as steadily as before.

The character of the country became changed.  I had ridden away from the
level tracts, and before me now, and on either side, there were vast
hills of sand and calcined rocks, that interrupted my progress and
baffled my doubtful road, but I did my best.  With rapid steps I swept
round the base of the hills, threaded the winding hollows, and at last,
as I rose in my swift course to the crest of a lofty ridge, Thalatta!
Thalatta! by Jove! I saw the sea!

My tongue can tell where to find a clue to many an old pagan creed,
because that (distinctly from all mere admiration of the beauty belonging
to Nature’s works) I acknowledge a sense of mystical reverence when first
I look, to see some illustrious feature of the globe—some coastline of
ocean, some mighty river or dreary mountain range, the ancient barrier of
kingdoms.  But the Red Sea!  It might well claim my earnest gaze by force
of the great Jewish migration which connects it with the history of our
own religion.  From this very ridge, it is likely enough, the panting
Israelites first saw that shining inlet of the sea.  Ay! ay! but
moreover, and best of all, that beckoning sea assured my eyes, and proved
how well I had marked out the east for my path, and gave me good promise
that sooner or later the time would come for me to rest and drink.  It
was distant, the sea, but I felt my own strength, and I had _heard_ of
the strength of dromedaries.  I pushed forward as eagerly as though I had
spoiled the Egyptians and were flying from Pharaoh’s police.

I had not yet been able to discover any symptoms of Suez, but after a
while I descried in the distance a large, blank, isolated building.  I
made towards this, and in time got down to it.  The building was a fort,
and had been built there for the protection of a well which it contained
within its precincts.  A cluster of small huts adhered to the fort, and
in a short time I was receiving the hospitality of the inhabitants, who
were grouped upon the sands near their hamlet.  To quench the fires of my
throat with about a gallon of muddy water, and to swallow a little of the
food placed before me, was the work of a few minutes, and before the
astonishment of my hosts had even begun to subside, I was pursuing my
onward journey.  Suez, I found, was still three hours distant, and the
sun going down in the west warned me that I must find some other guide to
keep me in the right direction.  This guide I found in the most fickle
and uncertain of the elements.  For some hours the wind had been
freshening, and it now blew a violent gale; it blew not fitfully and in
squalls, but with such remarkable steadiness that I felt convinced it
would blow from the same quarter for several hours.  When the sun set,
therefore, I carefully looked for the point from which the wind was
blowing, and found that it came from the very west, and was blowing
exactly in the direction of my route.  I had nothing to do, therefore,
but to go straight to leeward; and this was not difficult, for the gale
blew with such immense force, that if I diverged at all from its line I
instantly felt the pressure of the blast on the side towards which I was
deviating.  Very soon after sunset there came on complete darkness, but
the strong wind guided me well, and sped me, too, on my way.

I had pushed on for about, I think, a couple of hours after nightfall,
when I saw the glimmer of a light in the distance, and this I ventured to
hope must be Suez.  Upon approaching it, however, I found that it was
only a solitary fort, and I passed on without stopping.

On I went, still riding down the wind, when an unlucky accident occurred,
for which, if you like, you can have your laugh against me.  I have told
you already what sort of lodging it is that you have upon the back of a
camel.  You ride the dromedary in the same fashion; you are perched
rather than seated on a bunch of carpets or quilts upon the summit of the
hump.  It happened that my dromedary veered rather suddenly from her
onward course.  Meeting the movement, I mechanically turned my left wrist
as though I were holding a bridle-rein, for the complete darkness
prevented my eyes from reminding me that I had nothing but a halter in my
hand.  The expected resistance failed, for the halter was hanging upon
that side of the dromedary’s neck towards which I was slightly leaning.
I toppled over, head foremost, and then went falling and falling through
air, till my crown came whang against the ground.  And the ground too was
perfectly hard (compacted sand), but the thickly-wadded headgear which I
wore for protection against the sun saved my life.  The notion of my
being able to get up again after falling head-foremost from such an
immense height seemed to me at first too paradoxical to be acted upon,
but I soon found that I was not a bit hurt.  My dromedary utterly
vanished.  I looked round me, and saw the glimmer of a light in the fort
which I had lately passed, and I began to work my way back in that
direction.  The violence of the gale made it hard for me to force my way
towards the west, but I succeeded at last in regaining the fort.  To
this, as to the other fort which I had passed, there was attached a
cluster of huts, and I soon found myself surrounded by a group of
villainous, gloomy-looking fellows.  It was a horrid bore for me to have
to swagger and look big at a time when I felt so particularly small on
account of my tumble and my lost dromedary; but there was no help for it,
I had no Dthemetri now to “strike terror” for me.  I knew hardly one word
of Arabic, but somehow or other I contrived to announce it as my absolute
will and pleasure that these fellows should find me the means of gaining
Suez.  They acceded, and having a donkey, they saddled it for me, and
appointed one of their number to attend me on foot.

I afterwards found that these fellows were not Arabs, but Algerine
refugees, and that they bore the character of being sad scoundrels.  They
justified this imputation to some extent on the following day.  They
allowed Mysseri with my baggage and the camels to pass unmolested, but an
Arab lad belonging to the party happened to lag a little way in the rear,
and him (if they were not maligned) these rascals stripped and robbed.
Low indeed is the state of bandit morality when men will allow the sleek
traveller with well-laden camels to pass in quiet, reserving their spirit
of enterprise for the tattered turban of a miserable boy.

I reached Suez at last.  The British agent, though roused from his
midnight sleep, received me in his home with the utmost kindness and
hospitality.  Oh! by Jove, how delightful it was to lie on fair sheets,
and to dally with sleep, and to wake, and to sleep, and to wake once
more, for the sake of sleeping again!



CHAPTER XXII
SUEZ


I was hospitably entertained by the British consul, or agent, as he is
there styled.  He is the _employé_ of the East India Company, and not of
the Home Government.  Napoleon during his stay of five days at Suez had
been the guest of the consul’s father, and I was told that the divan in
my apartment had been the bed of the great commander.

There are two opinions as to the point at which the Israelites passed the
Red Sea.  One is, that they traversed only the very small creek at the
northern extremity of the inlet, and that they entered the bed of the
water at the spot on which Suez now stands; the other, that they crossed
the sea from a point eighteen miles down the coast.  The Oxford
theologians, who, with Milman their professor, {246} believe that Jehovah
conducted His chosen people without disturbing the order of nature, adopt
the first view, and suppose that the Israelites passed during an
ebb-tide, aided by a violent wind.  One among many objections to this
supposition is, that the time of a single ebb would not have been
sufficient for the passage of that vast multitude of men and beasts, or
even for a small fraction of it.  Moreover, the creek to the north of
this point can be compassed in an hour, and in two hours you can make the
circuit of the salt marsh over which the sea may have extended in former
times.  If, therefore, the Israelites crossed so high up as Suez, the
Egyptians, unless infatuated by Divine interference, might easily have
recovered their stolen goods from the encumbered fugitives by making a
slight detour.  The opinion which fixes the point of passage at eighteen
miles’ distance, and from thence right across the ocean depths to the
eastern side of the sea, is supported by the unanimous tradition of the
people, whether Christians or Mussulmans, and is consistent with Holy
Writ: “the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, _and on
their left_.”  The Cambridge mathematicians seem to think that the
Israelites were enabled to pass over dry land by adopting a route not
usually subjected to the influx of the sea.  This notion is plausible in
a merely hydrostatical point of view, and is supposed to have been
adopted by most of the Fellows of Trinity, but certainly not by Thorp,
who is one of the most amiable of their number.  It is difficult to
reconcile this theory with the account given in Exodus, unless we can
suppose that the words “sea” and “waters” are there used in a sense
implying dry land.

Napoleon when at Suez made an attempt to follow the supposed steps of
Moses by passing the creek at this point, but it seems, according to the
testimony of the people at Suez, that he and his horsemen managed the
matter in a way more resembling the failure of the Egyptians than the
success of the Israelites.  According to the French account, Napoleon got
out of the difficulty by that warrior-like presence of mind which served
him so well when the fate of nations depended on the decision of a
moment—he ordered his horsemen to disperse in all directions, in order to
multiply the chances of finding shallow water, and was thus enabled to
discover a line by which he and his people were extricated.  The story
told by the people of Suez is very different: they declare that Napoleon
parted from his horse, got thoroughly submerged, and was only fished out
by the assistance of the people on shore.

I bathed twice at the point assigned to the passage of the Israelites,
and the second time that I did so I chose the time of low water and tried
to walk across, but I soon found myself out of my depth, or at least in
water so deep that I could only advance by swimming.

The dromedary, which had bolted in the Desert, was brought into Suez the
day after my arrival, but my pelisse and my pistols, which had been
attached to the saddle, had disappeared.  These articles were treasures
of great importance to me at that time, and I moved the Governor of the
town to make all possible exertions for their recovery.  He acceded to my
wishes as well as he could, and very obligingly imprisoned the first
seven poor fellows he could lay his hands on.

At first the Governor acted in the matter from no other motive than that
of courtesy to an English traveller, but afterwards, and when he saw the
value which I set upon the lost property, he pushed his measures with a
degree of alacrity and heat which seemed to show that he felt a personal
interest in the matter.  It was supposed either that he expected a large
present in the event of succeeding, or that he was striving by all means
to trace the property, in order that he might lay his hands on it after
my departure.

I went out sailing for some hours, and when I returned I was horrified to
find that two men had been bastinadoed by order of the Governor, with a
view to force them to a confession of their theft.  It appeared, however,
that there really was good ground for supposing them guilty, since one of
the holsters was actually found in their possession.  It was said, too
(but I could hardly believe it), that whilst one of the men was
undergoing the bastinado, his comrade was overhead encouraging him to
bear the torment without peaching.  Both men, if they had the secret,
were resolute in keeping it, and were sent back to their dungeon.  I of
course took care that there should be no repetition of the torture, at
least so long as I remained at Suez.

The Governor was a thorough Oriental, and until a comparatively recent
period had shared in the old Mahometan feeling of contempt for Europeans.
It happened, however, one day that an English gun-brig had appeared off
Suez, and sent her boats ashore to take in fresh water.  Now fresh water
at Suez is a somewhat scarce and precious commodity: it is kept in tanks,
the chief of which is at some distance from the place.  Under these
circumstances the request for fresh water was refused, or, at all events,
was not complied with.  The captain of the brig was a simple-minded man
with a strongish will, and he at once declared that if his casks were not
filled in three hours he would destroy the whole place.  “A great people
indeed!” said the Governor; “a wonderful people, the English!”  He
instantly caused every cask to be filled to the brim from his own tank,
and ever afterwards entertained for the English a degree of affection and
respect, for which I felt infinitely indebted to the gallant captain.

The day after the abortive attempt to extract a confession from the
prisoners, the Governor, the consul, and I sat in council, I know not how
long, with a view of prosecuting the search for the stolen goods.  The
sitting, considered in the light of a criminal investigation, was
characteristic of the East.  The proceedings began as a matter of course
by the prosecutor’s smoking a pipe and drinking coffee with the Governor,
who was judge, jury, and sheriff.  I got on very well with him (this was
not my first interview), and he gave me the pipe from his lips in
testimony of his friendship.  I recollect, however, that my prime
adviser, thinking me, I suppose, a great deal too shy and retiring in my
manner, entreated me to put up my boots and to soil the Governor’s divan,
in order to inspire respect and strike terror.  I thought it would be as
well for me to retain the right of respecting myself, and that it was not
quite necessary for a well-received guest to strike any terror at all.

Our deliberations were assisted by the numerous attendants who lined the
three sides of the room not occupied by the divan.  Any one of these who
took it into his head to offer a suggestion would stand forward and
humble himself before the Governor, and then state his views; every man
thus giving counsel was listened to with some attention.

After a great deal of fruitless planning the Governor directed that the
prisoners should be brought in.  I was shocked when they entered, for I
was not prepared to see them come _carried_ into the room upon the
shoulders of others.  It had not occurred to me that their battered feet
would be too sore to bear the contact of the floor.  They persisted in
asserting their innocence.  The Governor wanted to recur to the torture,
but that I prevented, and the men were carried back to their dungeon.

A scheme was now suggested by one of the attendants which seemed to me
childishly absurd, but it was nevertheless tried.  The plan was to send a
man to the prisoners, who was to make them believe that he had obtained
entrance into their dungeon upon some other pretence, but that he had in
reality come to treat with them for the purchase of the stolen goods.
This shallow expedient of course failed.

The Governor himself had not nominally the power of life and death over
the people in his district, but he could if he chose send them to Cairo,
and have them hanged there.  I proposed, therefore, that the prisoners
should be _threatened_ with this fate.  The answer of the Governor made
me feel rather ashamed of my effeminate suggestion.  He said that if I
wished it he would willingly threaten them with death, but he also said
that if he threatened _he should execute the threat_.

Thinking at last that nothing was to be gained by keeping the prisoners
any longer in confinement, I requested that they might be set free.  To
this the Governor acceded, though only, as he said, out of favour to me,
for he had a strong impression that the men were guilty.  I went down to
see the prisoners let out with my own eyes.  They were very grateful, and
fell down to the earth, kissing my boots.  I gave them a present to
console them for their wounds, and they seemed to be highly delighted.

Although the matter terminated in a manner so satisfactory to the
principal sufferers, there were symptoms of some angry excitement in the
place: it was said that public opinion was much shocked at the fact that
Mahometans had been beaten on account of a loss sustained by a Christian.
My journey was to recommence the next day, and it was hinted that if I
persevered in my intention of proceeding, the people would have an easy
and profitable opportunity of wreaking their vengeance on me.  If ever
they formed any scheme of the kind, they at all events refrained from any
attempt to carry it into effect.

One of the evenings during my stay at Suez was enlivened by a triple
wedding.  There was a long and slow procession.  Some carried torches,
and others were thumping drums and firing pistols.  The bridegrooms came
last, all walking abreast.  My only reason for mentioning the ceremony
(which was otherwise uninteresting) is, that I scarcely ever in all my
life saw any phenomena so ridiculous as the meekness and gravity of those
three young men whilst being “led to the altar.”



CHAPTER XXIII
SUEZ TO GAZA


THE route over the Desert from Suez to Gaza is not frequented by
merchants, and is seldom passed by a traveller.  This part of the country
is less uniformly barren than the tracts of shifting sand that lie on the
El Arish route.  The shrubs on which the camel feeds are more frequent,
and in many spots the sand is mingled with so much of productive soil as
to admit the growth of corn.  The Bedouins are driven out of this
district during the summer by the total want of water, but before the
time for their forced departure arrives they succeed in raising little
crops of barley from these comparatively fertile patches of ground.  They
bury the fruit of their labours, leaving marks by which, upon their
return, they may be able to recognise the spot.  The warm, dry sand
stands them for a safe granary.  The country at the time I passed it (in
the month of April) was pretty thickly sprinkled with Bedouins expecting
their harvest.  Several times my tent was pitched alongside of their
encampments.  I have told you already what the impressions were which
these people produced upon my mind.

I saw several creatures of the antelope kind in this part of the Desert,
and one day my Arabs surprised in her sleep a young gazelle (for so I
called her), and took the darling prisoner.  I carried her before me on
my camel for the rest of the day, and kept her in my tent all night.  I
did all I could to coax her, but the trembling beauty refused to touch
food, and would not be comforted.  Whenever she had a seeming opportunity
of escaping she struggled with a violence so painfully disproportioned to
her fine, delicate limbs, that I could not continue the cruel attempt to
make her my own.  In the morning, therefore, I set her free, anticipating
some pleasure from seeing the joyous bound with which, as I thought, she
would return to her native freedom.  She had been so stupefied, however,
by the exciting events of the preceding day and night, and was so puzzled
as to the road she should take, that she went off very deliberately, and
with an uncertain step.  She went away quite sound in limb, but her
intellect may have been upset.  Never in all likelihood had she seen the
form of a human being until the dreadful moment when she woke from her
sleep and found herself in the grip of an Arab.  Then her pitching and
tossing journey on the back of a camel, and lastly, a _soirée_ with me by
candlelight!  I should have been glad to know, if I could, that her heart
was not utterly broken.

My Arabs were somewhat excited one day by discovering the fresh print of
a foot—the foot, as they said, of a lion.  I had no conception that the
lord of the forest (better known as a crest) ever stalked away from his
jungles to make inglorious war in these smooth plains against antelopes
and gazelles.  I supposed that there must have been some error of
interpretation, and that the Arabs meant to speak of a tiger.  It
appeared, however, that this was not the case.  Either the Arabs were
mistaken, or the noble brute, uncooped and unchained, had but lately
crossed my path.

The camels with which I traversed this part of the Desert were very
different in their ways and habits from those that you get on a
frequented route.  They were never led.  There was not the slightest sign
of a track in this part of the Desert, but the camels never failed to
choose the right line.  By the direction taken at starting they knew, I
suppose, the point (some encampment) for which they were to make.  There
is always a leading camel (generally, I believe, the eldest), who marches
foremost, and determines the path for the whole party.  If it happens
that no one of the camels has been accustomed to lead the others, there
is very great difficulty in making a start.  If you force your beast
forward for a moment, he will contrive to wheel and draw back, at the
same time looking at one of the other camels with an expression and
gesture exactly equivalent to _après vous_.  The responsibility of
finding the way is evidently assumed very unwillingly.  After some time,
however, it becomes understood that one of the beasts has reluctantly
consented to take the lead, and he accordingly advances for that purpose.
For a minute or two he goes on with much indecision, taking first one
line and then another, but soon by the aid of some mysterious sense he
discovers the true direction, and follows it steadily from morning to
night.  When once the leadership is established, you cannot by any
persuasion, and can scarcely by any force, induce a junior camel to walk
one single step in advance of the chosen guide.

On the fifth day I came to an oasis, called the Wady el Arish, a ravine,
or rather a gully, through which during a part of the year there runs a
stream of water.  On the sides of the gully there were a number of those
graceful trees which the Arabs call _tarfa_.  The channel of the stream
was quite dry in the part at which we arrived, but at about half a mile
off some water was found, which, though very muddy, was tolerably sweet.
This was a happy discovery, for all the water that we had brought from
the neighbourhood of Suez was rapidly putrefying.

The want of foresight is an anomalous part of the Bedouin’s character,
for it does not result either from recklessness or stupidity.  I know of
no human being whose body is so thoroughly the slave of mind as that of
the Arab.  His mental anxieties seem to be for ever torturing every nerve
and fibre of his body, and yet with all this exquisite sensitiveness to
the suggestions of the mind, he is grossly improvident.  I recollect, for
instance, that when setting out upon this passage of the Desert, my
Arabs, in order to lighten the burthen of their camels, were most anxious
that we should take with us only two days’ supply of water.  They said
that by the time that supply was exhausted we should arrive at a spring
which would furnish us for the rest of the journey.  My servants very
wisely, and with much pertinacity, resisted the adoption of this plan,
and took care to have both the large skins well filled.  We proceeded,
and found no water at all, either at the expected spring or for many days
afterwards, so that nothing but the precaution of my own people saved us
from the very severe suffering which we should have endured if we had
entered upon the Desert with only a two days’ supply.  The Arabs
themselves being on foot would have suffered much more than I from the
consequences of their improvidence.

This unaccountable want of foresight prevents the Bedouin from
appreciating at a distance of eight or ten days the amount of the misery
which he entails upon himself at the end of that period.  His dread of a
city is one of the most painful mental affections that I have ever
observed, and yet when the whole breadth of the Desert lies between him
and the town to which you are going, he will freely enter into an
agreement to _land_ you in the city for which you are bound.  When,
however, after many a day of toil the distant minarets at length appear,
the poor Bedouin relaxes the vigour of his pace, his steps become
faltering and undecided, every moment his uneasiness increases, and at
length he fairly sobs aloud, and embracing your knees, implores with the
most piteous cries and gestures that you will dispense with him and his
camels, and find some other means of entering the city.  This, of course,
one can’t agree to, and the consequence is that one is obliged to witness
and resist the most moving expressions of grief and fond entreaty.  I had
to go through a most painful scene of this kind when I entered Cairo, and
now the horror which these wilder Arabs felt at the notion of entering
Gaza led to consequences still more distressing.  The dread of cities
results partly from a kind of wild instinct which has always
characterised the descendants of Ishmael, but partly too from a
well-founded apprehension of ill-treatment.  So often it happens that the
poor Bedouin, when once jammed in between walls, is seized by the
Government authorities for the sake of his camels, that his innate horror
of cities becomes really justified by results.

The Bedouins with whom I performed this journey were wild fellows of the
Desert, quite unaccustomed to let out themselves or their beasts for
hire, and when they found that by the natural ascendency of Europeans
they were gradually brought down to a state of subserviency to me, or
rather to my attendants, they bitterly repented, I believe, of having
placed themselves under our control.  They were rather difficult fellows
to manage, and gave Dthemetri a good deal of trouble, but I liked them
all the better for that.

Selim, the chief of the party, and the man to whom all our camels
belonged, was a fine, savage, stately fellow.  There were, I think, five
other Arabs of the party, but when we approached the end of the journey
they one by one began to make off towards the neighbouring encampments,
and by the time that the minarets of Gaza were in sight, Selim, the owner
of the camels, was the only one who remained.  He, poor fellow, as we
neared the town began to discover the same terrors that my Arabs had
shown when I entered Cairo.  I could not possibly accede to his
entreaties and consent to let my baggage be laid down on the bare sands,
without any means of having it brought on into the city.  So at length,
when poor Selim had exhausted all his rhetoric of voice and action and
tears, he fixed his despairing eyes for a minute upon the cherished
beasts that were his only wealth, and then suddenly and madly dashed away
into the farther Desert.  I continued my course and reached the city at
last, but it was not without immense difficulty that we could constrain
the poor camels to pass under the hated shadow of its walls.  They were
the genuine beasts of the Desert, and it was sad and painful to witness
the agony they suffered when thus they were forced to encounter the fixed
habitations of men.  They shrank from the beginning of every high, narrow
street as though from the entrance of some horrible cave or bottomless
pit; they sighed and wept like women.  When at last we got them within
the courtyard of the khan they seemed to be quite broken-hearted, and
looked round piteously for their loving master; but no Selim came.  I had
imagined that he would enter the town secretly by night in order to carry
off those five fine camels, his only wealth in this world, and seemingly
the main objects of his affection.  But no; his dread of civilisation was
too strong.  During the whole of the three days that I remained at Gaza
he failed to show himself, and thus sacrificed in all probability not
only his camels, but the money which I had stipulated to pay him for the
passage of the Desert.  In order, however, to do all I could towards
saving him from this last misfortune I resorted to a contrivance
frequently adopted by the Asiatics: I assembled a group of grave and
worthy Mussulmans in the courtyard of the khan, and in their presence
paid over the gold to a Sheik who was accustomed to communicate with the
Arabs of the Desert.  All present solemnly promised that if ever Selim
should come to claim his rights, they would bear true witness in his
favour.

I saw a great deal of my old friend the Governor of Gaza.  He had
received orders to send back all persons coming from Egypt, and force
them to perform quarantine at El Arish.  He knew so little of quarantine
regulations, however, that his dress was actually in contact with mine
whilst he insisted upon the stringency of the orders which he had
received.  He was induced to make an exception in my favour, and I
rewarded him with a musical snuff-box which I had bought at Smyrna for
the purpose of presenting it to any man in authority who might happen to
do me an important service.  The Governor was delighted with his toy, and
took it off to his harem with great exultation.  He soon, however,
returned with an altered countenance; his wives, he said, had got hold of
the box and put it out of order.  So shortlived is human happiness in
this frail world!

The Governor fancied that he should incur less risk if I remained at Gaza
for two or three days more, and he wanted me to become his guest.  I
persuaded him, however, that it would be better for him to let me depart
at once.  He wanted to add to my baggage a roast lamb and a quantity of
other cumbrous viands, but I escaped with half a horse-load of leaven
bread, which was very good of its kind, and proved a most useful present.
The air with which the Governor’s slaves affected to be almost breaking
down under the weight of the gifts which they bore on their shoulders,
reminded me of the figures one sees in some of the old pictures.



CHAPTER XXIV
GAZA TO NABLUS


PASSING now once again through Palestine and Syria I retained the tent
which I had used in the Desert, and found that it added very much to my
comfort in travelling.  Instead of turning out a family from some
wretched dwelling, and depriving them of a repose which I was sure not to
find for myself, I now, when evening came, pitched my tent upon some
smiling spot within a few hundred yards of the village to which I looked
for my supplies, that is, for milk and bread if I had it not with me, and
sometimes also for eggs.  The worst of it is, that the needful viands are
not to be obtained by coin, but only by intimidation.  I at first tried
the usual agent, money.  Dthemetri, with one or two of my Arabs, went
into the village near which I was encamped and tried to buy the required
provisions, offering liberal payment, but he came back empty-handed.  I
sent him again, but this time he held different language.  He required to
see the elders of the place, and threatening dreadful vengeance, directed
them upon their responsibility to take care that my tent should be
immediately and abundantly supplied.  He was obeyed at once, and the
provisions refused to me as a purchaser soon arrived, trebled or
quadrupled, when demanded by way of a forced contribution.  I quickly
found (I think it required two experiments to convince me) that this
peremptory method was the only one which could be adopted with success.
It never failed.  Of course, however, when the provisions have been
actually obtained you can, if you choose, give money exceeding the value
of the provisions to somebody.  An English, a thoroughbred English,
traveller will always do this (though it is contrary to the custom of the
country) for the quiet (false quiet though it be) of his own conscience,
but so to order the matter that the poor fellows who have been forced to
contribute should be the persons to receive the value of their supplies,
is not possible.  For a traveller to attempt anything so grossly just as
that would be too outrageous.  The truth is, that the usage of the East,
in old times, required the people of the village, at their own cost, to
supply the wants of travellers, and the ancient custom is now adhered to,
not in favour of travellers generally, but in favour of those who are
deemed sufficiently powerful to enforce its observance.  If the villagers
therefore find a man waiving this right to oppress them, and offering
coin for that which he is entitled to take without payment, they suppose
at once that he is actuated by fear (fear of _them_, poor fellows!), and
it is so delightful to them to act upon this flattering assumption, that
they will forego the advantage of a good price for their provisions
rather than the rare luxury of refusing for once in their lives to part
with their own possessions.

The practice of intimidation thus rendered necessary is utterly hateful
to an Englishman.  He finds himself forced to conquer his daily bread by
the pompous threats of the dragoman, his very subsistence, as well as his
dignity and personal safety, being made to depend upon his servant’s
assuming a tone of authority which does not at all belong to him.
Besides, he can scarcely fail to see that as he passes through the
country he becomes the innocent cause of much extra injustice, many
supernumerary wrongs.  This he feels to be especially the case when he
travels with relays.  To be the owner of a horse or a mule within reach
of an Asiatic potentate, is to lead the life of the hare and the rabbit,
hunted down and ferreted out.  Too often it happens that the works of the
field are stopped in the daytime, that the inmates of the cottage are
roused from their midnight sleep by the sudden coming of a Government
officer, and the poor husbandman, driven by threats and rewarded by
curses, if he would not lose sight for ever of his captured beasts, must
quit all and follow them.  This is done that the Englishman may travel.
He would make his way more harmless if he could, but horses or mules he
_must_ have, and these are his ways and means.

The town of Nablus is beautiful; it lies in a valley hemmed in with olive
groves, and its buildings are interspersed with frequent palm-trees.  It
is said to occupy the site of the ancient Sychem.  I know not whether it
was there indeed that the father of the Jews was accustomed to feed his
flocks, but the valley is green and smiling, and is held at this day by a
race more brave and beautiful than Jacob’s unhappy descendants.

Nablus is the very furnace of Mahometan bigotry; {263} and I believe that
only a few months before the time of my going there it would have been
quite unsafe for a man, unless strongly guarded, to show himself to the
people of the town in a Frank costume; but since their last insurrection
the Mahometans of the place had been so far subdued by the severity of
Ibrahim Pasha, that they dared not now offer the slightest insult to a
European.  It was quite plain, however, that the effort with which the
men of the old school refrained from expressing their opinion of a hat
and a coat was horribly painful to them.  As I walked through the streets
and bazaars a dead silence prevailed; every man suspended his employment,
and gazed on me with a fixed, glassy look, which seemed to say, “God is
good, but how marvellous and inscrutable are His ways that thus He
permits this white-faced dog of a Christian to hunt through the paths of
the faithful.”

The insurrection of these people had been more formidable than any other
that Ibrahim Pasha had to contend with.  He was only able to crush them
at last by the assistance of a fellow renowned for his resources in the
way of stratagem and cunning, as well as for his knowledge of the
country.  This personage was no other than Aboo Goosh (“the father of
lies”), {264} who was taken out of prison for the purpose.  The “father
of lies” enabled Ibrahim to hem in the insurrection and extinguish it.
He was rewarded with the Governorship of Jerusalem, which he held when I
was there.  I recollect, by the by, that he tried one of his stratagems
upon me.  I did not go to see him, as I ought in courtesy to have done,
during my stay at Jerusalem; but I happened to be the owner of a rather
handsome amber _tchibouque_ piece, which the Governor heard of, and by
some means contrived to see.  He sent to me, and dressed up a statement
that he would give me a price immensely exceeding the sum which I had
given for it.  He did not add my _tchibouque_ to the rest of his
trophies.

There was a small number of Greek Christians resident in Nablus, and over
these the Mussulmans held a high hand, not even permitting them to speak
to each other in the open streets; but if the Moslems thus set themselves
above the poor Christians of the place, I, or rather my servants, soon
took the ascendant over _them_.  I recollect that just as we were
starting from the place, and at a time when a number of people had
gathered together in the main street to see our preparations, Mysseri,
being provoked at some piece of perverseness on the part of a true
believer, coolly thrashed him with his horsewhip before the assembled
crowd of fanatics.  I was much annoyed at the time, for I thought that
the people would probably rise against us.  They turned rather pale, but
stood still.

The day of my arrival at Nablus was a fête—the new-year’s day of the
Mussulmans.  {265a} {265b}  Most of the people were amusing themselves in
the beautiful lawns and shady groves without the city.  The men (except
myself) were all remotely apart from the other sex.  The women in groups
were diverting themselves and their children with swings.  They were so
handsome, that they could not keep up their yashmaks.  I believe that
they had never before looked upon a man in the European dress, and when
they now saw in me that strange phenomenon, and saw, too, how they could
please the creature by showing him a glimpse of beauty, they seemed to
think it was better fun to do this than to go on playing with swings.  It
was always, however, with a sort of zoological expression of countenance
that they looked on the horrible monster from Europe, and whenever one of
them gave me to see for one sweet instant the blushing of her unveiled
face, it was with the same kind of air as that with which a young, timid
girl will edge her way up to an elephant and tremblingly give him a nut
from the tips of her rosy fingers.



CHAPTER XXV {267}
MARIAM


THERE is no spirit of propagandism in the Mussulmans of the Ottoman
dominions.  True it is that a prisoner of war, or a Christian condemned
to death, may on some occasions save his life by adopting the religion of
Mahomet, but instances of this kind are now exceedingly rare, and are
quite at variance with the general system.  Many Europeans, I think,
would be surprised to learn that which is nevertheless quite true,
namely, that an attempt to disturb the religious repose of the empire by
the conversion of a Christian to the Mahometan faith is positively
illegal.  The event which now I am going to mention shows plainly enough
that the unlawfulness of such interference is distinctly recognised even
in the most bigoted stronghold of Islam.

During my stay at Nablus I took up my quarters at the house of the Greek
“papa” as he is called, that is, the Greek priest.  The priest himself
had gone to Jerusalem upon the business I am going to tell you of, but
his wife remained at Nablus, and did the honours of her home.

Soon after my arrival a deputation from the Greek Christians of the place
came to request my interference in a matter which had occasioned vast
excitement.

And now I must tell you how it came to happen, as it did continually,
that people thought it worth while to claim the assistance of a mere
traveller, who was totally devoid of all just pretensions to authority or
influence of even the humblest description, and especially I must explain
to you how it was that the power thus attributed did really belong to me,
or rather to my dragoman.  Successive political convulsions had at length
fairly loosed the people of Syria from their former rules of conduct, and
from all their old habits of reliance.  The violence and success with
which Mehemet Ali crushed the insurrection of the Mahometan population
had utterly beaten down the head of Islam, and extinguished, for the time
at least, those virtues and vices which had sprung from the Mahometan
faith.  Success so complete as Mehemet Ali’s, if it had been attained by
an ordinary Asiatic potentate, would have induced a notion of stability.
The readily bowing mind of the Oriental would have bowed low and long
under the feet of a conqueror whom God had thus strengthened.  But Syria
was no field for contests strictly Asiatic.  Europe was involved, and
though the heavy masses of Egyptian troops, clinging with strong grip to
the land, might seem to hold it fast, yet every peasant practically felt,
and knew, that in Vienna or Petersburg or London there were four or five
pale-looking men who could pull down the star of the Pasha with shreds of
paper and ink.  The people of the country knew, too, that Mehemet Ali was
strong with the strength of the Europeans—strong by his French general,
his French tactics, and his English engines.  Moreover, they saw that the
person, the property, and even the dignity of the humblest European was
guarded with the most careful solicitude.  The consequence of all this
was, that the people of Syria looked vaguely, but confidently, to Europe
for fresh changes.  Many would fix upon some nation, France or England,
and steadfastly regard it as the arriving sovereign of Syria.  Those
whose minds remained in doubt equally contributed to this new state of
public opinion, which no longer depended upon religion and ancient
habits, but upon bare hopes and fears.  Every man wanted to know, not who
was his neighbour, but who was to be his ruler; whose feet he was to
kiss, and by whom _his_ feet were to be ultimately beaten.  Treat your
friend, says the proverb, as though he were one day to become your enemy,
and your enemy as though he were one day to become your friend.  The
Syrians went further, and seemed inclined to treat every stranger as
though he might one day become their Pasha.  Such was the state of
circumstances and of feeling which now for the first time had thoroughly
opened the mind of Western Asia for the reception of Europeans and
European ideas.  The credit of the English especially was so great, that
a good Mussulman flying from the conscription, or any other persecution,
would come to seek from the formerly despised hat that protection which
the turban could no longer afford; and a man high in authority (as, for
instance, the Governor in command of Gaza) would think that he had won a
prize, or, at all events, a valuable lottery ticket, if he obtained a
written approval of his conduct from a simple traveller.

Still, in order that any immediate result should follow from all this
unwonted readiness in the Asiatic to succumb to the European, it was
necessary that someone should be at hand who could see and would push the
advantage.  I myself had neither the inclination nor the power to do so,
but it happened that Dthemetri, who, as my dragoman, represented me on
all occasions, was the very person of all others best fitted to avail
himself with success of this yielding tendency in the Oriental mind.  If
the chance of birth and fortune had made poor Dthemetri a tailor during
some part of his life, yet religion and the literature of the Church
which he served had made him a man, and a brave man too.  The lives of
saints with which he was familiar were full of heroic actions provoking
imitation, and since faith in a creed involves a faith in its ultimate
triumph, Dthemetri was bold from a sense of true strength.  His education
too, though not very general in its character, had been carried quite far
enough to justify him in pluming himself upon a very decided advantage
over the great bulk of the Mahometan population, including the men in
authority.  With all this consciousness of religious and intellectual
superiority Dthemetri had lived for the most part in countries lying
under Mussulman governments, and had witnessed (perhaps too had suffered
from) their revolting cruelties; the result was that he abhorred and
despised the Mahometan faith and all who clung to it.  And this hate was
not of the dry, dull, and inactive sort.  Dthemetri was in his sphere a
true Crusader, and whenever there appeared a fair opening in the defences
of Islam, he was ready and eager to make the assault.  These sentiments,
backed by a consciousness of understanding the people with whom he had to
do, made Dthemetri not only firm and resolute in his constant interviews
with men in authority, but sometimes also (as you may know already) very
violent and even insulting.  This tone, which I always disliked, though I
was fain to profit by it, invariably succeeded.  It swept away all
resistance; there was nothing in the then depressed and succumbing mind
of the Mussulman that could oppose a zeal so warm and fierce.

As for me, I of course stood aloof from Dthemetri’s crusades, and did not
even render him any active assistance when he was striving (as he almost
always was, poor fellow) on my behalf; I was only the death’s head and
white sheet with which he scared the enemy.  I think, however, that I
played this spectral part exceedingly well, for I seldom appeared at all
in any discussion, and whenever I did, I was sure to be white and calm.

The event which induced the Christians of Nablus to seek for my
assistance was this.  A beautiful young Christian, between fifteen and
sixteen years old, had lately been married to a man of her own creed.
About the same time (probably on the occasion of her wedding) she was
accidently seen by a Mussulman Sheik of great wealth and local influence,
who instantly became madly enamoured of her.  The strict morality which
so generally prevails where the Mussulmans have complete ascendency
prevented the Sheik from entertaining any such sinful hopes as a European
might have ventured to cherish under the like circumstances, and he saw
no chance of gratifying his love except by inducing the girl to embrace
his own creed.  If he could induce her to take this step, her marriage
with the Christian would be dissolved, and then there would be nothing to
prevent him from making her the last and brightest of his wives.  The
Sheik was a practical man, and quickly began his attack upon the
theological opinions of the bride.  He did not assail her with the
eloquence of any imaums or Mussulman saints; he did not press upon her
the eternal truths of the “Cow,” {272} or the beautiful morality of “the
Table”; {272} he sent her no tracts, not even a copy of the holy Koran.
An old woman acted as missionary.  She brought with her a whole basketful
of arguments—jewels and shawls and scarfs, and all kinds of persuasive
finery.  Poor Mariam! she put on the jewels and took a calm view of the
Mahometan religion in a little hand-mirror; she could not be deaf to such
eloquent earrings, and the great truths of Islam came home to her young
bosom in the delicate folds of the cashmere; she was ready to abandon her
faith.

The Sheik knew very well that his attempt to convert an infidel was
illegal, and that his proceedings would not bear investigation, so he
took care to pay a large sum to the Governor of Nablus in order to obtain
his connivance.

At length Mariam quitted her home and placed herself under the protection
of the Mahometan authorities, who, however, refrained from delivering her
into the arms of her lover, and detained her in a mosque until the fact
of her real conversion (which had been indignantly denied by her
relatives) should be established.  For two or three days the mother of
the young convert was prevented from communicating with her child by
various evasive contrivances, but not, it would seem, by a flat refusal.
At length it was announced that the young lady’s profession of faith
might be heard from her own lips.  At an hour appointed the friends of
the Sheik and the relatives of the damsel met in the mosque.  The young
convert addressed her mother in a loud voice, and said, “God is God, and
Mahomet is the Prophet of God, and thou, oh my mother, art an infidel,
feminine dog!”

You would suppose that this declaration, so clearly enounced, and that,
too, in a place where Mahometanism is perhaps more supreme than in any
other part of the empire, would have sufficed to have confirmed the
pretensions of the lover.  This, however, was not the case.  The Greek
priest of the place was despatched on a mission to the Governor of
Jerusalem (Aboo Goosh), in order to complain against the proceedings of
the Sheik and obtain a restitution of the bride.  Meanwhile the Mahometan
authorities at Nablus were so conscious of having acted unlawfully in
conspiring to disturb the faith of the beautiful infidel, that they
hesitated to take any further steps, and the girl was still detained in
the mosque.

Thus matters stood when the Christians of the place came and sought to
obtain my assistance.

I felt (with regret) that I had no personal interest in the matter, and I
also thought that there was no pretence for my interfering with the
conflicting claims of the Christian husband and the Mahometan lover, and
I therefore declined to take any step.

My speaking of the husband, by the bye, reminds me that he was extremely
backward about the great work of recovering his youthful bride.  The
relations of the girl, who felt themselves disgraced by her conduct, were
vehement and excited to a high pitch, but the Menelaus of Nablus was
exceedingly calm and composed.

The fact that it was not technically my duty to interfere in a matter of
this kind was a very sufficient, and yet a very unsatisfactory, reason
for my refusal of all assistance.  Until you are placed in situations of
this kind you can hardly tell how painful it is to refrain from
intermeddling in other people’s affairs—to refrain from intermeddling
when you feel that you can do so with happy effect, and can remove a load
of distress by the use of a few small phrases.  Upon this occasion,
however, an expression fell from one of the girl’s kinsmen which not only
determined me against the idea of interfering, but made me hope that all
attempts to recover the proselyte would fail.  This person, speaking with
the most savage bitterness, and with the cordial approval of all the
other relatives, said that the girl ought to be beaten to death.  I could
not fail to see that if the poor child were ever restored to her family
she would be treated with the most frightful barbarity.  I heartily
wished, therefore, that the Mussulmans might be firm, and preserve their
young prize from any fate so dreadful as that of a return to her own
relations.

The next day the Greek priest returned from his mission to Aboo Goosh,
but the “father of lies,” it would seem, had been well plied with the
gold of the enamoured Sheik, and contrived to put off the prayers of the
Christians by cunning feints.  Now, therefore, a second and more numerous
deputation than the first waited upon me, and implored my intervention
with the Governor.  I informed the assembled Christians that since their
last application I had carefully considered the matter.  The religious
question I thought might be put aside at once, for the excessive levity
which the girl had displayed proved clearly that in adopting Mahometanism
she was not quitting any other faith.  Her mind must have been thoroughly
blank upon religious questions, and she was not, therefore, to be treated
as a Christian that had strayed from the flock, but rather as a child
without any religion at all, who was willing to conform to the usages of
those who would deck her with jewels, and clothe her with cashmere
shawls.

So much for the religious part of the question.  Well, then, in a mere
temporal sense, it appeared to me that (looking merely to the interests
of the damsel, for I rather unjustly put poor Menelaus quite out of the
question) the advantages were all on the side of the Mahometan match.
The Sheik was in a much higher station of life than the superseded
husband, and had given the best possible proof of his ardent affection by
the sacrifices he had made, and the risks he had incurred, for the sake
of the beloved object.  I therefore stated fairly, to the horror and
amazement of all my hearers, that the Sheik, in my view, was likely to
make a most capital husband, and that I entirely “approved of the match.”

I left Nablus under the impression that Mariam would soon be delivered to
her Mussulman lover.  I afterwards found, however, that the result was
very different.  Dthemetri’s religious zeal and hate had been so much
excited by the account of these events, and by the grief and
mortification of his co-religionists, that when he found me firmly
determined to decline all interference in the matter, he secretly
appealed to the Governor in my name, and (using, I suppose, many violent
threats, and telling no doubt many lies about my station and influence)
extorted a promise that the proselyte should be restored to her
relatives.  I did not understand that the girl had been actually given up
whilst I remained at Nablus, but Dthemetri certainly did not desist from
his instances until he had satisfied himself by some means or other (for
mere words amounted to nothing) that the promise would be actually
performed.  It was not till I had quitted Syria, and when Dthemetri was
no longer in my service, that this villainous, though well-motived trick,
of his came to my knowledge.  Mysseri, who had informed me of the step
which had been taken, did not know it himself until some time after we
had quitted Nablus, when Dthemetri exultingly confessed his successful
enterprise.  I know not whether the engagement which my zealous dragoman
extorted from the Governor was ever complied with.  I shudder to think of
the fate which must have befallen Mariam if she fell into the hands of
the Christians.



CHAPTER XXVI
THE PROPHET DAMOOR


FOR some hours I passed along the shores of the fair lake of Galilee;
then turning a little to the westward, I struck into a mountainous tract,
and as I advanced thenceforward, the lie of the country kept growing more
and more bold.  At length I drew near to the city of Safed.  It sits as
proud as a fortress upon the summit of a craggy height; yet because of
its minarets and stately trees, the place looks happy and beautiful.  It
is one of the holy cities of the Talmud, and according to this authority,
the Messiah will reign there for forty years before He takes possession
of Sion.  The sanctity and historical importance thus attributed to the
city by anticipation render it a favourite place of retirement for
Israelites, of whom it contains, they say, about four thousand, a number
nearly balancing that of the Mahometan inhabitants.  I knew by my
experience of Tabarieh that a “holy city” was sure to have a population
of vermin somewhat proportionate to the number of its Israelites, and I
therefore caused my tent to be pitched upon a green spot of ground at a
respectful distance from the walls of the town.

When it had become quite dark (for there was no moon that night) I was
informed that several Jews had secretly come from the city in the hope of
obtaining some assistance from me in circumstances of imminent danger; I
was also informed that they claimed my aid upon the ground that some of
their number were British subjects.  It was arranged that the two
principal men of the party should speak for the rest, and these were
accordingly admitted into my tent.  One of the two called himself the
British vice-consul, and he had with him his consular cap, but he frankly
said that he could not have dared to assume this emblem of his dignity in
the daytime, and that nothing but the extreme darkness of the night
rendered it safe for him to put it on upon this occasion.  The other of
the spokesmen was a Jew of Gibraltar, a tolerably well-bred person, who
spoke English very fluently.

These men informed me that the Jews of the place, who were exceedingly
wealthy, had lived peaceably in their retirement until the insurrection
which took place in 1834, but about the beginning of that year a highly
religious Mussulman called Mohammed Damoor went forth into the
market-place, crying with a loud voice, and prophesying that on the
fifteenth of the following June the true Believers would rise up in just
wrath against the Jews, and despoil them of their gold and their silver
and their jewels.  The earnestness of the prophet produced some
impression at the time, but all went on as usual, until at last the
fifteenth of June arrived.  When that day dawned the whole Mussulman
population of the place assembled in the streets that they might see the
result of the prophecy.  Suddenly Mohammed Damoor rushed furious into the
crowd, and the fierce shout of the prophet soon ensured the fulfilment of
his prophecy.  Some of the Jews fled, and some remained, but they who
fled and they who remained, alike, and unresistingly, left their property
to the hands of the spoilers.  The most odious of all outrages, that of
searching the women for the base purpose of discovering such things as
gold and silver concealed about their persons, was perpetrated without
shame.  The poor Jews were so stricken with terror, that they submitted
to their fate even where resistance would have been easy.  In several
instances a young Mussulman boy, not more than ten or twelve years of
age, walked straight into the house of a Jew and stripped him of his
property before his face, and in the presence of his whole family. {280}
When the insurrection was put down some of the Mussulmans (most probably
those who had got no spoil wherewith they might buy immunity) were
punished, but the greater part of them escaped.  None of the booty was
restored, and the pecuniary redress which the Pasha had undertaken to
enforce for them had been hitherto so carefully delayed, that the hope of
ever obtaining it had grown very faint.  A new Governor had been
appointed to the command of the place, with stringent orders to ascertain
the real extent of the losses, and to discover the spoilers, with a view
of compelling them to make restitution.  It was found that,
notwithstanding the urgency of the instructions which the Governor had
received, he did not push on the affair with the vigour that had been
expected.  The Jews complained, and either by the protection of the
British consul at Damascus, or by some other means, had influence enough
to induce the appointment of a special commissioner—they called him “the
Modeer”—whose duty it was to watch for and prevent anything like
connivance on the part of the Governor, and to push on the investigation
with vigour and impartiality.

Such were the instructions with which some few weeks since the Modeer
came charged.  The result was that the investigation had made no
practical advance, and that the Modeer as well as the Governor was living
upon terms of affectionate friendship with Mohammed Damoor and the rest
of the principal spoilers.

Thus stood the chance of redress for the past, but the cause of the
agonising excitement under which the Jews of the place now laboured was
recent and justly alarming.  Mohammed Damoor had again gone forth into
the market-place, and lifted up his voice and prophesied a second
spoliation of the Israelites.  This was grave matter; the words of such a
practical man as Mohammed Damoor were not to be despised.  I fear I must
have smiled visibly, for I was greatly amused, and even, I think,
gratified at the account of this second prophecy.  Nevertheless, my heart
warmed towards the poor oppressed Israelites, and I was flattered, too,
in the point of my national vanity at the notion of the far-reaching link
by which a Jew in Syria, who had been born on the rock of Gibraltar, was
able to claim me as his fellow-countryman.  If I hesitated at all between
the “impropriety” of interfering in a matter which was no business of
mine and the “infernal shame” of refusing my aid at such a conjecture, I
soon came to a very ungentlemanly decision, namely, that I would be
guilty of the “impropriety,” and not of the “infernal shame.”  It seemed
to me that the immediate arrest of Mohammed Damoor was the one thing
needful to the safety of the Jews, and I felt confident (for reasons
which I have already mentioned in speaking of the Nablus affair) that I
should be able to obtain this result by making a formal application to
the Governor.  I told my applicants that I would take this step on the
following morning.  They were very grateful, and were, for a moment, much
pleased at the prospect of safety which might thus be opened to them, but
the deliberation of a minute entirely altered their views, and filled
them with new terror.  They declared that any attempt, or pretended
attempt, on the part of the Governor to arrest Mohammed Damoor would
certainly produce an immediate movement of the whole Mussulman
population, and a consequent massacre and robbery of the Israelites.  My
visitors went out, and remained I know not how long consulting with their
brethren, but all at last agreed that their present perilous and painful
position was better than a certain and immediate attack, and that if
Mohammed Damoor was seized, their second estate would be worse than their
first.  I myself did not think that this would be the case, but I could
not of course force my aid upon the people against their will; and,
moreover, the day fixed for the fulfilment of this second prophecy was
not very close at hand.  A little delay, therefore, in providing against
the impending danger would not necessarily be fatal.  The men now
confessed that although they had come with so much mystery and, as they
thought, at so great a risk to ask my assistance, they were unable to
suggest any mode in which I could aid them, except indeed by mentioning
their grievances to the consul-general at Damascus.  This I promised to
do, and this I did.

My visitors were very thankful to me for the readiness which I had shown
to intermeddle in their affairs, and the grateful wives of the principal
Jews sent to me many compliments, with choice wines and elaborate
sweetmeats.

The course of my travels soon drew me so far from Safed, that I never
heard how the dreadful day passed off which had been fixed for the
accomplishment of the second prophecy.  If the predicted spoliation was
prevented, poor Mohammed Damoor must have been forced, I suppose, to say
that he had prophesied in a metaphorical sense.  This would be a sad
falling off from the brilliant and substantial success of the first
experiment.



CHAPTER XXVII
DAMASCUS


FOR a part of two days I wound under the base of the snow-crowned Djibel
el Sheik, and then entered upon a vast and desolate plain, rarely pierced
at intervals by some sort of withered stem.  The earth in its length and
its breadth and all the deep universe of sky was steeped in light and
heat.  On I rode through the fire, but long before evening came there
were straining eyes that saw, and joyful voices that announced, the sight
of Shaum Shereef—the “holy,” the “blessed” Damascus.

But that which at last I reached with my longing eyes was not a speck in
the horizon, gradually expanding to a group of roofs and walls, but a
long, low line of blackest green, that ran right across in the distance
from east to west.  And this, as I approached, grew deeper, grew wavy in
its outline.  Soon forest trees shot up before my eyes, and robed their
broad shoulders so freshly, that all the throngs of olives as they rose
into view looked sad in their proper dimness.  There were even now no
houses to see, but only the minarets peered out from the midst of shade
into the glowing sky, and bravely touched the sun.  There seemed to be
here no mere city, but rather a province wide and rich, that bounded the
torrid waste.

Until about a year, or two years, before the time of my going there
Damascus had kept up so much of the old bigot zeal against Christians, or
rather, against Europeans, that no one dressed as a Frank could have
dared to show himself in the streets; but the firmness and temper of Mr.
Farren, who hoisted his flag in the city as consul-general for the
district, had soon put an end to all intolerance of Englishmen.  Damascus
was safer than Oxford. {283}  When I entered the city in my usual dress
there was but one poor fellow that wagged his tongue, and him, in the
open streets, Dthemetri horsewhipped.  During my stay I went wherever I
chose, and attended the public baths without molestation.  Indeed, my
relations with the pleasanter portion of the Mahometan population were
upon a much better footing here than at most other places.

In the principal streets of Damascus there is a path for foot-passengers,
which is raised, I think, a foot or two above the bridle-road.  Until the
arrival of the British consul-general none but a Mussulman had been
permitted to walk upon the upper way.  Mr. Farren would not, of course,
suffer that the humiliation of any such exclusion should be submitted to
by an Englishman, and I always walked upon the raised path as free and
unmolested as if I had been in Pall Mall.  The old usage was, however,
maintained with as much strictness as ever against the Christian Rayahs
and Jews: not one of them could have set his foot upon the privileged
path without endangering his life.

I was lounging one day, I remember, along “the paths of the faithful,”
when a Christian Rayah from the bridle-road below saluted me with such
earnestness, and craved so anxiously to speak and be spoken to, that he
soon brought me to a halt.  He had nothing to tell, except only the glory
and exultation with which he saw a fellow-Christian stand level with the
imperious Mussulmans.  Perhaps he had been absent from the place for some
time, for otherwise I hardly know how it could have happened that my
exaltation was the first instance he had seen.  His joy was great.  So
strong and strenuous was England (Lord Palmerston reigned in those days),
that it was a pride and delight for a Syrian Christian to look up and say
that the Englishman’s faith was his too.  If I was vexed at all that I
could not give the man a lift and shake hands with him on level ground,
there was no alloy to _his_ pleasure.  He followed me on, not looking to
his own path, but keeping his eyes on me.  He saw, as he thought, and
said (for he came with me on to my quarters), the period of the
Mahometan’s absolute ascendency, the beginning of the Christian’s.  He
had so closely associated the insulting privilege of the path with actual
dominion, that seeing it now in one instance abandoned, he looked for the
quick coming of European troops.  His lips only whispered, and that
tremulously, but his fiery eyes spoke out their triumph in long and loud
hurrahs: “I, too, am a Christian.  My foes are the foes of the English.
We are all one people, and Christ is our King.”

If I poorly deserved, yet I liked this claim of brotherhood.  Not all the
warnings which I heard against their rascality could hinder me from
feeling kindly towards my fellow-Christians in the East.  English
travellers, from a habit perhaps of depreciating sectarians in their own
country, are apt to look down upon the Oriental Christians as being
“dissenters” from the established religion of a Mahometan empire.  I
never did thus.  By a natural perversity of disposition, which my
nursemaids called contr_ai_riness, I felt the more strongly for my creed
when I saw it despised among men.  I quite tolerated the Christianity of
Mahometan countries, notwithstanding its humble aspect and the damaged
character of its followers.  I went further, and extended some sympathy
towards those who, with all the claims of superior intellect, learning,
and industry, were kept down under the heel of the Mussulmans by reason
of their having _our_ faith.  I heard, as I fancied, the faint echo of an
old Crusader’s conscience, that whispered and said, “Common cause!”  The
impulse was, as you may suppose, much too feeble to bring me into
trouble; it merely influenced my actions in a way thoroughly
characteristic of this poor sluggish century, that is, by making me speak
almost as civilly to the followers of Christ as I did to their Mahometan
foes.

This “holy” Damascus, this “earthly paradise” of the Prophet, so fair to
the eyes that he dared not trust himself to tarry in her blissful shades,
she is a city of hidden palaces, of copses and gardens, and fountains and
bubbling streams.  The juice of her life is the gushing and ice-cold
torrent that tumbles from the snowy sides of Anti-Lebanon.  Close along
on the river’s edge, through seven sweet miles of rustling boughs and
deepest shade, the city spreads out her whole length.  As a man falls
flat, face forward on the brook, that he may drink and drink again, so
Damascus, thirsting for ever, lies down with her lips to the stream and
clings to its rushing waters.

The chief places of public amusement, or rather, of public relaxation,
are the baths and the great café; this last, which is frequented at night
by most of the wealthy men, and by many of the humbler sort, consists of
a number of sheds, very simply framed and built in a labyrinth of running
streams, which foam and roar on every side.  The place is lit up in the
simplest manner by numbers of small pale lamps strung upon loose cords,
and so suspended from branch to branch, that the light, though it looks
so quiet amongst the darkening foliage, yet leaps and brightly flashes as
it falls upon the troubled waters.  All around, and chiefly upon the very
edge of the torrents, groups of people are tranquilly seated.  They all
drink coffee, and inhale the cold fumes of the _narghile_; they talk
rather gently the one to the other, or else are silent.  A father will
sometimes have two or three of his boys around him; but the joyousness of
an Oriental child is all of the sober sort, and never disturbs the
reigning calm of the land.

It has been generally understood, I believe, that the houses of Damascus
are more sumptuous than those of any other city in the East.  Some of
these, said to be the most magnificent in the place, I had an opportunity
of seeing.

Every rich man’s house stands detached from its neighbours at the side of
a garden, and it is from this cause no doubt that the city (severely
menaced by prophecy) has hitherto escaped destruction.  You know some
parts of Spain, but you have never, I think, been in Andalusia: if you
had, I could easily show you the interior of a Damascene house by
referring you to the Alhambra or Alcanzar of Seville.  The lofty rooms
are adorned with a rich inlaying of many colours and illuminated writing
on the walls.  The floors are of marble.  One side of any room intended
for noonday retirement is generally laid open to a quadrangle, in the
centre of which there dances the jet of a fountain.  There is no
furniture that can interfere with the cool, palace-like emptiness of the
apartments.  A divan (which is a low and doubly broad sofa) runs round
the three walled sides of the room.  A few Persian carpets (which ought
to be called Persian rugs, for that is the word which indicates their
shape and dimensions) are sometimes thrown about near the divan; they are
placed without order, the one partly lapping over the other, and thus
disposed, they give to the room an appearance of uncaring luxury; except
these (of which I saw few, for the time was summer, and fiercely hot),
there is nothing to obstruct the welcome air, and the whole of the marble
floor from one divan to the other, and from the head of the chamber
across to the murmuring fountain, is thoroughly open and free.

So simple as this is Asiatic luxury!  The Oriental is not a contriving
animal; there is nothing intricate in his magnificence.  The
impossibility of handing down property from father to son for any long
period consecutively seems to prevent the existence of those traditions
by which, with us, the refined modes of applying wealth are made known to
its inheritors.  We know that in England a newly-made rich man cannot, by
taking thought and spending money, obtain even the same-looking furniture
as a gentleman.  The complicated character of an English establishment
allows room for subtle distinctions between that which is _comme il
faut_, and that which is not.  All such refinements are unknown in the
East; the Pasha and the peasant have the same tastes.  The broad cold
marble floor, the simple couch, the air freshly waving through a shady
chamber, a verse of the Koran emblazoned on the wall, the sight and the
sound of falling water, the cold fragrant smoke of the _narghile_, and a
small collection of wives and children in the inner apartments—all these,
the utmost enjoyments of the grandee, are yet such as to be appreciable
by the humblest Mussulman in the empire.

But its gardens are the delight, the delight and the pride of Damascus.
They are not the formal parterres which you might expect from the
Oriental taste; they rather bring back to your mind the memory of some
dark old shrubbery in our northern isle, that has been charmingly
_un_-“kept up” for many and many a day.  When you see a rich wilderness
of wood in decent England, it is like enough that you see it with some
soft regrets.  The puzzled old woman at the lodge can give small account
of “the family.”  She thinks it is “Italy” that has made the whole circle
of her world so gloomy and sad.  You avoid the house in lively dread of a
lone housekeeper, but you make your way on by the stables; you remember
that gable with all its neatly nailed trophies of fitchets and hawks and
owls, now slowly falling to pieces; you remember that stable, and
that—but the doors are all fastened that used to be standing ajar, the
paint of things painted is blistered and cracked, grass grows in the
yard; just there, in October mornings, the keeper would wait with the
dogs and the guns—no keeper now; you hurry away, and gain the small
wicket that used to open to the touch of a lightsome hand—it is fastened
with a padlock (the only new looking thing), and is stained with thick,
green damp; you climb it, and bury yourself in the deep shade, and strive
but lazily with the tangling briars, and stop for long minutes to judge
and determine whether you will creep beneath the long boughs and make
them your archway, or whether perhaps you will lift your heel and tread
them down under foot.  Long doubt, and scarcely to be ended till you wake
from the memory of those days when the path was clear, and chase that
phantom of a muslin sleeve that once weighed warm upon your arm.

Wild as that, the nighest woodland of a deserted home in England, but
without its sweet sadness, is the sumptuous garden of Damascus.  Forest
trees, tall and stately enough if you could see their lofty crests, yet
lead a tussling life of it below, with their branches struggling against
strong numbers of bushes and wilful shrubs.  The shade upon the earth is
black as night.  High, high above your head, and on every side all down
to the ground, the thicket is hemmed in and choked up by the interlacing
boughs that droop with the weight of roses, and load the slow air with
their damask breath. {292}  There are no other flowers.  Here and there,
there are patches of ground made clear from the cover, and these are
either carelessly planted with some common and useful vegetable, or else
are left free to the wayward ways of Nature, and bear rank weeds,
moist-looking and cool to the eyes, and freshening the sense with their
earthy and bitter fragrance.  There is a lane opened through the thicket,
so broad in some places that you can pass along side by side; in some so
narrow (the shrubs are for ever encroaching) that you ought, if you can,
to go on the first and hold back the bough of the rose-tree.  And through
this wilderness there tumbles a loud rushing stream, which is halted at
last in the lowest corner of the garden, and there tossed up in a
fountain by the side of the simple alcove.  This is all.

Never for an instant will the people of Damascus attempt to separate the
idea of bliss from these wild gardens and rushing waters.  Even where
your best affections are concerned, and you, prudent preachers, “hold
hard” and turn aside when they come near the mysteries of the happy
state, and we (prudent preachers too), we will hush our voices, and never
reveal to finite beings the joys of the “earthly paradise.”



CHAPTER XXVIII
PASS OF THE LEBANON


“THE ruins of Baalbec!”  Shall I scatter the vague, solemn thoughts and
all the airy phantasies which gather together when once those words are
spoken, that I may give you instead tall columns and measurements true,
and phrases built with ink?  No, no; the glorious sounds shall still
float on as of yore, and still hold fast upon your brain with their own
dim and infinite meaning.

Come!  Baalbec is over; I got “rather well” out of that.

The path by which I crossed the Lebanon is like, I think, in its features
to one which you must know, namely, that of the Foorca in the Bernese
Oberland.  For a great part of the way I toiled rather painfully through
the dazzling snow, but the labour of ascending added to the excitement
with which I looked for the summit of the pass.  The time came.  There
was a minute in the which I saw nothing but the steep, white shoulder of
the mountain, and there was another minute, and that the next, which
showed me a nether heaven of fleecy clouds that floated along far down in
the air beneath me, and showed me beyond the breadth of all Syria west of
the Lebanon.  But chiefly I clung with my eyes to the dim, steadfast line
of the sea which closed my utmost view.  I had grown well used of late to
the people and the scenes of forlorn Asia—well used to tombs and ruins,
to silent cities and deserted plains, to tranquil men and women sadly
veiled; and now that I saw the even plain of the sea, I leapt with an
easy leap to its yonder shores, and saw all the kingdoms of the West in
that fair path that could lead me from out of this silent land straight
on into shrill Marseilles, or round by the pillars of Hercules to the
crash and roar of London.  My place upon this dividing barrier was as a
man’s puzzling station in eternity, between the birthless past and the
future that has no end.  Behind me I left an old, decrepit world;
religions dead and dying; calm tyrannies expiring in silence; women
hushed and swathed, and turned into waxen dolls; love flown, and in its
stead mere royal and “paradise” pleasures.  Before me there waited glad
bustle and strife; love itself, an emulous game; religion, a cause and a
controversy, well smitten and well defended; men governed by reasons and
suasion of speech; wheels going, steam buzzing—a mortal race, and a
slashing pace, and the devil taking the hindmost—taking _me_, by Jove!
(for that was my inner care), if I lingered too long upon the difficult
pass that leads from thought to action.

I descended and went towards the west.

The group of cedars remaining on this part of the Lebanon is held sacred
by the Greek Church on account of a prevailing notion that the trees were
standing at a time when the temple of Jerusalem was built.  They occupy
three or four acres on the mountain’s side, and many of them are gnarled
in a way that implies great age, but except these signs I saw nothing in
their appearance or conduct that tended to prove them contemporaries of
the cedars employed in Solomon’s Temple.  The final cause to which these
aged survivors owed their preservation was explained to me in the evening
by a glorious old fellow (a Christian chief), who made me welcome in the
valley of Eden.  In ancient times the whole range of the Lebanon had been
covered with cedars, and as the fertile plains beneath became more and
more infested by Government officers and tyrants of high and low degree,
the people by degrees abandoned them and flocked to the rugged mountains,
which were less accessible to their indolent oppressors.  The cedar
forests gradually shrank under the axe of the encroaching multitudes, and
seemed at last to be on the point of disappearing entirely, when an aged
chief who ruled in this district, and who had witnessed the great change
effected even in his own lifetime, chose to say that some sign or
memorial should be left of the vast woods with which the mountains had
formerly been clad, and commanded accordingly that this group of trees
(which was probably situated at the highest point to which the forest had
reached) should remain untouched.  The chief, it seems, was not moved by
the notion I have mentioned as prevailing in the Greek Church, but rather
by some sentiment of veneration for a great natural feature—a sentiment
akin, perhaps, to that old and earthborn religion, which made men bow
down to creation before they had yet learnt how to know and worship the
Creator.

The chief of the valley in which I passed the night was a man of large
possessions, and he entertained me very sumptuously.  He was highly
intelligent, and had had the sagacity to foresee that Europe would
intervene authoritatively in the affairs of Syria.  Bearing this idea in
mind, and with a view to give his son an advantageous start in the
ambitious career for which he was destined, he had hired for him a
teacher of the Italian language, the only accessible European tongue.
The tutor, however, who was a native of Syria, either did not know or did
not choose to teach the European forms of address, but contented himself
with instructing his pupil in the mere language of Italy.  This
circumstance gave me an opportunity (the only one I ever had, or was
likely to have) {296} of hearing the phrases of Oriental courtesy in a
European tongue.  The boy was about twelve or thirteen years old, and
having the advantage of being able to speak to me without the aid of an
interpreter, he took a prominent part in doing the honours of his
father’s house.  He went through his duties with untiring assiduity, and
with a kind of gracefulness which by mere description can scarcely be
made intelligible to those who are unacquainted with the manners of the
Asiatics.  The boy’s address resembled a little that of a highly polished
and insinuating Roman Catholic priest, but had more of girlish
gentleness.  It was strange to hear him gravely and slowly enunciating
the common and extravagant compliments of the East in good Italian, and
in soft, persuasive tones.  I recollect that I was particularly amused at
the gracious obstinacy with which he maintained that the house in which I
was so hospitably entertained belonged not to his father, but to me.  To
say this once was only to use the common form of speech, signifying no
more than our sweet word “welcome,” but the amusing part of the matter
was that, whenever in the course of conversation I happened to speak of
his father’s house or the surrounding domain, the boy invariably
interfered to correct my pretended mistake, and to assure me once again
with a gentle decisiveness of manner that the whole property was really
and exclusively mine, and that his father had not the most distant
pretensions to its ownership.

I received from my host much, and (as I now know) most true, information
respecting the people of the mountains, and their power of resisting
Mehemet Ali.  The chief gave me very plainly to understand that the
mountaineers, being dependent upon others for bread and gunpowder (the
two great necessaries of martial life), could not long hold out against a
power which occupied the plains and commanded the sea; but he also
assured me, and that very significantly, that if this source of weakness
were provided against, _the mountaineers were to be depended upon_; he
told me that in ten or fifteen days the chiefs could bring together some
fifty thousand fighting men.



CHAPTER XXIX
SURPRISE OF SATALIEH {298a}


WHILST I was remaining upon the coast of Syria I had the good fortune to
become acquainted with the Russian Sataliefsky, {298b} a general officer,
who in his youth had fought and bled at Borodino, but was now better
known among diplomats by the important trust committed to him at a period
highly critical for the affairs of Eastern Europe.  I must not tell you
his family name; my mention of his title can do him no harm, for it is I,
and I only, who have conferred it, in consideration of the military and
diplomatic services performed under my own eyes.

The General as well as I was bound for Smyrna, and we agreed to sail
together in an Ionian brigantine.  We did not charter the vessel, but we
made our arrangement with the captain upon such terms that we could be
put ashore upon any part of the coast that we might choose.  We sailed,
and day after day the vessel lay dawdling on the sea with calms and
feeble breezes for her portion.  I myself was well repaid for the painful
restlessness which such weather occasions, because I gained from my
companion a little of that vast fund of interesting knowledge with which
he was stored, knowledge a thousand times the more highly to be prized
since it was not of the sort that is to be gathered from books, but only
from the lips of those who have acted a part in the world.

When after nine days of sailing, or trying to sail, we found ourselves
still hanging by the mainland to the north of the isle of Cyprus, we
determined to disembark at Satalieh, and to go on thence by land.  A
light breeze favoured our purpose, and it was with great delight that we
neared the fragrant land, and saw our anchor go down in the bay of
Satalieh, within two or three hundred yards of the shore.

The town of Satalieh {299} is the chief place of the Pashalic in which it
is situate, and its citadel is the residence of the Pasha.  We had
scarcely dropped our anchor when a boat from the shore came alongside
with officers on board, who announced that the strictest orders had been
received for maintaining a quarantine of three weeks against all vessels
coming from Syria, and directed accordingly that no one from the vessel
should disembark.  In reply we sent a message to the Pasha, setting forth
the rank and titles of the General, and requiring permission to go
ashore.  After a while the boat came again alongside, and the officers
declaring that the orders received from Constantinople were imperative
and unexceptional, formally enjoined us in the name of the Pasha to
abstain from any attempt to land.

I had been hitherto much less impatient of our slow voyage than my
gallant friend, but this opposition made the smooth sea seem to me like a
prison, from which I must and would break out.  I had an unbounded faith
in the feebleness of Asiatic potentates, and I proposed that we should
set the Pasha at defiance.  The General had been worked up to a state of
a most painful agitation by the idea of being driven from the shore which
smiled so pleasantly before his eyes, and he adopted my suggestion with
rapture.

We determined to land.

To approach the sweet shore after a tedious voyage, and then to be
suddenly and unexpectedly prohibited from landing—this is so maddening to
the temper, that no one who had ever experienced the trial would say that
even the most violent impatience of such restraint is wholly inexcusable.
I am not going to pretend, however, that the course which we chose to
adopt on the occasion can be perfectly justified.  The impropriety of a
traveller’s setting at naught the regulations of a foreign State is clear
enough, and the bad taste of compassing such a purpose by mere
gasconading is still more glaringly plain.  I knew perfectly well that if
the Pasha understood his duty, and had energy enough to perform it, he
would order out a file of soldiers the moment we landed, and cause us
both to be shot upon the beach, without allowing more contact than might
be absolutely necessary for the purpose of making us stand fire; but I
also firmly believed that the Pasha would not see the befitting line of
conduct nearly so well as I did, and that even if he did know his duty,
he would hardly succeed in finding resolution enough to perform it.

We ordered the boat to be got in readiness, and the officers on shore
seeing these preparations, gathered together a number of guards, who
assembled upon the sands.  We saw that great excitement prevailed, and
that messengers were continually going to and fro between the shore and
the citadel.  Our captain, out of compliment to his Excellency, had
provided the vessel with a Russian war-flag, which he had hoisted
alternately with the Union Jack, and we agreed that we would attempt our
disembarkation under this, the Russian standard!  I was glad when we came
to that resolution, for I should have been sorry to engage the honoured
flag of England in such an affair as that which we were undertaking.  The
Russian ensign was therefore committed to one of the sailors, who took
his station at the stern of the boat.  We gave particular instructions to
the captain of the brigantine, and when all was ready, the General and I,
with our respective servants, got into the boat, and were slowly rowed
towards the shore.  The guards gathered together at the point for which
we were making, but when they saw that our boat went on without altering
her course, _they ceased to stand very still_; none of them ran away, or
even shrank back, but they looked as if _the pack were being shuffled_,
every man seeming desirous to change places with his neighbour.  They
were still at their post, however, when our oars went in, and the bow of
our boat ran up—well up upon the beach.

The General was lame by an honourable wound received at Borodino, and
could not without some assistance get out of the boat; I, therefore,
landed the first.  My instructions to the captain were attended to with
the most perfect accuracy, for scarcely had my foot indented the sand
when the four six-pounders of the brigantine quite gravely rolled out
their brute thunder.  Precisely as I had expected, the guards and all the
people who had gathered about them gave way under the shock produced by
the mere sound of guns, and we were all allowed to disembark with the
least molestation.

We immediately formed a little column, or rather, as I should have called
it, a procession, for we had no fighting aptitude in us, and were only
trying, as it were, how far we could go in frightening full-grown
children.  First marched the sailor with the Russian flag of war bravely
flying in the breeze, then came the General and I, then our servants, and
lastly, if I rightly recollect, two more of the brigantine’s crew.  Our
flag-bearer so exulted in his honourable office, and bore the colours
aloft with so much of pomp and dignity, that I found it exceedingly hard
to keep a grave countenance.  We advanced towards the castle, but the
people had now had time to recover from the effect of the six-pounders
(only of course loaded with powder), and they could not help seeing not
only the numerical weakness of our party, but the very slight amount of
wealth and resource which it seemed to imply.  They began to hang round
us more closely, and just as this reaction was beginning, the General,
who was perfectly unacquainted with the Asiatic character, thoughtlessly
turned round in order to speak to one of the servants.  The effect of
this slight move was magical.  The people thought we were going to give
way, and instantly closed round us.  In two words, and with one touch, I
showed my comrade the danger he was running, and in the next instant we
were both advancing more pompously than ever.  Some minutes afterwards
there was a second appearance of reaction, followed again by wavering and
indecision on the part of the Pasha’s people, but at length it seemed to
be understood that we should go unmolested into the audience hall.

Constant communication had been going on between the receding crowd and
the Pasha, and so when we reached the gates of the citadel we saw that
preparations were made for giving us an awe-striking reception.  Parting
at once from the sailors and our servants, the General and I were
conducted into the audience hall; and there at least I suppose the Pasha
hoped that he would confound us by his greatness.  The hall was nothing
more than a large whitewashed room.  Oriental potentates have a pride in
that sort of simplicity, when they can contrast it with the exhibition of
power, and this the Pasha was able to do, for the lower end of the hall
was filled with his officers.  These men, of whom I thought there were
about fifty or sixty, were all handsomely, though plainly, dressed in the
military frockcoats of Europe; they stood in mass, and so as to present a
hollow semi-circular front towards the upper end of the hall at which the
Pasha sat; they opened a narrow lane for us when we entered, and as soon
as we had passed they again closed up their ranks.  An attempt was made
to induce us to remain at a respectful distance from his mightiness.  To
have yielded in this point would have been fatal to our success, perhaps
to our lives; but the General and I had already determined upon the place
which we should take, and we rudely pushed on towards the upper end of
the hall.

Upon the divan, and close up against the right hand corner of the room,
there sat the Pasha, his limbs gathered in, the whole creature coiled up
like an adder.  His cheeks were deadly pale, and his lips perhaps had
turned white, for without moving a muscle the man impressed me with an
immense idea of the wrath within him.  He kept his eyes inexorably fixed
as if upon vacancy, and with the look of a man accustomed to refuse the
prayers of those who sue for life.  We soon discomposed him, however,
from this studied fixity of feature, for we marched straight up to the
divan and sat down, the Russian close to the Pasha, and I by the side of
the Russian.  This act astonished the attendants, and plainly
disconcerted the Pasha.  He could no longer maintain the glassy stillness
of the eyes which he had affected, and evidently became much agitated.
At the feet of the satrap there stood a trembling Italian.  This man was
a sort of medico in the potentate’s service, and now in the absence of
our attendants he was to act as interpreter.  The Pasha caused him to
tell us that we had openly defied his authority, and had forced our way
on shore in the teeth of his own officers.

Up to this time I had been the planner of the enterprise, but now that
the moment had come when all would depend upon able and earnest
speechifying, I felt at once the immense superiority of my gallant
friend, and gladly left to him the whole conduct of this discussion.
Indeed he had vast advantages over me, not only by his superior command
of language and his far more spirited style of address, but also in his
consciousness of a good cause; for whilst I felt myself completely in the
wrong, his Excellency had really worked himself up to believe that the
Pasha’s refusal to permit our landing was a gross outrage and insult.
Therefore, without deigning to defend our conduct, he at once commenced a
spirited attack upon the Pasha.  The poor Italian doctor translated one
or two sentences to the Pasha, but he evidently mitigated their import.
The Russian, growing warm, insisted upon his attack with redoubled energy
and spirit; but the medico, instead of translating, began to shake
violently with terror, and at last he came out with his _non ardisco_,
and fairly confessed that he dared not interpret fierce words to his
master.

Now then, at a time when everything seemed to depend upon the effect of
speech, we were left without an interpreter.

But this very circumstance, which at first appeared so unfavourable,
turned out to be advantageous.  The General, finding that he could not
have his words translated, ceased to speak in Italian, and recurred to
his accustomed French; he became eloquent.  No one present except myself
understood one syllable of what he was saying, but he had drawn forth his
passport, and the energy and violence with which, as he spoke, he pointed
to the graven Eagle of all the Russias, began to make an impression.  The
Pasha saw at his side a man not only free from every the least pang of
fear, but raging, as it seemed, with just indignation, and thenceforward
he plainly began to think that, in some way or other (he could not tell
how) he must certainly have been in the wrong.  In a little time he was
so much shaken that the Italian ventured to resume his interpretation,
and my comrade had again the opportunity of pressing his attack upon the
Pasha.  His argument, if I rightly recollect its import, was to this
effect: “If the vilest Jews were to come into the harbour, you would but
forbid them to land, and force them to perform quarantine; yet this is
the very course, O Pasha, which your rash officers dared to think of
adopting with _us_!—those mad and reckless men would have actually dealt
towards a Russian general officer and an English gentleman as if they had
been wretched Israelites!  Never—never will we submit to such an
indignity.  His Imperial Majesty knows how to protect his nobles from
insult, and would never endure that a general of his army should be
treated in matter of quarantine as though he were a mere Eastern Jew!”
This argument told with great effect.  The Pasha fairly admitted that he
felt its weight, and he now only struggled to obtain such a compromise as
might partly save his dignity.  He wanted us to perform a quarantine of
one day for form’s sake, and in order to show his people that he was not
utterly defied; but finding that we were inexorable, he not only
abandoned his attempt, but promised to supply us with horses.

When the discussion had arrived at this happy conclusion, _tchibouques_
and coffee were brought, and we passed, I think, nearly an hour in
friendly conversation.  The Pasha, it now appeared, had once been a
prisoner of war in Russia, and a conviction of the Emperor’s vast power,
necessarily acquired during this captivity, made him perhaps more alive
than an untravelled Turk would have been to the force of my comrade’s
eloquence.

The Pasha now gave us a generous feast.  Our promised horses were brought
without much delay.  I gained my loved saddle once more, and when the
moon got up and touched the heights of Taurus, we were joyfully winding
our way through the first of his rugged defiles.



APPENDIX
THE HOME OF LADY HESTER STANHOPE


IT was late when we came in sight of two high conical hills, on one of
which stands the village of Djouni, on the other a circular wall, over
which dark trees were waving; and this was the place in which Lady Hester
Stanhope had finished her strange and eventful career.  It had formerly
been a convent, but the Pasha of Sidon had given it to the
“prophet-lady,” who converted its naked walls into a palace, and its
wilderness into gardens.

The sun was setting as we entered the enclosure, and we were soon
scattered about the outer court, picketing our horses, rubbing down their
foaming flanks, and washing out their wounds.  The buildings that
constituted the palace were of a very scattered and complicated
description, covering a wide space but only one storey in height: courts
and garden, stables and sleeping-rooms, halls of audience and ladies’
bowers, were strangely intermingled.  Heavy weeds were growing everywhere
among the open portals, and we forced our way with difficulty through a
tangle of roses and jasmine to the inner court; here choice flowers once
bloomed, and fountains played in marble basins, but now was presented a
scene of the most melancholy desolation.  As the watchfire blazed up, its
gleam fell upon masses of honeysuckle and woodbine, on white, mouldering
walls beneath, and dark, waving trees above; while the group of
mountaineers who gathered round its light, with their long beards and
vivid dresses, completed the strange picture.

The clang of sword and spear resounded through the long galleries; horses
neighed among bowers and boudoirs; strange figures hurried to and fro
among the colonnades, shouting in Arabic, English, and Italian; the fire
crackled, the startled bats flapped their heavy wings, and the growl of
distant thunder filled up the pauses in the rough symphony.

Our dinner was spread on the floor in Lady Hester’s favourite apartment;
her deathbed was our sideboard, her furniture our fuel, her name our
conversation.  Almost before the meal was ended two of our party had
dropped asleep over their trenchers from fatigue; the Druses had retired
from the haunted precincts to their village; and W—, L—, and I went out
into the garden to smoke our pipes by Lady Hester’s lonely tomb.  About
midnight we fell asleep upon the ground, wrapped in our capotes, and
dreamed of ladies and tombs and prophets till the neighing of our horses
announced the dawn.

After a hurried breakfast on fragments of the last night’s repast we
strolled out over the extensive gardens.  Here many a broken arbour and
trellis, bending under masses of jasmine and honeysuckle, show the care
and taste that were once lavished on this wild but beautiful hermitage; a
garden-house, surrounded by an enclosure of roses run wild, lies in the
midst of a grove of myrtle and bay trees.  This was Lady Hester’s
favourite resort during her lifetime; and now, within its silent
enclosure,

    “After life’s fitful fevers he sleeps well.”

The hand of ruin has dealt very sparingly with all these interesting
relics; the Pasha’s power by day, and the fear of spirits by night, keep
off marauders; and though _we_ made free with broken benches and fallen
doorposts for fuel, we reverently abstained from displacing anything in
the establishment except a few roses, which there was no living thing but
bees and nightingales to regret.  It was one of the most striking and
interesting spots I ever witnessed: its silence and beauty, its richness
and desolation, lent to it a touching and mysterious character, that
suited well the memory of that strange hermit-lady who has made it a
place of pilgrimage, even in Palestine. {310}

The Pasha of Sidon presented Lady Hester with the deserted convent of Mar
Elias on her arrival in his country, and this she soon converted into a
fortress, garrisoned by a band of Albanians: her only attendants besides
were her doctor, her secretary, and some female slaves.  Public rumour
soon busied itself with such a personage, and exaggerated her influence
and power.  It is even said that she was crowned Queen of the East at
Palmyra by fifty thousand Arabs.  She certainly exercised almost despotic
power in her neighbourhood on the mountain; and what was perhaps the most
remarkable proof of her talents, she prevailed on some Jews to advance
large sums of money to her on her note of hand.  She lived for many
years, beset with difficulties and anxieties, but to the last she held on
gallantly; even when confined to her bed and dying she sought for no
companionship or comfort but such as she could find in her own powerful,
though unmanageable, mind.

Mr. Moore, our consul at Beyrout, hearing she was ill, rode over the
mountains to visit her, accompanied by Mr. Thomson, the American
missionary.  It was evening when they arrived, and a profound silence was
over all the palace.  No one met them; they lighted their own lamps in
the outer court, and passed unquestioned through court and gallery until
they came to where _she_ lay.  A corpse was the only inhabitant of the
palace, and the isolation from her kind which she had sought so long was
indeed complete.  That morning thirty-seven servants had watched every
motion of her eye: its spell once darkened by death, every one fled with
such plunder as they could secure.  A little girl, adopted by her and
maintained for years, took her watch and some papers on which she had set
peculiar value.  Neither the child nor the property were ever seen again.
Not a single thing was left in the room where she lay dead, except the
ornaments upon her person.  No one had ventured to touch these; even in
death she seemed able to protect herself.  At midnight her countryman and
the missionary carried her out by torchlight to a spot in the garden that
had been formerly her favourite resort, and here they buried the
self-exiled lady.—_From_ “THE CRESCENT AND THE CROSS,” _by Eliot
Warburton_.

                                * * * * *

                                 THE END

                                * * * * *

             PRINTED BY MORRISON AND GIBBS LIMITED, EDINBURGH



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On the opposite page is printed a first list of books, and many others
are in preparation.

The First Volumes will be—

Vanity Fair.  By W. M. THACKERAY.  Edited by Stephen Gwynn.  _Three
Volumes_.

Pendennis.  By W. M. THACKERAY.  Edited by Stephen Gwynn.  _Three
Volumes_.

Pride and Prejudice.  By JANE AUSTEN.  Edited by E. V. Lucas.  _Two
Volumes_.

Cranford.  By MRS GASKELL.  Edited by V. Lucas.

John Halifax, Gentleman.  By MRS CRAIK.  Edited by Annie Matheson.  _Two
Volumes_.

Lavengro.  By GEORGE BORROW.  Edited by H. Groome.  _Two Volumes_.

Eothen.  By A. W. KINGLAKE.  Edited by D.

A Little Book of English Lyrics.

A Little Book of Scottish Verse.  Edited by T. F. Henderson.

The Inferno of Dante.  Translated by H. F. CARY.  With an Introduction
and Notes by Paget Toynbee.

The Early Poems of Alfred, Lord Tennyson.  Edited by J. Churton Collins,
M.A.

The Princess, and other Poems.  By ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON.  Edited by
Elizabeth Wordsworth.

Maud, and other Poems.  By ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON.  Edited by Elizabeth
Wordsworth.

In Memoriam.  By ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON.  Edited by H. C. Beeching. {315}



NOTES.


{xiv}  The title “Shadow of God,” or “Divine Shadow,” is really used
comparatively rarely, and only in the Court language.  Judged by a strict
standard it is of doubtful orthodoxy.

{xvi}  It is hardly correct to call them the _Unitarians_ of the Moslem
world, as Kinglake does, for Unitarianism, that is Antitrinitarianism, is
the essence of all Mohammedanism.

{xvii}  Aden was occupied in 1839.  _Eothen_ must have been written
between the tour in 1834 and its publication in 1844, but there seems to
be no evidence as to the date of composition, and perhaps it was not all
written at once.

{xxxi}  This is

             “The moving row
    Of magic shadow shapes which come and go,”

mentioned in Fitzgerald’s version of _Omar Khayyam_.

{xxxv}  [“Our Lady of Bitterness,” said to have been a nickname of Mrs.
Barry Cornwall, noted for her sharp tongue.]

{xxxvii}  “Eōthen” is, I hope, almost the only hard word to be found in
the book; it is written in Greek _ἠωθεν_—(Atticè, with an aspirated _ε_
instead of the _ἠ_)—and signifies, “from the early dawn”—“from the
East.”—_Donn. Lex_, 4th edition.

{1}  [This is all changed now.  There is constant communication beween
the Servian and Hungarian banks, so much so that Belgrade presents few
national characteristics, and looks quite as much a Hungarian as a
Servian town.]

{2}  A “compromised” person is one who has been in contact with people or
things supposed to be capable of conveying infection.  As a general rule
the whole Ottoman Empire lies constantly under this terrible ban.  The
“yellow flag” is the ensign of the quarantine establishment.

{6}  The narghile is a water-pipe upon the plan of the hookah, but more
gracefully fashioned; the smoke is drawn by a very long flexible tube,
that winds its snake-like way from the vase to the lips of the beatified
smoker.

{7}  [The wording “amber up to mine,” found in many editions, is
evidently a misreading of Kinglake’s handwriting.  He must have made his
l’s rather small and not have dotted his i’s.]

{13}  That is, if he stands up at all.  Oriental etiquette would not
warrant his rising, unless his visitor were supposed to be at least his
equal in point of rank and station.

{14a}  [A man in charge of post-horses.  At the present day most business
connected with horse-transport in European Turkey is managed by Vlachs, a
people speaking a language closely akin to Roumanian, and scattered over
Macedonia, particularly near the Thessalian frontier.]

{14b}  [This accomplished gentleman subsequently became the proprietor of
an hotel, which was long the principal hostelry of Constantinople.  The
name still exists, but the building has been burnt down.]

{14c}  The continual marriages of these people with the chosen beauties
of Georgia and Circassia have overpowered the original ugliness of their
Tatar ancestors.

{23}  [The remains of this pyramid, or rather the chapel which is erected
over them, can be seen close to the railway immediately after leaving
Nish for Pirot and the Bulgarian frontier.  Only two or three skulls are
now left embedded in masonry.  According to the story now told in Servia,
Singelich, a Servian leader during the Karageorge Insurrection, when hard
pressed by the Turks, fired into his powder magazine, and blew up himself
and his followers as well as numbers of his enemies.  The Turks, in order
to intimidate the other Serbs, collected the heads of the victims and
built of them a tower or pyramid.  In 1878, when Nish became part of the
principality of Servia, most of the skulls were removed and buried, but
two or three remain.]

{31}  There is almost always a breeze either from the Marmora or from the
Black Sea, that passes along the course of the Bosphorus.

{34}  The yashmak, you know, is not a mere semi-transparent veil, but
rather a good substantial petticoat applied to the face; it thoroughly
conceals all the features, except the eyes; the way of withdrawing it is
by pulling it down.

{35}  The “pipe of tranquillity” is a _tchibouque_ too long to be
conveniently carried on a journey; the possession of it therefore implies
that its owner is stationary, or, at all events, that he is enjoying a
long repose from travel.

{36}  [The structure of Turkish can only be said to resemble Latin in the
general sense that the verb comes at the end of the sentence, which can
be swelled out to enormous, and indeed preposterous, dimensions.  The
Turk of the old school thinks that a letter or document, and even a
single chapter of a book, ought to consist of one sentence; but in this
respect there has been considerable improvement of late, and modern
newspapers and light literature are written in phrases of relatively
reasonable length,—not longer, say, than German,—and with a much smaller
proportion of Arabic and Persian words.  The Osmanli gets few
opportunities for public speaking nowadays, but it is said that the
short-lived Turkish Parliament in 1877 furnished a very creditable
oratorical display.]

{41}  [Since this chapter was written the labours of Schliemann and
Dorpfeld have excavated Hissarlik, commonly considered to be the site of
Troy, though some prefer to identify the city of the _Iliad_ with the
ruins of Bunar Bashi, farther inland.  Hissarlik is a huge mound, in a
singularly desolate plain about an hour’s ride from Kum Kale, at the
entrance of the Dardanelles, and is said to be composed of the ruins of
no less than eight or nine cities placed one on the top of the other.  Of
the older layers the best preserved are the second and sixth cities.
There are no statues, inscriptions, or other indications, so that the
structure of this pile of dead towns is excessively difficult to
understand, and only becomes intelligible when explained by someone
thoroughly acquainted with the course of the excavations; for in order to
reach the lower layers it has naturally been necessary to displace the
upper ones.  The general character of the scene is still excellently
described by Byron’s lines in _Don Juan_, Cant. iv.:

    “Here, on the green and village-cotted hill, is
       (Flanked by the Hellespont and by the sea)
    Entombed the bravest of the brave, Achilles;
       (They say so—Bryant says the contrary):
    And further downward, tall and towering still, is
       The tumulus—of whom?  Heaven knows; ‘t may be
    Patroclus, Ajax, or Protesilaus;
    All heroes, who, if living still, would slay us.
    High barrows, without marble or a name,
       A vast, untilled, and mountain-skirted plain,
    And Ida, in the distance, still the same,
       And old Scamander (if ‘t be he), remain;
    The situation still seems formed for fame—
       A hundred thousand men might fight again,
    With ease; but where I looked for Ilion’s walls,
    The quiet sheep feeds, and the tortoise crawls.
    Troops of untended horses; here and there
       Some little hamlets, with new names uncouth;
    Some shepherds (not like Paris), led to stare
       A moment at the European youth,
    Whom to the spot his schoolboy feelings bear;
       A Turk, with beads in hand and pipe in mouth,
    Extremely taken with his own religion,
    Are what I found there—but the devil a Phrygian.”]

{50}  The Jews of Smyrna are poor, and having little merchandise of their
own to dispose of, they are sadly importunate in offering their services
as intermediaries: their troublesome conduct has led to the custom of
beating them in the open streets.  It is usual for Europeans to carry
long sticks with them, for the express purpose of keeping off the chosen
people.  I always felt ashamed to strike the poor fellows myself, but I
confess to the amusement with which I witnessed the observance of this
custom by other people.  The Jew seldom got hurt much, for he was always
expecting the blow, and was ready to recede from it the moment it came:
one could not help being rather gratified at seeing him bound away so
nimbly, with his long robes floating out in the air, and then again wheel
round, and return with fresh importunities.

{51}  [Carrigaholt is said to have been Henry Stuart Burton, of
Carrigaholt, County Clare.]

{54}  Marriages in the East are arranged by professed matchmakers; many
of these, I believe, are Jewesses.

{61}  A Greek woman wears her whole fortune upon her person in the shape
of jewels or gold coins; I believe that this mode of investment is
adopted in great measure for safety’s sake.  It has the advantage of
enabling a suitor to _reckon_ as well as to admire the objects of his
affection.

{66}  St. Nicholas is the great patron of Greek sailors.  A small picture
of him enclosed in a glass case is hung up like a barometer at one end of
the cabin.

{67}  Hanmer.

{77}

    “. . . ubi templum illi, centumque Sabæo
    Thure calent aræ, sertisque recentibus halant.”

                                                         —_Æneid_, i. 415.

{82}  The writer advises that none should attempt to read the following
account of the late Lady Hester Stanhope except those who may already
chance to feel an interest in the personage to whom it relates.  The
chapter (which has been written and printed for the reasons mentioned in
the preface) is chiefly filled with the detailed conversation, or rather
discourse, of a highly eccentric gentlewoman.

{90a}  Historically “_fainting_”; the death did not occur until long
afterwards.

{90b}  I am told that in youth she was exceedingly sallow.

{92}  This was my impression at the time of writing the above passage, an
impression created by the popular and uncontradicted accounts of the
matter, as well as by the tenor of Lady Hester’s conversation.  I have
now some reason to think that I was deceived, and that her sway in the
desert was much more limited than I had supposed.  She seems to have had
from the Bedouins a fair five hundred pounds’ worth of respect, and not
much more.

{96}  She spoke it, I daresay, in English; the words would not be the
less effective for being spoken in an unknown tongue.  Lady Hester, I
believe, never learnt to speak the Arabic with a perfect accent.

{99}  The proceedings thus described to me by Lady Hester as having taken
place during her illness, were afterwards re-enacted at the time of her
death.  Since I wrote the words to which this note is appended, I
received from Warburton an interesting account of the heroine’s death, or
rather the circumstances attending the discovery of the event; and I
caused it to be printed in the former editions of this work.  I must now
give up the borrowed ornament, and omit my extract from my friend’s
letter, for the rightful owner has reprinted it in _The Crescent and the
Cross_.  I know what a sacrifice I am making, for in noticing the first
edition of this book reviewers turned aside from the text to the note,
and remarked upon the interesting information which Warburton’s letter
contained.  (This narrative is reproduced in an Appendix to the present
edition.)

{102}  In a letter which I afterwards received from Lady Hester, she
mentioned incidentally Lord Hardwicke, and said that he was “the
kindest-hearted man existing—a most manly, firm character.  He comes from
a good breed—all the Yorkes excellent, with _ancient_ French blood in
their veins.”  The underscoring of the word “ancient” is by the writer of
the letter, who had certainly no great love or veneration for the French
of the present day: she did not consider them as descended from her
favourite stock.

{103}  It is said that deaf people can hear what is said concerning
themselves, and it would seem that those who live without books or
newspapers know all that is written about them.  Lady Hester Stanhope,
though not admitting a book or newspaper into her fortress, seems to have
known the way in which M. Lamartine mentioned her in his book, for in a
letter which she wrote to me after my return to England she says,
“Although neglected, as Monsieur le M.” (referring, as I believe, to M.
Lamartine) “describes, and without books, yet my head is organised to
supply the want of them as well as acquired knowledge.”

{105}  I have been recently told that this Italian’s pretensions to the
healing art were thoroughly unfounded.  My informant is a gentleman who
enjoyed during many years the esteem and confidence of Lady Hester
Stanhope; his adventures in the Levant were most curious and interesting.

{111}  The Greek Church does not recognise this as the true sanctuary,
and many Protestants look upon all the traditions by which it is
attempted to ascertain the holy places of Palestine as utterly fabulous.
For myself, I do not mean either to affirm or deny the correctness of the
opinion which has fixed upon this as the true site, but merely to mention
it as a belief entertained without question by my brethren of the Latin
Church, whose guest I was at the time.  It would be a great aggravation
of the trouble of writing about these matters if I were to stop in the
midst of every sentence for the purpose of saying “so called” or “so it
is said,” and would besides sound very ungraciously: yet I am anxious to
be literally true in all I write.  Now, thus it is that I mean to get
over my difficulty.  Whenever in this great bundle of papers or book (if
book it is to be) you see any words about matters of religion which would
seem to involve the assertion of my own opinion, you are to understand me
just as if one or other of the qualifying phrases above mentioned had
been actually inserted in every sentence.  My general direction for you
to construe me thus will render all that I write as strictly and actually
true as if I had every time lugged in a formal declaration of the fact
that I was merely expressing the notions of other people.

{115}  “Vino d’oro.”

{123}  Shereef.

{124}  Tennyson.

{126}  The other three cities held holy by Jews are Jerusalem, Hebron,
and Safet.

{149}  (The tented Arabs are no doubt very bad Mohammedans, but the
assumption which Kinglake seems to make that prostrations are essential
to a Moslem religious ceremony is not correct.  The form of prayer called
in Turkey Namaz, which ought to be performed by every devout Moslem five
times a day, does necessarily involve prostrations in which the forehead
touches the ground, but it is by no means the only, though doubtless the
most important, act of worship mentioned by Islam.  In the present case
the ceremony was probably a blessing, which is generally given by closing
the eyes and uplifting the arms with the hands bent back and the palms
open.  I have often seen such benedictions given when a party sets out
for a pilgrimage or any other purpose.)

{166}  Hadji, a pilgrim.

{169}  [Kinglake might have added that Mohammedans admit that Christ
worked miracles and was miraculously born of a virgin.  They do not
however believe that He was crucified.]

{181}  Milnes cleverly goes to the French for the exact word which
conveys the impression produced by the voice of the Arabs, and calls them
“un peuple _criard_.”

{202}  There is some semblance of bravado in my manner of talking about
the plague.  I have been more careful to describe the terrors of other
people than my own.  The truth is, that during the whole period of my
stay at Cairo I remained thoroughly impressed with a sense of my danger.
I may almost say, that I lived in perpetual apprehension, for even in
sleep, as I fancy, there remained with me some faint notion of the peril
with which I was encompassed.  But fear does not necessarily damp the
spirits; on the contrary, it will often operate as an excitement, giving
rise to unusual animation, and thus it affected me.  If I had not been
surrounded at this time by new faces, new scenes, and new sounds, the
effect produced upon my mind by one unceasing cause of alarm might have
been very different.  As it was, the eagerness with which I pursued my
rambles among the wonders of Egypt was sharpened and increased by the
sting of the fear of death.  Thus my account of the matter plainly
conveys an impression that I remained at Cairo without losing my
cheerfulness and buoyancy of spirits.  And this is the truth, but it is
also true, as I have freely confessed, that my sense of danger during the
whole period was lively and continuous.

{203a}  Anglicé for “je le sais.”  These answers of mine, as given above,
are not meant as specimens of mere French, but of that fine, terse,
nervous, Continental English with which I and my compatriots make our way
through Europe.  This language, by the by, is one possessing great force
and energy, and is not without its literature, a literature of the very
highest order.  Where will you find more sturdy specimens of downright,
honest, and noble English than in the Duke of Wellington’s “French”
despatches?

{203b}  The import of the word “compromised,” when used in reference to
contagion, is explained on page 18.

{204}  It is said, that when a Mussulman finds himself attacked by the
plague he goes and takes a bath.  The couches on which the bathers
recline would carry infection, according to the notions of the Europeans.
Whenever, therefore, I took the bath at Cairo (except the first time of
my doing so) I avoided that part of the luxury which consists in being
“put up to dry” upon a kind of bed.

{205}  [See footnote, Introduction, p. xxi.]

{207}  [Mohammedans commonly believe that the souls of the dead do not
rest in peace till their bodies are laid in the tomb.  Hence they bury
the corpse as quickly as possible, and run to the cemetery in order to
shorten the interval during which the departed spirit is kept waiting.
After a few brief prayers at the graveside, the mourners retire forty
paces, halt, and pray again.  It is believed that at this moment two
angels visit the deceased, inquire of his religious belief, and, if he
replies in the words of the formula, that there is “no God but God, and
Mohammed is the Prophet of God,” admit him, not exactly to Paradise, but
to a very tolerable section of Purgatory.]

{217}  Mehemet Ali invited the Mamelukes to a feast, and murdered them
whilst preparing to enter the banquet hall.

{218}  It is not strictly lawful to sell white slaves to a Christian.

{230}  The difficulty was occasioned by the immense exertions which the
Pasha was making to collect camels for military purposes.

{233}  Herodotus, in an after age, stood by with his notebook, and got,
as he thought, the exact returns of all the rations served out.

{236}  [The author of the _Crescent and the Cross_, which appeared the
same year as _Eothen_.]

{246}  See Milman’s _History of the Jews_, first edition.

{263}  [Nablus still maintains its reputation for bigotry.]

{264}  This is an appellation not implying blame, but merit; the “lies”
which it purports to affiliate are feints and cunning stratagems, rather
than the baser kind of falsehoods.  The expression, in short, has nearly
the same meaning as the English word “Yorkshireman.”

{265a}  The 29th of April.

{265b}  [This was no doubt the case in this particular, but it must not
be supposed that April 29 is the Mohammedan New Year’s Day.  The Moslem
religious year consists of twelve lunar months, and is eleven days
shorter than the Christian year.  Hence, if in one year Muharrem (the
first month) falls on April 29, it would fall on April 18 the next.  In
consequence of the great inconveniences of this mode of reckoning, Turks
adopt for secular matters another era called the Financial year, which
starts from the Hijra, but has solar months.  But feasts and fasts are
fixed by the lunar year, so that the month of Ramazan rotates through all
the seasons.]

{267}  [The statements at the beginning of this chapter are altogether
inaccurate.  From the religious point of view a good Mohammedan is as
much, and more, bound than a Christian to encourage any form of
missionary enterprise, seeing that all non-Moslems are destined to
inevitable damnation.  From the legal and practical point of view, the
exercise of all religions is nominally free in Turkey and it is therefore
illegal to convert a Christian at the point of the sword, but it will be
sufficient to remind the reader that during the massacres of 1895–96 many
thousands of Armenians turned Mohammedans, and that those who wished to
subsequently return to their old religion found great difficulty in doing
so.

As a rule Turks despise the Christian races too much to take any trouble
about converting them, but it is absurd to say that conversions are
illegal.  On the contrary, they are fairly frequent, and it is only
necessary that the person converted should state publicly that his change
of religion is due to his own free will.  Cases of young girls embracing
Islam are not rare.  According to the law, minors wishing to become
Moslems must be taken to the house of a respectable person, where a
priest of their own religion can have access to them, and their change of
faith is not legal until they are of age (which means in the case of a
girl twelve or thirteen), but in practice every effort is made to isolate
them in such cases from their friends and surround them with
Mohammedans.]

{272}  These are the names given by the Prophet to certain chapters of
the Koran.

{280}  It was after the interview which I am talking of, and not from the
Jews themselves, that I learnt this fact.

{283}  An enterprising American traveller, Mr. Everett, lately conceived
the bold project of penetrating to the University of Oxford, and this
notwithstanding that he had been in his infancy (they begin very young
those Americans) a Unitarian preacher.  Having a notion, it seems, that
the ambassadorial character would protect him from insult, he adopted the
stratagem of procuring credentials from his Government as Minister
Plenipotentiary at the Court of her Britannic Majesty; he also wore the
exact costume of a Trinitarian.  But all his contrivances were vain;
Oxford disdained, and rejected, and insulted him (not because he
represented a swindling community, but) because that his infantine
sermons were strictly remembered against him; the enterprise failed.

{292}  The rose-trees which I saw were all of the kind we call “damask”;
they grow to an immense height and size.

{296}  A dragoman never interprets in terms the courteous language of the
East.

{298a}  [This place, which is commonly called Adalia (Antalia in
Turkish), is now a port in the province of Konia.

In the time of the Crusades the name varied between Attalie (or Attalia)
and Sattalie (Sattalia).  As it seems clear that it is derived from the
founder, King Attalus, the S must be a later addition, and is perhaps to
be identified with the Greek preposition _els_, which is responsible for
such forms as Istambol (_είς την πόλιν_).]

{298b}  A title signifying transcender or conqueror of Satalieh. {298c}

{298c}  [Sataliefsky is merely an adjective derived from Satalieh, and
means “the Satalian,” just as Zabalkansky (p. 24) means “the
Trans-Balkanic one.”  I mention this because in both cases Kinglake gives
the translation “Transcender” of the Balkans or Satalieh.]

{299}  Spelt “Attalia” and sometimes “Adalia” in English books and maps.

{310}  While Lady Hester Stanhope lived, although numbers visited the
convent, she almost invariably refused admittance to strangers.  She
assigned as a reason the use which M. de Lamartine had made of his
interview.  Mrs. T., who passed some weeks at Djouni, told me, that when
Lady Hester read his account of this interview, she exclaimed, “It is all
false; we did not converse together for more than five minutes; but no
matter, no traveller hereafter shall betray or forge my conversation.”
The author of _Eothen_, however, was her guest, and has given us an
interesting account of his visit in his brilliant volume.

{315}  In the printed book the last page is a specimen page (34) of
Vanity Fair.  It’s been omitted in this transcription on release.—DP.





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