By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: In The Levant - Twenty Fifth Impression
Author: Warner, Charles Dudley
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "In The Levant - Twenty Fifth Impression" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Internet Archive


By Charles Dudley Warner,

Twenty Fifth Impression

Boston: Houghton, Mifflin And Company





































IN the winter and spring of 1875 the writer made the tour of Egypt and
the Levant. The first portion of the journey is described in a volume
published last summer, entitled “My Winter on the Nile, among Mummies
and Moslems”; the second in the following pages. The notes of the
journey were taken and the books were written before there were any
signs of the present Oriental disturbances, and the observations made
are therefore uncolored by any expectation of the existing state of
affairs. Signs enough were visible of a transition period, extraordinary
but hopeful; with the existence of poverty, oppression, superstition,
and ignorance were mingling Occidental and Christian influences, the
faint beginnings of a revival of learning and the stronger pulsations of
awakening commercial and industrial life. The best hope of this revival
was their, as it is now, in peace and not in war. C. D. W.

Hartford, November 10,1876.



SINCE Jonah made his short and ignominious voyage along the Syrian
coast, mariners have had the same difficulty in getting ashore that
the sailors experienced who attempted to land the prophet; his tedious
though safe method of disembarking was not followed by later navigators,
and the landing at Jaffa has remained a vexatious and half the time an
impossible achievement.

The town lies upon the open sea and has no harbor. It is only in
favorable weather that vessels can anchor within a mile or so from
shore, and the Mediterranean steamboats often pass the port without
being able to land either freight or passengers, In the usual condition
of the sea the big fish would have found it difficult to discharge Jonah
without stranding itself, and it seems that it waited three days for the
favorable moment. The best chance for landing nowadays is in the early
morning, in that calm period when the winds and the waves alike await
the movements of the sun. It was at that hour, on the 5th of April,
1875, that we arrived from Port Said on the French steamboat Erymanthe.
The night had been pleasant and the sea tolerably smooth, but not to the
apprehensions of some of the passengers, who always declare that they
prefer, now, a real tempest to a deceitful groundswell. On a recent trip
a party had been prevented from landing, owing to the deliberation
of the ladies in making their toilet; by the time they had attired
themselves in a proper manner to appear in Southern Palestine, the
golden hour had slipped away, and they were able only to look upon the
land which their beauty and clothes would have adorned. None of us were
caught in a like delinquency. At the moment the anchor went down we
were bargaining with a villain to take us ashore, a bargain in which the
yeasty and waxingly uneasy sea gave the boatman all the advantage.

Our little company of four is guided by the philosopher and dragoman
Mohammed Abd-el-Atti, of Cairo, who has served us during the long voyage
of the Nile. He is assisted in his task by the Abyssinian boy Ahman
Abdallah, the brightest and most faithful of servants. In making his
first appearance in the Holy Land he has donned over his gay Oriental
costume a blue Frank coat, and set his fez back upon his head at an
angle exceeding the slope of his forehead. His black face has an unusual
lustre, and his eyes dance with more than their ordinary merriment as he
points excitedly to the shore and cries, “Yâfa! Mist’r Dunham.”

The information is addressed to Madame, whom Ahman, utterly regardless
of sex, invariably addresses by the name of one of our travelling
companions on the Nile.

“Yes, marm; you see him, Yâfa,” interposed Abd-el-Atti; coming
forward with the air of brushing aside, as impertinent, the geographical
information of his subordinate; “not much, I tink, but him bery old.
Let us to go ashore.”

Jaffa, or Yâfa, or Joppa, must have been a well-established city, since
it had maritime dealings with Tarshish, in that remote period in which
the quaint story of Jonah is set,—a piece of Hebrew literature that
bears internal evidence of great antiquity in its extreme naivete.
Although the Canaanites did not come into Palestine till about 2400 b.
c., that is to say, about the time of the twelfth dynasty in Egypt, yet
there is a reasonable tradition that Jaffa existed before the deluge.
For ages it has been the chief Mediterranean port of great Jerusalem.
Here Solomon landed his Lebanon timber for the temple. The town swarmed
more than once with the Roman legions on their way to crush a Jewish
insurrection. It displayed the banner of the Saracen host a few years
after the Hegira. And, later, when the Crusaders erected the standard of
the cross on its walls, it was the dépôt of supplies which Venice and
Genoa and other rich cities contributed to the holy war. Great kingdoms
and conquerors have possessed it in turn, and for thousands of years
merchants have trusted their fortunes to its perilous roadstead. And
yet no one has ever thought it worth while to give it a harbor by the
construction of a mole, or a pier like that at Port Said. I should say
that the first requisite in the industrial, to say nothing of the moral,
regeneration of Palestine is a harbor at Jaffa.

The city is a cluster of irregular, flat-roofed houses, and looks from
the sea like a brown bowl turned bottom up; the roofs are terraces on
which the inhabitants can sleep on summer nights, and to which they
can ascend, out of the narrow, evil-smelling streets, to get a whiff of
sweet odor from the orange gardens which surround the town. The ordinary
pictures of Jaffa do it ample justice. The chief feature in the view is
the hundreds of clumsy feluccas tossing about in the aggravating waves,
diving endwise and dipping sidewise, guided a little by the long sweeps
of the sailors, but apparently the sport of the most uncertain billows.
A swarm of them, four or five deep, surrounds our vessel; they are
rising and falling in the most sickly motion, and dashing into each
other in the frantic efforts of their rowers to get near the gangway
ladder. One minute the boat nearest the stairs rises as if it would
mount into the ship, and the next it sinks below the steps into a
frightful gulf. The passengers watch the passing opportunity to jump
on board, as people dive into the “lift” of a hotel. Freight is
discharged into lighters that are equally frisky; and it is taken on and
off splashed with salt water and liable to a thousand accidents in the
violence of the transit.

Before the town stretches a line of rocks worn for ages, upon which the
surf is breaking and sending white jets into the air. It is through a
narrow opening in this that our boat is borne on the back of a great
wave, and we come into a strip of calmer water and approach the single
landing-stairs. These stairs are not so convenient as those of the
vessel we have just left, and two persons can scarcely pass on them. But
this is the only sea entrance to Jaffa; if the Jews attempt to return
and enter their ancient kingdom this way, it will take them a long time
to get in. A sea-wall fronts the town, fortified by a couple of rusty
cannon at one end, and the passage is through the one gate at the head
of these stairs.

It seems forever that we are kept waiting at the foot of this shaky
stairway. Two opposing currents are struggling to get up and down it:
excited travellers, porters with trunks and knapsacks, and dragomans who
appear to be pushing their way through simply to show their familiarity
with the country. It is a dangerous ascent for a delicate woman.
Somehow, as we wait at this gate where so many men of note have waited,
and look upon this sea-wall upon which have stood so many of the mighty
from Solomon to Origen, from Tiglath-Pileser to Richard Cour de Lion,
the historical figure which most pervades Jaffa is that of the whimsical
Jonah, whose connection with it was the slightest. There is no evidence
that he ever returned here. Josephus, who takes liberties with the
Hebrew Scriptures, says that a whale carried the fugitive into the
Euxine Sea, and there discharged him much nearer to Nineveh than he
would have been if he had kept with the conveyance in which he first
took passage and landed at Tarsus. Probably no one in Jaffa noticed the
little man as he slipped through this gate and took ship, and yet his
simple embarkation from the town has given it more notoriety than any
other event. Thanks to an enduring piece of literature, the unheroic
Jonah and his whale are better known than St. Jerome and his lion;
they are the earliest associates and Oriental acquaintances of all
well-brought-up children in Christendom. For myself, I confess that the
strictness of many a New England Sunday has been relieved by the perusal
of his unique adventure. He in a manner anticipated the use of the
monitors and other cigar-shaped submerged sea-vessels.

When we have struggled up the slippery stairs and come through the gate,
we wind about for some time in a narrow passage on the side of the sea,
and then cross through the city, still on foot. It is a rubbishy place;
the streets are steep and crooked; we pass through archways, we ascend
steps, we make unexpected turns; the shops are a little like bazaars,
but rather Italian than Oriental; we pass a pillared mosque and a Moslem
fountain; we come upon an ancient square, in the centre of which is a
round fountain with pillars and a canopy of stone, and close about it
are the bazaars of merchants. This old fountain is profusely sculptured
with Arabic inscriptions; the stones are worn and have taken the rich
tint of age, and the sunlight blends it into harmony with the gay stuffs
of the shops and the dark skins of the idlers on the pavement. We come
into the great market of fruit and vegetables, where vast heaps of
oranges, like apples in a New England orchard, line the way and fill the
atmosphere with a golden tinge.

The Jaffa oranges are famous in the Orient; they grow to the size of
ostrich eggs, they have a skin as thick as the hide of a rhinoceros,
and, in their season, the pulp is sweet, juicy, and tender. It is a
little late now, and we open one golden globe after another before
we find one that is not dry and tasteless as a piece of punk. But one
cannot resist buying such magnificent fruit.

Outside the walls, through broad dusty highways, by lanes of cactus
hedges and in sight again of the sea breaking on a rocky shore, we come
to the Hotel of the Twelve Tribes, occupied now principally by Cook’s
tribes, most of whom appear to be lost. In the adjacent lot are pitched
the tents of Syrian travellers, and one of Cook’s expeditions is in
all the bustle of speedy departure. The bony, nervous Syrian horses are
assigned by lot to the pilgrims, who are excellent people from England
and America, and most of them as unaccustomed to the back of a horse as
to that of an ostrich. It is touching to see some of the pilgrims walk
around the animals which have fallen to them, wondering how they are to
get on, which side they are to mount, and how they are to stay on. Some
have already mounted, and are walking the steeds carefully round the
enclosure or timidly essaying a trot. Nearly every one concludes, after
a trial, that he would like to change,—something not quite so much
up and down, you know, an easier saddle, a horse that more unites
gentleness with spirit. Some of the dragomans are equipped in a manner
to impress travellers with the perils of the country. One, whom I
remember on the Nile as a mild though showy person, has bloomed here
into a Bedawee: he is fierce in aspect, an arsenal of weapons, and
gallops furiously about upon a horse loaded down with accoutrements.
This, however, is only the beginning of our real danger.

After breakfast we sallied out to see the sights: besides the house of
Simon the tanner, they are not many. The house of Simon is, as it was in
the time of St. Peter, by the seaside. We went upon the roof (and it is
more roof than anything else) where the apostle lay down to sleep and
saw the vision, and looked around upon the other roofs and upon the wide
sweep of the tumbling sea. In the court is a well, the stone curb of
which is deeply worn in several places by the rope, showing long use.
The water is brackish; Simon may have tanned with it. The house has not
probably been destroyed and rebuilt more than four or five times since
St. Peter dwelt here; the Romans once built the entire city. The chief
room is now a mosque. We inquired for the house of Dorcas, but that is
not shown, although I understood that we could see her grave outside the
city. It is a great oversight not to show the house of Dorcas, and
one that I cannot believe will long annoy pilgrims in these days of
multiplied discoveries of sacred sites.

Whether this is the actual spot where the house of Simon stood, I do not
know, nor does it much matter. Here, or hereabouts, the apostle saw that
marvellous vision which proclaimed to a weary world the brotherhood of
man. From this spot issued the gospel of democracy: “Of a truth, I
perceive that God is no respecter of persons.” From this insignificant
dwelling went forth the edict that broke the power of tyrants,
and loosed the bonds of slaves, and ennobled the lot of woman, and
enfranchised the human mind. Of all places on earth I think there is
only one more worthy of pilgrimage by all devout and liberty-loving

We were greatly interested, also, in a visit to the well-known school of
Miss Amot, a mission school for girls in the upper chambers of a house
in the most crowded part of Jaffa. With modest courage and tact and
self-devotion this lady has sustained it here for twelve years, and the
fruits of it already begin to appear. We found twenty or thirty pupils,
nearly all quite young, and most of them daughters of Christians; they
are taught in Arabic the common branches, and some English, and they
learn to sing. They sang for us English tunes like any Sunday school; a
strange sound in a Moslem town. There are one or two other schools of
a similar character in the Orient, conducted as private enterprises by
ladies of culture; and I think there is no work nobler, and none more
worthy of liberal support or more likely to result in giving women a
decent position in Eastern society.

On a little elevation a half-mile outside the walls is a cluster of
wooden houses, which were manufactured in America. There we found the
remnants of the Adams colony, only half a dozen families out of the
original two hundred and fifty persons; two or three men and some widows
and children. The colony built in the centre of their settlement an ugly
little church out of Maine timber; it now stands empty and staring,
with broken windows. It is not difficult to make this adventure appear
romantic. Those who engaged in it were plain New England people, many
of them ignorant, but devout to fanaticism. They had heard the prophets
expounded, and the prophecies of the latter days unravelled, until they
came to believe that the day of the Lord was nigh, and that they had
laid upon them a mission in the fulfilment of the divine purposes. Most
of them were from Maine and New Hampshire, accustomed to bitter winters
and to wring their living from a niggardly soil. I do not wonder that
they were fascinated by the pictures of a fair land of blue skies, a
land of vines and olives and palms, where they were undoubtedly called
by the Spirit to a life of greater sanctity and considerable ease and
abundance. I think I see their dismay when they first pitched their
tents amid this Moslem squalor, and attempted to “squat,” Western
fashion, upon the skirts of the Plain of Sharon, which has been for
some ages pre-empted. They erected houses, however, and joined the other
inhabitants of the region in a struggle for existence. But Adams, the
preacher and president, had not faith enough to wait for the unfolding
of prophecy; he took to strong drink, and with general bad management
the whole enterprise came to grief, and the deluded people were rescued
from starvation only by the liberality of our government.

There was the germ of a good idea in the rash undertaking. If Palestine
is ever to be repeopled, its coming inhabitants must have the means of
subsistence; and if those now here are to be redeemed to a better life,
they must learn to work; before all else there must come a revival of
industry and a development of the resources of the country. To send
here Jews or Gentiles, and to support them by charity, only adds to the
existing misery.

It was eight years ago that the Adams community exploded. Its heirs and
successors are Germans, a colony from Wurtemberg, an Advent sect akin
to the American, but more single-minded and devout. They own the ground
upon which they have settled, having acquired a title from the Turkish
government; they have erected substantial houses of stone and a large
hotel, The Jerusalem, and give many evidences of shrewdness and thrift
as well as piety. They have established a good school, in which, with
German thoroughness, Latin, English, and the higher mathematics are
taught, and an excellent education may be obtained. More land the colony
is not permitted to own; but they hire ground outside the walls which
they farm to advantage.

I talked with one of the teachers, a thin young ascetic in spectacles,
whose severity of countenance and demeanor was sufficient to rebuke all
the Oriental levity I had encountered during the winter. There was
in him and in the other leaders an air of sincere fanaticism, and a
sobriety and integrity in the common laborers, which are the best omens
for the success of the colony. The leaders told us that they thought the
Americans came here with the expectation of making money uppermost in
mind, and hardly in the right spirit. As to themselves, they do not
expect to make money; they repelled the insinuation with some warmth;
they have had, in fact, a very hard struggle, and are thankful for a
fair measure of success. Their sole present purpose is evidently to
redeem and reclaim the land, and make it fit for the expected day of
jubilee. The Jews from all parts of the world, they say, are to return
to Palestine, and there is to issue out of the Holy Land a new divine
impulse which is to be the regeneration and salvation of the world. I
do not know that anybody but the Jews themselves would oppose their
migration to Palestine, though their withdrawal from the business of the
world suddenly would create wide disaster. With these doubts, however,
we did not trouble the youthful knight of severity. We only asked him
upon what the community founded its creed and its mission. Largely, he
replied, upon the prophets, and especially upon Isaiah; and he referred
us to Isaiah xxxii. 1; xlix. 12 et seq.; and lii. 1. It is not every
industrial community that would flourish on a charter so vague as this.

A lad of twelve or fourteen was our guide to the Advent settlement; he
was an early polyglot, speaking, besides English, French, and German,
Arabic, and, I think, a little Greek; a boy of uncommon gravity of
deportment and of precocious shrewdness. He is destined to be a guide
and dragoman. I could see that the whole Biblical history was a little
fade to him, but he does not lose sight of the profit of a knowledge of
it. I could not but contrast him with a Sunday-school scholar of his own
age in America, whose imagination kindles at the Old Testament stories,
and whose enthusiasm for the Holy Land is awakened by the wall maps and
the pictures of Solomon’s temple. Actual contact has destroyed the
imagination of this boy; Jerusalem is not so much a wonder to him as
Boston; Samson lived just over there beyond the Plain of Sharon, and is
not so much a hero as Old Put.

The boy’s mother was a good New Hampshire woman, whose downright
Yankeeism of thought and speech was in odd contrast to her Oriental
surroundings. I sat in a rocking-chair in the sitting-room of her little
wood cottage, and could scarcely convince myself that I was not in
a prim New Hampshire parlor. To her mind there were no more Oriental
illusions, and perhaps she had never indulged any; certainly, in her
presence Palestine seemed to me as commonplace as New England.

“I s’pose you ‘ve seen the meetin’ house?”


“Wal’ it’s goin’ to rack and ruin like everything else here.
There is n’t enough here to have any service now. Sometimes I go to
the German; I try to keep up a little feeling.”

I have no doubt it is more difficult to keep up a religious feeling in
the Holy Land than it is in New Hampshire, but we did not discuss that
point. I asked, “Do you have any society?”

“Precious little. The Germans are dreffle unsocial. The natives are
all a low set. The Arabs will all lie; I don’t think much of any
of ‘em. The Mohammedans are all shiftless; you can’t trust any of

“Why don’t you go home?”

“Wal, sometimes I think I’d like to see the old place, but I reckon
I could n’t stand the winters. This is a nice climate, that’s
all there is here; and we have grapes and oranges, and loads of
flowers,—you see my garden there; I set great store by that and me and
my daughter take solid comfort in it, especially when he is away, and
he has to be off most of the time with parties, guidin’ ‘em. No, I
guess I sha’n’. ever cross the ocean again.”

It appeared that the good woman had consoled herself with a second
husband, who bears a Jewish name; so that the original object of her
mission, to gather in the chosen people, is not altogether lost sight

There is a curious interest in these New England transplantations.
Climate is a great transformer. The habits and customs of thousands of
years will insensibly conquer the most stubborn prejudices. I wonder how
long it will require to blend these scions of our vigorous
civilization with the motley growth that makes up the present Syriac
population,—people whose blood is streaked with a dozen different
strains, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Arabian, Assyrian, Phoenician, Greek,
Roman, Canaanite, Jewish, Persian, Turkish, with all the races that have
in turn ravaged or occupied the land. I do not, indeed, presume to say
what the Syrians are who have occupied Palestine for so many hundreds of
years, but I cannot see how it can be otherwise than that their blood
is as mixed as that of the modern Egyptians. Perhaps these New England
offshoots will maintain their distinction of race for a long time, but
I should be still more interested to know how long the New England
mind will keep its integrity in these surroundings, and whether those
ruggednesses of virtue and those homely simplicities of character which
we recognize as belonging to the hilly portions of New England will
insensibly melt away in this relaxing air that so much wants moral tone.
These Oriental countries have been conquered many times, but they have
always conquered their conquerors. I am told that even our American
consuls are not always more successful in resisting the undermining
seductions of the East than were the Roman proconsuls.

These reflections, however, let it be confessed, did not come to me as
I sat in the rocking-chair of my countrywoman. I was rather thinking how
completely her presence and accent dispelled all my Oriental illusions
and cheapened the associations of Jaffa. There is I know not what in a
real living Yankee that puts all appearances to the test and dissipates
the colors of romance. It was not until I came again into the highway
and found in front of The Jerusalem hotel a company of Arab acrobats and
pyramid-builders, their swarthy bodies shining in the white sunlight,
and a lot of idlers squatting about in enjoyment of the exertions of
others, that I recovered in any degree my delusions.

With the return of these, it seemed not so impossible to believe even in
the return of the Jews; especially when we learned that preparations for
them multiply. A second German colony has been established outside of
the city. There is another at Haifa; on the Jerusalem road the beginning
of one has been made by the Jews themselves. It amounts to something
like a “movement.”

At three o’clock in the afternoon we set out for Ramleh,
ignominiously, in a wagon. There is a carriage-road from Jaffa to
Jerusalem, and our dragoman had promised us a “private carriage.” We
decided to take it, thinking it would be more comfortable than horseback
for some of our party. We made a mistake which we have never ceased to
regret. The road I can confidently commend as the worst in the world.
The carriage into which we climbed belonged to the German colony,
and was a compromise between the ancient ark, a modern dray, and a
threshing-machine. It was one of those contrivances that a German would
evolve out of his inner consciousness, and its appearance here gave
me grave doubts as to the adaptability of these honest Germans to the
Orient. It was, however, a great deal worse than it looked. If it were
driven over smooth ground it would soon loosen all the teeth of the
passengers, and shatter their spinal columns. But over the Jerusalem
road the effect was indescribable. The noise of it was intolerable,
the jolting incredible. The little solid Dutchman, who sat in front and
drove, shook like the charioteer of an artillery wagon; but I suppose he
had no feeling. We pounded along over the roughest stone pavement, with
the sensation of victims drawn to execution in a cart, until we emerged
into the open country; but there we found no improvement in the road.

Jaffa is surrounded by immense orange groves, which are protected along
the highways by hedges of prickly-pear. We came out from a lane of these
upon the level and blooming Plain of Sharon, and saw before us, on the
left, the blue hills of Judæa. It makes little difference what kind
of conveyance one has, it is impossible for him to advance upon this
historic, if not sacred plain, and catch the first glimpse of those
pale hills which stood to him for a celestial vision in his childhood,
without a great quickening of the pulse; and it is a most lovely
view after Egypt, or after anything. The elements of it are simple
enough,—merely a wide sweep of prairie and a line of graceful
mountains; but the forms are pleasing, and the color is incomparable.
The soil is warm and red, the fields are a mass of wild-flowers of
the most brilliant and variegated hues, and, alternately swept by
the shadows of clouds and bathed in the sun, the scene takes on the
animation of incessant change.

It was somewhere here, outside the walls, I do not know the spot, that
the massacre of Jaffa occurred. I purposely go out of my way to repeat
the well-known story of it, and I trust that it will always be recalled
whenever any mention is made of the cruel little Corsican who so long
imposed the vulgarity and savageness of his selfish nature upon
Europe. It was in March, 1799, that Napoleon, toward the close of his
humiliating and disastrous campaign in Egypt, carried Jaffa by storm.
The town was given over to pillage. During its progress four thousand
Albanians of the garrison, taking refuge in some old khans, offered to
surrender on condition that their lives should be spared; otherwise they
would fight to the bitter end. Their terms were accepted, and two of
Napoleon’s aids-de-camp pledged their honor for their safety. They
were marched out to the general’s headquarters and seated in front of
the tents with their arms bound behind them. The displeased commander
called a council of war and deliberated two days upon their fate, and
then signed the order for the massacre of the entire body. The excuse
was that the general could not be burdened with so many prisoners. Thus
in one day were murdered in cold blood about as many people as Jaffa at
present contains. Its inhabitants may be said to have been accustomed
to being massacred; eight thousand of them were butchered in one Roman
assault; but I suppose all antiquity may be searched in vain for an act
of perfidy and cruelty combined equal to that of the Grand Emperor.

The road over which we rattle is a causeway of loose stones; the country
is a plain of sand, but clothed with a luxuriant vegetation. In the
fields the brown husbandmen are plowing, turning up the soft red earth
with a rude plough drawn by cattle yoked wide apart. Red-legged storks,
on their way, I suppose, from Egypt to their summer residence further
north, dot the meadows, and are too busy picking up worms to notice our
halloo. Abd-el-Atti, who has a passion for shooting, begs permission to
“go for” these household birds with the gun; but we explain to
him that we would no more shoot a stork than one of the green birds of
Paradise. Quails are scudding about in the newly turned furrows, and
song birds salute us from the tops of swinging cypresses. The Holy Land
is rejoicing in its one season of beauty, its spring-time.

Trees are not wanting to the verdant meadows. We still encounter an
occasional grove of oranges; olives also appear, and acacias, sycamores,
cypresses, and tamarisks. The pods of the carob-tree are, I believe,
the husks upon which the prodigal son did not thrive. Large patches of
barley are passed. But the fields not occupied with grain are literally
carpeted with wild-flowers of the most brilliant hues, such a display
as I never saw elsewhere: scarlet and dark flaming poppies, the scarlet
anemone, marigolds, white daisies, the lobelia, the lupin, the vetch,
the gorse with its delicate yellow blossom, the pea, something that we
agreed to call the white rose of Sharon, the mallow, the asphodel; the
leaves of a lily not yet in bloom. About the rose of Sharon we no doubt
were mistaken. There is no reason to suppose it was white; but we have
somehow associated the purity of that color with the song beginning,
“I am the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys.” It was
probably not even a rose. We finally decided to cherish the red mallow
as the rose of Sharon; it is very abundant, and the botanist of our
company seemed satisfied to accept it. For myself, the rose by the name
of mallow does not smell sweet.

We come in sight of Rainleh, which lies on the swelling mounds of the
green plain, encompassed by emerald meadows and by groves of orange
and olive, and conspicuous from a great distance by its elegant square
tower, the most beautiful in form that we have seen in the East. As the
sun is sinking, we defer our visit to it and drive to the Latin convent,
where we are to lodge, permission to that effect having been obtained
from the sister convent at Jaffa; a mere form, since a part of the
convent was built expressly for the entertainment of travellers, and the
few monks who occupy it find keeping a hotel a very profitable kind of
hospitality. The stranger is the guest of the superior, no charge is
made, and the little fiction of gratuitous hospitality so pleases the
pilgrim that he will not at his departure be outdone in liberality. It
would be much more agreeable if all our hotels were upon this system.

While the dragoman is unpacking the luggage in the court-yard and
bustling about in a manner to impress the establishment with the
importance of its accession, I climb up to the roofs to get the sunset.
The house is all roofs, it would seem, at different levels. Steps lead
here and there, and one can wander about at will; you could not desire
a pleasanter lounging-place in a summer evening. The protecting walls,
which are breast-high, are built in with cylinders of tile, like the mud
houses in Egypt; the tiles make the walls lighter, and furnish at
the same time peep-holes through which the monks can spy the world,
themselves unseen. I noticed that the tiles about the entrance court
were inclined downwards, so that a curious person could study any new
arrival at the convent without being himself observed. The sun went down
behind the square tower which is called Saracenic and is entirely Gothic
in spirit, and the light lay soft and rosy on the wide compass of green
vegetation; I heard on the distant fields the bells of mules returning
to the gates, and the sound substituted Italy in my mind for Palestine.

From this prospect I was summoned in haste; the superior of the convent
was waiting to receive me, and I had been sought in all directions. I
had no idea why I should be received, but I soon found that the occasion
was not a trivial one. In the reception-room were seated in some state
the superior, attended by two or three brothers, and the remainder of
my suite already assembled. The abbot, if he is an abbot, arose and
cordially welcomed “the general” to his humble establishment, hoped
that he was not fatigued by the journey from Jaffa, and gave him a seat
beside himself. The remainder of the party were ranged according to
their rank. I replied that the journey was on the contrary delightful,
and that any journey could be considered fortunate which had the
hospitable convent of Ramleh as its end. The courteous monk renewed his
solicitous inquiries, and my astonishment was increased by the botanist,
who gravely assured the worthy father that “the general” was
accustomed to fatigue, and that such a journey as this was a recreation
to him.

“What in the mischief is all this about?” I seized a moment to
whisper to the person next me.

“You are a distinguished American general, travelling with his lady in
pursuit of Heaven knows what, and accompanied by his suite; don’t make
a mess of it.”

“Oh,” I said, “if I am a distinguished American general,
travelling with my lady in pursuit of Heaven knows what, I am glad to
know it.”

Fortunately the peaceful father did not know anything more of war than
I did, and I suppose my hastily assumed modesty of the soldier seemed
to him the real thing. It was my first experience of anything like real
war, the first time I had ever occupied any military position, and it
did not seem to be so arduous as has been represented.

Great regret was expressed by the superior that they had not anticipated
my arrival, in order to have entertained me in a more worthy manner; the
convent was uncommonly full of pilgrims, and it would be difficult to
lodge my suite as it deserved. Then there followed a long discussion
between the father and one of the monks upon our disposition for the

“If we give the general and his lady the south room in the court, then
the doctor”—etc., etc.

“Or,” urged the monk, “suppose the general and his lady occupy the
cell number four, then mademoiselle can take”—etc., etc.

The military commander and his lady were at last shown into a cell
opening out of the court, a lofty but narrow vaulted room, with brick
floor and thick walls, and one small window near the ceiling. Instead of
candles we had antique Roman lamps, which made a feeble glimmer in the
cavern; the oddest water-jugs served for pitchers. It may not have been
damp, but it felt as if no sun had ever penetrated the chill interior.

“What is all this nonsense of the general?” I asked Abd-el-Atti, as
soon as I could get hold of that managing factotum.

“Dunno, be sure; these monk always pay more attention to ‘stinguish

“But what did you say at the convent in Jaffa when you applied for a
permit to lodge here?”

“Oh, I tell him my gentleman general American, but ‘stinguish; mebbe
he done gone wrote ‘em that you ‘stinguish American general. Very
nice man, the superior, speak Italian beautiful; when I give him the
letter, he say he do all he can for the general and his suite; he sorry
I not let him know ‘forehand.”

The dinner was served in the long refectory, and there were some
twenty-five persons at table, mostly pilgrims to Jerusalem, and most of
them of the poorer class. One bright Italian had travelled alone with
her little boy all the way from Verona, only to see the Holy Sepulchre.
The monks waited at table and served a very good dinner. Travellers are
not permitted to enter the portion of the large convent which contains
the cells of the monks, nor to visit any part of the old building except
the chapel. I fancied that the jolly brothers who waited at table were
rather glad to come into contact with the world, even in this capacity.

In the dining-room hangs a notable picture. It is the Virgin, enthroned,
with a crown and aureole, holding the holy child, who is also crowned;
in the foreground is a choir of white boys or angels. The Virgin and
child are both black; it is the Virgin of Ethiopia. I could not learn
the origin of this picture; it was rude enough in execution to be the
work of a Greek artist of the present day; but it was said to come from
Ethiopia, where it is necessary to a proper respect for the Virgin
that she should be represented black. She seems to bear something the
relation to the Virgin of Judæa that Astarte did to the Grecian Venus.
And we are again reminded that the East has no prejudice of color: “I
am black but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem”; “Look not upon me
because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me.”

The convent bells are ringing at early dawn, and though we are up
at half past five, nearly all the pilgrims have hastily departed
for Jerusalem. Upon the roof I find the morning fair. There are more
minarets than spires in sight, but they stand together in this pretty
little town without discord. The bells are ringing in melodious
persuasion, but at the same time, in voices as musical, the muezzins are
calling from their galleries; each summoning men to prayer in its own
way. From these walls spectators once looked down upon the battles of
cross and crescent raging in the lovely meadows,—battles of quite as
much pride as piety. A common interest always softens animosity, and
I fancy that monks and Moslems will not again resort to the foolish
practice of breaking each other’s heads so long as they enjoy the
profitable stream of pilgrims to the Holy Land.

After breakfast and a gift to the treasury of the convent according
to our rank—I think if I were to stay there again it would be in the
character of a common soldier—we embarked again in the ark, and jolted
along behind the square-shouldered driver, who seemed to enjoy the
rattling and rumbling of his clumsy vehicle. But no minor infelicity
could destroy for us the freshness of the morning or the enjoyment of
the lovely country. Although, in the jolting, one could not utter a
remark about the beauty of the way without danger of biting his tongue
in two, we feasted our eyes and let our imaginations loose over the vast
ranges of the Old Testament story.

After passing through the fertile meadows of Ramleh, we came into a
more rolling country, destitute of houses, but clothed on with a most
brilliant bloom of wild-flowers, among which the papilionaceous flowers
were conspicuous for color and delicacy. I found by the roadside a black
calla (which I should no more have believed in than in the black Virgin,
if I had not seen it). Its leaf is exactly that of our calla-lily; its
flower is similar to, but not so open and flaring, as the white calla,
and the pistil is large and very long, and of the color of the interior
of the flower. The corolla is green on the outside, but the inside is
incomparably rich, like velvet, black in some lights and dark maroon
in others. Nothing could be finer in color and texture than this superb
flower. Besides the blooms of yesterday we noticed buttercups, various
sorts of the ranunculus, among them the scarlet and the shooting-star,
a light purple flower with a dark purple centre, the Star of Bethlehem,
and the purple wind-flower. Scarlet poppies and the still more brilliant
scarlet anemones, dandelions, marguerites, filled all the fields with
masses of color.

Shortly we come into the hills, through which the road winds upward, and
the scenery is very much like that of the Adirondacks, or would be if
the rocky hills of the latter were denuded of trees. The way begins
to be lively with passengers, and it becomes us to be circumspect, for
almost every foot of ground has been consecrated or desecrated, or in
some manner made memorable. This heap of rubbish is the remains of a
fortress which the Saracens captured, built by the Crusaders to guard
the entrance of the pass, upon the site of an older fortification by the
Maccabees, or founded upon Roman substructions, and mentioned in Judges
as the spot where some very ancient Jew stayed overnight. It is also, no
doubt, one of the stations that help us to determine with the accuracy
of a surveyor the boundary between the territory of Benjamin and Judah.
I try to ascertain all these localities and to remember them all, but I
sometimes get Richard Cour de Lion mixed with Jonathan Maccabæus, and
I have no doubt I mistook “Job’s convent” for the Castellum boni
Latronis, a place we were specially desirous to see as the birthplace of
the “penitent thief.” But whatever we confounded, we are certain of
one thing: we looked over into the Valley of Ajalon. It was over this
valley that Joshua commanded the moon to tarry while he smote the
fugitive Amorites on the heights of Gibeon, there to the east.

The road is thronged with pilgrims to Jerusalem, and with travellers and
their attendants,—gay cavalcades scattered all along the winding way
over the rolling plain, as in the picture of the Pilgrims to Canterbury.
All the transport of freight as well as passengers is by the backs of
beasts of burden. There are long files of horses and mules staggering
under enormous loads of trunks, tents, and bags. Dragomans, some of them
got up in fierce style, with baggy yellow trousers, yellow kuffias bound
about the head with a twisted fillet, armed with long Damascus swords,
their belts stuck full of pistols, and a rifle slung on the back, gallop
furiously along the line, the signs of danger but the assurances of
protection. Camp boys and waiters dash along also, on the pack-horses,
with a great clatter of kitchen furniture; even a scullion has an air of
adventure as he pounds his rack-a-bone steed into a vicious gallop. And
there are the Cook’s tourists, called by everybody “Cookies,”
men and women struggling on according to the pace of their horses,
conspicuous in hats with white muslin drapery hanging over the neck.
Villanous-looking fellows with or without long guns, coming and going
on the highway, have the air of being neither pilgrims nor strangers. We
meet women returning from Jerusalem clad in white, seated astride their
horses, or upon beds which top their multifarious baggage.

We are leaving behind us on the right the country of Samson, in which he
passed his playful and engaging boyhood, and we look wistfully towards
it. Of Zorah, where he was born, nothing is left but a cistern, and
there is only a wretched hamlet to mark the site of Timnath, where he
got his Philistine wife. “Get her for me, for she pleaseth me well,”
was his only reply to the entreaty of his father that he would be
content with a maid of his own people.

The country gets wilder and more rocky as we ascend. Down the ragged
side paths come wretched women and girls, staggering under the loads of
brushwood which they have cut in the high ravines; loads borne upon the
head that would tax the strength of a strong man. I found it no easy
task to lift one of the bundles. The poor creatures were scantily clad
in a single garment of coarse brown cloth, but most of them wore a
profusion of ornaments; strings of coins, Turkish and Arabic, on the
head and breast, and uncouth rings and bracelets. Farther on a rabble of
boys besets us, begging for backsheesh in piteous and whining tones, and
throwing up their arms in theatrical gestures of despair.

All the hills bear marks of having once been terraced to the very tops,
for vines and olives. The natural ledges seem to have been humored into
terraces and occasionally built up and broadened by stone walls; but
where the hill was smooth, traces of terraces are yet visible. The grape
is still cultivated low down the steeps, and the olives straggle over
some of the hills to the very top; but these feeble efforts of culture
or of nature do little to relieve the deserted aspect of the scene.

We lunch in a pretty olive grove, upon a slope long ago terraced and now
grass-grown and flower-sown; lovely vistas open into cool glades, and
paths lead upward among the rocks to inviting retreats. From this high
perch in the bosom of the hills we look off upon Ramleh, Jaffa, the
broad Plain of Sharon, and the sea. A strip of sand between the sea
and the plain produces the effect of a mirage, giving to the plain the
appearance of the sea. It would be a charming spot for a country-seat
for a resident of Jerusalem, although Jerusalem itself is rural enough
at present; and David and Solomon may have had summer pavilions in
these cool shades in sight of the Mediterranean. David himself, however,
perhaps had enough of this region—when he dodged about in these
fastnesses between Ramah and Gath, from the pursuit of Saul—to make
him content with a city life. There is nothing to hinder our believing
that he often enjoyed this prospect; and we do believe it, for it is
already evident that the imagination must be called in to create an
enjoyment of this deserted land. David no doubt loved this spot. For
David was a poet, even at this early period when his occupation was that
of a successful guerilla; and he had all the true poet’s adaptability,
as witness the exquisite ode he composed on the death of his enemy Saul.
I have no doubt that he enjoyed this lovely prospect often, for he was a
man who enjoyed heartily everything lovely. He was in this as in all
he did a thorough man; when he made a raid on an Amorite city, he left
neither man, woman, nor child alive to spread the news.

We have already mounted over two thousand feet. The rocks are silicious
limestone, crumbling and gray with ages of exposure; they give the
landscape an ashy appearance. But there is always a little verdure
amid the rocks, and now and then an olive-tree, perhaps a very old one,
decrepit and twisted into the most fantastic form, as if distorted by
a vegetable rheumatism, casting abroad its withered arms as if the tree
writhed in pain. On such ghostly trees I have no doubt the five kings
were hanged. Another tree or rather shrub is abundant, the dwarf-oak;
and the hawthorn, now in blossom, is frequently seen. The rock-rose—a
delicate white single flower—blooms by the wayside and amid the
ledges, and the scarlet anemone flames out more brilliantly than ever.
Nothing indeed could be more beautiful than the contrast of the clusters
of scarlet anemones and white roses with the gray rocks.

We soon descend into a valley and reach the site of Kirjath-Jearim,
which has not much ancient interest for me, except that the name is
pleasing; but on the other side of the stream and opposite a Moslem
fountain are the gloomy stone habitations of the family of the terrible
Abu Ghaush, whose robberies of travellers kept the whole country in a
panic a quarter of a century ago. He held the key of this pass, and let
no one go by without toll. For fifty years he and his companions defied
the Turkish government, and even went to the extremity of murdering two
pashas who attempted to pass this way. He was disposed of in 1846, but
his descendants still live here, having the inclination but not the
courage of the old chief. We did not encounter any of them, but I have
never seen any buildings that have such a wicked physiognomy as their
grim houses.

Near by is the ruin of a low, thick-walled chapel, of a pure Gothic
style, a remnant of the Crusaders’ occupation. The gloomy wady has
another association; a monkish tradition would have us believe it was
the birthplace of Jeremiah; if the prophet was born in such a hard
country it might account for his lamentations. As we pass out of this
wady, the German driver points to a forlorn village clinging to the
rocky slope of a hill to the right, and says,—

“That is where John Baptist was born.”

The information is sudden and seems improbable, especially as there are
other places where he was born.

“How do you know?” we ask.

“O, I know ganz wohl; I been five years in dis land, and I ought to

Descending into a deep ravine we cross a brook, which we are told is
the one that flows into the Valley of Elah, the valley of the
“terebinth” or button trees; and if so, it is the brook out of
which David took the stone that killed Goliath. It is a bright, dashing
stream. I stood upon the bridge, watching it dancing down the ravine,
and should have none but agreeable recollections of it, but that close
to the bridge stood a vile grog-shop, and in the doorway sat the most
villanous-looking man I ever saw in Judæa, rapacity and murder in his
eyes. The present generation have much more to fear from him and his
drugged liquors than the Israelite had from the giant of Gath.

While the wagon zigzags up the last long hill, I mount by a short path
and come upon a rocky plateau, across which runs a broad way, on the
bed rock, worn smooth by many centuries of travel: by the passing
of caravans and armies to Jerusalem, of innumerable generations of
peasants, of chariots, of horses, mules, and foot-soldiers; here went
the messengers of the king’s pleasure, and here came the heralds and
legates of foreign nations; this great highway the kings and prophets
themselves must have trodden when they journeyed towards the sea; for Ï
cannot learn that the Jews ever had any decent roads, and perhaps
they never attained the civilization necessary to build them. We have
certainly seen no traces of anything like a practicable ancient highway
on this route.

Indeed, the greatest wonder to me in the whole East is that there has
not been a good road built from Jaffa to Jerusalem; that the city
sacred to more than half the world, to all the most powerful nations, to
Moslems, Jews, Greeks, Roman Catholics, Protestants, the desire of all
lands, and the object of pilgrimage with the delicate and the feeble as
well as the strong, should not have a highway to it over which one can
ride without being jarred and stunned and pounded to a jelly; that the
Jews should never have made a road to their seaport; that the Romans,
the road-builders, do not seem to have constructed one over this
important route. The Sultan began this one over which we have been
dragged, for the Empress Eugenie. But he did not finish it; most of the
way it is a mere rubble of stones. The track is well engineered, and
the road bed is well enough; soft stone is at hand to form an excellent
dressing, and it might be, in a short time, as good a highway as any in
Switzerland, if the Sultan would set some of his lazy subjects to work
out their taxes on it. Of course, it is now a great improvement over
the old path for mules; but as a carriage road it is atrocious. Imagine
thirty-six miles of cobble pavement, with every other stone gone and the
remainder sharpened!

Perhaps, however, it is best not to have a decent road to the Holy City
of the world. It would make going there easy, even for delicate ladies
and invalid clergymen; it would reduce the cost of the trip from Jaffa
by two thirds; it would take away employment from a lot of vagabonds
who harry the traveller over the route; it would make the pilgrimage
too much a luxury, in these days of pilgrimages by rail, and of little
faith, or rather of a sort of lacquer of faith which is only credulity.

Upon this plateau we begin to discern signs of the neighborhood of the
city, and we press forward with the utmost eagerness, disappointed at
every turn that a sight of it is not disclosed. Scattered settlements
extend for some distance out on the Jaffa road. We pass a school which
the Germans have established for Arab boys; an institution which does
not meet the approval of our restoration driver; the boys, when they
come out, he says, don’t know what they are; they are neither Moslems
nor Christians. We go rapidly on over the swelling hill, but the city
will not reveal itself. We expect it any moment to rise up before us,
conspicuous on its ancient hills, its walls shining in the sun.

We pass a guard-house, some towers, and newly built private residences.
Our pulses are beating a hundred to the minute, but the city refuses to
“burst” upon us as it does upon other travellers. We have advanced
far enough to see that there is no elevation before us higher than that
we are on. The great sight of all our lives is only a moment separated
from us; in a few rods more our hearts will be satisfied by that
long-dreamed-of prospect. How many millions of pilgrims have hurried
along this road, lifting up their eyes in impatience for the vision!
But it does not come suddenly. We have already seen it, when the driver
stops, points with his whip, and cries,—


“What, that?”

We are above it and nearly upon it. What we see is chiefly this: the
domes and long buildings of the Russian Hospice, on higher ground than
the city and concealing a good part of it; a large number of new houses,
built of limestone prettily streaked with the red oxyde of iron; the
roofs of a few of the city houses, and a little portion of the wall that
overlooks the Valley of Hinnom. The remainder of the city of David is
visible to the imagination.

The suburb through which we pass cannot be called pleasing. Everything
outside the walls looks new and naked; the whitish glare of the stone is
relieved by little vegetation, and the effect is that of barrenness. As
we drive down along the wall of the Russian convent, we begin to meet
pilgrims and strangers, with whom the city overflows at this season;
many Russian peasants, unkempt, unsavory fellows, with long hair and
dirty apparel, but most of them wearing a pelisse trimmed with fur and a
huge fur hat. There are coffee-houses and all sorts of cheap booths
and shanty shops along the highway. The crowd is motley and far from
pleasant; it is sordid, grimy, hard, very different from the more
homogeneous, easy, flowing, graceful, and picturesque assemblage of
vagabonds at the gate of an Egyptian town. There are Russians, Cossacks,
Georgians, Jews, Armenians, Syrians. The northern dirt and squalor and
fanaticism do not come gracefully into the Orient. Besides, the rabble
is importunate and impudent.

We enter by the Jaffa and Hebron gate, a big square tower, with the
exterior entrance to the north and the interior to the east, and the
short turn is choked with camels and horses and a clamorous crowd.
Beside it stands the ruinous citadel of Saladin and the Tower of David,
a noble entrance to a mean street. Through the rush of footmen and
horsemen, beggars, venders of olive-wood, Moslems, Jews, and Greeks,
we make our way to the Mediterranean Hotel, a rambling new hostelry. In
passing to our rooms we pause a moment upon an open balcony to look down
into the green Pool of Hezekiah, and off over the roofs to the Mount of
Olives. Having secured our rooms, I hasten along narrow and abominably
cobbled streets, mere ditches of stone, lined with mean shops, to the
Centre of the Earth, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.


IT was in obedience to a natural but probably mistaken impulse, that I
went straight to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during my first hour
in the city. Perhaps it was a mistake to go there at all; certainly I
should have waited until I had become more accustomed to holy places.
When a person enters this memorable church, as I did, expecting to see
only two sacred sites, and is brought immediately face to face with
thirty-seven, his mind is staggered, and his credulity becomes so
enfeebled that it is practically useless to him thereafter in any part
of the Holy City. And this is a pity, for it is so much easier and
sweeter to believe than to doubt.

It would have been better, also, to have visited Jerusalem many
years ago; then there were fewer sacred sites invented, and scholarly
investigation had not so sharply questioned the authenticity of the few.
But I thought of none of these things as I stumbled along the narrow and
filthy streets, which are stony channels of mud and water, rather than
foot-paths, and peeped into the dirty little shops that line the way. I
thought only that I was in Jerusalem; and it was impossible, at
first, for its near appearance to empty the name of its tremendous
associations, or to drive out the image of that holy city,
“conjubilant with song.”

I had seen the dome of the church from the hotel balcony; the building
itself is so hemmed in by houses that only its south side, in which
is the sole entrance, can be seen from the street. In front of this
entrance is a small square; the descent to this square is by a flight
of steps down Palmer Street, a lane given up to the traffic in beads,
olive-wood, ivory-carving, and the thousand trinkets, most of them cheap
and inartistic, which absorb the industry of the Holy City. The little
square itself, surrounded by ancient buildings on three sides and by
the blackened walls of the church on the north, might be set down in a
mediæval Italian town without incongruity. And at the hour I first saw
it, you would have said that a market or fair was in progress there.
This, however, I found was its normal condition. It is always occupied
by a horde of more clamorous and impudent merchants than you will find
in any other place in the Orient.

It is with some difficulty that the pilgrim can get through the throng
and approach the portal. The pavement is covered with heaps of beads,
shells, and every species of holy fancy-work, by which are seated the
traders, men and women, in wait for customers. The moment I stopped to
look at the church, and it was discovered that I was a new-comer, a
rush was made at me from every part of the square, and I was at once the
centre of the most eager and hungry crowd. Sharp-faced Greeks, impudent
Jews, fair-faced women from Bethlehem, sleek Armenians, thrust strings
of rude olive beads and crosses into my face, forced upon my notice
trumpery carving in ivory, in nuts, in seeds, and screamed prices and
entreaties in chorus, bidding against each other and holding fast to me,
as if I were the last man, and this were the last opportunity they would
ever have of getting rid of their rubbish. Handfuls of beads rapidly
fell from five francs to half a franc, and the dealers insisted upon
my buying, with a threatening air; I remember one hard-featured and
rapacious wretch who danced about and clung to me, and looked into my
eyes with an expression that said plainly, “If you don’t buy these
beads I ‘ll murder you.” My recollection is that I bought, for I
never can resist a persuasion of this sort. Whenever I saw the fellow in
the square afterwards, I always fancied that he regarded me with a sort
of contempt, but he made no further attempt on my life.

This is the sort of preparation that one daily has in approaching the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The greed and noise of traffic around it
are as fatal to sentiment as they are to devotion. You may be amused
one day, you may be indignant the next; at last you will be weary of the
importunate crowd; and the only consolation you can get from these daily
scenes of the desecration of the temple of pilgrimage is the proof they
afford that this is indeed Jerusalem, and that these are the legitimate
descendants of the thieves whom Christ scourged from the precincts of
the temple. Alas that they should thrive under the new dispensation as
they did under the old!

A considerable part of the present Church of the Holy Sepulchre is
not more than sixty years old; but the massive, carved, and dark south
portal, and the remains of the old towers and walls on this side, may be
eight hundred. There has been some sort of a church here ever since the
time of Constantine (that is, three centuries after the crucifixion of
our Lord), which has marked the spot that was then determined to be the
site of the Holy Sepulchre. Many a time the buildings have been swept
away by fire or by the fanaticism of enemies, but they have as often
been renewed. There would seem at first to have been a cluster of
buildings here, each of which arose to cover a newly discovered sacred
site. Happily, all the sacred places are now included within the walls
of this many-roofed, heterogeneous mass, of chapels, shrines, tombs, and
altars of worship of many warring sects, called the Church of the Holy

Happily also the exhaustive discussion of the question of the true site
of the sepulchre, conducted by the most devout and accomplished biblical
scholars and the keenest antiquarians of the age, relieves the ordinary
tourist from any obligation to enter upon an investigation that would
interest none but those who have been upon the spot. No doubt the larger
portion of the Christian world accepts this site as the true one.

I make with diffidence a suggestion that struck me, although it may not
be new. The Pool of Hezekiah is not over four hundred feet, measured
on the map, from the dome of the sepulchre. Under the church itself
are several large excavations in the rocks, which were once cisterns.
Ancient Jerusalem depended for its water upon these cisterns, which
took the drainage from the roofs, and upon a few pools, like that of
Hezekiah, which were fed from other reservoirs, such as Solomon’s
Pool, at a considerable distance from the city. These cisterns under the
church may not date back to the time of our Lord, but if they do, they
were doubtless at that time within the walls. And of course the Pool of
Hezekiah, so near to this alleged site, cannot be supposed to have been
beyond the walls.

Within the door of the church, upon a raised divan at one side, as if
this were a bazaar and he were the merchant, sat a fat Turk, in official
dress, the sneering warden of this Christian edifice, and the perhaps
necessary guardian of peace within. His presence there, however, is
at first a disagreeable surprise to all those who rebel at owing an
approach to the holy place to the toleration of a Moslem; but I was
quite relieved of any sense of obligation when, upon coming out, the
Turk asked me for backsheesh!

Whatever one may think as to the site of Calvary, no one can approach
a spot which even claims to be it, and which has been for centuries the
object of worship of millions, and is constantly thronged by believing
pilgrims, without profound emotion. It was late in the afternoon when
I entered the church, and already the shades of evening increased the
artificial gloom of the interior. At the very entrance lies an object
that arrests one. It is a long marble slab resting upon the pavement,
about which candles are burning. Every devout pilgrim who comes in
kneels and kisses it, and it is sometimes difficult to see it for the
crowds who press about it. Underneath it is supposed to be the Stone of
Unction upon which the Lord’s body was laid, according to the Jewish
fashion, for anointing, after he was taken from the cross.

I turned directly into the rotunda, under the dome of which is the stone
building enclosing the Holy Sepulchre, a ruder structure than that which
covers the hut and tomb of St. Francis in the church at Assisi. I met
in the way a procession of Latin monks, bearing candles, and chanting
as they walked. They were making the round of the holy places in the
church, this being their hour for the tour. The sects have agreed upon
certain hours for these little daily pilgrimages, so that there shall
be no collision. A rabble of pilgrims followed the monks. They had just
come from incensing and adoring the sepulchre, and the crowd of other
pilgrims who had been waiting their turn were now pressing in at the
narrow door. As many times as I have been there, I have always seen
pilgrims struggling to get in and struggling to get out. The proud and
the humble crowd there together; the greasy boor from beyond the Volga
jostles my lady from Naples, and the dainty pilgrim from America pushes
her way through a throng of stout Armenian peasants. But I have never
seen any disorder there, nor any rudeness, except the thoughtless
eagerness of zeal.

Taking my chance in the line, I passed into the first apartment, called
the Chapel of the Angel, a narrow and gloomy antechamber, which takes
its name from the fragment of stone in the centre, the stone upon which
the angel sat after it had been rolled away from the sepulchre. A stream
of light came through the low and narrow door of the tomb. Through the
passage to this vault only one person can enter at a time, and the tomb
will hold no more than three or four. Stooping along the passage, which
is cased with marble like the tomb, and may cover natural rock, I came
into the sacred place, and into a blaze of silver lamps, and candles.
The vault is not more than six feet by seven, and is covered by a low
dome. The sepulchral stone occupies all the right side, and is the
object of devotion. It is of marble, supposed to cover natural stone,
and is cracked and worn smooth on the edge by the kisses of millions of
people. The attendant who stood at one end opened a little trap-door,
in which lamp-cloths were kept, and let me see the naked rock, which is
said to be that of the tomb. While I stood there in that very centre of
the faith and longing of so many souls, which seemed almost to palpitate
with a consciousness of its awful position, pilgrim after pilgrim,
on bended knees, entered the narrow way, kissed with fervor or with
coldness the unresponsive marble, and withdrew in the same attitude.
Some approached it with streaming eyes and kissed it with trembling
rapture; some ladies threw themselves upon the cold stone and sobbed
aloud. Indeed, I did not of my own will intrude upon these acts of
devotion, which have the right of secrecy, but it was some time before
I could escape, so completely was the entrance blocked up. When I had
struggled out, I heard chanting from the hill of Golgotha, and saw the
gleaming of a hundred lights from chapel and tomb and remote recesses,
but I cared to see no more of the temple itself that day.

The next morning (it was the 7th of April) was very cold, and the
day continued so. Without, the air was keen, and within it was nearly
impossible to get warm or keep so, in the thick-walled houses, which
had gathered the damp and chill of dungeons. You might suppose that
the dirtiest and most beggarly city in the world could not be much
deteriorated by the weather, but it is. In a cheerful, sunny day
you find that the desolation of Jerusalem has a certain charm and
attraction: even a tattered Jew leaning against a ruined wall, or a
beggar on a dunghill, is picturesque in the sunshine; but if you put a
day of chill rain and frosty wind into the city, none of the elements of
complete misery are wanting. There is nothing to be done, day or night;
indeed, there is nothing ever to be done in the evening, except to read
your guide-book—that is, the Bible—and go to bed. You are obliged to
act like a Christian here, whatever you are.

Speaking of the weather, a word about the time for visiting Syria may
not be amiss. In the last part of March the snow was a foot deep in the
streets; parties who had started on their tour northward were snowed in
and forced to hide in their tents three days from the howling winter.
There is pleasure for you! We found friends in the city who had been
waiting two weeks after they had exhausted its sights, for settled
weather that would permit them to travel northward. To be sure, the
inhabitants say that this last storm ought to have been rain instead of
snow, according to the habit of the seasons; and it no doubt would have
been if this region were not twenty-five hundred feet above the sea. The
hardships of the Syrian tour are enough in the best weather, and I am
convinced that our dragoman is right in saying that most travellers
begin it too early in the spring.

Jerusalem is not a formidable city to the explorer who is content to
remain above ground, and is not too curious about its substructions and
buried walls, and has no taste, as some have, for crawling through its
drains. I suppose it would elucidate the history of the Jews if we
could dig all this hill away and lay bare all the old foundations, and
ascertain exactly how the city was watered. I, for one, am grateful to
the excellent man and great scholar who crawled on his hands and knees
through a subterranean conduit, and established the fact of a connection
between the Fountain of the Virgin and the Pool of Siloam. But I would
rather contribute money to establish a school for girls in the Holy
City, than to aid in laying bare all the aqueducts from Ophel to the
Tower of David. But this is probably because I do not enough appreciate
the importance of such researches among Jewish remains to the progress
of Christian truth and morality in the world. The discoveries hitherto
made have done much to clear up the topography of ancient Jerusalem;
I do not know that they have yielded anything valuable to art or to
philology, any treasures illustrating the habits, the social life, the
culture, or the religion of the past, such as are revealed beneath
the soil of Rome or in the ashes of Pompeii; it is, however, true that
almost every tourist in Jerusalem becomes speedily involved in all these
questions of ancient sites,—the identification of valleys that once
existed, of walls that are now sunk under the accumulated rubbish of two
thousand years, from thirty feet to ninety feet deep, and of foundations
that are rough enough and massive enough to have been laid by David and
cemented by Solomon. And the fascination of the pursuit would soon send
one underground, with a pickaxe and a shovel. But of all the diggings I
saw in the Holy City, that which interested me most was the excavation
of the church and hospital of the chivalric Knights of St. John;
concerning which I shall say a word further on.

The present walls were built by Sultan Suleiman in the middle of the
sixteenth century, upon foundations much older, and here and there, as
you can see, upon big blocks of Jewish workmanship. The wall is high
enough and very picturesque in its zigzag course and re-entering angles,
and, I suppose, strong enough to hitch a horse to; but cannon-balls
would make short work of it.

Having said thus much of the topography, gratuitously and probably
unnecessarily, for every one is supposed to know Jerusalem as well as he
knows his native town, we are free to look at anything that may chance
to interest us. I do not expect, however, that any words of mine can
convey to the reader a just conception of the sterile and blasted
character of this promontory and the country round about it, or of the
squalor, shabbiness, and unpicturesqueness of the city, always excepting
a few of its buildings and some fragments of antiquity built into modern
structures here and there. And it is difficult to feel that this spot
was ever the splendid capital of a powerful state, that this arid and
stricken country could ever have supplied the necessities of such a
capital, and, above all, that so many Jews could ever have been crowded
within this cramped space as Josephus says perished in the siege by
Titus, when ninety-seven thousand were carried into captivity and eleven
hundred thousand died by famine and the sword. Almost the entire Jewish
nation must have been packed within this small area.

Our first walk through the city was in the Via Dolorosa, as gloomy a
thoroughfare as its name implies. Its historical portion is that steep
and often angled part between the Holy Sepulchre and the house of
Pilate, but we traversed the whole length of it to make our exit from
St. Stephen’s Gate toward the Mount of Olives. It is only about
four hundred years ago that this street obtained the name of the Via
Dolorosa, and that the sacred “stations” on it were marked out for
the benefit of the pilgrim. It is a narrow lane, steep in places, having
frequent sharp angles, running under arches, and passing between gloomy
buildings, enlivened by few shops. Along this way Christ passed from
the Judgment Hall of Pilate to Calvary. I do not know how many times
the houses along it have been destroyed and rebuilt since their
conflagration by Titus, but this destruction is no obstacle to
the existence intact of all that are necessary to illustrate the
Passion-pilgrimage of our Lord. In this street I saw the house of Simon
the Cyrenian, who bore the cross after Jesus; I saw the house of
St. Veronica, from which that woman stepped forth and gave Jesus a
handkerchief to wipe his brow,—the handkerchief, with the Lord’s
features imprinted on it, which we have all seen exhibited at St.
Peter’s in Rome; and I looked for the house of the Wandering Jew, or
at least for the spot where he stood when he received that awful mandate
of fleshly immortality. In this street are recognized the several
“stations” that Christ made in bearing the cross; we were shown the
places where he fell, a stone having the impress of his hand, a pillar
broken by his fall, and also the stone upon which Mary sat when he
passed by. Nothing is wanting that the narrative requires. We saw also
in this street the house of Dives, and the stone on which Lazarus sat
while the dogs ministered unto him. It seemed to me that I must be in
a dream, in thus beholding the houses and places of resort of the
characters in a parable; and I carried my dilemma to a Catholic friend.
But a learned father assured him that there was no doubt that this is
the house of Dives, for Christ often took his parables from real life.
After that I went again to look at the stone, in a corner of a building
amid a heap of refuse, upon which the beggar sat, and to admire the
pretty stone tracery of the windows in the house of Dives.

At the end of the street, in a new Latin nunnery, are the remains of
the house of Pilate, which are supposed to be authentic. The present
establishment is called the convent of St. Anne, and the community is
very fortunate, at this late day, in obtaining such a historic site for
itself. We had the privilege of seeing here some of the original rock
that formed part of the foundations of Pilate’s house; and there are
three stones built into the altar that were taken from the pavement of
Gabbatha, upon which Christ walked. These are recent discoveries; it
appears probable that the real pavement of Gabbatha has been found,
since Pilate’s house is so satisfactorily identified. Spanning the
street in front of this convent is the Ecce Homo arch, upon which Pilate
showed Christ to the populace. The ground of the new building was until
recently in possession of the Moslems, who would not sell it for a less
price than seventy thousand francs; the arch they would not sell at all;
and there now dwells, in a small chamber on top of it, a Moslem saint
and hermit. The world of pilgrims flows under his feet; he looks from
his window upon a daily procession of Christians, who traverse the Via
Dolorosa, having first signified their submission to the Moslem yoke
in the Holy City by passing under this arch of humiliation. The hermit,
however, has the grace not to show himself, and few know that he sits
there, in the holy occupation of letting his hair and his nails grow.

From the house of the Roman procurator we went to the citadel of
Sultan Suleiman. This stands close by the Jaffa Gate, and is the most
picturesque object in all the circuit of the walls, and, although the
citadel is of modern origin, its most characteristic portion lays claim
to great antiquity. The massive structure which impresses all strangers
who enter by the Jaffa Gate is called the Tower of Hippicus, and also
the Tower of David. It is identified as the tower which Herod built and
Josephus describes, and there is as little doubt that its foundations
are the same that David laid and Solomon strengthened. There are no such
stones in any other part of the walls as these enormous bevelled blocks;
they surpass those in the Harem wall, at what is called the Jews’
Wailing Place. The tower stands upon the northwest corner of the old
wall of Zion, and being the point most open to attack it was most
strongly built.

It seems also to have been connected with the palace on Zion which David
built, for it is the tradition that it was from this tower that the king
first saw Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, when “it came to pass in an
eventide that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of
the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself;
and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.” On the other side
of the city gate we now look down upon the Pool of Bathsheba, in which
there is no water, and we are informed that it was by that pool that the
lovely woman, who was destined to be the mother of Solomon, sat when
the king took his evening walk. Others say that she sat by the Pool of
Gibon. It does not matter. The subject was a very fruitful one for the
artists of the Renaissance, who delighted in a glowing reproduction
of the biblical stories, and found in such incidents as this and the
confusion of Susanna themes in which the morality of the age could
express itself without any conflict with the religion of the age. It is
a comment not so much upon the character of David as upon the morality
of the time in which he lived, that although he repented, and no doubt
sincerely, of his sin when reproved for it, his repentance did not take
the direction of self-denial; he did not send away Bathsheba.

This square old tower is interiorly so much in ruins that it is not easy
to climb to its parapet, and yet it still has a guardhouse attached to
it, and is kept like a fortification; a few rusty old cannon, under the
charge of the soldiers, would injure only those who attempted to fire
them; the entire premises have a tumble-down, Turkish aspect. The view
from the top is the best in the city of the city itself; we saw also
from it the hills of Moab and a bit of the Dead Sea.

Close by is the Armenian quarter, covering a large part of what was once
the hill of Zion. I wish it were the Christian quarter, for it is the
only part of the town that makes any pretension to cleanliness, and it
has more than any other the aspect of an abode of peace and charity.
This is owing to its being under the government of one corporation, for
the Armenian convent covers nearly the entire space of this extensive
quarter. The convent is a singular, irregular mass of houses, courts,
and streets, the latter apparently running over and under and through
the houses; you come unexpectedly upon stairways, you traverse roofs,
you enter rooms and houses on the roofs of other houses, and it is
difficult to say at any time whether you are on the earth or in the
air. The convent, at this season, is filled with pilgrims, over three
thousand of whom, I was told, were lodged here. We came upon families of
them in the little rooms in the courts and corridors, or upon the roofs,
pursuing their domestic avocations as if they were at home, cooking,
mending, sleeping, a boorish but simple-minded lot of peasants.

The church is a large and very interesting specimen of religious
architecture and splendid, barbaric decoration. In the vestibule hang
the “bells.” These are long planks of a sonorous wood, which give
forth a ringing sound when struck with a club. As they are of different
sizes, you get some variation of tone, and they can be heard far enough
to call the inmates of the convent to worship. The interior walls are
lined with ancient blue tiles to a considerable height, and above them
are rude and inartistic sacred pictures. There is in the church much
curious inlaid work of mother-of-pearl and olive-wood, especially about
the doors of the chapels, and one side shines with the pearl as if it
were encrusted with silver. Ostrich eggs are strung about in profusion,
with hooks attached for hanging lamps.

The first day of our visit to this church, in one of the doorways of
what seemed to be a side chapel, and which was thickly encrusted with
mother-of-pearl, stood the venerable bishop, in a light rose-colored
robe and a pointed hood, with a cross in his hand, preaching to the
pilgrims, who knelt on the pavement before him, talking in a familiar
manner, and, our guide said, with great plainness of speech. The
Armenian clergy are celebrated for the splendor of their vestments,
and I could not but think that this rose-colored bishop, in his shining
framework, must seem like a being of another sphere to the boors before
him. He almost imposed upon us.

These pilgrims appeared to be of the poorest agricultural class of
laborers, and their costume is uncouth beyond description. In a side
chapel, where we saw tiles on the walls that excited our envy,—the
quaintest figures and illustrations of sacred subjects,—the clerks
were taking the names of pilgrims just arrived, who kneeled before them
and paid a Napoleon each for their lodging in the convent, as long
as they should choose to stay. In this chapel were the shoes of the
pilgrims who had gone into the church, a motley collection of foot-gear,
covering half the floor: leather and straw, square shoes as broad as
long, round shoes, pointed shoes, old shoes, patched shoes, shoes with
the toes gone, a pathetic gathering that told of poverty and weary
travel—and big feet. These shoes were things to muse on, for each
pair, made maybe in a different century, seemed to have a character
of its own, as it stood there awaiting the owner. People often, make
reflections upon a pair of shoes; literature is full of them. Poets have
celebrated many a pretty shoe,—a queen’s slipper, it may be, or the
hobnail brogan of a peasant, or, oftener, the tiny shoes of a child;
but it is seldom that one has an opportunity for such comprehensive
moralizing as was here given. If we ever regretted the lack of a poet in
our party, it was now.

We walked along the Armenian walls, past the lepers’ quarter, and
outside the walls, through the Gate of Zion, or the Gate of the Prophet
David as it is also called, and came upon a continuation of the plateau
of the hill of Zion, which is now covered with cemeteries, and is the
site of the house of Caiaphas and of the tomb of David and those Kings
of Jerusalem who were considered by the people worthy of sepulture here;
for the Jews seem to have brought from Egypt the notion of refusing
royal burial to their bad kings, and they had very few respectable ones.

The house of Caiaphas the high-priest had suffered a recent tumble-down,
and was in such a state of ruin that we could with difficulty enter it
or recognize any likeness of a house. On the premises is an Armenian
chapel; in it we were shown the prison in which Christ was confined,
also the stone door of the sepulchre, which the Latins say the Armenians
stole. But the most remarkable object here is the little marble column
(having carved on it a figure of Christ bound to a pillar) upon which
the cock stood and crowed when Peter denied his Lord. There are some
difficulties in the way of believing this now, but they will lessen as
the column gets age.

Outside this gate lie the desolate fields strewn with the brown
tombstones of the Greeks and Armenians, a melancholy spectacle. Each
sect has its own cemetery, and the dead sleep peaceably enough, but
the living who bury them frequently quarrel. I saw one day a funeral
procession halted outside the walls; for some reason the Greek priest
had refused the dead burial in the grave dug for him in the cemetery;
the bier was dumped on the slope beside the road, and half overturned;
the friends were sitting on the ground, wrangling. The man had been dead
three days, and the coffin had been by the roadside in this place since
the day before. This was in the morning; towards night I saw the same
crowd there, but a Turkish official appeared and ordered the Greeks to
bury their dead somewhere, and that without delay; to bury it for the
sake of the public health, and quarrel about the grave afterwards if
they must. A crowd collected, joining with fiery gesticulation and
clamor in the dispute, the shrill voices of women being heard above all;
but at last, four men roughly shouldered the box, handling it as if it
contained merchandise, and trotted off with it.

As we walked over this pathless, barren necropolis, strewn, as it
were, hap-hazard with shapeless, broken, and leaning headstones, it was
impossible to connect with it any sentiment of affection or piety. It
spoke, like everything else about here, of mortality, and seemed only a
part of that historical Jerusalem which is dead and buried, in which no
living person can have anything more than an archaeological interest.
It was, then, with something like a shock that we heard Demetrius, our
guide, say, pointing to a rude stone,—

“That is the grave of my mother!”

Demetrius was a handsome Greek boy, of a beautiful type which has almost
disappeared from Greece itself, and as clever a lad as ever spoke all
languages and accepted all religions, without yielding too much to any
one. He had been well educated in the English school, and his education
had failed to put any faith in place of the superstition it had
destroyed. The boy seemed to be numerously if not well connected in the
city; he was always exchanging a glance and a smile with some
pretty, dark-eyed Greek girl whom we met in the way, and when I said,
“Demetrius, who was that?” he always answered, “That is my

The boy was so intelligent, so vivacious, and full of the spirit of
adventure,—begging me a dozen times a day to take him with me anywhere
in the world,—and so modern, that he had not till this moment seemed
to belong to Jerusalem, nor to have any part in its decay. This chance
discovery of his intimate relation to this necropolis gave, if I may say
so, a living interest to it, and to all the old burying-grounds about
the city, some of which link the present with the remote past by an
uninterrupted succession of interments for nearly three thousand years.

Just beyond this expanse, or rather in part of it, is a small plot of
ground surrounded by high whitewashed walls, the entrance to which is
secured by a heavy door. This is the American cemetery; and the stout
door and thick wall are, I suppose, necessary to secure its graves
from Moslem insult. It seems not to be visited often, for it was with
difficulty that we could turn the huge key in the rusty lock. There
are some half-dozen graves within; the graves are grass-grown and
flower-sprinkled, and the whole area is a tangle of unrestrained weeds
and grass. The high wall cuts off all view, but we did not for the time
miss it, rather liking for the moment to be secured from the sight of
the awful desolation, and to muse upon the strange fortune that had
drawn to be buried here upon Mount Zion, as a holy resting-place for
them, people alien in race, language, and customs to the house of David,
and removed from it by such spaces of time and distance; people to whom
the worship performed by David, if he could renew it in person on Zion,
would be as distasteful as is that of the Jews in yonder synagogue.

Only a short distance from this we came to the mosque which contains
the tomb of David and probably of Solomon and other Kings of Judah. No
historical monument in or about Jerusalem is better authenticated than
this. Although now for many centuries the Moslems have had possession of
it and forbidden access to it, there is a tolerably connected tradition
of its possession. It was twice opened and relieved of the enormous
treasure in gold and silver which Solomon deposited in it; once by
Hyrcanus Maccabæus, who took what he needed, and again by Herod,
who found very little. There are all sorts of stories told about the
splendor of this tomb and the state with which the Moslems surround it.
But they envelop it in so much mystery that no one can know the truth.
It is probable that the few who suppose they have seen it have seen only
a sort of cenotaph which is above the real tomb in the rock below. The
room which has been seen is embellished with some display of richness
in shawls and hangings of gold embroidery, and contains a sarcophagus of
rough stone, and lights are always burning there. If the royal tombs are
in this place, they are doubtless in the cave below.

Over this spot was built a church by the early Christians; and it is a
tradition that in this building was the Conaculum. This site may very
likely be that of the building where the Last Supper was laid, and it
may be that St. Stephen suffered martyrdom here, and that the Virgin
died here; the building may be as old as the fourth century, but the
chances of any building standing so long in this repeatedly destroyed
city are not good. There is a little house north of this mosque in which
the Virgin spent the last years of her life; if she did, she must have
lived to be over a thousand years old.

On the very brow of the hill, and overlooking the lower pool of Gibon,
is the English school, with its pretty garden and its cemetery. We
saw there some excavations, by which the bedrock had been laid bare,
disclosing some stone steps cut in it. Search is being made here for
the Seat of Solomon, but it does not seem to me a vital matter, for
I suppose he sat down all over this hill, which was covered with his
palaces and harems and other buildings of pleasure, built of stones
that “were of great value, such as are dug out of the earth for the
ornaments of temples and to make fine prospects in royal palaces, and
which make the mines whence they are dug famous.” Solomon’s palace
was constructed entirely of white stone, and cedar-wood, and gold and
silver; in it “were very long cloisters, and those situate in
an agreeable place in the palace, and among them a most glorious
dining-room for feastings and compotations”; indeed, Josephus finds
it difficult to reckon up the variety and the magnitude of the royal
apartments,—“how many that were subterraneous and invisible, the
curiosity of those that enjoyed the fresh air, and the groves for the
most delightful prospect, for avoiding the heat, and covering their
bodies.” If this most luxurious of monarchs introduced here all the
styles of architecture which would represent the nationality of his
wives, as he built temples to suit their different religions, the hill
of Zion must have resembled, on a small scale, the Munich of King Ludwig

Opposite the English school, across the Valley of Hinnom, is a long
block of modern buildings which is one of the most conspicuous
objects outside the city. It was built by another rich Jew, Sir Moses
Montefiore, of London, and contains tenements for poor Jews. Sir Moses
is probably as rich as Solomon was in his own right, and he makes a most
charitable use of his money; but I do not suppose that if he had at his
command the public wealth that Solomon had, who made silver as plentiful
as stones in the streets of Jerusalem, he could materially alleviate the
lazy indigence of the Jewish exiles here. The aged philanthropist made
a journey hither in the summer of 1875, to ascertain for himself
the condition of the Jews. I believe he has a hope of establishing
manufactories in which they can support themselves; but the minds of the
Jews who are already restored are not set upon any sort of industry. It
seems to me that they could be maintained much more cheaply if they were
transported to a less barren land.

We made, one day, an exploration of the Jews’ quarter, which enjoys
the reputation of being more filthy than the Christian. The approach to
it is down a gutter which has the sounding name of the Street of David;
it was bad enough, but when we entered the Jews’ part of the city we
found ourselves in lanes and gutters of incomparable unpleasantness,
and almost impassable, with nothing whatever in them interesting or
picturesque, except the inhabitants. We had a curiosity to see if there
were here any real Jews of the type that inhabited the city in the
time of our Lord, and we saw many with fair skin and light hair, with
straight nose and regular features. The persons whom we are accustomed
to call Jews, and who were found dispersed about Europe at a very early
period of modern history, have the Assyrian features, the hook nose,
dark hair and eyes, and not at all the faces of the fair-haired race
from which our Saviour is supposed to have sprung. The kingdom of
Israel, which contained the ten tribes, was gobbled up by the Assyrians
about the time Rome was founded, and from that date these tribes do
not appear historically. They may have entirely amalgamated with their
conquerors, and the modified race subsequently have passed into Europe;
for the Jews claim to have been in Europe before the destruction of
Jerusalem by Titus, in which nearly all the people of the kingdom of
Judah perished.

Some scholars, who have investigated the problem offered by the two
types above mentioned, think that the Jew as we know him in Europe and
America is not the direct descendant of the Jews of Jerusalem of the
time of Herod, and that the true offspring of the latter is the person
of the light hair and straight nose who is occasionally to be found in
Jerusalem to-day. Until this ethnological problem is settled, I
shall most certainly withhold my feeble contributions for the
“restoration” of the persons at present doing business under the
name of Jews among the Western nations.

But we saw another type of Jew, or rather another variety, in this
quarter. He called himself of the tribe of Benjamin, and is, I think,
the most unpleasant human being I have ever encountered. Every man who
supposes himself of this tribe wears a dark, corkscrew, stringy
curl hanging down each side of his face, and the appearance of nasty
effeminacy which this gives cannot be described. The tribe of Benjamin
does not figure well in sacred history,—it was left-handed; it was
pretty much exterminated by the other tribes once for an awful crime; it
was held from going into the settled idolatry of the kingdom of
Israel only by its contiguity to Judah,—but it was better than its
descendants, if these are its descendants.

More than half of the eight thousand Jews in Jerusalem speak Spanish as
their native tongue, and are the offspring of those expelled from Spain
by Ferdinand. Now and then, I do not know whether it was Spanish or
Arabic, we saw a good face, a noble countenance, a fine Oriental and
venerable type, and occasionally, looking from a window, a Jewish
beauty; but the most whom we met were debased, mis-begotten, the
remnants of sin, squalor, and bad living.

We went into two of the best synagogues,—one new, with a conspicuous
green dome. They are not fine; on the contrary, they are slatternly
places and very ill-kept. On the benches near the windows sat squalid
men and boys reading, the latter, no doubt, students of the law; all the
passages, stairs, and by-rooms were dirty and disorderly, as if it were
always Monday morning there, but never washing-day; rags and heaps of
ancient garments were strewn about; and occasionally we nearly stumbled
over a Jew, indistinguishable from a bundle of old clothes, and asleep
on the floor. Even the sanctuary is full of unkempt people, and of the
evidences of the squalor of the quarter. If this is a specimen of the
restoration of the Jews, they had better not be restored any more.

The thing to do (if the worldliness of the expression will be pardoned)
Friday is to go and see the Jews wail, as in Constantinople it is to see
the Sultan go to prayer, and in Cairo to hear the darwishes howl. The
performance, being an open-air one, is sometimes prevented by rain or
snow, but otherwise it has not failed for many centuries. This ancient
practice is probably not what it once was, having in our modern days,
by becoming a sort of fashion, lost its spontaneity; it will, however,
doubtless be long kept up, as everything of this sort endures in the
East, even if it should become necessary to hire people to wail.

The Friday morning of the day chosen for our visit to the wailing place
was rainy, following a rainy night. The rough-paved open alleys were
gutters of mud, the streets under arches (for there are shops in
subterranean constructions and old vaulted passages) were damper and
darker than usual; the whole city, with its narrow lanes, and thick
walls, and no sewers, was clammy and uncomfortable. We loitered for a
time in the dark and grave-like gold bazaars, where there is but a poor
display of attractions. Pilgrims from all lands were sopping about in
the streets; conspicuous among them were Persians wearing high,
conical frieze hats, and short-legged, big-calfed Russian peasant
women,—animated meal-bags.

We walked across to the Zion Gate, and mounting the city wall there—an
uneven and somewhat broken, but sightly promenade—followed it round to
its junction with the Temple wall, and to Robinson’s Arch. Underneath
the wall by Zion Gate dwell, in low stone huts and burrows, a
considerable number of lepers, who form a horrid community by
themselves. These poor creatures, with toeless feet and fingerless
hands, came out of their dens and assailed us with piteous cries for
charity. What could be done? It was impossible to give to all. The
little we threw them they fought for, and the unsuccessful followed us
with whetted eagerness. We could do nothing but flee, and we climbed the
wall and ran down it, leaving Demetrius behind as a rear-guard. I
should have had more pity for them if they had not exhibited so
much maliciousness. They knew their power, and brought all their
loathsomeness after us, thinking that we would be forced to buy their
retreat. Two hideous old women followed us a long distance, and
when they became convinced that further howling and whining would be
fruitless, they suddenly changed tone and cursed us with healthful
vigor; having cursed us, they hobbled home to roost.

This part of the wall crosses what was once the Tyrophoan Valley, which
is now pretty much filled up; it ran between Mount Moriah, on which
the Temple stood, and Mount Zion. It was spanned in ancient times by a
bridge some three hundred and fifty feet long, resting on stone arches
whose piers must have been from one hundred to two hundred feet in
height; this connected the Temple platform with the top of the steep
side of Zion. It was on the Temple end of this bridge that Titus stood
and held parley with the Jews who refused to surrender Zion after the
loss of Moriah.

The exact locality of this interesting bridge was discovered by Dr.
Robinson. Just north of the southwest corner of the Harem wall (that
is, the Temple or Mount Moriah wall) he noticed three courses of huge
projecting stones, which upon careful inspection proved to be the
segment of an arch. The spring of the arch is so plainly to be seen now
that it is a wonder it remained so long unknown.

The Wailing Place of the Jews is on the west side of the Temple
enclosure, a little to the north of this arch; it is in a long, narrow
court formed by the walls of modern houses and the huge blocks of stone
of this part of the original wall. These stones are no doubt as old as
Solomon’s Temple, and the Jews can here touch the very walls of the
platform of that sacred edifice.

Every Friday a remnant of the children of Israel comes here to weep and
wail. They bring their Scriptures, and leaning against the honey-combed
stone, facing it, read the Lamentations and the Psalms, in a wailing
voice, and occasionally cry aloud in a chorus of lamentation, weeping,
blowing their long noses with blue cotton handkerchiefs, and kissing
the stones. We were told that the smoothness of the stones in spots was
owing to centuries of osculation. The men stand together at one part of
the wall and the women at another. There were not more than twenty Jews
present as actors in the solemn ceremony the day we visited the spot,
and they did not wail much, merely reading the Scriptures in a mumbling
voice and swaying their bodies backward and forward. Still they formed
picturesque and even pathetic groups: venerable old men with long white
beards and hooked noses, clad in rags and shreds and patches in all
degrees of decadence; lank creatures of the tribe of Benjamin with the
corkscrew curls; and skinny old women shaking with weeping, real or

Very likely these wailers were as poor and wretched as they appeared
to be, and their tears were the natural outcome of their grief over the
ruin of the Temple nearly two thousand years ago. I should be the last
one to doubt their enjoyment of this weekly bitter misery. But the
demonstration had somewhat the appearance of a set and show performance;
while it was going on, a shrewd Israelite went about with a box to
collect mites from the spectators. There were many more travellers.
there to see the wailing than there were Jews to wail. This also lent
an unfavorable aspect to the scene. I myself felt that if this were
genuine, I had no business to be there with my undisguised curiosity,
and if it were not genuine, it was the poorest spectacle that Jerusalem
offers to the tourist. Cook’s party was there in force, this being
one of the things promised in the contract; and I soon found myself more
interested in Cook’s pilgrims than in the others.

The Scripture read and wailed this day was the fifty-first Psalm of
David. If you turn to it (you may have already discovered that the
covert purpose of these desultory notes is to compel you to read your
Bible), you will see that it expresses David’s penitence in the matter
of Bathsheba.


THE sojourner in Jerusalem falls into the habit of dropping in at the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre nearly every afternoon. It is the centre
of attraction. There the pilgrims all resort; there one sees, in a day,
many races, and the costumes of strange and distant peoples; there one
sees the various worship of the many Christian sects. There are always
processions making the round of the holy places, sect following
sect, with swinging censers, each fumigating away the effect of its

The central body of the church, answering to the nave, as the rotunda,
which contains the Holy Sepulchre, answers to choir and apse, is the
Greek chapel, and the most magnificent in the building. The portion of
the church set apart to the Latins, opening also out of the rotunda,
is merely a small chapel. The Armenians have still more contracted
accommodations, and the poor Copts enjoy a mere closet, but it is in a
sacred spot, being attached to the west end of the sepulchre itself.

On the western side of the rotunda we passed through the bare and
apparently uncared-for chapel of the Syrians, and entered, through a low
door, into a small grotto hewn in the rock. Lighted candles revealed to
us some tombs, little pits cut in the rock, two in the side-wall and two
in the floor. We had a guide who knew every sacred spot in the city,
a man who never failed to satisfy the curiosity of the most credulous

“Whose tombs are these?” we asked.

“That is the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, and that beside it is the
tomb of Nicodemus.”

“How do you know?”

“How do I know? You ask me how I know. Have n’t I always lived in
Jerusalem? I was born here.”

“Then perhaps you can tell us, if this tomb belonged to Joseph of
Arimathea and this to Nicodemus, whose is this third one?”

“O yes, that other,” replied the guide, with only a moment’s
paralysis of his invention, “that is the tomb of Arimathea himself.”

One afternoon at four, service was going on in the Greek chapel, which
shone with silver and blazed with tapers, and was crowded with pilgrims,
principally Russians of both sexes, many of whom had made a painful
pilgrimage of more than two thousand miles on foot merely to prostrate
themselves in this revered place. A Russian bishop and a priest, in
the resplendent robes of their office, were intoning the service
responsively. In the very centre of this chapel is a round hole covered
with a grating, and tapers are generally burning about it. All the
pilgrims kneeled there, and kissed the grating and adored the hole. I
had the curiosity to push my way through the throng in order to see the
object of devotion, but I could discover nothing. It is, however, an
important spot: it is the centre of the earth; though why Christians
should worship the centre of the earth I do not know. The Armenians have
in their chapel also a spot that they say is the real centre; that makes
three that we know of, for everybody understands that there is one in
the Kaaba at Mecca.

We sat down upon a stone bench near the entrance of the chapel, where we
could observe the passing streams of people, and were greatly diverted
by a blithe and comical beggar who had stationed himself on the pavement
there to intercept the Greek charity of the worshippers when they passed
into the rotunda. He was a diminutive man with distorted limbs; he
wore a peaked red cap, and dragged himself over the pavement, or rather
skipped and flopped about on it like a devil-fish on land. Never was
seen in a beggar such vivacity and imperturbable good-humor, with so
much deviltry in his dancing eyes.

As we appeared to him to occupy a neutral position as to him and his
victims, he soon took us into his confidence and let us see his mode
of operations. He said (to our guide) that he was a Greek from
Damascus,—O yes, a Christian, a pilgrim, who always came down here at
this season, which was his harvest-time. He hoped (with a wicked wink)
that his devotion would be rewarded.

It was very entertaining to see him watch the people coming out, and
select his victims, whom he would indicate to us by a motion of his head
as he hopped towards them. He appeared to rely more upon the poor and
simple than upon the rich, and he was more successful with the former.
But he rarely, such was his insight, made a mistake. Whoever gave him
anything he thanked with the utmost empressement of manner; then he
crossed himself, and turned around and winked at us, his confederates.
When an elegantly dressed lady dropped the smallest of copper coins into
his cap, he let us know his opinion of her by a significant gesture
and a shrug of his shoulders. But no matter from whom he received it,
whenever he added a penny to his store the rascal chirped and laughed
and caressed himself. He was in the way of being trodden under foot by
the crowd; but his agility was extraordinary, and I should not have been
surprised at any moment if he had vaulted over the heads of the throng
and disappeared. If he failed to attract the attention of an eligible
pilgrim, he did not hesitate to give the skirt of his elect a jerk, for
which rudeness he would at once apologize with an indescribable grimace
and a joke.

When the crowd had passed, he slid himself into a corner, by a motion
such as that with which a fish suddenly darts to one side, and set
himself to empty his pocket into his cap and count his plunder, tossing
the pieces into the air and catching them with a chuckle, crossing
himself and hugging himself by turns. He had four francs and a half.
When he had finished counting his money he put it in a bag, and for a
moment his face assumed a grave and business-like expression. We thought
he would depart without demanding anything of us. But we were mistaken;
he had something in view that he no doubt felt would insure him a
liberal backsheesh. Wriggling near to us, he set his face into an
expression of demure humility, held out his cap, and said, in English,
each word falling from his lips as distinctly and unnaturally as if he
had been a wooden articulating machine,—

“Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give
you rest.”

The rascal’s impiety lessened the charity which our intimacy with him
had intended, but he appeared entirely content, chirped, saluted with
gravity, and, with a flop, was gone from our sight.

At the moment, a procession of Franciscan monks swept by, chanting in
rich bass voices, and followed, as usual, by Latin pilgrims, making
the daily round of the holy places; after they had disappeared we could
still hear their voices and catch now and again the glimmer of their
tapers in the vast dark spaces.

Opposite the place where we were sitting is the Chapel of the
Apparition, a room not much more than twenty feet square; it is the
Latin chapel, and besides its contiguity to the sepulchre has some
specialties of its own. The chapel is probably eight hundred years old.
In the centre of the pavement is the spot upon which our Lord stood when
he appeared to the Virgin after the resurrection; near it a slab marks
the place where the three crosses were laid after they were dug up by
Helena, and where the one on which our Lord was crucified was identified
by the miracle that it worked in healing a sick man. South of the altar
is a niche in the wall, now covered over, but a round hole is left
in the covering. I saw pilgrims thrust a long stick into this hole,
withdraw it, and kiss the end. The stick had touched a fragment of the
porphyry column to which the Saviour was bound when he was scourged.

In the semicircle at the east end of the nave are several interesting
places: the prison where Christ was confined before his execution, a
chapel dedicated to the centurion who pierced the side of our Lord, and
the spot on which the vestments were divided. From thence we descend,
by a long flight of steps partly hewn in the rock, to a rude, crypt-like
chapel, in the heavy early Byzantine style, a damp, cheerless place,
called the Chapel of Helena. At the east end of it another flight of
steps leads down into what was formerly a cistern, but is now called the
Chapel of the Invention of the Cross. Here the cross was found, and at
one side of the steps stands the marble chair in which the mother of
Constantine sat while she superintended the digging. Nothing is wanting
that the most credulous pilgrim could wish to see; that is, nothing is
wanting in spots where things were. This chapel belongs to the Latins;
that of Helena to the Greeks; the Abyssinian convent is above both of

On the south side of the church, near the entrance, is a dark room
called the Chapel of Adam, in which there is never more light than a
feeble taper can give. I groped my way into it often, in the hope of
finding something; perhaps it is purposely involved in an obscurity
typical of the origin of mankind. There is a tradition that Adam
was buried on Golgotha, but the only tomb in this chapel is that of
Melchizedek! The chapel formerly contained that of Godfrey de Bouillon,
elected the first king of Jerusalem in 1099, and of Baldwin, his
brother. We were shown the two-handed sword of Godfrey, with which he
clove a Saracen lengthwise into two equal parts, a genuine relic of a
heroic and barbarous age. At the end of this chapel a glimmering light
lets us see through a grating a crack in the rock made by the earthquake
at the crucifixion.

The gloom of this mysterious chapel, which is haunted by the spectre
of that dim shadow of unreality, Melchizedek, prepared us to ascend to
Golgotha, above it. The chapels of Golgotha are supported partly upon
a rock which rises fifteen feet above the pavement of the church. The
first is that of the Elevation of the Cross, and belongs to the Greeks.
Under the altar at the east end is a hole in the marble which is over
the hole in the rock in which the cross stood; on either side of it
are the holes of the crosses of the two thieves. The altar is rich with
silver and gold and jewels. The chamber, when we entered it, was blazing
with light, and Latin monks were performing their adorations, with
chanting and swinging of incense, before the altar. A Greek priest stood
at one side, watching them, and there was plain contempt in his face.
The Greek priests are not wanting in fanaticism, but they never seem to
me to possess the faith of the Latin branch of the Catholic church. When
the Latins had gone, the Greek took us behind the altar, and showed us
another earthquake-rent in the rock.

Adjoining this chapel is the Latin Chapel of the Crucifixion, marking
the spot where Christ was nailed to the cross; from that we looked
through a window into an exterior room dedicated to the Sorrowing
Virgin, where she stood and beheld the crucifixion. Both these latter
rooms do not rest upon the rock, but upon artificial vaults, and of
course can mark the spots commemorated by them only in space.

Perhaps this sensation of being in the air, and of having no
standing-place even for tradition, added something to the strange
feeling that took possession of me; a mingled feeling that was no more
terror than is the apprehension that one experiences at a theatre from
the manufactured thunder behind the scenes. I suppose it arose
from cross currents meeting in the mind, the thought of the awful
significance of the events here represented and the sight of this
theatrical representation. The dreadful name, Golgotha, the gloom of
this part of the building,—a sort of mount of darkness, with its rent
rock and preternatural shadow,—the blazing contrast of the chapel
where the cross stood with the dark passages about it, the chanting and
flashing lights of pilgrims ever coming and going, the neighborhood of
the sepulchre itself, were well calculated to awaken an imagination the
least sensitive. And, so susceptible is the mind to the influence of
that mental electricity—if there is no better name for it—which
proceeds from a mass of minds having one thought (and is sometimes
called public opinion), be it true or false, that whatever one may
believe about the real location of the Holy Sepulchre, he cannot
witness, unmoved, the vast throng of pilgrims to these shrines,
representing as they do every section of the civilized and of the
uncivilized world into which a belief in the cross has penetrated. The
undoubted sincerity of the majority of the pilgrims who worship here
makes us for the time forget the hundred inventions which so often
allure and as often misdirect that worship.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre offers at all times a great spectacle,
and one always novel, in the striking ceremonies and the people who
assist at them. One of the most extraordinary, that of the Holy Fire, at
the Greek Easter, which is three weeks later than the Roman, and which
has been so often described, we did not see. I am not sure that we saw
even all the thirty-seven holy places and objects in the church. It may
not be unprofitable to set down those I can recall. They are,—

The Stone of Unction.

The spot where the Virgin Mary stood when the body of our Lord was

The Holy Sepulchre.

The stone on which the angel sat.

The tombs of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.

The well of Helena.

The stone marking the spot where Christ in the form of a gardener
appeared to Mary Magdalene.

The spot where Mary Magdalene stood.

The spot where our Lord appeared to the Virgin after his resurrection.

The place where the true cross, discovered by Helena, was laid, and
identified by a miracle.

The fragment of the Column of Flagellation.

The prison of our Lord.

The “Bonds of Christ,” a stone with two holes in it.

The place where the title on the cross was preserved.

The place of the division of the vestments.

The centre of the earth (Greek).

The centre of the earth (Armenian).

The altar of the centurion who pierced the body of Christ.

The altar of the penitent thief.

The Chapel of Helena.

The chair in which Helena sat when the cross was found.

The spot where the cross was found.

The Chapel of the Mocking, with a fragment of the column upon which
Jesus sat when they crowned him with thorns.

The Chapel of the Elevation of the Cross.

The spot where the cross stood.

The spots where the crosses of the thieves stood.

The rent rock near the cross.

The spot where Christ was nailed to the cross.

The spot where the Virgin stood during the crucifixion.

The Chapel of Adam.

The tomb of Melchizedek.

The rent rock in the Chapel of Adam.

The spots where the tombs of Godfrey and Baldwin stood.

No, we did not see them all. Besides, there used to be a piece of the
cross in the Latin chapel; but the Armenians are accused of purloining
it. All travellers, I suppose, have seen the celebrated Iron Crown of
Lombardy, which is kept in the church at Monza, near Milan. It is all of
gold except the inner band, which is made of a nail of the cross brought
from Jerusalem by Helena. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre has not all
the relics it might have, but it is as rich in them as any church of its

A place in Jerusalem almost as interesting to Christians as the Holy
Sepulchre, and more interesting to antiquarians, is the Harem, or Temple
area, with its ancient substructions and its resplendent Saracenic
architecture. It is largely an open place, green with grass; it is clean
and wholesome, and the sun lies lovingly on it. There is no part of the
city where the traveller would so like to wander at will, to sit and
muse, to dream away the day on the walls overhanging the valley of the
Kidron, to recall at leisure all the wonderful story of its splendor and
its disaster. But admission to the area is had only by special permit.
Therefore the ordinary tourist goes not so much as he desires to the
site of the Temple that Solomon built, and of the porch where Jesus
walked and talked with his disciples. When he does go, he feels that he
treads upon firm historical ground.

We walked down the gutter (called street) of David; we did not enter
the Harem area by the Bab es-Silsileh (Gate of the Chain), but
turned northward and went in by the Bab el-Katanm (Gate of the
Cotton-Merchants), which is identified with the Beautiful Gate of the
Temple. Both these gates have twisted columns and are graceful examples
of Saracenic architecture. As soon as we entered the gate the splendor
of the area burst upon us; we passed instantly out of the sordid city
into a green plain, out of which—it could have been by a magic wand
only—had sprung the most charming creations in stone: minarets, domes,
colonnades, cloisters, pavilions, columns of all orders, horseshoe
arches and pointed arches, every joyous architectural thought expressed
in shining marble and brilliant color.

Our dragoman, Abd-el-Atti, did the honors of the place with the air of
proprietorship. For the first time in the Holy City he felt quite at
home, and appeared to be on the same terms with the Temple area that
he is with the tombs of the Pharaohs. The Christian antiquities are too
much for him, but his elastic mind expands readily to all the marvels
of the Moslem situation. The Moslems, indeed, consider that they have
a much better right to the Temple than the Christians, and Abd-el-Atti
acted as our cicerone in the precincts with all the delight of a boy and
with the enthusiasm of faith. It was not unpleasant to him, either,
to have us see that he was treated with consideration by the mosque
attendants and ulemas, and that he was well known and could pass readily
into the most reserved places. He had said his prayers that morning, at
twelve, in this mosque, a privilege only second to that of praying in
the mosque at Mecca, and was in high spirits, as one who had (if the
expression is allowable) got a little ahead in the matter of devotion.

Let me give in a few words, without any qualifications of doubt, what
seem to be the well-ascertained facts about this area. It is at present
a level piece of ground (in the nature of a platform, since it is
sustained on all sides by walls), a quadrilateral with its sides not
quite parallel, about fifteen hundred feet long by one thousand feet
broad. The northern third of it was covered by the Fortress of Antonia,
an ancient palace and fortress, rebuilt with great splendor by Herod.
The small remains of it in the northeast corner are now barracks.

This level piece of ground is nearly all artificial, either filled in or
built up on arches. The original ground (Mount Moriah) was a rocky hill,
the summit of which was the rock about which there has been so much
controversy. Near the centre of this ground, and upon a broad raised
platform, paved with marble, stands the celebrated mosque Kubbet
es-Sukhrah, “The Dome of the Rock.” It is built over the Sacred

This rock marks the site of the threshing-floor of Oman, the Jebusite,
which David bought, purchasing at the same time the whole of Mount
Moriah. Solomon built the Temple over this rock, and it was probably
the “stone of sacrifice.” At the time Solomon built the Temple, the
level place on Moriah was scarcely large enough for the naos of that
building, and Solomon extended the ground to the east and south by
erecting arches and filling in on top of them, and constructing a heavy
retaining-wall outside. On the east side also he built a porch, or
magnificent colonnade, which must have produced a fine effect of
Oriental grandeur when seen from the deep valley below or from the Mount
of Olives opposite.

To this rock the Jews used to come, in the fourth century, and anoint it
with oil, and wail over it, as the site of the Temple. On it once stood
a statue of Hadrian. When the Moslems captured Jerusalem, it became,
what it has ever since been, one of their most venerated places. The
Khalif Omar cleared away the rubbish from it, and built over it a
mosque. The Khalif Abd-el-Melek began to rebuild it in a. d. 686. During
the Crusades it was used as a Christian church. Allowing for decay and
repairs, the present mosque is probably substantially that built by

At the extreme south of the area is the vast Mosque of Aksa, a splendid
basilica with seven aisles, which may or may not be the Church of St.
Mary built by Justinian in the sixth century; architects differ about
it. This question it seems to me very difficult to decide from the
architecture of the building, because of the habit that Christians
and Moslems both had of appropriating columns and capitals of ancient
structures in their buildings; and because the Moslems at that time used
both the round and the pointed arch.

This platform is beyond all comparison the most beautiful place in
Jerusalem, and its fairy-like buildings, when seen from the hill
opposite, give to the city its chief claim to Oriental picturesqueness.

The dome of the mosque Kubbet-es-Sukhrah is perhaps the most beautiful
in the world; it seems to float in the air like a blown bubble; this
effect is produced by a slight drawing in of the base. This contraction
of the dome is not sufficient to give the spectator any feeling of
insecurity, or to belittle this architectural marvel to the likeness
of a big toy; the builder hit the exact mean between massiveness and
expanding lightness. The mosque is octagonal in form, and although its
just proportions make it appear small, it is a hundred and fifty feet in
diameter; outside and in, it is a blaze of color in brilliant marbles,
fine mosaics, stained glass, and beautiful Saracenic tiles. The lower
part of the exterior wall is covered with colored marbles in intricate
patterns; above are pointed windows with stained glass; and the spaces
between the windows are covered by glazed tiles, with arabesque designs
and very rich in color. In the interior, which has all the soft warmth
and richness of Persian needlework, are two corridors, with rows of
columns and pillars; within the inner row is the Sacred Rock.

This rock, which is the most remarkable stone in the world, if half we
hear of it be true, and which by a singular fortune is sacred to three
religions, is an irregular bowlder, standing some five feet above the
pavement, and is something like sixty feet long. In places it has been
chiselled, steps are cut on one side, and various niches are hewn in
it; a round hole pierces it from top to bottom. The rock is limestone,
a little colored with iron, and beautiful in spots where it has been
polished. One would think that by this time it ought to be worn smooth
all over.

If we may believe the Moslems and doubt our own senses, this rock is
suspended in the air, having no support on any side. It was to this rock
that Mohammed made his midnight journey on El Burak; it was from
here that he ascended into Paradise, an excursion that occupied him
altogether only forty minutes. It is, I am inclined to think, the
miraculous suspension of this stone that is the basis of the Christian
fable of the suspension of Mohammed’s coffin,—a miracle unknown to
all Moslems of whom I have inquired concerning it.

“Abd-el-Atti,” I said, “does this rock rest on nothing?”

“So I have hunderstood; thim say so.”

“But do you believe it?”

“When I read him, I believe; when I come and see him, I can’t help
what I see.”

At the south end of the rock we descended a flight of steps and stood
under the rock in what is called the Noble Cave, a small room about six
feet high, plastered and whitewashed. This is supposed to be the sink
into which the blood of the Jewish sacrifices drained. The plaster and
whitewash hide the original rock, and give the Moslems the opportunity
to assert that there is no rock foundation under the big stone.

“But,” we said to Abd-el-Atti, “if this rock hangs in the air,
why cannot we see all around it? Why these plaster walls that seem to
support it?”

“So him used to be. This done so, I hear, on account of de women. Thim
come here, see this rock, thim berry much frightened. Der little shild,
what you call it, get born in de world before him wanted. So thim make
this wall under it.”

There are four altars in this cave, one of them dedicated to David; here
the Moslem prophets, Abraham, David, Solomon, and Jesus, used to pray.
In the rock is a round indentation made by Mohammed’s head when he
first attempted to rise to heaven; near it is the hole through which
he rose. On the upper southeast corner of the rock is the print of the
prophet’s foot, and close to it the print of the hand of the angel
Michael, who held the rock down from following Mohammed into the skies.

In the mosque above, Abd-el-Atti led us, with much solemnity, to a small
stone set in the pavement near the north entrance. It was perforated
with holes, in some of which were brass nails.

“How many holes you make ‘em there?”


“How many got nails?”


“Not so many. Only three and a half nails. Used to be thirteen nails.
Now only three and a half. When these gone, then the world come to an
end. I t’ink it not berry long.”

“I should think the Moslems would watch this stone very carefully.”

“What difference? You not t’ink it come when de time come?”

We noticed some pieces of money on the stone, and asked why that was.

“Whoever he lay backsheesh on this stone, he certain to go into
Paradise, and be took by our prophet in his bosom.”

We wandered for some time about the green esplanade, dotted with
cypress-trees, and admired the little domes: the Dome of the Spirits,
the dome that marks the spot where David sat in judgment, etc.; some
of them cover cisterns and reservoirs in the rock, as old as the
foundations of the Temple.

In the corridor of the Mosque of Aksa are two columns standing close
together, and like those at the Mosque of Omar, in Cairo, they are a
test of character; it is said that whoever can squeeze between them is
certain of Paradise, and must, of course, be a good Moslem. I suppose
that when this test was established the Moslems were all lean. A black
stone is set in the wall of the porch; whoever can walk, with closed
eyes, across the porch pavement and put his finger on this stone may be
sure of entering Paradise. According to this criterion, the writer of
this is one of the elect of the Mohammedan Paradise and his dragoman is
shut out. We were shown in this mosque the print of Christ’s foot in
a stone; and it is said that with faith one can feel in it, as he can
in that of Mohammed’s in the rock, the real flesh. Opening from this
mosque is the small Mosque of Omar, on the spot where that zealous
khalif prayed.

The massive pillared substructions under Aksa are supposed by Moslems
to be of Solomon’s time. That wise monarch had dealings with the
invisible, and no doubt controlled the genii, who went and came and
built and delved at his bidding. Abd-el-Atti, with haste and an air of
mystery, drew me along under the arches to the window in the south end,
and showed me the opening of a passage under the wall, now half choked
up with stones. This is the beginning of a subterranean passage made
by the prophet Solomon, that extends all the way to Hebron, and has an
issue in the mosque over the tomb of Abraham. This fact is known only
to Moslems, and to very few of them, and is considered one of the great
secrets. Before I was admitted to share it, I am glad that I passed
between the two columns, and touched, with my eyes shut, the black

In the southeast corner of the Harem is a little building called the
Mosque of Jesus. We passed through it, and descended the stairway into
what is called Solomon’s Stables, being shown on our way a stone
trough which is said to be the cradle of the infant Jesus. These
so-called stables are subterranean vaults, built, no doubt, to sustain
the south end of the Temple platform. We saw fifteen rows of massive
square pillars of unequal sizes and at unequal distances apart (as if
intended for supports that would not be seen), and some forty feet high,
connected by round arches. We were glad to reascend from this wet and
unpleasant cavern to the sunshine and the greensward.

I forgot to mention the Well of the Leaf, near the entrance, in the
Mosque of Aksa, and the pretty Moslem legend that gave it a name, which
Abd-el-Atti relates, though not in the words of the hand-book:—

“This well berry old; call him Well of the Leaf; water same as Pool
of Solomon, healthy water; I like him very much. Not so deep as Bir
el-Arwâh; that small well, you see it under the rock; they say it goes
down into Gehenna.”

“Why is this called the Well of the Leaf?”

“Once, time of Suleiman [it was Omar], a friend of our prophet come
here to pray, and when he draw water to wash he drop the bucket in the
bottom of the well. No way to get it up, but he must go down. When he
was on the bottom, there he much surprised by a door open in the ground,
and him berry cur’ous to see what it is. Nobody there, so he look
in, and then walk through berry fast, and look over him shoulder to
the bucket left in the well. The place where he was come was the most
beautiful garden ever was, and he walk long time and find no end, always
more garden, so cool, and water run in little streams, and sweet smell
of roses and jasmine, and little birds that sing, and big trees and
dates and oranges and palms, more kind, I t’ink, than you see in the
garden of his vice-royal. When the man have been long time in the garden
he begin to have fright, and pick a green leaf off a tree, and run back
and come up to his friends. He show ‘em the green leaf, but nobody
have believe what he say. Then they tell him story to the kadi, and the
kadi send men to see the garden in the bottom of the well. They not
find any, not find any door. Then the kadi he make him a letter to the
Sultan—berry wise man—and he say (so I read it in our history),
‘Our prophet say, One of my friends shall walk in Paradise while he
is alive. If this is come true, you shall see the leaf, if it still keep
green.’ Then the kadi make examine of the leaf, and find him green. So
it is believe the man has been in Paradise.”

“And do you believe it?”

“I cannot say edzacly where him been. Where you t’ink he done got
that leaf?”

Along the east wall of the Harem there are no remains of the long
colonnade called Solomon’s Porch, not a column of that resplendent
marble pavilion which caught the first rays of the sun over the
mountains of Moab, and which, with the shining temple towering behind
it, must have presented a more magnificent appearance than Babylon, and
have rivalled the architectural glories of Baalbek. The only thing in
this wail worthy of note now is the Golden Gate, an entrance no longer
used. We descended into its archways, and found some fine columns with
composite capitals, and other florid stone-work of a rather tasteless
and debased Roman style.

We climbed the wall by means of the steps, a series of which are placed
at intervals, and sat a long time looking upon a landscape, every foot
of which is historical. Merely to look upon it is to recall a great
portion of the Jewish history and the momentous events in the brief life
of the Saviour, which, brief as it was, sufficed to newly create the
earth. There is the Mount of Olives, with its commemorative chapels,
heaps of stone, and scattered trees; there is the ancient foot-path up
which David fled as a fugitive by night from the conspiracy of Absalom,
what time Shimei, the relative of Saul, stoned him and cursed him; and
down that Way of Triumph, the old road sweeping round its base, came the
procession of the Son of David, in whose path the multitude cast their
garments and branches of trees, and cried, “Hosanna in the highest.”
There on those hills, Mount Scopus and Olivet, were once encamped the
Assyrians, and again the Persians; there shone the eagles of Rome, borne
by her conquering legions; and there, in turn, Crusaders and Saracens
pitched their tents. How many times has the air been darkened with
missiles hurled thence upon this shining prize, and how many armies
have closed in about this spot and swarmed to its destruction! There the
Valley of Jehoshaphat curves down until it is merged in the Valley of
the Brook Kidron. There, at the junction of the roads that run over and
around Olivet, is a clump of trees surrounded by a white wall; that is
the Garden of Gethsemane. Near it is the tomb of Mary. Farther down
you see the tomb of Absalom, the tomb of St. James, the monolith
pyramid-tipped tomb of Zacharias (none of them apparently as old as they
claim to be), and the remains of a little temple, the model of which
came from the banks of the Nile, that Solomon built for his Egyptian
wife, the daughter of Pharaoh, wherein they worshipped the gods of her
country. It is tradition also that near here were some of the temples he
built for others of his strange wives: a temple to Chemosh, the Moabite
god, and the image of Moloch, the devourer of children. Solomon was
wiser than all men, wiser than Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons
of Mahol; his friend Hiram of Tyre used to send riddles to him which no
one in the world but Solomon could guess; but his wisdom failed him with
the other sex, and there probably never was another Oriental court so
completely ruled and ruined by women as his.

This valley below us is perhaps the most melancholy on earth: nowhere
else is death so visibly master of the scene; nature is worn out, man
tired out; a gray despair has settled down upon the landscape. Down
there is the village of Siloam, a village of huts and holes in the
rocks, opposite the cave of that name. If it were the abode of wolves it
would have a better character than it has now. There is the grim cast
of sin and exhaustion upon the scene. I do not know exactly how much of
this is owing to the Jewish burying-ground, which occupies so much of
the opposite hill. The slope is thickly shingled with gray stones, that
lie in a sort of regularity which suggests their purpose. You fall to
computing how many Jews there may be in that hill, layer upon layer; for
the most part they are dissolved away into the earth, but you think that
if they were to put on their mortal bodies and come forth, the valley
itself would be filled with them almost to the height of the wall. Out
of these gates, giving upon this valley of death, six hundred thousand
bodies of those who had starved were thrown during the siege, and long
before Titus stormed the city. I do not wonder that the Moslems think of
this frightful vale as Gehenna itself.

From an orifice in the battlemented wall where we sat projects a round
column, mounted there like a cannon, and perhaps intended to deceive
an enemy into the belief that the wall is fortified. It is astride this
column, overhanging this dreadful valley, that Mohammed will sit at
the last, the judgment day. A line finer than a hair and sharper than a
razor will reach from it to the tower on the Mount of Olives, stretching
over the valley of the dead. This is the line Es-Serat. Mohammed will
superintend the passage over it. For in that day all who ever lived,
risen to judgment, must walk this razor-line; the good will cross in
safety; the bad will fall into hell, that is, into Gehenna, this blasted
gulf and side-hill below, thickly sown with departed Jews. It is in view
of this perilous passage that the Moslem every day, during the ablution
of his feet, prays: “O, make my feet not to slip on Es-Serat, on that
day when feet shall slip.”


WHEREVER we come upon traces of the Knights of St. John, there a door
opens for us into romance; the very name suggests valor and courtesy
and charity. Every town in the East that is so fortunate as to have any
memorials of them, whatever its other historic associations, obtains an
additional and special fame from its connection with this heroic order.
The city of Acre recalls the memory of their useless prowess in the last
struggle of the Christians to retain a foothold in Palestine; the name
of the Knights of Rhodes brings before every traveller, who has seen it,
the picturesque city in which the armorial insignia of this order have
for him a more living interest than any antiquities of the Grecian Rose;
the island fortress at the gate of the Levant owes all the interest we
feel in it to the Knights of Malta; and even the city of David and of
the Messiah has an added lustre as the birthplace of the Knights of St.
John of Jerusalem.

From the eleventh century to the fifteenth, they are the chief figures
who in that whirlwind of war contested the possession of the Levant with
the Saracens and the Turks. In the forefront of every battle was seen
their burnished mail, in the gloomy rear of every retreat were heard
their voices of constancy and of courage; wherever there were crowns to
be cracked, or wounds to be bound up, or broken hearts to be ministered
to, there were the Knights of St. John, soldiers, priests, servants,
laying aside the gown for the coat of mail if need be, or exchanging
the cuirass for the white cross on the breast. Originally a charitable
order, dwelling in the Hospital of St. John to minister to the pilgrims
to Jerusalem, and composed of young soldiers of Godfrey, who took the
vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, they resumed their arms upon
the pressure of infidel hostility, and subsequently divided the order
into three classes: soldiers, priests, and servants. They speedily
acquired great power and wealth; their palaces, their fortifications,
their churches, are even in their ruins the admiration and wonder of our
age. The purity of the order: was in time somewhat sullied by luxury,
but their valor never suffered the slightest eclipse; whether the field
they contested was lost or won, their bravery always got new honor from

Nearly opposite the court of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the
green field of Muristan, the site of the palace, church, and hospital of
the Knights of St. John. The field was, on an average, twenty-five feet
above the surrounding streets, and a portion of it was known to rest
upon vaults. This plot of ground was given to the Prussian government,
and its agents have been making excavations there; these were going on
at the time of our visit. The disclosures are of great architectural
and historical interest. The entrance through a peculiar Gothic gateway
leads into a court. Here the first excavations were made several years
ago, and disclosed some splendid remains: the apse of the costly church,
cloisters, fine windows and arches of the best Gothic style. Beyond, the
diggings have brought to light some of the features of the palace and
hospital; an excavation of twenty-five feet reaches down to the arches
of the substructure, which rest upon pillars from forty to fifty feet
high. This gives us some notion of the magnificent group of buildings
that once occupied this square, and also of the industry of nature as
an entomber, since some four centuries have sufficed her to bury these
ruins so far beneath the soil, that peasants ploughed over the palaces
of the knights without a suspicion of what lay beneath.

In one corner of this field stands a slender minaret, marking the spot
where the great Omar once said his prayers; four centuries after this,
Saladin is said to have made his military headquarters in the then
deserted palace of the Knights of St. John. There is no spot in
Jerusalem where one touches more springs of romance than in this field
of Muristan.

Perhaps the most interesting and doleful walk one can take near
Jerusalem is that into the Valley of Kidron and through Aceldama, round
to the Jaffa Gate, traversing “the whole valley of the dead bodies,
and of the ashes,” in the cheerful words of Jeremiah.

We picked our way through the filthy streets and on the slippery
cobble-stones,—over which it seems dangerous to ride and is nearly
impossible to walk,—out through St. Stephen’s Gate. Near the gate,
inside, we turned into an alley and climbed a heap of rubbish to see
a pool, which the guide insisted upon calling Bethesda, although it is
Birket Israil. Having seen many of these pools, I did not expect much,
but I was still disappointed. We saw merely a hole in the ground, which
is void of all appearance of ever having been even damp. The fact is,
we have come to Jerusalem too late; we ought to have been here about two
thousand years ago.

The slope of the hill outside the gate is covered with the turbaned
tombs of Moslems; we passed under the walls and through this cemetery
into the deep valley below, crossing the bed of the brook near the tombs
of Absalom, Jehoshaphat, St. James, and Zacharias. These all seem to be
of Roman construction; but that called Absalom’s is so firmly believed
to be his that for centuries every Jew who has passed it has cast a
stone at it, and these pebbles of hate partially cover it. We also added
to the heap, but I do not know why, for it is nearly impossible to hate
any one who has been dead so long.

The most interesting phenomenon in the valley is the Fountain of the
Virgin, or the Fountain of Accused Women, as it used to be called. The
Moslem tradition is that it was a test of the unfaithfulness of women;
those who drank of it and were guilty, died; those who were innocent
received no harm. The Virgin Mary herself, being accused, accepted
this test, drank of the water, and proved her chastity. Since then the
fountain has borne her name. The fountain, or well, is in the side-hill,
under the rocks of Ophel, and the water springs up in an artificial
cave. We descended some sixteen steps to a long chamber, arched with
ancient masonry; we passed through that and descended fourteen steps
more into a grotto, where we saw the water flowing in and escaping by a
subterranean passage. About this fountain were lounging groups of Moslem
idlers, mostly women and children. Not far off a Moslem was saying his
prayers, prostrating himself before a prayer-niche. We had difficulty
in making our way down the steps, so encumbered were they with women.
Several of them sat upon the lowest steps in the damp cavern, gossiping,
filling their water-skins, or paddling about with naked feet.

The well, like many others in Syria, is intermittent and irregular
in its rising and falling; sometimes it is dry, and then suddenly it
bubbles up and is full again. Some scholars think this is the Pool
Bethesda of the New Testament, others think that Bethesda was Siloam,
which is below this well and fed by it, and would exhibit the same
irregular rising and falling. This intermittent character St. John
attributed to an angel who came down and troubled the water; the
Moslems, with the same superstition, say that it is caused by a dragon,
who sleeps therein and checks the stream when he wakes.

On our way to the Pool of Siloam, we passed the village of Si-loam,
which is inhabited by about a thousand Moslems,—a nest of stone huts
and caves clinging to the side-hill, and exactly the gray color of its
stones. The occupation of the inhabitants appears to be begging, and
hunting for old copper coins, mites, and other pieces of Jewish money.
These relics they pressed upon us with the utmost urgency. It was easier
to satisfy the beggars than the traders, who sallied out upon us like
hungry wolves from their caves. There is a great choice of disagreeable
places in the East, but I cannot now think of any that I should not
prefer as a residence to Siloam.

The Pool of Siloam, magnified in my infant mind as “Siloam’s shady
rill,” is an unattractive sink-hole of dirty water, surrounded by
modern masonry. The valley here is very stony. Just below we came to
Solomon’s Garden, an arid spot, with patches of stonewalls, struggling
to be a vegetable-garden, and somewhat green with lettuce and Jerusalem
artichokes. I have no doubt it was quite another thing when Solomon and
some of his wives used to walk here in the cool of the day, and even
when Shallum, the son of Colhozeh, set up “the wall of the Pool of
Siloah by the king’s garden.”

We continued on, down to Joab’s Well, passing on the way Isaiah’s
Tree, a decrepit sycamore propped up by a stone pillar, where that
prophet was sawn asunder. There is no end to the cheerful associations
of the valley. The Well of Joab, a hundred and twenty-five feet deep,
and walled and arched with fine masonry, has a great appearance of
antiquity. We plucked maidenhair from its crevices, and read the Old
Testament references. Near it is a square pool fed by its water. Some
little distance below this, the waters of all these wells, pools,
drains, sinks, or whatever they are, reappear bursting up through a
basin of sand and pebbles, as clear as crystal, and run brawling off
down the valley under a grove of large olive-trees,—a scene rural and

I suppose it would be possible to trace the whole system of underground
water ways and cisterns, from Solomon’s Pool, which send? its water
into town by an aqueduct near the Jaffa Gate, to Hezekiah’s Pool, to
the cisterns under the Harem, and so out to the Virgin’s Well, the
Pool of Siloam, and the final gush of sweet water below. This valley
drains, probably artificially as well as naturally, the whole city, for
no sewers exist in the latter.

We turned back from this sparkling brook, which speedily sinks into the
ground again, absorbed by the thirsty part of the valley called Tophet,
and went up the Valley of Hinnom, passing under the dark and frowning
ledges of Aceldama, honey-combed with tombs. In this “field of
blood” a grim stone structure forms the front of a natural cave, which
is the charnel-house where the dead were cast pell-mell, in the belief
that the salts in the earth would speedily consume them. The path we
travel is rugged, steep, and incredibly stony. The whole of this region
is inexpressibly desolate, worn-out, pale, uncanny. The height above
this rocky terrace, stuffed with the dead, is the Hill of Evil Counsel,
where the Jews took counsel against Jesus; and to add the last touch
of an harmonious picture, just above this Potter’s Field stands
the accursed tree upon which Judas hanged himself, raising its
gaunt branches against the twilight sky, a very gallows-tree to the
imagination. It has borne no fruit since Iscariot. Towards dusk,
sometimes, as you stand on the wall by Zion Gate, you almost fancy you
can see him dangling there. It is of no use to tell me that the seed
that raised this tree could not have sprouted till a thousand years
after Judas was crumbled into dust; one must have faith in something.

This savage gorge, for the Valley of Hinnom is little more than that
in its narrowest part, has few associations that are not horrible. Here
Solomon set up the images (“the groves,” or the graven images),
and the temples for the lascivious rites of Ashta-roth or the human
sacrifices to Moloch. Here the Jews, the kings and successors of
Solomon, with a few exceptions, and save an occasional spasmodic
sacrifice to Jehovah when calamity made them fear him, practised all the
abominations of idolatry in use in that age. The Jews had always been
more or less addicted to the worship of the god of Ammon, but Solomon
first formally established it in Hinnom. Jeremiah writes of it
historically, “They have built the high places of Tophet, which is in
the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters
in the fire.” This Moloch was as ingenious a piece of cruelty as ever
tried the faith of heretics in later times, and, since it was purely
a means of human sacrifice, and not a means of grace (as Inquisitorial
tortures were supposed to be), its use is conclusive proof of the savage
barbarity of the people who delighted in it. Moloch was the monstrous
brass image of a man with the head of an ox. It was hollow, and the
interior contained a furnace by which the statue was made red-hot.
Children—the offerings to the god—were then placed in its glowing
arms, and drums were beaten to drown their cries. It is painful to
recall these things, but the traveller should always endeavor to obtain
the historical flavor of the place he visits.

Continuing our walks among the antiquities of Jerusalem, we went out of
the Damascus Gate, a noble battlemented structure, through which runs
the great northern highway to Samaria and Damascus. The road, however,
is a mere path over ledges and through loose stones, fit only for
donkeys. If Rehoboam went this way in his chariot to visit Jeroboam in
Samaria, there must have existed then a better road, or else the king
endured hard pounding for the sake of the dignity of his conveyance. As
soon as we left the gate we encountered hills of stones and paths of the
roughest description. There are several rock tombs on this side of the
city, but we entered only one, that called by some the Tombs of the
Kings, and by others, with more reason, the Tomb of Helena, a heathen
convert to Judaism, who built this sepulchre for herself early in the
first century. The tomb, excavated entirely in the solid rock, is a
spacious affair, having a large court and ornamented vestibule and many
chambers, extending far into the rock, and a singular network of narrow
passages and recesses for the deposit of the dead. It had one device
that is worthy of the ancient Egyptians. The entrance was closed by
a heavy square stone, so hung that it would yield to pressure from
without, but would swing to its place by its own weight, and fitted so
closely that it could not be moved from the inside. If any thief entered
the tomb and left this slab unsecured, he would be instantly caught
in the trap and become a permanent occupant. Large as the tomb is,
its execution is mean compared with the rock tombs of Egypt; but the
exterior stone of the court, from its exposure in this damp and variable
climate, appears older than Egyptian work which has been uncovered three
times as long.

At the tomb we encountered a dozen students from the Latin convent,
fine-looking fellows in long blue-black gowns, red caps, and red sashes.
They sat upon the grass, on the brink of the excavation, stringing
rosaries and singing student songs, with evident enjoyment of the
hour’s freedom from the school; they not only made a picturesque
appearance, but they impressed us also as a Jerusalem group which was
neither sinful nor dirty. Beyond this tomb we noticed a handsome modern
dwelling-house; you see others on various eminences outside the city,
and we noted them as the most encouraging sign of prosperity about

We returned over the hill and by the city wall, passing the Cave of
Jeremiah and the door in the wall that opens into the stone quarries of
Solomon. These quarries underlie a considerable portion of the city, and
furnished the stone for its ancient buildings. I will not impose upon
you a description of them; for it would be unfair to send you into
disagreeable places that I did not explore myself.

The so-called Grotto of Jeremiah is a natural cavern in the rocky hill,
vast in extent, I think thirty feet high and a hundred feet long by
seventy broad,—as big as a church. The tradition is that Jeremiah
lived and lamented here. In front of the cave are cut stones and pieces
of polished columns built into walls and seats; these fragments seem
to indicate the former existence here of a Roman temple. The cave is
occupied by an old dervish, who has a house in a rock near by, and uses
the cavern as a cool retreat and a stable for his donkey. His rocky home
is shared by his wife and family. He said that it was better to live
alone, apart from the world and its snares. He, however, finds the
reputation of Jeremiah profitable, selling admission to the cave at
a franc a head, and, judging by the women and children about him, he
seemed to have family enough not to be lonely.

The sojourner in Jerusalem who does not care for antiquities can always
entertain himself by a study of the pilgrims who throng the city at
this season. We hear more of the pilgrimage to Mecca than of that to
Jerusalem; but I think the latter is the more remarkable phenomenon
of our modern life; I believe it equals the former, which is usually
overrated, in numbers, and it certainly equals it in zeal and surpasses
it in the variety of nationalities represented. The pilgrims of the
cross increase yearly; to supply their wants, to minister to their
credulity, to traffic on their faith, is the great business of the Holy
City. Few, I imagine, who are not in Palestine in the spring, have any
idea of the extent of this vast yearly movement of Christian people upon
the Holy Land, or of the simple zeal which characterizes it. If it were
in any way obstructed or hindered, we should have a repetition of the
Crusades, on a vaster scale and gathered from a broader area than the
wildest pilgrimage of the holy war. The driblets of travel from America
and from Western Europe are as nothing in the crowds thronging to
Jerusalem from Ethiopia to Siberia, from the Baltic to the Ural
Mountains. Already for a year before the Easter season have they been on
foot, slowly pushing their way across great steppes, through snows and
over rivers, crossing deserts and traversing unfriendly countries;
the old, the infirm, women as well as men, their faces set towards
Jerusalem. No common curiosity moves this mass, from Ethiopia, from
Egypt, from Russia, from European Turkey, from Asia Minor, from the
banks of the Tagus and the Araxes; it is a true pilgrimage of faith, the
one event in a life of dull monotony and sordid cares, the one ecstasy
of poetry in an existence of poverty and ignorance.

We spent a morning in the Russian Hospice, which occupies the hill to
the northwest of the city. It is a fine pile of buildings, the most
conspicuous of which, on account of its dome, is the church, a large
edifice with a showy exterior, but of no great merit or interest. We
were shown some holy pictures which are set in frames incrusted with
diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and other precious gems, the offerings of
rich devotees, and displaying their wealth rather than their taste.

The establishment has one building for the accommodation of rich
pilgrims, and a larger one set apart for peasants. The hospice lodges,
free of charge, all the Russian pilgrims. The exterior court was full of
them. They were sunning themselves, but not inclined to lay aside their
hot furs and heavy woollens. We passed into the interior, entering room
after room occupied by the pilgrims, who regarded our intrusion with
good-natured indifference, or frankly returned our curiosity. Some of
the rooms were large, furnished with broad divans about the sides, which
served for beds and lounging-places, and were occupied by both sexes.
The women, rosy-cheeked, light-haired, broad, honest-looking creatures,
were mending their clothes; the men were snoozing on the divans, flat on
their backs, presenting to the spectator the bottoms of their monstrous
shoes, which had soles eight inches broad; a side of leather would be
needed for a pair. In these not very savory rooms they cook, eat, and
sleep. Here stood their stoves; here hung their pilgrim knapsacks; here
were their kits of shoemaker’s tools, for mending their foot-gear,
which they had tugged thousands of miles; here were household effects
that made their march appear more like an emigration than a pilgrimage;
here were the staring pictures of St. George and the Dragon, and of
other saints, the beads and the other relics, which they had bought in

Although all these pilgrims owed allegiance to the Czar, they
represented a considerable variety of races. They came from Archangel,
from Tobolsk, from the banks of the Ural, from Kurland; they had found
their way along the Danube, the Dnieper, the Don. I spoke with a group
of men and women who had walked over two thousand miles before they
reached Odessa and took ship for Jaffa. There were among them Cossacks,
wild and untidy, light-haired barbarians from the Caucasus, dark-skinned
men and women from Moscow, representatives from the remotest provinces
of great Russia; for the most part simple, rude, clumsy, honest
boors. In an interior court we found men and women seated on the sunny
flagging, busily occupied in arranging and packing the souvenirs of
their visit. There was rosemary spread out to dry; there were little
round cakes of blessed bread stamped with the image of the Saviour;
there were branches of palm, crowns of thorns, and stalks of cane cut at
the Jordan; there were tin cases of Jordan water; there were long strips
of cotton cloth stamped in black with various insignia of death, to
serve at home for coffin-covers; there were skull-caps in red, yellow,
and white, also stamped with holy images, to be put on the heads of
the dead. I could not but in mind follow these people to their distant
homes, and think of the pride with which they would show these trophies
of their pilgrimage; how the rude neighbors would handle with awe a
stick cut on the banks of the Jordan, or eat with faith a bit of the
holy bread. How sacred, in those homes of frost and snow, will not these
mementos of a land of sun, of a land so sacred, become! I can see the
wooden chest in the cabin where the rosemary will be treasured, keeping
sweet, against the day of need, the caps and the shrouds.

These people will need to make a good many more pilgrimages, and perhaps
to quit their morose land altogether, before they can fairly rank
among the civilized of the earth. They were thickset, padded-legged,
short-bodied, unintelligent. The faces of many of them were worn, as if
storm-beaten, and some kept their eyes half closed, as if they were long
used to face the sleet and blasts of winter; and I noticed that it gave
their faces a very different expression from that produced by the habit
the Egyptians have of drawing the eyelids close together on account of
the glare of the sun.

We took donkeys one lovely morning, and rode from the Jaffa Gate around
the walls on our way to the Mount of Olives. The Jerusalem donkey is a
good enough donkey, but he won’t go. He is ridden with a halter, and
never so elegantly caparisoned as his more genteel brother in Cairo. In
order to get him along at all, it needs one man to pull the halter
and another to follow behind with a stick; the donkey then moves by
inches,—if he is in the humor. The animal that I rode stopped at once,
when he perceived that his driver was absent. No persuasions of mine,
such as kicks and whacks of a heavy stick, could move him on; he would
turn out of the road, put his head against the wall, and pretend to go
to sleep. You would not suppose it possible for a beast to exhibit so
much contempt for a man.

On the high ground outside the wall were pitched the tents of
travellers, making a very pretty effect amid the olive-trees and the
gray rocks. Now and then an Arab horseman came charging down the road,
or a Turkish official cantered by; women, veiled, clad in white
balloon robes that covered them from head to foot, flitted along in the
sunshine, mere white appearances of women, to whom it was impossible to
attribute any such errand as going to market; they seemed always to be
going to or returning from the cemetery.

Our way lay down the rough path and the winding road to the bottom
of the Valley of Jehoshaphat. Leaving the Garden of Gethsemane on our
right, we climbed up the rugged, stony, steep path to the summit of the
hill. There are a few olive-trees on the way, enough to hinder the
view where the stone-walls would permit us to see anything; importunate
begging Moslems beset us; all along the route we encountered shabbiness
and squalor. The rural sweetness and peace that we associate with this
dear mount appear to have been worn away centuries ago. We did not
expect too much, but we were not prepared for such a shabby show-place.
If we could sweep away all the filthy habitations and hideous buildings
on the hill, and leave it to nature, or, indeed, convert the surface
into a well-ordered garden, the spot would be one of the most attractive
in the world.

We hoped that when we reached the summit we should come into an open,
green, and shady place, free from the disagreeable presence of human
greed and all the artificiality that interposed itself between us and
the sentiment of the place. But the traveller need not expect that in
Palestine. Everything is staked out and made a show of. Arrived at
the summit, we could see little or nothing; it is crowned with the
dilapidated Chapel of the Ascension. We entered a dirty court, where
the custodian and his family and his animals live, and from thence were
admitted to the church. In the pavement is shown the footprint of our
ascending Lord, although the Ascension was made at Bethany. We paid
the custodian for permission to see this manufactured scene of the
Ascension. The best point of view to be had here is the old tower of the
deserted convent, or the narrow passage to it on the wall, or the top
of the minaret near the church. There is no place on wall or tower where
one can sit; there is no place anywhere here to sit down, and in peace
and quiet enjoy the magnificent prospect, and meditate on the most
momentous event in human history. We snatched the view in the midst of
annoyances. The most minute features of it are known to every one who
reads. The portion of it I did not seem to have been long familiar with
is that to the east, comprising the Jordan valley, the mountains of
Moab, and the Dead Sea.

Although this mount is consecrated by the frequent presence of Christ,
who so often crossed it in going to and from Bethany, and retired here
to meditate and to commune with his loved followers, everything that the
traveller at present encounters on its summit is out of sympathy with
his memory. We escaped from the beggars and the showmen, climbed some
stone-walls, and in a rough field near the brow of the hill, in a
position neither comfortable nor private, but the best that we found,
read the chief events in the life of Christ connected with this mount,
the triumphal entry, and the last scenes transacted on yonder hill. And
we endeavored to make the divine man live again, who so often and so
sorrowfully regarded the then shining city of Zion from this height.

To the south of the church and a little down the hill is the so-called
site of the giving of the Lord’s Prayer. I do not know on what
authority it is thus named. A chapel is built to mark the spot, and a
considerable space is enclosed before it, in which are other objects of
interest, and these were shown to us by a pleasant-spoken lady, who is
connected with the convent, and has faith equal to the demands of her
position. We first entered a subterranean vaulted room, with twelve
rough half-pillars on each side, called the room where the Apostles
composed the creed. We then passed into the chapel. Upon the four walls
of its arcade is written, in great characters, the Lord’s Prayer in
thirty-two languages; among them the “Canadian.”

In a little side chapel is the tomb of Aurelia de Bossa, Princesse de
la Tour d’.uvergne, Duchesse de Bouillon, the lady whose munificence
established this chapel and executed the prayer in so many tongues. Upon
the side of the tomb this fact of her benevolence is announced, and the
expectation is also expressed, in French, that “God will overwhelm her
with blessing for ever and ever for her good deed.” Stretched upon the
sarcophagus is a beautiful marble effigy of the princess; the figure is
lovely, the face is sweet and seraphic, and it is a perfect likeness of
her ladyship.

I do not speak at random. I happen to know that it is a perfect
likeness, for a few minutes after I saw it, I met her in the corridor,
in a semi-nunlike costume, with a heavy cross hanging by a long gold
chain at her side. About her forehead was bound a barbarous frontlet
composed of some two hundred gold coins, and ornaments not unlike those
worn by the ladies of the ancient Egyptians. This incongruity of
costume made me hesitate whether to recognize in this dazzling vision
of womanhood a priestess of Astarte or of Christ. At the farther
door, Aurelia de Bossa, Princesse de la Tour d’.uvergne, Duchesse de
Bouillon, stopped and blew shrilly a silver whistle which hung at her
girdle, to call her straying poodle, or to summon a servant. In the rear
of the chapel this lady lives in a very pretty house, and near it she
was building a convent for Carmelite nuns. I cannot but regard her as
the most fortunate of her sex. She enjoys not only this life, but, at
the same time, all the posthumous reputation that a lovely tomb and a
record of her munificence engraved thereon can give. We sometimes hear
of, but we seldom see, a person, in these degenerate days, living in
this world as if already in the other.

We went on over the hill to Bethany; we had climbed up by the path on
which David fled from Absalom, and we were to return by the road of the
Triumphal Entry. All along the ridge we enjoyed a magnificent panorama:
a blue piece of the Dead Sea, the Jordan plain extending far up towards
Herraon with the green ribbon of the river winding through it, and the
long, even range of the Moab hills, blue in the distance. The prospect
was almost Swiss in its character, but it is a mass of bare hills, with
scarcely a tree except in the immediate foreground, and so naked and
desolate as to make the heart ache; it would be entirely desolate but
for the deep blue of the sky and an atmosphere that bathes all the great
sweep of peaks and plains in color.

Bethany is a squalid hamlet clinging to the rocky hillside, with only
one redeeming feature about it,—the prospect. A few wretched one-story
huts of stone, and a miserable handful of Moslems, occupy this favorite
home and resting-place of our Lord. Close at hand, by the roadside, cut
in the rock and reached by a steep descent of twenty-six steps, is the
damp and doubtful tomb of Lazarus, down into which any one may go for
half a franc paid to the Moslem guardian. The house of Mary and Martha
is exhibited among the big rocks and fragments of walls; upon older
foundations loose walls are laid, rudely and recently patched up with
cut stones in fragments, and pieces of Roman columns. The house of Simon
the leper, overlooking the whole, is a mere heap of ruins. It does not
matter, however, that all these dwellings are modern; this is Bethany,
and when we get away from its present wretchedness we remember only that
we have seen the very place that Christ loved.

We returned along the highway of the Entry slowly, pausing to identify
the points of that memorable progress, up to the crest where Jerusalem
broke upon the sight of the Lord, and whence the procession, coming
round the curve of the hill, would have the full view of the city. He
who rides that way to-day has a grand prospect. One finds Jerusalem most
poetic when seen from Olivet, and Olivet most lovely when seen from the
distance of the city walls.

At the foot of the descent we turned and entered the enclosure of the
Garden of Gethsemane. Three stone-wall enclosures here claim to be the
real garden; one is owned by the Greeks, another by the Armenians,
the third by the Latins. We chose the last, as it is the largest and
pleasantest; perhaps the garden, which was certainly in this vicinity,
once included them all. After some delay we were admitted by a small
door in the wall, and taken charge of by a Latin monk, whose young and
sweet face was not out of sympathy with the place. The garden contains
a few aged olive-trees, and some small plots of earth, fenced about and
secured by locked gates, in which flowers grow. The guardian gave us
some falling roses, and did what he could to relieve the scene of its
artificial appearance; around the wall, inside, are the twelve stations
of the Passion, in the usual tawdry style.

But the birds sang sweetly in the garden, the flowers of spring were
blooming, and, hemmed in by the high wall, we had some moments of solemn
peace, broken only by the sound of a Moslem darabooka drum throbbing
near at hand. Desecrated as this spot is, and made cheap by the petty
creations of superstition, one cannot but feel the awful significance
of the place, and the weight of history crowding upon him, where battles
raged for a thousand years, and where the greatest victory of all was
won when Christ commanded Peter to put up his sword. Near here Titus
formed his columns which stormed the walls and captured the heroic city
after its houses, and all this valley itself, were filled with Jewish
dead; but all this is as nothing to the event of that awful night when
the servants of the high-priest led away the unresisting Lord.

It is this event, and not any other, that puts an immeasurable gulf
between this and all other cities, and perhaps this difference is more
felt the farther one is from Jerusalem. The visitor expects too much; he
is unreasonably impatient of the contrast between the mean appearance of
the theatre and the great events that have been enacted on it; perhaps
he is not prepared for the ignorance, the cupidity, the credulity,
the audacious impostures under Christian names, on the spot where
Christianity was born.

When one has exhausted the stock sights of Jerusalem, it is probably the
dullest, least entertaining city of the Orient; I mean, in itself, for
its pilgrims and its religious fêtes, in the spring of the year,
offer always some novelties to the sight-seer; and, besides, there is a
certain melancholy pleasure to be derived from roaming about outside
the walls, enveloped in a historic illusion that colors and clothes the
nakedness of the landscape.

The chief business of the city and the region seems to be the
manufacture of religious playthings for the large children who come
here. If there is any factory of relics here I did not see it. Nor do I
know whether the true cross has still the power of growing, which it
had in the fourth century, to renew itself under the constant demand for
pieces of it. I did not go to see the place where the tree grew of which
it was made; the exact spot is shown in a Greek convent about a mile
and a half west of the city. The tree is said to have been planted by
Abraham and Noah. This is evidently an error; it may have been planted
by Adam and watered by Noah.

There is not much trade in antiquities in the city; the shops offer
little to tempt the curiosity-hunter. Copper coins of the Roman period
abound, and are constantly turned up in the fields outside the city,
most of them battered and defaced beyond recognition. Jewish mites are
plenty enough, but the silver shekel would be rare if the ingenious Jews
did not keep counterfeits on hand. The tourist is waited on at his
hotel by a few patient and sleek sharks with cases of cheap jewelry
and doubtful antiques, and if he seeks the shops of the gold and silver
bazaars he will find little more. I will not say that he will not now
and then pick up a piece of old pottery that has made the journey
from Central Asia, or chance upon a singular stone with a talismanic
inscription. The hope that he may do so carries the traveller through
a great many Eastern slums. The chief shops, however, are those of
trinkets manufactured for the pilgrims, of olive-wood, ivory, bone,
camels’ teeth, and all manner of nuts and seeds. There are more than
fifty sorts of beads, strung for profane use or arranged for rosaries,
and some of them have pathetic names, like “Job’s tears.”
Jerusalem is entitled to be called the City of Beads.

There is considerable activity in Jewish objects that are old and rather
unclean; and I think I discovered something like an attempt to make a
“corner” in phylacteries, that is, in old ones, for the new are made
in excess of the demand. If a person desires to carry home a phylactery
to exhibit to his Sunday school, in illustration of the religion of the
Jews, he wants one that has been a long time in use. I do not suppose it
possible that the education of any other person is as deficient as mine
was in the matter of these ornamental aids in worship. But if there
is one, this description is for him: the phylactery, common size, is a
leathern box about an inch and a half square, with two narrow straps
of leather, about three feet long, sewed to the bottom corners. The
box contains a parchment roll of sacred writing. When the worshipper
performs his devotions in the synagogue, he binds one of the
phylacteries about his left arm and the other about his head, so that
the little box has something of the appearance of a leathern horn
sprouting out of his forehead. Phylacteries are worn only in the
synagogue, and in this respect differ from the greasy leathern talismans
of the Nubians, which contain scraps from the Koran, and are never taken
off. Whatever significance the phylactery once had to the Jew it
seems now to have lost, since he is willing to make it an article of
merchandise. Perhaps it is poverty that compels him also to sell his
ancient scriptures; parchment rolls of favorite books, such as Esther,
that are some centuries old, are occasionally to be bought, and new
rolls, deceitfully doctored into an appearance of antiquity, are offered

A few years ago the antiquarian world was put into a ferment by what
was called the “Shoepira collection,” a large quantity of
clay pottery,—gods, votive offerings, images, jars, and other
vessels,—with inscriptions in unknown characters, which was said
to have been dug up in the land of Moab, beyond the Jordan, and was
expected to throw great light upon certain passages of Jewish history,
and especially upon the religion of the heathen who occupied Palestine
at the time of the conquest. The collection was sent to Berlin; some
eminent German savans pronounced it genuine; nearly all the English
scholars branded it as an impudent imposture. Two collections of the
articles have been sent to Berlin, where they are stored out of sight
of the public generally, and Mr. Shoepira has made a third collection,
which he still retains.

Mr. Shoepira is a Hebrew antiquarian and bookseller, of somewhat
eccentric manners, but an enthusiast. He makes the impression of a
man who believes in his discoveries, and it is generally thought in
Jerusalem that if his collection is a forgery, he himself is imposed on.
The account which he gives of the places where the images and utensils
were found is anything but clear or definite. We are required to believe
that they have been dug up in caves at night and by stealth, and at the
peril of the lives of the discoverers, and that it is not safe to visit
these caves in the daytime on account of the Bedaween. The fresh-baked
appearance of some of the articles is admitted, and it is said that it
was necessary to roast them to prevent their crumbling when exposed to
the air. Our theory in regard to these singular objects is that a few of
those first shown were actually discovered, and that all the remainder
have been made in imitation of them. Of the characters (or alphabet)
of the inscriptions, Mr. Schepira says he has determined twenty-three;
sixteen of these are Phoenician, and the others, his critics say, are
meaningless. All the objects are exceedingly rude and devoid of the
slightest art; the images are many of them indecent; the jars are clumsy
in shape, but the inscriptions are put on with some skill. The figures
are supposed to have been votive offerings, and the jars either memorial
or sepulchral urns.

The hideous collection appeared to me sui generis, although some of the
images resemble the rudest of those called Phoenician which General di
Cesnola unearthed in Cyprus. Without merit, they seem to belong to a
rude age rather than to be the inartistic product of this age. That is,
supposing them to be forgeries, I cannot see how these figures could be
conceived by a modern man, who was capable of inventing a fraud of this
sort. He would have devised something better, at least something less
simple, something that would have somewhere betrayed a little modern
knowledge and feeling. All the objects have the same barbarous tone,
a kind of character that is distinct from their rudeness, and the same
images and designs are repeated over and over again. This gives color
to the theory that a few genuine pieces of Moabite pottery were found,
which gave the idea for a large manufacture of them. And yet, there are
people who see these things, and visit all the holy places, and then go
away and lament that there are no manufactories in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem attracts while it repels; and both it and all Palestine
exercise a spell out of all proportion to the consideration they had in
the ancient world. The student of the mere facts of history, especially
if his studies were made in Jerusalem itself, would be at a loss to
account for the place that the Holy City occupies in the thought of the
modern world, and the importance attached to the history of the handful
of people who made themselves a home in this rocky country. The Hebrew
nation itself, during the little time it was a nation, did not play
a part in Oriental affairs at all commensurate with its posthumous
reputation. It was not one of the great kingdoms of antiquity, and
in that theatre of war and conquest which spread from Ethiopia to the
Caspian Sea, it was scarcely an appreciable force in the great drama.

The country the Hebrews occupied was small; they never conquered
or occupied the whole of the Promised Land, which extended from the
Mediterranean Sea to the Arabian plain, from Hamath to Sinai. Their
territory in actual possession reached only from Dan to Beersheba. The
coast they never subdued; the Philistines, who came from Crete and grew
to be a great people in the plain, held the lower portion of Palestine
on the sea, and the Phoenicians the upper. Except during a brief period
in their history, the Jews were confined to the hill-country. Only
during the latter part of the reign of David and two thirds of that of
Solomon did the Jewish kingdom take on the proportions of a great state.
David extended the Israelitish power from the Gulf of Akaba to the
Euphrates; Damascus paid him tribute; he occupied the cities of his
old enemies, the Philistines, but the kingdom of Tyre, still in the
possession of Hiram, marked the limit of Jewish sway in that direction.
This period of territorial consequence was indeed brief. Before Solomon
was in his grave, the conquests bequeathed to him by his father began
to slip from his hand. The life of the Israelites as a united nation, as
anything but discordant and warring tribes, after the death of Joshua,
is all included in the reigns of David and Solomon,—perhaps sixty or
seventy years.

The Israelites were essentially highlanders. Some one has noticed their
resemblance to the Scotch Highlanders in modes of warfare. In fighting
they aimed to occupy the heights. They descended into the plain
reluctantly; they made occasional forays into the lowlands, but their
hills were their strength, as the Psalmist said; and they found security
among their crags and secluded glens from the agitations which shook the
great empires of the Eastern world. Invasions, retreats, pursuits, the
advance of devouring hosts or the flight of panic-stricken masses, for
a long time passed by their ridge of country on either side, along the
Mediterranean or through the land of Moab. They were out of the track
of Oriental commerce as well as of war. So removed were they from
participation in the stirring affairs of their era that they seem even
to have escaped the omnivorous Egyptian conquerors. Eor a long period
conquest passed them by, and it was not till their accumulation of
wealth tempted the avarice of the great Asiatic powers that they were
involved in the conflicts which finally destroyed them. The small
kingdom of Judah, long after that of Israel had been utterly swept away,
owed its continuance of life to its very defensible position. Solomon
left Jerusalem a strong city, well supplied with water, and capable
of sustaining a long siege, while the rugged country around it offered
little comfort to a besieging army.

For a short time David made the name of Israel a power in the world, and
Solomon, inheriting his reputation, added the triumphs of commerce to
those of conquest. By a judicious heathen alliance with Hiram of Tyre
he was able to build vessels on the Red Sea and man them with Phoenician
sailors, for voyages to India and Ceylon; and he was admitted by Hiram
to a partnership in his trading adventures to the Pillars of Hercules.
But these are only episodes in the Jewish career; the nation’s part in
Oriental history is comparatively insignificant until the days of their
great calamities. How much attention its heroism and suffering attracted
at that time we do not know.

Though the Israelites during their occupation of the hill-country of
Palestine were not concerned in the great dynastic struggles of the
Orient, they were not, however, at peace. Either the tribes were
fighting among themselves or they were involved in sanguinary fights
with the petty heathen chiefs about them. We get a lively picture of the
habits of the time in a sentence in the second book of Samuel: “And
it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go
forth to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and
all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged
Rabbah.” It was a pretty custom. In that season when birds pair and
build their nests, when the sap mounts in the trees and travellers long
to go into far countries, kings felt a noble impulse in their veins to
go out and fight other kings. But this primitive simplicity was mingled
with shocking barbarity; David once put his captives under the saw,
and there is nothing to show that the Israelites were more moved by
sentiments of pity and compassion than their heathen neighbors. There
was occasionally, however, a grim humor in their cruelty. When Judah
captured King Adoni-bezek, in Bezek, he cut off his great toes and his
thumbs. Adoni-bezek, who could appreciate a good thing, accepted the
mutilation in the spirit in which it was offered, and said that he had
himself served seventy kings in that fashion; “threescore and ten
kings, having their thumbs and great toes cut off, gathered their meat
under my table.”

From the death of Joshua to the fall of Samaria, the history of the Jews
is largely a history of civil war. From about seven hundred years before
Christ, Palestine was essentially a satrapy of the Assyrian kings, as it
was later to become one of the small provinces of the Roman empire. At
the time when Sennacherib was waiting before Jerusalem for Hezekiah
to purchase his withdrawal by stripping the gold from the doors of the
Temple, the foundations of a city were laid on the banks of the Tiber,
which was to extend its sway over the known world, to whose dominion the
utmost power of Jerusalem was only a petty sovereignty, and which was
destined to rival Jerusalem itself as the spiritual capital of the

If we do not find in the military power or territorial consequence of
the Jews an explanation of their influence in the modern world, still
less do we find it in any faithfulness to a spiritual religion, the
knowledge of which was their chief distinction among the tribes about
them. Their lapses from the worship of Jehovah were so frequent, and of
such long duration, that their returns to the worship of the true God
seem little more than breaks in their practice of idolatry. And these
spasmodic returns were due to calamities, and fears of worse judgments.
Solomon sanctioned by national authority gross idolatries which had
been long practised. At his death, ten of the tribes seceded from the
dominion of Judah and set up a kingdom in which idolatry was made and
remained the state religion, until the ten tribes vanished from the
theatre of history. The kingdom of Israel, in order to emphasize its
separation from that of Judah, set up the worship of Jehovah in the
image of a golden calf. Against this state religion of image-worship
the prophets seem to have thought it in vain to protest; they contented
themselves with battling against the more gross and licentious
idolatries of Baal and Ashtaroth; and Israel always continued the
idol-worship established by Jeroboam. The worship of Jehovah was the
state religion of the little kingdom of Judah, but during the period of
its existence, before the Captivity, I think that only four of its kings
were not idolaters. The people were constantly falling away into the
heathenish practices of their neighbors.

If neither territorial consequence nor religious steadfastness gave the
Jews rank among the great nations of antiquity, they would equally fail
of the consideration they now enjoy but for one thing, and that is,
after all, the chief and enduring product of any nationality; we mean,
of course, its literature. It is by that, that the little kingdoms
of Judah and Israel hold their sway over the world. It is that which
invests ancient Jerusalem with its charm and dignity. Not what the Jews
did, but the songs of their poets, the warnings and lamentations of
their prophets, the touching tales of their story-tellers, draw us to
Jerusalem by the most powerful influences that affect the human mind.
And most of this unequalled literature is the product of seasons of
turbulence, passion, and insecurity. Except the Proverbs and Song of
Solomon, and such pieces as the poem of Job and the story of Ruth, which
seem to be the outcome of literary leisure, the Hebrew writings were all
the offspring of exciting periods. David composed his Psalms—the most
marvellous interpreters of every human aspiration, exaltation, want, and
passion—with his sword in his hand; and the prophets always appear to
ride upon a whirlwind. The power of Jerusalem over the world is as truly
a literary one as that of Athens is one of art. That literature was
unknown to the ancients, or unappreciated: otherwise contemporary
history would have considered its creators of more consequence than it

We speak, we have been speaking, of the Jerusalem before our era, and of
the interest it has independent of the great event which is, after all,
its chief claim to immortal estimation. It becomes sacred ground to
us because there, in Bethlehem, Christ was born; because here—not in
these streets, but upon this soil—he walked and talked and taught
and ministered; because upon Olivet, yonder, he often sat with his
disciples, and here, somewhere,—it matters not where,—he suffered
death and conquered death.

This is the scene of these transcendent events. We say it to ourselves
while we stand here. We can clearly conceive it when we are at a
distance. But with the actual Jerusalem of to-day before our eyes, its
naked desolation, its superstition, its squalor, its vivid contrast to
what we conceive should be the City of our King, we find it easier to
feel that Christ was born in New England than in Judæa.


IT is on a lovely spring morning that we set out through the land of
Benjamin to go down among the thieves of Jericho, and to the Jordan and
the Dead Sea. For protection against the thieves we take some of them
with us, since you cannot in these days rely upon finding any good
Samaritans there.

For some days Abd-el-Atti has been in mysterious diplomatic relations
with the robbers of the wilderness, who live in Jerusalem, and farm out
their territory. “Thim is great rascals,” says the dragoman; and
it is solely on that account that we seek their friendship: the real
Bedawee is never known to go back on his word to the traveller who
trusts him, so long as it is more profitable to keep it than to break
it. We are under the escort of the second sheykh, who shares with the
first sheykh the rule of all the Bedaween who patrol the extensive
territory from Hebron to the fords of the Jordan, including Jerusalem,
Bethlehem, Mar Saba, and the shores of the Dead Sea; these rulers would
have been called kings in the old time, and the second sheykh bears the
same relation to the first that the Cæsar did to the Augustus in the
Roman Empire.

Our train is assembled in the little market-place opposite the hotel,
or rather it is assembling, for horses and donkeys are slow to arrive,
saddles are wanting, the bridles are broken, and the unpunctuality and
shiftlessness of the East manifest themselves. Abd-el-Atti is in fierce
altercation with a Koorland nobleman about a horse, which you would not
say would be likely to be a bone of contention with anybody. They are
both endeavoring to mount at once. Friends are backing each combatant,
and the air is thick with curses in guttural German and maledictions in
shrill Arabic. Unfortunately I am appealed to.

“What for this Dutchman, he take my horse?”

“Perhaps he hired it first?”

“P’aps not. I make bargain for him with the owner day before

“I have become dis pferd for four days,” cries the Baron.

There seems to be no reason to doubt the Baron’s word; he has ridden
the horse to Bethlehem, and become accustomed to his jolts, and no doubt
has the prior lien on the animal. The owner has let him to both parties,
a thing that often happens when the second comer offers a piastre
more. Another horse is sent for, and we mount and begin to disentangle
ourselves from the crowd. It is no easy matter, especially for the
ladies. Our own baggage-mules head in every direction. Donkeys laden
with mountains of brushwood push through the throng, scraping right and
left; camels shamble against us, their contemptuous noses in the air,
stretching their long necks over our heads; market-women from Bethlehem
scream at us; and greasy pilgrims block our way and curse our horses’

One by one we emerge and get into a straggling line, and begin to
comprehend the size of our expedition. Our dragoman has made as
extensive preparations as if we were to be the first to occupy Gilgal
and Jericho, and that portion of the Promised Land. We are equipped
equally well for fighting and for famine. A party of Syrians, who desire
to make the pilgrimage to the Jordan, have asked permission to join
us, in order to share the protection of our sheykh, and they add both
picturesqueness and strength to the grand cavalcade which clatters out
of Jaffa Gate and sweeps round the city wall. Heaven keep us from undue
pride in our noble appearance!

Perhaps our train would impress a spectator as somewhat mixed, and he
would be unable to determine the order of its march. It is true that the
horses and the donkeys and the mules all have different rates of speed,
and that the Syrian horse has only two gaits,—a run and a slow walk.
As soon as we gain the freedom of the open country, these differences
develop. The ambitious dragomen and the warlike sheykh put their horses
into a run and scour over the hills, and then come charging back upon
us, like Don Quixote upon the flock of sheep. The Syrians imitate this
madness. The other horses begin to agitate their stiff legs; the donkeys
stand still and protest by braying; the pack-mules get temporarily
crazy, charge into us with the protruding luggage, and suddenly wheel
into the ditch and stop. This playfulness is repeated in various ways,
and adds to the excitement without improving the dignity of our march.

We are of many nationalities. There are four Americans, two of them
ladies. The Doctor, who is accustomed to ride the mustangs of New Mexico
and the wild horses of the Western deserts, endeavors to excite a spirit
of emulation in his stiff-kneed animal, but with little success. Our
dragoman is Egyptian, a decidedly heavy weight, and sits his steed like
a pyramid.

The sheykh is a young man, with the treacherous eye of an eagle; a
handsome fellow, who rides a lean white horse, anything but a beauty,
and yet of the famous Nedjed breed from Mecca. This desert warrior
wears red boots, white trousers and skirt, blue jacket, a yellow kufia,
confined about the head by a black cord and falling upon his shoulders,
has a long rifle slung at his back, an immense Damascus sword at his
side, and huge pistols, with carved and inlaid stocks, in his belt. He
is a riding arsenal and a visible fraud, this Bedawee sheykh. We should
no doubt be quite as safe without him, and perhaps less liable to
various extortions. But on the road, and from the moment we set out, we
meet Bedaween, single and in squads, savage-looking vagabonds, every one
armed with a gun, a long knife, and pistols with blunderbuss barrels,
flaring in such a manner as to scatter shot over an acre of ground.
These scarecrows are apparently paraded on the highway to make
travellers think it is insecure. But I am persuaded that none of them
would dare molest any pilgrim to the Jordan.

Our allies, the Syrians, please us better. There is a Frenchified
Syrian, with his wife, from Mansura, in the Delta of Egypt. The wife is
a very pretty woman (would that her example were more generally followed
in the East), with olive complexion, black eyes, and a low forehead-; a
native of Sidon. She wears a dark green dress, and a yellow kufia on
her head, and is mounted upon a mule, man-fashion, but upon a saddle
as broad as a feather-bed. Her husband, in semi-Syrian costume, with
top-boots, carries a gun at his back and a frightful knife in his belt.
Her brother, who is from Sidon, bears also a gun, and wears an enormous
sword. Very pleasant people these, who have armed themselves in the
spirit of the hunter rather than of the warrior, and are as completely
equipped for the chase as any Parisian who ventures in pursuit of game
into any of the dangerous thickets outside of Paris.

The Sidon wife is accompanied by two servants, slaves from Soudan, a boy
and a girl, each about ten years old,—two grinning, comical monkeys,
who could not by any possibility be of the slightest service to anybody,
unless it is a relief to their pretty mistress to vent her ill-humor
upon their irresponsible persons. You could n’t call them handsome,
though their skins are of dazzling black, and their noses so flat
that you cannot see them in profile. The girl wears a silk gown, which
reaches to her feet and gives her the quaint appearance of an old woman,
and a yellow vest; the boy is clad in motley European clothes, bought
second-hand with reference to his growing up to them,—upon which event
the trousers-legs and cuffs of his coat could be turned down,—and a
red fez contrasting finely with his black face. They are both mounted
on a decrepit old horse, whose legs are like sled-stakes, and they sit
astride on top of a pile of baggage, beds, and furniture, with bottles
and camp-kettles jingling about them. The girl sits behind the boy and
clings fast to his waist with one hand, while with the other she holds
over their heads a rent white parasol, to prevent any injury to their
jet complexions. When the old baggage-horse starts occasionally into a
hard trot, they both bob up and down, and strike first one side and then
the other, but never together; when one goes up the other goes down, as
if they were moved by different springs; but both show their ivory and
seem to enjoy themselves. Heaven knows why they should make a pilgrimage
to the Jordan.

Our Abyssinian servant, Abdallah, is mounted, also on a pack-horse, and
sits high in the air amid bags and bundles; he guides his brute only
by a halter, and when the animal takes a fancy to break into a gallop,
there is a rattling of dishes and kettles that sets the whole train into
commotion; the boy’s fez falls farther than ever back on his head, his
teeth shine, and his eyes dance as he jolts into the midst of the mules
and excites a panic, which starts everything into friskiness, waking
up even the Soudan party, which begins to bob about and grin. There are
half a dozen mules loaded with tents and bed furniture; the cook, and
the cook’s assistants, and the servants of the kitchen and the camp
are mounted on something, and the train is attended besides by drivers
and ostlers, of what nations it pleases Heaven. But this is not all. We
carry with us two hunting dogs, the property of the Syrian. The dogs are
not for use; they are a piece of ostentation, like the other portion
of the hunting outfit, and contribute, as do the Soudan babies, to our
appearance of Oriental luxury.

We straggle down through the Valley of Jehoshaphat, and around the Mount
of Olives to Bethany; and from that sightly slope our route is spread
before us as if we were looking upon a map. It lies through the
“wilderness of Judæa.” We are obliged to revise our Western
notions of a wilderness as a region of gross vegetation. The Jews knew a
wilderness when they saw it, and how to name it. You would be interested
to know what a person who lived at Jerusalem, or anywhere along the
backbone of Palestine, would call a wilderness. Nothing but the absolute
nakedness of desolation could seem to him dreary. But this region must
have satisfied even a person accustomed to deserts and pastures of
rocks. It is a jumble of savage hills and jagged ravines, a land of
limestone rocks and ledges, whitish gray in color, glaring in the sun,
even the stones wasted by age, relieved nowhere by a tree, or rejoiced
by a single blade of grass. Wild beasts would starve in it, the most
industrious bird could n’t collect in its length and breadth enough
soft material to make a nest of; it is what a Jew of Hebron or Jerusalem
or Hamah would call a “wilderness”! This exhausts the language of
description. How vividly in this desolation stands out the figure of the
prophet of God, clothed with camel’s hair and with a girdle of skin
about his loins, “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.”

The road is thronged with Jordan pilgrims. We overtake them, they
pass us, we meet them in an almost continuous train. Most of them are
peasants from Armenia, from the borders of the Black Sea, from the
Caucasus, from Abyssinia. The great mass are on foot, trudging wearily
along with their bedding and provisions, the thick-legged women carrying
the heaviest loads; occasionally you see a pilgrim asleep by the
roadside, his pillow a stone. But the travellers are by no means all
poor or unable to hire means of conveyance,—you would say that Judæa
had been exhausted of its beasts of burden of all descriptions for this
pilgrimage, and that even the skeletons had been exhumed to assist in
it. The pilgrims are mounted on sorry donkeys, on wrecks of horses,
on mules, sometimes an entire family on one animal. Now and then we
encounter a “swell” outfit, a wealthy Russian well mounted on a
richly caparisoned horse and attended by his servants; some ride in
palanquins, some in chairs. We overtake an English party, the central
figure of which is an elderly lady, who rides in a sort of high cupboard
slung on poles, and borne by a mule before and a mule behind; the
awkward vehicle sways and tilts backwards and forwards, and the good
woman looks out of the window of her coop as if she were sea-sick of
the world. Some ladies, who are unaccustomed to horses, have arm-chairs
strapped upon the horses’ backs, in which they sit. Now and then two
chairs are strapped upon one horse, and the riders sit back to back.
Sometimes huge panniers slung on the sides of the horse are used instead
of chairs, the passengers riding securely in them without any danger of
falling out. It is rather a pretty sight when each basket happens to be
full of children. There is, indeed, no end to the strange outfits
and the odd costumes. Nearly all the women who are mounted at all are
perched upon the top of all their household goods and furniture, astride
of a bed on the summit. There approaches a horse which seems to have a
sofa on its back, upon which four persons are seated in a row, as much
at ease as if at home; it is not, however, a sofa; four baskets have
been ingeniously fastened into a frame, so that four persons can ride
in them abreast. This is an admirable contrivance for the riders, much
better than riding in a row lengthwise on the horse, when the one in
front hides the view from those behind.

Diverted by this changing spectacle, we descend from Bethany. At first
there are wild-flowers by the wayside and in the fields, and there is a
flush of verdure on the hills, all of which disappears later. The sky
is deep blue and cloudless, the air is exhilarating; it is a day for
enjoyment, and everything and everybody we encounter are in a joyous
mood, and on good terms with the world. The only unamiable exception
is the horse with which I have been favored. He is a stocky little
stallion, of good shape, but ignoble breed, and the devil—which is, I
suppose, in the horse what the old Adam is in man—has never been cast
out of him. At first I am in love with his pleasant gait and mincing
ways, but I soon find that he has eccentricities that require the
closest attention on my part, and leave me not a moment for the scenery
or for biblical reflections. The beast is neither content to go in front
of the caravan nor in the rear he wants society, but the instant he
gets into the crowd he lets his heels fly right and left. After a few
performances of this sort, and when he has nearly broken the leg of the
Syrian, my company is not desired any more by any one. No one is willing
to ride within speaking distance of me. This sort of horse may please
the giddy and thoughtless, but he is not the animal for me. By the time
we reach the fountain ‘Ain el-Huad, I have quite enough of him, and
exchange steeds with the dragoman, much against the latter’s fancy; he
keeps the brute the remainder of the day cantering over stones and waste
places along the road, and confesses at night that his bridle-hand is so
swollen as to be useless.

We descend a steep hill to this fountain, which flows from a broken
Saracenic arch, and waters a valley that is altogether stony and
unfertile except in some patches of green. It is a general halting-place
for travellers, and presents a most animated appearance when we arrive.
Horses, mules, and men are struggling together about the fountain to
slake their thirst; but there is no trough nor any pool, and the only
mode to get the water is to catch it in the mouth as it drizzles from
the hole in the arch. It is difficult for a horse to do this, and the
poor things are beside themselves with thirst. Near by are some
stone ruins in which a man and woman have set up a damp coffee-shop,
sherbet-shop, and smoking station. From them I borrow a shallow dish,
and succeed in getting water for my horse, an experiment which seems to
surprise all nations. The shop is an open stone shed with a dirt floor,
offering only stools to the customers; yet when the motley crowd are
seated in and around it, sipping coffee and smoking the narghilehs
(water-pipes) with an air of leisure as if to-day would last forever,
you have a scene of Oriental luxury.

Our way lies down a winding ravine. The country is exceedingly rough,
like the Wyoming hills, but without trees or verdure. The bed of the
stream is a mass of rock in shelving ledges; all the rock in sight is a
calcareous limestone. After an hour of this sort of secluded travel we
ascend again and reach the Red Khan, and a scene still more desolate
because more extensive. The khan takes its name from the color of
the rocks; perched upon a high ledge are the ruins of this ancient
caravansary, little more now than naked walls. We take shelter for lunch
in a natural rock grotto opposite, exactly the shadow of a rock longed
for in a weary land. Here we spread our gay rugs, the servants unpack
the provision hampers, and we sit and enjoy the wide view of barrenness
and the picturesque groups of pilgrims. The spot is famous for its
excellent well of water. It is, besides, the locality usually chosen for
the scene of the adventure of the man who went down to Jericho and
fell among thieves, this being the khan at which he was entertained for
twopence. We take our siesta here, reflecting upon the great advance in
hotel prices, and endeavoring to re-create something of that past when
this was the highway between great Jerusalem and the teeming plain of
the Jordan. The Syro-Phoenician woman smoked a narghileh, and, looking
neither into the past nor the future, seemed to enjoy the present.

From this elevation we see again the brown Jordan Valley and the Dead
Sea. Our road is downward more precipitously than it has been before.
The rocks are tossed about tumultuously, and the hills are rent, but
there is no evidence of any volcanic action. Some of the rock strata
are bent, as you see the granite in the White Mountains, but this
peculiarity disappears as we approach nearer to the Jordan. The
translator of M. François Lenormant’s “Ancient History of the
East” says that “the miracles which accompanied the entrance of
the Israelites into Palestine seem such as might have been produced by
volcanic agency.” No doubt they might have been; but this whole region
is absolutely without any appearance of volcanic disturbance.

As we go on, we have on our left the most remarkable ravine in
Palestine; it is in fact a canon in the rocks, some five hundred feet
deep, the sides of which are nearly perpendicular. At the bottom of it
flows the brook Cherith, finding its way out into the Jordan plain.
We ride to the brink and look over into the abyss. It was about two
thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine years ago, and probably about
this time of the year (for the brook went dry shortly after), that
Elijah, having incurred the hostility of Ahab, who held his luxurious
court at Samaria, by prophesying against him, came over from Gilead and
hid himself in this ravine.

“Down there,” explains Abd-el-Atti, “the prophet Elijah fed him
the ravens forty days. Not have that kind of ravens now.”

Unattractive as this abyss is for any but a temporary summer residence,
the example of Elijah recommended it to a great number of people in a
succeeding age. In the wall of the precipice are cut grottos, some
of them so high above the bed of the stream that they are apparently
inaccessible, and not unlike the tombs in the high cliffs along the
Nile. In the fourth and fifth centuries monks swarmed in all the desert
places of Egypt and Syria like rabbits; these holes, near the scene of
Elijah’s miraculous support, were the abodes of Christian hermits,
most of whom starved themselves down to mere skin and bones waiting for
the advent of the crows. On the ledge above are the ruins of ancient
chapels, which would seem to show that this was a place of some resort,
and that the hermits had spectators of their self-denial. You might as
well be a woodchuck and sit in a hole as a monk, unless somebody comes
and looks at you.

As we advance, the Jordan valley opens more broadly upon our sight. At
this point, which is the historical point, the scene of the passage
of the Jordan and the first appearance of the Israelitish clans in the
Promised Land, the valley is ten miles broad. It is by no means a level
plain; from the west range of mountains it slopes to the river, and the
surface is broken by hillocks, ravines, and water-courses. The breadth
is equal to that between the Connecticut River at Hartford and the
Talcott range of hills. To the north we have in view the valley almost
to the Sea of Galilee, and can see the white and round summit of Hermon
beyond; on the east and on the west the barren mountains stretch in
level lines; and on the south the blue waters of the Dead Sea continue
the valley between ranges of purple and poetic rocky cliffs.

The view is magnificent in extent, and plain and hills glow with color
in this afternoon light. Yonder, near the foot of the eastern hills,
we trace the winding course of the Jordan by a green belt of trees and
bushes. The river we cannot see, for the “bottom” of the river,
to use a Western phrase, from six hundred to fifteen hundred feet in
breadth, is sunk below the valley a hundred feet and more. This bottom
is periodically overflowed. The general aspect of the plain is that of
a brown desert, the wild vegetation of which is crisped by the scorching
sun. There are, however, threads of verdure in it, where the brook
Cherith and the waters from the fountain ‘Ain es-Sultan wander through
the neglected plain, and these strips of green widen into the thickets
about the little village of Rîha, the site of ancient Gilgal. This
valley is naturally fertile; it may very likely have been a Paradise of
fruit-trees and grass and sparkling water when the Jews looked down
upon it from the mountains of Moab; it certainly bloomed in the Roman
occupation; and the ruins of sugar-mills still existing show that the
crusading Christians made the cultivation of the sugar-cane successful
here; it needs now only the waters of the Jordan and the streams from
the western foot-hills directed by irrigating ditches over its surface,
moistening its ashy and nitrous soil, to become again a fair and smiling

Descending down the stony and precipitous road, we turn north, still on
the slope of the valley. The scant grass is already crisped by the heat,
the bushes are dry skeletons. A ride of a few minutes brings us to some
artificial mounds and ruins of buildings upon the bank of the brook
Cherith. The brickwork is the fine reticulated masonry such as you
see in the remains of Roman villas at Tusculum. This is the site of
Herod’s Jericho, the Jericho of the New Testament. But the Jericho
which Joshua destroyed and the site of which he cursed, the Jericho
which Hiel rebuilt in the days of the wicked Ahab, and where Elisha
abode after the translation of Elijah, was a half-mile to the north of
this modern town.

We have some difficulty in fording the brook Cherith, for the banks are
precipitous and the stream is deep and swift; those who are mounted upon
donkeys change them for horses, the Arab attendants wade in, guiding the
stumbling animals which the ladies ride, the lumbering beast with the
Soudan babies comes splashing in at the wrong moment, to the peril of
those already in the torrent, and is nearly swept away; the sheykh
and the servants who have crossed block the narrow landing; but with
infinite noise and floundering about we all come safely over, and gallop
along a sort of plateau, interspersed with thorny nubk and scraggy
bushes. Going on for a quarter of an hour, and encountering cultivated
spots, we find our tents already pitched on the bushy bank of a little
stream that issues from the fountain of ‘Ain es-Sultan a few rods
above. Near the camp is a high mound of rubbish. This is the site of our
favorite Jericho, a name of no majesty like that of Rome, and endeared
to us by no associations like Jerusalem, but almost as widely known
as either; probably even its wickedness would not have preserved its
reputation, but for the singular incident that attended its first
destruction. Jericho must have been a city of some consequence at
the time of the arrival of the Israelites; we gain an idea of the
civilization of its inhabitants from the nature of the plunder that
Joshua secured; there were vessels of silver and of gold, and of brass
and iron; and this was over fourteen hundred years before Christ.

Before we descend to our encampment, we pause for a survey of this
historic region. There, towards Jordan, among the trees, is the site
of Gilgal (another name that shares the half-whimsical reputation of
Jericho), where the Jews made their first camp. The king of Jericho,
like his royal cousins roundabout, had “no more spirit in him” when
he saw the Israelitish host pass the Jordan. He shut himself up in his
insufficient walls, and seems to have made no attempt at a defence. Over
this upland the Jews swarmed, and all the armed host with seven priests
and seven ram’s-horns marched seven days round and round the doomed
city, and on the seventh day the people shouted the walls down. Every
living thing in the city was destroyed except Rahab and her family, the
town was burned, and for five hundred years thereafter no man dared
to build upon its accursed foundations. Why poor Jericho was specially
marked out for malediction we are not told.

When it was rebuilt in Ahab’s time, the sons of the prophets found
it an agreeable place of residence; large numbers of them were gathered
here while Elijah lived, and they conversed with that prophet when
he was on his last journey through this valley, which he had so often
traversed, compelled by the Spirit of the Lord. No incident in the
biblical story so strongly appeals to the imagination, nor is there
anything in the poetical conception of any age so sublime as the last
passage of Elijah across this plain and his departure into heaven beyond
Jordan. When he came from Bethel to Jericho, he begged Elisha, his
attendant, to tarry here; but the latter would not yield either to his
entreaty or to that of the sons of the prophets. We can see the way the
two prophets went hence to Jordan. Fifty men of the sons of the prophets
went and stood to view them afar off, and they saw the two stand by
Jordan. Already it was known that Elijah was to disappear, and the
two figures, lessening in the distance, were followed with a fearful
curiosity. Did they pass on swiftly, and was there some premonition, in
the wind that blew their flowing mantles, of the heavenly gale? Elijah
smites the waters with his mantle, the two pass over dry-shod, and “as
they still went on and talked, behold there appeared a chariot of fire,
and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by
a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, ‘My father,
my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof.’ And he saw
him no more.”

Elislia returned to Jericho and abode there while the sons of the
prophets sought for Elijah beyond Jordan three days, but did not find
him. And the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold, I pray thee, the
situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth, but the water is
naught and the ground is barren.” Then Elisha took salt and healed the
spring of water; and ever since, to this day, the fountain, now called
‘Ain es-Sultan, has sent forth sweet water.

Turning towards the northwest, we see the passage through the mountain,
by the fountain ‘Ain Duk, to Bethel. It was out of some woods there,
where the mountain is now bare, that Elisha called the two she-bears
which administered that dreadful lesson to the children who derided his
baldness. All the region, indeed, recalls the miracles of Elisha. It was
probably here that Naaman the Syrian came to be healed; there at Gilgal
Elisha took the death out of the great pot in which the sons of the
prophets were seething their pottage; and it was there in the Jordan
that he made the iron axe to swim.

Of all this celebrated and ill-fated Jericho, nothing now remains but a
hillock and Elisha’s spring. The wild beasts of the desert prowl about
it, and the night-bird hoots over its fall,—a sort of echo of the
shouts that brought down its walls. Our tents are pitched near the
hillock, and the animals are picketed on the open ground before them by
the stream. The Syrian tourist in these days travels luxuriously. Our
own party has four tents,—the kitchen tent, the dining tent, and
two for lodging. They are furnished with tables, chairs, all the
conveniences of the toilet, and carpeted with bright rugs. The cook is
an artist, and our table is one that would have astonished the sons
of the prophets. The Syrian party have their own tents; a family
from Kentucky has camped near by; and we give to Jericho a settled
appearance. The elder sheykh accompanies the other party of Americans,
so that we have now all the protection possible.

The dragoman of the Kentuckians we have already encountered in Egypt and
on the journey, and been impressed by his respectable gravity. It would
perhaps be difficult for him to tell his nationality or birthplace; he
wears the European dress, and his gold spectacles and big stomach would
pass him anywhere for a German professor. He seems out of place as a
dragoman, but if any one desired a savant as a companion in the East, he
would be the man. Indeed, his employers soon discover that his forte is
information, and not work. While the other servants are busy about the
camps Antonio comes over to our tent, and opens up the richness of his
mind, and illustrates his capacity as a Syrian guide.

“You know that mountain, there, with the chapel on top?” he asks.


“Well, that is Mt. Nebo, and that one next to it is Pisgah, the
mountain of the prophet Moses.”

Both these mountains are of course on the other side of the Jordan in
the Moab range, but they are not identified,—except by Antonio.
The sharp mountain behind us is Quarantania, the Mount of Christ’s
Temptation. Its whole side to the summit is honey-combed with the cells
of hermits who once dwelt there, and it is still the resort of many

The evening is charming, warm but not depressing; the atmosphere is even
exhilarating, and this surprises us, since we are so far below the sea
level. The Doctor says that it is exactly like Colorado on a July night.
We have never been so low before, not even in a coal-mine. We are not
only about thirty-seven hundred feet below Jerusalem, we are over twelve
hundred below the level of the sea. Sitting outside the tent under the
starlight, we enjoy the novelty and the mysteriousness of the scene.
Tents, horses picketed among the bushes, the firelight, the groups of
servants and drivers taking their supper, the figure of an Arab from
Gilgal coming forward occasionally out of the darkness, the singing,
the occasional violent outbreak of kicking and squealing among the
ill-assorted horses and mules, the running of loose-robed attendants
to the rescue of some poor beast, the strong impression of the locality
upon us, and I know not what Old Testament flavor about it all, conspire
to make the night memorable.

“This place very dangerous,” says Antonio, who is standing round,
bursting with information. “Him berry wise,” is Abdel-Atti’s
opinion of him. “Know a great deal; I tink him not live long.”

“What is the danger?” we ask.

“Wild beasts, wild boars, hyenas,—all these bush full of them. It
was three years now I was camped here with Baron Kronkheit. ‘Bout
twelve o’clock I heard a noise and came out. Right there, not twenty
feet from here, stood a hyena as big as a donkey, his two eyes like
fire. I did not shoot him for fear to wake up the Baron.”

“Did he kill any of your party?”

“Not any man. In the morning I find he has carried off our only

Notwithstanding these dangers, the night passes without alarm, except
the barking of jackals about the kitchen tent. In the morning I ask
Antonio if he heard the hyenas howling in the night. “Yes, indeed,
plenty of them; they came very near my tent.”

We are astir at sunrise, breakfast, and start for the Jordan. It is the
opinion of the dragoman and the sheykh that we should go first to the
Dead Sea. It is the custom. Every tourist goes to the Dead Sea first,
bathes, and then washes off the salt in the Jordan. No one ever thought
of going to the Jordan first. It is impossible. We must visit the Dead
Sea, and then lunch at the Jordan. We wished, on the contrary, to lunch
at the Dead Sea, at which we should otherwise only have a very brief
time. We insisted upon our own programme, to the great disgust of all
our camp attendants, who predicted disaster.

The Jordan is an hour and a half from Jericho; that is the distance to
the bathing-place of the Greek pilgrims. We descend all the way. Wild
vegetation is never wanting; wild-flowers abound; we pass through
thickets of thorns, bearing the yellow “apples of the Dead Sea,”
which grow all over this plain. At Gilgal (now called Biha) we find
what is probably the nastiest village in the world, and its miserable
inhabitants are credited with all the vices of Sodom. The wretched
huts are surrounded by a thicket of nubk as a protection against the
plundering Bedaween. The houses are rudely built of stone, with a
covering of cane or brush, and each one is enclosed in a hedge of
thorns. These thorns, which grow rankly on the plain, are those of which
the “crown of thorns” was plaited, and all devout pilgrims carry
away some of them. The habitations within these thorny enclosures
are filthy beyond description, and poverty-stricken. And this is in a
watered plain which would bloom with all manner of fruits with the least
care. Indeed, there are a few tangled gardens of the rankest vegetation;
in them we see the orange, the fig, the deceptive pomegranate with
its pink blossoms, and the olive. As this is the time of pilgrimage, a
company of Turkish soldiers from Jerusalem is encamped at the village,
and the broken country about it is covered with tents, booths, shops,
kitchens, and presents the appearance of a fair and a camp-meeting
combined. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pilgrims, who go
every morning, as long as they remain here, to dip in the Jordan. Near
the village rises the square tower of an old convent, probably, which is
dignified with the name of the “house of Zacchæus.” This plain
was once famed for its fertility; it was covered with gardens and
palm-groves; the precious balsam, honey, and henna were produced here;
the balsam gardens were the royal gift of Antony to Cleopatra, who
transferred the balsam-trees to Heliopolis in Egypt.

As we ride away from Gilgal and come upon a more open and desert plain,
I encounter an eagle sitting on the top of a thorn-tree, not the noblest
of his species, but, for Palestine, a very fair eagle. Here is a chance
for the Syrian hunter; he is armed with gun and pistols; he has his
dogs; now, if ever, is the time for him to hunt, and I fall back and
point out his opportunity. He does not embrace it. It is an easy shot;
perhaps he is looking for wild boars; perhaps he is a tender-minded
hunter. At any rate, he makes no effort to take the eagle, and when I
ride forward the bird gracefully rises in the air, sweeping upward in
magnificent circles, now veering towards the Mount of Temptation, and
now towards Nebo, but always as serene as the air in which he floats.

And now occurs one of those incidents which are not rare to travellers
in Syria, but which are rare and scarcely believed elsewhere. As the
eagle hangs for a second motionless in the empyrean far before me, he
drops a feather. I see the gray plume glance in the sun and swirl slowly
down in the lucid air. In Judæa every object is as distinct as in a
photograph. You can see things at a distance you can make no one believe
at home. The eagle plume, detached from the noble bird, begins its
leisurely descent.

I see in a moment my opportunity. I might never have another. All
travellers in Syria whose books I have ever read have one or more
startling adventures. Usually it is with a horse. I do not remember any
with a horse and an eagle. I determine at once to have one. Glancing a
moment at the company behind me, and then fixing my eye on the falling
feather, I speak a word to my steed, and dart forward.

A word was enough. The noble animal seemed to comprehend the situation.
He was of the purest Arab breed; four legs, four white ankles, small
ears, slender pasterns, nostrils thin as tissue paper, and dilating upon
the fall of a leaf; an eye terrible in rage, but melting in affection;
a round barrel; gentle as a kitten, but spirited as a game-cock. His
mother was a Nedjed mare from Medina, who had been exchanged by a
Bedawee chief for nine beautiful Circassians, but only as a compromise
after a war by the Pasha of Egypt for her possession. Her father was
one of the most respectable horses in Yemen. Neither father, mother, nor
colt had ever eaten anything but selected dates.

At the word, Abdallah springs forward, bounding over the sand, skimming
over the thorn bushes, scattering the Jordan pilgrims right and left.
He does not seem to be so much a horse as a creation of the
imagination,—a Pegasus. At every leap we gain upon the feather, but it
is still far ahead of us, and swirling down, down, as the air takes the
plume or the weight of gravity acts upon the quill. Abdallah does not
yet know the object of our fearful pace, but his docility is such that
every time I speak to him he seems to shoot out of himself in sudden
bursts of enthusiasm. The terrible strain continues longer than I had
supposed it would, for I had undercalculated both the height at which
the feather was cast and my distance to the spot upon which it must
fall. None but a horse fed on dates could keep up the awful gait. We
fly and the feather falls; and it falls with increasing momentum. It is
going, going to the ground, and we are not there. At this instant, when
I am in despair, the feather twirls, and Abdallah suddenly casts his
eye up and catches the glint of it. The glance suffices to put him
completely in possession of the situation. He gives a low neigh of joy;
I plunge both spurs into his flanks about six or seven inches; he leaps
into the air, and sails like a bird,—of course only for a moment; but
it is enough; I stretch out my hand and catch the eagle’s plume before
it touches the ground. We light on the other side of a clump of thorns,
and Abdallah walks on as quietly as if nothing had happened; he was not
blown; not a hair of his glossy coat was turned. I have the feather to

Pilgrims are plenty, returning from the river in a continuous
procession, in numbers rivalling the children of Israel when they first
camped at Gilgal. We descend into the river-bottom, wind through the
clumps of tangled bushes, and at length reach an open place where
the river for a few rods is visible. The ground is trampled like a
watering-spot for cattle; the bushes are not large enough to give shade;
there are no trees of size except one or two at the water’s edge; the
banks are slimy, there seems to be no comfortable place to sit except on
your horse—on Jordan’s stormy banks I stand and cast a wistful eye;
the wistful eye encounters nothing agreeable.

The Jordan here resembles the Arkansas above Little Rock, says the
Doctor; I think it is about the size of the Concord where it flows
through the classic town of that name in Massachusetts; but it is much
swifter. Indeed, it is a rapid current, which would sweep away the
strongest swimmer. The opposite bank is steep, and composed of sandy
loam or marl. The hither bank is low, but slippery, and it is difficult
to dip up water from it. Close to the shore the water is shallow, and
a rope is stretched out for the protection of the bathers. This is the
Greek bathing-place, but we are too late to see the pilgrims enter the
stream; crowds of them are still here, cutting canes to carry away, and
filling their tin cans with the holy water. We taste the water, which
is very muddy, and find it warm but not unpleasant. We are glad that we
have decided to lunch at the Dead Sea, for a more uninviting place than
this could not he found; above and below this spot are thickets and
boggy ground. It is beneath the historical and religious dignity of the
occasion to speak of lunch, but all tourists know what importance it
assumes on such an excursion, and that their high reflections seldom
come to them on the historical spot. Indeed, one must be removed some
distance from the vulgar Jordan before he can glow at the thought of it.
In swiftness and volume it exceeds our expectations, but its beauty is
entirely a creation of the imagination.

We had the opportunity of seeing only a solitary pilgrim bathe. This was
a shock-headed Greek young man, who reluctantly ventured into the dirty
water up to his knees and stood there shivering, and whimpering over the
orders of the priest on the bank, who insisted upon his dipping. Perhaps
the boy lacked faith; perhaps it was his first experiment with water; at
any rate, he stood there until his spiritual father waded in and ducked
the blubbering and sputtering neophyte under. This was not a baptism,
but a meritorious bath. Some seedy fellahs from Gilgal sat on the bank
fishing. When I asked them if they had anything, they produced from the
corners of their gowns some Roman copper coins, picked up at Jericho,
and which they swore were dropped there by the Jews when they assaulted
the city with the rams’-horns. These idle fishermen caught now
and then a rather soft, light-colored perch, with large scales,—a
sickly-looking fish, which the Greeks, however, pronounced “tayeb.”

We leave the river and ride for an hour and a half across a nearly level
plain, the earth of which shows salts here and there, dotted with a low,
fat-leaved plant, something like the American sage-bush. Wild-flowers
enliven the way, and although the country is not exactly cheerful, it
has no appearance of desolation except such as comes from lack of water.

The Dead Sea is the least dead of any sheet of water I know. When we
first arrived the waters were a lovely blue, which changed to green in
the shifting light, but they were always animated and sparkling. It has
a sloping sandy beach, strewn with pebbles, up which the waves come with
a pleasant murmur. The plain is hot; here we find à cool breeze. The
lovely plain of water stretches away to the south between blue and
purple ranges of mountains, which thrust occasionally bold promontories
into it, and add a charm to the perspective.

The sea is not inimical either to vegetable or animal life on its
borders. Before we reach it I hear bird-notes high in the air like the
song of a lark; birds are flitting about the shore and singing, and
gulls are wheeling over the water; a rabbit runs into his hole close by
the beach. Growing close to the shore is a high woody stonewort,
with abundance of fleshy leaves and thousands of blossoms, delicate
protruding stamens hanging over the waters of the sea itself. The plant
with the small yellow fruit, which we take to be that of the apples of
Sodom, also grows here. It is the Solarium spinosa, closely allied
to the potato, egg-plant, and tomato; it has a woody stem with sharp
recurved thorns, sometimes grows ten feet high, and is now covered with
round orange berries.

It is not the scene of desolation that we expected, although some
branches and trunks of trees, gnarled and bleached, the drift-wood of
the Jordan, strewn along the beach, impart a dead aspect to the shore.
These dry branches are, however, useful; we build them up into a wigwam,
over which we spread our blankets; under this we sit, sheltered from
the sun, enjoying the delightful breeze and the cheering prospect of the
sparkling sea. The improvident Arabs, now that it is impossible to get
fresh water, begin to want it; they have exhausted their own jugs and
ours, having neglected to bring anything like an adequate supply. To see
water and not be able to drink it is too much for their philosophy.

The party separates along the shore, seeking for places where bushes
grow out upon tongues of land and offer shelter from observation for
the bather. The first impression we have of the water is its perfect
clearness. It is the most innocent water in appearance, and you would
not suspect its saltness and extreme bitterness. No fish live in it; the
water is too salt for anything but codfish. Its buoyancy has not been
exaggerated by travellers, but I did not expect to find bathing in it
so agreeable as it is. The water is of a happy temperature, soft, not
exactly oily, but exceedingly agreeable to the skin, and it left a
delicious sensation after the bath but it is necessary to be careful
not to get any of it into the eyes. For myself, I found swimming in
it delightful, and I wish the Atlantic Ocean were like it; nobody then
would ever be drowned. Floating is no effort; on the contrary, sinking
is impossible. The only annoyance in swimming is the tendency of the
feet to strike out of water, and of the swimmer to go over on his head.
When I stood upright in the water it came about to my shoulders; but it
was difficult to stand, from the constant desire of the feet to go to
the surface. I suppose that the different accounts of travellers in
regard to the buoyancy of the water are due to the different specific
gravity of the writers. We cannot all be doctors of divinity. I found
that the best way to float was to make a bow of the body and rest
with feet and head out of water, which was something like being in a
cushioned chair. Even then it requires some care not to turn over. The
bather seems to himself to be a cork, and has little control of his

About two hundred yards from the shore is an artificial island of stone,
upon which are remains of regular masonry. Probably some crusader had
a castle there. We notice upon looking down into the clear depths, some
distance out, in the sunlight, that the lake seems, as it flows, to have
translucent streaks, which are like a thick solution of sugar, showing
how completely saturated it is with salts. It is, in fact, twelve
hundred and ninety-two feet below the Mediterranean, nothing but a
deep, half-dried-up sea; the chloride of magnesia, which gives it its
extraordinarily bitter taste, does not crystallize and precipitate
itself so readily as the chloride of sodium.

We look in vain for any evidence of volcanic disturbance or action of
fire. Whatever there may be at the other end of the lake, there is none
here. We find no bitumen or any fire-stones, although the black stones
along the beach may have been supposed to be bituminous. All the pebbles
and all the stones of the beach are of chalk flint, and tell no story of
fire or volcanic fury.

Indeed, the lake has no apparent hostility to life. An enterprising
company could draw off the Jordan thirty miles above here and make all
this valley a garden, producing fruits and sugar-cane and cotton, and
this lake one of the most lovely watering-places in the world. I have
no doubt maladies could be discovered which its waters are exactly
calculated to cure. I confidently expect to hear some day that great
hotels are built upon this shore, which are crowded with the pious, the
fashionable, and the diseased. I seem to see this blue and sunny lake
covered with a gay multitude of bathers, floating about the livelong day
on its surface; parties of them making a pleasure excursion to the foot
of Pisgah; groups of them chatting, singing, amusing themselves as they
would under the shade of trees on land, having umbrellas and floating
awnings, and perhaps servants to bear their parasols; couples floating
here and there at will in the sweet dream of a love that seems to
be suspended between the heaven and the earth. No one will be at any
expense for boats, for every one will be his own boat, and launch
himself without sail or oars whenever he pleases. How dainty will be
the little feminine barks that the tossing mariner will hail on that
peaceful sea! No more wailing of wives over husbands drowned in the
waves, no more rescuing of limp girls by courageous lovers. People may
be shipwrecked if there comes a squall from Moab, but they cannot be
drowned. I confess that this picture is the most fascinating that I have
been able to conjure up in Syria.

We take our lunch under the wigwam, fanned by a pleasant breeze. The
persons who partake it present a pleasing variety of nations and colors,
and the “spread” itself, though simple, was gathered from many
lands. Some one took the trouble to note the variety: raisins from
Damascus, bread, chicken, and mutton from Jerusalem, white wine from
Bethlehem, figs from Smyrna, cheese from America, dates from Nubia,
walnuts from Germany, water from Elisha’s well, eggs from Hen.

We should like to linger till night in this enchanting place, but for
an hour the sheykh and dragoman have been urging our departure; men and
beasts are represented as suffering for water,—all because we have
reversed the usual order of travel. As soon as we leave the lake we lose
its breeze, the heat becomes severe; the sandy plain is rolling and a
little broken, but it has no shade, no water, and is indeed a weary way.
The horses feel the want of water sadly. The Arabs, whom we had supposed
patient in deprivation, are almost crazy with thirst. After we have
ridden for over an hour the sheykh’s horse suddenly wheels off and
runs over the plain; my nag follows him, apparently without reason, and
in spite of my efforts I am run away with. The horses dash along,
and soon the whole cavalcade is racing after us. The object is soon
visible,—a fringe of trees, which denotes a brook; the horses press
on, dash down the steep bank, and plunge their heads into the water up
to the eyes. The Arabs follow suit. The sheykh declares that in fifteen
minutes more both men and horses would have been dead. Never before did
anybody lunch at the Dead Sea.

When the train comes up, the patient donkey that Madame rides is pushed
through the brook and not permitted to wet his muzzle. I am indignant at
such cruelty, and spring off my horse, push the two donkey-boys aside,
and lead the eager donkey to the stream. At once there is a cry of
protest from dragomans, sheykh, and the whole crowd, “No drink donkey,
no drink donkey, no let donkey, bad for donkey.” There could not have
been a greater outcry among the Jews when the ark of the covenant was
likely to touch the water. I desist from my charitable efforts. Why the
poor beast, whose whole body craved water as much as that of the horse,
was denied it, I know not. It is said that if you give a donkey water
on the road he won’t go thereafter. Certainly the donkey is never
permitted to drink when travelling. I think the patient and chastened
creature will get more in the next world than his cruel masters.

Nearly all the way over the plain we have the long snowy range of Mt.
Herinon in sight, a noble object, closing the long northern vista, and a
refreshment to the eyes wearied by the parched vegetation of the valley
and dazzled by the aerial shimmer. If we turn from the north to the
south, we have the entirely different but equally poetical prospect of
the blue sea enclosed in the receding hills, which fall away into the
violet shade of the horizon. The Jordan Valley is unique; by a geologic
fault it is dropped over a thousand feet below the sea-level; it is
guarded by mountain-ranges which are from a thousand to two thousand
feet high; at one end is a mountain ten thousand feet high, from which
the snow never disappears; at the other end is a lake forty miles long,
of the saltest and bitterest water in the world. All these contrasts the
eye embraces at one point.

We dismount at the camp of the Russian pilgrims by Rîha, and walk among
the tents and booths. The sharpers of Syria attend the strangers,
tempt them with various holy wares, and entice them into their dirty
coffee-shops. It is a scene of mingled credulity and knavery, of
devotion and traffic. There are great booths for the sale of vegetables,
nuts, and dried fruit. The whole may be sufficiently described as a
camp-meeting without any prayer-tent.

At sunset I have a quiet hour by the fountain of Elisha. It is a
remarkable pool. Under the ledge of limestone rocks the water gushes
out with considerable force, and in such volume as to form a large brook
which flows out of the basin and murmurs over a stony bed. You cannot
recover your surprise to see a river in this dry country burst suddenly
out of the ground. A group of native women have come to the pool with
jars, and they stay to gossip, sitting about the edge upon the stones
with their feet in the water. One of them wears a red gown, and her
cheeks are as red as her dress; indeed, I have met several women to-day
who had the complexion of a ripe Flemish Beauty pear. As it seems to be
the fashion, I also sit on the bank of the stream with my feet in the
warm swift water, and enjoy the sunset and the strange concourse of
pilgrims who are gathering about the well. They are worthy Greeks, very
decent people, men and women, who salute me pleasantly as they arrive,
and seem to take my participation in the bath as an act of friendship.

Just below the large pool, by a smaller one, a Greek boy, having bathed,
is about to dress, and I am interested to watch the process. The first
article to go on is a white shirt; over this he puts on two blue woollen
shirts; he then draws on a pair of large, loose trousers; into these
the shirts are tucked, and the trousers are tied at the waist,—he is
bothered with neither pins nor buttons. Then comes the turban, which is
a soft gray and yellow material; a red belt is next wound twice about
the waist; the vest is yellow and open in front; and the costume is
completed by a jaunty jacket of yellow, prettily embroidered. The heap
of clothes on the bank did not promise much, but the result is a very
handsome boy, dressed, I am sure, most comfortably for this climate.
While I sit here the son of the sheykh rides his horse to the pool. He
is not more than ten years old, is very smartly dressed in gay colors,
and exceedingly handsome, although he has somewhat the supercilious
manner of a lad born in the purple. The little prince speaks French,
and ostentatiously displays in his belt a big revolver. I am glad of the
opportunity of seeing one of the desert robbers in embryo.

When it is dusk we have an invasion from the neighboring Bedaween,
an imposition to which all tourists are subjected, it being taken for
granted that we desire to see a native dance. This is one of the ways
these honest people have of levying tribute; by the connivance of our
protectors, the head sheykhs, the entertainment is forced upon us, and
the performers will not depart without a liberal backsheesh. We are
already somewhat familiar with the fascinating dances of the Orient, and
have only a languid curiosity about those of the Jordan; but before
we are aware there is a crowd before our tents, and the evening is
disturbed by doleful howling and drum-thumping. The scene in the
flickering firelight is sufficiently fantastic.

The men dance first. Some twenty or thirty of them form in a
half-circle, standing close together; their gowns are in rags, their
black hair is tossed in tangled disorder, and their eyes shine with
animal wildness. The only dancing they perform consists in a violent
swaying of the body from side to side in concert, faster and faster as
the excitement rises, with an occasional stamping of the feet, and a
continual howling like darwishes. Two vagabonds step into the focus of
the half-circle and hop about in the most stiff-legged manner, swinging
enormous swords over their heads, and giving from time to time a
war-whoop,—it seems to be precisely the dance of the North American
Indians. We are told, however, that the howling is a song, and that the
song relates to meeting the enemy and demolishing him. The longer the
performance goes on the less we like it, for the uncouthness is
not varied by a single graceful motion, and the monotony becomes
unendurable. We long for the women to begin.

When the women begin, we wish we had the men back again. Creatures
uglier and dirtier than these hags could not be found. Their dance is
much the same as that of the men, a semicircle, with a couple of women
to jump about and whirl swords. But the women display more fierceness
and more passion as they warm to their work, and their shrill cries,
dishevelled hair, loose robes, and frantic gestures give us new ideas of
the capacity of the gentle sex; you think that they would not only slay
their enemies, but drink their blood and dance upon their fragments.
Indeed, one of their songs is altogether belligerent; it taunts the men
with cowardice, it scoffs them for not daring to fight, it declares that
the women like the sword and know how to use it,—and thus, and thus,
and thus, lunging their swords into the air, would they pierce the
imaginary enemy. But these sweet creatures do not sing altogether of
war; they sing of love in the same strident voices and fierce manner:
“My lover will meet me by the stream, he will take me over the

When the performance is over they all clamor for backsheesh; it is given
in a lump to their sheykh, and they retire into the bushes and wrangle
over its distribution. The women return to us and say. “Why you give
our backsheesh to sheykh? We no get any. Men get all.” It seems that
women are animated nowadays by the same spirit the world over, and make
the same just complaints of the injustice of men.

When we turn in, there is a light gleaming from a cell high up on Mt.
Temptation, where some modern pilgrim is playing hermit for the night.

We are up early in the morning, and prepare for the journey to
Jerusalem. Near our camp some Abyssinian pilgrims, Christians so called,
have encamped in the bushes, a priest and three or four laymen, the
cleverest and most decent Abyssinians we have met with. They are from
Gondar, and have been a year and a half on their pilgrimage from their
country to the Jordan. The priest is severely ill with a fever, and his
condition excites the compassion of Abd-el-Atti, who procures for him
a donkey to ride back to the city. About the only luggage of the party
consists of sacred books, written on parchment and preserved with great
care, among them the Gospel of St. John, the Psalms, the Pentateuch, and
volumes of prayers to the Virgin. They are willing to exchange some of
these manuscripts for silver, and we make up besides a little purse for
the sick man. These Abyssinian Christians when at home live under the
old dispensation, rather than the new, holding rather to the law of
Moses than of Christ, and practise generally all the vices of all ages;
the colony of them at Jerusalem is a disreputable lot of lewd beggars;
so that we are glad to find some of the race who have gentle manners and
are outwardly respectable. To be sure, we had come a greater distance
than they to the Jordan, but they had been much longer on the way.

The day is very hot; the intense sun beats upon the white limestone
rocks and is reflected into the valleys. Our view in returning is better
than it was in coming; the plain and the foot of the pass are covered
with a bloom of lilac-colored flowers. We meet and pass more pilgrims
than before. We overtake them resting or asleep by the roadside, in the
shade of the rocks. They all carry bundles of sticks and canes cut on
the banks of the Jordan, and most of them Jordan water in cans, bottles,
and pitchers. There are motley loads of baggage, kitchen utensils, beds,
children. We see again two, three, and four on one horse or mule, and
now and then a row, as if on a bench, across the horse’s back, taking
up the whole road.

We overtake one old woman, a Russian, who cannot be less than seventy,
with a round body, and legs as short as ducks’ and as big as the
“limbs” of a piano. Her big feet are encased in straw shoes, the
shape of a long vegetable-dish. She wears a short calico gown, an old
cotton handkerchief enwraps her gray head, she carries on her back a big
bundle of clothing, an extra pair of straw shoes, a coffee-pot, and
a saucepan, and she staggers under a great bundle of canes on her
shoulder. Poor old pilgrim! I should like to give the old mother my
horse and ease her way to the heavenly city; but I reflect that this
would detract from the merit of her pilgrimage. There are men also as
old hobbling along, but usually not so heavily laden. One ancient couple
are riding in the deep flaps of a pannier, hanging each side of a mule;
they can just see each other across the mule’s back, but the swaying,
sickening motion of the pannier evidently lessens their interest in life
and in each other.

Our Syrian allies are as brave as usual. The Soudan babies did not go
to the Jordan or the Dead Sea, and are consequently fresh and full of
antics. The Syrian armament has not thus far been used; eagles, rabbits,
small game of all sorts, have been disregarded; neither of the men has
unslung his gun or drawn his revolvers. The hunting dogs have not once
been called on to hunt anything, and now they are so exhausted by
the heat that their master is obliged to carry them all the way to
Jerusalem; one of the hounds he has in his arms and the other is slung
in a pannier under the saddle, his master’s foot resting in the other
side to balance the dog. The poor creature looks out piteously from his
swinging cradle. It is the most inglorious hunting-expedition I have
ever been attached to.

Our sheykh becomes more and more friendly. He rides up to me
occasionally, and, nobly striking his breast, exclaims, “Me! sheykh,
Jordan, Jerusalem, Mar Saba, Hebron, all round; me, big.” Sometimes he
ends the interview with a demand for tobacco, and again with a hint of
the backsheesh he expects in Jerusalem. I want to tell him that he is
exactly like our stately red man at home, with his “Me! Big Injun.

We are very glad to get out of the heat at noon and take shelter in the
rock grotto at the Red Khan. We sit here as if in a box at the theatre,
and survey the passing show. The Syro-Phoenician woman smokes her
narghileh again, the dogs crouching at her feet, and the Soudan babies
are pretending to wait on her, and tumbling over each other and spilling
everything they attempt to carry. The woman says they are great plagues
to her, and cost thirty napoleons each in Soudan. As we sit here after
lunch, an endless procession passes before us,—donkeys, horses, camels
in long strings tied together, and pilgrims of all grades; and as they
come up the hill one after the other, showing their heads suddenly,
it is just as if they appeared on the stage; and they all—Bedaween,
Negroes, Russians, Copts, Circassians, Greeks, Soudan slaves, and Arab
masters—seem struck with a “glad surprise” upon seeing us, and
tarry long enough for us to examine them.

Suddenly presents himself a tall, gayly dressed, slim fellow from Soudan
(the slave of the sheykh), showing his white teeth, and his face beaming
with good-nature. He is so peculiarly black that we ask him to step
forward for closer inspection. Abd-el-Atti, who expresses great
admiration for him, gets a coal from the tire, and holds it up by his
cheek; the skin has the advantage of the coal, not only in lustre but in
depth of blackness. He says that he is a Galgam, a tribe whose virtues
Abdel-Atti endorses: “Thim very sincere, trusty, thim good breed.”

When we have made the acquaintance of the Galgam in this thorough
manner, he asks for backsheesh. The Doctor offers him a copper coin.
This, without any offence in his manner, and with the utmost courtesy,
he refuses, bows very low, says “Thanks,” with a little irony, and
turns away. In a few moments he comes back, opens his wallet, takes out
two silver franc pieces, hands them to the Doctor, says with a proud
politeness, “Backsheesh, Bedawee!” bows, runs across the hill,
catches his horse, and rides gallantly away. It is beautifully done.
Once or twice during the ride to Jerusalem we see him careering over the
hills, and he approaches within hail at Bethany, but he does not lower
his dignity by joining us again.

The heat is intense until we reach the well within a mile of Bethany,
where we find a great concourse of exhausted pilgrims. On the way,
wherever there is an open field that admits of it, we have some display
of Bedawee horsemanship. The white Arab mare which the sheykh rides
is of pure blood and cost him £200, although I should select her as a
broken-down stage-horse. These people ride “all abroad,” so to
say, arms, legs, accoutrements flying; but they stick on, which is the
principal thing; and the horses over the rough ground, soft fields, and
loose stones, run, stop short, wheel in a flash, and exhibit wonderful
training and bottom.

The high opinion we had formed of the proud spirit and generosity of the
Bedawee, by the incident at the Bed Khan, was not to be maintained after
our return to Jerusalem. Another of our Oriental illusions was to be
destroyed forever. The cool acceptance by the Doctor of the two francs
so loftily tendered, as a specimen of Bedawee backsheesh, was
probably unexpected, and perhaps unprovided for by adequate financial
arrangements on the part of the Galgam. At any rate, that evening he was
hovering about the hotel, endeavoring to attract the attention of the
Doctor, and evidently unwilling to believe that there could exist in the
heart of the howadji the mean intention of retaining those francs. The
next morning he sent a friend to the Doctor to ask him for the money.
The Doctor replied that he should never think of returning a gift,
especially one made with so much courtesy; that, indeed, the amount of
the money was naught, but that he should keep it as a souvenir of the
noble generosity of his Bedawee friend. This sort of sentiment seemed
inexplicable to the Oriental mind. The son of the desert was as much
astonished that the Frank should retain his gift, as the Spanish
gentleman who presents his horse to his guest would be if the guest
should take it. The offer of a present in the East is a flowery
expression of a sentiment that does not exist, and its acceptance
necessarily implies a return of something of greater value. After
another day of anxiety the proud and handsome slave came in person and
begged for the francs until he received them. He was no better than his
master, the noble sheykh, who waylaid us during the remainder of our
stay for additional sixpences in backsheesh. O superb Bedawee, we did
not begrudge the money, but our lost ideal!


BETHLEHEM lies about seven miles south of Jerusalem. It is also a hill
village, reposing upon a stony promontory that is thrust out eastward
from the central mountain-range; the abrupt slopes below three sides of
it are terraced; on the north is a valley which lies in a direct line
between it and Jerusalem; on the east are the yawning ravines and the
“wilderness” leading to the Dead Sea; on the south is the wild
country towards Hebron, and the sharp summit of the Frank mountain in
the distance. The village lies on the ridge; and on the point at the
east end of it, overlooking a vast extent of seamed and rocky and jagged
country, is the gloomy pile of convents, chapels, and churches that mark
the spot of the Nativity.

From its earliest mention till now the home of shepherds and of hardy
cultivators of its rocky hillsides, it has been noted for the free
spirit and turbulence of its inhabitants. The primal character of a
place seems to have the power of perpetuating itself in all changes.
Bethlehem never seems to have been afflicted with servility. During the
period of David’s hiding in the Cave Adullam the warlike Philistines
occupied it, but David was a fit representative of the pluck and
steadfastness of its people. Since the Christian era it has been a
Christian town, as it is to-day, and the few Moslems who have settled
there, from time to time, have found it more prudent to withdraw than to
brave its hostility. Its women incline to be handsome, and have rather
European than Oriental features, and they enjoy the reputation
of unusual virtue; the men are industrious, and seem to have more
selfrespect than the Syrians generally.

Bethlehem is to all the world one of the sweetest of words. A tender and
romantic interest is thrown about it as the burial-place of Rachel,
as the scene of Ruth’s primitive story, and of David’s boyhood
and kingly consecration; so that no other place in Judæa, by its
associations, was so fit to be the gate through which the Divine Child
should come into the world. And the traveller to-day can visit it, with,
perhaps, less shock to his feelings of reverence, certainly with a purer
and simpler enjoyment, than any other place in Holy Land. He finds its
ruggedness and desolateness picturesque, in the light of old song and
story, and even the puerile inventions of monkish credulity do not
affect him as elsewhere.

From Jerusalem we reach Bethlehem by following a curving ridge,—a
lovely upland ride, on account of the extensive prospect and the breeze,
and because it is always a relief to get out of the city. The country
is, however, as stony as the worst portions of New England,—the
mountain sheep-pastures; thick, double stone-walls enclosing small
fields do not begin to exhaust the stones. On both sides of the ridge
are bare, unproductive hills, but the sides of the valleys are terraced,
and covered with a good growth of olive-trees. These hollows were no
doubt once very fruitful by assiduous cultivation, in spite of the
stones. Bethlehem, as we saw it across a deep ravine, was like a castle
on a hill; there is nowhere level ground enough for a table to stand,
off the ridges, and we looked in vain for the “plains of Bethlehem”
about which we had tried, trustfully, to sing in youth.

Within a mile of Bethlehem gate we came to the tomb of Rachel, standing
close by the highway. “And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to
Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave:
that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.” This is the
testimony of the author of Genesis, who had not seen the pillar which
remained to his day, but repeated the tradition of the sons of Jacob.
What remained of this pillar, after the absence of the Israelites for
some five centuries from Bethlehem, is uncertain; but it may be supposed
that some spot near Bethlehem was identified as the tomb of Rachel upon
their return, and that the present site is the one then selected. It is
possible, of course, that the tradition of the pagan Canaanites may have
preserved the recollection of the precise spot. At any rate, Christians
seem to agree that this is one of the few ancient sites in Judæa which
are authentic, and the Moslems pay it equal veneration. The square,
unpretentious building erected over it is of modern construction, and
the pilgrim has to content himself with looking at a sort of Moslem tomb
inside, and reflecting, if he can, upon the pathetic story of the death
of the mother of Joseph.

There is, alas! everywhere in Judæa something to drive away sentiment
as well as pious feeling. The tomb of Rachel is now surrounded by a
Moslem cemetery, and as we happened to be there on Thursday we found
ourselves in the midst of a great gathering of women, who had come
there, according to their weekly custom, to weep and to wail. .

You would not see in farthest Nubia a more barbarous assemblage, and
not so fierce an one. In the presence of these wild mourners the term
“gentler sex” has a ludicrous sound. Yet we ought not to forget
that we were intruders upon their periodic grief, attracted to their
religious demonstration merely by curiosity, and fairly entitled to
nothing but scowls and signs of aversion. I am sure that we should
give bold Moslem intruders upon our hours of sorrow at home no better
reception. The women were in the usual Syrian costume; their loose
gowns gaped open at the bosom, and they were without veils, and made no
pretence of drawing a shawl before their faces; all wore necklaces of
coins, and many of them had circlets of coins on the head, with strips
depending from them, also stiff with silver pieces. A woman’s worth
was thus easily to be reckoned, for her entire fortune was on her head.
A pretty face was here and there to be seen, but most of them
were flaringly ugly, and—to liken them to what they most
resembled—physically and mentally the type of the North American
squaws. They were accompanied by all their children, and the little
brats were tumbling about the tombs, and learning the language of woe.

Among the hundreds of women present, the expression of grief took two
forms,—one active, the other more resigned. A group seated itself
about a tomb, and the members swayed their bodies to and fro, howled
at the top of their voices, and pretended to weep. I had the infidel
curiosity to go from group to group in search of a tear, but I did
not see one. Occasionally some interruption, like the arrival of a new
mourner, would cause the swaying and howling to cease for a moment, or
it would now and then be temporarily left to the woman at the head of
the grave, but presently all would fall to again and abandon themselves
to the luxury of agony. It was perhaps unreasonable to expect tears from
creatures so withered as most of these were; but they worked themselves
into a frenzy of excitement, they rolled up their blue checked cotton
handkerchiefs, drew them across their eyes, and then wrung them out with
gestures of despair. It was the dryest grief I ever saw.

The more active mourners formed a ring in a clear spot. Some thirty
women standing with their faces toward the centre, their hands on each
other’s shoulders, circled round with unrhythmic steps, crying and
singing, and occasionally jumping up and down with all their energy,
like the dancers of Horace, “striking the ground with equal feet,”
coming down upon the earth with a heavy thud, at the same time slapping
their faces with their hands; then circling around again with faster
steps, and shriller cries, and more prolonged ululations, and anon
pausing to jump and beat the ground with a violence sufficient to
shatter their frames. The loose flowing robes, the clinking of the
silver ornaments, the wild gleam of their eyes, the Bacchantic madness
of their saltations, the shrill shrieking and wailing, conspired to give
their demonstration an indescribable barbarity. This scene has recurred
every Thursday for, I suppose, hundreds of years, within a mile of the
birthplace of Jesus.

Bethlehem at a little distance presents an appearance that its interior
does not maintain; but it is so much better than most Syrian villages of
its size (it has a population of about three thousand), and is so much
cleaner than Jerusalem, that we are content with its ancient though
commonplace aspect. But the atmosphere of the town is thoroughly
commercial, or perhaps I should say industrial; you do not find in it
that rural and reposeful air which you associate with the birthplace of
our Lord. The people are sharp, to a woman, and have a keen eye for the
purse of the stranger. Every other house is a shop for the manufacture
or sale of some of the Bethlehem specialties,—carvings in olive-wood
and ivory and mother-of-pearl, crosses and crucifixes, and models of the
Holy Sepulchre, and every sort of sacred trinket, and beads in endless
variety; a little is done also in silver-work, especially in rings. One
may chance upon a Mecca ring there; but the ring peculiar to Bethlehem
is a silver wedding-ring; it is a broad and singular band of silver with
pendants, and is worn upon the thumb. As soon as we come into the town,
we are beset with sellers of various wares, and we never escape them
except when we are in the convent.

The Latin convent opens its doors to tourists; it is a hospitable house,
and the monks are very civil; they let us sit in a salle-à-manger,
while waiting for dinner, that was as damp and chill as a dungeon, and
they gave us a well-intended but uneatable meal, and the most peculiar
wine, all at a good price. The wine, white and red, was made by the
monks, they said with some pride; we tried both kinds, and I can
recommend it to the American Temperance Union: if it can be introduced
to the public, the public will embrace total abstinence with enthusiasm.

While we were waiting for the proper hour to visit the crypt of the
Nativity, we went out upon the esplanade before the convent, and looked
down into the terraced ravines which are endeared to us by so many
associations. Somewhere down there is the patch of ground that the
mighty man of wealth, Boaz, owned, in which sweet Ruth went gleaning
in the barley-harvest. What a picture of a primitive time it is,—the
noonday meal of Boaz and his handmaidens, Ruth invited to join them,
and dip her morsel in the vinegar with the rest, and the hospitable Boaz
handing her parched corn. We can understand why Ruth had good gleaning
over this stony ground, after the rakes of the handmaidens. We know that
her dress did not differ from that worn by Oriental women now; for
her “veil,” which Boaz filled with six measures of barley, was
the head-shawl still almost universally worn,—though not by the
Bethlehemite women. Their head-dress is peculiar; there seems to be on
top of the head a square frame, and over this is thrown and folded a
piece of white doth. The women are thus in a manner crowned, and the
dress is as becoming as the somewhat similar head-covering of the Roman
peasants. We learn also in the story of Ruth that the mother-in-law in
her day was as wise in the ways of men as she is now. “Sit still, my
daughter,” she counselled her after she returned with the veil full
of barley, “until thou know how the matter will fall, for the man will
not be in rest until he have finished the thing this day.”

Down there, somewhere in that wilderness of ravines, David, the
great-grandson of Ruth, kept his father’s sheep before he went to the
combat with Goliath. It was there—the grotto is shown a little more
than a mile from this convent—that the shepherds watched their flocks
by night when the angel appeared and announced the birth of the Messiah,
the Son of David. We have here within the grasp of the eye almost the
beginning and the end of the old dispensation, from the burial of Rachel
to the birth of our Lord, from the passing of the wandering sheykh,
Jacob, with his family, to the end put to the exclusive pretensions of
his descendants by the coming of a Saviour to all the world.

The cave called the Grotto of the Nativity has great antiquity. The
hand-book says it had this repute as early as the second century. In
the year 327 the mother of Constantine built a church over it, and
this basilica still stands, and is the oldest specimen of Christian
architecture in existence, except perhaps the lower church of St.
Clement at Rome. It is the oldest basilica above ground retaining its
perfect ancient form. The main part of the church consists of a nave
and four aisles, separated by four rows of Corinthian marble columns,
tradition says, taken from the temple of Solomon. The walls were once
adorned with mosaics, but only fragments of them remain; the roof is
decayed and leaky, the pavement is broken. This part of the church is
wholly neglected, because it belongs to the several sects in common, and
is merely the arena for an occasional fight. The choir is separated from
the nave by a wall, and is divided into two chapels, one of the Greeks,
the other of the Armenians. The Grotto of the Nativity is underneath
these chapels, and each sect has a separate staircase of descent to it.
The Latin chapel is on the north side of this choir, and it also has a
stairway to the subterranean apartments.

Making an effort to believe that the stable of the inn in which Christ
was born was a small subterranean cave cut in the solid rock, we
descended a winding flight of stairs from the Latin chapel, with a monk
for our guide, and entered a labyrinth from which we did not emerge
until we reached the place of the nativity, and ascended into the Greek
chapel above it. We walked between glistening walls of rock, illuminated
by oil-lamps here and there, and in our exploration of the gloomy
passages and chambers, encountered shrines, pictures, and tombs of the
sainted. We saw, or were told that we saw, the spot to which St. Joseph
retired at the moment of the nativity, and also the place where the
twenty thousand children who were murdered by the order of
Herod—a ghastly subject so well improved by the painters of the
Renaissance—are buried. But there was one chamber, or rather vault,
that we entered with genuine emotion. This was the cell of Jerome,
hermit and scholar, whose writings have gained him the title of Father
of the Church.

At the close of the fourth century Bethlehem was chiefly famous as the
retreat of this holy student, and the fame of his learning and sanctity
drew to it from distant lands many faithful women, who renounced the
world and its pleasures, and were content to sit at his feet and learn
the way of life. Among those who resigned, and, for his sake and the
cross, despised, the allurements and honors of the Roman world, was the
devout Paula, a Roman matron who traced her origin from Agamemnon, and
numbered the Scipios and Gracchi among her ancestors, while her husband,
Joxotius, deduced a no less royal lineage from Æneas. Her wealth
was sufficient to support the dignity of such a descent; among her
possessions, an item in her rent-roll, was the city of Nicopolis, which
Augustus built as a monument of the victory of Actium. By the advice and
in the company of Jerome, her spiritual guide, she abandoned Rome and
all her vast estates, and even her infant son, and retired to the holy
village of Bethlehem. The great Jerome, who wrote her biography, and
transmitted the story of her virtues to the most distant ages, bestowed
upon her the singular title of the Mother-in-law of God! She was buried
here, and we look upon her tomb with scarcely less interest than that
of Jerome himself, who also rests in this thrice holy ground. At the
beginning of the fifth century, when the Goths sacked Rome, a crowd of
the noble and the rich, escaping with nothing saved from the wreck but
life and honor, attracted also by the reputation of Jerome, appeared as
beggars in the streets of this humble village. No doubt they thronged to
the cell of the venerable father.

There is, I suppose, no doubt that this is the study in which he
composed many of his more important treatises. It is a vaulted chamber,
about twenty feet square by nine feet high. There is in Venice a
picture of the study of Jerome, painted by Carpaccio, which represents
a delightful apartment; the saint is seen in his study, in a rich
négligé robe; at the side of his desk are musical instruments,
music-stands, and sheets of music, as if he were accustomed to give
soirées; on the chimney-piece are Greek vases and other objects of
virtu, and in the middle of the room is a poodle-dog of the most worldly
and useless of the canine breed. The artist should have seen the real
study of the hermit,—a grim, unornamented vault, in which he passed
his days in mortifications of the body, hearing always ringing in his
ears, in his disordered mental and physical condition, the last trump of

We passed, groping our way along in this religious cellar, through a
winding, narrow passage in the rock, some twenty-five feet long, and
came into the place of places, the very Chapel of the Nativity. In this
low vault, thirty-eight feet long and eleven feet wide, hewn in the
rock, is an altar at one end. Before this altar—and we can see
everything with distinctness, for sixteen silver lamps are burning about
it—there is a marble slab in the pavement into which is let a silver
star, with this sentence round it: Hic de Virgine Maria Jesus Christus
natus est. The guardian of this sacred spot was a Turkish soldier, who
stood there with his gun and fixed bayonet, an attitude which experience
has taught him is necessary to keep the peace among the Christians who
meet here. The altar is without furniture, and is draped by each sect
which uses it in turn. Near by is the chapel of the “manger,” but
the manger in which Christ was laid is in the church of Santa Maria
Maggiore in Rome.

There is in Bethlehem another ancient cave which is almost as famous as
that of the Nativity; it is called the Milk Grotto, and during all ages
of the Church a most marvellous virtue has attached to it; fragments of
the stone have been, and still continue to be, broken off and sent into
all Christian countries; women also make pilgrimages to it in faith. The
grotto is on the edge of the town overlooking the eastern ravines, and
is arranged as a show-place. In our walk thither a stately Bedawee, as
by accident, fell into our company, and acted as our cicerone. He was
desirous that we should know that he also was a man of the world and of
travel, and rated at its proper value this little corner of the earth.
He had served in the French army and taken part in many battles, and had
been in Paris and seen the tomb of the great emperor,—ah, there was a
man! As to this grotto, they say that the Virgin used to send to it for
milk,—many think so. As for him, he was a soldier, and did not much
give his mind to such things.

This grotto is an excavation in the chalky rock, and might be a very
good place to store milk, but for the popular prejudice in cities
against chalk and water. We entered it through the court of a private
house, and the damsel who admitted us also assured us that the Virgin
procured milk from it. The tradition is that the Virgin and Child were
concealed here for a time before the flight into Egypt; and ever since
then its stone has the miraculous power of increasing the flow of
the maternal breast. The early fathers encouraged this and the like
superstitions in the docile minds of their fair converts, and themselves
testified to the efficacy of this remarkable stone. These superstitions
belong rather to the Orient than to any form of religion. There is a
famous spring at Assiout in Egypt which was for centuries much resorted
to by ladies who desired offspring; and the Arabs on the Upper Nile
to-day, who wish for an heir male, resort to a plant which grows in
the remote desert, rare and difficult to find, the leaves of which are
“good for boys.” This grotto scarcely repays the visit, except for
the view one obtains of the wild country below it. When we bade good by
to the courtly Arab, we had too much delicacy to offer money to such
a gentleman and a soldier of the empire; a delicacy not shared by him,
however, for he let no false modesty hinder a request for a little
backsheesh for tobacco.

On our return, and at some distance from the gate, we diverged into a
lane, and sought, in a rocky field, the traditional well whose waters
David longed for when he was in the Cave of Adullam,—“O that one
would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by
the gate!” Howbeit, when the three mighty men had broken through the
Philistine guards and procured him the water, David would not drink that
which was brought at such a sacrifice. Two very comely Bethlehem girls
hastened at our approach to draw water from the well and gave us to
drink, with all the freedom of Oriental hospitality, in which there is
always an expectation of backsheesh. The water is at any rate very good,
and there is no reason why these pretty girls should not turn an honest
penny upon the strength of David’s thirst, whether this be the
well whose water he desired or not. We were only too thankful that no
miraculous property is attributed to its waters. As we returned, we had
the evening light upon the gray walls and towers of the city, and were
able to invest it with something of its historical dignity.

The next excursion that we made from Jerusalem was so different from the
one to Bethlehem, that by way of contrast I put them together. It was to
the convent of Mar Saba, which lies in the wilderness towards the Dead
Sea, about two hours and a half from the city.

In those good old days, when piety was measured by frugality in the use
of the bath, when the holy fathers praised most those hermits who washed
least, when it might perhaps be the boast of more than one virgin,
devoted to the ascetic life, that she had lived fifty-eight years during
which water had touched neither her hands, her face, her feet, nor any
part of her body, Palestine was, after Egypt, the favorite resort of
the fanatical, the unfortunate, and the lazy, who, gathered into
communities, or dwelling in solitary caves, offered to the barbarian
world a spectacle of superstition and abasement under the name of
Christianity. But of the swarm of hermits and monks who begged in the
cities and burrowed in the caves of the Holy Land in the fifth century,
no one may perhaps be spoken of with more respect than St. Sabas, who,
besides a reputation for sanctity, has left that of manliness and a
virile ability, which his self-mortifications did not extirpate. And of
all the monasteries of that period, that of Mar Saba is the only one in
Judæa which has preserved almost unbroken the type of that time. St.
Sabas was a Cappadocian who came to Palestine in search of a permanent
retreat, savage enough to satisfy his austere soul. He found it in a
cave in one of the wildest gorges in this most desolate of lands, a
ravine which opens into the mountains from the brook Kidron. The fame of
his zeal and piety attracted thousands to his neighborhood, so that at
one time there were almost as many hermits roosting about in the rocks
near him as there are inhabitants in the city of Jerusalem now. He was
once enabled to lead an army of monks to that city and chastise the
Monophysite heretics. His cave in the steep side of a rocky precipice
became the nucleus of his convent, which grew around it and attached
itself to the face of the rock as best it could. For the convent of Mar
Saba is not a building, nor a collection of buildings, so much as it is
a group of nests attached to the side of a precipice.

It was a bright Saturday afternoon that a young divinity student and I,
taking the volatile Demetrius with us for interpreter, rode out of
St. Stephen’s gate, into Jehoshaphat, past the gray field of Jewish
graves, down through Tophet and the wild ravine of the Kidron.

It is unpleasant to interrupt the prosperous start of a pilgrimage by a
trifling incident, but at our first descent and the slightest tension on
the bridle-reins of my horse, they parted from the bit. This accident,
which might be serious in other lands, is of the sort that is
anticipated here, and I may say assured, by the forethought of the
owners of saddle-horses. Upon dismounting with as much haste as dignity,
I discovered that the reins had been fastened to the bit by a single
rotten string of cotton. Luckily the horse I rode was not an animal to
take advantage of the weakness of his toggery. He was a Syrian horse,
a light sorrel, and had no one of the good points of a horse except the
name and general shape. His walk was slow and reluctant, his trot a high
and non-progressive jolt, his gallop a large up-and-down agitation. To
his bridle of strings and shreds no martingale was attached; no horse in
Syria is subject to that restraint. When I pull the bit he sticks up
his nose; when I switch him he kicks. When I hold him in, he won’t go;
when I let him loose, he goes on his nose. I dismount and look at him
with curiosity; I wonder all the journey what his forte is, but I never
discover. I conclude that he is like the emperor Honorius, whom Gibbon
stigmatizes as “without passions, and consequently without talents.”

Yet he was not so bad as the roads, and perhaps no horse would do much
better on these stony and broken foot-paths. This horse is not a model
(for anything but a clothes-horse), but from my observation I think that
great injustice has been done to Syrian horses by travellers, who have
only themselves to blame for accidents which bring the horses into
disrepute. Travellers are thrown from these steeds; it is a daily
occurrence; we heard continually that somebody had a fall from his horse
on his way to the Jordan, or to Mar Saba, or to Nablous, and was laid
up, and it was always in consequence of a vicious brute. The fact is
that excellent ministers of the gospel and doctors of divinity and
students of the same, who have never in their lives been on the back of
a horse in any other land, seem to think when they come here that the
holy air of Palestine will transform them into accomplished horsemen; or
perhaps they are emulous of Elisha, that they may go to heaven by means
of a fiery steed.

For a while we had the company of the singing brook Kidron, flowing
clear over the stones; then we left the ravine and wound over rocky
steeps, which afforded us fine views of broken hills and interlacing
ridges, and when we again reached the valley the brook had disappeared
in the thirsty ground. The road is strewn, not paved, with stones,
and in many places hardly practicable for horses. Occasionally we
encountered flocks of goats and of long-wooled sheep feeding on the
scant grass of the hills, and tended by boys in the coarse brown and
striped garments of the country, which give a state-prison aspect to
most of the inhabitants,—but there was no other life, and no trees
offer relief to the hard landscape. But the way was now and then bright
with flowers, thickly carpeted with scarlet anemones, the Star of
Bethlehem, and tiny dandelions. Two hours from the city we passed
several camps of Bedaween, their brown low camel’s-hair tents pitched
among the rocks and scarcely distinguishable in the sombre landscape.
About the tents were grouped camels and donkeys, and from them issued
and pursued us begging boys and girls. A lazy Bedawee appeared here
and there with a long gun, and we could imagine that this gloomy region
might be unsafe after nightfall; but no danger ever seems possible in
such bright sunshine and under a sky so blue and friendly.

When a half-hour from the convent, we turned to the right from the road
to the Dead Sea, and ascending a steep hill found ourselves riding along
the edge of a deep winding gorge; a brook flows at the bottom, and its
sides are sheer precipices of rock, generally parallel, but occasionally
widening into amphitheatres of the most fantastic rocky formation. It
is on one side of this narrow ravine that the convent is built, partly
excavated in the rock, partly resting on jutting ledges, and partly hung
out in the form of balconies,—buildings clinging to the steep side
like a comb of wild bees or wasps to a rock.

Our first note of approach to it was the sight of a square tower and
of the roofs of buildings below us. Descending from the road by several
short turns, and finally by two steep paved inclines, we came to a lofty
wall in which is a small iron door. As we could go no farther without
aid from within, Demetrius shouted, and soon we had a response from a
slit in the wall fifty feet above us to the left. We could see no one,
but the voice demanded who we were, and whether we had a pass. Above the
slit from which the angelic voice proceeded a stone projected, and in
this was an opening for letting down or drawing up articles. This habit
of caution in regard to who or what shall come into the convent is of
course a relic of the gone ages of tumult, but it is still necessary
as a safeguard against the wandering Bedaween, who would no doubt find
means to plunder the convent of its great wealth of gold, silver, and
jewels if they were not at all times rigorously excluded. The convent
with its walls and towers is still a fortress strong enough to resist
any irregular attempts of the wandering tribes. It is also necessary
to strictly guard the convent against women, who in these days of
speculation, if not scientific curiosity, often knock impatiently and
angrily at its gates, and who, if admitted, would in one gay and chatty
hour destroy the spell of holy seclusion which has been unbroken for one
thousand three hundred and ninety-two years. I know that sometimes it
seems an unjust ordination of Providence that a woman cannot be a
man, but I cannot join those who upbraid the monks of Mar Saba for
inhospitality because they refuse to admit women under any circumstances
into the precincts of the convent; if I do not sympathize with the
brothers, I can understand their adhesion to the last shred of man’s
independence, which is only to be maintained by absolute exclusion of
the other sex. It is not necessary to revive the defamation of the early
Christian ages, that the devil appeared oftener to the hermit in the
form of a beautiful woman than in any other; but we may not regret that
there is still one spot on the face of the earth, if it is no bigger
than the sod upon which Noah’s pioneer dove alighted, in which weak
men may be safe from the temptation, the criticism, and the curiosity
of the superior being. There is an airy tower on the rocks outside the
walls which women may occupy if they cannot restrain their desire to
lodge in this neighborhood, or if night overtakes them here on their
way from the Dead Sea; there Madame Pfeiffer, Miss Martineau, and other
famous travellers of their sex have found refuge, and I am sorry to say
abused their proximity to this retreat of shuddering man by estimating
the piety of its inmates according to their hospitality to women. So far
as I can learn, this convent of Mar Saba is now the only retreat left
on this broad earth for Man; and it seems to me only reasonable that it
should be respected by his generous and gentle, though inquisitive foe.

After further parley with Demetrius and a considerable interval, we
heard a bell ring, and in a few moments the iron door opened, and we
entered, stepping our horses carefully over the stone threshold, and
showing our pass from the Jerusalem Patriarch to an attendant, and came
into a sort of stable hewn in the rock. Here we abandoned our horses,
and were taken in charge by a monk whom the bell had summoned from
below. He conducted us down several long flights of zigzag stairs in the
rock, amid hanging buildings and cells, until we came to what appears
to be a broad ledge in the precipice, and found ourselves in the central
part of this singular hive, that is, in a small court, with cells and
rocks on one side and the convent church, which overhangs the precipice,
on the other. Beside the church and also at another side of the court
are buildings in which pilgrims are lodged, and in the centre of
the court is the tomb of St. Sabas himself. Here our passports were
examined, and we were assigned a cheerful and airy room looking upon the
court and tomb.

One of the brothers soon brought us coffee, and the promptness of this
hospitality augured well for the remainder of our fare; relying upon the
reputation of the convent for good cheer, we had brought nothing with
us, not so much as a biscuit. Judge of our disgust, then, at hearing the
following dialogue between Demetrius and the Greek monk.

“What time can the gentlemen dine?”

“Any time they like.”

“What have you for dinner?”


“You can give us no dinner?”

“To be sure not. It is fast.”

“But we have n’t a morsel, we shall starve.”

“Perhaps I can find a little bread.”

“Nothing else?”

“We have very good raisins.”

“Well,” we interposed, “kill us a chicken, give us a few oysters,
stewed or broiled, we are not particular.” This levity, which was born
of desperation, for the jolting ride from Jerusalem had indisposed us to
keep a fast, especially a fast established by a church the orthodoxy of
whose creed we had strong reasons to doubt, did not affect the monk. He
replied, “Chicken! it is impossible.” We shrunk our requisition to

“If I can find an egg, I will see.” And the brother departed, with
carte blanche from us to squeeze his entire establishment.

Alas, fasting is not in Mar Saba what it is in New England, where an
appointed fast-day is hailed as an opportunity to forego lunch in order
to have an extraordinary appetite for a better dinner than usual!

The tomb of St. Sabas, the central worship of this hive, is a little
plastered hut in the middle of the court; the interior is decorated with
pictures in the Byzantine style, and a lamp is always burning there. As
we stood at the tomb we heard voices chanting, and, turning towards the
rock, we saw a door from which the sound came. Pushing it open, we were
admitted into a large chapel, excavated in the rock. The service of
vespers was in progress, and a band of Russian pilgrims were chanting in
rich bass voices, producing more melody than I had ever heard in a Greek
church. The excavation extends some distance into the hill; we were
shown the cells of St. John of Damascus and other hermits, and at the
end a charnel-house piled full of the bones of men. In the dim light
their skulls grinned at us in a horrid familiarity; in that ghastly
jocularity which a skull always puts on, with a kind of mocking
commentary upon the strong chant of the pilgrims, which reverberated
in all the recesses of the gloomy cave,—fresh, hearty voices, such
as these skulls have heard (if they can hear) for many centuries. The
pilgrims come, and chant, and depart, generation after generation; the
bones and skulls of the fourteen thousand martyrs in this charnel-bin
enjoy a sort of repulsive immortality. The monk, who was our guide,
appeared to care no more for the remains of the martyrs than for the
presence of the pilgrims. In visiting such storehouses one cannot but
be struck by the light familiarity with the relics and insignia of death
which the monks have acquired.

This St. John of Damascus, whose remains repose here, was a fiery
character in his day, and favored by a special miracle before he became
a saint. He so distinguished himself by his invectives against Leo and
Constantine and other iconoclast emperors at Constantinople who, in the
eighth century, attempted to extirpate image-worship from the Catholic
church, that he was sentenced to lose his right hand. The story is that
it was instantly restored by the Virgin Mary. It is worthy of note that
the superstitious Orient more readily gave up idolatry or image-worship
under the Moslems than under the Christians.

As the sun was setting we left the pilgrims chanting to the martyrs, and
hastened to explore the premises a little, before the light should fade.
We followed our guide up stairs and down stairs, sometimes cut in the
stone, sometimes wooden stairways, along hanging galleries, through
corridors hewn in the rock, amid cells and little chapels,—a most
intricate labyrinth, in which the uninitiated would soon lose his way.
Here and there we came suddenly upon a little garden spot as big as a
bed-blanket, a ledge upon which soil had been deposited. We walked also
under grape-trellises, we saw orange-trees, and the single palm-tree
that the convent boasts, said to have been planted by St. Sabas himself.
The plan of this establishment gradually developed itself to us. It
differs from an ordinary convent chiefly in this,—the latter is spread
out flat on the earth, Mar Saba is set up edgewise. Put Mar Saba on a
plain, and these little garden spots and graperies would be courts and
squares amid buildings, these galleries would be bridges, these cells or
horizontal caves would be perpendicular tombs and reservoirs.

When we arrived, we supposed that we were almost the only guests. But
we found that the place was full of Greek and Russian pilgrims; we
encountered them on the terraces, on the flat roofs, in the caves, and
in all out-of-the-way nooks. Yet these were not the most pleasing nor
the most animated tenants of the place; wherever we went the old rookery
was made cheerful by the twittering notes of black birds with yellow
wings, a species of grakle, which the monks have domesticated, and which
breed in great numbers. Steeled as these good brothers are against the
other sex, we were glad to discover this streak of softness in their
nature. High up on the precipice there is a bell-tower attached to a
little chapel, and in it hang twenty small bells, which are rung to
call the inmates to prayer. Even at this height, and indeed wherever we
penetrated, we were followed by the monotonous chant which issued from
the charnel-house.

We passed by a long row of cells occupied by the monks, but were not
permitted to look into them; nor were we allowed to see the library,
which is said to be rich in illuminated manuscripts. The convent belongs
to the Greek church; its monks take the usual vows of poverty, chastity,
and obedience, and fortify themselves in their holiness by opposing
walls of adamant to all womankind. There are about fifty monks here at
present, and uncommonly fine-looking fellows,—not at all the gross and
greasy sort of monk that is sometimes met. Their outward dress is very
neat, consisting of a simple black gown and a round, high, flat-topped
black cap.

Our dinner, when it was brought into our apartment, answered very well
one’s idea of a dessert, but it was a very good Oriental dinner. The
chief articles were a piece of hard black bread, and two boiled eggs,
cold, and probably brought by some pilgrim from Jerusalem; but besides,
there were raisins, cheese, figs, oranges, a bottle of golden wine, and
tea. The wine was worthy to be celebrated in classic verse; none so good
is, I am sure, made elsewhere in Syria; it was liquid sunshine; and as
it was manufactured by the monks, it gave us a new respect for their
fastidious taste.

The vaulted chamber which we occupied was furnished on three sides with
a low divan, which answered the double purpose of chairs and couch. On
one side, however, and elevated in the wall, was a long niche, exactly
like the recessed tombs in cathedrals, upon which, toes turned up,
lie the bronze or wooden figures of the occupants. This was the bed of
honor. It was furnished with a mattress and a thick counterpane having
one sheet sewed to it. With reluctance I accepted the distinction of
climbing into it, and there I slept, laid out, for all the world, like
my own effigy. From the ceiling hung a dim oil-lamp, which cast a gloom
rather than a light upon our sepulchral place of repose. Our windows
looked out towards the west, upon the court, upon the stairs, upon the
terraces, roofs, holes, caves, grottos, wooden balconies, bird-cages,
steps entering the rock and leading to cells; and, towards the south,
along the jagged precipice. The convent occupies the precipice from the
top nearly to the bottom of the ravine; the precipice opposite is nearly
perpendicular, close at hand, and permits no view in that direction.
Heaven is the only object in sight from this retreat.

Before the twilight fell the chanting was still going on in the cavern,
monks and pilgrims were gliding about the court, and numbers of the
latter were clustered in the vestibule of the church, in which they
were settling down to lodge for the night; and high above us I saw three
gaudily attired Bedaween, who had accompanied some travellers from the
Dead Sea, leaning over the balustrade of the stairs, and regarding the
scene with Moslem complacency. The hive settled slowly to rest.

But the place was by no means still at night. There was in the court an
old pilgrim who had brought a cough from the heart of Russia, who seemed
to be trying to cough himself inside out. There were other noises that
could not be explained. There was a good deal of clattering about in
wooden shoes. Every sound was multiplied and reduplicated from the
echoing rocks. The strangeness of the situation did not conduce to
sleep, not even to an effigy-like repose; but after looking from the
window upon the march of the quiet stars, after watching the new moon
disappear between the roofs, and after seeing that the door of St.
Sabas’s tomb was closed, although his light was still burning, I
turned in; and after a time, during which I was conscious that not even
vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience are respected by fleas, I fell
into a light sleep.

From this I was aroused by a noise that seemed like the call to
judgment, by the most clamorous jangle of discordant bells,—all the
twenty were ringing at once, and each in a different key. It was not
simply a din, it was an earthquake of sound. The peals were echoed from
the opposite ledges, and reverberated among the rocks and caves and
sharp angles of the convent, until the crash was intolerable. It was
worse than the slam, bang, shriek, clang, clash, roar, dissonance,
thunder, and hurricane with which all musicians think it absolutely
necessary to close any overture, symphony, or musical composition
whatever, however decent and quiet it may be. It was enough to rouse the
deafest pilgrim, to wake the dead martyrs and set the fourteen thousand
skulls hunting for their bones, to call even St. Sabas himself from his
tomb. I arose. I saw in the starlight figures moving about the court,
monks in their simple black gowns. It was, I comprehended then, the
call to midnight prayer in the chapel, and, resolved not to be disturbed
further by it, I climbed back into my tomb.

But the clamor continued; I heard such a clatter of hobnailed shoes on
the pavement, besides, that I could bear it no longer, got up, slipped
into some of my clothes, opened the door, and descended by our winding
private stairway into the court.

The door of St. Sabas’s tomb was wide open!

Were the graves opening, and the dead taking the air? Did this tomb open
of its own accord? Out of its illuminated interior would the saint stalk
forth and join this great procession, the reveille of the quick and the

From above and from below, up stairs and down stairs, out of caves and
grottos and all odd roosting-places, the monks and pilgrims were pouring
and streaming into the court; and the bells incessantly called more and
more importunately as the loiterers delayed.

The church was open, and lighted at the altar end. I glided in with the
other ghostly, hastily clad, and yawning pilgrims. The screen at the
apse before the holy place, a mass of silver and gilding, sparkled in
the candlelight; the cross above it gleamed like a revelation out of the
gloom; but half of the church was in heavy shadow. From the penetralia
came the sound of priestly chanting; in the wooden stalls along each
side of the church stood, facing the altar, the black and motionless
figures of the brothers. The pilgrims were crowding and jostling in at
the door. A brother gave me a stall near the door, and I stood in it, as
statue-like as I could, and became a brother for the time being.

At the left of the door stood a monk with impassive face; before him on
a table were piles of wax tapers and a solitary lighted candle. Every
pilgrim who entered bought a taper and paid two coppers for it. If he
had not the change the monk gave him change, and the pilgrim carefully
counted what he received and objected to any piece he thought not
current. You may wake these people up any time of night, and find their
perceptions about money unobscured. The seller never looked at the
buyer, nor at anything except the tapers and the money.

The pilgrims were of all ages and grades; very old men, stout,
middle-aged men, and young athletic fellows; there were Russians from
all the provinces; Greeks from the isles, with long black locks and
dark eyes, in fancy embroidered jackets and leggins, swarthy bandits and
midnight pirates in appearance. But it tends to make anybody look like
a pirate to wake him up at twelve o’clock at night, and haul him into
the light with no time to comb his hair. I dare say that I may have
appeared to these honest people like a Western land-pirate. And yet I
should rather meet some of those Greeks in a lighted church than outside
the walls at midnight.

Each pilgrim knelt and bowed himself, then lighted his taper and placed
it on one of the tripods before the screen. In time the church was very
fairly illuminated, and nearly filled with standing worshippers, bowing,
crossing themselves, and responding to the reading and chanting in low
murmurs. The chanting was a very nasal intoning, usually slow, but
now and then breaking into a lively gallop. The assemblage, quiet and
respectful, but clad in all the vagaries of Oriental colors and rags,
contained some faces that appeared very wild in the half-light. When
the service had gone on half an hour, a priest came out with a tinkling
censer and incensed carefully every nook and corner and person (even the
vestibule, where some of the pilgrims slept, which needed it), until the
church was filled with smoke and perfume. The performance went on for an
hour or more, but I crept back to bed long before it was over, and fell
to sleep on the drone of the intoning.

We were up before sunrise on Sunday morning. The pilgrims were already
leaving for Jerusalem. There was no trace of the last night’s revelry;
everything was commonplace in the bright daylight. We were served with
coffee, and then finished our exploration of the premises.

That which we had postponed as the most interesting sight was the cell
of St. Sabas. It is a natural grotto in the rock, somewhat enlarged
either by the saint or by his successors. When St. Sabas first came to
this spot, he found a lion in possession. It was not the worst kind of a
lion, but a sort of Judæan lion, one of those meek beasts over whom the
ancient hermits had so much control. St. Sabas looked at the cave and at
the lion, but the cave suited him better than the lion. The lion looked
at the saint, and evidently knew what was passing in his mind. For the
lions in those days were nearly as intelligent as anybody else. And
then St. Sabas told the lion to go away, that he wanted that lodging
for himself. And the lion, without a growl, put his tail down, and
immediately went away. There is a picture of this interview still
preserved at the convent, and any one can see that it is probable that
such a lion as the artist has represented would move on when requested
to do so.

In the cave is a little recess, the entrance to which is a small hole,
a recess just large enough to accommodate a person in a sitting posture.
In this place St. Sabas sat for seven years, without once coming out.
That was before the present walls were built in front of the grotto, and
he had some light,—he sat seven years on that hard stone, as long
as the present French Assembly intends to sit. It was with him also a
provisional sitting, in fact, a Septennate.

In the court-yard, as we were departing, were displayed articles to
sell to the pious pilgrims: canes from the Jordan; crosses painted, and
inlaid with cedar or olive wood, or some sort of Jordan timber; rude
paintings of the sign-board order done by the monks, St. George and the
Dragon being the favorite subject; hyperbolical pictures of the convent
and the saint, stamped in black upon cotton cloth; and holy olive-oil in
tin cans.

Perhaps the most taking article of merchandise offered was dates from
the palm-tree that St. Sabas planted. These dates have no seeds. There
was something appropriate about this; childless monks, seedless dates.
One could understand that. But these dates were bought by the pilgrims
to carry to their wives who desire but have not sons. By what reasoning
the monks have convinced them that fruitless dates will be a cause of
fruitfulness, I do not know.

We paid our tribute, climbed up the stairways and out the grim gate into
the highway, and had a glorious ride in the fresh morning air, the way
enlivened by wild-flowers, blue sky, Bedaween, and troops of returning
pilgrims, and finally ennobled by the sight of Jerusalem itself,
conspicuous on its hill.


THE Moslems believe that their religion superseded Judaism and
Christianity,—Mohammed closing the culminating series of six great
prophets, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed,—and that they
have a right to administer on the effects of both. They appropriate
our sacred history and embellish it without the least scruple, assume
exclusive right to our sacred places, and enroll in their own calendar
all our notable heroes and saints.

On the 16th of April was inaugurated in Jerusalem the fête and fair of
the Prophet Moses. The fair is held yearly at Neby Mûsa, a Moslem wely,
in the wilderness of Judæa, some three or four hours from Jerusalem
on a direct line to the Dead Sea. There Moses, according to the Moslem
tradition, was buried, and thither the faithful resort in great crowds
at this anniversary, and hold a four days’ fair.

At midnight the air was humming with preparations; the whole city buzzed
like a hive about to swarm. For many days pilgrims had been gathering
for this festival, coming in on all the mountain roads, from Grath and
Askalon, from Hebron, from Nablous and Jaffa,—pilgrims as zealous and
as ragged as those that gather to the Holy Sepulchre and on the banks
of the Jordan. In the early morning we heard the pounding of drums, the
clash of cymbals, the squeaking of fifes, and an occasional gun, let off
as it were by accident,—very much like the dawn of a Fourth of July
at home. Processions were straggling about the streets, apparently lost,
like ward-delegations in search of the beginning of St. Patrick’s Day;
a disorderly scramble of rags and color, a rabble hustling along without
step or order, preceded usually by half a dozen enormous flags, green,
red, yellow, and blue, embroidered with various devices and texts from
the Koran, which hung lifeless on their staves, but grouped in mass
made as lively a study of color as a bevy of sails of the Chioggia
fishing-boats flocking into the port of Venice at sunrise. Before the
banners walked the musicians, filling the narrow streets with a fearful
uproar of rude drums and cymbals. These people seem to have inherited
the musical talent of the ancient Jews, and to have the same passion for
noise and discord.

As the procession would not move to the Tomb of Moses until afternoon,
we devoted the morning to a visit to the Armenian Patriarch. Isaac,
archbishop, and by the grace of God Patriarch of the Armenians of
Jerusalem, occupant of the holy apostolic seat of St. James (the
Armenian convent stands upon the traditional site of the martyrdom
of St. James), claims to be the spiritual head of five millions of
Armenians, in Turkey, Syria, Palestine, India, and Persia. By firman
from the Sultan, the Copts and the Syrian and the Abyssinian Christians
are in some sort under his jurisdiction, but the authority is merely

The reception-room of the convent is a handsome hall (for Jerusalem),
extending over an archway of the street below and looking upon a
garden. The walls are hung with engravings and lithographs, most of them
portraits of contemporary sovereigns and princes of Europe, in whose
august company the Patriarch seems to like to sun himself. We had not to
wait long before he appeared and gave us a courteous and simple welcome.
As soon as he learned that we were Americans, he said that he had
something that he thought would interest us, and going to his table took
out of the drawer an old number of an American periodical containing
a portrait of an American publisher, which he set great store by. We
congratulated him upon his possession of this treasure, and expressed
our passionate fondness for this sort of thing, for we soon discovered
the delight the Patriarch took in pictures and especially in portraits,
and not least in photographs of himself in the full regalia of his
sacred office. And with reason, for he is probably the handsomest
potentate in the world. He is a tall, finely proportioned man of fifty
years, and his deportment exhibits that happy courtesy which is born of
the love of approbation and a kindly opinion of self. He was clad in
the black cloak with the pointed hood of the convent, which made a fine
contrast to his long, full beard, turning white; his complexion is fair,
white and red, and his eyes are remarkably pleasant and benignant.

The languages at the command of the Patriarch are two, the Armenian and
the Turkish, and we were obliged to communicate with him through the
medium of the latter, Abd-el-Atti acting as interpreter. How much
Turkish our dragoman knew, and how familiar his holiness is with it, we
could not tell, but the conversation went on briskly, as it always
does when Abd-el-Atti has control of it. When we had exhausted what the
Patriarch knew about America and what we knew about Armenia, which did
not take long (it was astonishing how few things in all this world of
things we knew in common), we directed the conversation upon what we
supposed would be congenial and common ground, the dogma of the Trinity
and the point of difference between the Armenian and the Latin church.
I cannot say that we acquired much light on the subject, though probably
we did better than disputants usually do on this topic. We had some
signal advantages. The questions and answers, strained through the
Turkish language, were robbed of all salient and noxious points, and
solved themselves without difficulty. Thus, the “Filioque clause”
offered no subtle distinctions to the Moslem mind of Abd-el-Atti, and he
presented it to the Patriarch, I have no doubt, with perfect clarity. At
any rate, the reply was satisfactory:—

“His excellency, he much oblige, and him say he t’ink so.”

The elucidation of this point was rendered the easier, probably, by the
fact that neither Abd-el-Atti nor the Patriarch nor ourselves knew much
about it. When I told his highness (if, through Abd-el-Atti, I did tell
him) that the great Armenian convent at Venice, which holds with the
Pope, accepts the Latin construction of the clause, he seemed never to
have heard of the great Armenian convent at Venice. At this point of
the conversation we thought it wise to finish the subject by the trite
remark that we believed a man’s life was after all more important than
his creed.

“So am I,” responded the dragoman, and the Patriarch seemed to be of
like mind.

A new turn was given to our interview by the arrival of refreshments, a
succession of sweetmeats, cordials, candies, and coffee. The sweetmeats
first served were a delicate preserve of plums. This was handed around
in a jar, from which each guest dipped a spoonful, and swallowed it,
drinking from a glass of water immediately,—exactly as we used to take
medicine in childhood. The preserve was taken away when each person
had tasted it, and shortly a delicious orange cordial was brought, and
handed around with candy. Coffee followed. The Patriarch then led the
way about his palace, and with some pride showed us the gold and silver
insignia of his office and his rich vestments. On the wall of his
study hung a curious map of the world, printed at Amsterdam in 1692, in
Armenian characters. He was so kind also as to give us his photograph,
enriched with his unreadable autograph, and a. book printed at the
convent, entitled Deux Ans de Séjour en Abyssinie; and we had the
pleasure of seeing also the heroes and the author of the book,—two
Armenian monks, who undertook, on an English suggestion, a mission to
King Theodore, to intercede for the release of the English prisoners
held by the tyrant of that land. They were detained by its treacherous
and barbarous chiefs, robbed by people and priests alike, never reached
the headquarters of the king, and were released only after two years
of miserable captivity and suffering. This book is a faithful record of
their journey, and contains a complete description of the religion
and customs of the Abyssinians, set down with the candor and verbal
nakedness of Herodotus. Whatever Christianity the Abyssinians may once
have had, their religion now is an odd mixture of Judaism, fetichism,
and Christian dogmas, and their morals a perfect reproduction of those
in vogue just before the flood; there is no vice or disease of barbarism
or of civilization that is not with them of universal acceptance. And
the priest Timotheus, the writer of this narrative, gave the Abyssinians
abiding in Jerusalem a character no better than that of their countrymen
at home.

The Patriarch, with many expressions of civility, gave us into the
charge of a monk, who showed us all the parts of the convent we had not
seen on a previous visit. The convent is not only a wealthy and clean,
but also an enlightened establishment. Within its precincts are nuns
as well as monks, and good schools are maintained for children of both
sexes. The school-house, with its commodious apartments, was not unlike
one of our buildings for graded schools; in the rooms we saw many cases
of antiquities and curiosities from various countries, and specimens of
minerals. A map which hung on the wall, and was only one hundred years
old, showed the Red Sea flowing into the Dead Sea, and the river Jordan
emptying into the Mediterranean. Perhaps the scholars learn ancient
geography only.

At twelve the Moslems said prayers in the Mosque of Omar, and at one
o’clock the procession was ready to move out of St. Stephen’s Gate.
We rode around to that entrance. The spectacle spread before us was
marvellous. All the gray and ragged slopes and ravines were gay with
color and lively with movement. The city walls on the side overlooking
the Valley of Jehoshaphat were covered with masses of people, clinging
to them like bees; so the defences may have appeared to Titus when he
ordered the assault from the opposite hill. The sunken road leading from
St. Stephen’s Gate, down which the procession was to pass, was lined
with spectators, seated in ranks on ranks on the stony slopes. These
were mostly women,—this being one of the few days upon which the
Moslem women may freely come abroad,—clad in pure white, and with
white veils drawn about their heads. These clouds of white robes were
relieved here and there by flaming spots of color, for the children and
slaves accompanied the women, and their dress added blue and red and
yellow to the picture. Men also mingled in the throng, displaying
turbans of blue and black and green and white. One could not say that
any color or nationality was wanting in the spectacle. Sprinkled in
groups all over the hillside, in the Moslem cemetery and beneath it,
were like groups of color, and streaks of it marked the descent of
every winding path. The Prince of Oldenburg, the only foreign dignitary
present, had his tents pitched upon a knoll outside the gate, and other
tents dotted the roadside and the hill.

Crowds of people thronged both sides of the road to the Mount of Olives
and to Gethsemane, spreading themselves in the valley and extending away
up the road of the Triumphal Entry; everywhere were the most brilliant
effects of white, red, yellow, gray, green, black, and striped raiment:
no matter what these Orientals put on, it becomes picturesque,—old
coffee-bags, old rags and carpets, anything. There could not be a
finer place for a display than these two opposing hillsides, the narrow
valley, and the winding roads, which increased the apparent length of
the procession and set it off to the best advantage. We were glad of the
opportunity to see this ancient valley of bones revived in a manner to
recall the pageants and shows of centuries ago, and as we rode down the
sunken road in advance of the procession, we imagined how we might have
felt if we had been mounted on horses or elephants instead of donkeys,
and if we had been conquerors leading a triumph, and these people
on either hand had been cheering us instead of jeering us. Turkish
soldiers, stationed every thirty paces, kept the road clear for the
expected cavalcade. In order to see it and the spectators to the best
advantage, we took position on the opposite side of the valley and below
the road around the Mount of Olives.

The procession was a good illustration of the shallow splendor of the
Orient; it had no order, no uniformity, no organization; it dragged
itself along at the whim of its separate squads. First came a guard
of soldiers, then a little huddle of men of all sorts of colors and
apparel, bearing several flags, among them the green Flag of Moses;
after an interval another squad, bearing large and gorgeous flags,
preceded by musicians beating drums and cymbals. In front of the
drums danced, or rather hitched forward with stately steps, two shabby
fellows, throwing their bodies from side to side and casting their arms
about, clashing cymbals and smirking with infinite conceit. At long
intervals came other like bands with flags and music, in such disorder
as scarcely to be told from the spectators, except that they bore guns
and pistols, which they continually fired into the air and close over
the heads of the crowd, with a reckless profusion of powder and the most
murderous appearance. To these followed mounted soldiers in white, with
a Turkish band of music,—worse than any military band in Italy; and
after this the pasha, the governor of the city, a number of civil
and military dignitaries and one or two high ulemas, and a green-clad
representative of the Prophet,—a beggar on horseback,—on fiery
horses which curveted about in the crowd, excited by the guns, the
music, and the discharge of a cannon now and then, which was stationed
at the gate of St. Stephen. Among the insignia displayed were two tall
instruments of brass, which twirled and glittered in the sun, not like
the golden candlestick of the Jews, nor the “host” of the Catholics,
nor the sistrum of the ancient Egyptians, but, perhaps, as Moslemism is
a reminiscence of all religions, a caricature of all three.

The crush in the narrow road round the hill and the grouping of all the
gorgeous banners there produced a momentary fine effect; but generally,
save for the spectators, the display was cheap and childish. Only once
did we see either soldiers or civilians marching in order; there were
five fellows in line carrying Nubian spears, and also five sappers
and miners in line, wearing leathern aprons and bearing theatrical
battle-axes. As to the arms, we could discover no two guns of the same
pattern in all the multitude of guns; like most things in the East, the
demonstration was one of show, color, and noise, not to be examined
too closely, but to be taken with faith, as we eat dates. A company of
Sheridan’s cavalry would have scattered the entire army.

The procession, having halted on the brow of the hill, countermarched
and returned; but the Flag of Moses and its guard went on to the camp,
at his tomb, there to await the arrival of the pilgrims on the Monday
following. And the most gorgeous Moslem demonstration of the year was


THE day came to leave Jerusalem. Circumstances rendered it impossible
for us to make the overland trip to Damascus or even to Haifa. Our
regret that we should not see Bethel, Shechem, Samaria, Nazareth, and
the Sea of Galilee was somewhat lessened by the thought that we knew
the general character of the country and the villages, by what we
had already seen, and that experience had taught us the inevitable
disenchantment of seeing the historical and the sacred places of Judæa.
It is not that one visits a desert and a heap of ruins,—that would be
endurable and even stimulating to the imagination; but every locality
which is dear to the reader by some divine visitation, or wonderful
by some achievement of hero or prophet, is degraded by the presence of
sordid habitations, and a mixed, vicious, and unsavory population, or
incrusted with the most puerile superstitions, so that the traveller is
fain to content himself with a general view of the unchanged features
of the country. It must be with a certain feeling of humiliation that at
Nazareth, for instance, the object of his pilgrimage is belittled to the
inspection of such inventions as the spot upon which the Virgin stood
when she received the annunciation, and the carpenter-shop in which
Joseph worked.

At any rate, we let such thoughts predominate, when we were obliged
to relinquish the overland journey. And whatever we missed, I flatter
myself that the readers of these desultory sketches will lose nothing.
I should have indulged a certain curiosity in riding over a country as
rich in memories as it is poor in aspect, but I should have been able to
add nothing to the minute descriptions and vivid pictures with which
the Christian world is familiar; and, if the reader will excuse an
additional personal remark, I have not had the presumption to attempt
a description of Palestine and Syria (which the volumes of Robinson and
Thompson and Porter have abundantly given), but only to make a record of
limited travel and observation. What I most regretted was that we could
not see the green and fertile plain of Esdraelon, the flower-spangled
meadow of Jezreel, and the forests of Tabor and Carmel,—seats of
beauty and of verdure, and which, with the Plain of Sharon, might serve
to mitigate the picture of grim desolation which the tourist cames away
from the Holy Land.

Finally, it was with a feeling akin to regret that we looked our last
upon gray and melancholy Jerusalem. We had grown a little familiar with
its few objects of past or present grandeur, the Saracenic walls
and towers, the Temple platform and its resplendent mosque, the
agglomeration called the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the ruins of the
palace and hospice of the Knights of St. John, the massive convents
and hospices of various nations and sects that rise amid the
indistinguishable huddle of wretched habitations, threaded by filthy
streets and noisome gutters. And yet we confessed to the inevitable
fascination which is always exercised upon the mind by antiquity; the
mysterious attraction of association; the undefinable influence in decay
and desolation which holds while it repels; the empire, one might say
the tyranny, over the imagination and the will which an ancient city
asserts, as if by force of an immortal personality, compelling first
curiosity, then endurance, then sympathy, and finally love. Jerusalem
has neither the art, the climate, the antiquities, nor the society which
draw the world and hold it captive in Rome, but its associations enable
it to exercise, in a degree, the same attraction. Its attraction is in
its historic spell and name, and in spite of the modern city.

Jerusalem, in fact, is incrusted with layer upon layer of inventions,
the product of credulity, cunning, and superstition, a monstrous growth
always enlarging, so that already the simple facts of history are buried
almost beyond recognition beneath this mass of rubbish. Perhaps it
would have been better for the growth of Christianity in the world if
Jerusalem had been abandoned, had become like Carthage and Memphis and
Tadmor in the wilderness, and the modern pilgrim were free to choose his
seat upon a fallen wall or mossy rock, and reconstruct for himself the
pageant of the past, and recall that Living Presence, undisturbed by the
impertinences which belittle the name of religion. It has always been
held well that the place of the burial of Moses was unknown. It would
perhaps have conduced to the purity of the Christian faith if no attempt
had ever been made to break through the obscurity which rests upon the
place of the sepulchre of Christ. Invention has grown upon invention,
and we have the Jerusalem of to-day as a result of the exaggerated
importance attached to the localization of the Divine manifestation.
Whatever interest Jerusalem has for the antiquarian, or for the devout
mind, it is undeniable that one must seek in other lands and among other
peoples for the robust virtue, the hatred of shams and useless forms,
the sweet charity, the invigorating principles, the high thinking, and
the simple worship inculcated by the Founder of Christianity.

The horses were ready. Jerusalem had just begun to stir; an itinerant
vender of coffee had set up his tray on the street, and was lustily
calling to catch the attention of the early workmen, or the vagrants who
pick themselves up from the doorsteps at dawn, and begin to reconnoitre
for the necessary and cheap taste of coffee, with which the Oriental day
opens; the sky was overcast, and a drop or two of rain fell as we
were getting into the saddle, but “It is nothing,” said the
stirrup-holder, “it goes to be a beautiful time”; and so it proved.

Scarcely were we outside the city when it cleared superbly, and we set
forward on our long ride of thirty-six miles, to the sea-coast, in high
spirits. We turned to catch the first sunlight upon the gray Tower of
David, and then went gayly on over the cool free hills, inhaling the
sparkling air and the perfume of wild-flowers, and exchanging greetings
with the pilgrims, Moslem and Christian, who must have broken up their
camps in the hills at the earliest light. There are all varieties of
nationality and costume, and many of the peaceful pilgrims are armed as
if going to a military rendezvous; perhaps our cavalcade, which is also
an assorted one of horses, donkeys, and mules, is as amusing as any
we meet. I am certain that the horse that one of the ladies rides is
unique, a mere framework of bones which rattle as he agitates himself; a
rear view of the animal, and his twisting and interlacing legs, when he
moves briskly, suggest a Chinese puzzle.

We halted at the outlet of Wady ‘Aly, where there is an inn, which has
the appearance of a Den of Thieves, and took our lunch upon some giant
rocks under a fig-tree, the fruit of which was already half grown. Here
I discovered another black calla, and borrowed a pick of the landlord
to endeavor to dig up its bulb. But it was impossible to extract it from
the rocks, and when I returned the tool, the owner demanded pay for the
use of it; I told him that if he would come to America, I would lend him
a pick, and let him dig all day in the garden,—a liberality which he
was unable to comprehend.

By four o’clock we were at Bamleh, and turned aside to inspect the
so-called Saracen tower; it stands upon one side of a large enclosure
of walls and arches, an extensive ruin; under ground are vaulted
constructions apparently extending as far as the ruins above, reminding
one of the remains of the Hospice of St. John at Jerusalem. In its form
and treatment and feeling this noble tower is Gothic, and, taking it
in connection with the remains about it, I should have said it was of
Christian construction, in spite of the Arabic inscription over one
of the doorways, which might have been added when the Saracens took
possession of it; but I believe that antiquarians have decided that the
tower was erected by Moslems. These are the most “rural” ruins we
had seen in the East; they are time-stained and weather-colored, like
the remains of an English abbey, and stand in the midst of a green and
most lovely country; no sand, no nakedness, no beggars. Grass fills all
the enclosure, and grain-fields press close about it. No view could be
more enchanting than that of the tower and the rolling plain at that
hour: the bloom on the wheat-fields, flecked with flaming poppies; the
silver of the olive groves; the beds of scarlet anemones and yellow
buttercups, blotching the meadows with brilliant colors like a picture
of Turner; the soft gray hills of Judæa; the steeples and minarets of
the city. All Ramleh is built on and amid ruins, half-covered arches and

Twilight came upon us while we were yet in the interminable plain, but
Jaffa announced itself by its orange-blossoms long before we entered its
straggling suburbs; indeed, when we were three miles away, the odor of
its gardens, weighted by the night-air, was too heavy to be agreeable.
At a distance this odor was more perceptible than in the town itself;
but next day, in the full heat of the sun, we found it so overpowering
as to give a tendency to headache.


OUR only business in Jaffa being to get away from it, we impatiently
expected the arrival of the Austrian Lloyd steamer for Beyrout,
the Venus, a fickle and unsteady craft, as its name implies. In the
afternoon we got on board, taking note as we left the land of the
great stones that jut out into the sea, “where the chains with which
Andromeda was bound have left their footsteps, which attest [says
Josephus] the antiquity of that fable.” The Venus, which should have
departed at three o’clock, lay rolling about amid the tossing and
bobbing and crushing crowd of boats and barges till late in the evening,
taking in boxes of oranges and bags of barley, by the slow process
of hoisting up one or two at a time. The ship was lightly loaded with
freight, but overrun with third-class passengers, returning pilgrims
from Mecca and from Jerusalem (whom the waters of the Jordan seemed not
to have benefited), who invaded every part of deck, cabin, and hold, and
spreading their beds under the windows of the cabins of the first-class
passengers, reduced the whole company to a common disgust. The light
load caused the vessel to roll a little, and there was nothing agreeable
in the situation.

The next morning we were in the harbor of Haifa, under the shadow of Mt.
Carmel, and rose early to read about Elijah, and to bring as near to us
as we could with an opera-glass the convent and the scene of Elijah’s
victory over the priests of Baal. The noble convent we saw, and the brow
of Carmel, which the prophet ascended to pray for rain; but the place of
the miraculous sacrifice is on the other side, in view of the plain of
Esdraelon, and so is the plain by the river Kishon where Elijah slew the
four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, whom he had already mocked and
defeated. The grotto of Elijah is shown in the hill, and the monks who
inhabit the convent regard themselves as the successors of an unbroken
succession of holy occupants since the days of the great prophet. Their
sumptuous quarters would no doubt excite the indignation of Elijah and
Elisha, who would not properly discriminate between the modern reign of
Mammon and the ancient rule of Baal. Haifa itself is only a huddle
of houses on the beach. Ten miles across the curving bay we saw the
battlements of Akka, on its triangle of land jutting into the sea, above
the mouth of Kishon, out of the fertile and world-renowned plain. We
see it more distinctly as we pass; and if we were to land we should see
little more, for few fragments remain to attest its many masters and
strange vicissitudes. A prosperous seat of the Phoenicians, it offered
hospitality to the fat-loving tribe of Asher; it was a Greek city of
wealth and consequence; it was considered the key of Palestine during
the Crusades, and the headquarters of the Templars and the Knights
of St. John; and in more modern times it had the credit of giving the
checkmate to the feeble imitation of Alexander in the East attempted by
Napoleon I.

The day was cloudy and a little cool, and not unpleasant; but there
existed all day a ground-swell which is full of all nastiness, and a
short sea which aggravated the ground-swell; and although we sailed
by the Lebanon mountains and along an historic coast, bristling with
suggestions, and with little but suggestions, of an heroic past, by
Akka and Tyre and Sidon, we were mostly indifferent to it all. The
Mediterranean, on occasion, takes away one’s appetite even for ruins
and ancient history.

We can distinguish, as we sail by it, the mean modern town which wears
still the royal purple name of Tyre, and the peninsula, formerly the
island, upon which the old town stood and which gave it its name.
The Arabs still call it Tsur or Sur, “the rock,” and the ancients
fancied that this island of rock had the form of a ship and was typical
of the maritime pursuits of its people. Some have thought it more like
the cradle of commerce which Tyre is sometimes, though erroneously, said
to be; for she was only the daughter of Sidon, and did but inherit from
her mother the secret of the mastery of the seas. There were two cities
of Tyre,—the one on the island, and another on the shore. Tyre is not
an old city in the Eastern reckoning, the date of its foundation as
a great power only rising to about 1200 b. c., about the time of the
Trojan war, and after the fall of Sidon, although there was a city there
a couple of centuries earlier, when Joshua and his followers conquered
the hill-countries of Palestine; it could never in its days of greatness
have been large, probably containing not more than 30,000 to 40,000
inhabitants, but its reputation was disproportionate to its magnitude;
Joshua calls it the “strong city Tyre,” and it had the entire
respect of Jerusalem in the most haughty days of the latter. Tyre seems
to have been included in the “inheritance” allotted to Asher, but
that luxurious son of Jacob yielded to the Phoenicians and not they to
him; indeed, the parcelling of territory to the Israelitish tribes, on
condition that they would conquer it, recalls the liberal dying bequest
made by a tender Virginian to his son, of one hundred thousand dollars
if he could make it. The sea-coast portion of the Canaanites, or the
Phoenicians, was never subdued by the Jews; it preserved a fortunate
independence, in order that, under the Providence that protected the
Phoenicians, after having given the world “letters” and the first
impulse of all the permanent civilization that written language implies,
they could still bless it by teaching it commerce, and that wide
exchange of products which is a practical brotherhood of man. The world
was spared the calamity of the descent of the tribes of Israel upon
the Phoenician cities of the coast, and art was permitted to grow with
industry; unfortunately the tribes who formed the kingdom of Israel were
capable of imitating only the idolatrous worship and the sensuality of
their more polished neighbors. Such an ascendency did Tyre obtain in
Jewish affairs through the princess Jezebel and the reception of the
priests of Baal, that for many years both Samaria and Jerusalem might
almost be called dependencies of the city of the god, “the lord
Melkarth, Baal of Tyre.”

The arts of the Phoenicians the Jews were not apt to learn; the
beautiful bronze-work of their temples was executed by Tyrians, and
their curious work in wood also; the secret of the famous purple dye of
the royal stuffs which the Jews coveted was known only to the Tyrians,
who extracted from a sea-mussel this dark red violet; when the Jews
built, Tyrian workmen were necessary; when Solomon undertook his
commercial ventures into the far Orient, it was Tyrians who built his
ships at Ezion-geber, and it was Tyrian sailors who manned them; the
Phoenicians carried the manufacture of glass to a perfection unknown to
the ancient Egyptians, producing that beautiful ware the art of which
was revived by the Venetians in the sixteenth century; the Jews did
not learn from the Phoenicians, but the Greeks did, how to make that
graceful pottery and to paint the vases which are the despair of modern
imitators; the Tyrian mariners, following the Sidonian, supplied the
Mediterranean countries, including Egypt, with tin for the manufacture
of bronze, by adventurous voyages as far as Britain, and no people ever
excelled them in the working of bronze, as none in their time equalled
them in the carving of ivory, the engraving of precious metals, and the
cutting and setting of jewels.

Unfortunately scarcely anything remains of the abundant literature of
the Phoenicians,—for the Canaanites were a literary people before the
invasion of Joshua; their language was Semitic, and almost identical
with the Hebrew, although they were descendants of Ham; not only their
light literature but their historical records have disappeared, and we
have small knowledge of their kings or their great men. The one we are
most familiar with is the shrewd and liberal Hiram (I cannot tell why he
always reminds me of General Grant), who exchanged riddles with Solomon,
and shared with the mountain king the profits of his maritime skill and
experience. Hiram’s tomb is still pointed out to the curious, at Tyre;
and the mutations of religions and the freaks of fortune are illustrated
by the chance that has grouped so closely together the graves of Hiram,
of Frederick Barbarossa, and of Origen.

Late in the afternoon we came in sight of Sidon, that ancient city which
the hand-book infers was famous at the time of the appearance of Joshua,
since that skilful captain speaks of it as “Great Zidon.” Famous it
doubtless had been long before his arrival, but the epithet “great”
merely distinguished the two cities; for Sidon was divided like Tyre,
“Great Sidon” being on the shore and “Little Sidon” at
some distance inland. Tradition says it was built by Sidon, the
great-grandson of Noah; but however this may be, it is doubtless the
oldest Phoenician city except Gebel, which is on the coast north of
Beyrout. It is now for the antiquarian little more than a necropolis,
and a heap of stones, on which fishermen dry their nets, although some
nine to ten thousand people occupy its squalid houses. What we see of
it is the ridge of rocks forming the shallow harbor, and the picturesque
arched bridge (with which engravings have made us familiar) that
connects a ruined fortress on a detached rock with the rocky peninsula.

Sidon cames us far back into antiquity. When the Canaanitish tribes
migrated from their seat on the Persian Gulf, a part of them continued
their march as far as Egypt. It seems to be settled that the Hittites
(or Khitas) were the invaders who overran the land of the Pharaohs,
sweeping away in their barbarous violence nearly all the monuments of
the civilization of preceding eras, and placing upon the throne of
that old empire the race of Shepherd kings. It was doubtless during
the dynasty of the Shepherds that Abraham visited Egypt, and it was a
Pharaoh of Hittite origin who made Joseph his minister. It was after the
expulsion of the Shepherds and the establishment of a dynasty “which
knew not Joseph” that the Israelites were oppressed.

But the Canaanites did not all pass beyond Syria and Palestine; some
among them, who afterwards were distinctively known as Phoenicians,
established a maritime kingdom, and founded among other cities that of
Sidon. This maritime branch no doubt kept up an intercourse with the
other portions of the Canaanite family in Southern Syria and in Egypt,
before the one was driven out of Egypt by the revolution which restored
the rule of the Egyptian Pharaohs, and the other expelled by the
advent of the Philistines. And it seems altogether probable that the
Phoenicians received from Egypt many arts which they afterwards improved
and perfected. It is tolerably certain that they borrowed from Egypt
the hieratic writing, or some of its characters, which taught them to
represent the sounds of their language by the alphabet which they gave
to the world. The Sidonians were subjugated by Thotmes III., with all
Phoenicia, and were for centuries the useful allies of the Egyptians;
but their dominion was over the sea, and they spread their colonies
first to the Grecian isles and then along the African coast; and in the
other direction sent their venturesome barks as far as Colchis on the
Black Sea. They seem to have thrived most under the Egyptian supremacy,
for the Pharaohs had need of their sailors and their ships. In the later
days of the empire, in the reign of Necho, it was Phoenician sailors
who, at his command, circumnavigated Africa, passing down the Red Sea
and returning through the Pillars of Hercules.

The few remains of Sidon which we see to-day are only a few centuries
old,—six or seven; there are no monuments to carry us back to the city
famous in arts and arms, of which Homer sang; and if there were, the
antiquity of this hoary coast would still elude us. Herodotus says that
the temple of Melkarth at Tyre (the “daughter of Sidon”) was built
about 2300 B.C. Probably he errs by a couple of centuries; for it
was only something like twenty-three centuries before Christ that the
Canaanites came into Palestine, that is to say, late in the thirteenth
Egyptian dynasty,—a dynasty which, according to the list of Manetho
and Mariette Bey, is separated from the reign of the first Egyptian king
by an interval of twenty-seven centuries. When Abraham wandered from
Mesopotamia into Palestine he found the Canaanites in possession. But
they were comparatively new comers; they had found the land already
occupied by a numerous population who were so far advanced in
civilization as to have built many cities. Among the peoples holding the
land before them were the Rephaim, who had sixty strong towns in what is
now the wilderness of Bashan; there were also the Emim, the Zamzummim,
and the Anakim,—perhaps primitive races and perhaps conquerors of a
people farther back in the twilight, remnants of whom still remained in
Palestine when the Jews began, in their turn, to level its cities to the
earth, and who lived in the Jewish traditions as “giants.”


ALL the afternoon we had the noble range of Mt. Lebanon in view, and
towards five o’clock we saw the desert-like promontory upon which
Beyrout stands. This bold headland, however, changed its appearance when
we had rounded it and came into the harbor; instead of sloping sand we
had a rocky coast, and rising from the bay a couple of hundred feet,
Beyrout, first the shabby old city, and then the new portion higher,
up, with its villas embowered in trees. To the right, upon the cliffs
overlooking the sea, is the American college, an institution whose
conspicuous position is only a fair indication of its pre-eminent
importance in the East; and it is to be regretted that it does not make
a better architectural show. Behind Beyrout, in a vast circular sweep,
rise the Lebanon mountains, clothed with trees and vineyards, terraced,
and studded with villas and villages. The view is scarcely surpassed
anywhere for luxuriance and variety. It seems to us that if we had an
impulse to go on a mission anywhere it would be to the wicked of this
fertile land.

At Beyrout also passengers must land in small boats. We were at once
boarded by the most ruffianly gang of boatmen we had yet seen, who
poured through the gangways and climbed over the sides of the vessel,
like privileged pirates, treading down people in their way. It was only
after a severe struggle that we reached our boats and landed at the
custom-house, and fell into the hands of the legalized plunderers, who
made an attack upon our baggage and demanded our passports, simply to
obtain backsheesh for themselves.

“Not to show ‘em passport,” says Abd-el-Atti, who wastes no
affection on the Turks; “tiefs, all of dem; you he six months, not
so? in him dominion, come now from Jaffa; I tell him if the kin’ of
Constantinople want us, he find us at the hotel.”

The hotel Bellevue, which looks upon the sea and hears always the waves
dashing upon the worn and jagged rocks, was overflowed by one of those
swarms, which are the nuisance of independent travellers, known as
a “Cook’s Party,” excellent people individually no doubt, but
monopolizing hotels and steamboats, and driving everybody else into
obscurity by reason of their numbers and compact organization. We passed
yesterday one of the places on the coast where Jonah is said to have
left the whale; it is suspected—though without any contemporary
authority—that he was in a Cook’s Party of his day, and left it in
disgust for this private conveyance.

Our first care in Beyrout was to secure our passage to Damascus. There
is a carriage-road over the Lebanons, constructed, owned, and managed by
a French company; it is the only road in Syria practicable for wheels,
but it is one of the best in the world; I suppose we shall celebrate our
second centennial before we have one to compare with it in the United
States. The company has the monopoly of all the traffic over it,
forwarding freight in its endless trains of wagons, and despatching a
diligence each way daily, and a night mail. We went to the office to
secure seats in the diligence.

“They are all taken,” said the official.

“Then we would like seats for the day after to-morrow.”

“They are taken, and for the day after that—for a week.”

“Then we must go in a private carriage.”

“At present we have none. The two belonging to the company are at

“Then we will hire one in the city.”

“That is not permitted; no private carriage is allowed to go over the
road farther than five kilometres outside of Beyrout.”

“So you will neither take us yourselves nor let any one else?”

“Pardon; when the carriage comes from Damascus, you shall have the
first chance.”

Fortunately one of the carriages arrived that night, and the next
morning at nine o’clock we were en route. The diligence left at 4 a.
M., and makes the trip in thirteen hours; we were to break the journey
at Stoura and diverge to Ba’albek. The carriage was a short omnibus,
with seats inside for four, a broad seat in front, and a deck for the
baggage, painted a royal yellow; three horses were harnessed to it
abreast,—one in the shafts and one on each side. As the horses were to
be changed at short stages, we went forward at a swinging pace, rattling
out of the city and commanding as much respect as if we had been the
diligence itself with its six horses, three abreast, and all its haughty

We leave the promontory of Beyrout, dip into a long depression, and then
begin to ascend the Lebanon. The road is hard, smooth, white; the soil
on either side is red; the country is exceedingly rich; we pass villas,
extensive plantations of figs, and great forests of the mulberry; for
the silk culture is the chief industry, and small factories of the
famous Syrian silks are scattered here and there. As the road winds
upward, we find the hillsides are terraced and luxuriant with fig-trees
and grapevines,—the latter flourishing, in fact, to the very top
of the mountains, say 5,200 feet above the blue Mediterranean, which
sparkles below us. Into these hills the people of Beyrout come to pass
the heated months of summer, living in little villas which are embowered
in foliage all along these lovely slopes. We encounter a new sort of
house; it is one story high, built of limestone in square blocks and
without mortar, having a flat roof covered with stones and soil,—a
very primitive construction, but universal here. Sometimes the building
is in two parts, like a double log-cabin, but the opening between the
two is always arched: so much for art; but otherwise the house, without
windows, or with slits only, looks like a section of stone-wall.

As we rise, we begin to get glimpses of the snowy peaks which make a
sharp contrast with the ravishing view behind us,—the terraced gorges,
the profound ravines, the vineyards, gardens, and orchards, the blue
sea, and the white road winding back through all like a ribbon. As we
look down, the limestone walls of the terraces are concealed, and all
the white cliffs are hidden by the ample verdure. Entering farther into
the mountains, and ascending through the grim Wady Hammâna, we have
the considerable village of that name below us on the left, lying at
the bottom of a vast and ash-colored mountain basin, like a gray heap of
cinders on the edge of a crater broken away at one side. We look at
it with interest, for there Lamartine once lived for some months in as
sentimental a seclusion as one could wish. A little higher up we come to
snow, great drifts of it by the roadside,—a phenomenon entirely beyond
the comprehension of Abdallah, who has never seen sand so cold as this,
which, nevertheless, melts in his hands. After encountering the snow, we
drive into a cold cloud, which seems much of the time to hang on the top
of Lebanon, and have a touch of real winter,—a disagreeable experience
which we had hoped to eliminate from this year; snow is only tolerable
when seen at a great distance, as the background in a summer landscape;
near at hand it congeals the human spirits.

When we were over the summit and had emerged from the thick cloud,
suddenly a surprise greeted us. Opposite was the range of Anti-Lebanon;
two thousand feet below us, the broad plain, which had not now the
appearance of land, but of some painted scene,—a singularity which is
partially explained by the red color of the soil. But, altogether, it
presented the most bewildering mass of color; if the valley had been
strewn with watered silts over a carpet of Persian rugs, the effect
might have been the same. There were patches and strips of green and of
brown, dashes of red, blotches of burnt-umber and sienna, alternations
of ploughed field and young grain, and the whole, under the passing
clouds, took the sheen of the opal. The hard, shining road lay down the
mountain-side in long loops, in ox-bows, in curves ever graceful, like a
long piece of white tape flung by chance from the summit to the valley.
We dashed down it at a great speed, winding backwards and forwards on
the mountain-side, and continually shifting our point of view of the
glowing picture.

At the little post-station of Stoura we left the Damascus road
and struck north for an hour towards Ba’albek, over a tolerable
carriage-road. But the road ceased at Mu’allakah; beyond that,
a horseback journey of six or seven hours, there is a road-bed to
Ba’albek, stoned a part of the way, and intended to be passable some
day. Mu’allakah lies on the plain at the opening of the wild gorge
of the Berduny, a lively torrent which dances down to join the Litany,
through the verdure of fruit-trees and slender poplars. Over a mile
up the glen, in the bosom of the mountains, is the town of Zahleh, the
largest in the Lebanon; and there we purposed to pass the night, having
been commended to the hospitality of the missionaries there by Dr.
Jessup of Beyrout.

Our halted establishment drew a crowd of curious spectators about
it, mostly women and children, who had probably never seen a carriage
before; they examined us and commented upon us with perfect freedom, but
that was the extent of their hospitality, not one of them was willing
to earn a para by carrying our baggage to Zahleh; and we started up
the hill, leaving the dragoman in an animated quarrel with the entire
population, who, in turn, resented his comments upon their want of
religion and good manners.

Climbing up a stony hill, threading gullies and ravines, and finally
rough streets, we came into the amphitheatre in the hills which enclose
Zahleh. The town is unique in its construction. Imagine innumerable
small whitewashed wooden houses, rising in concentric circles, one above
the other, on the slopes of the basin, like the chairs on the terraces
of a Roman circus. The town is mostly new, for the Druses captured it
and burned it in 1860, and reminds one of a New England factory village.
Its situation is a stony, ragged basin, three thousand feet above the
sea; the tops of the hills behind it were still covered with snow, and
we could easily fancy that we were in Switzerland. The ten or twelve
thousand inhabitants are nearly all Maroyites, a sect of Christians whom
we should call Greeks, but who are in communion with the Latin church;
a people ignorant and superstitious, governed by their priests,
occasionally turbulent, and always on the point of open rupture with the
mysterious and subtle Druses. Having the name of Christians and few of
the qualities, they are most unpromising subjects of missionary labor.
Yet the mission here makes progress and converts, and we were glad to
see that the American missionaries were universally respected.

Fortunately the American name and Christianity are exceedingly well
represented in Northern Syria by gentlemen who unite a thorough and
varied scholarship with Christian simplicity, energy, and enthusiasm.
At first it seems hard that so much talent and culture should be hidden
away in such a place as Zahleh, and we were inclined to lament a lot so
far removed from the living sympathies of the world. It seems, indeed,
almost hopeless to make any impression in this antique and conceited
mass of superstition. But if Syria is to be regenerated, and to be ever
the home of an industrious, clean, and moral people, in sympathy with
the enlightened world, the change is to be made by exhibiting to the
people a higher type of Christianity than they have known hitherto,—a
Christianity that reforms manners, and betters the social condition, and
adds a new interest to life by lifting it to a higher plane; physical
conditions must visibly improve under it. It is not enough in a village
like this of Zahleh, for instance, to set up a new form of Christian
worship, and let it drone on in a sleepy fashion, however devout and
circumspect. It needs men of talent, scientific attainment, practical
sagacity, who shall make the Christian name respected by superior
qualities, as well as by devout lives. They must show a better style
of living, more thrift and comfort, than that which prevails here. The
people will by and by see a logical connection between a well-ordered
house and garden, a farm scientifically cultivated, a prosperous
factory, and the profitableness of honesty and industry, with the
superior civilization of our Western Christianity. You can already see
the influence in Syria of the accomplished scholars, skilful physicians
and surgeons, men versed in the sciences, in botany and geology, who
are able to understand the resources of the country, who are supported
there, but not liberally enough supported, by the Christians of America.


WE were entertained at the house of the Rev. Mr. Wood, who accompanied
us the next day to Ba’albek, his mission territory including that
ancient seat of splendid paganism. Some sort of religious fête in
the neighborhood had absorbed the best saddle-beasts, and we were
indifferently mounted on the refuse of donkeys and horses, Abdallah,
our most shining possession, riding, as usual, on the top of a pile of
baggage. The inhabitants were very civil as we passed along; we did not
know whether to attribute it to the influence of the missionaries or
to the rarity of travellers, but the word “backsheesh” we heard not
once in Zahleh.

After we had emerged from Mu’allakah upon the open plain, we passed on
our left hand the Moslem village of Kerah Nun, which is distinguished as
the burial-place of the prophet Noah; but we contented ourselves with a
sight of the dome. The mariner lies there in a grave seventy feet long,
or seventy yards, some scoffers say; but this, whatever it is, is not
the measure of the patriarch. The grave proved too short, and Noah
is buried with his knees bent, and his feet extending downward in the

The plain of Bukâ’. is some ninety miles long, and in this portion of
it about ten miles broad; it is well watered, and though the red soil
is stuffed with small stones, it is very fertile, and would yield
abundantly if cultivated; but it is mostly an abandoned waste of weeds.
The ground rises gradually all the way to Ba’albek, starting from an
elevation of three thousand feet; the plain is rolling, and the streams
which rush down from the near mountains are very swift. Nothing could be
lovelier than the snowy ranges of mountains on either hand, in
contrast with the browns and reds of the slopes,—like our own
autumn foliage,—and the green and brown plain, now sprinkled with
wild-flowers of many varieties.

The sky was covered with clouds, great masses floating about; the wind
from the hills was cold, and at length drove us to our wraps; then a
fine rain ensued, but it did not last long, for the rainy season was
over. We crossed the plain diagonally, and lunched at a little khan,
half house and half stable, raised above a stream, with a group of young
poplars in front. We sat on a raised divan in the covered court, and
looked out through the arched doorway over a lovely expanse of plain and
hills. It was difficult to tell which part of the house was devoted to
the stable and which to the family; from the door of the room which I
selected as the neatest came the braying of a donkey. The landlord and
his wife, a young woman and rather pretty, who had a baby in her arms,
furnished pipes and tobacco, and the travellers or idlers—they are
one—sat on the ground smoking narghilelis. A squad of ruffianly
Metâwileh, a sect of Moslems who follow the Koran strictly, and
reject the traditions,—perhaps like those who call themselves Bible
Christians in distinction from theological Christians,—came from the
field, deposited their ploughs, which they carried on their shoulders,
on the platform outside, and, seating themselves in a row in the khan,
looked at us stolidly. And we, having the opportunity of saying so,
looked at them intelligently.

We went on obliquely across the plain, rising a little through a region
rich, but only half cultivated, crossing streams and floundering in
mud-holes for three hours, on a walk, the wind growing stronger from the
snow mountains, and the cold becoming almost unendurable. It was in vain
that Abd-el-Atti spun hour after hour an Arab romance; not even the warm
colors of the Oriental imagination could soften the piteous blast. At
length, when patience was nearly gone, in a depression in the plain,
close to the foot-hills of Anti-Lebanon, behold the great Ba’albek,
that is to say, a Moslem village of three thousand to four thousand
inhabitants, fairly clean and sightly, and the ruins just on the edge of
it, the six well-known gigantic Corinthian pillars standing out against
the gray sky. Never was sight more welcome.

Ba’albek, like Zahleh, has no inn, and we lodged in a private house
near the ruins. The house was one story; it consisted of four large
rooms in a row, looking upon the stone-wall enclosure, each with its
door, and with no communication between them. The kitchen was in a
separate building. These rooms had high ceilings of beams supporting
the flat roof, windows with shutters but without glass, divans along one
side, and in one corner a fireplace and chimney. Each room had a niche
extending from the floor almost to the ceiling, in which the beds are
piled in the daytime; at night they are made up on the divans or on the
floor. This is the common pattern of a Syrian house, and when we got a
fire blazing in the big chimney-place and began to thaw out our stiff
limbs, and Abd-el-Atti brought in something from the kitchen that was
hot and red in color and may have had spice on the top of it, we found
this the most comfortable residence in the world.

It is the business of a dragoman to produce the improbable in impossible
places. Abd-el-Atti rubbed his lamp and converted this establishment
into a tolerable inn, with a prolific kitchen and an abundant table.
While he was performing this revolution we went to see the ruins, the
most noble portions of which have survived the religion and almost the
memory of the builders.

The remains of the temples of Ba’albek, or Hieropolis, are only
elevated as they stand upon an artificial platform; they are in the
depression of the valley, and in fact a considerable stream flows all
about the walls and penetrates the subterranean passages. This water
comes from a fountain which bursts out of the Anti-Lebanon hills about
half a mile above Ba’albek, in an immense volume, falls into a great
basin, and flows away in a small river. These instantaneously born
rivers are a peculiarity of Syria; and they often disappear as suddenly
as they come. The water of this Ba’albek fountain is cold, pure, and
sweet; it deserves to be called a “beverage,” and is, so far as my
experience goes, the most agreeable water in the world. The Moslems have
a proverb which expresses its unique worth: “The water of Ba’albek
never leaves its home.” It rushes past the village almost a river in
size, and then disappears in the plain below as suddenly as it came to
the light above.

We made our way across the stream and along aqueducts and over heaps of
shattered walls and columns to the west end of the group of ruins. This
end is defended by a battlemented wall some fifty feet high, which
was built by the Saracens out of incongruous materials from older
constructions. The northeast corner of this new wall rests upon the
ancient Phoenician wall, which sustained the original platform of the
sacred buildings; and at this corner are found the three famous stones
which at one time gave a name, “The Three-Stoned,” to the great
temple. As I do not intend to enter into the details of these often
described ruins, I will say here, that this ancient Phoenician wall
appears on the north side of the platform detached, showing that the
most ancient temple occupied a larger area than the Greek and Roman

There are many stones in the old platform wall which are thirty feet
long; but the three large ones, which are elevated twenty feet above
the ground, and are in a line, are respectively 64 feet long, 63 feet
8 inches, and 63 feet, and about 13 feet in height and in depth. When I
measured the first stone, I made it 128 feet long, which I knew was an
error, but it was only by careful inspection that I discovered the joint
of the two stones which I had taken for one. I thought this a practical
test of the close fit of these blocks, which, laid without mortar, come
together as if the ends had been polished. A stone larger than either of
these lies in the neighboring quarry, hewn out but not detached.

These massive constructions, when first rediscovered, were the subject
of a great deal of wonder and speculation, and were referred to a remote
and misty if not fabulous period. I believe it is now agreed that they
were the work of the Phoenicians, or Canaanites, and that they are to be
referred to a period subsequent to the conquest of Egypt, or at least
of the Delta of Egypt, by the Hittites, when the Egyptian influence was
felt in Syria; and that this Temple of the Sun was at least suggested,
as well as the worship of the Sun god here, by the Temple of the Sun
at Heliopolis on the Nile. There is, to be sure, no record of the great
city of Ba’albek, but it may safely be referred to the period of the
greatest prosperity of the Phoenician nation.

Much as we had read of the splendor of these ruins, and familiar as
we were with photographs of them, we were struck with surprise when
we climbed up into the great court, that is, to the platform of the
temples. The platform extends over eight hundred feet from east to west,
an elevated theatre for the display of some of the richest architecture
in the world. The general view is broad, impressive, inspiring beyond
anything else in Egypt or Syria; and when we look at details, the ruins
charm us with their beauty. Round three sides of the great court runs a
wall, the interior of which, recessed and niched, was once adorned
with the most elaborate carving in designs more graceful than you would
suppose stone could lend itself to, with a frieze of garlands of vines,
flowers, and fruits. Of the so-called great Temple of Baal at the west
end of the platform, only six splendid Corinthian columns remain. The
so-called Temple of the Sun or Jupiter, to the south of the other and
on a lower level, larger than the Parthenon, exists still in nearly its
original form, although some of the exterior columns have fallen,
and time and the art-hating Moslems have defaced some of its finest
sculpture. The ceiling between the outer row of columns and the wall
of this temple is, or was, one of the most exquisite pieces of
stone-carving ever executed; the figures carved in the medallions seem
to have anticipated the Gothic genius, and the exquisite patterns
in stone to have suggested the subsequent Saracenic invention. The
composite capitals of the columns offer an endless study; stone roses
stand out upon their stems, fruit and flowers hang and bloom in the
freedom of nature; the carving is all bold and spirited, and the
invention endless. This is no doubt work of the Roman period after the
Christian era, but it is pervaded by Greek feeling, and would seem to
have been executed by Greek artists.

In the centre of the great court (there is a small six-sided court to
the east of the larger one, which was once approached by a great flight
of steps from below) are remains of a Christian basilica, referred to
the reign of Theodosius. Underneath the platform are enormous vaults,
which may have served the successive occupants for store-houses. The
Saracens converted this position into a fortress, and this military
impress the ruins still bear. We have therefore four ages in these
ruins: the Phoenician, the Greek and Roman, the Christian, and the
Saracenic. The remains of the first are most enduring. The old builders
had no other method of perpetuating their memory except by these
cyclopean constructions.

We saw the sunset on Ba’albek. The clouds broke away and lay in great
rosy masses over Lebanon; the white snow ridge for forty miles sparkled
under them. The peak of Lebanon, over ten thousand feet above us, was
revealed in all its purity. There was a red light on the columns and
on the walls, and the hills of Anti-Lebanon, red as a dull garnet, were
speckled with snow patches. The imagination could conceive nothing more
beautiful than the rose-color of the ruins, the flaming sky, and the
immaculate snow peaks, apparently so close to us.

On our return we stopped at the beautiful circular temple of Venus,
which would be a wonder in any other neighborhood. Dinner awaited us,
and was marked by only one novelty,—what we at first took to be
brown napkins, fantastically folded and laid at each plate, a touch of
elegance for which we were not prepared. But the napkins proved to be
bread. It is made of coarse dark wheat, baked in circular cakes as thin
as brown paper, and when folded its resemblance to a napkin is complete.
We found it tolerably palatable, if one could get rid of the notion that
he was eating a limp rag. The people had been advertised of our arrival,
and men, women, and boys swarmed about us to sell copper coins; most
of them Roman, which they find in the ruins. Few are found of the
Greeks’. the Romans literally sowed the ground with copper money
wherever they went in the Orient. The inhabitants are Moslems, and
rather decent in appearance, and the women incline to good looks,
though not so modest in dress as Moslem women usually are; they are all
persistent beggars, and bring babies in their arms, borrowing for that
purpose all the infants in the neighborhood, to incite us to charity.

We yielded to the average sentiment of Christendom, and sallied out in
the cold night to see the ruins under the light of a full moon; one
of the party going simply that he might avoid the reproach of
other travellers,—“It is a pity you did not see Ba’albek by
moonlight.” And it must be confessed that these ruins stand the dim
light of the moon better than most ruins; they are so broad and distinct
that they show themselves even in this disadvantage, which those of
Karnak do not. The six isolated columns seemed to float in the sky;
between them snowy Lebanon showed itself.

The next morning was clear and sparkling; the sky was almost as blue as
it is in Nubia. We were awakened by the drumming of a Moslem procession.
It was the great annual fête day, upon which was to be performed the
miracle of riding over the bodies of the devout. The ceremony took
place a couple of miles away upon the hill, and we saw on all the paths
leading thither files of men and women in white garments. The sheykh,
mounted on horseback, rides over the prostrate bodies of all who throw
themselves before him, and the number includes young men as well as
darwishes. As they lie packed close together and the horse treads upon
their spinal columns, their escape from death is called miraculous. The
Christians tried the experiment here a year or two ago, several young
fellows submitting to let a horseman trample over them, in order to
show the Moslems that they also possessed a religion which could stand
horses’ hoofs.

The ruins, under the intense blue sky, and in the splendid sunlight,
were more impressive than in the dull gray of the day before, or even in
the rosy sunset; their imperial dignity is not impaired by the excessive
wealth of ornamentation. When upon this platform there stood fifty-eight
of these noble columns, instead of six, conspicuous from afar, and the
sunlight poured into this superb court, adorned by the genius of Athens
and the wealth of Rome, this must have been one of the most resplendent
temples in existence, rivalling the group upon the Acropolis itself!

Nothing more marks the contrast between the religions of the Greeks and
Romans and of the Egyptians, or rather between the genius of the two
civilizations, than their treatment of sacred edifices. And it is all
the more to be noted, because the more modern nations accepted without
reserve any god or object of veneration or mystery in the Egyptian
pantheon. The Roman occupants of the temple of Philæ sacrificed without
scruple upon the altars of Osiris, and the voluptuous Græco-Romans of
Pompeii built a temple to Isis. Yet always and everywhere the Grecians
and the Romans sought conspicuous situations for the temples of
the gods; they felt, as did our Pilgrim Fathers, who planted their
meeting-houses on the windiest hills of New England, that the deity was
most honored when the house of his worship was most visible to men; but
the Egyptians, on the contrary, buried the magnificence of their temples
within wall around wall, and permitted not a hint of their splendor to
the world outside. It is worth while to notice also that the Assyrians
did not share the contemporary reticence of the Egyptians, but built
their altars and temples high above the plain in pyramidal stages; and
if we may judge by this platform at Ba’albek, the Phoenicians did not
imitate the exclusive spirit of the Pharaonic worshippers.

We lingered, called again and again by the impatient dragoman, in this
fascinating spot, amid the visible monuments of so many great races,
bearing the marks of so many religious revolutions, and turned away with
slow and reluctant steps, as those who abandon an illusion or have not
yet thought out some suggestion of the imagination. We turned also with
reluctance from a real illusion of the senses. In the clear atmosphere
the ridge of Lebanon was startlingly near to us; the snow summit
appeared to overhang Ba’albek as Vesuvius does Pompeii; and yet it is
half a day’s journey across the plain to the base of the mountain,
and a whole day’s journey from these ruins to the summit. But although
this illusion of distance did not continue as we rode down the valley,
we had on either hand the snow ranges all day, making by contrast with
the brilliant colors of the plain a lovely picture.


THE station at Stoura is a big stable and a dirty little inn, which has
the kitchen in one shanty, the dining-room in another, and the beds in a
third; a swift mountain stream runs behind it, and a grove of poplars
on the banks moans and rustles in the wind that draws down the Lebanon
gorge. It was after dark when we arrived, but whether our coming put the
establishment into a fluster, I doubt; it seems to be in a chronic state
of excitement. The inn was kept by Italians, who have a genius for this
sort of hotel; the landlord was Andrea, but I suspect the real authority
resided in his plump, bright, vivacious wife. They had an heir, however,
a boy of eight, who proved to be the tyrant of the house when he
appeared upon the scene. The servants were a tall slender Syrian girl,
an active and irresponsible boy, and a dark-eyed little maid, in the
limp and dirty single garment which orphans always wear on the stage,
and who in fact was an orphan, and appeared to take the full benefit of
her neglected and jolly life. The whole establishment was on a lark, and
in a perpetual giggle, and communicated its overflowing good-humor even
to tired travellers. The well-favored little wife, who exhibited the
extremes of fortune in a diamond ring and a torn and draggled calico
gown, sputtered alternately French and Italian like a magpie,
laughed with a contagious merriment, and actually made the cheerless
accommodations she offered us appear desirable. The whole family waited
on us, or rather kept us waiting on them, at table, bringing us a dish
now and then as if its production were a joke, talking all the while
among themselves in Arabic, and apparently about us, and laughing at
their own observations, until we, even, came to conceive ourselves as a
party in a most comical light; and so amusing did we grow that the slim
girl and the sorry orphan were forced to rush into a corner every few
minutes and laugh it out.

I spent a pleasant hour in the kitchen,—an isolated, smoke-dried room
with an earth floor,—endeavoring to warm my feet at the little fires
of charcoal kindled in holes on top of a bank of earth and stone, and
watching the pranks of this merry and industrious family. The little
heir amused himself by pounding the orphan, kicking the shins of the
boy, and dashing water in the face of the slim girl,—treatment which
the servants dared not resent, since the father laughed over it as an
exhibition of bravery and vivacity. Fragrant steam came from a pot, in
which quail were stewing for the passengers by the night mail, and each
person who appeared in the kitchen, in turn, gave this pot a stir; the
lively boy pounded coffee in a big mortar, put charcoal on the fire, had
a tussle with the heir, threw a handspring, doing nothing a minute at
a time; the orphan slid in with a bucket of water, slopping it in all
directions; the heir set up a howl and kicked his father because he was
not allowed to kick the orphan any more; the little wife came in like
a breeze, whisking everybody one side, and sympathized with dear little
Hobby, whose cruel and ugly papa was holding the love from barking his
father’s shins. You do not often see a family that enjoys itself so
much as this.

It was late next morning when we tore ourselves from this enchanting
household, and went at a good pace over the fertile plain, straight
towards Anti-Lebanon, having a glimpse of the snow of Mount Hermon,—a
long ridge peering over the hills to the? southeast, and crossing in
turn the Litany and the deep Anjar, which bursts forth from a single
fountain about a mile to the north. On our left we saw some remains of
what was once a capital city, Chalcis, of unknown origin, but an old
city before it was possessed by the Ptolemies, or by Mark Antony, and
once the luxurious residence of the Herod family. At Medjel, a village
scattered at the foot of small tells rising in the plain, we turned into
the hills, leaving unvisited a conspicuous Roman temple on a peak above
the town. The road winds gradually up a wady. As we left the plain,
and looked back across it to Lebanon, the colors of Bukâ’. and the
mountain gave us a new surprise; they were brilliant and yet soft, as
gay and splendid as the rocks of the Yellowstone, and yet exquisitely
blended as in a Persian rug.

The hill-country was almost uninhabited; except the stations and an
occasional Bedaween camp there was small sign of occupation; the ground
was uncultivated; peasants in rags were grubbing up the roots of cedars
for fuel. We met Druses with trains of mules, Moslems with camels and
mules, and long processions of white-topped wagons,—like the Western
“prairie schooner”—drawn each by three mules tandem. Thirty
and forty of these freight vehicles travel in company, and we were
continually meeting or passing them; their number is an indication of
the large trade that Damascus has with Beyrout and the Mediterranean.
There is plenty of color in the people and in their costume. We were
told that we could distinguish the Druses by their furtive and bad
countenances; but for this information I should not have seen that
they differed much from the Maronites; but I endeavored to see the
treacherous villain in them. I have noticed in Syria that the Catholic
travellers have a good opinion of the Maronites and hate the Druses,
that the American residents think little of the Maronites, and that the
English have a lenient side for the Druses. The Moslems consistently
despise all of them. The Druse has been a puzzle. There are the same
horrible stories current about him that were believed of the early
Christians; the Moslem believes that infants are slain and eaten in his
midnight assemblies, and that once a year the Druse community meets in a
cavern at midnight, the lights are extinguished, and the sexes mingling
by chance in the license of darkness choose companions for the year. But
the Druse creed, long a secret, is now known; they are the disciples of
Hâkim, a Khalif of the Fatimite dynasty; they believe in the unity of
God and his latest manifestation in Hakim; they are as much a political
as a religious society; they are accomplished hypocrites, cunning in
plotting and bold in action; they profess to possess “the truth,”
and having this, they are indifferent to externals, and are willing to
be Moslems with the Moslems and Christians with the Christians, while
inwardly feeling a contempt for both. They are the most supercilious of
all the Eastern sects. What they are about to do is always the subject
of anxiety in the Lebanon regions.

At the stations of the road we found usually a wretched family or two
dwelling in a shanty, half stable and half café, always a woman with
a baby in her arms, and the superabundant fountains for nourishing it
displayed to all the world; generally some slatternly girls, and groups
of rough muleteers and drivers smoking. At one, I remember a Jew who
sold antique gems, rings, and coins, with a shocking face, which not
only suggested the first fall of his race, but all the advantages he has
since taken of his innocent fellows, by reason of his preoccupation of
his position of knowledge and depravity.

We made always, except in the steep ascents, about ten miles an hour.
The management of the route is the perfection of French system and
bureaucracy. We travel with a way-bill of numbered details, as if we
were a royal mail. At every station we change one horse, so that we
always have a fresh animal. The way-bill is at every station signed by
the agent, and the minute of arrival and departure exactly noted; each
horse has its number, and the number of the one taken and the one left
is entered. All is life and promptness at the stations; changes are
quickly made. The way-bill would show the company the exact time between
stations; but I noticed that our driver continually set his watch
backwards and forwards, and I found that he and the dragoman had a
private understanding to conceal our delays for lunch, for traffic with
Jews, or for the enjoyment of scenery.

After we had crossed the summit of the first ridge we dashed down the
gate of a magnificent canyon, the rocks heaved up in perpendicular
strata, overhanging, craggy, crumbled, wild. We crossed then a dreary
and nearly arid basin; climbed, by curves and zigzags, another ridge,
and then went rapidly down until we struck the wild and narrow gorge of
the sacred Abana. Immediately luxuriant vegetable life began. The air
was sweet with the blossoms of the mish-mish (apricot), and splendid
walnuts and poplars overshadowed us. The river, swollen and rushing amid
the trees on its hanks, was frightfully rapid. The valley winds sharply,
and gives room only for the river and the road, and sometimes only for
one of them. Sometimes the river is taken out of its bed and carried
along one bank or the other; sometimes the road crosses it, and again
pursues its way between its divided streams. We were excited by its
rush and volume, and by the rich vegetation along its sides. We came to
fantastic Saracenic country-seats, to arcaded and latticed houses set
high up over the river, to evidences of wealth and of proximity to a
great city.

Suddenly, for we seemed to have become a part of the rushing torrent
and to share its rapidity, we burst out of the gorge, and saw the river,
overpassing its narrow banks, flowing straight on before us, and beyond,
on a level, the minarets and domes of Damascus! All along the river, on
both banks of it, and along the high wall by the roadside, were crowds
of men in Turkish costume, of women in pure white, of Arabs sitting
quietly by the stream smoking the narghileh, squatting in rows along
the wall and along the water, all pulling at the water-pipe. There were
tents and booths erected by the river. In a further reach of it men
and boys were bathing. Hanks and groups of veiled women and children
crouched on the damp soil close to the flood, or sat immovable on some
sandy point. It is a delicious holiday for two or three women to sit
the livelong day by water, running or stagnant, to sit there with
their veils drawn over their heads, as rooted as water-plants, and as
inanimate as bags of flour. It was a striking Oriental picture, played
on by the sun, enlivened by the swift current, which dashes full into
the city.

As we spun on, the crowd thickened,—soldiers, grave Turks on
caparisoned horses or white donkeys, Jews, blacks, Persians. We crossed
a trembling bridge, and rattled into town over stony pavements, forced
our way with difficulty into streets narrow and broken by sharp turns,
the carriage-wheels scarcely missing men and children stretched on the
ground, who refused, on the theory of their occupation of the soil prior
to the invention of wheels, to draw in even a leg; and, in a confused
whirl of novel sights and discordant yells, barks, and objurgations, we
came to Dimitri’s hotel. The carriage stopped in the narrow street; a
small door in the wall, a couple of feet above the pavement, opened,
and we stepped through into a little court occupied by a fountain and
an orange-tree loaded with golden fruit. Thence we passed into a large
court, the centre of the hotel, where the Abana pours a generous supply
into a vast marble basin, and trees and shrubs offer shelter to
singing birds. About us was a wilderness of balconies, staircases,
and corridors, the sun flooding it all; and Dimitri himself, sleek,
hospitable, stood bowing, in a red fez, silk gown, and long gold chain.


IT is a popular opinion that there is nothing of man’s work older
than Damascus; there is certainly nothing newer. The city preserves
its personal identity as a man keeps his from youth to age, through the
constant change of substance. The man has in his body not an atom of
the boy; but if the boy incurred scars, they are perpetuated in the man.
Damascus has some scars. We say of other ancient cities, “This part
is old, that part is new.” We say of Damascus, its life is that of a
tree, decayed at heart, dropping branches, casting leaves, but always
renewing itself.

How old is Damascus? Or, rather, how long has a city of that name
existed here on the banks of the Abana? According to Jewish tradition,
which we have no reason to doubt, it was founded by Uz, the son of
Aram, the son of Shem. By the same tradition it was a great city when a
remarkable man, of the tenth generation from the Deluge,—a person of
great sagacity, not mistaken in his opinions, skilful in the celestial
science, compelled to leave Chaldea when he was seventy-five years old,
on account of his religious opinions, since he ventured to publish the
notion that there was but one God, the Creator of the Universe,—came
with an army of dependants and “reigned” in the city of Uz. After
some time Abraham removed into Canaan, which was already occupied by the
Canaanites, who had come from the Persian Gulf, established themselves
in wall-towns in the hills, built Sidon on the coast, and carried their
conquests into Egypt. It was doubtless during the reign of the Hittites,
or Shepherd Kings, that Abraham visited Egypt. Those usurpers occupied
the throne of the Pharaohs for something like five hundred years, and it
was during their occupancy that the Jews settled in the Delta.

Now, if we can at all fix the date of the reign of the Shepherd Kings,
we can approximate to the date of the foundation of Damascus, for Uz
was the third generation from Noah, and Abraham was the tenth. We do
not know how to reckon a generation in those days, when a life-lease was
such a valuable estate, but if we should assume it to be a century, we
should have about seven hundred years between the foundation of Damascus
and the visit of Abraham to Egypt, a very liberal margin. But by the
chronology of Mariette Bey, the approximate date of the Shepherds’
invasion is 2300 B.C. to 2200 B. C., and somewhat later than that time
Abraham was in Damascus. If Damascus was then seven hundred years old,
the date of its foundation would be about 3000 B.C. to 2900 B.C.

Assuming that Damascus has this positive old age, how old is it
comparatively? When we regard it in this light, we are obliged to
confess that it is a modern city. When Uz and his friends wandered out
of the prolific East, and pitched their tents by the Abana, there was
already on the banks of the Nile a civilized, polished race, which had
nearly completed a cycle of national existence much longer than the
duration of the Roman Empire. It was about the eleventh dynasty of the
Egyptian kingdom, the Great Pyramid had been built more than a thousand
years, and the already degenerate Egyptians of the “Old Empire” had
forgotten the noble art which adorned and still renders illustrious the
reigns of the pyramid-builders..

But if Damascus cannot claim the highest antiquity, it has outlived all
its rivals on the earth, and has flourished in a freshness as perennial
as the fountain to which it owes its life, through all the revolutions
of the Orient. As a necessary commercial capital it has pursued a pretty
uniform tenor under all its various masters. Tiglath-Pileser attempted
to destroy it; it was a Babylonian and then a Persian satrapy for
centuries; it was a Greek city; it was the capital of a Roman province
for seven hundred years; it was a Christian city and reared a great
temple to John the Baptist; it was the capital of the Saracenic Empire,
in which resided the ruler who gave laws to all the lands from India to
Spain; it was ravaged by Tamerlane; it now suffers the blight of Turkish
imbecility. From of old it was a caravan station and a mart of exchange,
a camp by a stream; it is to-day a commercial hive, swarming with an
hundred and fifty thousand people, a city without monuments of its past
or ambition for its future.

If one could see Damascus, perhaps he could invent a phrase that would
describe it; but when you have groped and stumbled about in it for a
couple of weeks, endeavoring in vain to get a view of more than a
few rods of it at a time, you are utterly at a loss how to convey an
impression of it to others.

If Egypt is the gift of the Nile, the river Abana is the life of
Damascus; its water is carried into the city on a dozen different
levels, making it literally one of fountains and running water.
Sometimes the town is flooded; the water had only just subsided from the
hotel when we arrived. This inundation makes the city damp for a long
time. Indeed, it is at all times rather soaked with water, and is—with
all respect to Uz and Abraham and the dynasty of the Omeiyades—a sort
of habitable frog-pond on a grand scale. At night the noise of frogs,
even at our hotel, is the chief music, the gentle twilight song, broken,
it is true, by the incessant howling and yelping of savage dogs, packs
of which roam the city like wolves all night. They are mangy yellow
curs, without a single good quality, except that they sleep all the
daytime. In every quarter of the city you see ranks and rows of them
asleep in the sun, occupying half the street and nestling in all the
heaps of rubbish. But much as has been said of the dogs here, I think
the frogs are the feature of the town; they are as numerous as in the
marshes of Ravenna.

Still the water could not be spared. It gives sparkle, life, verdure. In
walking you constantly get glimpses through heavy doorways of fountains,
marble tanks of running water, of a blooming tree or a rose-trellis in
a marble court, of a garden of flowers. The crooked, twisted, narrow
streets, mere lanes of mud-walls, would be scarcely endurable but for
these occasional glimpses, and the sight now and then of the paved,
pillared court of a gayly painted mosque.

One ought not to complain when the Arab barber who trims his hair gives
him a narghileh to smoke during the operation; but Damascus is not so
Oriental as Cairo, the predominant Turkish element is not so picturesque
as the Egyptian. And this must be said in the face of the universal
use of the narghileh, which more than any other one thing imparts an
Oriental, luxurious tone to the city. The pipe of Egypt is the chibouk,
a stem of cherry five feet long with a small clay bowl; however richly
it may be ornamented, furnished with a costly amber mouthpiece, wound
with wire of gold, and studded, as it often is, with diamonds and other
stones of price, it is, at the best, a stiff affair; and even this
pipe is more and more displaced by the cigar, just as in Germany
the meerschaum has yielded to the cigar as the Germans have become
accessible to foreign influences. But in Damascus the picturesque
narghileh, encourager of idleness, is still the universal medium of
smoke. The management of the narghileh requires that a person should
give his undivided mind to it; in return for that, it gives him peace.
The simplest narghileh is a cocoanut-shell, with a flexible stem
attached, and an open metal bowl on top for the tobacco. The smoke is
drawn through the water which the shell contains. Other narghilehs have
a glass standard and water-bowl, and a flexible stem two or three yards
in length. The smoker, seated cross-legged before this graceful object,
appears to be worshipping his idol. The mild Persian tobacco is kept
alight by a slowly burning piece of dried refuse which is kindly
furnished by the camel for fuel; and the smoke is inhaled into the
lungs, and slowly expelled from the nostrils and the mouth. Although
the hastily rolled cigarette is the resort of the poor in Egypt, and is
somewhat used here, it must be a very abandoned wretch who cannot afford
a pull at a narghileh in Damascus. Its universality must excuse the long
paragraph I have devoted to this pipe. You see men smoking it in all
the cafés, in all the shops, by the roadside, seated in the streets, in
every garden, and on the house-tops. The visible occupation of Damascus
is sucking this pipe.

Our first walk in the city was on Sunday to the church of the
Presbyterian mission; on our way we threaded a wilderness of bazaars,
nearly all of them roofed over, most of them sombre and gloomy. Only in
the glaring heat of summer could they be agreeable places of refuge. The
roofing of these tortuous streets and lanes is not so much to exclude
the sun, I imagine, as to keep out the snow, and the roofs are
consequently substantial; for Damascus has an experience of winter,
being twenty-two hundred feet above the sea-level, nearly as high
as Jerusalem. These bazaars, so much vaunted all through the Orient,
disappointed us, not in extent, for they are interminable, but in
wanting the picturesqueness, oddity, and richness of those of Cairo. And
this, like the general appearance of the city, is a disappointment
hard to be borne, for we have been taught to believe that Damascus is a
Paradise on earth, and that here, if anywhere, we should come into that
region of enchantment which the poets of the Arabian Nights’ tales
have imposed upon us as the actual Orient. Should we have recognized, in
the low and partially flooded strip of grassland through which we drove
from the mouth of the Abana gorge to the western gate of the city, the
green Merj of the Arabian poets, that gem of the earth? The fame of it
has gone abroad throughout the world, as if it were a unique gift of
Allah to his favorites. Why, every Occidental land has a million glades,
watered, green-sodded, tree-embowered, more lovely than this, that no
poet has thought it worth while to celebrate.

We found a little handful of worshippers at the mission church, and
among them—Heaven forgive us for looking at her on Sunday!—an
eccentric and somewhat notorious English lady of title, who shares the
bed and board of an Arab sheykh in his harem outside the walls. It makes
me blush for the attractiveness of my own country, and the slighted
fascination of the noble red man in his paint and shoddy blanket, when
I see a lady, sated with the tame civilization of England, throw herself
into the arms of one of these coarse bigamists of the desert. Has he
no reputation in the Mother country, our noble, chivalrous

We saw something of the missionaries of Damascus, but as I was not of
the established religion at the court of Washington at the time of my
departure from home, and had no commission to report to the government,
either upon the condition of consulates or of religion abroad, I am not
prepared to remark much upon the state of either in this city. I should
say, however, that not many direct converts were made either from
Moslemism or from other Christian beliefs, but that incalculable good
is accomplished by the schools which the missionaries conduct. The
influence of these, in encouraging a disposition to read, and to inquire
into the truth and into the conditions of a better civilization, is not
to be overestimated. What impressed me most, however, in the fortune
of these able, faithful servants of the propagandism of Christian
civilization, was their pathetic isolation. A gentleman and his wife of
this mission had been thirty years absent from the United States. The
friends who cheered or regretted their departure, who cried over them,
and prayed over them, and followed them with tender messages, had passed
away, or become so much absorbed in the ever-exciting life at home as
to have almost forgotten those who had gone away to the heathen a
generation ago. The Mission Board that personally knew them and lovingly
cared for them is now composed of strangers to them. They were, in fact,
expatriated, lost sight of. And yet they had gained no country nor any
sympathies to supply the place of those lost. They must always be, to a
great degree, strangers in this fierce, barbarous city.

We wandered down through the Christian quarter of the town: few shops
are here; we were most of the time walking between mud-walls, which have
a door now and then. This quarter is new; it was entirely burned by the
Moslems and Druses in 1860, when no less than twenty-five hundred adult
male Christians, heads of families, were slaughtered, and thousands more
perished of wounds and famine consequent upon the total destruction of
their property. That the Druses were incited to this persecution by the
Turkish rulers is generally believed. We went out of the city by the
eastern gate, called Bab Shurky, which name profanely suggested the
irrelevant colored image of Bob Sharkey, and found ourselves in the
presence of huge mounds of rubbish, the accumulations of refuse carted
out of the city during many centuries, which entirely concealed
from view the country beyond. We skirted these for a while, with the
crumbling city wall on the left hand, passed through the hard, gray,
desolate Turkish cemetery, and came at length into what might be called
country. Not that we could see any country, however; we were always
between high mud-walls, and could see nothing beyond them, except the
sky, unless we stepped through an open door into a garden.

Into one of these gardens, a public one, and one of the most celebrated
in the rhapsodies of travellers and by the inventive poets, we finally
turned. When you are walking for pleasure in your native land, and
indulging a rural feeling, would you voluntarily go into a damp swale,
and sit on a moist sod under a willow? This garden is low, considerably
lower than the city, which has gradually elevated itself on its own
decay, and is cut by little canals or sluiceways fed by the Abana, which
run with a good current. The ground is well covered with coarse
grass, of the vivid green that one finds usually in low ground, and is
liberally sprinkled with a growth of willows and poplars. In this garden
of the Hesperides, in which there are few if any flowers, and no promise
of fruit, there is a rough wooden shed, rickety and decaying, having,
if I remember rightly, a balcony,—it must have a balcony,—and there
pipes, poor lemonade, and poorer ice cream are served to customers. An
Arab band of four persons, one of them of course blind of an eye,
seated cross-legged on a sort of bedstead, was picking and thumping a
monotonous, never-ending tune out of the usual instruments. You could
not deny that the vivid greenery, and the gayly apparelled groups,
sitting about under the trees and on the water’s edge, made a lively
scene. In another garden, farther on around the wall, the shanty of
entertainment is a many-galleried shaky construction, or a series of
platforms and terraces of wood, overhanging the swift Abana. In the
daytime it is but a shabby sight; but at night, when a thousand colored
globes light it without revealing its poverty, and the lights dance
in the water, and hundreds of turbaned, gowned narghileh-smokers and
coffee-drinkers lounge in the galleries, or gracefully take their ease
by the sparkling current, and the faint thump of the darabouka is heard,
and some gesticulating story-teller, mounted upon a bench, is reeling
off to an attentive audience an interminable Arabian tale, you might
fancy that the romance of the Orient is not all invented.

Of other and private gardens and enclosures we had glimpses, on our
walk, through open gates, and occasionally over the walls; we could
imagine what a fragrance and color would greet the senses when the
apricots are in bloom, and the oranges and lemons in flower, and how
beautiful the view might be if the ugly walls did not conceal it. We
returned by the saddlers’ bazaar, and by a famous plane-tree, which
may be as old as the Moslem religion; its gnarled limbs are like the
stems of ordinary trees, and its trunk is forty feet around.

The remark that Damascus is without monuments of its past needs
qualification; it was made with reference to its existence before the
Christian era, and in comparison with other capitals of antiquity.
Remains may, indeed, be met in its exterior walls, and in a broken
column here and there built into a modern house, of Roman workmanship,
and its Great Mosque is an historical monument of great interest, if not
of the highest antiquity. In its structure it represents three
religions and three periods of art; like the mosque of St. Sophia at
Constantinople, it was for centuries a Christian cathedral; like the
Dome of the Rock at Jerusalem, it is built upon a spot consecrated by
the most ancient religious rites. Situated in the midst of the most
densely peopled part of the city, and pressed on all sides by its most
crowded bazaars, occupying a quadrangle nearly five hundred feet one
way by over three hundred the other, the wanderer among the shops is
constantly coming to one side or another of it, and getting glimpses
through the spacious portals of the colonnaded court within. Hemmed in
as it is, it is only by diving into many alleys and pushing one’s way
into the rear of dirty shops and climbing upon the roofs of houses, that
one can get any idea of the exterior of the mosque. It is, indeed, only
from an eminence that you can see its three beautiful minarets.

It does not appear that Chosroes, the Persian who encamped his army in
the delicious gardens of Damascus, in the year 614, when he was on his
way to the destruction of Jerusalem and the massacre of its Christian
inhabitants, disturbed the church of John the Baptist in this city. But
twenty years later it fell into the hands of the Saracens, who for a
few years were content to share it with the Christian worshippers. It
is said that when Khâled, the most redoubtable of the Friends of the
Prophet, whose deeds entitled him to the sobriquet of The Sword of God,
entered this old church, he asked to be conducted into the sacred vault
(which is now beneath the kubbeh of the mosque), and that he was there
shown the head of John the Baptist in a gold casket, which had in Greek
this inscription: “This casket contains the head of John the Baptist,
son of Zachariah.”

The building had been then for over three centuries a Christian church.
And already, when Constantine dedicated it to Christian use, it had for
over three hundred years witnessed the worship of pagan deities. The
present edifice is much shorn of its original splendor and proportions,
but sufficient remains to show that it was a worthy rival of the temples
of Ba’albek, Palmyra, and Jerusalem. No part of the building is older
than the Roman occupation, but the antiquarians are agreed to think
that this was the site of the old Syrian temple, in which Ahaz saw the
beautiful altar which he reproduced in the temple at Jerusalem.

Pieces of superb carving, recalling the temple of the Sun at Ba’albek,
may still be found in some of the gateways, and the noble Corinthian
columns of the interior are to be referred to Roman or Greek workmen.
Christian art is represented in the building in some part of the walls
and in the round-topped windows; and the Moslems have superimposed upon
all minarets, a dome, and the gay decorations of colored marbles and
flaring inscriptions.

The Moslems have either been too ignorant or too careless to efface all
the evidences of Christian occupation. The doors of the eastern gate are
embossed with brass, and among the emblems is the Christian sacramental
cup. Over an arch, which can only be seen from the roof of the
silversmiths’ bazaar, is this inscription in Greek: “Thy kingdom, O
Christ, is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout
all generations.”

It required a special permit to admit us to the mosque, but when we were
within the sacred precincts and shod with slippers, lest our infidel
shoes should touch the pavement, we were followed by a crowd of
attendants who for the moment overcame their repugnance to our faith in
expectation of our backsheesh. The interior view is impressive by reason
of the elegant minarets and the fine colonnaded open court. Upon one of
the minarets Jesus will descend when he comes to judge the world. The
spacious mosque, occupying one side of the court, and open on that side
to its roof, is divided in its length by two rows of Corinthian columns,
and has a certain cheerfulness and hospitality. The tesselated marble
pavement of the interior is much worn, and is nearly all covered with
carpets of Persia and of Smyrna. The only tomb in the mosque is that of
St. John the Baptist, which is draped in a richly embroidered cloth.

We were anew impressed by the home-like, democratic character of the
great mosques. This, opening by its four gates into the busiest bazaars,
as we said, is much frequented at all hours. At the seasons of prayer
you may see great numbers prostrating themselves in devotion, and at all
other times this cool retreat is a refuge for the poor and the weary.
The fountains of running water in the court attract people,—those who
desire only to sit there and rest, as well as those who wash and pray.
About the fountains and in the mosque were seated groups of women,
eating their noonday bread, or resting in that dumb attitude under which
Eastern women disguise their discontent or their intrigues. This is, at
any rate, a haven of rest for all, and it is a goodly sight to see all
classes, rich and poor, flocking in here, leaving their shoes at the
door or carrying them in their hands.

The view from the minaret which we ascended is peculiar. On the horizon
we saw the tops of hills and mountains, snowy Hermon among them. Far
over the plain we could not look, for the city is beset by a thicket of
slender trees, which were just then in fresh leafage. Withdrawing our
gaze from the environs, we looked down upon the wide-spread oval-shaped
city. Most conspicuous were the minarets, then a few domes, and then
thousands of dome-shaped roofs. You see the top of a covered city,
but not the city. In fact, it scarcely looks like a city; you see no
streets, and few roofs proper, for we have to look twice to convince
ourselves that the flat spaces covered with earth and often green
with vegetation (gardens in the air) are actually roofs of houses. The
streets are either roofed over or are so narrow that we cannot see them
from this height. Damascus is a sort of rabbit-burrow.

Not far from the Great Mosque is the tomb of Saladin. We looked from the
street through a grated window, to the bars of which the faithful have
tied innumerable rags and strings (pious offerings, which it is supposed
will bring them good luck) into a painted enclosure, and saw a large
catafalque, or sarcophagus; covered with a green mantle. The tomb is
near a mosque, and beside a busy cotton-bazaar; it is in the midst of
traffic and travel, among activities and the full rush of life,—just
where a man would like to be buried in order to be kept in remembrance.

In going about the streets we notice the prevalence of color in portals,
in the interior courts of houses, and in the baths; there is a fondness
for decorating with broad gay stripes of red, yellow, and white. Even
the white pet sheep which are led about by children have their wool
stained with dabs of brilliant color,—perhaps in honor of the Greek

The baths of Damascus are many and very good, not so severe and violent
as those of New York, nor so thorough as those of Cairo, but, the best
of them, clean and agreeable. We push aside a gay curtain from the
street and descend by steps into a square apartment. It has a dome like
a mosque. Under the dome is a large marble basin into which water is
running; the floor is tesselated with colored marbles. Each side is a
recess with a halfdome, and in the recesses are elevated divans piled
with cushions for reclining. The walls are painted in stripes of blue,
yellow, and red, and the room is bright with various Oriental stuffs.
There are turbaned and silken-attired attendants, whose gentle faces
might make them mistaken for ministers of religion as well as of
cleanliness, and upon the divans recline those who have come from the
bath, enjoying kief, with pipes and coffee. There is an atmosphere of
perfect contentment in the place, and I can imagine how an effeminate
ruler might see, almost without a sigh, the empire of the world slip
from his grasp while he surrendered himself to this delicious influence.

We undressed, were towelled, shod with wooden clogs, and led through
marble paved passages and several rooms into an inner, long chamber,
which has a domed roof pierced by bulls’-eyes of party-colored glass.
The floor, of colored marbles, was slippery with water running from the
overflowing fountains, or dashed about by the attendants. Out of this
room open several smaller chambers, into which an unsocial person might
retire. We sat down on the floor by a marble basin into which both hot
and cold water poured. After a little time spent in contemplating the
humidity of the world, and reflecting on the equality of all men before
the law without clothes, an attendant approached, and began to deluge us
with buckets of hot water, dashing them over us with a jocular enjoyment
and as much indifference to our personality as if we had been statues. I
should like to know how life looks to a man who passes his days in
this dimly illumined chamber of steam, and is permitted to treat his
fellow-men with every mark of disrespect. When we were sufficiently
drenched, the agile Arab who had selected me as his mine of backsheesh,
knelt down and began to scrub me with hair mittens, with a great show of
energy, uttering jocose exclamations in his own language, and practising
the half-dozen English words he had mastered, one of them being
“dam,” which he addressed to me both affirmatively and
interrogatively, as if under the impression that it conveyed the same
meaning as tyeb in his vocabulary. I suppose he had often heard wicked
Englishmen, who were under his hands, use it, and he took it for an
expression of profound satisfaction. He continued this operation for
some time, putting me in a sitting position, turning me over, telling me
to “sleep” when he desired me to lie down, encouraging me by various
barbarous cries, and slapping his hand from time to time to make up by
noise for his economical expenditure of muscular force.

After my hilarious bather had finished this process, he lathered me
thoroughly, drenched me from head to heels in suds, and then let me put
the crowning touch to my happiness by entering one of the little rooms,
and sliding into a tank of water hot enough to take the skin off. It is
easy enough to make all this process read like a martyrdom, but it is,
on the contrary, so delightful that you do not wonder that the ancients
spent so much time in the bath, and that next to the amphitheatre the
emperors and tyrants lavished most money upon these establishments, of
which the people were so extravagantly fond.

Fresh towels were wound round us, turbans were put on our heads, and we
were led back to the room first entered, where we were re-enveloped in
cloths and towels, and left to recline upon the cushioned divans; pipes
and coffee were brought, and we enjoyed a delicious sense of repose
and bodily lightness, looking dimly at the grave figures about us, and
recognizing in them not men but dreamy images of a physical paradise. No
rude voices or sharp movements broke the repose of the chamber. It was
as in a dream that I watched a handsome boy, who, with a long pole, was
handling the washed towels, and admired the unerring skill that tossed
the strips of cloth high in the air and caused them to catch and hang
squarely upon the cords stretched across the recesses. The mind was
equal to the observation, but not to the comprehension, of this feat.
When we were sufficiently cooled, we were assisted to dress, the various
articles of Frank apparel affording great amusement to the Orientals.
The charge for the whole entertainment was two francs each, probably
about four times what a native would have paid.


DAY after day we continued, like the mourners, to go about the streets,
in the tangle of the bazaars, under the dark roofs, endeavoring to see
Damascus. When we emerged from the city gate, the view was not much
less limited. I made the circuit of the wall on the north, in lanes, by
running streams, canals, enclosed gardens, seeing everywhere hundreds
of patient, summer-loving men and women squatting on the brink of every
rivulet, by every damp spot, in idle and perfect repose.

We stumbled about also on the south side of the town, and saw the
reputed place of St. Paul’s escape, which has been lately changed.
It is a ruined Saracenic tower in the wall, under which is Bab Kisan,
a gate that has been walled up for seven hundred years. The window does
not any more exist from which the apostle was let down in a basket, but
it used to be pointed out with confidence, and I am told that the basket
is still shown, but we did not see it. There are still some houses on
this south wall, and a few of them have projecting windows from which a
person might easily be lowered. It was in such a house that the harlot
of Jericho lived, who contrived the escape of the spies of Joshua. And
we see how thick and substantial the town walls of that city must have
been to support human habitations. But they were blown down.

Turning southward into the country, we came to the tomb of the porter
who assisted Paul’s escape, and who now sleeps here under the weight
of the sobriquet of St. George. A little farther out on the same road is
located the spot of Said’s conversion.

Near it is the English cemetery, a small high-walled enclosure,
containing a domed building surmounted by a cross; and in this
historical spot, whose mutations of race, religion, and government would
forbid the most superficial to construct for it any cast-iron scheme
of growth or decay, amid these almost melancholy patches of vegetation
which still hover in the Oriental imagination as the gardens of all
delights, sleeps undisturbed by ambition or by criticism, having at
last, let us hope, solved the theory of “averages,” the brilliant
Henry T. Buckle.

Not far off is the Christian cemetery. “Who is buried here?” I asked
our thick-witted guide.

“O, anybody,” he replied, cheerfully, “Greeks, French, Italians,
anybody you like”; as if I could please myself by interring here any
one I chose.

Among the graves was a group of women, hair dishevelled and garments
loosened in the abandon of mourning, seated about a rough coffin open
its entire length. In it lay the body of a young man who had been
drowned, and recovered from the water after three days. The women lifted
up his dead hands, let them drop heavily, and then wailed and howled,
throwing themselves into attitudes of the most passionate grief. It
was a piteous sight, there under the open sky, in the presence of an
unsympathizing crowd of spectators.

Returning, we went round by the large Moslem cemetery, situated at the
southwest corner of the city. It is, like all Moslem burying-grounds,
a melancholy spectacle,—a mass of small whitewashed mounds of mud or
brick, with an inscribed headstone,—but here rest some of the most
famous men and women of Moslem history. Here is the grave of Ibn’
Asâker, the historian of Damascus; here rests the fierce Moawyeh, the
founder of the dynasty of the Omeiyades; and here are buried three of
the wives of Mohammed, and Fatimeh, his granddaughter, the child of
Ali, whose place of sepulture no man knows. Upon nearly every tomb is a
hollow for water, and in it is a sprig of myrtle, which is renewed every
Friday by the women who come here to mourn and to gossip.

Much of the traveller’s time, and perhaps the most enjoyable part of
it, in Damascus, is spent in the bazaars, cheapening scarfs and rugs and
the various silken products of Syrian and Persian looms, picking over
dishes of antique coins, taking impressions of intaglios, hunting for
curious amulets, and searching for the quaintest and most brilliant
Saracenic tiles. The quest of the antique is always exciting, and the
inexperienced is ever hopeful that he will find a gem of value in a heap
of rubbish; this hope never abandons the most blase tourist, though
in time he comes to understand that the sharp-nosed Jew, or the oily
Armenian, or the respectable Turk, who spreads his delusive wares
before him, knows quite as well as the Seeker the value of any bit
of antiquity, not only in Damascus, but in Constantinople, Paris, and
London, and is an adept in all the counterfeits and impositions of the

The bazaars of the antique, of old armor, ancient brasses, and of
curiosities generally, and even of the silver and gold smiths, are
disappointing after Cairo; they are generally full of rubbish from
which the choice things seem to have been culled; indeed, the rage for
antiquities is now so great that sharp buyers from Europe range all the
Orient and leave little for the innocent and hopeful tourist, who is
aghast at the prices demanded, and usually finds himself a victim of his
own cleverness when he pays for any article only a fourth of the price
at first asked.

The silk bazaars of Damascus still preserve, however, a sort of
pre-eminence of opportunity, although they are largely supplied by the
fabrics manufactured at Beyrout and in other Syrian towns. Certainly no
place is more tempting than one of the silk khans,—gloomy old courts,
in the galleries of which you find little apartments stuffed full of the
seductions of Eastern looms. For myself, I confess to the fascination of
those stuffs of brilliant dyes, shot with threads of gold and of silver.
I know a tall, oily-tongued Armenian, who has a little chamber full of
shelves, from which he takes down one rich scarf after another, unfolds
it, shakes out its shining hues, and throws it on the heap, until
the room is littered with gorgeous stuffs. He himself is clad in silk
attire, he is tall, suave, insinuating, grave, and overwhelmingly
condescending. I can see him now, when I question the value put upon
a certain article which I hold in my hand and no doubt betray my
admiration of in my eyes,—I can see him now throw back his head, half
close his Eastern eyes, and exclaim, as if he had hot pudding in his
mouth, “Thot is ther larster price.”

I can see Abd-el-Atti now, when we had made up a package of scarfs, and
offered a certain sum for the lot, which the sleek and polite trader
refused, with his eternal, “Thot is ther larster price,” sling the
articles about the room, and depart in rage. And I can see the Armenian
bow us into the corridor with the same sweet courtesy, knowing very
well that the trade is only just begun; that it is, in fact, under good
headway; that the Arab will return, that he will yield a little from the
“larster price,” and that we shall go away loaded with his wares,
leaving him ruined by the transaction, but proud to be our friend.

Our experience in purchasing old Saracenic and Persian tiles is perhaps
worth relating as an illustration of the character of the traders of
Damascus. Tiles were plenty enough, for several ancient houses had
recently been torn down, and the dealers continually acquire them from
ruined mosques or those that are undergoing repairs. The dragoman found
several lots in private houses, and made a bargain for a certain number
at two francs and a half each; and when the bargain was made, I spent
half a day in selecting the specimens we desired.

The next morning, before breakfast, we went to make sure that the lots
we had bought would be at once packed and shipped. But a change had
taken place in twelve hours. There was an Englishman in town who was
also buying tiles; this produced a fever in the market; an impression
went abroad that there was a fortune to be made in tiles, and we found
that our bargain was entirely ignored. The owners supposed that the
tiles we had selected must have some special value; and they demanded
for the thirty-eight which we had chosen—agreeing to pay for them two
francs and a half apiece—thirty pounds. In the house where we had
laid aside seventy-three others at the same price, not a tile was to be
discovered; the old woman who showed us the vacant chamber said she knew
not what had become of them, but she believed they had been sold to an

We returned to the house first mentioned, resolved to devote the day if
necessary to the extraction of the desired tiles from the grip of their
owners. The contest began about eight o’clock in the morning; it was
not finished till three in the afternoon, and it was maintained on our
side with some disadvantage, the only nutriment that sustained us being
a cup of tea which we drank very early in the morning. The scene of the
bargain was the paved court of the house, in which there was a fountain
and a lemon-tree, and some rose-trees trained on espaliers along the
walls. The tempting enamelled tiles were piled up at one side of the
court and spread out in rows in the lewân,—the open recess
where guests are usually received. The owners were two Greeks,
brothers-in-law, polite, cunning, sharp, the one inflexible, the other
yielding,—a combination against which it is almost impossible to trade
with safety, for the yielding one constantly allures you into the
grip of the inflexible. The women of the establishment, comely Greeks,
clattered about the court on their high wooden pattens for a time, and
at length settled down, in an adjoining apartment, to their regular work
of embroidering silken purses and tobacco-pouches, taking time, however,
for an occasional cigarette or a pull at a narghileh, and, in a constant
chatter, keeping a lively eye upon the trade going on in the court. The
handsome children added not a little to the liveliness of the scene, and
their pranks served to soften the asperities of the encounter; although
I could not discover, after repeated experiments, that any affection
lavished upon the children lowered the price of the tiles. The Greek
does not let sentiment interfere with business, and he is much more
difficult to deal with than an Arab, who occasionally has impulses.

Each tile was the subject of a separate bargain and conflict. The dicker
went on in Arabic, Greek, broken English, and dislocated French, and was
participated in not only by the parties most concerned, but by the
young Greek guide and by the donkey-boys. Abd-el-Atti exhibited all the
qualities of his generalship. He was humorous, engaging, astonished,
indignant, serious, playful, threatening, indifferent. Beaten on one
grouping of specimens, he made instantly a new combination; more than
once the transaction was abruptly broken off in mutual rage, obstinacy,
and recriminations; and it was set going again by a timely jocularity or
a seeming concession. I can see now the soft Greek take up a tile which
had painted on it some quaint figure or some lovely flower, dip it in
the fountain to bring out its brilliant color, and then put it in the
sun for our admiration; and I can see the dragoman shake his head in
slow depreciation, and push it one side, when that tile was the one we
had resolved to possess of all others, and was the undeclared centre of
contest in all the combinations for an hour thereafter.

When the day was two thirds spent we had purchased one hundred tiles,
jealously watched the packing of each one, and seen the boxes nailed
and corded. We could not have been more exhausted if we had undergone
an examination for a doctorate of law in a German university. Two boxes,
weighing two hundred pounds each, were hoisted upon the backs of mules
and sent to the French company’s station; there does not appear to
be a dray or a burden-cart in Damascus; all freight is carried upon the
back of a mule or a horse, even long logs and whole trunks of trees.

When this transaction was finished, our Greek guide, who had heard me
ask the master of the house for brass trays, told me that a fellow whom
I had noticed hanging about there all the morning had some trays to show
me; in fact, he had at his house “seventeen trays.” I thought this a
rich find, for the beautiful antique brasses of Persia are becoming rare
even in Damascus; and, tired as we were, we rode across the city for a
mile to a secluded private house, and were shown into an upper
chamber. What was our surprise to find spread out there the same
“seventy-three” tiles that we had purchased the day before, and
which had been whisked away from us. By “seventeen tray,” the guide
meant “seventy-three.” We told the honest owner that he was too
late; we had already tiles enough to cover his tomb.


THE private houses of Damascus are a theme of wonder and admiration
throughout the Orient. In a land in which a moist spot is called a
garden, and a canal bordered by willows a Paradise, the fancy constructs
a palace of the utmost splendor and luxury out of materials which in a
less glowing country would scarcely satisfy moderate notions of comfort
or of ostentation.

But the East is a region of contrasts as well as of luxury, and it is
difficult to say how much of their reputation the celebrated mansions of
Damascus owe to the wretchedness of the ordinary dwellings, and also to
the raggedness of their surroundings. We spent a day in visiting several
of the richest dwellings, and steeping ourselves in the dazzling luxury
they offer.

The exterior of a private house gives no idea of its interior. Sometimes
its plain mud-wall has a solid handsome street-door, and if it is very
old, perhaps a rich Saracenic portal; but usually you slip from the
gutter, lined with mud-walls, called a street, into an alley, crooked,
probably dirty, pass through a stable-yard and enter a small court,
which may be cheered by a tree and a basin of water. Thence you
wind through a narrow passage into a large court, a parallelogram of
tesselated marble, having a fountain in the centre and about it orange
and lemon trees, and roses and vines. The house, two stories high,
is built about this court, upon which all the rooms open without
communicating with each other. Perhaps the building is of marble, and
carved, or it may be highly ornamented with stucco, and painted in gay
colors. If the establishment belongs to a Moslem, it will have beyond
this court a second, larger and finer, with more fountains, trees, and
flowers, and a house more highly decorated. This is the harem, and the
way to it is a crooked alley, so that by no chance can the slaves or
visitors of the master get a glimpse into the apartments of the women.
The first house we visited was of this kind; all the portion the
gentlemen of the party were admitted into was in a state of shabby
decay; its court in disrepair, its rooms void of comfort,—a condition
of things to which we had become well accustomed in everything
Moslem. But the ladies found the court of the harem beautiful, and
its apartments old and very rich in wood-carving and in arabesques,
something like the best old Saracenic houses in Cairo.

The houses of the rich Jews which we saw are built like those of the
Moslems, about a paved court with a fountain, but totally different in
architecture and decoration.

In speaking of a fountain, in or about Damascus, I always mean a basin
into which water is discharged from a spout. If there are any jets or
upspringing fountains, I was not so fortunate as to see them.

In passing through the streets of the Jews’ quarter we encountered at
every step beautiful children, not always clean Sunday-school children,
but ravishingly lovely, the handsomest, as to exquisite complexions,
grace of features, and beauty of eyes, that I have ever seen. And
looking out from the open windows of the balconies which hang over the
street were lovely Jewish women, the mothers of the beautiful children,
and the maidens to whom the humble Christian is grateful that they tire
themselves and look out of windows now as they did in the days of the

At the first Jewish house we entered, we were received by the entire
family, old and young, newly married, betrothed, cousins, uncles, and
maiden aunts. They were evidently expecting company about these days,
and not at all averse to exhibiting their gorgeous house and their
rich apparel. Three dumpy, middle-aged women, who would pass for ugly
anywhere, welcomed us at first in the raised recess, or lewân, at
one end of the court; we were seated upon the divans, while the women
squatted upon cushions. Then the rest of the family began to appear.
There were the handsome owner of the house, his younger brother just
married, and the wife of the latter, a tall and pretty woman of the
strictly wax-doll order of beauty, with large, swimming eyes. She wore
a short-waisted gown of blue silk, and diamonds, and, strange to say, a
dark wig; it is the fashion at marriage to shave the head and put on
a wig, a most disenchanting performance for a bride. The numerous
children, very pretty and sweet-mannered, came forward and kissed our
hands. The little girls were attired in white short-waisted dresses, and
all, except the very smallest, wore diamonds. One was a bride of twelve
years, whose marriage was to be concluded the next year. She wore an
orange-wreath, her high corsage of white silk sparkled with diamonds,
and she was sweet and engaging in manner, and spoke French prettily.

The girls evidently had on the family diamonds, and I could imagine that
the bazaar of Moses in the city had been stripped to make a holiday for
his daughters. Surely, we never saw such a display out of the Sultan’s
treasure-chamber. The head-dress of one of the cousins of the family,
who was recently married, was a pretty hat, the coronal front of which
was a mass of diamonds. We saw this same style of dress in other houses
afterwards, and were permitted to admire other young women who were
literally plastered with these precious stones, in wreaths on the head,
in brooches and necklaces,—masses of dazzling diamonds, which after
a time came to have no more value in our eyes than glass, so common
and cheap did they seem. If a wicked person could persuade one of these
dazzling creatures to elope with him, he would be in possession of
treasure enough to found a college for the conversion of the Jews.
I could not but be struck with the resemblance of one of the plump,
glowing-cheeked young girls, who was set before us for worship, clad in
white silk and inestimable jewels, to the images of the Madonna, decked
with equal affection and lavish wealth, which one sees in the Italian

All the women and children of the family walked about upon wooden
pattens, ingeniously inlaid with ivory or pearl, the two supports of
which raise them about three inches from the ground.

They are confined to the foot by a strap across the ball, but being
otherwise loose, they clatter at every step; of course, graceful walking
on these little stilts is impossible, and the women go about like hens
whose toes have been frozen off. When they step up into the lewân, they
leave their pattens on the marble floor, and sit in their stocking-feet.
Our conversation with this hospitable collection of relations consisted
chiefly in inquiries about their connection with each other, and an
effort on their part to understand our relationship, and to know why we
had not brought our entire families. They were also extremely curious to
know about our houses in America, chiefly, it would seem, to enforce the
contrast between our plainness and their luxury. When we had been
served with coffee and cigarettes, they all rose and showed us about the

The first one, the salon, will give an idea of the others. It was a
lofty, but not large room, with a highly painted ceiling, and consisted
of two parts; the first, level with the court and paved with marble, had
a marble basin in the centre supported on carved lions; the other two
thirds of the apartment was raised about a foot, carpeted, and furnished
with chairs of wood, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, stiffly set against
the walls. The chairs were not comfortable to sit in, and they were the
sole furniture. The wainscoting was of marble, in screen-work, and most
elaborately carved. High up, near the ceiling, were windows, double
windows in fact, with a space between like a gallery, so that the
lacelike screen-work was exhibited to the utmost advantage. There was
much gilding and color on the marble, and the whole was costly and
gaudy. The sleeping-rooms, in the second story, were also handsome in
this style, but they were literally all windows, on all sides; the space
between the windows was never more than three or four inches. They are
admirable for light and air, but to enter them is almost like stepping
out of doors. They are all en suite, so that it would seem that the
family must retire simultaneously, exchanging the comparative privacy of
the isolated rooms below for the community of these glass apartments.

The salons that we saw in other houses were of the same general style
of the first; some had marble niches in the walls, the arch of which was
supported by slender marble columns, and these recesses, as well as the
walls, were decorated with painting, usually landscapes and cities. The
painting gives you a perfectly accurate idea of the condition of art in
the Orient; it was not only pre-Raphaelite, it was pre-Adamite, worse
than Byzantine, and not so good as Chinese. Money had been freely
lavished in these dwellings, and whatever the Eastern chisel or brush
could do to enrich and ornament them had been done. I was much pleased
by the picture of a city,—it may have been Damascus—freely done upon
the wall. The artist had dotted the plaster with such houses as children
are accustomed to make on a slate, arranging some of them in rows,
and inserting here and there a minaret and a dome. There was not the
slightest attempt at shading or perspective. Yet the owners contemplated
the result with visible satisfaction, and took a simple and undisguised
pleasure in our admiration of the work of art.

“Alas,” I said to the delighted Jew connoisseur who had paid for
this picture, “we have nothing like that in our houses in America, not
even in the Capitol at Washington!”

“But your country is new,” he replied with amiable consideration;
“you will have of it one day.”

In none of these veneered and stuccoed palaces did we find any comfort;
everywhere a profuse expenditure of money in Italian marble, in carving,
in gilding, and glaring color, but no taste, except in some of the
wood-work, cut in Arabesque, and inlaid—a reminiscence of the almost
extinct Saracenic grace and invention. And the construction of all the
buildings and the ornamentation were shabby and cheap in appearance, in
spite of the rich materials; the marbles in the pavement or the walls
were badly joined and raggedly cemented, and by the side of the most
costly work was sure to be something mean and frail.

We supposed at first that we ought to feel a little delicacy about
intruding our bare-faced curiosity into private houses,—perhaps an
unpardonable feeling in a traveller who has been long enough in the
Orient to lose the bloom of Occidental modesty. But we need not have
feared. Our hosts were only too glad that we should see their state
and luxury. There was something almost comical in these Jewish women
arraying themselves in their finest gowns, and loading themselves with
diamonds, so early in the day (for they were ready to receive us at ten
o’clock), and in their naïve enjoyment of our admiration. Surely we
ought not to have thought that comical which was so kindly intended.
I could not but wonder, however, what resource for the rest of the
day could remain to a woman who had begun it by dressing in all her
ornaments, by crowning herself with coronets and sprays of diamonds,
by hanging her neck and arms with glittering gems, as if she had been
a statue set up for idolatry. After this supreme effort of the sex, the
remainder of the day must be intolerably flat. For I think one of the
pleasures of life must be the gradual transformation, the blooming from
the chrysalis of elegant morning déshabille into the perfect flower of
the evening toilet.

These princesses of Turkish diamonds all wore dresses with the classic
short waist, which is the most womanly and becoming, and perhaps their
apparel imparted a graciousness to their manner. We were everywhere
cordially received, and usually offered coffee, or sherbet and

H. H. the Emir Abd-el-Kader lives in a house suitable to a wealthy
Moslem who has a harem. The old chieftain had expressed his willingness
to receive us, and N. Meshaka, the American consular agent, sent his
kawass to accompany us to his residence at the appointed hour. The old
gentleman met us at the door of his reception-room, which is at one end
of the fountained court. He wore the plain Arab costume, with a white
turban. I had heard so much of the striking, venerable, and even
magnificent appearance of this formidable desert hero, that I
experienced a little disappointment in the reality, and learned anew
that the hero should be seen in action, or through the lenses of
imaginative description which can clothe the body with all the
attributes of the soul. The demigods so seldom come up to their
reputation! Abd-el-Kader may have appeared a gigantic man when on
horseback in the smoke and whirl of an Algerine combat; but he is a man
of medium size and scarcely medium height; his head, if not large, is
finely shaped and intellectual, and his face is open and pleasing. He
wore a beard, trimmed, which I suspect ought to be white, but which
was black, and I fear dyed. You would judge him to be, at least,
seventy-five, and his age begins to show by a little pallor, by a
visible want of bodily force, and by a lack of lustre in those once
fiery and untamable eyes.

His manner was very gracious, and had a simple dignity, nor did our
interview mainly consist in the usual strained compliments of such
occasions. In reply to a question, he said that he had lived over twenty
years in Damascus, but it was evident that his long exile had not dulled
his interest in the progress of the world, and that he watched with
intense feeling all movements of peoples in the direction of freedom.
There is no such teacher of democracy as misfortune, but I fancy that
Abd-el-Kader sincerely desires for others the liberty he covets for
himself. He certainly has the courage of his opinions; while he is a
very strict Moslem, he is neither bigoted nor intolerant, as he showed
by his conduct during the massacre of the Christians here, in 1860. His
face lighted up with pleasure when I told him that Americans remembered
with much gratitude his interference in behalf of the Christians at that

The talk drifting to the state of France and Italy, he expressed his
full sympathy with the liberal movement of the Italian government, but
as to France he had no hope of a republic at present, he did not think
the people capable of it.

“But America,” he said with sudden enthusiasm, “that is the
country, in all the world that is the only country, that is the land of
real freedom. I hope,” he added, “that you will have no more trouble
among yourselves.”

We asked him what he thought of the probability of another outburst
of the Druses, which was getting to be so loudly whispered. Nobody, he
said, could tell what the Druses were thinking or doing; he had no doubt
that in the former rising and massacre they were abetted by the Turkish
government. This led him to speak of the condition of Syria; the people
were fearfully ground down, and oppressed with taxation and exactions of
all sorts; in comparison he did not think Egypt was any better off, but
much the same.

In all our conversation we were greatly impressed by the calm and
comprehensive views of the old hero, his philosophical temper, and
his serenity; although it was easy to see that he chafed under the
banishment which kept so eager a soul from participation in the
great movements which he weighed so well and so longed to aid. When
refreshments had been served, we took our leave; but the emir insisted
upon accompanying us through the court and the dirty alleys, even to the
public street where our donkeys awaited us, and bade us farewell with a
profusion of Oriental salutations.


IT is to be regretted that some one has not the leisure and the genius
for it would require both—to study and to sketch the more peculiar of
the travellers who journey during a season in the Orient, to photograph
their impressions, and to unravel the motives that have set them
wandering. There was at our hotel a countryman whose observations on
the East pleased me mightily. I inferred, correctly, from his slow
and deliberate manner of speech, that he was from the great West. A
gentleman spare in figure and sallow in complexion, you might have
mistaken him for a “member” from Tennessee or Illinois. What
you specially admired in him was his entire sincerity, and his
imperviousness to all the glamour, historical or romantic, which
interested parties, like poets and historians, have sought to throw over
the Orient. A heap of refuse in the street or an improvident dependant
on Allah, in rags, was just as offensive to him in Damascus as it would
be in Big Lickopolis. He carried his scales with him; he put into
one balance his county-seat and into the other the entire Eastern
civilization, and the Orient kicked the beam,—and it was with a
mighty, though secret joy that you saw it.

It was not indeed for his own pleasure that he had left the familiar
cronies of his own town and come into foreign and uncomfortable
parts; you could see that he would much prefer to be again among the
“directors” and “stockholders” and operators, exchanging the dry
chips of gossip about stocks and rates; but, being a man of “means,”
he had yielded to the imperious pressure of our modern society which,
insists on travel, and to the natural desire of his family to see the
world. Europe had not pleased him, although it was interesting for an
old country, and there were a few places, the Grand Hotel in Paris for
instance, where one feels a little at home. Buildings, cathedrals? Yes,
some of them were very fine, but there was nothing in Europe to equal or
approach the Capitol in Washington. And galleries; my wife likes them,
and my daughter,—I suppose I have walked through miles and miles of
them. It may have been in the nature of a confidential confession,
that he was dragged into the East, though he made no concealment of his
repugnance to being here. But when he had crossed the Mediterranean,
Europe had attractions for him which he had never imagined while he was
in it. If he had been left to himself he would have fled back from Cairo
as if it were infested with plague; he had gone no farther up the Nile;
that miserable hole, Cairo, was sufficient for him.

“They talk,” he was saying, speaking with that deliberate pause and
emphasis upon every word which characterizes the conversation of his
section of the country,—“they talk about the climate of Egypt; it is
all a humbug. Cairo is the most disagreeable city in the world, no
sun, nothing but dust and wind. I give you my word that we had only one
pleasant day in a week; cold,—you can’t get warm in the hotel; the
only decent day we had in Egypt was at Suez. Fruit? What do you get?
Some pretend to like those dry dates. The oranges are so sour you
can’t eat them, except the Jaffa, which are all peel. Yes, the
pyramids are big piles of stone, but when you come to architecture, what
is there in Cairo to compare to the Tuileries? The mosque of Mohammed
Ali is a fine building; it suits me better than the mosque at Jerusalem.
But what a city to live in!”

The farther our friend journeyed in the Orient, the deeper became his
disgust. It was extreme in Jerusalem; but it had a pathetic tone of
resignation in Damascus; hope was dead within him. The day after we had
visited the private houses, some one asked him at table if he was not
pleased with Damascus.

“Damascus!” he repeated, “Damascus is the most God-forsaken place
I have ever been in. There is nothing to eat, and nothing to see. I had
heard about the bazaars of Damascus; my daughter must see the bazaars of
Damascus. There is nothing in them; I have been from one end of them to
the other,—it is a mess of rubbish. I suppose you were hauled through
what they call the private houses? There is a good deal of marble and
a good deal of show, but there is n’t a house in Damascus that a
respectable American would live in; there is n’t one he could be
comfortable in. The old mosque is an interesting place: I like the
mosque, and I have been there a couple of times, and should n’t mind
going again; but I’ve had enough of Damascus, I don’t intend to go
out doors again until my family are ready to leave.”

All these intense dislikes of the Western observer were warmly combated
by the ladies present, who found Damascus almost a paradise, and were
glowing with enthusiasm over every place and incident of their journey.
Having delivered his opinion, our friend let the conversation run
on without interference, as it ranged all over Palestine. He sat in
silence, as if he were patiently enduring anew the martyrdom of his
pleasure-trip, until at length, obeying a seeming necessity of relieving
his feelings, he leaned forward and addressed the lady next but one to
him, measuring every word with judicial slowness,—

“Madame—I—hate—the—name—of Palestine—and
Judæa—and—the Jordan—and—Damascus—and—Jeru-salem.”

It is always refreshing in travel to meet a candid man who is not
hindered by any weight of historic consciousness from expressing his
opinions; and without exactly knowing why I felt under great obligations
to this gentleman,—for gentleman he certainly was, even to an
old-fashioned courtesy that shamed the best breeding of the Arabs. And
after this wholesale sweep of the Oriental board, I experienced a new
pleasure in going about and picking up the fragments of romance and
sentiment that one might still admire.

There was another pilgrim at Damascus to whom Palestine was larger than
all the world besides, and who magnified its relation to the rest of
the earth as much as our more widely travelled friend belittled it. In
a waste but damp spot outside the Bab-el-Hadid an incongruous Cook’s
Party had pitched its tents,—a camp which swarmed during the day with
itinerant merchants and beggars, and at night was the favorite resort
of the most dissolute dogs of Damascus. In knowing this party one had an
opportunity to observe the various motives that bring people to the Holy
Land; there were a divinity student, a college professor, a well-known
publisher, some indomitable English ladies, some London cockneys, and
a group of young men who made a lark of the pilgrimage, and saw no
more significance in the tour than in a jaunt to the Derby or a sail to
Margate. I was told that the guide-book most read and disputed over by
this party was the graphic itinerary of Mark Twain. The pilgrim to whom
I refer, however, scarcely needed any guide in the Holy Land. He was,
by his own representation, an illiterate shoemaker from the South of
England; of schooling he had never enjoyed a day, nor of education,
except such as sprung from his “conversion,” which happened in his
twentieth year. At that age he joined the “Primitive Methodists,”
and became, without abandoning his bench, an occasional exhorter and
field-preacher; his study, to which he gave every moment not demanded by
his trade, was the Bible. To exhorting he added the labor on Sunday of
teaching, and for nearly forty years, without interruption, he had taken
charge of a Sunday-school class. He was very poor, and the incessant
labor of six days in the week hardly sufficed to the support of himself
and his wife, and the family that began to fill his humble lodging.
Nevertheless, at the very time of his conversion he was seized with
an intense longing to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This desire
strengthened the more he read the Bible and became interested in
the scenes of its prophecies and miracles. He resolved to go; yet to
undertake so expensive a journey at the time was impossible, nor could
his family spare his daily labor. But, early in his married life, he
came to a notable resolution, and that was to lay by something every
year, no matter how insignificant the sum, as a fund for his pilgrimage.
And he trusted if his life were spared long enough he should be able to
see with his own eyes the Promised Land; if that might be granted him,
his object in life would be attained, and he should be willing to depart
in peace.

Filled with this sole idea he labored at his trade without relaxation,
and gave his Sundays and evenings to a most diligent study of the Bible;
and at length extended his reading to other books, commentaries and
travels, which bore upon his favorite object. Years passed by; his
Palestine fund accumulated more slowly than his information about that
land, but he was never discouraged; he lost at one time a considerable
sum by misplaced confidence in a comrade, but, nothing disheartened, he
set to work to hammer out what would replace it. Of course such
industry and singleness of purpose were not without result; his business
prospered and his fund increased; but with his success new duties
opened; his children must be educated, for he was determined that they
should have a better chance in England than their father had been given.
The expenses of their education and his contributions to the maintenance
of the worship of his society interfered sadly with his pilgrimage, and
more than thirty years passed before he saw himself in possession of
the sum that he could spare for the purchase of a Cook’s ticket to the
Holy Land. It was with pardonable pride that he told this story of his
life, and added that his business of shoemaking was now prosperous, that
he had now a shop of his own and men working under him, and that one
of his sons, who would have as good an education as any nobleman in the
kingdom, was a student at the college in London.

Of all the party with whom he travelled no one knew the Bible, so well
as this shoemaker; he did not need to read it as they explored the
historical places, he quoted chapter after chapter of it, without
hesitation or consciousness of any great achievement, and he knew almost
as well the books of travel that relate to the country. Familiarity with
the English of the Bible had not, however, caused him to abandon his
primitive speech, and he did not show his respect for the sacred book
by adopting its grammatical forms. Such phrases as, “It does I good
to see he eat,” in respect to a convalescent comrade, exhibited this
peculiarity. Indeed, he preserved his independence, and vindicated
the reputation of his craft the world over for a certain obstinacy of
opinion, if not philosophic habit of mind, which pounding upon leather
seems to promote. He surprised his comrades by a liberality of view and
an absence of narrowness which were scarcely to be expected in a man of
one idea. I was pained to think that the reality of the Holy Land might
a little impair the celestial vision he had cherished of it for forty
years; but perhaps it will be only a temporary obscuration; for the
imagination is stronger than the memory, as we see so often illustrated
in the writings of Oriental travellers; and I have no doubt that now
he is again seated on his bench, the kingdoms he beholds are those of
Israel and Judah, and not those that Mr. Cook showed him for an hundred

We should, perhaps, add, that our shoemaker cared for no part of the
Orient except Palestine, and for no history except that in the Bible.
He told me that he was forwarded from London to Rome, on his way to join
Cook’s Pilgrims at Cairo, in the company of a party of Select Baptists
(so they were styled in the prospectus of their journey), and
that, unexpectedly to himself (for he was a man who could surmount
prejudices), he found them very good fellows; but that he was obliged
to spend a whole day in Rome greatly against his will; it was an old and
dilapidated city, and he did n’t see why so much fuss was made over
it. Egypt did not more appeal to his fancy; I think he rather loathed
it, both its past and its present, as the seat of a vain heathenism. For
ruins or antiquities not mentioned in the Bible he cared nothing, for
profane architecture still less; Palestine was his goal, and I doubt if
since the first crusade any pilgrim has trod the streets of Jerusalem
with such fervor of enthusiasm as this illiterate, Bible-grounded, and
spiritual-minded shoemaker.

We rode one afternoon up through the suburb of Salahiyeh to the
sheykh’s tomb on the naked hill north of the city, and down along the
scarred side of it into the Abana gorge. This much-vaunted ride is most
of the way between mud-walls so high that you have a sight of nothing
but the sky and the tops of trees, and an occasional peep, through
chinks in a rickety gate, into a damp and neglected garden, or a ragged
field of grain under trees. But the view from the heights over the vast
plain of Damascus, with the city embowered in its green, is superb, both
for extent and color, and quite excuses the enthusiasm expended on this
perennial city of waters. We had occasional glimpses of the Abana
after it leaves the city, and we could trace afar off the course of the
Pharpar by its winding ribbon of green. The view was best long before
we reached the summit, at the cemetery and the ruined mosque, when the
minarets showed against the green beyond. A city needs to be seen from
some distance, and from not too high an elevation; looking directly down
upon it is always uninteresting.

Somewhere in the side of the mountain, to the right of our course,
one of the Moslem legends has located the cave of the Seven Sleepers.
Knowing that the cave is really at Ephesus, we did not care to
anticipate it.

The skeykh’s tomb is simply a stucco dome on the ridge, and exposed
to the draft of air from a valley behind it. The wind blew with such
violence that we could scarcely stand there, and we made all our
observations with great discomfort. What we saw was the city of
Damascus, shaped like an oval dish with a long handle; the handle is the
suburb on the street running from the Gate of God that sees the annual
procession of pilgrims depart for Mecca. Many brown villages dot the
emerald,—there are said to be forty in the whole plain. Towards the
east we saw the desert and the gray sand fading into the gray sky of the
horizon. That way lies Palmyra; by that route goes the dromedary post to
Bagdad. I should like to send a letter by it.

The view of the Abana gorge from the height before we descended was
unique. The narrow pass is filled with trees; but through them we could
see the white French road, and the Abana divided into five streams,
carried at different levels along the sides, in order to convey water
widely over the plain. Along the meadow road, as we trotted towards the
city, as, indeed, everywhere about the city at this season, we found the
ground marshy and vivacious with frogs.

The street called Straight runs the length of the city from east to
west, and is straight in its general intention, although it appears to
have been laid out by a donkey, whose attention was constantly diverted
to one side or the other. It is a totally uninteresting lane. There is
no reason, however, to suppose that St. Paul intended to be facetious
when he spoke of it. In his day it was a magnificent straight avenue,
one hundred feet wide; and two rows of Corinthian colonnades extending a
mile from gate to gate divided it lengthwise. This was an architectural
fashion of that time; the colonnade at Palmyra, which is seen stalking
in a purposeless manner across the desert, was doubtless the ornament of
such a street.

The street life of Damascus is that panorama of the mean and the
picturesque, the sordid and the rich, of silk and rags, of many costumes
and all colors, which so astonishes the Oriental traveller at first,
but to which he speedily becomes so accustomed that it passes almost
unnoticed. The majority of the women are veiled, but not so scrupulously
as those of Cairo. Yet the more we see of the women of the East the more
convinced we are that they are exceedingly good-hearted; it is out of
consideration for the feelings of the persons they meet in the street
that they go veiled. This theory is supported by the fact that the
daughters of Bethlehem, who are all comely and many of them handsome,
never wear veils.

In lounging through the streets the whole life and traffic of the town
is exposed to you: donkeys loaded with panniers of oranges, or with
sickly watermelon cut up, stop the way (all the melons of the East that
I have tasted are flavorless); men bearing trays of sliced boiled beets
cry aloud their deliciousness as if they were some fruit of paradise;
boys and women seated on the ground, having spread before them on a
paper some sort of uninviting candy; anybody planted by the roadside;
dogs by the dozen snoozing in all the paths,—the dogs that wake at
night and make Rome howl; the various tradesmen hammering in their open
shops; the silk-weavers plying the shuttle; the makers of “sweets”
stirring the sticky compounds in their shining copper pots and pans; and
what never ceases to excite your admiration is the good-nature of the
surging crowd, the indifference to being jostled and run over by horses,
donkeys, and camels.

Damascus may be—we have abundant testimony that it is—a good city,
if, as I said, one could see it. Arriving, you dive into a hole, and
scarcely see daylight again; you never can look many yards before you;
you move in a sort of twilight, which is deepened under the heavy timber
roofs of the bazaars; winding through endless mazes of lanes with no
view except of a slender strip of sky, you occasionally may step through
an opening in the wall into a court with a square of sunshine, a tank
of water, and a tree or two. The city can be seen only from the hill or
from a minaret, and then you look only upon roofs. After a few days the
cooping up in this gorgeous Oriental paradise became oppressive.

We drove out of the city very early one morning. I was obliged to the
muezzin of the nearest minaret for awakening me at four o’clock. From
our window we can see his aerial balcony,—it almost overhangs us;
and day and night at his appointed hours we see the turbaned muezzin
circling his high pinnacle, and hear him projecting his long call to
prayer over the city roofs. When we came out at the west gate, the sun
was high enough to color Hermon and the minarets of the west side of the
city, and to gleam on the Abana. As we passed the diligence station, a
tall Nubian, an employee of the company, stood there in the attitude of
seneschal of the city; ugliness had marked him for her own, giving him
a large, damaged expanse of face, from which exuded, however, an
inexpungible good-nature; he sent us a cheerful salam aloykem,—“the
peace of God be with you”; we crossed the shaky bridge, and got away
up the swift stream at the rate of ten miles an hour.

Our last view, with the level sun coming over the roofs and spires,
and the foreground of rapid water and verdure, gave us Damascus in its
loveliest aspect.


IT was an immense relief to emerge from Damascus into Bey-rout,—into a
city open, cheerful; it was to re-enter the world. How brightly it lies
upon its sunny promontory, climbing up the slopes and crowning every
eminence with tree-embowered villas! What a varied prospect it commands
of sparkling sea and curving shore; of country broken into the most
pleasing diversity of hill and vale, woodlands and pastures; of
precipices that are draped in foliage; of glens that retain their
primitive wildness, strips of dark pine forest, groups of cypresses and
of palms, spreading mulberry orchards, and terraces draped by vines; of
villages dotting the landscape; of convents clinging to the heights, and
the snowy peaks of Lebanon! Bounteous land of silk and wine!

Beyrout is the brightest spot in Syria or Palestine, the only pleasant
city that we saw, and the centre of a moral and intellectual impulse the
importance of which we cannot overestimate. The mart of the great silk
industry of the region, and the seaport of Damascus and of all Upper
Syria, the fitful and unintelligent Turkish rule even cannot stifle
its exuberant prosperity; but above all the advantages which nature has
given it, I should attribute its brightest prospects to the influence of
the American Mission, and to the establishment of Beyrout College. For
almost thirty years that Mission has sustained here a band of erudite
scholars, whose investigations have made the world more familiar with
the physical character of Palestine than the people of Connecticut
are with the resources of their own State, and of wise managers whose
prudence and foresight have laid deep and broad the foundations of a
Syrian civilization.

I do not know how many converts have been made in thirty years,—the
East has had ample illustration, from the Abyssinians to the Colchians,
of “conversion” without knowledge or civilization,—nor do
I believe that any “reports” of the workmen themselves to the
“Board” can put in visible array adequately the results of the
American Mission in Syria. But the transient visitor can see something
of them, in the dawning of a better social life, in the beginning of
an improvement in the condition of women, in an unmistakable spirit of
inquiry, and a recognizable taste for intellectual pursuits. It is not
too much to say that the birth of a desire for instruction, for the
enjoyment of literature, and, to a certain extent, of science, is due to
their schools; and that their admirably conducted press, which has sent
out not only translations of the Scriptures, but periodicals of secular
literature and information, and elementary geographies, histories, and
scientific treatises, has satisfied the want which the schools created.
And this new leaven is not confined to a sect, nor limited to a race; it
is working, slowly it is true, in the whole of Syrian society.

The press establishment is near the pretty and substantial church of the
Mission; it is a busy and well-ordered printing and publishing house;
sending out, besides its religious works and school-books, a monthly and
a weekly publication and a child’s paper, which has a large and paying
circulation, a great number of its subscribers being Moslems. These
regenerating agencies—the schools and the press—are happily
supplemented by the college, which offers to the young men of the Orient
the chance of a high education, and attracts students even from the
banks of the Nile. We were accompanied to the college by Dr. Jessup and
Dr. Post, and spent an interesting morning in inspecting the buildings
and in the enjoyment of the lovely prospect they command. As it is not
my desire to enter into details regarding the Mission or the college any
further than is necessary to emphasize the supreme importance of this
enterprise to the civilization of the Orient, I will only add that the
college has already some interesting collections in natural history, a
particularly valuable herbarium, and that the medical department is not
second in promise to the literary.

It is sometimes observed that a city is like a man, in that it will
preserve through all mutations and disasters certain fundamental
traits; the character that it obtains at first is never wholly lost, but
reappears again and again, asserting its individuality after, it may
be, centuries of obscurity. Beyrout was early a seat of learning and a
centre of literary influence for nearly three hundred years before its
desolation by an earthquake in the middle of the sixth century, and its
subsequent devastation by the followers of the Arabian prophet, it was
thronged with students from all the East, and its schools of philosophy
and law enjoyed the highest renown. We believe that it is gradually
resuming its ancient prestige.

While we were waiting day after day the arrival of the Austrian
steamboat for Constantinople, we were drawn into a little drama which
afforded us alternate vexation and amusement; an outline of it may not
be out of place here as an illustration of the vicissitudes of travel in
the East, or for other reasons which may appear. I should premise that
the American consul who resided here with his family was not in good
repute with many of the foreign residents; that he was charged
with making personal contributions to himself the condition of the
continuance in office of his subagents in Syria; that the character of
his dragomans, or at least one of them named Ouardy, was exceedingly
bad, and brought the consular office and the American name into
contempt; and that these charges had been investigated by an agent sent
from the ministerial bureau in Constantinople. The dragomans of the
consulate, who act as interpreters, and are executors of the consul’s
authority, have no pay, but their position gives them a consideration in
the community, and a protection which they turn to pecuniary account. It
should be added that the salary of the consul at Beyrout is two thousand
dollars,—a sum, in this expensive city, which is insufficient to
support a consul, who has a family, in the style of a respectable
citizen, and is wholly inadequate to the maintenance of any equality
with the representatives of other nations; the government allows no
outfit, nor does it provide for the return of its consul; the cost
of transporting himself and family home would consume almost half a
year’s salary, and the tenure of the office is uncertain. To accept
any of several of our Oriental consulships, a man must either have a
private fortune or an unscrupulous knack of living by his wits. The
English name is almost universally respected in the East, so far as
my limited experience goes, in the character of its consuls; the same
cannot be said of the American.

The morning after our arrival, descending the steps of the hotel, I
found our dragoman in a violent altercation with another dragoman, a
Jew, and a resident of Beyrout. There is always a latent enmity between
the Egyptian and the Syrian dragomans, a national hostility, as old
perhaps as the Shepherds’ invasion, which it needs only an occasion
to blow into a flame. The disputants were surrounded by a motley crowd,
nearly all of them the adherents of the Syrian. I had seen Antoine
Ouardy at Luxor, when he was the dragoman of an English traveller.
He was now in Frank dress, wearing a shining hat, an enormous cluster
shirt-pin, and a big seal ring; and with his aggressive nose and brazen
face he had the appearance of a leading mock-auctioneer in the Bowery.
On the Nile, where Abd-el-Atti enjoys the distinction of Sultan among
his class, the fellow was his humble servant; but he had now caught
the Egyptian away from home, and was disposed to make the most of his
advantage. Chancing to meet Ouardy this morning, Abd-el-Atti had asked
for the payment of two pounds lent at Luxor; the debt was promptly
denied, and when his own due-bill for the money was produced, he
declared that he had received the money from Abd-el-Atti in payment for
some cigars which he had long ago purchased for him in Alexandria. Of
course if this had been true, he would not have given a note for
the money; and it happened that I had been present when the sum was

The brazen denial exasperated our dragoman, and when I arrived the
quarrel had come nearly to blows, all the injurious Arabic epithets
having been exhausted. The lie direct had been given back and forth, but
the crowning insult was added, in English, when Abd-el-Atti cried,—

“You ‘re a humbug!”

This was more than Ouardy could stand. Bursting with rage, he shook his
fist in the Egyptian’s face:—

“You call me humbug; you humbug, yourself. You pay for this, I shall
have satisfaction by the law.”

We succeeded in separating and, I hoped, in reducing them to reason, but
Antoine went off muttering vengeance, and Abd-el-Atti was determined to
bring suit for his money. I represented the hopelessness of a suit in a
Turkish court, the delay and the cost of lawyers, and the certainty that
Ouardy would produce witnesses to anything he desired to prove.

“What I care for two pound!” exclaimed the heated dragoman. “I
go to spend a hundred pound, but I have justice.” Shortly after, as
Abd-el-Atti was walking through the bazaars, with one of the ladies of
our party, he was set upon by a gang of Ouardy’s friends and knocked
down; the old man recovered himself and gave battle like a valiant
friend of the Prophet; Ouardy’s brother sallied out from his shop to
take a hand in the scrimmage, and happened to get a rough handling from
Abd-el-Atti, who was entirely ignorant of his relationship to
Antoine. The whole party were then carried off to the seraglio, where
Abd-el-Atti, as the party attacked, was presumed to be in the wrong,
and was put into custody. In the inscrutable administration of Turkish
justice, the man who is knocked down in a quarrel is always arrested.
When news was brought to us at the hotel of this mishap, I sent for
the American consul, as our dragoman was in the service of an American
citizen. The consul sent his son and his dragoman. And the dragoman
sent to assist an American, embarrassed by the loss of his servant in
a strange city, turned out to be the brother of Antoine Ouardy, and the
very fellow that Abd-el-Atti had just beaten. Here was a complication.
Dragoman Ouardy showed his wounds, and wanted compensation for his
injuries. At the very moment we needed the protection of the American
government, its representative appeared as our chief prosecutor.

However, we sent for Abd-el-Atti, and procured his release from
the seraglio; and after an hour of conference, in which we had the
assistance of some of the most respectable foreign residents of the
city, we flattered ourselves that a compromise was made. The injured
Ouardy, who was a crafty rogue, was persuaded not to insist upon a suit
for damages, which would greatly incommode an American citizen, and
Abd-el-Atti seemed willing to drop his suit for the two pounds. Antoine,
however, was still menacing.

“You heard him,” he appealed to me, “you heard him call me

The injurious nature of this mysterious epithet could not be erased from
his mind. It was in vain that I told him it had been freely applied to a
well-known American, until it had become a badge of distinction. But
at length a truce was patched up; and, confident that there would be no
more trouble, I went into the country for a long walk over the charming

When I returned at six o’clock, the camp was in commotion. Abd-el-Atti
was in jail! There was a suit against him for 20,000 francs for horrible
and unprovoked injuries to the dragoman of the American consul! The
consul, upon written application for assistance, made by the ladies at
the hotel, had curtly declined to give any aid, and espoused the quarrel
of his dragoman. It appeared that Abd-el-Atti, attempting again to
accompany a lady in a shopping expedition through the bazaars, had been
sent for by a messenger from the seraglio. As he could not leave the
lady in the street, he carelessly answered that he would come by and by.
A few minutes after he was arrested by a squad of soldiers, and taken
before the military governor. Abd-el-Atti respectfully made his excuse
that he could not leave the lady alone in the street, but the pasha said
that he would teach him not to insult his authority. Both the Ouardy
brothers were beside the pasha, whispering in his ear, and as the result
of their deliberations Abd-el-Atti was put in prison. It was Saturday
afternoon, and the conspirators expected to humiliate the old man by
keeping him locked up till Monday. This was the state of the game when
I came to dinner; the faithful Abdallah, who had reluctantly withdrawn
from watching the outside of the seraglio where his master was confined,
was divided in mind between grief and alarm on the one side and his duty
of habitual cheerfulness to us on the other, and consequently announced,
“Abd-el-Atti, seraglio,” as a piece of good news; the affair had
got wind among the cafés, where there was a buzz of triumph over the
Egyptians; and at the hotel everybody was drawn into the excitement,
discussing the assault and the arrest of the assaulted party, the
American consul and the character of his dragoman, and the general
inability of American consuls to help their countrymen in time of need.

The principal champion of Abd-el-Atti was Mohammed Achmed, the dragoman
of two American ladies who had been travelling in Egypt and Palestine.
Achmed was a character. He had the pure Arab physiognomy, the vivacity
of an Italian, the restlessness of an American, the courtesy of the most
polished Oriental, and a unique use of the English tongue. Copious
in speech, at times flighty in manner, gravely humorous, and more
sharp-witted than the “cutest” Yankee, he was an exceedingly
experienced and skilful dragoman, and perfectly honest to his employers.
Achmed was clad in baggy trousers, a silk scarf about his waist, short
open jacket, and wore his tarboosh on the back of his sloping head. He
had a habit of throwing back his head and half closing his wandering,
restless black eyes in speaking, and his gestures and attitudes might
have been called theatrical but for a certain simple sincerity; yet any
extravagance of speech or action was always saved from an appearance of
absurdity by a humorous twinkle in his eyes. Alexandria was his home,
while Abd-el-Atti lived in Cairo; the natural rivalry between the
dragomans of the two cities had been imbittered by some personal
disagreement, and they were only on terms of the most distant civility.
But Abd-el-Atti’s misfortune not only roused his national pride, but
touched his quick generosity, and he surprised his employers by the
enthusiasm with which he espoused the cause and defended the character
of the man he had so lately regarded as anything but a friend. He went
to work with unselfish zeal to procure his release; he would think of
nothing else, talk of nothing else.

“How is it, Achmed,” they said, “that you and Abd-el-Atti have
suddenly become such good friends?”

“Ah, my lady,” answers Achmed, taking an attitude, “you know
not Abd-el-Atti, one of the first-class men in all Egypt. Not a common
dragoman like these in Beyrout, my lady; you shall ask in Cairo what a
man of esteem. To tell it in Cairo that he is in jail! Abd-el-Atti is my
friend. What has been sometime, that is nothing. It must not be that he
is in jail. And he come out in half an hour, if your consul say so.”

“That is not so certain; but what can we do?”

“Write to the consul American that he shall let Abd-el-Atti go. You,
my lady,” said Achmed, throwing himself on his knees before the
person he was addressing, “make a letter, and say I want my dragoman
immediate. If he will not, I go to the English consul, I know he will
do it. Excuse me, but will you make the letter? When it was the English
consul, he does something; when it was the American, I pick your pargin,
my lady, he is not so much esteem here.”

In compliance with Achmed’s entreaty a note was written to the consul,
but it produced no effect, except an uncivil reply that it was after
office hours.

When I returned, Achmed was in a high fever of excitement. He believed
that Abd-el-Atti would be released if I would go personally to the
consul and insist upon it.

“The consul, I do not know what kind of man this is for consul; does
he know what man is Abd-el-Atti? Take my advice,” continued Achmed,
half closing his eyes, throwing back his head and moving it alertly on
the axis of his neck, and making at the same time a deprecatory gesture
with the back of his hands turned out,—“take my advice, Mesr. Vahl,
Abd-el-Atti is a man of respect; he is a man very rich, God forgive me!
Firste-class man. There is no better family in Egypt than Abd-el-Atti
Effendi. You have seen, he is the friend of governors and pashas. There
is no man of more respect. In Cairo, to put Abd-el-Atti in jail, they
would not believe it! When he is at home, no one could do it. The
Khedive himself,” he continued, warming with his theme, “would not
touch Abd-el-Atti. He has houses in the city and farms and plantations
in the country, a man very well known. Who in Cairo is to put him in
jail? [This, with a smile of derision.] I think he take out and put in
prison almost anybody else he like, Mohammed Effendi Abd-el-Atti. See,
when this Ouardy comes in Egypt!”

We hastened to the consul’s. I told the consul that I was deprived of
the service of my dragoman, that he was unjustly imprisoned, simply for
defending himself when he was assailed by a lot of rowdies, and that as
the complaint against him was supposed to issue from the consulate, I
doubted not that the consul’s influence could release him. The consul
replied, with suavity, that he had nothing to do with the quarrel of
his dragoman, and was not very well informed about it, only he knew that
Ouardy had been outrageously assaulted and beaten by Abd-el-Atti; that
he could do nothing at any rate with the pasha, even if that functionary
had not gone to his harem outside the city, where nobody would disturb
him. I ventured to say that both the Ouardys had a very bad reputation
in the city,—it was, in fact, infamous,—and that the consulate was
brought into contempt by them. The consul replied that the reputation of
Antoine might be bad, but that his dragoman was a respectable merchant;
and then he complained of the missionaries, who had persecuted him
ever since he had been in Beyrout. I said that I knew nothing of his
grievances; that my information about his dragoman came from general
report, and from some of the bankers and most respectable citizens, and
that I knew that in this case my dragoman had been set upon in the first
instance, and that it was believed that the Ouardys were now attempting
to extort money from him, knowing him to be rich, and having got him
in, their clutches away from his friends. The consul still said that
he could do nothing that night; he was very sorry, very sorry for my
embarrassment, and he would send for Ouardy and advise him to relinquish
his prosecution on my account. “Very well,” I said, rising to go,
“if you cannot help me I must go elsewhere. Will you give me a note of
introduction to the pasha?” He would do that with pleasure, although
he was certain that nothing would come of it.

Achmed, who had been impatiently waiting on the high piazza (it is a
charming situation overlooking the Mediterranean), saw that I had not
succeeded, and was for going at once to the English consul; for all
dragomans have entire confidence that English consuls are all-powerful.

“No,” I said, “we will try the pasha, to whom I have a letter,
though the consul says the pasha is a friend of Ouardy.”

“I believe you. Ouardy has women in his house; the pasha goes often
there; so I hear. But we will go. I will speak to the pasha also, and
tell him what for a man is Abd-el-Atti. A very pleasant man, the pasha,
and speak all languages, very well English.”

It was encouraging to know this, and I began to feel that I could make
some impression on him. We took a carriage and drove into the suburbs,
to the house of the pasha. His Excellency was in his harem, and dining,
at that hour. I was shown by a barefooted servant into a barren parlor
furnished in the European style, and informed that the pasha would see
me presently. After a while cigarettes and coffee—a poor substitute
for dinner for a person who had had none—were brought in; but no

I waited there, I suppose, nearly an hour for the governor to finish his
dinner; and meantime composed a complimentary oration to deliver upon
his arrival. When his Excellency at last appeared, I beheld a large,
sleek Turk, whose face showed good-nature and self-indulgence. I
had hopes of him, and, advancing to salute him, began an apology for
disturbing his repose at this unseasonable hour, but his Excellency
looked perfectly blank. He did not understand a word of English. I
gave him the letter of the consul, and mentioned the name “American
Consul.” The pasha took the letter and opened it; but as he was
diligently examining it upside down, I saw that he did not read English.
I must introduce myself.

Opening the door, I called Achmed. In coming into the presence of
this high rank, all his buoyancy and bravado vanished; he obsequiously
waited. I told him to say to his Excellency how extremely sorry I was to
disturb his repose at such an unseasonable hour, but that my dragoman,
whose services I needed, had been unfortunately locked up; that I was
an American citizen, as he would perceive by the letter from the consul,
and that I would detain him only a moment with my business. Achmed put
this into choice Arabic. His Excellency looked more blank than before.
He did not understand a word of Arabic. The interview was getting to be

The pasha then stepped to the door and called in his dragoman, a
barefooted fellow in a tattered gown. The two interpreters stood in line
before us, and the pasha nodded to me to begin. I opened, perhaps,
a little too elaborately; Achmed put my remarks into Arabic, and the
second dragoman translated that again into Turkish. What the speech
became by the time it reached the ear of the pasha I could not tell, but
his face darkened at once, and he peremptorily shook his head. The word
came back to me that the pasha would n’t let him out; Abd-el-Atti must
stay in jail till his trial. I then began to argue the matter,—to say
that there was no criminal suit against him, only an action for damages,
and that I would be responsible for his appearance when required. The
translations were made; but I saw that I was every moment losing ground;
no one could tell what my solicitations became after being strained
through Arabic and Turkish. My case was lost, because it could not be

Suddenly it occurred to me that the pasha might know some European
language. I turned to him, and asked him if he spoke German. O, yes! The
prospect brightened, and if I also had spoken that language, we should
have had no further trouble. However, desperation beat up my misty
recollection, and I gave the pasha a torrent of broken German that
evidently astonished him. At any rate, he became gracious as soon as he
understood me. He said that Abd-el-Atti was not confined on account of
the suit,—he knew nothing and cared nothing for his difficulty with
Ouardy,—but for his contempt of the police and soldiers. I explained
that, and added that Abd-el-Atti was an old man, that I had been
doctoring him for a fever ever since we were in Damascus, that I feared
to have him stay in that damp jail over Sunday, and that I would be
responsible for his appearance.

“Do you mean to say,” he asked, “that you will be personally
responsible that he appears at the seraglio Monday morning?”

“Certainly,” I said, “for his appearance at any time and place
your Excellency may name.”

“Then he may go.” He gave the order to his dragoman to accompany us
and procure his release, and we retired, with mutual protestations of
the highest consideration. Achmed was nearly beside himself with joy.
The horses seemed to him to crawl; he could n’t wait the moment to
announce to Abd-el-Atti his deliverance. “Ah, they thought to keep
Abd-el-Atti in jail all night, and sent word to Cairo, ‘Abd-el-Atti is
in jail.’ Abd-el-Atti Effendi! Take my advice, a man of respect.”

The cobble-paved court of the old seraglio prison, to which the guards
admitted us without question, was only dimly lighted by an oil-lamp or
two, and we could distinguish a few figures flitting about, who looked
like malefactors, but were probably keepers. We were shown into a side
room, where sat upon the ground an official, perhaps a judge, and
two assistants. Abd-el-Atti was sent for. The old man was brought in,
swinging his string of beads in his hand, looking somewhat crest-fallen,
but preserving a portentous gravity. I arose and shook hands with
him, and told him we had come to take him out. When we were seated,
a discussion of the case sprung up, the official talked, his two
assistants talked, and Abd-el-Atti and Achmed talked, and there was
evidently a disposition to go over the affair from the beginning. It
was a pity to cut short so much eloquence, but I asked the pasha’s
dragoman to deliver his message, and told Achmed that we would postpone
the discussion till Monday, and depart at once. The prisoner was
released, and, declining coffee, we shook hands and got away with all
haste. As we drove to the hotel, Abd-el-Atti was somewhat pensive, but
declared that he would rather give a hundred pounds than not be let
out that night; and when we reached home, Achmed, whose spirits were
exuberant, insisted on dragging him to the café opposite, to exhibit
him in triumph.

When I came down in the morning, Achmed was in the hall.

“Well, Achmed, how are you?”

“Firste-class,” closing his eyes with a humorous twinkle. “I’m
in it now.”

“In what?”

“In the case with Mohammed Abd-el-Atti. That Ouardy says I pay him
damage twenty thousand francs. Twenty thousand francs, I wish he may
get it! How much, I s’pose, for the consul? Take my advice, the consul
want money.”

“Then the suit will keep you here with Abd-el-Atti?”

“Keep, I don’t know. I not pay him twenty thousand francs, not one
thousand, not one franc. What my ladies do? Who go to Constantinople
with my ladies? To-morrow morning come the steamer. To leave the old man
alone with these thiefs, what would anybody say of Mohammed Achmed for
that? What for consul is this? I want to go to Constantinople with my
ladies, and then to see my family in Alexandria. For one day in five
months have I see my wife and shild. O yes, I have very nice wife. Yes,
one wife quite plenty for me. And I have a fine house, cost me twenty
thousand dollars; I am not rich, but I have plenty, God forgive me. My
shop is in the silk bazaar. I am merchant. My father-in-law say what for
I go dragoman? I like to see nice peoples and go in the world. When I
am dragoman, I am servant. When I am merchant, O, I am very well in
Alexandria. I think I not go any more. Ah, here is Abd-el-Atti. Take my
advice, he not need to be dragoman; he is pooty off. Good morning, my
friend. Have they told you I am to be put in jail also?”

“So I hear; Ouardy sue you and Abdallah so you cannot be witness.”

“O, they think they get money from us. Mebbe the pasha and the consul.
I think so.”

“So am I,” responded Abd-el-Atti in his most serious manner. The
“Eastern question,” with these experienced dragomans, instantly
resolves itself into a question of money, whoever is concerned and
whatever is the tribunal. I said that I would see the consul in the
morning, and that I hoped to have all proceedings stopped, so that we
could get off in the steamer. Abd-el-Atti shook his head.

“The consul not to do anything. Ouardy have lent him money; so I

Beyrout had a Sunday appearance. The shops were nearly all closed, and
the churches, especially the Catholic, were crowded. It might have been
a peaceful day but for our imbroglio, which began to be serious; we
could not afford the time to wait two weeks for the next Cyprus steamer,
we did not like to abandon our dragomans, and we needed their services.
The ladies who depended upon Achmed were in a quandary. Notes went to
the consul, but produced no effect. The bankers were called into the
council, and one of them undertook to get Achmed free. Travellers,
citizens, and all began to get interested or entangled in the case.
There was among respectable people but one opinion about the consul’s
dragoman. At night it was whispered about that the American consul had
already been removed and that his successor was on his way to Beyrout.
Achmed came to us in the highest spirits with the news.

All day Monday we expected the steamer. The day was frittered away in
interviews with the consul and the pasha, and in endeavoring to learn
something of the two cases, the suit for damages and for the debt,
supposed to be going on somewhere in the seraglio. After my interview
with the consul, who expressed considerable ignorance of the case and
the strongest desire to stop it, I was surprised to find at the seraglio
all the papers in the consul’s name, and all the documents written
on consular paper; so that when I appeared as an American citizen,
to endeavor to get my dragoman released, it appeared to the Turkish
officials that they would please the American government by detaining
and punishing him.

The court-room was a little upper chamber, with no furniture except a
long table and chairs; three Moslem judges sat at one end of the table,
apparently waiting to see what would turn up. The scene was not unlike
that in an office of a justice of the peace in America. The parties to
the case, witnesses, attendants, spectators, came and went as it pleased
them, talked or whispered to the judges or to each other. There seemed
to be no rule for the reception or rejection of evidence. The judges
smoked and gathered the facts as they drifted in, and would by and by
make up their minds. It is truth to say, however, that they seemed to
be endeavoring to get at the facts, and that they appeared to be above
prejudice or interest. A new complication developed itself, however;
Antoine Ouardy claimed to be a French citizen, and the French consul was
drawn into the fray. This was a new device to delay proceedings.

When I had given my evidence to the judges, which I was required to
put in writing, I went with Abd-el-Atti to the room of the pasha. This
official was gracious enough, but gave us no hopes of release. He took
me one side and advised me, as a traveller, to look out for another
dragoman; there was no prospect that Abd-el-Atti could get away to
accompany me on this steamer,—in fact, the process in court might
detain him six months. However, the best thing to do would be to go to
the American consul with Ouardy and settle it. He thought Ouardy would
settle it for a reasonable amount. It was none of his business, but
that was his advice. We were obliged to his Excellency for this glimpse
behind the scenes of a Turkish court, and thanked him for his advice;
but we did not follow it. Abd-el-Atti thought that if he abandoned the
attempt to collect a debt in a Turkish city, he ought not, besides, to
pay for the privilege of doing so.

Tuesday morning the steamer came into the harbor. Although we had
registered our names at the office of the company for passage, nothing
was reserved for us. Detained at the seraglio and the consul’s, we
could not go off to secure places, and the consequence was that we were
subject to the black-mail of the steward when we did go. By noon there
were signs of the failure of the prosecution; and we sent off our
luggage. In an hour or two Abd-el-Atti appeared with a troop of friends,
triumphant. Somewhere, I do not know how, he and Achmed had raked up
fourteen witnesses in his favor; the judges would n’t believe Ouardy
nor any one he produced, and his case had utterly broken down. This
mountain of a case, which had annoyed us so many days and absorbed our
time, suddenly collapsed. We were not sorry to leave even beautiful
Beyrout, and would have liked to see the last of Turkish rule as
well. At sunset, on the steamer Achille, swarming above and below with
pilgrims from Jerusalem and Mecca, we sailed for Cyprus.


IN the early morning we were off Cyprus, in the open harbor of
Larnaka,—a row of white houses on the low shore. The town is not
peculiar and not specially attractive, but the Marina lies prettily
on the blue sea, and the palms, the cypresses, the minarets and
church-towers, form an agreeable picture behind it, backed by the lovely
outline of mountains, conspicuous among them Santa Croce. The highest,
Olympus, cannot be seen from this point.

A night had sufficed to transport us into another world, a world in
which all outlines are softened and colored, a world in which history
appears like romance. We might have imagined that we had sailed into
some tropical harbor, except that the island before us was bare of
foliage; there was the calm of perfect repose in the sky, on the sea,
and the land; Cyprus made no harsh contrast with the azure water in
which it seemed to be anchored for the morning, as our ship was. You
could believe that the calm of summer and of early morning always rested
on the island, and that it slept exhausted in the memory of its glorious

Taking a cup of coffee, we rowed ashore. It was the festival of St.
George, and the flags of various nations were hung out along the riva,
or displayed from the staffs of the consular residences. It is one of
the chief fête days of the year, and the foreign representatives, who
have not too much excitement, celebrated it by formal visits to the
Greek consul. Larnaka does not keep a hotel, and we wandered about for
some time before we could discover its sole locanda, where we purposed
to breakfast. This establishment would please an artist, but it had
few attractions for a person wishing to break his fast, and our unusual
demand threw it into confusion. The locanda was nothing but a kitchen in
a tumble-down building, smoke-dried, with an earth floor and a rickety
table or two. After long delay, the cheerful Greek proprietor and his
lively wife—whose good-humored willingness both to furnish us next to
nothing, but the best they had, from their scanty larder, and to cipher
up a long reckoning for the same, excited our interest—produced some
fried veal, sour bread, harsh wine, and tart oranges; and we breakfasted
more sumptuously, I have no doubt, than any natives of the island that
morning. The scant and hard fare of nearly all the common people in the
East would be unendurable to any American; but I think that the hardy
peasantry of the Levant would speedily fall into dyspeptic degeneracy
upon the introduction of American rural cooking.

After we had killed our appetites at the locanda, we presented our
letters to the American consul, General di Cesnola, in whose spacious
residence we experienced a delightful mingling of Oriental and Western
hospitality. The kawâss of the General was sent to show us the town.
This kawâss was a gorgeous official, a kind of glorified being, in silk
and gold-lace, who marched before us, huge in bulk, waving his truncheon
of office, and gave us the appearance, in spite of our humility, of a
triumphal procession. Larnaka has not many sights, although it was the
residence of the Lusignan dynasty,—Richard Cour de Lion having, toward
the close of the twelfth century, made a gift of the island to Guy de
Lusignan. It has, however, some mosques and Greek churches. The church
of St. Lazarus, which contains the now vacant tomb of the Lazarus who
was raised from the dead at Bethany and afterwards became bishop of
Citium, is an interesting old Byzantine edifice, and has attached to
it an English burial-ground, with tombs of the seventeenth century. The
Greek priest who showed us the church does not lose sight of the gain
of godliness in this life while pursuing in this remote station his
heavenly journey. He sold my friend some exquisite old crucifixes,
carved in wood, mounted in antique silver, which he took from the
altar, and he let the church part with some of its quaint old pictures,
commemorating the impossible exploits of St. Demetrius and St. George.
But he was very careful that none of the Greeks who were lounging about
the church should be witnesses of the transfer. He said that these
ignorant people had a prejudice about these sacred objects, and might
make trouble.

The excavations made at Larnaka have demonstrated that this was the site
of ancient Citium, the birthplace of Zeno, the Stoic, and the Chittim so
often alluded to by the Hebrew prophets; it was a Phoenician colony, and
when Ezekiel foretold the unrecoverable fall of Tyre, among the luxuries
of wealth he enumerated were the “benches of ivory brought out of the
isles of Chittim.” Paul does not mention it, but he must have passed
through it when he made his journey over the island from Salamis to
Paphos, where he had his famous encounter with the sorcerer Bar-jesus.
A few miles out of town on the road to Citti is a Turkish mosque, which
shares the high veneration of Moslems with those of Mecca and Jerusalem.
In it is interred the wet-nurse of Mohammed.

We walked on out of the town to the most considerable church in the
place, newly built by the Roman Catholics. There is attached to it
a Franciscan convent, a neat establishment with a garden; and the
hospitable monks, when they knew we were Americans, insisted upon
entertaining us; the contributions for their church had largely come
from America, they said, and they seemed to regard us as among the
number of their benefactors. This Christian charity expressed itself
also in some bunches of roses, which the brothers plucked for our
ladies. One cannot but suspect and respect that timid sentiment the monk
retains for the sex whose faces he flies from, which he expresses in the
care of flowers; the blushing rose seems to be the pure and only link
between the monk and womankind; he may cultivate it without sin, and
offer it to the chance visitor without scandal.

The day was lovely, but the sun had intense power, and in default of
donkeys we took a private carriage into the country to visit the church
of St. George, at which the fête day of that saint was celebrated by a
fair, and a concourse of peasants. Our carriage was a four-wheeled cart,
a sort of hay-wagon, drawn by two steers, and driven by a Greek boy in
an embroidered jacket. The Franciscans lent us chairs for the cart; the
resplendent kawass marched ahead; Abd-el-Atti hung his legs over the
tail of the cart in an attitude of dejection; and we moved on, but so
slowly that my English friend, Mr. Edward Rae, was able to sketch us,
and the Cyprians could enjoy the spectacle.

The country lay bare and blinking under the sun; save here and there a
palm or a bunch of cypresses, this part of the island has not a tree or
a large shrub. The view of the town and the sea with its boats, as we
went inland, was peculiar, not anything real, but a skeleton picture;
the sky and sea were indigo blue. We found a crowd of peasants at the
church of St. George, which has a dirty interior, like all the Greek
churches. The Greeks, as well as the other Orientals, know how to mingle
devotion with the profits of trade, and while there were rows of booths
outside, and traffic went on briskly, the church was thronged with men
and women who bought tapers for offerings, and kissed with fervor the
holy relics which were exposed. The articles for sale at the booths and
stands were chiefly eatables and the coarsest sort of merchandise. The
only specialty of native manufacture was rude but pleasant-sounding
little bells, which are sometimes strung upon the necks of donkeys. But
so fond are these simple people of musical noise, that these bells
are attached to the handles of sickles also. The barley was already
dead-ripe in the fields, and many of the peasants at the fair brought
their sickles with them. They were, both men and women, a good-humored,
primitive sort of people, certainly not a handsome race, but picturesque
in appearance; both sexes affect high colors, and the bright petticoats
of the women matched the gay jackets of their husbands and lovers.

We do not know what was the ancient standard of beauty in Cyprus; it may
have been no higher than it is now, and perhaps the swains at this
fête of St. George would turn from any other type of female charms as
uninviting. The Cyprian or Paphian Venus could not have been a beauty
according to our notions.

The images of her which General di Cesnola found in her temple all have
a long and sharp nose. These images are Phoenician, and were made six
hundred to a thousand years before the Christian era, at the time that
wonderful people occupied this fertile island. It is an interesting
fact, and an extraordinary instance of the persistence of nature in
perpetuating a type, that all the women of Cyprus to-day—who are,
with scarcely any exception, ugly—have exactly the nose of the ancient
Paphian Venus, that is to say, the nose of the Phoenician women whose
husbands and lovers sailed the Mediterranean as long ago as the siege of

It was off the southern coast of this island, near Paphos, that Venus
Aphrodite, born of the foam, is fabled to have risen from the sea. The
anniversary of her birth is still perpetuated by an annual fête on
the 11th of August,—a rite having its foundation in nature, that
has proved to be stronger than religious instruction or prejudice.
Originally, these fêtes were the scenes of a too literal worship
of Venus, and even now the Cyprian maiden thinks that her chance of
matrimony is increased by her attendance at this annual fair. Upon that
day all the young people go upon the sea in small boats, and, until
recently, it used to be the custom to dip a virgin into the water
in remembrance of the mystic birth of Venus. That ceremony is still
partially maintained; instead of sousing the maiden in the sea,
her companions spatter the representative of the goddess with salt
water,—immersion has given way here also to sprinkling.

The lively curiosity of the world has been of late years turned to
Cyprus as the theatre of some of the most important and extensive
archaeological discoveries of this century; discoveries unique, and
illustrative of the manners and religion of a race, once the most
civilized in the Levant, of which only the slightest monuments had
hitherto been discovered; discoveries which supply the lost link between
Egyptian and Grecian art. These splendid results, which by a stroke of
good fortune confer some credit upon the American nation, are wholly
due to the scholarship, patient industry, address, and enthusiasm of one
man. To those who are familiar with the magnificent Cesnola Collection,
which is the chief attraction of the Metropolitan Museum of New York, I
need make no apology for devoting a few paragraphs to the antiquities of
Cyprus and their explorer.

Cyprus was the coveted prize of all the conquerors of the Orient
in turn. The fair island, with an area not so large as the State of
Connecticut, owns in its unequal surface the extremes of the temperate
climate; snow lies during the greater part of the year upon its
mountains, which attain an altitude of over seven thousand feet, and
the palm spreads its fan-leaves along the southern coast and in the warm
plains; irregular in shape, it has an extreme length of over one hundred
and forty miles, and an average breadth of about forty miles, and its
deeply indented coast gives an extraordinarily long shore-line and
offers the facilities of harbors for the most active commerce.

The maritime Phoenicians early discovered its advantages, and in the
seventeenth century b. c., or a little later, a colony from Sidon
settled at Citium; and in time these Yankees of the Levant occupied
all the southern portion of the island with their busy ports and royal
cities. There is a tradition that Teucer, after the Trojan war, founded
the city of Salamis on the east coast. But however this may be, and
whatever may be the exact date of the advent of the Sidonians upon the
island, it is tolerably certain that they were in possession about the
year 1600 b.c., when the navy of Thotmes III., the greatest conqueror
and statesman in the long line of Pharaohs, visited Cyprus and collected
tribute. The Egyptians were never sailors, and the fleet of Thotmes III.
was no doubt composed of Phoenician ships manned by Phoenician sailors.
He was already in possession of the whole of Syria, the Phoenicians were
his tributaries and allies, their ships alone sailed the Grecian
seas and carried the products of Egypt and of Asia to the Pelasgic
populations. The Phoenician supremacy, established by Sidon in Cyprus,
was maintained by Tyre; and it was not seriously subverted until 708
b. c., when the Assyrian ravager of Syria, Sargon, sent a fleet and
conquered Cyprus. He set up a stele in Citium, commemorating his
exploit, which has been preserved and is now in the museum at Berlin.
Two centuries later the island owned the Persians as masters, and was
comprised in the fifth satrapy of Darius. It became a part of the empire
of the Macedonian Alexander after his conquest of Asia Minor, and was
again an Egyptian province under the Ptolemies, until the Roman eagles
swooped down upon it. Coins are not seldom found that tell the story of
these occupations. Those bearing the head of Ptolemy Physcon, Euergetes
VII., found at Paphos and undoubtedly struck there, witness the
residence on the island of that licentious and literary tyrant, whom a
popular outburst had banished from Alexandria. Another with the head
of Vespasian, and on the obverse an outline of the temple of Venus at
Paphos, attests the Roman hospitality to the gods and religious rites of
all their conquered provinces.

Upon the breaking up of the Roman world, Cyprus fell to the Greek
Empire, and for centuries maintained under its ducal governors a sort of
independent life, enjoying as much prosperity as was possible under the
almost uniform imbecility and corruption of the Byzantine rule. We have
already spoken of its transfer to the Lusignans by Richard Cour de Lion;
and again a romantic chapter was added to its history by the reign of
Queen Catharine Cornaro, who gave her kingdom to the Venetian republic.
Since its final conquest by the Turks in 1571, Cyprus has interested the
world only by its sufferings; for Turkish history here, as elsewhere, is
little but a record of exactions, rapine, and massacre.

From time to time during the present century efforts have been made
by individuals and by learned societies to explore the antiquities of
Cyprus; but although many interesting discoveries were made, yet the
field was comparatively virgin when General di Cesnola was appointed
American consul in 1866. Here and there a stele, or some fragments of
pottery, or the remains of a temple, had been unearthed by chance or by
superficial search, but the few objects discovered served only to pique
curiosity. For one reason or another, the efforts made to establish the
site of ancient cities had been abandoned, the expeditions sent out by
France had been comparatively barren of results, and it seemed as if
the traces of the occupation of the Phoenicians, the Egyptians, the
Assyrians, the Persians, and the Romans were irrecoverably concealed.

General L. P. di Cesnola, the explorer of Cyprus, is of a noble
Piedmontese family; he received a military and classical education at
Turin; identified with the party of Italian unity, his sympathies were
naturally excited by the contest in America; he offered his sword to our
government, and served with distinction in the war for the Union. At
its close he was appointed consul at Cyprus, a position of no
pecuniary attraction, but I presume that the new consul had in view the
explorations which have given his name such honorable celebrity in both

The difficulties of his undertaking were many. He had to encounter at
every step the jealousy of the Turkish government, and the fanaticism
and superstition of the occupants of the soil. Archaeological researches
are not easy in the East under the most favorable circumstances, and in
places where the traces of ancient habitations are visible above ground,
and ancient sites are known; but in Cyprus no ruins exist in sight to
aid the explorer, and, with the exception of one or two localities, no
names of ancient places are known to the present generation. But the
consul was convinced that the great powers which had from age to age
held Cyprus must have left some traces of their occupation, and that
intelligent search would discover the ruins of the prosperous cities
described by Strabo and mentioned by the geographer Ptolemy. Without
other guides than the descriptions of these and other ancient writers,
the consul began his search in 1867, and up to 1875 he had ascertained
the exact sites of eleven ancient cities mentioned by Strabo and
Ptolemy, most of which had ceased to exist before the Christian era, and
none of which has left vestiges above the soil.

In the time of David and of Solomon the Phoenicians formed the largest
portion of the population of the island; their royal cities of Paphos,
Amathus, Carpassa, Citium, and Ammochosto, were in the most flourishing
condition. Not a stone remained of them above ground; their sites were
unknown in 1867.

When General di Cesnola had satisfied himself of the probable site of
an ancient city or temple, it was difficult to obtain permission to dig,
even with the authority of the Sultan’s firman. He was obliged to
wait for harvests to be gathered, in some cases, to take a lease of the
ground; sometimes the religious fanaticism of the occupants could not be
overcome, and his working parties were frequently beaten and driven away
in his absence. But the consul exhibited tact, patience, energy, the
qualities necessary, with knowledge, to a successful explorer. He evaded
or cast down all obstacles.

In 1868 he discovered the necropoli of Ledra, Citium, and Idalium, and
opened during three years in these localities over ten thousand tombs,
bringing to light a mass of ancient objects of art which enable us
to understand the customs, religion, and civilization of the earlier
inhabitants. Idalium was famous of old as the place where Grecian
pottery was first made, and fragments of it have been found from time to
time on its site.

In 1869 and 1870 he surveyed Aphrodisium, in the northeastern part of
the island, and ascertained, in the interior, the site of Golgos, a city
known to have been in existence before the Trojan war. The disclosures
at this place excited both the wonder and the incredulity of the
civilized world, and it was not until the marvellous collection of the
explorer was exhibited, partially in London, but fully in New York,
that the vast importance of the labors of General di Cesnola began to be
comprehended. In exploring the necropolis of Golgos, he came, a few feet
below the soil, upon the remains of the temple of Venus, strewn with
mutilated sculptures of the highest interest, supplying the missing link
between Egyptian and Greek art, and indeed illustrating the artistic
condition of most of the Mediterranean nations during the period from
about 1200 to about 500 b. c. It would require too much space to tell
how the British Museum missed and the Metropolitan of New York secured
this first priceless “Cesnola Collection.” Suffice it to say, that
it was sold to a generous citizen of New York, Mr. John Taylor Johnson,
for fifty thousand dollars,—a sum which would not compensate the
explorer for his time and labor, and would little more than repay
his pecuniary outlay, which reached the amount of over sixty thousand
dollars in 1875. But it was enough that the treasure was secured by his
adopted country; the loss of it to the Old World, which was publicly
called an “European misfortune,” was a piece of good fortune to the
United States, which time will magnify.

From 1870 to 1872 the General’s attention was directed to the
southwestern portion of the island, and he laid open the necropoli of
Marium, Paphos, Alamas, and Soli, and three ancient cities whose names
are yet unknown. In 1873 he explored and traced the cities of Throni,
Leucolla, and Arsinôe, and the necropoli of several towns still
unknown. In 1874 and 1875 he brought to light the royal cities of
Amathus and Curium, and located the little town of Kury.

It would not be possible here to enumerate all the objects of art or
worship, and of domestic use, which these excavations have yielded. The
statuary and the thousands of pieces of glass, some of them rivalling
the most perfect Grecian shapes in form, and excelling the Venetian
colors in the iridescence of age, perhaps attract most attention in the
Metropolitan Museum. From the tombs were taken thousands of vases of
earthenware, some in alabaster and bronze, statuettes in terra-cotta,
arms, coins, scarabæi, cylinders, intaglios, cameos, gold ornaments,
and mortuary steles. In the temples were brought to light inscriptions,
bas-reliefs, architectural fragments, and statues of the different
nations who have conquered and occupied the island. The inscriptions
are in the Egyptian, Assyrian, Phoenician, Greek, and the Cypriote
languages; the last-mentioned being, in the opinion of the explorer, an
ancient Greek dialect.

At Curium, nineteen feet below the surface of the ground, were found the
remains of the Temple of Apollo Hylates; the sculptures contained in it
belong to the Greek period from 700 to 100 B.C. At Amathus some royal
tombs were opened, and two marble sarcophagi of large dimensions, one
of them intact, were discovered, which are historically important, and
positive additions to the remains of the best Greek art.

After Golgos, Paleo Paphos yielded the most interesting treasures. Here
existed a temple to the Paphian Venus, whose birthplace was in sight
of its portals, famous throughout the East; devotees and pilgrims
constantly resorted to it, as they do now to the shrines of Mecca and
Jerusalem. Not only the maritime adventurers and traders from Asia Minor
and the Grecian mainland crowded to the temple of this pleasing and
fortunate goddess, and quitted their vows or propitiated her favor by
gifts, but the religious or the superstitious from Persia and Assyria
and farthest Egypt deposited there their votive offerings. The collector
of a museum of antiquity that should illustrate the manners and religion
of the thousand years before the Christian era could ask nothing better
than these deposits of many races during many centuries in one place.

The excavations at Paphos were attended with considerable danger; more
than once the workmen were obliged to flee to save their lives from the
fanatic Moslems. The town, although it has lost its physical form, and
even its name (its site is now called Baffo), retains the character
of superstition it had when St. Paul found it expedient to darken the
vision of Elymas there, as if a city, like a man, possessed a soul that
outlives the body.

We spent the afternoon in examining the new collection of General di
Cesnola, not so large as that in the Metropolitan Museum, but perhaps
richer in some respects, particularly in iridescent glass.

In the summer of 1875, however, the labors of the indefatigable explorer
were crowned with a discovery the riches of which cast into the shade
the real or pretended treasures of the “House of Priam,”—a
discovery not certainly of more value to art than those that preceded
it, but well calculated to excite popular wonder. The finding of this
subterranean hoard reads like an adventure of Aladdin.

In pursuing his researches at Curium, on the southwestern side of the
island, General di Cesnola came upon the site of an ancient temple, and
uncovered its broken mosaic pavement. Beneath this, and at the depth of
twenty-five feet, he broke into a subterranean passage cut in the rock.
This passage led to a door; no genie sat by it, but it was securely
closed by a stone slab. When this was removed, a suite of four rooms
was disclosed, but they were not immediately accessible; earth sifting
through the roofs for ages had filled them, and it required the labor
of a month to clean out the chambers. Imagine the feverish enthusiasm
of the explorer as he slowly penetrated this treasure-house, where every
stroke of the pick disclosed the gleam of buried treasure! In the
first room were found only gold objects; in the second only silver
and silver-gilt ornaments and utensils; in the third alabasters,
terra-cottas, vases, and groups of figures; in the fourth bronzes, and
nothing else. It is the opinion of the discoverer that these four rooms
were the depositories where the crafty priests and priestesses of the
old temple used to hide their treasures during times of war or sudden
invasion. I cannot but think that the mysterious subterranean passages
and chambers in the ancient temples of Egypt served a similar purpose.
The treasure found scattered in these rooms did not appear to be the
whole belonging to the temple, but only a part, left perhaps in the
confusion of a hasty flight.

Among the articles found in the first room, dumped in a heap in the
middle (as if they had been suddenly, in a panic, stripped from the
altar in the temple and cast into a place of concealment), were a gold
cup covered with Egyptian embossed work, and two bracelets of pure gold
weighing over three pounds, inscribed with the name of “Etevander,
King of Paphos.” This king lived in 635 B.C., and in 620 b. c. paid
tribute to the Assyrian monarch Assurbanapal (Sardanapalus), as is
recorded on an Assyrian tablet now in the British Museum. There were
also many gold necklaces, bracelets, ear-rings, finger-rings, brooches,
seals, armlets, etc., in all four hundred and eighty gold articles.

In the silver-room, arranged on the benches at the sides, were vases,
bottles, cups, bowls, bracelets, finger-rings, ear-rings, seals, etc.
One of the most curious and valuable objects is a silver-gilt bowl,
having upon it very fine embossed Egyptian work, and evidently of high

In the third room of vases and terra-cottas were some most valuable and
interesting specimens. The bronze-room yielded several high candelabra,
lamp-holders, lamps, statuettes, bulls’-heads, bowls, vases, jugs,
patera, fibula, rings, bracelets, mirrors, etc. Nearly all the objects
in the four rooms seem to have been “votive offerings,” and testify
a pagan devotion to the gods not excelled by Christian generosity to
the images and shrines of modern worship. The inscriptions betoken the
votive character of these treasures; that upon the heavy gold armlets
is in the genitive case, and would be literally translated “Etevandri
Regis Paplii,” the words “offering of” being understood to precede

I confess that the glitter of these treasures, and the glamour of these
associations with the ingenious people of antiquity, transformed the
naked island of Cyprus, as we lay off it in the golden sunset, into a
region of all possibilities, and I longed to take my Strabo and my spade
and wander off prospecting for its sacred placers. It seemed to me, when
we weighed anchor at seven o’clock, that we were sailing away from
subterranean passages stuffed with the curious treasures of antiquity,
from concealed chambers in which one, if he could only remove the stone
slab of the door, would pick up the cunning work of the Phoenician
jewellers, the barbarous ornaments of the Assyrians, the conceits in
gold and silver of the most ancient of peoples, the Egyptians.


AT daylight next morning we could just discern Cyprus sinking behind
us in the horizon. The day had all the charm with which the poets have
invested this region; the sea was of the traditional indigo blue,—of
which the Blue Grotto of Capri is only a cheap imitation. No land was in
sight, after we lost Cyprus, but the spirit of the ancient romance
lay upon the waters, and we were soothed with the delights of an idle
existence. As good a world as can be made with a perfect sea and a
perfect sky and delicious atmosphere we had.

Through this summer calm voyages our great steamer, a world in itself,
an exhibition, a fair, a fête, a camp-meeting, cut loose from the earth
and set afloat. There are not less than eight hundred pilgrims on board,
people known as first-class and second-class stowed in every nook and
corner. Forward of the first cabin, the deck of the long vessel is
packed with human beings, two deep and sometimes crossed, a crowd which
it is almost impossible to penetrate. We look down into the hold upon
a mass of bags and bundles and Russians heaped indiscriminately
together,—and it is very difficult to distinguish a Russian woman from
a bundle of old clothes, when she is in repose. These people travel with
their bedding, their babies, and their cooking utensils, and make a home
wherever they sit down.

The forward passengers have overflowed their limits and extend back
upon our portion of the deck, occupying all one side of it to the stern,
leaving the so-called privileged class only a narrow promenade on
the starboard side. These intruders are, however, rather first-class
second-class. Parties of them are camped down in small squares, which
become at once miniature seraglios. One square is occupied by wealthy
Moslems from Damascus, and in another is a stately person who is rumored
to be the Prince of Damascus. These turbaned and silk-clad Orientals
have spread their bright rugs and cushions, and lounge here all day and
sleep here at night; some of them entertain themselves with chess, but
the most of them only smoke and talk little. Why should they talk? has
not enough already been said in the world? At intervals during the day,
ascertaining, I do not know how, the direction of Mecca, these grave men
arise, spread their prayer-carpets, and begin in unison their kneelings
and prostrations, servants and masters together, but the servants behind
their masters. Next to them, fenced off by benches, is a harem square,
occupied by veiled women, perhaps the wives of these Moslems and perhaps
“some others.” All the deck is a study of brilliant costume.

A little later the Oriental prince turns out to be only a Turkish pasha,
who has a state-room below for himself, and another for his harem; but
in another compartment of our flower-bed of a deck is a merchant-prince
of Damascus, whose gorgeousness would impose upon people more
sophisticated than we.

“He no prince; merchant like me,” explains Achmed, “and very rich,
God be merciful.”

“But why don’t you travel about like that, Achmed, and make a fine

“For why? Anybody say Mohammed Achmed any more respect? What for I
show my rich? Take my advice. When I am dragoman, I am servant; and
dress [here a comico-sarcastic glance at his plain but handsome dragoman
apparel] not in monkey shine, like Selim—you remember him—at Jaffa,
fierce like a Bedawee. I make business. When I am by my house, that is
another thing.”

The pasha has rooms below, and these contiguous squares on deck are
occupied, the one by his suite and the other by their ladies and slaves,
all veiled and presumably beautiful, lolling on the cushions in the
ennui that appears to be their normal condition. One of them is puffing
a cigarette under her white veil at the risk of a conflagration. One of
the slaves, with an olive complexion and dark eyes, is very pretty, and
rather likes to casually leave her face uncovered for the benefit of the
infidels who are about; that her feet and legs are bare she cares still
less. This harem is, however, encroached upon by Greek women, who sprawl
about with more freedom, and regard the world without the hindrance of a
veil. If they are not handsome, they are at least not self-conscious,
as you would think women would be in baggy silk trousers and embroidered

In the afternoon we came in sight of the ancient coasts of Pamphylia and
Lycia and a lovely range of what we took to be the Karamanian mountains,
snow-covered and half hid in clouds, all remote and dim to our vision as
the historical pageant of Assyrian, Persian, and Roman armies on these
shores is to our memory. Eastward on that rugged coast we know is
Cilicia and the Tarsus of Paul and Haroun al Raschid. The sunset on
the Lycian mountains was glorious; the foot by the water was veiled
in golden mist; the sea sank from indigo to purple, and when the light
waves broke flecks of rose or blood flowed on the surface.

After dark, and before we were abreast of old Xanthus, we descried the
famous natural light which is almost as mysterious to the moderns as it
was to the ancients. The Handbook says of it: “About two miles from
the coast, through a fertile plain, and then ascending a woody glen,
the traveller arrives at the Zanar, or volcanic flame, which issues
perpetually from the mountain.” Pliny says: “Mount Chimaera, near
Phaselis, emits an unceasing flame that burns day and night.” Captain
Beaufort observed it from the ship during the night as a small but
steady light among the hills. We at first mistook it for a lighthouse.
But it was too high above the water for that, and the flame was too
large; it was rather a smoky radiance than a point of light, and yet
it had a dull red centre and a duller luminous surrounding. We regarded
with curiosity and some awe a flame that had been burning for over
twenty centuries, and perhaps was alight before the signal-fires were
kindled to announce the fall of Troy,—Nature’s own Pharos to the
ancient mariners who were without compass on these treacherous seas.

Otherwise, this classic coast is dark, extinguished is the fire on the
altar of Apollo at Patera, silent is the winter oracle of this god, and
desolate is the once luxurious metropolis of Lycia. Even Xanthus, the
capital, a name disused by the present inhabitants, has little to show
of Greek culture or Persian possession, and one must seek the fragments
of its antique art in the British Museum.

Coming on deck the next morning at the fresh hour of sunrise, I found
we were at Rhodes. We lay just off the semicircular harbor, which is
clasped by walls—partly shaken down by earthquakes—which have noble
round towers at each embracing end. Rhodes is, from the sea, one of the
most picturesque cities in the Mediterranean, although it has little
remains of that ancient splendor which caused Strabo to prefer it to
Rome or Alexandria. The harbor wall, which is flanked on each side by
stout and round stone windmills, extends up the hill, and, becoming
double, surrounds the old town; these massive fortifications of the
Knights of St. John have withstood the onsets of enemies and the tremors
of the earth, and, with the ancient moat, excite the curiosity of
this so-called peaceful age of iron-clads and monster cannon. The city
ascends the slope of the hill and passes beyond the wall. Outside and on
the right towards the sea are a picturesque group of a couple of dozen
stone windmills, and some minarets and a church-tower or two. Higher
up the hill is sprinkled a little foliage, a few mulberry-trees, and an
isolated palm or two; and, beyond, the island is only a mass of broken,
bold, rocky mountains. Of its forty-five miles of length, running
southwesterly from the little point on which the city stands, we can see
but little.

Whether or not Rhodes emerged from the sea at the command of Apollo, the
Greeks expressed by this tradition of its origin their appreciation of
its gracious climate, fertile soil, and exquisite scenery. From remote
antiquity it had fame as a seat of arts and letters, and of a vigorous
maritime power, and the romance of its early centuries was equalled if
not surpassed when it became the residence of the Knights of St. John.
I believe that the first impress of its civilization was given by the
Phoenicians; it was the home of the Dorian race before the time of the
Trojan war, and its three cities were members of the Dorian Hexapolis;
it was in fact a flourishing maritime confederacy, strong enough to
send colonies to the distant Italian coast, and Sybaris and Parthenope
(modern Naples) perpetuated the luxurious refinement of their founders.
The city of Rhodes itself was founded about four hundred years before
Christ, and the splendor of its palaces, its statues and paintings,
gave it a pre-eminence among the most magnificent cities of the ancient
world. If the earth of this island could be made to yield its buried
treasures as Cyprus has, we should doubtless have new proofs of the
influence of Asiatic civilization upon the Greeks, and be able to trace
in the early Doric arts and customs the superior civilization of the
Phoenicians, and of the masters of the latter, in science and art, the

Naturally, every traveller who enters the harbor of Rhodes hopes to see
the site of one of the seven wonders of the world, the Colossus. He is
free to place it on either mole at the entrance of the harbor, but he
comprehends at once that a statue which was only one hundred and five
feet high could never have extended its legs across the port. The fame
of this colossal bronze statue of the sun is disproportioned to the
period of its existence; it stood only fifty-six years after its
erection, being shaken down by an earthquake in the year 224 b.c., and
encumbering the ground with its fragments till the advent of the Moslem

When we landed, the town was not yet awake, except the boatmen and the
coffee-houses by the landing-stairs. The Greek boatman, whom we accepted
as our guide, made an unsuccessful excursion for bread, finding only a
black uneatable mixture, sprinkled with aromatic seeds; but we sat
under the shelter of an old sycamore in a lovely place by the shore, and
sipped our coffee, and saw the sun coming over Lycia, and shining on the
old towers and walls of the Knights.

Passing from the quay through a highly ornamented Gothic gateway, we
ascended the famous historic street, still called the Street of the
Knights, the massive houses of which have withstood the shocks of
earthquakes and the devastation of Saracenic and Turkish occupation.
At this hour the street was as deserted as it was three centuries and
a half ago, when the Knights sorrowfully sailed out of the harbor in
search of a new home. Their four months’ defence of the city., against
the overwhelming force of Suleiman the Magnificent, added a new lustre
to their valor, and extorted the admiration of the victor and the most
honorable terms of surrender. With them departed the prosperity of
Rhodes. This street, of whose palaces we have heard so much, is not
imposing; it is not wide, its solid stone houses are only two stories
high, and their fronts are now disfigured by cheap Arab balconies, but
the façades are gray with age. All along are remains of carved windows.
Gothic sculptured doorways, and shields and coats of arms, crosses and
armorial legends, are set in the walls, partially defaced by time and
accident; for the Moslems, apparently inheriting the respect of Suleiman
for the Knights, have spared the mementos of their faith and prowess.
I saw no inscriptions that are intact, but made out upon one shield the
words voluntas mei est. The carving is all beautiful.

We went through the silent streets, waking only echoes of the past, out
to the ruins of the once elegant church of St. John, which was shaken
down by a powder-explosion some thirty years ago, and utterly flattened
by an earthquake some years afterwards. Outside the ramparts we met, and
saluted frith the freedom of travellers, a gorgeous Turk who was
taking the morning air, and whom our guide in bated breath said was the
governor. In this part of the town is the Mosque of Suleiman; in the
portal are two lovely marble columns, rich with age; the lintels are
exquisitely carved with flowers, arms, casques, musical instruments,
the crossed sword and the torch, and the mandolin, perhaps the emblem of
some troubadour knight. Wherever we went we found bits of old carving,
remains of columns, sections of battlemented roofs. The town is
saturated with the old Knights. Near the mosque is a foundation of
charity, a public kitchen, at which the poor were fed or were free to
come and cook their food; it is in decay now, and the rooks were sailing
about its old round-topped chimneys.

There are no Hellenic remains in the city, and the only remembrance of
that past which we searched for was the antique coin, which has upon one
side the head of Medusa and upon the other the rose (rhoda) which gave
the town its name. The town was quiet; but in pursuit of this coin in
the Jews’ quarter we started up swarms of traders, were sent from
Isaac to Jacob, and invaded dark shops and private houses where Jewish
women and children were just beginning to complain of the morning light.
Our guide was a jolly Greek, who was willing to awaken the whole town in
search of a silver coin. The traders, when we had routed them out,
had little to show in the way of antiquities. Perhaps the best
representative of the modern manufactures of Rhodes is the wooden shoe,
which is in form like the Damascus clog, but is inlaid with more taste.
The people whom we encountered in our morning walk were Greeks or Jews.

The morning atmosphere was delicious, and we could well believe that the
climate of Rhodes is the finest in the Mediterranean, and also that it
is the least exciting of cities.

“Is it always so peaceful here?” we asked the guide.

“Nothing, if you please,” said he, “has happened here since the
powder-explosion, nothing in the least.”

“And is the town as healthy as they say?”

“Nobody dies.”

The town is certainly clean, if it is in decay. In one street we found a
row of mulberry-trees down the centre, but they were half decayed, like
the street. I shall always think of Rhodes as a silent city,—except in
the Jews’ quarter, where the hope of selling an old coin set the whole
hive humming,—and I suspect that is its normal condition.


OUR sail all day among the Ægean islands was surpassingly lovely;
our course was constantly changing to wind among them; their beautiful
outlines and the soft atmosphere that enwrapped them disposed us to
regard them in the light of Homeric history, and we did not struggle
against the illusion. They are all treeless, and for the most part have
scant traces of vegetation, except a thin green grass which seems rather
a color than a substance. Here are the little islands of Chalce and
Syme, once seats of Grecian culture, now the abode of a few thousand
sponge-fishers. We pass Telos, and Nisyros, which was once ruled by
Queen Artemisia, and had its share in the fortunes of the wars of Athens
and Sparta. It is a small round mass of rock, but it rises twenty-two
hundred feet out of the sea, and its volcanic soil is favorable to the
grape. Opposite is the site of the ruins of Cnidus, a Dorian city of
great renown, and famous for its shrine of Venus, and her statue by
Praxiteles. We get an idea of the indentation of this coast of Asia
Minor (and its consequent accessibility to early settlement and
civilization) from the fact that Cnidus is situated on a very narrow
peninsula ninety miles long.

Kos is celebrated not only for its size, loveliness, and fertility, but
as the birthplace of Apelles and of Hippocrates; the inhabitants still
venerate an enormous plane-tree under which the good physician is said
to have dispensed his knowledge of healing. The city of Kos is on a fine
plain, which gradually slopes from the mountain to the sea and is well
covered with trees. The attractive town lies prettily along the shore,
and is distinguished by a massive square mediaeval fortress, and by
round stone windmills with specially long arms.

As we came around the corner of Kos, we had a view, distant but
interesting, of the site of Halicarnassus, the modern town of Boudroum,
with its splendid fortress, which the Turks wrested from the Knights of
St. John. We sail by it with regret, for the student and traveller in
the East comes to have a tender feeling for the simple nature of the
father of history, and would forego some other pleasant experiences to
make a pilgrimage to the birthplace of Herodotus. Here, also, was born
the historian Dionysius. And here, a few years ago, were identified the
exact site and rescued the remains of another of the Seven Wonders, the
Tomb of Mausolus, built in honor of her husband by the Carian Artemisia,
who sustained to him the double relation of sister and queen. This
monument, which exhibited the perfection of Greek art, was four hundred
and eleven feet in circumference and one hundred and forty feet high.
It consisted of a round building, surrounded by thirty-six columns
surmounted by a pyramid, and upon the latter stood a colossal group of
a chariot and four horses. Some of the beautiful sculpture of this
mausoleum can be seen in the British Museum.

We were all the afternoon endeavoring to get sight of Patinos, which
the intervening islands hid from view. Every half-hour some one was
discovering it, and announcing the fact. No doubt half the passengers
will go to their graves comforted by the belief that they saw it. Some
of them actually did have a glimpse of it towards night, between the
islands of Lipso and Arki. It is a larger island than we expected to
see; and as we had understood that the Revelations were written on a
small rocky island, in fact a mere piece of rock, the feat seemed less
difficult on a good-sized island. Its height is now crowned by the
celebrated monastery of St. John, but the island is as barren and
uninviting as it was when the Romans used it as a place of banishment.

We passed Astypatæa, Kalyminos, Leros, and a sprinkling of islets (as
if a giant had sown this sea with rocks), each of which has a history,
or is graced by a legend; but their glory is of the past. The chief
support of their poor inhabitants is now the sponge-fishery. At sunset
we had before us Icaria and Samos, and on the mainland the site of
Miletus, now a fever-smitten place, whose vast theatre is almost the
sole remains of the metropolis of the Ionic confederacy. Perhaps the
centre of Ionic art and culture was, however, the island of Samos, but I
doubt not the fame of its Samian wine has carried its name further than
the exploits of its warriors, the works of its artists, or the thoughts
of its philosophers. It was the birthplace of Pythagoras; it was
once governed by Polycrates; there for a time Antony and Cleopatra
established their court of love and luxury. In the evening we sailed
close under its high cliffs, and saw dimly opposite Icaria, whose only
merit or interest lies in its association with the ill-judged aerial
voyage of Icarus, the soil of Daedalus.

Although the voyager amid these islands and along this historic coast
profoundly feels the influence of the past, and, as he reads and looks
and reflects, becomes saturated with its half-mysterious and delicious
romance, he is nevertheless scarcely able to believe that these denuded
shores and purple, rocky islets were the homes of heroes, the theatres
of world-renowned exploits, the seats of wealth and luxury and power;
that the marble of splendid temples gleamed from every summit and
headland; that rich cities clustered on every island and studded the
mainland; and that this region, bounteous in the fruits of the liberal
earth, was not less prolific in vigorous men and beautiful women,
who planted adventurous and remote colonies, and sowed around the
Mediterranean the seeds of our modern civilization. In the present
desolation and soft decay it is difficult to recall the wealth, the
diversified industry, the martial spirit, the refinement of the races
whose art and literature are still our emulation and despair. Here,
indeed, were the beginnings of our era, of our modern life,—separated
by a great gulf from the ancient civilization of the Nile,—the life of
the people, the attempts at self-government, the individual adventure,
the new development of human relations consequent upon commerce, and the
freer exchange of products and ideas.

What these islands and this variegated and genial coast of Asia Minor
might become under a government that did not paralyze effort and rob
industry, it is impossible to say; but the impression is made upon the
traveller that Nature herself is exhausted in these regions, and that it
will need the rest or change of a geologic era to restore her pristine
vigor. The prodigality and avarice of thousands of years have left the
land—now that the flame of civilization has burned out—like the
crater of an extinct volcano. But probably it is society and not nature
that is dead. The island of Rhodes, for an example, might in a few years
of culture again produce the forests that once supplied her hardy sons
with fleets of vessels, and her genial soil, under any intelligent
agriculture, would yield abundant harvests. The land is now divided into
petty holdings, and each poor proprietor scratches it just enough to
make it yield a scanty return.

During the night the steamer had come to Chios (Scio), and I rose
at dawn to see—for we had no opportunity to land—the spot almost
equally famous as the birthplace of Homer and the land of the Chian
wine. The town lies along the water for a mile or more around a shallow
bay opening to the east, a city of small white houses, relieved by
a minaret or two; close to the water’s edge are some three-story
edifices, and in front is an ancient square fort, which has a mole
extending into the water, terminated by a mediaeval bastion, behind
which small vessels find shelter. Low by the shore, on the north,
are some of the sturdy windmills peculiar to these islands, and I can
distinguish with a glass a few fragments of Byzantine and mediaeval
architecture among the common buildings. Staring at us from the middle
of the town were two big signs, with the word “Hotel.”

To the south of the town, amid a grove of trees, are the white stones
of the cemetery; the city of the dead is nearly as large as that of the
living. Behind the city are orange orchards and many a bright spot
of verdure, but the space for it is not broad. Sharp, bare, serrated,
perpendicular ridges of mountain rise behind the town, encircling it
like an amphitheatre. In the morning light these mountains are tawny and
rich in color, tinged with purple and red. Chios is a pretty picture in
the shelter of these hills, which gather for it the rays of the rising

It is now half a century since the name of Scio rang through the
civilized world as the theatre of a deed which Turkish history itself
can scarcely parallel, and the island is vigorously regaining its
prosperity. It only needs to recall the outlines of the story. The
fertile island, which is four times the extent of the Isle of Wight, was
the home of one hundred and ten thousand inhabitants, of whom only six
thousand were Turks. The Greeks of Scio were said to differ physically
and morally from all their kindred; their merchants were princes at home
and abroad, art and literature flourished, with grace and refinement of
manner, and there probably nowhere existed a society more industrious,
gay, contented, and intelligent. Tempted by some adventurers from Samos
to rebel, they drew down upon themselves the vengeance of the Turks, who
retaliated the bloody massacre of Turkish men, women, and children by
the insurrectionists, with a universal destruction. The city of Scio,
with its thirty thousand inhabitants, and seventy villages, were reduced
to ashes; twenty-five thousand of all ages and both sexes were slain,
forty-five thousand were carried away as slaves, among them women
and children who had been reared in luxury, and most of the remainder
escaped, in a destitute state, into other parts of Greece. At the end of
the summer’s harvest of death, only two thousand Sciotes were left on
the island. An apologist for the Turks could only urge that the Greeks
would have been as unmerciful under like circumstances.

None of the first-class passengers were up to see Chios,—not one for
poor Homer’s sake; but the second-class were stirring for their own,
crawling out of their comfortables, giving the babies a turn, and the
vigilant flea a taste of the morning air. When the Russian peasant, who
sleeps in the high truncated frieze cap, and in the coat which he
wore in Jerusalem,—a garment short in the waist, gathered in
pleats underneath the shoulders, and falling in stiff expanding folds
below,—when he first gets up and rubs his eyes, he is an astonished
being. His short-legged wife is already astir, and beginning to collect
the materials of breakfast. Some of the Greeks are making coffee; there
is a smell of coffee, and there are various other unanalyzed odors.
But for pilgrims, and pilgrims so closely packed that no one can stir
without moving the entire mass, these are much cleaner than they might
be expected to be, and cleaner, indeed, than they can continue to be,
and keep up their reputation. And yet, half an hour among them, looking
out from the bow for a comprehensive view of Chios, is quite enough. I
wished, then, that these people would change either their religion or
their clothes.

Last night we had singing on deck by an extemporized quartette of young
Americans, with harmonious and well-blended voices, and it was a most
delightful contrast to the caterwauling, accompanied by the darabouka,
which we constantly hear on the forward deck, and which the Arabs call
singing. Even the fat, good-humored little Moslem from Damascus, who
lives in the pen with the merchant-prince of that city, listened with
delight and declared that it was tyeb kateer. Who knows but these
people, who are always singing, have some appreciation of music after


WHEN we left Chios we sailed at first east, right into the sun,
gradually turned north and rounded the promontory of the mainland, and
then, east by south, came into the beautiful landlocked bay of Smyrna,
in which the blue water changes into a muddy green. At length we passed
on the right a Turkish fortress, which appeared as formidable as
a bathing establishment, and Smyrna lay at the bottom of the gulf,
circling the shore,—white houses, fruit-trees, and hills beyond.

The wind was north, as it always is here in the morning, and the
landing was difficult. We had the usual excitement of swarming boats and
clamorous boatmen and lively waves. One passenger went into the water
instead of the boat, but was easily fished out by his baggy trousers,
and, as he was a Greek pilgrim, it was thought that a little water would
n’t injure him. Coming to the shore we climbed with difficulty out
of the bobbing boat upon the sea-wall; the shiftless Turkish government
will do nothing to improve the landing at this great port,—if the
Sultan can borrow any money he builds a new palace on the Bosphorus, or
an ironclad to anchor in front of it.

Smyrna may be said to have a character of its own in not having any
character of its own. One of the most ancient cities on the globe, it
has no appearance of antiquity; containing all nationalities, it has no
nationality; the second commercial city of the East, it has no chamber
of commerce, no Bourse, no commercial unity; its citizens are of no
country and have no impulse of patriotism; it is an Asiatic city with
a European face; it produces nothing, it exchanges everything,—the
fabrics of Europe, the luxuries of the Orient; the children of the
East are sent to its schools, but it has no literary character nor any
influence of culture; it is hospitable to all religions, and conspicuous
for none; it is the paradise of the Turks, the home of luxury and of
beautiful women, but it is also a favorite of the mosquito, and, until
recently, it has been the yearly camp of the plague; it is not the
most healthful city in the world, and yet it is the metropolis of the

Smyrna can be compared to Damascus in its age and in its perpetuity
under all discouragements and changes,—the shocks of earthquakes, the
constant visitations of pestilence, and the rule of a hundred masters.
It was a great city before the migration of the Ionians into Asia Minor,
it saw the rise and fall of Sardis, it was restored from a paralysis
of four centuries by Alexander. Under all vicissitudes it seems to have
retained its character of a great mart of exchange, a necessity for
the trade of Asia; and perhaps the indifference of its conglomerate
inhabitants to freedom and to creeds contributed to its safety.
Certainly it thrived as well under the Christians, when it was the seat
of one of the seven churches, as it did under the Romans, when it was a
seat of a great school of sophists and rhetoricians, and it is equally
prosperous under the sway of the successor of Mohammed. During the
thousand years of the always decaying Byzantine Empire it had its share
of misfortunes, and its walls alternately, at a later day, displayed the
star and crescent, and the equal arms of the cross of St. John. Yet,
in all its history, I seem to see the trading, gay, free, but not
disorderly Smyrna passing on its even way of traffic and of pleasure.

Of its two hundred thousand and more inhabitants, about ninety thousand
are Rayah Greeks, and about eighty thousand are Turks. There is a
changing population of perhaps a thousand Europeans, there are large
bodies of Jews and Armenians, and it was recently estimated to have as
many as fifteen thousand Levantines. These latter are the descendants
of the marriage of Europeans with Greek and Jewish women; and whatever
moral reputation the Levantines enjoy in the Levant, the women of this
mixture are famous for their beauty. But the race is said to be not
self-sustaining, and is yielding to the original types. The languages
spoken in Smyrna are Turkish, a Greek dialect (the Romaic), Spanish,
Italian, Trench, English, and Arabic, probably prevailing in the order
named. Our own steamer was much more Oriental than the city of Smyrna.
As soon as we stepped ashore we seemed to have come into a European
city; the people almost all wear the Frank dress, the shops offer little
that is peculiar. One who was unfamiliar with bazaars might wonder at
the tangle of various lanes, but we saw nothing calling for comment. A
walk through the Jewish quarter, here as everywhere else the dirtiest
and most picturesque in the city, will reward the philosophic traveller
with the sight of lovely women lolling at every window. It is not
the fashion for Smyrniote ladies to promenade the streets, but they
mercifully array themselves in full toilet and stand in their doorways.

The programme of the voyage of the Achille promised us a day and a half
in Smyrna, which would give us time to visit Ephesus. We were due Friday
noon; we did not arrive till Saturday noon. This vexatious delay had
caused much agitation on board; to be cheated out of Ephesus was an
outrage which the tourists could not submit to; they had come this way
on purpose to see Ephesus. They would rather give up anything else in
the East. The captain said he had no discretion, he must sail at 4 p. M.
The passengers then prepared a handsome petition to the agent, begging
him to detain the steamer till eight o’clock, in order to permit them
to visit Ephesus by a special train. There is a proclivity in all those
who can write to sign any and every thing except a subscription paper,
and this petition received fifty-six eager and first-class signatures.
The agent at Smyrna plumply refused our request, with unnecessary
surliness; but upon the arrival of the captain, and a consultation
which no doubt had more reference to freight than to the petition, the
official agreed, as a special favor, to detain the steamer till eight
o’clock, but not a moment longer.

We hastened to the station of the Aidin Railway, which runs eighty miles
to Aidin, the ancient Tralles, a rich Lydian metropolis of immemorial
foundation. The modern town has perhaps fifty thousand inhabitants, and
is a depot for cotton and figs; that sweetmeat of Paradise, the halva,
is manufactured there, and its great tanneries produce fine yellow
Morocco leather. The town lies only three miles from the famous
tortuous Mæander, and all the region about it is a garden of vines
and fruit-trees. The railway company is under English management, which
signifies promptness, and the special train was ready in ten minutes;
when lo! of the fifty-six devotees of Ephesus only eleven appeared. We
were off at once; good engine, solid track, clean, elegant, comfortable
carnages. As we moved out of the city the air was full of the odor of
orange-blossoms; we crossed the Meles, and sped down a valley, very
fertile, smiling with grain-fields, green meadows, groves of midberry,
oranges, figs, with blue hills,—an ancient Mount Olympus, beyond which
lay green Sardis, in the distance, a country as lovely and home-like as
an English or American farm-land. We had seen nothing so luxuriant and
thriving in the East before. The hills, indeed, were stripped of trees,
but clad on the tops with verdure, the result of plentiful rains.

We went “express.” The usual time of trains is three hours; we ran
over the fifty miles in an hour and a quarter. We could hardly believe
our senses, that we were in a luxurious carriage, flying along at this
rate in Asia, and going to Ephesus! While we were confessing that the
lazy swing of the carriage was more agreeable than that of the donkey
or the dromedary, the train pulled up at station Ayasolook, once the
residence of the Sultans of Ayasolook, and the camp of Tamerlane, now a
cluster of coffeehouses and railway-offices, with a few fever-stricken
inhabitants, who prey upon travellers, not with Oriental courtesy, but
with European insolence.

On our right was a round hill surmounted by a Roman castle; from the
hills on the left, striding across the railway towards Ephesus, were the
tall stone pillars of a Roman aqueduct, the brick arches and conductor
nearly all fallen away. On the summit of nearly every pillar a white,
red-legged stork had built, from sticks and grass, a high round nest,
which covered the top; and the bird stood in it motionless, a beautiful
object at that height against the sky.

The station people had not obeyed our telegram to furnish enough horses,
and those of us who were obliged to walk congratulated ourselves on the
mistake, since the way was as rough as the steeds. The path led over a
ground full of stone débris. This was the site of Ayasolook, which had
been built out of the ruins of the old city; most picturesque objects
were the small mosque-tombs and minarets, which revived here the most
graceful forms and fancies of Saracenic art. One, I noticed, which had
the ideal Persian arch and slender columns, Nature herself had taken
into loving care and draped with clinging green and hanging vines. There
were towers of brick, to which age has given a rich tone, flaring at the
top in a curve that fascinated the eye. On each tomb, tower, and minaret
the storks had nested, and upon each stood the mother looking down
upon her brood. About the crumbling sides of a tower, thus draped and
crowned, innumerable swallows had built their nests, so that it was
alive with birds, whose cheerful occupation gave a kind of pathos to the
human desertion and decay.

Behind the Roman castle stands the great but ruinous mosque of Sultan
Selim, which was formerly the Church of St. John. We did not turn
aside for its empty glory, but to the theologian or the student of the
formation of Christian dogmas, and of the gladiatorial spectacles of an
ancient convocation, there are few arenas in the East more interesting
than this; for in this church it is supposed were held the two councils
of a. d. 431 and 449. St. John, after his release from Patmos, passed
the remainder of his life here; the Virgin Mary followed him to the
city, so favored by the presence of the first apostles, and here she
died and was buried. From her entombment, Ephesus for a long time
enjoyed the reputation of the City of the Virgin, until that honor
was transferred to Jerusalem, where, however, her empty tomb soon
necessitated her resurrection and assumption,—the subject which
inspired so many artists after the revival of learning in Europe. In the
hill near this church Mary Magdalene was buried; in Ephesus also reposed
the body of St. Timothy, its first bishop.

This church of St. John was at some distance from the heart of the city,
which lay in the plain to the south and near the sea, but in the fifth
century Ephesus was a city of churches. The reader needs to remember
that in that century the Christian controversy had passed from the
nature of the Trinity to the incarnation, and that the first council of
Ephesus was called by the emperor Theodosius in the hope of establishing
the opinion of the Syrian Nestorius, the primate of Constantinople, who
refused to give to the mother of Christ the title, then come into use,
of the Mother of God, and discriminated nicely the two natures of
the Saviour. His views were anathematized by Cyril, the patriarch
of Alexandria, and the dispute involved the entire East in a fierce
contest. In the council convened of Greek bishops, Nestorius had no
doubt but he would be sustained by the weight of authority; but the
prompt Cyril, whose qualities would have found a conspicuous and useful
theatre at the head of a Roman army against the Scythians, was first on
the ground, with an abundance of spiritual and temporal arms. In reading
of this council, one recalls without effort the once famous and now
historical conventions of the Democratic party of the State of New
York, in the days when political salvation, offered in the creeds of
the “Hard Shells” and of the “Soft Shells,” was enforced by
the attendance of gangs of “Short boys” and “Tammany boys,” who
understood the use of slung-shot against heretical opinions. It is true
that Nestorius had in reserve behind his prelates the stout slaves of
the bath of Zeuxippus, but Cyril had secured the alliance of the bishop
of Ephesus, and the support of the rabble of peasants and slaves who
were easily excited to jealousy for the honor of the Virgin of their
city; and he landed from Egypt, with his great retinue of bishops, a
band of merciless monks of the Nile, of fanatics, mariners, and slaves,
who took a ready interest in the theological discussions of those days.
The council met in this church, surrounded by the fierce if not martial
array of Cyril; deliberations were begun before the arrival of the
most weighty supporters of Nestorius,—for Cyril anticipated the
slow approach of John of Antioch and his bishops,—and in one day the
primate of Constantinople was hastily deposed and cursed, together with
his heresy. Upon the arrival of John, he also formed a council, which
deposed and cursed the opposite party and heresy, and for three
months Ephesus was a scene of clamor and bloodshed. The cathedral was
garrisoned, the churches were shut against the Nestorians; the imperial
troops assaulted them and were repelled; the whole city was thrown into
a turmoil by the encounters of the rival factions, each council
hurled its anathemas at the other, and peace was only restored by
the dissolution of the council by command of the emperor. The second
session, in the year 449, was shorter and more decisive; it made quick
work of the heresy of Nestorius. Africa added to its delegation of
bullies and fanatics a band of archers; the heresy of the two natures
was condemned and anathematized,—

“May those who divide Christ be divided with the sword, may they be
hewn in pieces, may they be burned alive,”—and the scene in the
cathedral ended in a mob of monks and soldiers, who trampled upon
Flavian, the then primate of Constantinople, so that in three days
thereafter he died of his wounds.

It is as difficult to make real now upon this spot those fierce
theologic wars of Ephesus, as it is the fabled exploits of Bacchus and
Hercules and the Amazons in this valley; to believe that here were born
Apollo and Diana, and that hither fled Latona, and that great Pan lurked
in its groves.

We presently came upon the site of the great Temple of Diana, recently
identified by Mr. Wood. We encountered on our way a cluster of stone
huts, wretched habitations of the only representatives of the renowned
capital. Before us was a plain broken by small hillocks and mounds,
and strewn with cut and fractured stone. The site of the temple can be
briefly and accurately described as a rectangular excavation, perhaps
one hundred and fifty feet wide by three hundred long and twelve feet
deep, with two feet of water in it, out of which rises a stump of a
column of granite and another of marble, and two bases of marble. Round
this hole are heaps of fractured stone and marble. In this excavation
Mr. Wood found the statue of Diana, which we may hope is the ancient
sacred image, guarded by the priests as the most precious treasure of
the temple, and imposed upon the credulity of men as heaven-descended.
This is all that remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the world,—a
temple whose fame is second to none in antiquity; a temple seven times
burned and eight times built, and always with increased magnificence;
a temple whose origin, referable doubtless to the Cyclopean builders of
this coast, cannot be less than fifteen hundred years before our era; a
temple which still had its votaries and its rites in the fourth century.
We picked up a bit of marble from its ruins, as a help-both to memory
and imagination, but we went our way utterly unable to conceive that
there ever existed any such person as great Diana of the Ephesians.

We directed our steps over the bramble-grown plain to the hill Pion.
I suppose Pion may have been the acropolis of Ephesus, the spot of
the earliest settlement, and on it and around it clustered many of the
temples and public buildings. The reader will recall Argos, and Athens,
and Corinth, and a dozen other cities of antiquity, for which nature
furnished in the midst of a plain such a convenient and easily defended
hill-fortress. On our way thither we walked amid mounds that form a
street of tombs; many of the sarcophagi are still in place, and little
injured; but we explore the weed-hid ground with caution, for it is full
of pitfalls.

North of the hill Pion is a low green valley, encircled with hills, and
in the face of one of its ledges, accessible only by a ladder, we were
pointed out the cave of the Seven Sleepers. This favorite myth, which
our patriotism has transferred to the highlands of the Hudson in a
modified shape, took its most popular form in the legend of the Seven
Sleepers, and this grotto at Ephesus was for many centuries the object
of Christian and Moslem pilgrimage. The Christian legend, that in the
time of the persecution of Diocletian seven young men escaped to this
cave and slept there two centuries, and awoke to find Christianity the
religion of the empire, was adopted and embellished by Mohammed. In
his version, the wise dog Ketmehr, or Al Rakiin as the Koran names him,
becomes an important character.

“When the young men,” says Abd-el-Atti, “go along the side of the
hill to the cave, the dog go to follow them. They take up stones to
make him go back, for they ‘fraid of him bark, and let the people know
where they hide. But the dog not to go back, he sit down on him hind,
and him look berry wise. By and by he speak, he say the name of God.

“‘How did you know that?’ ask him the young men.

“‘I know it,’ the dog say, ‘before you born!’

“Then they see the dog he wise by Allah, and know great deal, and let
him to go with ‘em. This dog, Ketmehr, he is gone, so our Prophet say,
to be in Paradise; no other dog be there. So I hope.”

The names of the Seven Sleepers and Ketmehr are in great talismanic
repute throughout the East; they are engraved upon swords and upon gold
and precious stones, and in Smyrna you may buy these charms against

Keeping round the hill Pion, we reached the ruins of the gymnasium,
heaps of stone amid brick arches, the remains of an enormous building;
near it is the north gate of the city, a fine marble structure, now
almost buried. Still circling Pion we found ourselves in a narrow
valley, on the other side of which was the long ridge of Conessus,
which runs southward towards the sea. Conessus seems to have been the
burial-place of the old town. This narrow valley is stuffed with remains
of splendid buildings, of which nothing is now to be seen but heaps of
fine marble, walls, capitals, columns, in prodigal waste. We stopped to
admire a bit of carving, or to notice a Greek inscription, and passed on
to the Stadium, to the Little Theatre, to the tomb of St. Luke. On one
of the lintels of the entrance of this tomb, in white marble, as fresh
as if carved yesterday, is a cross, and under it the figure of an
Egyptian ox, the emblem of that saint.

We emerged from this gorge to a wide view of the plain, and a glimpse
of an arm of the sea. On this plain are the scattered ruins of the old
city, brick, stone, and marble,—absolute desolation. On the left, near
the sea, is a conical hill, crowned by one of the towers of the ancient
wall, and dignified with the name of the “prison of St. Paul.” In
this plain is neither life nor cultivation, but vegetation riots over
the crumbling remains of Ephesus, and fever waits there its chance human
prey. We stood on the side of the hill Pion, amid the fallen columns
and heaped walls of its Great Theatre. It was to this theatre that
the multitude rushed when excited against Paul by Demetrius, the
silversmith, who earned his religion into his business; and here the
companions of Paul endeavored to be heard and could not, for “all with
one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the
Ephesians.” This amphitheatre for fifty thousand spectators is scooped
out of the side of the hill, and its tiers of seats are still indicated.
What a magnificent view they must have enjoyed of the city and the sea
beyond; for the water then came much nearer; and the spectator who may
have wearied of the strutting of the buskined heroes on the stage, or of
the monotonous chant of the chorus, could rest his eye upon the purple
slopes of Conessus, upon the colonnades and domes of the opulent
city, upon the blue waves that bore the merchants’ ships of Rome and
Alexandria and Berytus.

The theatre is a mine of the most exquisite marbles, and we left its
treasures with reluctance; we saw other ruins, bases of columns, the
remains of the vast city magazines for the storage of corn, and solid
walls of huge stones once washed by the sea; we might have wandered for
days amid the fragments, but to what purpose?

At Ephesus we encountered no living thing. Man has deserted it, silence
reigns over the plain, nature slowly effaces the evidence of his
occupation, and the sea even slinks away from it. No great city that I
have seen is left to such absolute desolation; not Pæstum in its marsh,
not Thebes in its sand, not Ba’albek, not even Memphis, swept clean
as it is of monuments, for its site is vocal with labor and bounteous in
harvests. Time was, doubtless, when gold pieces piled two deep on this
ground could not have purchased it; and the buyers or sellers never
imagined that the city lots of Ephesus could become worth so little as
they are to-day.

If one were disposed to muse upon the vagaries of human progress, this
would be the spot. No civilization, no religion, has been wanting to it.
Its vast Cyclopean foundations were laid by simple pagans; it was in the
polytheistic belief of the Greeks that it attained the rank of one of
the most polished and wealthy cities of antiquity, famed for its arts,
its schools of poetry, of painting and sculpture, of logic and magic,
attracting to its opportunities the devout, the seekers of pleasure
and of wisdom, the poets, the men of the world, the conquerors and the
defeated; here Artemisia sheltered the children of Xerxes after the
disaster of Salamis; here Alexander sat for his portrait to Apelles (who
was born in the city) when he was returning from the capture of Sardis;
Spartans and Athenians alike, Lysander and Alcibiades, sought Ephesus,
for it had something for all; Hannibal here conferred with Antiochus;
Cicero was entertained with games by the people when he was on his way
to his province of Cilicia; and Antony in the character of inebriate
Bacchus, accompanied by Cleopatra, crowned with flowers and attended
by bands of effeminate musicians, made here one of the pageants of his
folly. In fact, scarcely any famous name of antiquity is wanting to the
adornment of this hospitable city. Under the religion of Christ it has
had the good fortune to acquire equal celebrity, thanks to the residence
of Paul, the tent-maker, and to its conspicuous position at the head of
the seven churches of Asia. From Ephesus went forth the * news of
the gospel, as formerly had spread the rites of Diana, and Christian*
churches and schools of philosophy succeeded the temples and gymnasia of
the polytheists. And, in turn, the cross was supplanted by the crescent;
but it was in the day when Islamism was no longer a vital faith, and
except a few beautiful ruins the Moslem occupation has contributed
nothing to the glory of Ephesus. And now paganism, Christianity, and
Moslemism seem alike to have forsaken the weary theatre of so much
brilliant history. As we went out to the station, by the row of booths
and coffee-shops, a modern Greek, of I do not know what religion,
offered to sell me an image of I do not know what faith.

There is great curiosity at present about the relics and idols of dead
religions, and a brisk manufacture of them has sprung up; it is in the
hands of sceptics who indifferently propagate the images of the Virgin
Mary or of the chaste huntress Diana.

The swift Asiatic train took us back to Smyrna in a golden sunset.
We had been warned by the agent not to tarry a moment beyond eight
o’clock, and we hurried breathless to the boat. Fortunately the
steamer had not sailed; we were in time, and should have been if we had
remained on shore till eight the next morning. All night long we were
loading freight, with an intolerable rattling of chains, puffing of the
donkey-engine, and swearing of boatmen; after the novelty of swearing in
an Oriental tongue has worn off, it is no more enjoyable than any other
kind of profanity.


WE sailed away from Smyrna Sunday morning, with the Achille more crowded
than when we entered that port. The second-class passengers still
further encroached upon the first-class. The Emir of Damascus, with all
his rugs and beds, had been pushed farther towards the stern, and more
harems occupied temporary pens on our deck, and drew away our attention
from the natural scenery.

The venerable, white-bearded, Greek bishop of Smyrna was a passenger,
also the tall noble-looking pasha of that city, just relieved and
ordered to Constantinople, as pashas are continually, at the whim of the
Sultan. We had three pashas on board,—one recalled from Haifa, who had
been only twenty days at his post. The pasha of Smyrna was accompanied
by his family, described on the register as his wife and “four
others,” an indefinite expression to define an indefinite condition.
The wife had a room below; the “four others” were penned up in a
cushioned area on the saloon deck, and there they squatted all day,
veiled and robed in white, poor things, without the least occupation
for hand or mind. Near them, other harems of Greeks and Turks, women,
babies, slaves, all in an Oriental mess, ate curds and green lettuce.

We coasted along the indented, picturesque shore of Asia, having in
view the mountains about ancient Pergamus, the seat of one of the seven
churches; and before noon came to Mitylene, the ancient Lesbos, a large
island which bears another Mount Olympus, and cast anchor in the bay
upon which the city stands.

By the bend of the bay and the opposite coast, the town is charmingly
land-locked. The site of Mitylene, like so many of these island cities,
is an amphitheatre, and the mountain-slopes, green and blooming with
fruit-trees, are dotted with white houses and villages. The scene is
Italian rather than Oriental, and gives one the general impression of
Castellamare or Sorrento; but the city is prettier to look at than
to explore, as its broad and clean streets, its ordinary houses and
European-dressed inhabitants, take us out of our ideal voyaging, and
into the regions of the commonplace. The shops were closed, and the
country people, who in all countries appear to derive an unexplained
pleasure in wandering about the streets of a city hand in hand, were
seeking this mild recreation. A youthful Jew, to whom the Sunday was
naught, under pretence of showing us something antique, led us into the
den of a Greek, to whom it was also naught, and whose treasures were
bags of defaced copper coins of the Roman period.

Upon the point above the city is a fine mediaeval fortress, now a
Turkish fort, where we encountered, in the sentinel at the gate, the
only official in the Orient who ever refused backsheesh; I do not know
what his idea is. From the walls we looked upon the blue strait, the
circling, purple hills of Asia, upon islands, pretty villages, and
distant mountains, soft, hazy, serrated, in short, upon a scene of
poetry and peace, into which the ancient stone bastion by the harbor,
which told of days of peril, and a ruined aqueduct struggling down the
hill back of the town,—the remnant of more vigorous days,—brought no

In Lesbos we are at the source of lyric poetry, the Æolian spring
of Greece; here Alcæus was born. Here we come upon the footsteps of
Sappho. We must go back to a period when this and all the islands of
these heavenly seas were blooming masses of vegetation, the hills hung
with forests, the slopes purple with the vine, the valleys laughing with
flowers and fruit, and everywhere the primitive, joyful Greek life. No
doubt, manners were somewhat rude, and passions, love, and hate, and
revenge, were frankly exhibited; but in all the homely life ran a
certain culture, which seems to us beautiful even in the refinement
of this shamefaced age. The hardy youth of the islands sailed into far
seas, and in exchange for the bounty of their soil brought back foreign
fabrics of luxury. We know that Lesbos was no stranger to the Athenian
influence, its scholars had heard Plato and Aristotle, and the warriors
of Athens respected it both as a foe and an ally. Charakos, a brother
of Sappho, went to Egypt with a ship full of wine, and returned with the
beautiful slave Doricha, as part at least of the reward of his venture.

After the return of Sappho and her husband from their flight into
Sicily, the poet lived for many years at Mitylene; but she is supposed
to have been born in Eresso, on the southwestern point of the island,
where the ruins of the acropolis and remains of a sea-wall still mark
the site of the famous town. At any rate, she lived there, with her
husband Kerkylas, a landed proprietor and a person of consequence, like
a dame of noble birth and gentle breeding as she was; and in her verse
we have a glimpse of her walking upon the sandy shore, with her little
daughter, the beautiful child whom she would not give up for the kingdom
of Lydia, nor for heavenly Lesbos itself. That Sappho was beautiful as
her image on the ancient coins represents her, and that she was consumed
by passion for a handsome youth, the world likes to believe. But Maximus
of Tyre says that she was small and dark;—graces are not so plenty,
even in heaven, that genius and beauty can be lavished upon one person.
We are prone to insist that the poet who revels in imagination and
sounds the depth of passion is revealing his own heart, and that the
tale that seems so real must be a personal experience. The little
glimpse we have of Sappho’s life does not warrant us to find in it the
passionate tempest of her burning lyrics, nor is it consistent with her
social position that she should expose upon the market-place her passion
for the handsome Phaon, like a troubadour of the Middle Ages or a
Zingara of Bohemia. If that consuming fire was only quenched in the sea
at the foot of “Leucadia’s far-projecting rock of woe,” at least
our emotion may be tempered by the soothing knowledge that the leap must
have been taken when the enamored singer had passed her sixtieth year.

We did not see them at Mitylene, but travellers into the interior speak
of the beautiful women, the descendants of kings’ daughters, the
rewards of Grecian heroes; near old Eresso the women preserve the type
of that indestructible beauty, and in the large brown eyes, voluptuous
busts, and elastic gait one may deem that he sees the originals of the
antique statues.

Another famous woman flits for a moment before us at Lesbos. It is the
celebrated Empress Irene, whose cruelty was hardly needed to preserve a
name that her talent could have perpetuated. An Athenian virgin and an
orphan, at seventeen she became the wife of Leo IV. (a. d. 780), and at
length the ruler of the Eastern Empire. Left the guardian of the empire
and her son Constantine VI., she managed both, until the lad in his
maturity sent his mother into retirement. The restless woman conspired
against him; he fled, was captured and brought to the palace and lodged
in the porphyry chamber where he first had seen the light, and where he
last saw it; for his eyes were put out by the order of Irene. His very
existence was forgotten in the depths of the palace, and for several
years the ambitious mother reigned with brilliancy and the respect of
distant potentates, until a conspiracy of eunuchs overturned her power,
and she was banished to Lesbos. Here history, which delights in these
strokes of poetic justice, represents the empress earning her bread by
the use of her distaff.

As we came from Mitylene into the open sea, the view was surpassingly
lovely, islands green and poetic, a coast ever retreating and advancing,
as if in coquetry with the blue waves, purple robing the hills,—a
voyage for poets and lotus-eaters. We were coming at night to Tenedos,
to which the crafty Greeks withdrew their fleet when they pretended to
abandon the siege, and to old Troy, opposite; we should be able to feel
their presence in the darkness.

Our steamer, as we have intimated, was a study of nationalities and
languages, as well as of manners. We were English, American, Greek,
Italian, Turkish, Arab, Russian, French, Armenian, Egyptian, Jew,
Georgian, Abyssinian, Nubian, German, Koor-land, Persian, Kurd; one
might talk with a person just from Mecca or Medina, from Bagdad, from
Calcutta, from every Greek or Turkish island, and from most of the
capitals of Europe. A couple of Capuchins, tonsured, in brown serge
with hanging crosses, walked up and down amid the throng of Christians,
Moslems, and pagans, withdrawn from the world while in it, like beings
of a new sex. There was a couple opposite us at table whom we could
not make out,—either recently married or recently eloped, the man
apparently a Turkish officer, and his companion a tall, showy woman, you
might say a Frenchman’s idea of physical beauty, a little like a
wax Madonna, but with nothing holy about her; said by some to be a
Circassian, by others to be a French grisette on an Eastern tour; but
she spoke Italian, and might be one of the Continental countesses.

The square occupied by the emir and his suite—a sort of bazaar of
rugs and narghilehs—had music all day long; a soloist, on three
notes, singing, in the Arab drawl, an unending improvised ballad, and
accompanying himself on the mandolin. When we go to look at and listen
to him, the musician betrays neither self-consciousness nor pride,
unless you detect the latter in a superior smile that plays about
his lips, as he throws back his head and lets his voice break into a
falsetto. It probably does not even occur to his Oriental conceit
that he does well,—that his race have taken for granted a thousand
years,—and he could not be instructed by the orchestra of Von Bulow,
nor be astonished by the Lohengrin of Wagner.

Among the adventurers on board—we all had more or less the appearance
of experiments in that odd assembly—I particularly liked the French
prestidigitateur Caseneau, for his bold eye, utter self-possession, and
that indefinable varnish upon him, which belonged as much to his dress
as to his manner, and suggested the gentleman without concealing the
adventurer. He had a taste for antiquities, and wore some antique gems,
which had I know not what mysterious about them, as if he had inherited
them from an Ephesian magician or a Saracenic doctor of the black
art. At the table after dinner, surrounded by French and Italians,
the conjurer exhibited some tricks at cards. I dare say they were not
extraordinary, yet they pleased me just as well as the manifestations
of the spiritists. One of them I noted. The trickster was blindfolded. A
gentleman counted out a pack of cards, and while doing so mentally fixed
upon one of them by number. Caseneau took the pack, still blinded, and
threw out the card the gentleman had thought of. The experiment was
repeated by sceptics, who suspected a confederate, but the result was
always the same.

The Circassian beauty turned out to be a Jewess from Smyrna. I believe
the Jewesses of that luxurious city imitate all the kinds of beauty in
the world.

In the evening the Italians were grouped around the tables in the
saloon, upon which cards were cast about, matched, sorted, and
redistributed, and there were little piles of silver at the corners,
the occasional chinking of which appeared to add to the interest of the
amusement. On deck the English and Americans were singing the hymns
of the Protestant faith; and in the lull of the strains of “O mother
dear, Jerusalem,” you might hear the twang of strings and the whine of
some Arab improvisatore on the forward deck, and the chink of changing
silver below. We were making our way through a superb night,—a
thousand people packed so closely that you could not move without
stepping into a harem or a mass of Greek pilgrims,—singing hymns,
gambling, listening to a recital of the deeds of Antar, over silver
waves, under a flooding moon, and along the dim shores of Asia. That
mysterious continent lay in the obscurity of the past; here and there
solitary lights, from some shepherd’s hut in the hills or fortress
casemate by the shore, were the rents in the veil through which we saw


THE Achille, which has a nose for freight, but none for poetry, did not
stop at Tenedos, puffed steadily past the plain of Troy, turned into the
broad opening of the Dardanelles, and by daylight was anchored midway
between the Two Castles. On such a night, if ever, one might see the
evolution of shadowy armies upon the windy plain,—if, indeed, this
conspicuous site was anything more than the theatre of Homer’s
creations,—the spectators on the walls of Ilium, the Greeks hastily
embarking on their ships for Tenedos, the joyful procession that drew
the fatal gift into the impregnable walls.

There is a strong current southward through the Dardanelles, which swung
the vessel round as we came to anchor. The forts which, with their heavy
modern guns, completely command this strait, are something less than
a mile and a half apart, and near each is a large and handsome
town,—Khilid-bahri on the European shore and Chanak-Kalesi on the
Asiatic. The latter name signifies the pottery-castle, and is derived
from the chief manufactory of the place; the town of a couple of
thousand houses, gayly painted and decorated in lively colors, lies
upon a sandy flat and presents a very cheerful appearance. It is a great
Asiatic entrepôt for European products, and consular flags attest its
commercial importance.

When I came upon deck its enterprising traders had already boarded
the steamer, and encumbered it with their pottery, which found a ready
market with the pilgrims, for it is both cheap and ugly. Perhaps we
should rather say fantastic than ugly. You see specimens of it all over
the East, and in the bazaars of Cairo, Jerusalem, and Damascus it may be
offered you as something rare. Whatever the vessel is,—a pitcher, cup,
vase, jar, or cream-pot,—its form is either that of some impossible
animal, some griffin, or dragon, or dog of the underworld, or its spout
is the neck and head of some fantastic monster. The ware is painted
in the most startling reds, greens, yellows, and blacks, and sometimes
gilt, and then glazed. It is altogether hideous, and fascinating enough
to drive the majolica out of favor.

Above these two towns the strait expands into a sort of bay, formed on
the north by a promontory jutting out from the Asiatic shore, and upon
this promontory it is now agreed stood old Abydos; it is occupied by a
fort which grimly regards a corresponding one on the opposite shore, not
a mile distant. Here Leander swam to Hero, Byron to aquatic fame, and
here Xerxes laid his bridge. All this is plain to be seen; this is the
narrowest part of the passage; exactly opposite this sloping site of
Abydos is a depression between two high cliffs, the only point where the
Persian could have rested the European extremity of his bridge; and it
surely requires no stretch of the imagination to see Hero standing upon
this projecting point holding the torch for her lover.

The shore is very pretty each side, not bold, but quiet scenery; and yet
there is a contrast: on the Asiatic horizon are mountains, rising behind
each other, while the narrow peninsula, the Thracian Chersonesus of the
ancients, which forms the western bank of the Dardanelles, offers only
a range of moderate hills. What a beautiful stream, indeed, is this, and
how fond history has been of enacting its spectacles upon it! How the
civilizations of the East and West, in a continual flow and reflow, push
each other across it! With a sort of periodic regularity it is the scene
of a great movement, and from age to age the destinies of the race have
seemed to hang upon its possession; and from time to time the attention
of the world is concentrated upon this water-street between two
continents. Under whatever name, the Oriental civilization has been
a misfortune, and the Western a blessing to the border-land; and how
narrowly has Europe, more than once, from Xerxes to Chosroes, from Omar
to the Osmanlis, seemed to escape the torrent of Eastern slavery. Once
the culture of Greece passed these limits, and annexed all Asia Minor
and the territory as far as the Euphrates to the empire of intelligence.
Who shall say that the day is not at hand when the ancient movement of
free thought, if not of Grecian art and arms, is about to be renewed,
and Europe is not again to impose its laws and manners upon Little Asia?
The conquest, which one sees going on under his eyes, is not indeed
with the pomp of armies, but by the more powerful and enduring might of
commerce, intercourse, and the weight of a world’s opinion diffused by
travel and literature. The Osmanli sits supinely and watches the change;
the Greeks, the rajahs of all religions, establish schools, and the new
generation is getting ready for the revolution; the Turk does not care
for schools. That it may be his fate to abandon European Turkey and even
Constantinople, he admits. But it is plain that if he goes thus far he
must go farther; and that he must surrender a good part of the Roman
Eastern Empire. For any one can see that the Hellespont could not be
occupied by two powers, and that it is no more possible to divide the
control of the Bosphorus than it is that of the Hudson or the Thames.

The morning was cold, and the temperature as well as the sky admonished
us that we were passing out of the warm latitude. Twenty-five miles from
the Chang and Eng forts we passed near but did not call at Gallipoli,
an ancient city with few antiquities, but of great strategic importance.
Whoever holds it has the key to Constantinople and the Black Sea; it was
seized by the Moslems in the thirteenth century before they imposed the
religion of the Koran upon the city of Constantine, and it was early
occupied by the English and French, in 1854, in the war that secured
that city to the successor of the Prophet.

Entering upon the Sea of Marmora, the “vexed Propontis,” we had
fortunately smooth water but a cold north-wind. The Propontis has
enjoyed a nauseous reputation with all mariners, ancient and modern. I
don’t know that its form has anything to do with it, but if the reader
will take the trouble to consult a map, he will see how nearly this
hag of water, with its two ducts, the Bosphorus and the Hellespont,
resembles a human stomach. There is nothing to be seen in the voyage
from Gallipoli to Constantinople, except the island of Marmora, famous
for the quarries which furnish marbles for the palaces of the Bosphorus
and for Eyoub and Scutari, the two great cities of the dead. We passed
near enough to distinguish clearly its fine perpendicular cliffs.

It was dark before we saw the lights of Stamboul rise out of the water;
it is impossible, at night, to enter the Golden Horn through the mazes
of shipping, and we cast anchor outside. The mile or two of gas-lights
along the promontory of the old city and the gleams upon the coast of
ancient Chalcedon were impressive and exciting to the imagination, but,
owing to the lateness of our arrival, we lost all the emotions which
have, struck other travellers anything but dumb upon coming in sight of
the capital of the Moslem Empire.


THE capital which we know as Constantinople, lying in two continents,
presents itself as three cities. The long, hornshaped promontory,
between the Sea of Marmora and the Golden Horn, is the site of ancient
Byzantium, which Constantine baptized with his own name, and which the
Turks call Stamboul. The ancient city was on the eastern extremity, now
known as Seraglio Point; its important position was always recognized,
and it was sharply contended for by the Spartans, the Athenians, the
Macedonians, and the Persians. Like the city of Romulus, it occupies
seven hills, and its noble heights are conspicuous from afar by sea or
land.. In the fourth century it was surrounded by a wall, which followed
the water on three sides, and ran across the base of the promontory,
over four miles from the Seven Towers on the Propontis to the Cemetery
of Eyoub on the Golden Horn. The land-wall, which so many times saved
the effeminate city from the barbarians of the north and the Saracens
of Arabia, stands yet with its battered towers and score of crumbling

The second city, on a blunt promontory between the Golden Horn and the
Bosphorus, overlooks the ancient Byzantium, and is composed of three
districts,—Galata and Tophanna, on the water and climbing up the hill;
and Pera, which crowns the summit. Galata was a commercial settlement of
the thirteenth century; Pera is altogether modern.

The third city is Scutari, exactly opposite the mouth of the Golden
Horn, and a little north of ancient Chalcedon, which was for over a
thousand years the camp of successive besieging armies, Georgians,
Persians, Saracens, and Turks.

The city of the Crescent, like a veiled beauty of the harem, did not at
once disclose to us its charms. It was at six o’clock in the morning
on the eleventh day of blooming May, that we landed on the dirty quay of
Tophanna. The morning was cloudy, cold, misty, getting its weather
from the Black Sea, and during the day rain fell in a very Occidental
dreariness. Through the mist loomed the heights of Seraglio Point; and
a hundred minaret peaks and domes appeared to float in the air above the
veiled city. Along the floating lower bridge, across the Golden Horn,
poured an unceasing procession of spectres; caïques were shooting about
in every direction, steamers for the Bosphorus, for Scutari, for the
Islands, were momently arriving and departing from their stations
below the bridge, and the huge bulk of the Turkish ironclads could be
discerned at their anchorage before the palace of Beshiktash. The
scene was animated, but there was not visible as much shipping as I had
expected to see in this great port.

The customs’ official on the quay was of a very inquisitive turn of
mind, but we could excuse him on the ground of his age and ignorance,
for he was evidently endeavoring to repair the neglected opportunities
of his youth. Our large luggage had gone to the custom-house in charge
of Abd-el-Atti, who has a genius for free-trade, and only our small
parcels and hand-bags were at the mercy of the inspector on the quay.
But he insisted upon opening every bag and investigating every article
of the toilet and garment of the night; he even ripped open a feather
pillow which one of the ladies carried with her, and neither the rain on
the open dock nor our respectable appearance saved our effects from his
most searching attentions. The discoveries of General di Ces-nola and
the interest that Europeans take in antiquities have recently convinced
the Turks that these relics must have some value, and an order had been
issued to seize and confiscate all curiosities of this sort. I
trembled, therefore, when the inspector got his hands upon a baby’s
nursing-bottle, which I had brought from Cyprus, where it had been used
by some Phoenician baby probably three thousand years ago. The fellow
turned it round and regarded it with serious ignorance and doubt.

“What is that?” he asked Achmed.

“O, that’s nothing but a piece of pottery, something for a child
without his mother, I think,—it is nothing, not worth two paras.”

The confiscator of antiquities evidently had not the slightest knowledge
of his business; he hesitated, but Achmed’s perfect indifference of
manner determined him, and he slowly put the precious relic back into
the box. The inspector parted from us with regret, but we left him to
the enjoyment of a virtue unassailed by the least bribe,—an unusual,
and, I imagine, an unwelcome possession in this region.

Donkeys were not to be had, nor carriages, and we climbed on foot the
very steep hill to the hotel in Pera; ascending roughly paved, crooked
streets, lined with rickety houses, and occasionally mounting stairs
for a mile through a quarter that has the shabbiness but not the
picturesqueness of the Orient. A squad of porters seized our luggage
and bore it before us. The porters are the beasts of burden, and most of
them wear heavy saddles, upon which boxes and trunks can be strapped.
No drays were visible. Heavy burdens, hogsheads, barrels, and cases of
goods were borne between two long stout poles carried by four athletic
men; as they move along the street, staggering under the heavy load,
everybody is obliged, precipitately, to make way for them, for their
impetus is such that they cannot check their career. We see these
gigantic fellows at every street-corner, with their long poles, waiting
for a job. Sedan-chairs, which were formerly in much request, are
gradually disappearing, though there is nothing at present to exactly
take the place of these lumbering conveyances. Carriages increase every
year, but they are expensive, and they can only ascend the height of
Pera by a long circuit. The place of the sedan and the carriage is,
however, to some extent supplied by a railway in Galata, the cars of
which are drawn up by a stationary engine. And on each side of
the Golden Horn is a horse-railway, running wherever the ground is

To one coming from the West, I suppose that Constantinople would present
a very mixed and bizarre appearance, and that he would be impressed by
the silence of the busiest streets, in which the noise of wheels and the
hum of a Western capital is wanting. But to one coming from the East,
Galata and Pera seem a rather vulgarized European town. The Frank dress
predominates, although it is relieved by the red fez, which the Turks
generally and many Europeans wear. Variety enough there is in costumes,
but the Grecian, the Bulgarian, the Albanian, etc., have taken the place
of the purely Oriental; and the traveller in the Turkish capital to-day
beholds not only the conflux of Asia and Europe, but the transition, in
buildings, in apparel, in manners, to modern fashions. Few veiled women
are seen, and they wear a white strip of gauze which conceals nothing.
The street hawkers, the sellers of sweets, of sponges, and of cakes, are
not more peculiar in their cries than those of London and Paris.

When we had climbed the hill, we came into the long main street of
Pera, the street of the chief shops, the hotels and foreign embassies,
a quarter of the city which has been burned over as often as San
Francisco, and is now built up substantially with stone and brick, and
contains very little to interest the seeker of novelty. After we had
secured rooms, and breakfasted, at the hotel Byzance, we descended
the hill again to the water, and crossed the long, floating bridge to
Stamboul. This bridge is a very good symbol of the Sultan’s Empire;
its wooden upper works are decayed, its whole structure is rickety,
the floats that support it are unevenly sunken, so that the bridge is a
succession of swells and hollows; it is crowded by opposing streams
of the most incongruous people, foot and horse jumbled together; it is
encumbered by venders of eatables and auctioneers of cheap Wares, and
one has to pay toll to cross it. But it is a microcosm of the world. In
an hour one may see pass there every nationality, adventurers from every
clime, traders, priests, sailors, soldiers, fortune-hunters of
Europe, rude peasants of the provinces, sleek merchants of the Orient,
darwishes, furtive-eyed Jews; here is a Circassian beauty seeking a
lover through the carriage window; here a Turkish grandee on a prancing,
richly caparisoned horse; here moves a squad of black soldiers, and now
the bridge shakes under the weight of a train of flying artillery.

The water is alive with the ticklish caïques. The caique is a long
narrow boat, on the model of the Indian birch-bark, canoe, and as thin
and light on the water; the passenger, if he accomplishes the feat of
getting into one without overturning it, sits upon the bottom, careful
not to wink and upset it; the oars have a heavy swell near the handle,
to counterbalance the weight of the long blade, and the craft skims the
water with swiftness and a most agreeable motion. The caïques are as
numerous on the water as the yellow, mangy dogs on shore, and the two
are the most characteristic things in Constantinople.

We spent a good part of the day in wandering about the bazaars of
Stamboul, and we need not repeat what has been heretofore said of these
peculiar shops. During our stay in the city we very thoroughly explored
them, and visited most of the great khans, where are to be found the
silks of Broussa, of Beyrout and Damascus, the rugs of Persia, the
carpets of Asia Minor, the arms and the cunning work in gold, silver,
and jewels gathered from every region between Ispahan and Darfour. We
found the bazaars extensive, well filled and dear, at least the asking
price was enormous, and we wanted the time and patience which are needed
for the slow siege of reducing the merchants to decent, terms. The
bazaars are solidly roofed arcades, at once more cleanly and less
picturesque than those of Cairo, and not so Oriental or attractive.
Book-stalls, which are infrequent in Cairo, abound here; and the long
arcades lined with cases of glittering gems, enormous pearls, sparkling
diamonds, emeralds fit for the Pope’s finger, and every gold and
silver temptation, exceed anything else in the East in magnificence.
And yet they have a certain modern air, and you do not expect to find
in them those quaint and fascinating antique patterns of goldsmiths’
work, the inherited skill of the smiths of the Pharaohs, which draw you
into the dingy recesses of the Copt artificers in the city of the Nile.

From the Valideh Khan we ascended to the public square, where stands the
Seraskier’s Eire-tower; a paved, open place, surrounded by government
buildings of considerable architectural pretensions, and dedicated, I
should say, to drumming, to the shifting about of squads of soldiers,
and the cantering hither and thither of Turkish beys. Near it is the
old mosque of Sultan Beyezid II., which, with its magnificent arabesque
gates, makes a fine external impression. The outer court is surrounded
by a cloister with columns of verd-antique and porphyry, enclosing a
fountain and three stately, venerable, trees. The trees and the arcades
are alive with doves, and, as we entered, more than a thousand flew
towards us in a cloud, with a great rustling and cooing. They are
protected as an almost sacred appendage of the mosque, and are said to
be bred from a single pair which the Sultan bought of a poor woman and
presented to the house he had built, three centuries and a half ago.
This mosque has also another claim to the gratitude of animals; for all
the dogs of Stamboul, none of whom have any home but the street, nor any
other owner than the Prophet, resort here every Friday, as regularly,
if not as piously, as the Sultan goes to pray, and receive their weekly

Near this mosque are lines of booths and open-air shops, which had a
fascination for me as long as I remained in the city. They extend from
the trees in the place of the mosque down through lanes to the bazaars.
The keepers of them were typical Orientals, honest Jews, honest Moslems,
withered and one-eyed waiters on Providence and a good bargain, suave,
gracious, patient, gowned and turbaned, sitting cross-legged behind
their trays and showcases. These are the dealers in stones, both
precious and common, in old and new ornaments, and the thousand cheap
adornments in glass and metal which the humbler classes love. Here are
heaps of blood-stones, of carnelians, of agates, of jasper, of onyx,
dishes of turquoise, strings of doubtful pearls, barbarous rings and
brooches, charms and amulets,—a feast of color for the eye, and a
sight to kindle the imagination. For these bawbles came out of the
recesses of the Orient, were gathered by wild tribes in remote deserts,
and transported by caravan to this common mart. These dealers buy of the
Persian merchants, and of adventurous Jew travellers who range all the
deserts from Teheran to Upper Nubia in search of these shining stones.
Some of the turquoises are rudely set in silver rings, but most of them
are merely glued to the end of little sticks; these generally are the
refuse of the trade, for the finer stones go to the great jewellers in
the bazaar, or to the Western markets. A large and perfect turquoise
of good color is very rare, and commands a large price; but the cunning
workmen of Persia have a method of at once concealing the defects of
a good-sized turquoise which has the true color, and at the same time
enhancing its value, by engraving upon it some sentence from the Koran,
or some word which is a charm against the evil eye; the skill of the
engraver is shown in fitting his letters and flourishes to the flaws
in the surface of the stone. To further hide any appearance of
imperfection, the engraved lines are often gilded. With a venerable
Moslem, who sat day after day under a sycamore-tree, I had great
content, and we both enjoyed the pleasure of endless bargaining without
cheating each other, for except in some trifles we never came to an
exact agreement. He was always promising me the most wonderful things
for the next day, which he would procure from a mysterious Jew friend
who carried on a clandestine commerce with some Bedawee in Arabia. When
I was seated, he would pull from his bosom a knotted silk handkerchief,
and, carefully untying it, produce a talisman, presenting it between his
thumb and finger, with a lift of the eyebrows and a cluck of the tongue
that expressed the rapture I would feel at the sight of it. To be sure,
I found it a turquoise set in rude silver, faded to a sickly green, and
not worth sixpence; but I handed it back with a sigh that such a jewel
was beyond my means, and intimated that something less costly, and of a
blue color, would suit me as well. We were neither of us deceived, while
we maintained the courtesies of commercial intercourse. Sometimes he
would produce from his bosom an emerald of real value or an opal of
lovely hues, and occasionally a stone in some peculiar setting which I
had admired the day before in the jewelry bazaar; for these trinkets,
upon which the eye of the traveller has been seen longingly to rest, are
shifted about among this mysterious fraternity to meet him again.

I suppose it was known all over Stamboul that a Prank had been looking
for a Persian amulet. As long as I sat with my friend, I never saw him
actually sell anything, but he seemed to be the centre of mysterious
transactions; furtive traders continually came to him to borrow or
return a jewel, or to exchange a handful of trumpery. Delusive old man!
I had no confidence in you, but I would go far to pass another day in
your tranquil society. How much more agreeable you were than the young
Nubian at an opposite stand, who repelled purchasers by his supreme
indifference, and met all my feeble advances with the toss of the head
and the cluck in the left cheek, which is the peremptory “no” in

In this quarter are workers in shell and ivory, the makers of spoons
of tortoise-shell with handles of ivory and coral, the fabricators of
combs, dealers in books, and a long street of little shops devoted to
the engraving of seals. To wander about among these craftsmen is one of
the chief pleasures of the traveller. Vast as Stamboul is, if you remove
from it the mosques and nests of bazaars, it would not be worth a visit.


HAVING procured a firman, we devoted a day to the old Seraglio and some
of the principal mosques of Stamboul. After an occupation of fifteen
centuries as a royal residence, the Seraglio has been disused for nearly
forty years, and fire, neglect, and decay have done their work on it,
so that it is but a melancholy reminiscence of its former splendor. It
occupies the ancient site of Byzantium, upon the Point, and is enclosed
by a crumbling wall three miles in circuit. No royal seat in the world
has a more lovely situation. Upon the summit of the promontory, half
concealed in cypresses, is the cluster of buildings, of all ages and
degrees of cheapness, in which are the imperial apartments and offices;
on the slopes towards the sea are gardens, terraces, kiosks, and

We climbed up the hill on the side towards Pera, through a shabby field,
that had almost the appearance, of a city dumping-ground, and through
a neglected grove of cypresses, where some deer were feeding, and came
round to the main entrance, a big, ugly pavilion with eight openings
over the arched porte,—the gate which is known the world over as the
Sublime Porte. Through this we passed into a large court, and thence
to the small one into which the Sultan only is permitted to ride on
horseback. In the centre of this is a fountain where formerly pashas
foreordained to lose their heads lost them. On the right, a low range
of buildings covered with domes but no chimneys, are the royal kitchens;
there are nine of them,—one for the Sultan, one for the chief
sultanas, and so on down to the one devoted to the cooking of the food
for the servants. Hundreds of beasts, hecatombs, were slaughtered daily
and cooked here to feed the vast household. From this court open the
doors into the halls and divans and various apartments; one of them,
leading into the interior, is called the Gate of Felicity; in the old
times that could only be called a gate of felicity which let a person
out of this spider’s parlor. In none of these rooms is there anything
specially attractive; cheap magnificence in decay is only melancholy.

We were better pleased in the gardens, where we looked upon Galata and
Pera, upon the Golden Horn and the long bridges streaming with their
picturesque processions, upon the Bosphorus and its palaces, and
thousands of sails, steamers, and caïques, and the shining heights of
Scutari. Overhanging the slope is the kiosk or summer palace of Sultan
Moorad, a Saracenic octagonal structure, the interior walls lined with
Persian tiles, the ceilings painted in red arabesques and gilded
in mosaics, the gates of bronze inlaid with mother-of-pearl; a most
charming building, said to be in imitation of a kiosk of Bagdad. In it
we saw the Sultan’s private library, a hundred or two volumes in a
glass case, that had no appearance of having been read either by the
Sultan or his wife.

The apartment in the Seraglio which is the object of curiosity and
desire is the treasure-room. I suppose it is the richest in the world in
gems; it is certainly a most wearisome place, and gave me a contempt for
earthly treasure. In the centre stands a Persian throne,—a chair upon
a board platform, and both incrusted with rubies, pearls, emeralds,
diamonds; there are toilet-tables covered to the feet with diamonds,
pipe-stems glistening with huge diamonds, old armor thickly set with
precious stones, saddle-cloths and stirrups stiff with diamonds and
emeralds, robes embroidered with pearls. Nothing is so cheap as wealth
lavished in this manner; at first we were dazzled by the flashing
display, but after a time these heaps of gems seemed as common in our
eyes as pebbles in the street. I did not even covet an emerald as large
as my fist, nor a sword-hilt in which were fifteen diamonds, each as
large as the end of my thumb, nor a carpet sown with pearls, some of
which were of the size of pigeon’s eggs, nor aigrettes which were
blazing with internal fires, nor chairs of state, clocks and vases, the
whole surfaces of which were on fire with jewels. I have seen an
old oaken table, carved in the fifteenth century, which gave me more
pleasure than one of lapis lazuli, which is exhibited as the most costly
article in this collection; though it is inlaid with precious stones,
and the pillars that support the mirror are set with diamonds, and the
legs and claws are a mass of diamonds, rubies, carbuncles, emeralds,
topazes, etc., and huge diamond pendants ornament it, and the deep
fringe in front is altogether of diamonds. This is but a barbarous,
ostentatious, and tasteless use of the beautiful, and I suppose gives
one an idea of the inartistic magnificence of the Oriental courts in
centuries gone by.

This treasure-house has, I presume, nothing that belonged to the
Byzantine emperors before the Moslem conquest, some of whom exceeded
in their magnificence any of the Osmanli sultans. Arcadius, the first
Eastern emperor after the division of the Roman world, rivalled, in
the appointments of his palace (which stood upon this spot) and in
his dress, the magnificence of the Persian monarchs; and perhaps the
luxurious califs of Bagdad at a later day did not equal his splendor.
His robes were of purple, a color reserved exclusively for his sacred
person, and of silk, embroidered with gold dragons; his diadem was of
gold set with gems of inestimable worth; his throne was massy gold, and
when he went abroad he rode in a chariot of solid, pure gold, drawn by
two milk-white mules shining in harness and trappings of gold.

No spot on earth has been the scene of such luxury, cruelty, treachery,
murder, infidelity of women, and rapacity of men, as this site of
the old palace; and the long record of the Christian emperors—the
occasionally interrupted anarchy and usurpation of a thousand
years—loses nothing in these respects in comparison with the Turkish
occupation, although the world shudders at the unrevealed secrets of
the Seraglio. At least we may suppose that nobody’s conscience was
violated if a pretty woman was occasionally dropped into the Bosphorus,
and there was the authority of custom for the strangling of all the
children of the sisters of the Sultan, so that the succession might not
be embarrassed. In this court is the cage, a room accessible only by
a window, where the royal children were shut up to keep them from
conspiracy against the throne; and there Sultan Abdul Aziz spent some
years of his life.

We went from the treasure-room to the ancient and large Church of St.
Irene, which is now the arsenal of the Seraglio, and become, one might
say, a church militant. The nave and aisles are stacked with arms, the
walls, the holy apse, the pillars, are cased in guns, swords, pistols,
and armor, arranged in fanciful patterns, and with an ingenuity I have
seen nowhere else. Here are preserved battle-flags and famous trophies,
an armlet of Tamerlane, a sword of Scanderbeg, and other pieces of cold,
pliant steel that have a reputation for many murders. There is no way so
sure to universal celebrity as wholesale murder. Adjoining the arsenal
is a museum of Greek and Roman antiquities of the city, all in Turkish
disorder; the Cyprus Collections, sent by General di Cesnola, are
flung upon shelves or lie in heaps unarranged, and most of the cases
containing them had not been opened. Near this is an interesting museum
of Turkish costumes for the past five hundred years,—rows on rows of
ghastly wax figures clad in the garments of the dead. All of them are
ugly, many of them are comical in their exaggeration. The costumes of
the Janizaries attract most attention, perhaps from the dislike with
which we regard those cruel mercenaries, who deposed and decapitated
sultans at their will, and partly because many of the dresses seem more
fit for harlequins or eunuchs of the harem than for soldiers.

When the Church of Santa Sophia, the House of Divine Wisdom, was
finished, and Justinian entered it, accompanied only by the patriarch,
and ran from the porticos to the pulpit with outstretched arms,
crying, “Solomon, I have surpassed thee!” it was doubtless the most
magnificently decorated temple that had ever stood upon the earth. The
exterior was as far removed in simple grandeur as it was in time from
the still matchless Doric temples of Athens and of Pæstum, or from the
ornate and lordly piles of Ba’albek; but the interior surpassed in
splendor almost the conception of man. The pagan temples of antiquity
had been despoiled, the quarries of the known world had been ransacked
for marbles of various hues and textures to enrich it; and the gold, the
silver, the precious stones, employed in its decoration, surpassed in
measure the barbaric ostentation of the Temple at Jerusalem. Among its
forest of columns, one recognized the starred syenite from the First
Cataract of the Nile; the white marble of Phrygia, striped with
rose; the green of Laconia, and the blue of Libya; the black Celtic,
white-veined, and the white Bosphorus, black-veined; polished shafts
which had supported the roof of the Temple of the Delian Apollo, others
which had beheld the worship of Diana at Ephesus and of Pallas Athene
on the Acropolis, and, yet more ancient, those that had served in the
mysterious edifices of Osiris and Isis; while, more conspicuous
and beautiful than all, were the eight columns of porphyry, which,
transported by Aurelian from the Temple of the Sun at Heliopolis to
Home, the pious Marina had received as her dowry and dedicated to the
most magnificent building ever reared to the worship of the True God,
and fitly dominating the shores of Europe and Asia.

One reads of doors of cedar, amber, and ivory; of hundreds of sacred
vessels of pure gold, of exquisitely wrought golden candelabra, and
crosses of an hundred pounds’ weight each; of a score of books of the
Evangelists, the gold covers of which weighed twenty pounds; of golden
lilies and golden trumpets; of forty-two thousand chalice-cloths
embroidered with pearls and jewels; and of the great altar, for which
gold was too cheap a material, a mass of the most precious and costly
stones imbedded in gold and silver. We may recall also the arches and
the clear spaces of the walls inlaid with marbles and covered with
brilliant mosaics. It was Justinian’s wish to pave the floor with
plates of gold, but, restrained by the fear of the avarice of his
successors, he laid it in variegated marbles, which run in waving lines,
imitating the flowing of rivers from the four corners to the vestibules.
But the wonder of the edifice was the dome, one hundred and seven
feet in span, hanging in the air one hundred and eighty feet above the
pavement. The aerial lightness of its position is increased by the two
half-domes of equal span and the nine cupolas which surround it.

More than one volume has been exclusively devoted to a description of
the Mosque of St. Sophia, and less than a volume would not suffice. But
the traveller will not see the ancient glories. If he expects anything
approaching the exterior richness and grandeur of the cathedrals of
Europe, or the colossal proportions of St. Peter’s at Rome, or the
inexhaustible wealth of the interior of St. Mark’s at Venice, he will
be disappointed. The area of St. Peter’s exceeds that of the grand
Piazza of St. Mark, while St. Sophia is only two hundred and thirty-five
feet broad by three hundred and fifty feet long; and while the Church
of St. Mark has been accumulating spoils of plunder and of piety
for centuries, the Church of the Divine Wisdom has been ransacked by
repeated pillages and reduced to the puritan plainness of the Moslem

Exceedingly impressive, however, is the first view of the interior;
we stood silent with wonder and delight in the presence of the noble
columns, the bold soaring arches, the dome in the sky. The temple
is flooded with light, perhaps it is too bright; the old mosaics and
paintings must have softened it; and we found very offensive the Arabic
inscriptions on the four great arches, written in characters ten yards
long. They are the names of companions of the Prophet, but they look
like sign-boards. Another disagreeable impression is produced by
the position of the Mihrab, or prayer-niche; as this must be in the
direction of Mecca, it is placed at one side of the apse, and everything
in the mosque is forced to conform to it. Thus everything is askew; the
pulpits are set at hateful angles, and the stripes of the rugs on the
floor all run diagonally across. When one attempts to walk from the
entrance, pulled one way by the architectural plan, and the other by the
religious diversion of it, he has a sensation of being intoxicated.

Gone from this temple are the sacred relics which edified the believers
of former ages, such as the trumpets that blew down Jericho and planks
from the Ark of Noah, but the Moslems have prodigies to replace them.
The most curious of these is the sweating marble column, which emits a
dampness that cures diseases. I inserted my hand in a cavity which has
been dug in it, and certainly experienced a clammy sensation. It is said
to sweat most early in the morning. I had the curiosity to ascend the
gallery to see the seat of the courtesan and Empress Theodora,
daughter of the keeper of the bears of the circus,—a public and
venal pantomimist, who, after satisfying the immoral curiosity of her
contemporaries in many cities, illustrated the throne of the Cæsars by
her talents, her intrigues, and her devotion. The fondness of Justinian
has preserved her initials in the capitals of the columns, the imperial
eagle marks the screen that hid her seat, and the curious traveller may
see her name carved on the balustrade where she sat.

To the ancient building the Moslems have added the minarets at the four
corners and the enormous crescent on the dome, the gilding of which cost
fifty thousand ducats, and the shining of which, a golden moon in
the day, is visible at the distance of a hundred miles. The crescent,
adopted by the Osmanli upon the conquest of Jerusalem, was the emblem of
Byzantium before the Christian era. There is no spot in Constantinople
more flooded with historical associations, or more interesting to the
student of the history of the Eastern Empire, than the site of St.
Sophia. Here arose the church of the same name erected by Constantine;
it was twice burned, once by the party of St. John Chrysostom, and once
in a tumult of the factions of the Hippodrome. I should like to have
seen some of the pageants that took place here. After reposing in their
graves for three centuries, the bodies of St. Andrew, St. Luke, and St.
Timothy were transported hither. Fifty years after it was honored by
a still more illustrious presence; the ashes of the prophet Samuel,
deposited in a golden vase covered with a silken veil, left their
resting-place in Palestine for the banks of the Bosphorus. The highways
from the hills of Judæa to the gates of Constantinople were filled by
an uninterrupted procession, who testified their enthusiasm and joy, and
the Emperor Arcadius himself, attended by the most illustrious of the
clergy and the Senate, advanced to receive his illustrious guest, and
conducted the holy remains to this magnificent but insecure place of
repose. It was here that Gregory Nazianzen was by force installed upon
the Episcopal throne by Theodosius. The city was fanatically Arian.
Theodosius proclaimed the Nicene creed, and ordered the primate to
deliver the cathedral and all the churches to the orthodox, who were few
in number, but strong in the presence of Gregory. This extraordinary man
had set up an orthodox pulpit in a private house; he had been mobbed by
a motley crowd which issued from the Cathedral of St. Sophia, “common
beggars who had forfeited their claim to pity, monks who had the
appearance of goats or satyrs, and women more horrible than so many
Jezebels”; he had his triumph when Theodosius led him by the hand
through the streets—filled with a multitude crowding pavement,
roofs, and windows, and venting their rage, grief, astonishment, and
despair—into the church, which was held by soldiers, though the
prelate confessed that the city had the appearance of a town stormed by
barbarians. It was here that Eutropius, the eunuch, when his career of
rapacity exceeded even the toleration of Arcadius, sought sanctuary,
and was protected by John Chrysostom, archbishop, who owed his
ecclesiastical dignity to the late sexless favorite. And it was up this
very nave that Mohammed II., the conqueror, spurred his horse through a
crowd of fugitives, dismounted at the foot of the altar, cried, “There
is no God but God, and Mohammed is his prophet!” and let loose his
soldiery upon the priests, virgins, and promiscuous multitude who had
sought shelter here.

I should only weary you with unintelligible details in attempting a
description of other mosques which we visited. They are all somewhat
alike, though varying in degrees of splendor. There is that of Sultan
Ahmed, on the site of the Hippodrome, distinguished as the only one
in the empire that has six minarets,—the state mosque of the Sultan,
whence the Mecca pilgrimages proceed and where the great festivals are
held. From a distance it is one of the most conspicuous and poetically
beautiful objects in the city. And there is the Mosque of Suleiman
the Magnificent, a copy of St. Sophia and excelling it in harmonious
grandeur,—indeed, it is called the finest mosque in the empire. Its
forecourt measures a thousand paces, and the enclosure contains, besides
the mosque and the tomb of the founder, many foundations of charity and
of learning,—three schools for the young, besides one for the reading
of the Koran and one of medicine, four academies for the four Moslem
sects, a hospital, a kitchen for the poor, a library, a fountain, a
resting-place for travellers, and a house of refuge for strangers. From
it one enjoys a magnificent view of the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus,
and the piled-up city opposite. When we entered the mosque hundreds of
worshippers were at prayer, bowing their turbans towards Mecca in silent
unison. The throng soon broke up into groups of from ten to forty, which
seated themselves in circles on the floor for the reading of the Koran.
The shoes were heaped in the centre of each circle, the chief reader
squatted at a low desk on one side, and all read together in a loud
voice, creating an extraordinary vocal tumult. It was like a Sunday
school in fancy dress.

Stamboul is a very interesting place to those who have a taste for
gorgeous sepulchres, and I do not know any such pleasant residences
of the dead as the turbehs, or tombs of the imperial family. Usually
attached to the mosques, but sometimes standing apart, they are elegant
edifices, such as might be suitable for the living; in their airy,
light, and stately chambers the occupants are deprived of no splendor to
which they were accustomed in life. One of the most beautiful of these
turbehs, that of Sultan Mahmood II., I mistook for a fountain; it is a
domed, circular building of white marble, with Corinthian pilasters,
and lighted by seven large windows with gilded grating. Within, in a
cheerful, carpeted apartment, are the biers of the sultan, his valideh
sultana, and five daughters, covered with cloths of velvet, richly
embroidered, upon which are thrown the most superb India shawls; the
principal sarcophagi are surrounded by railings of mother-of-pearl;
massive silver candlesticks and Koran-stands, upon which are beautiful
manuscripts of the Koran, are disposed about the room, and at the head
of the Sultan’s bier is a fez with a plume and aigrette of diamonds.
In the court of Santa Sophia you may see the beautiful mausoleum of
Selim II., who reposes beside the Lady of Light; and not far from it the
turbeh containing the remains of Mohammed III., surrounded by the biers
of seventeen brothers whom he murdered. It is pleasant to see brothers
united and in peace at last. I found something pathetic in other like
apartments where families were gathered together, sultans and sultanas
in the midst of little span-long biers of sons and daughters, incipient
sultans and sultanas, who were never permitted by state policy, if I may
be allowed the expression, to hatch. Strangled in their golden cradles,
perhaps, these innocents! Worthless little bodies, mocked by the
splendor of their interments. One could not but feel a little respect
for what might have been a “Sublime Porte” or a Light of the

The Imperial Palace, the Church of Santa Sophia, the Hippodrome,—these
are the triangle of Byzantine history, the trinity of tyranny, religion,
and faction. The Circus of Constantinople, like that on the banks of the
Tiber, was the arena for the exhibition of games, races, spectacles, and
triumphs; like that, it was the arena of a licentious democracy, but
the most disorderly mob of Rome never attained the power or equalled
the vices of the murderous and incendiary factions of Byzantium. The
harmless colors that at first only distinguished the ignoble drivers
in the chariot races became the badges of parties, which claimed the
protection and enjoyed the favor of emperors and prelates; and the blue
and the green factions not only more than once involved the city in
conflagration and blood, but carried discord and frenzy into all the
provinces. Although they respected no human or divine law, they
affected religious zeal for one or another Christian sect or dogma; the
“blues” long espoused the orthodox cause, and enjoyed the partiality
of Justinian. The dissolute youth of Constantinople, wearing the livery
of the factions, possessed the city at night, and abandoned themselves
to any deed of violence that fancy or revenge suggested; neither the
sanctity of the church, nor the peace of the private house, nor the
innocence of youth, nor the chastity of matron or maid, was safe
from these assassins and ravishers. It was in one of their seditious
outbreaks that the palace and Santa Sophia were delivered to the flames.

The oblong ground of the Hippodrome is still an open place, although
a portion of the ground is covered by the Mosque of Ahmed. But the
traveller will find there few relics of this historical arena; nothing
of the marble seats and galleries that surrounded it. The curious may
look at the Egyptian obelisk of syenite, at the crumbling pyramid which
was the turning goal of the chariots; and he may find more food for
reflection in the bronze spiral column, formed by the twinings of three
serpents whose heads have been knocked off. It deserves to be housed and
cared for. There is no doubt of its venerable antiquity; it was seen
by Thucydides and Herodotus in the Temple of Delphi, where its three
branching heads formed a tripod upon which rested the dish of gold
which the Greeks captured among the spoils of the battle of Platæa. The
column is not more than fifteen feet high; it has stood here since the
time of Constantine.

This is the most famous square of Constantinople, yet in its present
unromantic aspect it is difficult to reanimate its interest. It is
said that its statues of marble and bronze once excelled the living
population of the city. In its arena emperors, whose vices have alone
saved their names to a conspicuous contempt, sought the popular applause
by driving in the chariot races, or stripped themselves for the sports
with wild beasts, proud to remind the spectators of the exploits
of Caligula and Heliogabalus. Here, in the reign of Anastasius,
the “green” faction, entering the place with concealed daggers,
interrupted a solemn festival and assassinated three thousand of the
“blues.” This place was in the first quarter of this century the
exercise and parade ground of the Janizaries, until they were destroyed.
Let us do justice to the Turks. In two memorable instances they
exhibited a nerve which the Roman emperors lacked, who never had either
the firmness or the courage to extirpate the Prætorian Guards.
The Janizaries set up, deposed, murdered sultans, as the Guards did
Emperors; and the Mamelukes of Egypt imitated their predecessors at
Rome. Mahmood II. in Constantinople, and Mohammed Ali in Cairo, had the
courage to extinguish these enemies of Turkish sovereignty.

In this neighborhood are several ancient monuments; the Burnt Column, a
blackened shaft of porphyry; the column called Historical; and that of
Theodosius,—I shall not fatigue you with further mention of them.
Not far from the Hippodrome we descended into the reservoir called A
Thousand and One Columns; I suppose this number is made up by counting
one as three, for each column consists of three superimposed shafts. It
is only partially excavated. We found a number of Jews occupying these
subterranean colonnades, engaged in twisting silk, the even temperature
of the cellar being favorable to this work.

As if we had come out of a day in another age, we walked down through
the streets of the artificers of brass and ivory and leather, to the
floating bridge, and crossed in a golden sunset, in which the minarets
and domes of the mosque of Mohammed II. appeared like some aerial
creation in the yellow sky.


DURING the day steamers leave the Galata bridge every halfhour for the
villages and palaces along the Bosphorus; there is a large fleet of
them, probably thirty, but they are always crowded, like the ferry-boats
that ply the waters of New York Bay.

We took our first sail on the Bosphorus one afternoon toward sunset,
ascending as far as Bebek, where we had been invited to spend the night
by Dr. Washburne, the President of Roberts College. I shall not soon
forget the animation of the harbor, crowded with shipping, amid which
the steamers and caïques were darting about like shuttles, the first
impression made by the palaces and ravishingly lovely shores of this
winding artery between two seas. Seven promontories from Asia and seven
promontories from Europe project into the stream, creating as many
corresponding bays; but the villages are more numerous than bays and
promontories together, for there are over forty in the fourteen miles
from the Sea of Marmora to the Black Sea; on the shores is an almost
unbroken line of buildings, many of them palaces of marble; the heights
are crowned with cottages and luxurious villas, and abodes of taste and
wealth peep out along the slopes. If you say that we seem to be sailing
in the street of a city, I can only answer that it is not so; nature is
still supreme here, and the visible doweress of the scene. These lovely
hills rising on both sides, these gracious curves are hers, as are these
groves and gardens of fruits and flowers, these vines and the abundant
green that sometimes conceals and always softens the work of man.

Before we reached the Sultan’s palace at Beshiktash, our steamer
made a détour to the east bank, outside of the grim ironclads that lie
before the imperial residence. No steamers are permitted to approach
nearer, lest the smoke should soil the sparkling white marble of the
palace, or their clamor and dangerous freight of men should disturb
the serenity of the harem. The palace, which is a beautiful building,
stretches for some distance along the water, with its gardens and
conservatories, and seems to be a very comfortable home for a man who
has no more ready money than the Sultan.

We landed at Bebek and climbed the steep hill, on whose slope
nightingales were singing in the forest, just in time to see the sunset.
Roberts College occupies the most commanding situation on the strait,
and I do not know any view that surpasses in varied beauty that to be
enjoyed from it. I shall make myself comprehended by many when I say
that it strongly reminded me of the Hudson at West Point; if nature
could be suspected of copying herself, I should say that she had the one
in mind when she made the other. At that point the Hudson resembles the
Bosphorus, but it wants the palaces, the Yale of the Heavenly Water into
which we looked from this height, and some charming mediaeval towers,
walls, and castles.

The towers and walls belong to the fortress built in 1451 by Mohammed
II., and are now fallen into that decrepitude in which I like best to
see all fortresses. But this was interesting before it was a ruin. It
stands just above the college, at Roomeli Hissar, where the Bosphorus
is narrowest,—not more than half a mile broad,—and with the opposite
fortress of Anatolia could perfectly close the stream. Two years before
the capture of the city, Mohammed built this fort, and gave it the most
peculiar form of any fortress existing. His idea was that the towers
and the circuit of the walls should spell the name of the Prophet, and
consequently his own. As we looked down upon it, my friend read for me
this singular piece of caligraphy, but I could understand it no further
than the tower which stands for the Arabic ring in the first letter. It
was at this place that Darius threw a bridge across the Bosphorus, and
there is a tradition of a stone seat which he occupied here while his
Asiatics passed into Europe.

So far as I know, there is no other stream in the world upon which the
wealth of palaces and the beauty of gardens may be so advantageously
displayed. So far as I know, there is no other place where nature and
art have so combined to produce an enchanting prospect. As the situation
and appearance of Constantinople are unequalled, so the Bosphorus is

Whatever may be the political changes of the Turkish Empire, I do not
believe that this pleasing picture will be destroyed; rather let us
expect to see it more lovely in the rapidly developing taste of a new
era of letters and refinement. It was a wise forethought that planted
the American College just here. It is just where it should be to mould
the new order of things. I saw among its two hundred pupils scholars
of all creeds and races, who will carry from here living ideas to every
part of the empire, and I learned to respect that thirst for knowledge
and ability to acquire it which exist in the neighboring European
provinces. If impatient men could wait the process of education, the
growth of schools, and the development of capacity now already most
promising, the Eastern question might be solved by the appearance on
the scene in less than a score of years, of a stalwart and intelligent
people, who would not only be able to grasp Constantinople, but to
administer upon the decaying Turkish Empire as the Osmanli administered
upon the Greek.

On Friday the great business of everybody is to see the Sultan go to
pray; and the eagerness with which foreigners crowd to the spectacle
must convince the Turks that we enjoy few religious privileges at home.
It is not known beforehand, even to the inmates of the palace, to what
mosque the Sultan will go, nor whether he will make a street progress
on horseback, or embark upon the water, for the chosen place of prayer.
Before twelve o’clock we took carriage and drove down the hill, past
the parade-ground and the artillery barracks to the rear of the palace
of Beshiktash; crowds on foot and in carriages were streaming in
that direction; regiments of troops were drifting down the slopes
and emptying into the avenue that leads between the palace and the
plantation of gardens; colors were unfurled, drums beaten, trumpets
called from barrack and guard-house; gorgeous officers on caparisoned
horses, with equally gaudy attendants, cantered to the rendezvous; and
all the air was full of the expectation of a great event. At the great
square of the palace we waited amid an intense throng; four or five
lines of carriages stretched for a mile along; troops were in marching
rank along the avenue and disposed in hollow square on the place; the
palace gates were closed, and everybody looked anxiously toward the
high and gilded portal from which it was said the announcement of the
Sultan’s intention would be made. From time to time our curiosity was
fed by the arrival of a splendid pasha, who dismounted and walked about;
and at intervals a gilded personage emerged from the palace court and
raised our expectation on tiptoe. We send our dragoman to interrogate
the most awful dignities, especially some superb beings in yellow silk
and gold, but they know nothing of the Sultan’s mind. At the last
moment he might, on horseback, issue from the gate with a brilliant
throng, or he might depart in his caïque by the water front. In either
case there would be a rush and a scramble to see and to accompany
him. More regiments were arriving, bands were playing, superb officers
galloping up and down; carriages, gilded with the arms of foreign
embassies, or filled with Turkish ladies, pressed forward to the great
gate, which still gave no sign. I have never seen such a religious
excitement. For myself, I found some compensation in the usual Oriental
crowd and unconscious picturesqueness; swart Africans in garments of
yellow, sellers of sherbet clinking their glasses, venders of faint
sweetmeats walking about with trays and tripods, and the shifting
kaleidoscope of races, colors, and graceful attitudes.

Suddenly, I do not know how, or from what quarter, the feeling—for I
could not call it information—was diffused that the successor of the
Prophet would pray at the mosque in Ortakeui, and that he would go
by caïque; and we all scampered up the road, a mile or two, racing
carriages, troops and foot men, in eager outset, in order to arrive
before the pious man. The mosque stands upon the Bosphorus, where its
broad marble steps and pillared front and dome occupy as conspicuous
a position as the Dogana at Venice. We secured a standing-place on the
dock close to the landing, but outside the iron railing, and waited. A
cordon of troops in blue regimentals with red facings was drawn around
the streets in the rear of the mosque, and two companies of soldiers in
white had stacked their guns on the marble landing, and were lounging
about in front of the building.

The scene on the Bosphorus was as gay as a flower-garden. The water
was covered with graceful caiques and painted barges and every sort of
craft, mean and splendid, that could be propelled by oars or sails. A
dozen men-of-war were decked with flags from keel to maintop; on every
yard, and from bowsprit to stern, stood a line of sailors sharply
defined against the blue sky. At one o’clock a cannon announced that
the superior devotee had entered his caique, and then from every vessel
of war in the harbor salute answered salute in thunder that awoke the
echoes of two continents; until on all the broad water lay a thick
battle-smoke, through which we could distinguish only the tops of the
masts, and the dim hulks spouting fire.

In the midst of this earthquake of piety, there was a cry, “He comes,
he comes!” The soldiers grasped their arms and drew a line each side
of the landing, and the officials of the mosque arranged themselves on
the steps. Upon the water, advancing with the speed of race-horses, we
saw two splendid gilded caïques, the one containing the Sultan, the
other his attendants. At the moment, a light carriage with two bay
horses, unattended, dashed up to the side door, and there descended from
it and entered the mosque the imperial heir, the son of the late Sultan
and the nephew of the present, a slender, pale youth of apparently
twenty-five or thirty years. We turn (not knowing how soon he is to
become Sultan Murad V.) our eyes to him only for a moment, for the
Sultan’s caique comes with imperious haste, with the rush as it were
of victory,—an hundred feet long, narrow, rising at the stern like the
Venetian Bucentaur, carved and gilded like the golden chariot in which
Alexander entered Babylon,—propelled by fifty-two long sweeps, rising
and falling in unison with the bending backs of twenty-six black rowers,
clad in white and with naked feet. The Sultan is throned in the high
stern, hung with silk, on silken cushions, under a splendid canopy on
the top of which glisten his arms and a blazing sun. The Sultan, who is
clad in the uniform of a general, steps quickly out, walks up the
steps over a carpet spread for his royal feet,—the soldiers saluting,
everybody with arms crossed bending the body,—and disappears in the
mosque. The second caique lands immediately, and the imperial ministers
step from it and follow their master.

At the side entrance an immense closed baggage-wagon, drawn by four
horses and said to contain the sacred wardrobe, was then unlocked
and unloaded, and out of it came trunks, boxes, carpetbags, as if the
imperial visitor had come to stay a week. After a half-hour of prayer he
came out, his uniform concealed under his overcoat, got quickly into a
plain carriage, drawn by four magnificent gray horses, and drove rapidly
away, attended by a dozen outriders. His heir followed in the carriage
in which he came. We had a good view of the chief of Islam. He was a
tall, stout man, with a full gray beard, and on the whole a good face
and figure. All this parade is weekly enacted over one man going to
pray. It is, after all, more simple than the pageantry that often
attends the public devotion of the vicegerent of Christ in St.

Upon our return we stopped at the tekkeb, in Pera, to see the
performance of the Turning Darwishes. I do not know that I have anything
to add to the many animated descriptions which have been written of
it. It is not far from the Little Field of the Dead, and all about
the building are tombs of the faithful, in which were crowds of people
enjoying that peculiar Oriental pleasure, graveyard festivity. The
mosque is pleasant, and has a polished dancing-floor, surrounded by a
gallery supported on columns. I thought it would be a good place for a
“hop.” Everybody has seen a picture of the darwishes, with closed
eyes, outstretched arms, and long gowns inflated at the bottom like an
old-fashioned churn, turning smoothly round upon their toes, a dozen
or twenty of them revolving without collision. The motion is certainly
poetic and pleasing, and the plaintive fluting of the Arab nay adds
I know not what of pathos to the exercise. I think this dance might
advantageously be substituted in Western salons for the German, for it
is graceful and perfectly moral.

Constantinople is a city of the dead as much as of the living, and one
encounters everywhere tombs and cemeteries sentinelled by the mournful
dark-green cypress. On our way to take boat for the Sweet Waters of
Europe we descended through the neglected Little Field of the Dead. It
is on a steep acclivity, and the stones stand and lean thickly there,
each surmounted by a turban in fashion at the period of the occupant’s
death, and with inscription neatly carved. That “every man has his
date” strikes Abd-el-Atti as a remarkable fact. The ground is netted
by haphazard paths, and the careless living tread the graves with
thoughtless feet, as if the rights of the dead to their scanty bit of
soil were no longer respected. We said to the boatman that this did not
seem well. There was a weary touch of philosophy in his reply: “Ah,
master, the world grows old!”

It is the fashion for the world to go on Friday to the Sweet Waters of
Europe, the inlet of the Golden Horn, flowing down between two ranges of
hills. This vale, which is almost as celebrated in poetry as that of
the Heavenly Water on the Asiatic shore, is resorted to by thousands, in
hundreds of carriages from Fera, in thousands of caïques and barges. On
the water, the excursion is a festival of the people, of strangers, of
adventurers of both sexes; the more fashionable though not moral part of
society, who have equipages to display, go by land. We chose the water,
and selected a large four-oared caïque, in the bottom of which we
seated ourselves, after a dozen narrow escapes from upsetting the
tottlish craft, and rowed away, with the grave Abd-el-Atti balanced
behind and under bonds to preserve his exact equilibrium.

All the city seems to be upon the water; the stream is alive with the
slender, swift caïques; family parties, rollicking midshipmen from some
foreign vessel, solitary beauties reclining in selfish loveliness,
grave fat Turks, in stupid enjoyment. No voyage could be gayer than this
through the shipping, with the multitudinous houses of the city rising
on either hand. As we advance, the shore is lined with people, mostly
ladies in gay holiday apparel, squatting along the stream; as on a
spring day in Paris, those who cannot afford carriages line the avenues
to the Bois de Boulogne to watch the passing pageant. The stream grows
more narrow, at length winds in graceful turns, and finally is only a
few yards wide, and the banks are retained by masonry. The vale narrows
also, and the hills draw near. The water-way is choked with
gayly painted caiques, full of laughing beauties and reckless
pleasure-seekers, and the reader of Egyptian history might think himself
in a saturnalia of the revel-makers in the ancient fête of Bubastis on
the Nile. The women are clad in soft silks,—blue, red, pink, yellow,
and gray,—some of them with their faces tied up as if they were
victims of toothache, others wearing the gauze veils, which enhance
without concealing charms; and the color and beauty that nature has
denied to many are imitated by paint and enamel.

We land and walk on. Singers and players on curious instruments sit
along the bank and in groups under the trees, and fill the festive air
with the plaintive and untrained Oriental music. The variety of costumes
is infinite; here we meet all that is gay and fantastic in Europe and
Asia. The navigation ends at the white marble palace and mosque which
we now see shining amid the trees, fresh with May foliage. Booths and
tents, green and white, are erected everywhere, and there are many
groups of gypsies and fortune-tellers. The olive-complexioned,
black-eyed, long-haired women, who trade in the secrets of the Orient
and the vices of the Occident, do a thriving business with those
curious of the future, or fascinated by the mysterious beauty of the
soothsayers. Besides the bands of music, there are solitary bagpipers
whose instrument is a skin, with a pipe for a mouthpiece and another
at the opposite end having graduated holes for fingering; and I noticed
with pleasure that the fingering and the music continued long after the
musician had ceased to blow into the inflated skin. Nothing was wanting
to the most brilliant scene; ladies in bright groups on gay rugs and
mats, children weaving head-dresses from leaves and rushes, crowds of
carriages, fine horses and gallant horsemen, sellers of refreshments
balancing great trays on their heads, and bearing tripod stools, and all
degrees of the most cosmopolitan capital enjoying the charming spring

In the palace grounds dozens of peacocks were sunning themselves, and
the Judas-trees were in full pink bloom. Above the palace the river
flows in walled banks, and before it reaches it tumbles over an
artificial fall of rocks, and sweeps round the garden in a graceful
curve. Beyond the palace, also on the bank of the stream, is a grove of
superb trees and a greensward; here a military band plays, and this is
the fashionable meeting-place of carriages, where hundreds were circling
round and round in the imitated etiquette of Hyde Park.

We came down at sunset, racing swiftly among the returning caïques,
passing and passed by laughing boatsful, whose gay hangings trailed in
the stream, as in a pageant on the Grand Canal of Venice, and watching
with the interest of the philosopher only, the light boat of beauty and
frailty pursued by the youthful caique of inexperience and desire. The
hour contributed to make the scene one of magical beauty. To our right
lay the dark cypresses of the vast cemetery of Eyoub (or Ayub) and the
shining mosque where, at their inauguration, the Osmanli Sultans are
still girt with the sword of their founder. At this spot, in the
first siege of Constantinople by the Arabs, fell, amid thirty thousand
Moslems, slain outside the Golden Gate, the Aboo Ayub, or Job, one
of the last companions of the Prophet. He was one of the immortal
auxiliaries; he had fought at Beder and Obud side by side with Abubeker,
and he had the honor to be one of the first assailants of the Christian
capital, which Mohammed had predicted that his followers should one
day possess. The site of his grave, forgotten for seven centuries, was
revealed to the conqueror of the city by a fortunate vision, and the
spot was commemorated by a mosque, and a gathering congregation of the

Clouds had collected in the west, and the heavy smoke of innumerable
steamers lay dark upon the Bosphorus. But as we came down, the sun broke
out and gave us one of those effects of which nature is sparing. On the
heights of Stamboul, a dozen minarets, only half distinct, were touched
by the gold rays; the windows of both cities, piled above each other,
blazed in it; the smooth river and the swift caiques were gilded by it;
and behind us, domes and spires, and the tapering shafts of the Muezzin,
the bases hid by the mist, rose into the heaven of the golden sunset
and appeared like mansions, and most unsubstantial ones, in the sky. And
ever the light caiques flew over the rosy water in a chase of pleasure,
in a motion that satisfied the utmost longing for repose, while the
enchantment of heaven seemed to have dropped upon the earth.

“The world has lost its gloss for us,

Since we went boating on the Bosphorus.”

Constantinople enjoys or suffers the changeable weather appropriate
to its cosmopolitan inhabitants and situation, and we waited for a day
suitable to cross to Scutari and obtain the view from Boolgoorloo. We
finally accepted one of alternate clouds and sunshine. The connection
between the European city and its great suburb is maintained by frequent
ferry-steamers, and I believe that no other mile-passage in the world
can offer the traveller a scene more animated or views so varied and
magnificent. Near the landing at Scutari stands a beacon-tower ninety’
feet high, erected upon a rock; it has the name of the Maiden’s Tower,
but I do not know why, unless by courtesy to one of the mistresses
of Sultan Mohammed, who is said to have been shut up in it.
Scutari,—pronounced with the accent on the first syllable, a
corruption of the Turkish name Uskudar,—the site of the old Greek and
Persian Chrysopolis, is a town sprawling over seven hills, has plenty
of mosques, baths, and cemeteries,—the three Oriental luxuries,—but
little to detain the traveller, already familiar with Eastern towns of
the sort. The spot has been in all ages an arriving and starting point
for Asiatic couriers, caravans, and armies; here the earliest Greek
sea-robbers hauled up their venturous barks; here Xenophon rested
after his campaign against Cyrus; here the Roman and then the Byzantine
emperors had their hunting-palaces; here for a long time the Persians
menaced and wrung tribute from the city they could not capture.

We took a carriage and ascended through the city to the mountain of
Boolgoorloo. On the slopes above the town are orchards and vineyards
and pretty villas. The last ten minutes of the climb was accomplished on
foot, and when we stood upon the summit the world was at our feet. I
do not know any other view that embraces so much and such variety. The
swelling top was carpeted with grass, sprinkled with spring flowers,
and here and there a spreading pine offered a place of shade and repose.
Behind us continued range on range the hills of the peninsula; to the
south the eye explored Asia Minor, the ancient Bithynia and Mysia, until
it rested on the monstrous snowy summits of Olympus, which rears itself
beyond Broussa, city famed for its gauzy silk and the first capital
of the Osman dynasty. There stretches the blue Sea of Marmora, bearing
lightly on the surface the nine enchanting Princes’ Islands, whose
equable climate and fertile soil have obtained for them the epithet of
the Isles of the Blest. Opposite, Stamboul rises out of the water on
every side; in the distance a city of domes and pinnacles and glass, the
dark-green spires of cypress tempering its brilliant lustre; there
the Golden Horn and its thronged bridges and its countless masts and
steamers’ funnels; Galata and Pera, also lifted up into nobility,
and all their shabby details lost, and the Bosphorus, its hills, marble
palaces, mosques, and gardens, on either side. I do not know any scene
that approaches this in beauty except the Bay of Naples, and the charm
of that is so different from this that no comparison is forced upon
the mind. The Bay of New York has many of the elements of this charming
prospect, on the map. But Constantinople and its environs can be seen
from many points in one view, while one would need to ascend a balloon
to comprehend in like manner the capital of the Western world. It is
the situation of Constantinople, lifted up into a conspicuousness that
permits no one of its single splendors to be lost in the general view,
that makes it in appearance the unrivalled empress of cities.

In the foreground lay Scutari, and in a broad sweep the heavy mass of
cypress forest that covers the great cemetery of the Turks, which they
are said to prefer to Eyoub, under the prophetic impression that they
will one day be driven out of Europe. The precaution seems idle. If
in the loss of Constantinople the Osmanli sultans still maintain the
supremacy of Islam, the Moslem capital could not he on these shores, and
the caliphate in its migrations might again he established on the Nile,
on the Euphrates, or in the plains of Guta on the Abana. The iron-clads
that lie in the Bosphorus, the long guns of a dozen fortresses that
command every foot of the city and shore, forbid that these contiguous
coasts should fly hostile flags.

We drove down to and through this famous cemetery in one direction and
another. In its beauty I was disappointed. It is a dense and gloomy
cypress forest; as a place of sepulture, without the architectural
pretensions of Père-la-Chaise, and only less attractive than that. Its
dark recesses are crowded with gravestones, slender at the bottom and
swelling at the top, painted in lively colors,—green, red, and gray, a
necessary relief to the sombre woods,—having inscriptions in gilt and
red letters, and leaning at all angles, as if they had fallen out in a
quarrel over night. The graves of the men are distinguished by stones
crowned with turbans, or with tarbooshes painted red,—an imitation, in
short, of whatever head-dress the owner wore when alive, so that perhaps
his acquaintances can recognize his tomb without reading his name. Some
of the more ancient have the form of a mould of Charlotte Busse. I saw
more than one set jauntily on one side, which gave the monument a rakish
air, singularly débonnaire for a tombstone.

In contrast to this vast assembly of the faithful is the pretty English
cemetery, dedicated to the fallen in the Crimean war,—a well-kept
flower-garden, which lies close to the Bosphorus on a point opposite the
old Seraglio. We sat down on the sea-wall in this quiet spot, where the
sun falls lovingly and the undisturbed birds sing, and looked long
at the shifting, busy panorama of a world that does not disturb this
repose; and then walked about the garden, noting the headstones of
soldiers,—this one killed at Alma, that at Inkermann, another at
Balaklava, and the tall, graceless granite monument to eight thousand
nameless dead; nameless here, but not in many a home and many a heart,
any more than the undistinguished thousands who sleep at Gettysburg or
on a hundred other patriot fields.

Near by is the great hospital which Florence Nightingale controlled,
and in her memory we asked permission to enter its wards and visit its
garden. After some delay this was granted, but the Turkish official said
that the hospital was for men, that there was no woman there, and as
for Miss Nightingale, he had never heard of her. But we persevered and
finally found an officer who led us to the room she occupied,—a large
apartment now filled with the beds of the sick, and, like every other
part of the establishment, neat and orderly. But our curiosity to
see where the philanthropist had labored was an enigma to the Turkish
officials to the last. They insisted at first that we must be relations
of Miss Nightingale,—a supposition which I saw that Abd-el-Atti, who
always seeks the advantage of distinction, was inclined to favor. But we
said no. Well, perhaps it was natural that Englishmen should indulge
in the sentiment that moved us. But we were not Englishmen, we were
Americans,—they gave it up entirely. The superintendent of the
hospital, a courtly and elderly bey, who had fought in the Crimean war,
and whom our dragoman, dipping his hand to the ground, saluted with the
most profound Egyptian obeisance, insisted upon serving us coffee in
the garden by the fountain of gold-fish, and we spent an hour of quiet

On Sunday at about the hour that the good people in America were
beginning to think what they should wear to church, we walked down to
the service in the English Memorial Church, on the brow of the hill in
Pera, a pointed Gothic building of a rich and pleasing interior. Only
once or twice in many months had we been in a Christian church, and
it was, at least, interesting to contrast its simple forms with the
elaborate Greek ritual and the endless repetitions of the Moslem
prayers. A choir of boys intoned or chanted a portion of the service,
with marked ability, and wholly relieved the audience of the necessity
of making responses. The clergymen executed the reading so successfully
that we could only now and then catch a word. The service, so far as we
were concerned, might as well have been in Turkish; and yet it was not
altogether lost on us. We could distinguish occasionally the Lord’s
Prayer, and the name of Queen Victoria, and we caught some of the
Commandments as they whisked past us. We knew also when we were in the
Litany, from the regular cadence of the boys’ responses. But as the
entertainment seemed to be for the benefit of the clergymen and boys, I
did not feel like intruding beyond the office of a spectator, and I soon
found myself reflecting whether a machine could not be invented
that should produce the same effect of sound, which was all that the
congregation enjoyed.

Rome has been until recently less tolerant of the Protestant faith than
Constantinople; and it was an inspiration of reciprocity to build here
a church in memory of the Christian soldiers who fell in the crusade to
establish the Moslem rule in European Turkey.

Of the various views about Constantinople we always pronounced that
best which we saw last, and at the time we said that those from Seraglio
Point, from Boolgoorloo, and from Roberts College were crowned by that
from Giant’s Grave Mountain, a noble height on the Asiatic side of the
Bosphorus near the Black Sea.

One charming morning, we ascended the strait in a steamboat that calls
at the landings on the eastern shore. The Bosphorus, if you will have it
in a phrase, is a river of lapis lazuli lined with marble palaces. As we
saw it that morning, its sloping gardens, terraces, trees, and vines in
the tender bloom of spring, all the extravagance of the Oriental
poets in praise of it was justified, and it was easy to believe the
nature-romance with which the earliest adventurers had clothed it.
There, at Beshiktash, Jason landed to rest his weary sailors on the
voyage to Colchis; and above there at Koroo Ghesmeh stood a laurel-tree
which Medea planted on the return of the Argonauts. Tradition has placed
near it, on the point, the site of a less attractive object, the pillar
upon which Simeon Stylites spent forty years of a life which was just
forty years too long; but I do not know by what authority, for I believe
that the perch of the Syrian hermit was near Antioch, where his noble
position edified thousands of Christians, who enjoyed their piety in
contemplating his, and took their pleasures in the groves of Daphne.

Our steamer was, at this moment, a craft more dangerous to mankind
than an iron-clad; it was a sort of floating harem; we sat upon the
awning-covered upper deck; the greater part of the lower deck was
jealously curtained off and filled with Turkish ladies. Among them we
recognized a little flock of a couple of dozen, the harem of Mustapha
Pasha, the uncle of the Khedive of Egypt. They left the boat at his
palace in Chenguel Keuy, and we saw them, in silk gowns of white, red,
blue, and yellow, streaming across the flower-garden into the marble
portal,—a pretty picture. The pasha was transferring his household to
the country for the summer, and we imagined that the imprisoned troop
entered these blooming May gardens with the elation of freedom, which
might, however, be more perfect if eunuchs did not watch every gate and
foot of the garden wall. I suppose, however, that few of them would be
willing to exchange their lives of idle luxury for the misery and
chance of their former condition, and it is said that the maids of the
so-called Christian Georgia hear with envy of the good fortune of their
sisters, who have brought good prices in the Turkish capital.

When the harem disappeared we found some consolation in a tall Croat,
who strutted up and down the deck in front of us, that we might sicken
with envy of his splendid costume. He wore tight trousers of blue cloth,
baggy in the rear but fitting the legs like a glove, and terminating
over the shoes in a quilled inverted funnel; a brilliant scarf of Syrian
silk in loose folds about his loins; a vest stiff with gold-em broidery;
a scarlet jacket decked with gold-lace, and on his head a red fez. This
is the costly dress of a Croatian gardener, who displays all his wealth
to make a holiday spectacle of himself.

We sailed close to the village of Kandili and the promontory under
which and upon which it lies, a site which exhausts the capacity of the
loveliness of nature and the skill of art. From the villas on its height
one commands, by a shifted glance, the Euxine and the Marmora, and
whatever is most lovely in the prospect of two continents; the purity
of the air is said to equal the charm of the view. Above this promontory
opens the valley down which flows the river Geuksoo (sky-water), and
at the north of it stands a white marble kiosk of the Sultan, the most
beautiful architectural creation on the strait. Near it, shaded by great
trees, is a handsome fountain; beyond the green turf in the tree-decked
vale which pierces the hill were groups of holiday-makers in gay attire.
I do not know if this Valley of the Heavenly Water is the loveliest in
the East, but it is said that its charms of meadow, shade, sweet water,
and scented flowers are a substantial foretaste of the paradise of the
true believer. But it is in vain to catalogue the charming villages,
the fresh beauties of nature and art to which each revolution of the
paddle-wheel carried us. We thought we should be content with a summer
residence of the Khedive, on the European side below the lovely bay of
Terapea, with its vast hillside of gardens and orchards and the long
line of palaces on the water. Fanned by the invigorating breezes from
the Black Sea, its summer climate must be perfect.

We landed at Beicos, and, in default of any conveyance, walked up
through the straggling village, along the shore, to a verdant, shady
meadow, sweet with clover and wild-flowers. This is in the valley
of Hun-Kiar Iskelesi, a favorite residence of the sultans; here on a
projecting rocky point is a reddish palace built and given to the Sultan
by the Khedive. The meadow, in which we were, is behind a palace of old
Mohammed Ali, and it is now used as a pasture for the Sultan’s horses,
dozens of which were tethered and feeding in the lush grass and clover.
The tents of their attendants were pitched on the plain, and groups
of Turkish ladies were picnicking under the large sycamores. It was a
charming rural scene. I made the silent acquaintance of an old man, in
a white turban and flowing robes, who sat in the grass knitting and
watching his one white lamb feed; probably knitting the fleece of his
lamb of the year before.

We were in search of an araba and team to take us up the mountain; one
stood in the meadow which we could hire, but oxen were wanting, and we
despatched a Greek boy in search of the animals. The Turkish ladies of
fashion delight in the araba when they ride into the country, greatly
preferring it to the horse or donkey, or to any other carriage. It is
a long cart of four wheels, without springs, but it is as stately in
appearance as the band-wagon of a circus; its sloping side-boards and
even the platform in front are elaborately carved and gilded. While we
waited the motions of the boy, who joined to himself two others even
more prone to go astray than himself, an officer of the royal stables
invited us to take seats under the shade of his tent and served us with
coffee. After an hour the boy returned with two lean steers. The rude,
hooped top of the araba was spread with a purple cloth, a thick bedquilt
covered the bottom, and by the aid of a ladder we climbed into the ark
and sat or lay as we could best stow ourselves. A boy led the steers by
a rope, another walked at the side gently goading them with a stick, and
we rumbled along slowly through the brilliant meadows. It became evident
after a time that we were not ascending the mountain, but going into
the heart of the country; the cart was stopped and the wild driver
was interrogated. I never saw a human being so totally devoid of a
conscience. We had hired him to take us up to Giant’s Grave Mountain.
He was deliberately cheating us out of it. At first he insisted that
he was going in the right direction, but upon the application of the
dragoman’s fingers to his ear, he pleaded that the mountain road was
bad and that it was just as well for us to visit the Sultan’s farm up
the valley. We had come seven thousand miles to see the view from the
mountain, but this boy had not the least scruple in depriving us of it.
We turned about and entered a charming glen, thoroughly New England in
its character, set with small trees and shrubs and carpeted with a
turf of short sweet grass. One needs to be some months in the Orient to
appreciate the delight experienced by the sight of genuine turf.

As we ascended, the road, gullied by the spring torrents, at last became
impassable for wheels, and we were obliged to abandon the araba and
perform the last half-mile of the journey on foot. The sightly summit
of the mountain is nearly six hundred feet above the water. There, in
a lovely grove, we found a coffeehouse and a mosque and the
Giant’s Grave, which the Moslems call the grave of Joshua. It is a
flower-planted enclosure, seventy feet long and seven wide, ample for
any hero; the railing about it is tagged with bits of cloth which pious
devotees have tied there in the expectation that their diseases, perhaps
their sins, will vanish with the airing of these shreds. From the
minaret is a wonderful view,—the entire length of the Bosphorus, with
all its windings and lovely bays enlivened with white sails, ships at
anchor, and darting steamers, rich in villages, ancient castles, and
forts; a great portion of Asia Minor, with the snow peaks of Olympus;
on the south, the Islands of the Blest and the Sea of Marmora; on the
north, the Cyanean rocks and the wide sweep of the Euxine, blue as
heaven and dotted with a hundred white sails, overlooked by the ruin of
a Genoese castle, at the entrance of the Bosphorus, built on the site of
a temple of Jupiter, and the spot where the Argonauts halted before they
ventured among the Symplegades; and immediately below, Terapea and the
deep bay of Buyukdereh, the summer resort of the foreign residents of
Constantinople, a paradise of palaces and gardens, of vales and stately
plane-trees, and the entrance to the interior village of Belgrade, with
its sacred forest unprofaned as yet by the axe.

The Cyanean rocks which Jason and his mariners regarded as floating
islands, or sentient monsters, vanishing and reappearing, are harmlessly
anchored now, and do not appear at all formidable, though they disappear
now as of old when the fierce Euxine rolls in its storm waves. Por a
long time and with insatiable curiosity we followed with the eye the
line of the coast of the Pontus Euxinus, once as thickly set with
towns as the Riviera of Italy,—cities of Ionian, Dorian, and Athenian
colonies, who followed the Phoenicians and perhaps the Egyptians,—in
the vain hope of extending our vision to Trebizond, to the sea fortress
of Petra, renowned for its defence by the soldiers of Chosroes against
the arms of Justinian, and, further, to the banks of the Pliasis, to
Colchis, whose fabulous wealth tempted Jason and his sea-robbers. The
waters of this land were so impregnated with particles of gold that
fleeces of sheep were used to strain out the yellow metal. Its palaces
shone with gold and silver, and you might expect in its gardens the
fruit of the Hesperides. In the vales of the Caucasus, we are taught,
our race has attained its most perfect form; in other days its men were
as renowned for strength and valor as its women were for beauty,—the
one could not be permanently subdued, the others conquered, even in
their slavery. Early converts to the Christian faith, they never
adopted its morals nor comprehended its metaphysics; and perhaps a more
dissolute and venal society does not exist than that whose business for
centuries has been the raising of maids for the Turkish harems. And the
miserable, though willing, victims are said to possess not even beauty,
until after a training in luxury by the slave-dealers.

We made our way, not without difficulty, down the rough, bush-grown
hillside, invaded a new Turkish fortification, and at length found a
place where we could descend the precipitous bank and summon a boat to
ferry us across to Buyukdereh. This was not easy to obtain; but finally
an aged Greek boatman appeared with a caique as aged and decayed as
himself. The chances seemed to be that it could make the voyage, and
we all packed ourselves into it, sitting on the bottom and filling it
completely. There was little margin of boat above the water, and any
sudden motion would have reduced that to nothing. We looked wise and sat
still, while the old Greek pulled feebly and praised the excellence of
his craft. On the opposite slope our attention was called to a pretty
cottage, and a Constantinople lady, who was of the party, began to tell
us the story of its occupant. So dramatic and exciting did it become
that we forgot entirely the peril of our frail and overloaded boat.
The story finished as we drew up to the landing, which we instantly
comprehended we had not reached a moment too soon. Eor when we arose our
clothes were soaked; we were sitting in water, which was rapidly filling
the boat, and would have swamped it in five minutes. The landing-place
of Buyukdereh, the bay, the hills and villas, reminded us of Lake Como,
and the quay and streets were rather Italian than Oriental. The most
soaked of the voyagers stood outside the railing of the pretty garden
of the café to dry in the sun, while the others sat inside, under the
vines, and passed out to the unfortunates, through the iron bars, tiny
cups of coffee, and fed them with rahat-al-lacoom and other delicious
sweetmeats, until the arrival of the steamer. The ride down was lovely;
the sun made the barracks and palaces on the east shore a blaze of
diamonds; and the minarets seen through the steamer’s smoke
which, transfused with the rosy light, overhung the city, had a
phantasmagorical aspect.

Constantinople shares with many other cities the reputation of being the
most dissolute in the world. The traveller is not required to decide
the rival claims of this sort of pre-eminence, which are eagerly put
forward; he may better, in each city, acquiesce in the complaisant
assumption of the inhabitants. But when he is required to see in the
moral state of the Eastern capital signs of its speedy decay, and the
near extinction of the Othman rule, he takes a leaf out of history and
reflects. It is true, no doubt, that the Turks are enfeebled by luxury
and sensuality, and have, to a great extent, lost those virile qualities
which gave to their ancestors the dominion of so many kingdoms in
Asia, Africa, and Europe; in short, that the race is sinking into an
incapacity to propagate itself in the world. If one believes what he
hears, the morals of society could not be worse. The women, so many of
whom have been bought in the market, or are daughters of slaves,
are educated only for pleasure; and a great proportion of the male
population are adventurers from all lands, with few domestic ties. The
very relaxation of the surveillance of the harem (the necessary prelude
to the emancipation of woman) opens the door to opportunity, and gives
freer play to feminine intrigue. One hears, indeed, that even the
inmates of the royal harem find means of clandestine intercourse
with the foreigners of Pera. The history of the Northern and Western
occupation of the East has been, for fifteen centuries, only a
repetition of yielding to the seductive influences of a luxurious
climate and to soft and pleasing invitation.

But, heighten as we may the true and immoral picture of social life in
Constantinople, I doubt if it is so loose and unrestrained as it was
for centuries under the Greek Emperors; I doubt if the imbecility, the
luxurious effeminacy of the Turks has sunk to the level of the Byzantine
Empire; and when we are asked to expect in the decay of to-day a speedy
dissolution, we remember that for a period of over a thousand years,
from the partition of the Roman Empire between the two sons of
Theodosius to the capture of Constantinople by Mohammed II., the empire
subsisted in a state of premature and perpetual decay. These Oriental
dynasties are a long time in dying, and we cannot measure their
decrepitude by the standards of Occidental morality.

The trade and the commerce of the city are largely in the hands of
foreigners; but it has nearly always been so, since the days of the
merchants and manufacturers of Pisa, Genoa, and Venice. We might draw
an inference of Turkish insecurity from the implacable hatred of the
so-called Greek subjects, if the latter were not in the discord of a
thousand years of anarchy and servitude. The history of the islands of
the Eastern Mediterranean has been a succession of Turkish avarice and
rapacity, horrible Greek revenge and Turkish wholesale devastation and
massacre, repeated over and over again; but there appears as yet no
power able either to expel the Turks or unite the Greeks. That the
leaven of change is working in the Levant is evident to the most
superficial observation, and one sees everywhere the introduction of
Western civilization, of business habits, and, above all, of schools.
However indifferent the Osmanlis are to education, they are not
insensible to European opinion; and in reckoning up their bad qualities,
we ought not to forget that they have set some portions of Christendom
a lesson of religious toleration,—both in Constantinople and Jerusalem
the Christians were allowed a freedom of worship in their own churches
which was not permitted to Protestants within the sacred walls of
Pontifical Rome.

One who would paint the manners or the morals of Constantinople might
adorn his theme with many anecdotes, characteristic of a condition of
society which is foreign to our experience. I select one which has
the merit of being literally true. You who believe that modern romance
exists only in tales of fiction, listen to the story of a beauty of
Constantinople, the vicissitudes of whose life equal in variety if not
in importance those of Theodora and Athenais. For obvious reasons, I
shall mention no names.

There lives now on the banks of the Bosphorus an English physician, who,
at the entreaty of Lord Byron, went to Greece in 1824 as a volunteer
surgeon in the war of independence; he arrived only in time to see
the poet expire at Missolonghi. In the course of the war, he was taken
prisoner by the Egyptian troops, who in their great need of surgeons
kept him actively employed in his profession. He did not regain his
freedom until after the war, and then only on condition that he should
reside in Constantinople as one of the physicians of the Sultan,
Mohammed II.

We may suppose that the Oriental life was not unpleasant, nor the
position irksome to him, for he soon so far yielded to the temptations
of the capital as to fall in love with a very pretty face which he
saw daily in a bay-window of the street he traversed on the way to the
Seraglio. Acquaintance, which sometimes precedes love, in this case
followed it; the doctor declared his passion and was accepted by the
willing maid. But an Oriental bay-window is the opportunity of the
world, and the doctor, becoming convinced that his affianced was a
desperate flirt, and yielding to the entreaties of his friends, broke
off the engagement and left her free, in her eyry, to continue her
observations upon mankind. This, however, did not suit the plans of the
lovely and fickle girl. One morning, shortly after, he was summoned to
see two Turkish ladies who awaited him in his office; when he appeared,
the young girl (for it was she) and her mother threw aside their
disguise, and declared that they would not leave the house until the
doctor married the daughter, for the rupture of the engagement had
rendered it impossible to procure any other husband. Whether her own
beauty or the terrible aspect of the mother prevailed, I do not know,
but the English chaplain was sent for; he refused to perform the
ceremony, and a Greek priest was found who married them.

This marriage, which took the appearance of duress, might have been
happy if the compelling party to it had left her fondness of adventure
and variety at the wedding threshold; but her constancy was only
assumed, like the Turkish veil, for an occasion; lovers were not
wanting, and after the birth of three children, two sons and a daughter,
she deserted her husband and went to live with a young Turk, who has
since held high office in the government of the Sultan. It was in her
character of Madame Mehemet Pasha that she wrote (or one of her sons
wrote for her) a book well known in the West, entitled “Thirty Years
in a Harem.” But her intriguing spirit was not extinct even in a
Turkish harem; she attempted to palm off upon the pasha, as her own, a
child that she had bought; her device was detected by one of the palace
eunuchs, and at the same time her amour with a Greek of the city came
to light. The eunuch incurred her displeasure for his officiousness, and
she had him strangled and thrown into the Bosphorus! Some say that the
resolute woman even assisted with her own hands. For these breaches of
decorum, however, she paid dear; the pasha banished her to Kutayah, with
orders to the guard who attended her to poison her on the way; but
she so won upon the affection of the officer that he let her escape at
Broussa. There her beauty, if not her piety, recommended her to an Imam
of one of the mosques, and she married him and seems for a time to have
led a quiet life; at any rate, nothing further was heard of her until
just before the famous cholera season, when news came of the death
of her husband, the Moslem priest, and that she was living in extreme
poverty, all her beauty gone forever, and consequently her ability to
procure another husband.

The pasha, Mehemet, lived in a beautiful palace on the eastern shore of
the Bosphorus, near Kandili. During the great cholera epidemic of 1865,
the pasha was taken ill. One day there appeared at the gate an unknown
woman, who said that she had come to cure the pasha; no one knew her,
but she spoke with authority, and was admitted. It was our adventuress.
She nursed the pasha with the most tender care and watchful skill, so
that he recovered; and, in gratitude for the preservation of his life,
he permitted her and her daughter to remain in the palace. For some time
they were contented with the luxury of such a home, but one day—it was
the evening of Wednesday—neither mother nor daughter was to be found;
and upon examination it was discovered that a large collection of
precious stones and some ready money had disappeared with them. They had
departed on the French steamer, in order to transfer their talents to
the fields of Europe. The fate of the daughter I do not know; for some
time she and her mother were conspicuous in the dissipation of Paris
life; subsequently the mother lived with a son in London, and, since I
heard her story in Constantinople, she has died in London in misery and

The further history of the doctor and his family may detain our
curiosity for a moment. When his wife left him for the arms of
the pasha, he experienced so much difficulty in finding any one in
Constantinople to take care of his children that he determined to send
them to Scotland to be educated, and intrusted them, for that purpose,
to a friend who was returning to England. They went by way of Rome. It
happened that the mother and sister of the doctor had some time before
that come to Rome, for the sake of health, and had there warmly embraced
the Roman Catholic faith. Of course the three children were taken to see
their grandmother and aunt, and the latter, concerned for their eternal
welfare, diverted them from their journey, and immured the boys in a
monastery and the girl in a convent. The father, when he heard of this
abduction, expressed indignation, but, having at that time only such
religious faith as may be floating in the Oriental air and common to
all, he made no vigorous effort to recover his children. Indeed, he
consoled himself, in the fashion of the country, by marrying again; this
time a Greek lady, who died, leaving two boys. The doctor was successful
in transporting the offspring of his second marriage to Scotland, where
they were educated; and they returned to do him honor,—one of them as
the eloquent and devoted pastor of a Protestant church in Pera, and the
other as a physician in the employment of the government.

After the death of his second wife, the doctor—I can but tell the
story as I heard it—became a changed man, and—married again;
this time a Swiss lady, of lovely Christian character. In his changed
condition, he began to feel anxious to recover his children from the
grasp of Rome. He wrote for information, but his sister refused to tell
where they were, and his search could discover no trace of them. At
length the father obtained leave of absence from the Seraglio, and armed
with an autograph letter from Abdul Aziz to Pius IX., he went to Rome.
The Pope gave him an order for the restoration of his children. He drove
first to the convent to see his daughter. In place of the little
girl whom he had years ago parted with, he found a young lady of
extraordinary beauty, and a devoted Romanist. At first she refused to go
with him, and it was only upon his promise to allow her perfect liberty
of conscience, and never to interfere with any of the observances of her
church, that she consented. Not daring to lose sight of her, he waited
for her to pack her trunk, and then, putting her into a carriage, drove
to the monastery where he heard, after many inquiries, that his boys
were confined. The monk who admitted him denied that they were there,
and endeavored to lock him into the waiting-room while he went to call
the Superior. But the doctor anticipated his movements, and as soon as
the monk was out of sight, started to explore the house. By good luck
the first door he opened led into a chamber where a sick boy was lying
on a bed. The doctor believed that he recognized one of his sons; a few
questions satisfied him that he was right. “I am your father,” he
said to the astonished lad, “run quickly and call your brother and
come with me.” Monastic discipline had not so many attractions for the
boys as convent life for the girl, and the child ran with alacrity and
brought his brother, just as the abbot and a score of monks appeared
upon the scene. As the celerity of the doctor had given no opportunity
to conceal the boys, opposition to the order of the Pope was useless,
and the father hastened to the gate where he had left the carriage.
Meantime the aunt had heard of the rescue, and followed the girl from
the convent; she implored her, by tears and prayers, to reverse her
decision. The doctor cut short the scene by shoving his sons into the
carriage and driving rapidly away. Nor did he trust them long in Rome.

The subsequent career of the boys is not dwelt on with pleasure. One of
them enlisted in the Turkish army, married a Turkish wife, and, after
some years, deserted her, and ran away to England. His wife was taken
into a pasha’s family, who offered to adopt her only child, a boy of
four years; but the mother preferred to bring him to his grandfather.
None of the family had seen her, but she established her identity, and
begged that her child might be adopted by a good man, which she knew
his grandfather to be, and receive a Christian training. The doctor,
therefore, adopted the grandchild, which had come to him in such a
strange way, and the mother shortly after died.

The daughter, whose acquired accomplishments matched her inherited
beauty, married, in time, a Venetian Count of wealth; and the idler
in Venice may see on the Grand Canal, among those mouldy edifices that
could reveal so many romances, their sumptuous palace, and learn, if he
cares to learn, that it is the home of a family happy in the enjoyment
of most felicitous fortune. In the gossip with which the best Italian
society sometimes amuses itself, he might hear that the Countess was the
daughter of a slave of the Sultan’s harem. I have given, however,
the true version of the romantic story; but I am ignorant of the
social condition or the race of the mother of the heroine of so many
adventures. She may have been born in the Caucasus.


OUR last day in Constantinople was a bright invitation for us to remain
forever. We could have departed without regret in a rain-storm, but it
was not so easy to resolve to look our last upon this shining city and
marvellous landscape under the blue sky of May. Early in the morning we
climbed up the Genoese Tower in Galata and saw the hundred crescents of
Stamboul sparkle in the sun, the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus, shifting
panoramas of trade and pleasure, the Propontis with its purple islands,
and the azure and snowy mountains of Asia. This massive tower is now
a fire-signal station, and night and day watchmen look out from its
battlemented gallery; the Seraskier Tower opposite in Stamboul, and
another on the heights of the Asiatic shore, keep the same watch over
the inflammable city. The guard requested us not to open our parasols
upon the gallery for fear they would be hailed as fire-signals.

The day was spent in last visits to the bazaars, in packing and
leave-takings, and the passage of the custom-house, for the government
encourages trade by an export as well as an import duty. I did not see
any of the officials, but Abd-el-Atti, who had charge of shipping our
baggage, reported that the eyes of the customs inspector were each just
the size of a five-franc piece. Chief among our regrets at setting our
faces toward Europe was the necessity of parting with Abd-el-Atti and
Ahmed; the former had been our faithful dragoman and daily companion for
five months, and we had not yet exhausted his adventures nor his stores
of Oriental humor; and we could not expect to find elsewhere a character
like Ahmed, a person so shrewd and obliging, and of such amusing
vivacity. At four o’clock we embarked upon an Italian steamer
for Salonica and Athens, a four days’ voyage. At the last moment
Abd-el-Atti would have gone with us upon the least encouragement, but
we had no further need of dragoman or interpreter, and the old man sadly
descended the ladder to his boat. I can see him yet, his red fez in
the stern of the caique, waving his large silk handkerchief, and slowly
rowing back to Pera,—a melancholy figure.

As we steamed out of the harbor we enjoyed the view we had missed on
entering: the Seraglio Point where blind old Dandolo ran his galley
aground and leaped on shore to the assault; the shore of Chalcedon; the
seven towers and the old wall behind Stamboul, which Persians, Arabs,
Scythians, and Latins have stormed; the long sweeping coast and its
minarets; the Princes’ Islands and Mt. Olympus,—all this in a
setting sun was superb; and we said, “There is not its equal in the
world.” And the evening was more magnificent,—a moon nearly full, a
sweet and rosy light on the smooth water, which was at first azure blue,
and then pearly gray and glowing like an amethyst.

Smoothly sailing all night, we came at sunrise to the entrance of the
Dardanelles, and stopped for a couple of hours at Chanak Kalessi, before
the guns of the Castle of Asia. The wide-awake traders immediately
swarmed on board with their barbarous pottery, and with trays of cooked
fish, onions, and bread for the deck passengers. The latter were mostly
Greeks, and men in the costume which one sees still in the islands and
the Asiatic coasts, but very seldom on the Grecian mainland; it consists
of baggy trousers, close at the ankles, a shawl about the waist, an
embroidered jacket usually of sober color, and, the most prized part
of their possessions, an arsenal of pistols and knives in huge leathern
holsters, with a heavy leathern flap, worn in front. Most of them wore
a small red fez, the hair cut close in front and falling long behind the
ears. They are light in complexion, not tall, rather stout, and without
beauty. Though their dress is picturesque in plan, it is usually very
dirty, ragged, and, the last confession of poverty, patched. They were
all armed like pirates; and when we stopped a cracking fusillade along
the deck suggested a mutiny; but it was only a precautionary measure
of the captain, who compelled them to discharge their pistols into the
water and then took them from them.

Passing out of the strait we saw the Rabbit Islands and Tene-dos, and
caught a glimpse of the Plain of Troy about as misty as its mythic
history; and then turned west between Imbros and Lemnos, on whose bold
eastern rock once blazed one of the signal-fires which telegraphed the
fall of Troy to Clytemnestra. The first women of Lemnos were altogether
beautiful, but they had some peculiarities which did not recommend
them to their contemporaries, and indeed their husbands were accustomed
occasionally to hoist sail and bask in the smiles of the damsels of the
Thracian coast. The Lemnian women, to avoid any legal difficulties, such
as arise nowadays when a woman asserts her right to slay her partner,
killed all their husbands, and set up an Amazonian state which they
maintained with pride and splendor, permitting no man to set foot on the
island. In time this absolute freedom became a little tedious, and when
the Argonauts came that way, the women advanced to meet the heroes
with garlands, and brought them wine and food. This conduct pleased the
Argonauts, who made Lemnos their headquarters and celebrated there
many a festive combat. Their descendants, the Minyæ, were afterwards
overcome by the Pelasgians, from Attica, who, remembering with regret
the beautiful girls of their home, returned and brought back with them
the willing and the lovely. But the children of the Attic women took on
airs over their superior birth, which the Pelasgian women resented, and
the latter finally removed all cause of dispute by murdering all the
mothers of Attica and their offspring. These events gave the ladies
of Lemnos a formidable reputation in the ancient world, and furnish an
illustration of what society would be without the refining and temperate
influence of man.

To the northward lifted itself the bare back of Samothrace, and beyond
the dim outline of Thasos, ancient gold-island, the home of the
poet Archilochus, one of the few Grecian islands which still retains
something of its pristine luxuriance of vegetation, where the songs of
innumerable nightingales invite to its deep, flowery valleys. Beyond
Thasos is the Thracian coast and Mt. Pangaus, and at the foot of it
Philippi, the Macedonian town where republican Rome fought its last
battle, where Cassius leaned upon his sword-point, believing everything
lost. Brutus transported the body of his comrade to Thasos and raised
for him a funeral pyre; and twenty days later, on the same field, met
again that spectre of death which had summoned him to Philippi. It
was only eleven years after this victory of the Imperial power that
a greater triumph was won at Philippi, when Paul and Silas, cast into
prison, sang praises unto God at midnight, and an earthquake shook the
house and opened the prison doors.

In the afternoon we came in sight of snowy Mt. Athos, an almost
perpendicular limestone rock, rising nearly six thousand four hundred
feet out of the sea. The slender promontory which this magnificent
mountain terminates is forty miles long and has only an average breadth
of four miles. The ancient canal of Xerxes quite severed it from the
mainland. The peninsula, level at the canal, is a jagged stretch of
mountains (seamed by chasms), which rise a thousand, two thousand, four
thousand feet, and at last front the sea with the sublime peak of Athos,
the site of the most conspicuous beacon-fire of Agamemnon. The entire
promontory is, and has been since the time of Constantine, ecclesiastic
ground; every mountain and valley has its convent; besides the twenty
great monasteries are many pious retreats. All the sects of the Greek
church are here represented; the communities pay a tribute to the
Sultan, but the government is in the hands of four presidents, chosen by
the synod, which holds weekly sessions and takes the presidents, yearly,
from the monasteries in rotation. Since their foundation these religious
houses have maintained against Christians and Saracens an almost
complete independence, and preserved in their primitive simplicity the
manners and usages of the earliest foundations. Here, as nowhere else in
Europe or Asia, can one behold the architecture, the dress, the habits
of the Middle Ages. The good devotees have been able to keep themselves
thus in the darkness and simplicity of the past by a rigorous exclusion
of the sex always impatient of monotony, to which all the changes of
the world are due. No woman, from the beginning till now, has ever
been permitted to set foot on the peninsula. Nor is this all; no female
animal is suffered on the holy mountain, not even a hen. I suppose,
though I do not know, that the monks have an inspector of eggs, whose
inherited instincts of aversion to the feminine gender enable him to
detect and reject all those in which lurk the dangerous sex. Few of the
monks eat meat, half the days of the year are fast days, they practise
occasionally abstinence from food for two or three days, reducing their
pulses to the feeblest beating, and subduing their bodies to a point
that destroys their value even as spiritual tabernacles. The united
community is permitted to keep a guard of fifty Christian soldiers,
and the only Moslem on the island is the solitary Turkish officer who
represents the Sultan; his position cannot be one generally coveted
by the Turks, since the society of women is absolutely denied him. The
libraries of Mt. Athos are full of unarranged manuscripts, which are
probably mainly filled with the theologic rubbish of the controversial
ages, and can scarcely be expected to yield again anything so valuable
as the Tischendorf Scriptures.

At sunset we were close under Mt. Athos, and could distinguish the
buildings of the Laura Convent, amid the woods beneath the frowning
cliff. And now was produced the apparition of a sunset, with this
towering mountain cone for a centre-piece, that surpassed all our
experience and imagination. The sea was like satin for smoothness,
absolutely waveless, and shone with the colors of changeable silk, blue,
green, pink, and amethyst. Heavy clouds gathered about the sun, and from
behind them he exhibited burning spectacles, magnificent fireworks, vast
shadow-pictures, scarlet cities, and gigantic figures stalking across
the sky. From one crater of embers he shot up a fan-like flame that
spread to the zenith and was reflected on the water. His rays lay along
the sea in pink, and the water had the sheen of iridescent glass. The
whole sea for leagues was like this; even Lemnos and Samothrace lay in
a dim pink and purple light in the east. There were vast clouds in huge
walls, with towers and battlements, and in all fantastic shapes,—one a
gigantic cat with a preternatural tail, a cat of doom four degrees long.
All this was piled about Mt. Athos, with its sharp summit of snow, its
dark sides of rock.

It is a pity that the sounding and somewhat sacred name of Thessalonica
has been abbreviated to Salonica; it might better have reverted to its
ancient name of Therma, which distinguished the Macedonian capital up
to the time of Alexander. In the early morning we were lying before the
city, and were told that we should stay till midnight, waiting for the
mail. From whence a mail was expected I do not know; the traveller
who sails these seas with a cargo of ancient history resents in these
classic localities such attempts to imitate modern fashions. Were the
Dardanians or the Mesians to send us letters in a leathern bag? We
were prepared for a summons from Calo-John, at the head of his wild
barbarians, to surrender the city; and we should have liked to see
Boniface, Marquis of Montferrat and King of Thessalonica, issue from the
fortress above the town, the shields and lances of his little band of
knights shining in the sun, and answer in person the insolent demand. We
were prepared to see the troop return, having left the head of Boniface
in the possession of Calo-John; and if our captain had told us that the
steamer would wait to attend the funeral of the Bulgarian chief himself,
which occurred not long after the encounter with Boniface, we should
have thought it natural.

The city lies on a fine bay, and presents an attractive appearance from
the harbor, rising up the hill in the form of an amphitheatre. On all
sides, except the sea, ancient walls surround it, fortified at the
angles by large round towers and crowned in the centre, on the hill,
by a respectable citadel. I suppose that portions of these walls are
of Hellenic and perhaps Pelasgic date, but the most are probably of
the time of the Latin crusaders’ occupation, patched and repaired by
Saracens and Turks. We had come to Thessalonica on St. Paul’s
account, not expecting to see much that would excite us, and we were
not disappointed. When we went ashore we found ourselves in a city of
perhaps sixty thousand inhabitants, commonplace in aspect, although
its bazaars are well filled with European goods, and a fair display of
Oriental stuffs and antiquities, and animated by considerable briskness
of trade. I presume there are more Jews here than there were in Paul’s
time, but Turks and Greeks, in nearly equal numbers, form the bulk of
the population.

In modern Salonica there is not much respect for pagan antiquities, and
one sees only the usual fragments of columns and sculptures worked into
walls or incorporated in Christian churches. But those curious in early
Byzantine architecture will find more to interest them here than in any
place in the world except Constantinople. We spent the day wandering
about the city, under the guidance of a young Jew, who was without
either prejudices or information. On our way to the Mosque of St.
Sophia, we passed through the quarter of the Jews, which is much cleaner
than is usual with them. These are the descendants of Spanish Jews, who
were expelled by Isabella, and they still retain, in a corrupt form, the
language of Spain. In the doors and windows were many pretty Jewesses;
banishment and vicissitude appear to agree with this elastic race, for
in all the countries of Europe Jewish women develop more beauty in form
and feature than in Palestine. We saw here and in other parts of the
city a novel head-dress, which may commend itself to America in the
revolutions of fashion. A great mass of hair, real or assumed, was
gathered into a long slender green bag, which hung down the back and
was terminated by a heavy fringe of silver. Otherwise, the dress of the
Jewish women does not differ much from that of the men; the latter wear
a fez or turban, and a tunic which reaches to the ankles, and is bound
about the waist by a gay sash or shawl.

The Mosque of St. Sophia, once a church, and copied in its proportions
and style from its namesake in Constantinople, is retired, in a
delightful court, shaded by gigantic trees and cheered by a fountain. So
peaceful a spot we had not seen in many a day; birds sang in the trees
without disturbing the calm of the meditative pilgrim. In the portico
and also in the interior are noble columns of marble and verd-antique,
and in the dome is a wonderfully quaint mosaic of the Transfiguration.
We were shown also a magnificent pulpit of the latter beautiful stone
cut from a solid block, in which it is said St. Paul preached. As the
Apostle, according to his custom, reasoned with the people out of the
Scriptures in a synagogue, and this church was not built for centuries
after his visit, the statement needs confirmation; but pious ingenuity
suggests that the pulpit stood in a subterranean church underneath this.
I should like to believe that Paul sanctified this very spot with his
presence; but there is little in its quiet seclusion to remind one of
him who had the reputation when he was in Thessalonica of one of those
who turn the world upside down. Paul had a great affection for the
brethren of this city, in spite of his rough usage here, for he mingles
few reproaches in his fervent commendations of their faith, and comforts
them with the assurance of a speedy release from the troubles of this
world, and the certainty that while they are yet alive they will be
caught up into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Happily the
Apostle could not pierce the future and see the dissensions, the
schisms, the corruptions and calamities of the Church in the succeeding
centuries, nor know that near this spot, in the Imperial Hippodrome, the
sedition of the citizens would one day be punished by the massacre of
ninety thousand,—one of the few acts of inhumanity which stains the
clemency and the great name of Theodosius. And it would have passed even
the belief of the Apostle to the Gentiles could he have foreseen
that, in eighteen centuries, this pulpit would be exhibited to curious
strangers from a distant part of the globe, of which he never heard,
where the doctrines of Paul are the bulwark of the Church and the
stamina of the government, by a descendant of Abraham who confessed that
he did not know who Paul was.

The oldest church in the city is now the Mosque of St. George, built
about the year 400, if indeed it was not transformed from a heathen
temple; its form is that of the Roman Pantheon. The dome was once
covered with splendid mosaics; enough remains of the architectural
designs, the brilliant peacocks and bright blue birds, to show what the
ancient beauty was, but the walls of the mosque are white and barn-like.
Religions inherit each other’s edifices in the East without shame, and
we found in the Mosque of Eske Djuma the remains of a temple of Venus,
and columns of ancient Grecian work worthy of the best days of Athens.
The most perfect basilica is now the Mosque of St. Demetrius (a name
sacred to the Greeks), which contains his tomb. It is a five-aisled
basilica; about the gallery, over the pillars of the centre aisle, are
some fine mosaics of marble, beautiful in design and color. The Moslems
have spoiled the exquisite capitals of the pillars by painting them,
and have destroyed the effect of the aisles by twisting the pulpit and
prayer-niche away from the apse, in the direction of Mecca. We noticed,
however, a relaxation of bigotry at all these mosques: we were permitted
to enter without taking off our shoes; and, besides the figures of
Christian art left in the mosaics, we saw some Moslem pictures, among
them rude paintings of the holy city Mecca.

On our way to the citadel we stopped to look at the Arch of Constantine
before the Gate of Cassander,—a shabby ruin, with four courses of
defaced figures, carved in marble, and representing the battles and
triumphs of a Roman general. Fortunately for the reader we did not visit
all the thirty-seven churches of the city; but we made the acquaintance
in a Greek church, which is adorned with quaint Byzantine paintings, of
St. Palema, who lies in public repose, in a coffin of exquisite silver
filigree-work, while his skull is enclosed in solid silver and set with
rubies and emeralds. This may please St. Palema, but death is never so
ghastly as when it is adorned with jewelry that becomes cheap in its

The view from the citadel, which embraces the Gulf of Salonica and Mt.
Olympus, the veritable heaven of the Grecian pantheon, and Mt. Ossa and
Mt. Pelion, piercing the blue with their snow-summits, is grand enough
to repay the ascent; and there is a noble walk along the wall above the
town. In making my roundabout way through modern streets, back to the
bazaars, I encountered a number of negro women, pure Africans, who had
the air and carriage of the aristocracy of the place; they rejoiced
in the gay attire which the natives of the South love, and their fine
figures and independent bearing did not speak of servitude.

This Thessalonica was doubtless a healthful and attractive place at the
time Cicero chose to pass a portion of his exile here, but it has now a
bad reputation for malaria, which extends to all the gulf,—the malaria
seems everywhere to have been one of the consequences of the fall of
the Roman Empire. The handbook recommends the locality for its good
“shooting”; but if there is any part of the Old World that needs
rest from arms, I think it is this highway of ancient and modern
conquerors and invaders.

In the evening, when the lights of the town and the shore were reflected
in the water, and a full moon hung in the sky, we did not regret our
delay. The gay Thessalonians, ignorant of the Epistles, were rowing
about the harbor, circling round and round the steamer, beating the
darabouka drum, and singing in that nasal whine which passes for music
all over the East. And, indeed, on such a night it is not without its
effect upon a sentimental mind.

At early light of a cloudless morning we were going easily down the Gulf
of Therma or Salonica, having upon our right the Pierian plain; and I
tried to distinguish the two mounds which mark the place of the great
battle near Pydna, one hundred and sixty-eight years before Christ,
between Æmilius Paulus and King Perseus, which gave Macedonia to the
Roman Empire. Beyond, almost ten thousand feet in the air, towered
Olympus, upon whose “broad” summit Homer displays the ethereal
palaces and inaccessible abode of the Grecian gods. Shaggy forests still
clothe its sides, but snow now, and for the greater part of the year,
covers the wide surface of the height, which is a sterile, light-colored
rock. The gods did not want snow to cool the nectar at their banquets.
This is the very centre of the mythologie world; there between Olympus
and Ossa is the Yale of Tempe, where the Peneus, breaking through a
narrow gorge fringed with the sacred laurel, reaches the gulf, south of
ancient Heracleum. Into this charming but secluded retreat the gods and
goddesses, weary of the icy air, or the Pumblechookian deportment of
the court of Olympian Jove, descended to pass the sunny hours with
the youths and maidens of mortal mould; through this defile marks of
chariot-wheels still attest the passages of armies which flowed either
way, in invasion or retreat; and here Pompey, after a ride of forty
miles from the fatal field of Pharsalia, quenched his thirst. Did the
Greeks really believe that the gods dwelt on this mountain in clouds and
snow? Did Baldwin II. believe that he sold, and Louis IX. of France that
he bought, for ten thousand marks of silver, at Constantinople, in the
thirteenth century, the veritable crown of thorns that the Saviour wore
in the judgment-hall of Pilate?

At six o’clock the Cape of Posilio was on our left, we were sinking
Olympus in the white haze of morning, Ossa, in its huge silver bulk, was
near us, and Pelion stretched its long white back below. The sharp cone
of Ossa might well ride upon the extended back of Pelion, and it seems a
pity that the Titans did not succeed in their attempt. We were leaving,
and looking our last on the Thracian coasts, once rimmed from Mt. Athos
to the Bosphorus with a wreath of prosperous cities. What must once have
been the splendor of the Ægean Sea and its islands, when every island
was the seat of a vigorous state, and every harbor the site of a
commercial town which sent forth adventurous galleys upon any errand of
trade or conquest! Since the fall of Constantinople, these coasts
and islands have been stripped and neglected by Turkish avarice and
improvidence, and perhaps their naked aspect is attributable more to the
last owners than to all the preceding possessors; it remained for
the Turk to exhaust Nature herself, and to accomplish that ruin, that
destruction of peoples, which certainly not the Athenian, the Roman,
or the Macedonian accomplished, to destroy that which survived the
contemptible Byzantines and escaped the net of the pillaging Christian
crusaders. Yet it needs only repose, the confidence of the protection
of industry, and a spirit of toleration, which the Greeks must learn
as well as the Turks, that the traveller in the beginning of the next
century may behold in the Archipelago the paradise of the world.

We sailed along by the peninsula of Magnesia, which separates the Ægean
from the Bay of Pagasæus, and hinders us from seeing the plains of
Thessaly, where were trained the famous cavalry, the perfect union
of horse and man that gave rise to the fable of centaurs; the same
conception of double prowess which our own early settlers exaggerated in
the notion that the Kentuckian was half horse and half alligator. Just
before we entered the group of lovely Sporades, we looked down the long
narrow inlet to the Bay of Maliacus and saw the sharp snow-peaks of Mt.
OEta, at the foot of which are the marsh and hot springs of Thermopylae.
We passed between Skiathos and Skopelos,—steep, rocky islands, well
wooded and enlivened with villages perched on the hillsides, and both
draped in lovely color. In the strait between Skiathos and Magnesia
the Greek vessels made a stand against the Persians until the defeat
at Thermopylae compelled a retreat to Salamis. The monks of the Middle
Ages, who had an eye for a fertile land, covered the little island with
monasteries, of which one only now remains. Its few inhabitants are
chiefly sailors, and to-day it would be wholly without fame were it not
for the beauty of its women. Skopelos, which is larger, has a population
of over six thousand,—industrious people who cultivate the olive and
produce a good red wine, that they export in their own vessels.

Nearly all day we sailed outside and along Euboea; and the snow dusting
its high peaks and lonely ravines was a not unwelcome sight, for the day
was warm, oppressively so even at sea. All the elements lay in a languid
truce. Before it was hidden by Skopelos, Mt. Athos again asserted its
lordship over these seas, more gigantic than when we were close to it,
the sun striking the snow on its face (it might be the Whiteface of the
Adirondacks, except that it is piled up more like the Matterhorn),
while the base, bathed in a silver light, was indistinguishable from
the silver water out of which it rose. The islands were all purple, the
shores silver, and the sea around us deeply azure. What delicious color!

Perhaps it was better to coast along the Euboean land and among
the Sporades, clothed in our minds with the historic hues which the
atmosphere reproduced to our senses, than to break the dream by landing,
to find only broken fragments where cities once were, and a handful of
fishermen or shepherds the only inheritors of the homes of heroes. We
should find nothing on Ikos, except rabbits and a hundred or two of
fishers, perhaps not even the grave of Peleus, the father of Achilles;
and the dozen little rocky islets near, which some giant in sportive
mood may have tossed into the waves, would altogether scarcely keep
from famine a small flock of industrious sheep. Skyros, however, has not
forgotten its ancient fertility; the well-watered valleys, overlooked
by bold mountains and rocky peaks (upon one of which stood “the lofty
Skyros” of Homer’s song) still bear corn and wine, the fig and
the olive, the orange and the lemon, as in the days when Achilles, in
woman’s apparel, was hidden among the maidens in the gardens of King
Lycomedes. The mountains are clothed with oaks, beeches, firs, and
plane-trees. Athens had a peculiar affection for Skyros, for it was
there that Cymon found the bones of Theseus, and transported them thence
to the temple of the hero, where they were deposited with splendid
obsequies, Æschylus and Sophocles adding to the festivities the
friendly rivalry of a dramatic contest. In those days everything was for
the state and nothing for the man; and naturally—such is the fruit of
self-abnegation—the state was made immortal by the genius of its men.

Of the three proud flagstaffs erected in front of St. Mark’s, one,
for a long time, bore the banner of Euboea, or Negropont, symbol of the
Venetian sovereignty for nearly three centuries over this island, which
for four centuries thereafter was to be cursed by the ascendency of
the crescent. From the outer shore one can form little notion of the
extraordinary fertility of this land, and we almost regretted that a
rough sea had not driven us to take the inner passage, by Rootia and
through the narrow Euripus, where the Venetian-built town and the Lion
of St. Mark occupy and guard the site of ancient Chalkis. The Turks made
the name of Negropont odious to the world, but with the restoration
of the Grecian nationality the ancient name is restored, and slowly,
Euboea, spoiled by the Persians, trampled by Macedonians and Romans,
neglected by Justinian (the depopulator of the Eastern Empire), drained
by the Venetians, blighted by the Osmanlis, is beginning to attract the
attention of capital and travel, by its unequalled fertility and its
almost unequalled scenery.

Romance, mythology, and history start out of the waves on’ either
hand; at twilight we were entering the Cyclades, and beginning to feel
the yet enduring influence of a superstition which so mingled itself
with the supremest art and culture, that after two thousand years its
unreal creations are nearly as mighty as ever in the realms of poetry
and imagination. These islands are still under the spell of genius, and
we cannot, if we would, view them except through the medium of poetic
history. I suppose that the island of Andros, which is cultivated
largely by Albanians, an Illyrian race, having nothing in common with
the ancient Ionians, would little interest us; if we cared to taste its
wine, it would be because it was once famous throughout Greece, and
if we visited the ruins of its chief city, it would be to recall an
anecdote of Herodotus: when Themistocles besieged the town and demanded
tribute, because the Andrians had been compelled to join the fleet of
Xerxes at Salamis, and threatened them with the two mighty deities of
Athens, Persuasion and Necessity, the spirited islanders replied that
they were protected by two churlish gods, Poverty and Inability.

It was eleven o’clock at night when we sailed between Keos and Helena,
the latter a long barren strip that never seems to have been inhabited
at all, except from the tradition that Helen once landed there; but Keos
and its old town of Iulis was the home of legends and poets, and famous
for its code of laws, one of which tended to banish sickness and old age
from its precincts, by a provision that every man above sixty should end
his life by poison. Its ancient people had a reputation for purity and
sobriety, which was probably due to the hegira of the nymphs, who were
frightened away to the mainland by a roaring lion. The colossal image of
the lion is still to be seen in marble near the ruins of the old city.
The island of the Cyclades, which we should have liked most to tread,
but did not see, is Delos, the holy, the religious and political centre
of the Greek confederation, the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, the
seat of the oracle, second only to that of Delphi, the diminutive and
now almost deserted rock, shaken and sunken by repeated earthquakes,
once crowned with one of the most magnificent temples of antiquity,
the spot of pilgrimage, the arena of games and mystic dances and poetic
contests, and of the joyous and solemn festivities of the Delian Apollo.

We were too late to see, though we sat long on deck and watched for
it by the aid of a full moon, the white Doric columns of the temple of
Minerva on Sunium, which are visible by daylight a long distance at sea.
The ancient mariners, who came from Delos or from a more adventurous
voyage into the Ægean, beheld here, at the portals of Attica, the
temple of its tutelary deity, a welcome and a beacon; and as they
shifted their sails to round the cape, they might have seen the shining
helmet of the goddess herself,—the lofty statue of Minerva Promachus
on the Acropolis.


IN the thought of the least classical reader, Attica occupies a space
almost as large as the rest of the world. He hopes that it will broaden
on his sight as it does in his imagination, although he knows that it
is only two thirds as large as the little State of Rhode Island. But
however reason may modify enthusiasm, the diminutive scale on which
everything is drawn is certain to disappoint the first view of the
reality. Who, he asks, has made this little copy of the great Athenian

When we came upon deck early in the morning, the steamer lay in the
land-locked harbor of the peninsula of Piræus. It is a round, deep,
pretty harbor; several merchant and small vessels lay there, a Greek and
an Austrian steamer, and a war-vessel, and the scene did not lack a look
of prosperous animation. About the port clusters a well-to-do village of
some ten thousand inhabitants, many of whom dwell in handsome houses. It
might be an American town; it is too new to be European. There, at the
entrance of the harbor, on a low projecting rock, are some ruins of
columns, said to mark the tomb of Themistocles; sometimes the water
nearly covers the rock. There could be no more fitting resting-place for
the great commander than this, in sight of the strait of Salamis, and
washed by the waves that tossed the broken and flying fleet of Xerxes.
Beyond is the Bay of Phalerum, the more ancient seaport of the little
state. And there—how small it seems!—is the plain of Athens,
enclosed by Hymettus, Pentelicus, and Parnes. This rocky peninsula
of Piræus, which embraced three small harbors, was fortified by
Themistocles with strong walls that extended, in parallel lines, five
miles to Athens. Between them ran the great carriage-road, and I suppose
the whole distance was a street of gardens and houses.

A grave commissionnaire,—I do not know but he would call himself an
embassy,—from one of the hotels of Athens, came off and quietly
took charge of us. On our way to the shore with our luggage, a customs
officer joined us and took a seat in the boat. For this polite attention
on the part of the government our plenipotentiary sent by the officer
(who did not open the trunks) three francs to the treasury; but I do
not know if it ever reached its destination. We shunned the ignoble
opportunity of entering the classic city by rail, and were soon whirling
along the level and dusty road which follows the course of the ancient
Long Wall. Even at this early hour the day had become very warm, and the
shade of the poplar-trees, which line the road nearly all the way, was
grateful. The fertile fields had yet the freshness of spring, and were
gay with scarlet poppies; the vines were thrifty. The near landscape was
Italian in character: there was little peculiar in the costumes of the
people whom we met walking beside their market-wagons or saw laboring
in the gardens; turbans, fezes, flowing garments of white and blue and
yellow, all had vanished, and we felt that we were out of the Orient
and about to enter a modern city. At a half-way inn, where we stopped
to water the horses, there was an hostler in the Albanian, or as it is
called, the Grecian national, costume, wearing the fustanella and the
short jacket; but the stiff white petticoat was rumpled and soiled, and
I fancied he was somewhat ashamed of the half-womanly attire, and shrank
from inspection, like an actor in harlequin dress, surprised by daylight
outside the theatre.

This sheepish remnant of the picturesque could not preserve for us any
illusions; the roses blooming by the wayside we knew; the birds singing
in the fields we had heard before; the commissionnaire persisted in
pointing out the evidences of improvement. But we burned with a secret
fever; we were impatient even of the grateful avenue of trees that hid
what we at every moment expected to see. I do not envy him who without
agitation approaches for the first time, and feels that he is about to
look upon the Acropolis! There are three supreme sensations, not twice
to be experienced, for the traveller: when he is about to behold the
ancient seats of art, of discipline, of religion,—Athens, Rome,
Jerusalem. But it is not possible for the reality to equal the
expectation. “There!” cried the commissionnaire, “is the
Acropolis!” A small oblong hill lifting itself some three hundred and
fifty feet above the city, its sides upheld by walls, its top shining
with marble, an isolated fortress in appearance! The bulk of the city
lies to the north of the Acropolis, and grows round to the east of it
along the valley of the Ilissus.

In five minutes more we had caught a glimpse of the new excavations of
the Keramicus, the ancient cemetery, and of the old walls on our left,
and were driving up the straight broad Hermes Street towards the palace.
Midway in the centre of the street is an ancient Byzantine church, which
we pass round. Hermes Street is intersected by Æolus Street; these two
cut the city like a Greek cross, and all other streets flow into them.
The shops along the way are European, the people in the streets are
European in dress, the cafés, the tables in front of hotels and
restaurants, with their groups of loungers, suggest Paris by reminding
one of Brussels. Athens, built of white stone, not yet mellowed by
age, is new, bright, clean, cheerful; the broad streets are in the
uninteresting style of the new part of Munich, and due to the same
Bavarian influence. If Ludwig I. did not succeed in making Munich look
like Athens, Otho was more fortunate in giving Athens a resemblance to
Munich. And we were almost ashamed to confess how pleasant it appeared,
after our long experience of the tumble-down Orient.

We alighted at our hotel on the palace place, ascended steps decked with
flowering plants, and entered cool apartments looking upon the square,
which is surrounded with handsome buildings, planted with native and
exotic trees, and laid out in walks and beds of flowers. To the right
rises the plain façade of the royal residence, having behind it a
magnificent garden, where the pine rustles to the palm, and a thousand
statues revive the dead mythology; beyond rises the singular cone of
Lycabettus. Commendable foresight is planting the principal streets with
trees, the shade of which is much needed in the long, dry, and parching

From the side windows we looked also over the roofs to the Acropolis,
which we were impatient and yet feared to approach. For myself, I
felt like deferring the decisive moment, playing with my imagination,
lingering about among things I did not greatly care for, whetting
impatience and desire by restraining them, and postponing yet a little
the realization of the dream of so many years,—to stand at the centre
of the world’s thought, at the spring of its ideal of beauty. While
my companions rested from the fatigue of our sea voyage, I went into the
street and walked southward towards the Ilissus. The air was bright and
sparkling, the sky deep blue like that of Egypt, the hills sharp and
clear in every outline, and startlingly near; the long reach of Hymettus
wears ever a purple robe, which nature has given it in place of its pine
forests. Travellers from Constantinople complained of the heat: but
I found it inspiring; the air had no languor in it; this was the very
joyous Athens I had hoped to see.

When you take up the favorite uncut periodical of the month, you like
to skirmish about the advertisements and tease yourself with dipping in
here and there before you plunge into the serial novel. It was absurd,
but my first visit in Athens was to the building of the Quadrennial
Exposition of the Industry and Art of Greece,—a long, painted wooden
structure, decked with flags, and called, I need not say, the Olympium.
To enter this imitation of a country fair at home, was the rudest shock
one could give to the sentiment of antiquity, and perhaps a dangerous
experiment, however strong in the mind might be the subtone of
Acropolis. The Greek gentleman who accompanied me said that the
exhibition was a great improvement over the one four years before. It
was, in fact, a very hopeful sign of the prosperity of the new state;
there was a good display of cereals and fruits, of silk and of jewelry,
and various work in gold and silver,—the latter all from Corfu; but
from the specimens of the fine arts, in painting and sculpture, I think
the ancient Greeks have not much to fear or to hope from the modern; and
the books, in printing and binding, were rude enough. But the specimens
from the mines and quarries of Greece could not be excelled elsewhere;
the hundred varieties of exquisite marbles detained us long; there
were some polished blocks, lovely in color, and you might almost say in
design, that you would like to frame and hang as pictures on the wall.
Another sign of the decadence of the national costume, perhaps more
significant than its disappearance in the streets, was its exhibition
here upon lay figures. I saw a countryman who wore it sneaking round one
of these figures, and regarding it with the curiosity of a savage who
for the first time sees himself in a mirror. Since the revolution the
Albanian has been adopted as the Grecian costume, in default of anything
more characteristic, and perhaps because it would puzzle one to say
of what race the person calling himself a modern Greek is. But the
ridiculous fustanella is nearly discarded; it is both inconvenient and
costly; to make one of the proper fulness requires forty yards of cotton
cloth; this is gathered at the waist, and hangs in broad pleats to the
knees, and it is starched so stiffly that it stands out like a half-open
Chinese umbrella. As the garment cannot be worn when it is the least
soiled, and must be done up and starched two or three times a week, the
wearer finds it an expensive habit; and in the whole outfit—the
jacket and sleeves may be a reminiscence of defensive armor—he has the
appearance of a landsknecht above and a ballet-girl below.

Nearly as rare in the streets as this dress are the drooping red caps
with tassels of blue. The women of Athens whom we saw would not take a
premium anywhere for beauty; but we noticed here and there one who wore
upon her dark locks the long hanging red fez and gold tassel, who might
have attracted the eye of a roving poet, and been passed down to the
next age as the Maid of Athens. The Athenian men of the present are a
fine race; we were constantly surprised by noble forms and intelligent
faces. That they are Greek in feature or expression, as we know the
Greek from coins and statuary, we could not say. Perhaps it was only the
ancient Lacedemonian rivalry that prompted the remark of a gentleman in
Athens, who was born in Sparta, that there is not a drop of the ancient
Athenian blood in Athens. There are some patrician families in the city
who claim this honorable descent, but it is probable that Athens is less
Greek than any other town in the kingdom; and that if there remain any
Hellenic descendants they must be sought in remote districts of the
Morea. If we trusted ourselves to decide by types of face, we should say
that the present inhabitants of Athens were of Northern origin, and that
their relation to the Greeks was no stronger than that of Englishmen
to the ancient Britons. That the people who now inhabit Attica and the
Peloponnesus are descendants of the Greeks whom the Romans conquered,
I suppose no one can successfully claim; that they are all from the
Slavonians, who so long held and almost exclusively occupied the Greek
mainland, it is equally difficult to prove. All we know is, that
the Greek language has survived the Byzantine anarchy, the Slavonic
conquest, the Frank occupation; and that the nimble wit, the
acquisitiveness and inquisitiveness, the cunning and craft of the modern
Greek, seem to be the perversion of the nobler and yet not altogether
dissimilar qualities which made the ancient Greeks the leaders of the
human race. And those who ascribe the character of a people to climate
and geographical position may expect to see the mongrel inheritors of
the ancient soil moulded, by the enduring influences of nature,
into homogeneity, and reproduce in a measure a copy of that splendid
civilization of whose ruins they are now unappreciative possessors.

Beyond the temporary Olympium, the eye is caught by the Arch of Hadrian,
and fascinated by the towering Corinthian columns of the Olympicum or
Temple of Jupiter. Against the background of Hymettus and the blue
sky stood fourteen of these beautiful columns, all that remain of
the original one hundred and twenty-four, but enough to give us an
impression of what was one of the most stately buildings of antiquity.
This temple, which was begun by Pisistratus, was not finished till
Hadrian’s time, or until the worship of Jupiter had become cold and
sceptical. The columns stand upon a terrace overlooking the bed of
the Hissus; there coffee is served, and there we more than once sat at
sundown, and saw the vast columns turn from rose to gray in the fading

Athens, like every other city of Europe in this age of science and
Christianity, was full of soldiers; we saw squads of them drilling here
and there, their uniforms sprinkled the streets and the cafés, and
their regimental bands enlivened the town. The Greeks, like all the rest
of us, are beating their pruning-hooks into spears and preparing for
the millennium. If there was not much that is peculiar to interest us in
wandering about among the shops, and the so-called, but unroofed and not
real, bazaars, there was much to astonish us in the size and growth of
a city of over fifty thousand inhabitants, in forty years, from the heap
of ruins and ashes which the Turks left it. When the venerable American
missionaries, Dr. Hill and his wife, came to the city, they were obliged
to find shelter in a portion of a ruined tower, and they began their
labors literally in a field of smoking desolation. The only attractive
shops are those of the antiquity dealers, the collectors of coins,
vases, statuettes, and figurines. Of course the extraordinary demand for
these most exquisite mementos of a race of artists has created a host of
imitations, and set an extravagant and fictitious price upon most of the
articles, a price which the professor who lets you have a specimen as
a favor, or the dealer who calmly assumes that he has gathered the last
relics of antiquity, mentions with equal equanimity. I looked in the
face of a handsome graybeard, who asked me two thousand francs for a
silver coin, which he said was a Solon, to see if there was any guile in
his eye; but there was not. I cannot but hope that this race which has
learned to look honest will some time become so.

Late in the afternoon we walked around the south side of the Acropolis,
past the ruins of theatres that strew its side, and ascended by the
carriage-road to the only entrance, at the southwest end of the hill,
towards the Piræus. We pass through a gate pierced in the side wall,
and come to the front of the Propylæa, the noblest gateway ever built.
At the risk of offending the travelled, I shall try in a paragraph to
put the untravelled reader in possession of the main features of this
glorious spot.

The Acropolis is an irregular oblong hill, the somewhat uneven summit of
which is about eleven hundred feet long by four hundred and fifty feet
broad at its widest. The hill is steep on all sides, and its final
spring is perpendicular rock, in places a hundred and fifty feet high.
It is lowest at the southwest end, where it dips down, and, by a rocky
neck, joins the Areopagus, or Mars Hill. Across this end is built
the Propylæa, high with reference to the surrounding country, and
commanding the view, but low enough not to hide from a little distance
the buildings on the summit. This building, which is of the Doric order,
and of pure Pentelic marble, was the pride of the Athenians. Its entire
front is about one hundred and seventy feet; this includes the central
portico (pierced with five entrances, the centre one for carriages) and
the forward projecting north and south wings. In the north wing was the
picture-gallery; the south wing was never completed to correspond, but
the balance is preserved by the little Temple of the Wingless Victory,
which from its ruins has been restored to its original form and beauty.
The Propylæa is approached by broad flights of marble steps, which were
defended by fortifications on the slope of the hill. The distant reader
may form a little conception of the original splendor of this gateway
from its cost, which was nearly two and a half millions of dollars, and
by remembering that it was built under the direction of Pericles at a
time when the cost of a building represented its real value, and not the
profits of city officials and contractors.

Passing slowly between the columns, and with many a backward glance over
the historic landscape, lingering yet lest we should abruptly break the
spell, we came into the area. Straight before us, up the red rock,
ran the carriage-road, seamed across with chisel-marks to prevent
the horses’ hoofs from slipping, and worn in deep ruts by heavy
chariot-wheels. In the field before us a mass of broken marble; on the
right the creamy columns of the Parthenon; on the left the irregular
but beautiful Ionic Erechtheum. The reader sees that the entrance was
contrived so that the beholder’s first view of the Parthenon should be
at the angle which best exhibits its exquisite proportions.

We were alone. The soldier detailed to watch that we did not carry off
any of the columns sat down upon a broken fragment by the entrance, and
let us wander at our will. I am not sure that I would, if I could,
have the temples restored. There is an indescribable pathos in these
fragments of columns and architraves and walls, in these broken
sculptures and marred inscriptions, which time has softened to the
loveliest tints, and in these tottering buildings, which no human skill,
if it could restore the pristine beauty, could reanimate with the Greek

And yet, as we sat upon the western steps of the temple dedicated to
Pallas Athene, I could imagine what this area was, say in the August
days of the great Panathenaic festival, when the gorgeous procession,
which I saw filing along the Via Sacra, returning from Eleusis, swept
up these broad steps, garlanded with flowers and singing the hymn to the
protecting goddess. This platform was not then a desolate stone heap,
but peopled with almost living statues in bronze and marble, the
creations of the genius of Phidias, of Praxiteles, of Lycius,
of Clecetas, of Myron; there, between the two great temples, but
overtopping them both, stood the bronze figure of Minerva Promachus,
cast by Phidias out of the spoils of Marathon, whose glittering helmet
and spear-point gladdened the returning mariner when far at sea, and
defied the distant watcher on the Acropolis of Corinth. First in the
procession come the sacrificial oxen, and then follow in order a band
of virgins, the quadriga, each drawn by four noble steeds, the élite
of the Athenian youth on horseback, magistrates, daughters of noble
citizens bearing vases and pateræ, men carrying trays of offerings,
flute-players and the chorus, singers. They pass around to the entrance
of the Parthenon, which is toward the east, and those who are permitted
enter the naos and come into the presence of the gold-ivory statue
of Minerva. The undraped portions of this statue show the ivory; the
drapery was of solid gold, made so that it could be removed in time
of danger from a public enemy. The golden plates weighed ten thousand
pounds. This work of Phidias, since it was celebrated as the perfection
of art by the best judges of art, must have been as exquisite in its
details as it was harmonious in its proportions; but no artist of our
day would dare to attempt to construct a statue in that manner. In its
right, outstretched hand it held a statue of Victory, four cubits
high; and although it was erected nearly five hundred years before the
Christian era, we are curious to notice the already decided influence of
Egyptian ideas in the figure of the sphinx surmounting the helmet of the

The sun was setting behind the island of Salamis. There was a rosy
glow on the bay of Phalerum, on the sea to the south, on the side of
Hymettus, on the yellow columns of the Parthenon, on the Temple of the
Wingless Victory, and on the faces of the ever-youthful Caryatides
in the portico of the Erechtheum, who stand reverently facing the
Parthenon, worshipping now only the vacant pedestal of Athene the
Protector. What overpowering associations throng the mind as one looks
off upon the crooked strait of Salamis, down upon the bare rock of the
Areopagus; upon the Pnyx and the bema, where we know Demosthenes, Solon,
Themistocles, Pericles, Aristides, were wont to address the populace who
crowded up from this valley, the Agora, the tumultuous market-place, to
listen; upon the Museum Hill, crowned by the monument of Philopappus,
pierced by grottos, one of which tradition calls the prison of
Socrates,—the whole history of Athens is in a nutshell! Yet if one
were predetermined to despise this mite of a republic in the compass of
a quart measure, he could not do it here. A little of Cæsar’s dust
outweighs the world. We are not imposed upon by names. It was, it could
only have been, in comparison with modern naval engagements, a petty
fight in the narrow limits of that strait, and yet neither the Persian
soldiers who watched it from the Acropolis and in terror saw the ships
of Xerxes flying down the bay, nor the Athenians, who had abandoned
their citadel and trusted their all to the “wooden walls” of
their ships, could have imagined that the result was laden with such
consequences. It gives us pause to think what course all subsequent
history would have taken, what would be the present complexion of the
Christian system itself, if on that day Asiatic barbarism had rendered
impossible the subsequent development of Grecian art and philosophy.

We waited on the Acropolis for the night and the starlight and the
thousand lights in the city spread below, but we did not stay for the
slow coming of the midnight moon over Hymettus.

On Sunday morning we worshipped with the Greeks in the beautiful Russian
church; the interior is small but rich, and is like a private parlor;
there are no seats, and the worshippers stand or kneel, while gilded
and painted figures of saints and angels encompass them. The ceremony
is simple, but impressive. The priests are in gorgeous robes of blue
and silver; choir-boys sing soprano, and the bass, as it always is in
Russian churches, is magnificent. A lady, tall, elegant, superb, in
black faced and trimmed with a stuff of gold, sweeps up to the desks,
kisses the books and the crucifix, and then stands one side crossing
herself. We are most of us mortal, and all, however rich in apparel,
poor sinners one day in the week. No one of the worshippers carries
a prayer-book. There is reading behind the screen, and presently the
priests bring out the elements of communion and exhibit them, the one
carrying the bread in a silver vessel on his head, and the other the
wine. The central doors are then closed on the mysterious consecration.
At the end of the service the holy elements are brought out, the
communicants press up, kiss the cross, take a piece of bread, and then
turn and salute their friends, and break up in a cheerful clatter of
talk. In contrast to this, we attended afterwards the little meeting,
in an upper chamber, of the Greek converts of the American Mission,
and listened to a sermon in Greek which inculcated the religion of
New England,—a gospel which, with the aid of schools, makes slow but
hopeful progress in the city of the unknown God.

The longer one remains in Athens the more he will be impressed with two
things: the one is the perfection of the old art and civilization, and
what must have been the vivacious, joyous life of the ancient Athenians,
in a climate so vital, when this plain was a garden, and these beautiful
hills were clad with forests, and the whispers of the pine answered the
murmurs of the sea; the other is the revival of letters and architecture
and culture, visible from day to day, in a progress as astonishing as
can be seen in any Occidental city. I cannot undertake to describe,
not even to mention, the many noble buildings, either built or in
construction, from the quarries of Pentelicus,—the University, the
Academy, the new Olympium,—all the voluntary contributions of wealthy
Greeks, most of them merchants in foreign cities, whose highest ambition
seems to be to restore Athens to something of its former splendor. It is
a point of honor with every Greek, in whatever foreign city he may
live and die, to leave something in his last will for the adornment or
education of the city of his patriotic devotion. In this, if in nothing
else, they resemble the ancient patriots who thought no sacrifice too
costly for the republic. Among the ruins we find no palaces, no sign
that the richest citizen used his wealth in ostentatious private
mansions. Although some of the Greek merchants now build for themselves
elegant villas, the next generation will see the evidences of their
wealth rather in the public buildings they have erected. In this little
city the University has eighty professors and over twelve hundred
students, gathered from all parts of Greece; there are in the city forty
lady teachers with eight hundred female pupils; and besides these there
are two gymnasiums and several graded schools. Professors and teachers
are well paid, and the schools are free, even to the use of books. The
means flow from the same liberality, that of the Greek merchants, who
are continually leaving money for new educational foundations. There is
but one shadow upon this hopeful picture, and that is the bigotry of the
Greek church, to which the government yields. I do not now speak of
the former persecutions suffered by the Protestant missionaries, but
recently the schools for girls opened by Protestants, and which have
been of the highest service in the education of women, have been obliged
to close or else “conform” to the Greek religion and admit priestly
teachers. At the time of our visit, one of the best of them, that
of Miss Kyle of New York, was only tolerated from week to week under
perpetual warnings, and liable at any moment to be suppressed by the
police. This narrow policy is a disgrace to the government, and if it
is continued must incline the world to hope that the Greeks will never
displace the Moslems in Constantinople.

In the front of the University stands a very good statue of the
scholar-patriot Korais, and in the library we saw the busts of other
distinguished natives and foreigners. The library, which is every day
enriched by private gifts, boasts already over one hundred and thirty
thousand volumes. As we walked through the rooms, the director said
that the University had no bust of an American, though it had often been
promised one. I suggested one of Lincoln. No, he wanted Washington; he
said he cared to have no other. I did not tell him that Washington
was one of the heroes of our mythic period, that we had filled up a
tolerably large pantheon since then, and that a century in America was
as good as a thousand years in Byzantium. But I fell into something of a
historic revery over the apparent fact that America is as yet to Greece
nothing but the land of Washington, and I rather liked the old-fashioned
notion, and felt sure that there must be somewhere in the United States
an antiquated and rich patriot who remembered Washington and would like
to send a marble portrait of our one great man to the University of


THERE was a nightingale who sang and sobbed all night in the garden
before the hotel, and only ceased her plaintive reminiscence of Athenian
song and sorrow with the red dawn. But this is a sad world of contrasts.
Called upon the balcony at midnight by her wild notes, I saw,—how can
I ever say it?—upon the balcony below, a white figure advance, and
with a tragic movement of haste, if not of rage, draw his garment of
the night over his head and shake it out over the public square; and I
knew—for the kingdom of knowledge comes by experience as well as
by observation—that the lively flea was as wakeful in Greece as the

In the morning the north-wind arose,—it seems to blow constantly
from Boeotia at this time of the year,—but the day was bright and
sparkling, and we took carriage for Eleusis. It might have been such a
morning—for the ancient Athenians always anticipated the dawn in their
festivals—that the Panathenaic processions moved along this very Via
Sacra to celebrate the Mysteries of Ceres at Eleusis. All the hills
stood in clear outline,—long Pentelicus and the wavy lines of Parnes
and Corydallus; we drove over the lovely and fertile plain, amid the
olive-orchards of the Kephissus, and up the stony slope to the narrowing
Pass of Daphne, a defile in Mt. Ægaleos; but we sought in vain the
laurel grove, or a single specimen of that tree whose twisted trunk and
outstretched arms express the struggle of vanishing humanity. Passing
on our right the Chapel of St. Elias, on a commanding eminence, and
traversing the level plateau of the rocky gorge, we alighted at the
Monastery of Daphne, whose half-ruined cloister and chapel occupy the
site of a temple of Apollo. We sat for half an hour in its quiet, walled
churchyard, carpeted with poppies and tender flowers of spring, amid the
remains of old columns and fragments of white marble, sparkling amid the
green grass and blue violets, and looked upon the blue bay of Eleusis
and Salamis, and the heights of Megara beyond. Surely nature has a
tenderness for such a spot; and I fancied that even the old dame who
unlocked for us the chapel and its cheap treasures showed us with some
interest, in a carving here and a capital there, the relics of a former
religion, and perhaps mingled with her adoration of the Virgin and the
bambino a lurking regard for Venus and Apollo. A mile beyond, at the
foot of a rocky precipice, are pointed out the foundations of a temple
of Venus, where the handbook assured us doves had been found carved
in white marble; none were left, however, for us, and we contented
ourselves with reading on the rock Phile Aphrodite, and making a vain
effort to recall life to this sterile region.

Enchanting was the view as we drove down the opening pass to the bay,
which spreads out a broad sheet, completely landlocked by the irregular
bulk of Salamis Island. When we emerged through the defile we turned
away from the narrow strait where the battle was fought, and from the
“rocky brow” on which Xerxes sat, a crowned spectator of his
ruin, and swept around the circular shore, past the Rheiti, or
salt-springs,—clear, greenish pools,—and over the level Thriasian
Plain. The bay of Eleusis, guarded by the lofty amphitheatre of
mountains, the curving sweep of Ægaleos and Kithæron, and by Salamis,
is like a lovely lake, and if anywhere on earth there could be peace,
you would say it would be on its sunny and secluded shores. Salamis
appears only a bare and rocky island, but the vine still flourishes in
the scant soil, and from its wild-flowers the descendants of the Attic
bees make honey as famous as that of two thousand years ago.

Across the bay, upon a jutting rocky point, above which rises the crown
of its Acropolis, lies the straggling, miserable village of Eleusis.
Our first note of approach to it was an ancient pavement, and a few
indistinguishable fragments of walls and columns. In a shallow stream
which ran over the stones the women of the town were washing clothes;
and throngs of girls were filling their pails of brass at an old well,
as of old at the same place did the daughters of Keleos. Shriller tones
and laughter mingled with their incessant chatter as we approached, and
we thought,—perhaps it was imagination,—a little wild defiance
and dislike. I had noticed already in Athens, and again here, the
extraordinary rapidity with which the Greeks in conversation exchange
words; I think they are the fastest talkers in the world. And the Greek
has a hard, sharp, ringing, metallic sound; it is staccato. You can see
how easily Aristophanes imitated the brittle-brattle of frogs. I have
heard two women whose rapid, incessant cackle sounded exactly like
the conversation of hens. The sculptor need not go further than these
nut-brown maids for classic forms; the rounded limbs, the generous bust,
the symmetrical waist, which fashion has not made an hour-glass to mark
the flight of time and health. The mothers of heroes were of this mould;
although I will not say that some of them were not a trifle stout for
grace, and that their well-formed faces would not have been improved by
the interior light of a little culture. Their simple dress was a white,
short chemise, that left the legs bare, a heavy and worked tunic, like
that worn by men, and a colored kerchief tied about the head. Many
of the men of the village wore the fustanella and the full Albanian

The Temple of Ceres lies at the foot of the hill; only a little portion
of its vast extent has been relieved of the superincumbent, accumulated
soil, and in fact its excavation is difficult, because the village is
built over the greater part of it. What we saw was only a confused heap
of marble, some pieces finely carved, arches, capitals, and shattered
columns. The Greek government, which is earnestly caring for the remains
of antiquity and diligently collecting everything for the National
Museum, down to broken toes and fingers, has stationed a keeper over the
ruins; and he showed us, in a wooden shanty, the interesting fragments
of statues which had been found in the excavation. I coveted a little
hand, plump, with tapering fingers, which the conservator permitted us
to hold,—a slight but a most suggestive memento of the breeding and
beauty of the lady who was the sculptor’s model; and it did not so
much seem a dead hand stretched out to us from the past, as a living
thing which returned our furtive pressure.

We climbed up the hill where the fortress of the Acropolis stood, and
where there is now a little chapel. Every Grecian city seems to have had
its Acropolis, the first nucleus of the rude tribe which it fortified
against incursion, and the subsequent site of temples to the gods. The
traveller will find these steep hills, rising out of plains, everywhere
from Ephesus to Argos, and will almost conclude that Nature had
consciously adapted herself to the wants of the aboriginal occupants.
It is well worth ascending this summit to get the fine view of plain and
bay, of Mt. Kerata and its double peaks, and the road that pierces the
pass of Kithæron, and leads to the field of Platæa and the remains of

In a little wine-shop, near the ruins, protected from the wind and the
importunate swarms of children, we ate our lunch, and tried to impress
ourselves with the knowledge that Æschylus was born in Eleusis; and
to imagine the nature of the Eleusinian mysteries, the concealed
representations by which the ancients attempted to symbolize, in the
myths of Ceres and Proserpine, the primal forces of nature, perhaps
the dim suggestions of immortality,—a secret not to be shared by the
vulgar,—borrowed from the deep wisdom of the Egyptians.

The children of Eleusis deserve more space than I can afford them,
since they devoted their entire time to our annoyance. They are handsome
rascals, and there were enough of them, if they had been sufficiently
clothed, to form a large Sunday school. When we sat down in the ruins
and tried to meditate on Ceres, they swarmed about us, capering and
yelling incessantly, and when I made a charge upon them they scattered
over the rocks and saluted us with stones. But I find that at this
distance I have nothing against them; I recall only their beauty and
vivacity, and if they were the worst children that ever tormented
travellers, I reflect, yes, but they were Greeks, and the gods loved
their grandmothers. One slender, liquid-eyed, slim-shanked girl offered
me a silver coin. I saw that it was a beautiful Athenian piece of the
time of Pericles, and after some bargaining I bought it of her for a
reasonable price. But as we moved away to our carriage, I was followed
by the men and women of the settlement, who demanded it back. They
looked murder and talked Greek. I inquired how much they wanted. Fifty
francs! But that is twice as much as it is worth in Athens; and the
coin was surrendered. All through the country, the peasants have a most
exaggerated notion of the value of anything antique.

We returned through the pass of Daphne and by the site of the academic
grove of Plato, though olive-groves and gardens of pomegranates
in scarlet bloom, quinces, roses, and jasmines, the air sweet and
delightful. Perhaps nowhere else can the traveller so enter into the
pure spirit of Attic thought and feeling as among these scattered
remains that scholars have agreed to call the ruins of Plato’s
Academe. We turned through a lane into the garden of a farm-house,
watered by a branch rivulet of the Kephissus. What we saw was not
much,—some marble columns under a lovely cypress-grove, some fragments
of antique carving built into a wall; but we saw it as it were privately
and with a feeling of the presence of the mighty shade. And then, under
a row of young plane-trees, by the meagre stream, we reclined on ripe
wheat-straw, in full sight of the Acropolis,—perhaps the most poetic
view of that magnetic hill. So Plato saw it as he strolled along this
bank and listened to the wisdom of his master, Socrates, or, pacing the
colonnade of the Academe, meditated the republic. Here indeed Aristotle,
who was born the year that Plato died, may have lain and woven that
subtle web of metaphysics which no subsequent system of thought or
religion has been able to disregard. The centuries-old wind blew strong
and fresh through the trees, and the scent of flowers and odorous
shrubs, the murmur of the leaves, the unchanged blue vault of heaven,
the near hill of the sacred Colonus, celebrated by Sophocles as the
scene of the death of Odipus, all conspired to flood us with the poetic
past. What intimations of immortality do we need, since the spell of
genius is so deathless?

After dinner we laboriously, by a zigzag path, climbed the sharp cone
of Lycabettus, whose six hundred and fifty feet of height commands the
whole region. The rock summit has just room enough for a tiny chapel,
called of St. George, and a narrow platform in front, where we sat in
the shelter of the building and feasted upon the prospect. At sunset it
is a marvellous view,—all Athens and its plain, the bays, Salamis and
the strait of the battle, Acro-Corinth; Megara, Hymettus, Pentelicus,

When, in descending, we had nearly reached the foot on the west side, we
heard the violent ringing of a bell high above us, and, turning about,
saw what seemed to be a chapel under the northwest edge of the rock upon
which we had lately stood. Bandits in laced leggings and embroidered
jackets, chattering girls in short skirts and gay kerchiefs, were
descending the wandering path, and the clamor of the bell piqued our
curiosity to turn and ascend. When we reached our goal, the affair
seemed to be pretty much all bell, and nobody but a boy in the lusty
exuberance of youth could have made so much noise by the swinging of a
single clapper. In a niche or rather cleft in the rock was a pent-roofed
bell-tower, and a boy, whose piety seemed inspired by the Devil, was
hauling the rope and sending the sonorous metal over and over on its
axis. In front of the bell is a narrow terrace, sufficient, however, to
support three fig-trees, under which were tables and benches, and upon
the low terrace-wall were planted half a dozen large and differently
colored national banners. A hole in the rock was utilized as a
fireplace, and from a pot over the coals came the fumes of coffee. Upon
this perch of a terrace people sat sipping coffee and looking down upon
the city, whose evening lights were just beginning to twinkle here and
there. Behind the belfry is a chapel, perhaps ten feet by twelve, partly
a natural grotto and partly built of rough stones; it was brilliantly
lighted with tapers, and hung with quaint pictures. At the entrance,
which is a door cut in the rock, stood a Greek priest and an official in
uniform selling wax-tapers, and raking in the leptas of the devout. We
threw down some coppers, declined the tapers, and walked in. The adytum
of the priest was wholly in the solid rock. There seemed to be no
service; but the women and children stood and crossed themselves,
and passionately kissed the poor pictures on the walls. Yet there was
nothing exclusive or pharisaic in the worshippers, for priest and people
showed us friendly faces, and cordially returned our greetings. The
whole rock quivered with the clang of the bell, for the boy at the rope
leaped at his task, and with ever-increasing fury summoned the sinful
world below to prayer. Young ladies with their gallants came and went;
and whenever there was any slacking of stragglers up the hillside the
bell clamored more importunately.

As dusk crept on, torches were set along the wall of the terrace, and as
we went down the hill they shone on the red and blue flags and the white
belfry, and illuminated the black mass of overhanging rock with a red
glow. There is time for religion in out-of-the-way places here, and
it is rendered picturesque, and even easy and enjoyable, by the aid of
coffee and charming scenery. When we reached the level of the town,
the lights still glowed high up in the recess of the rocks, girls were
laughing and chattering as they stumbled down the steep, and the wild
bell still rang. How easy it is to be good in Greece!

One day we stole a march on Marathon, and shared the glory of those who
say they have seen it, without incurring the fatigue of a journey there.
We ascended Mt. Pentelicus. Hymettus and Pentelicus are about the same
height,—thirty-five hundred feet,—but the latter, ten miles to the
northeast of Athens, commands every foot of the Attic territory; if
one should sit on its summit and read a history of the little state,
he would need no map. We were away at half past five in the morning,
in order to anticipate if possible the rising of the daily wind. As we
ascended, we had on our left, at the foot of the mountain, the village
of Kephisia, now, as in the days of Herodes Atticus, the summer resort
of wealthy Athenians, who find in its fountains, the sources of the
Kephissus, and in its groves relief from the heat and glare of the
scorched Athenian plain. Half-way we halted at a monastery, left our
carriage, and the ladies mounted horses. There is a handsome church
here, and the situation is picturesque and commands a wide view of the
plain and the rugged north slope of Hymettus, but I could not learn that
the monastery was in an active state; it is only a hive of drones which
consumes the honey produced by the working-bees from the wild thyme
of the neighboring mountain. The place, however, is a great resort
of parties of pleasure, who picnic under the grove of magnificent
forest-trees, and once a year the king and queen come hither to see the
youths and maidens dance on the greensward.

Up to the highest quarries the road is steep, and strewn with broken
marble, and after that there is an hour’s scramble through bushes and
over a rocky path. We rested in a large grotto near the principal of the
ancient quarries; it was the sleeping-place of the workmen, subsequently
a Christian church, and then, and not long ago, a haunt and home
of brigands. Here we found a party of four fellows, half clad in
sheep-skins, playing cards, who seemed to be waiting our arrival; but
they were entirely civil, and I presume were only shepherds, whatever
they may have been formerly. From these quarries was hewn the marble for
the Temple of Theseus, the Parthenon, the Propylæa, the theatres, and
other public buildings, to which age has now given a soft and creamy
tone; the Pentelic marble must have been too brilliant for the eye, and
its dazzling lustre was no doubt softened by the judicious use of color.
Fragments which we broke off had the sparkle and crystalline grain
of loaf-sugar, and if they were placed upon the table one would
unhesitatingly take them to sweeten his tea. The whole mountain-side
is overgrown with laurel, and we found wild-flowers all the way to
the summit. Amid the rocks of the higher slopes, little shepherd-boys,
carrying the traditional crooks, were guarding flocks of black and white
goats, and, invariably as we passed, these animals scampered off and
perched themselves upon sharp rocks in a photographic pose.

Early as we were, the wind had risen before us, and when we reached
the bare back of the summit it blew so strongly that we could with
difficulty keep our feet, and gladly took refuge in a sort of stone
corral, which had been a camp and lookout of brigands. From this
commanding point they spied both their victims and pursuers. Our guide
went into the details of the capture of the party of Englishmen who
spent a night here, and pointed out to us the several hiding-places in
the surrounding country to which they were successively dragged. But my
attention was not upon this exploit. We looked almost directly down upon
Marathon. There is the bay and the curving sandy shore where the
Persian galleys landed; here upon a spur, jutting out from the hill,
the Athenians formed before, they encountered the host in the plain,
and there—alas! it was hidden by a hill—is the mound where the one
hundred and ninety-two Athenian dead are buried. It is only a small
field, perhaps six miles along the shore and a mile and a half deep, and
there is a considerable marsh on the north and a small one at the south
end. The victory at so little cost, of ten thousand over a hundred
thousand, is partially explained by the nature of the ground; the
Persians had not room enough to manouvre, and must have been thrown into
confusion on the skirts of the northern swamp, and if over six thousand
of them were slain, they must have been killed on the shore in the panic
of their embarkation. But still the shore is broad, level, and firm, and
the Greeks must have been convinced that the gods themselves terrified
the hearts of the barbarians, and enabled them to discomfit a host which
had chosen this plain as the most feasible in all Attica for the action
of cavalry.

A sea-haze lay upon the strait of Euripus and upon Euboea, and nearly
hid from our sight the forms of the Cyclades; but away in the northwest
were snow peaks, which the guide said were the heights of Parnassus
above Delphi. In the world there can be few prospects so magnificent as
this, and none more inspiring to the imagination. No one can properly
appreciate the Greek literature or art who has not looked upon the Greek
nature which seems to have inspired both.

Nothing now remains of the monuments and temples which the pride and
piety of the Athenians erected upon the field of Marathon. The visitor
at the Arsenal of Venice remembers the clumsy lion which is said to have
stood on this plain, and in the Temple of Theseus, at Athens, he may see
a slab which was found in this meadow; on it is cut in very low relief
the figure of a soldier, but if the work is Greek the style of treatment
is Assyrian.

The Temple of Theseus, which occupies an elevation above the city
and west of the Areopagus, is the best-preserved monument of Grecian
antiquity, and if it were the only one, Athens would still be worthy of
a pilgrimage from the ends of the earth. Behind it is a level esplanade,
used as a drill-ground, upon one side of which have been gathered some
relics of ancient buildings and sculptures; seated there in an ancient
marble chair, we never wearied of studying the beautiful proportions of
this temple, which scarcely suffers by comparison with the Parthenon or
that at Pæstum. In its construction the same subtle secret of curved
lines and inclined verticals was known, a secret which increases its
apparent size and satisfies the eye with harmony.

While we were in Athens the antiquarians were excited by the daily
discoveries in the excavations at the Keramicus (the field where the
Athenian potters worked). Through the portion of this district outside
the gate Dipylum ran two streets, which were lined with tombs; one ran
to the Academe, the other was the sacred way to Eleusis. The excavations
have disclosed many tombs and lovely groups of funereal sculpture, some
of which are in situ, but many have been removed to the new Museum. The
favorite device is the seated figure of the one about to die, who in
this position of dignity takes leave of those most loved; perhaps it is
a wife, a husband, a lovely daughter, a handsome boy, who calmly awaits
the inevitable moment, while the relatives fondly look or half avert
their sorrowful faces. In all sculpture I know nothing so touching as
these family farewells. I obtained from them a new impression of the
Greek dignity and tenderness, of the simplicity and nobility of their
domestic life.

The Museum, which was unarranged, is chiefly one of fragments, but
what I saw there and elsewhere scattered about the town gave me a finer
conception of the spirit of the ancient art than all the more perfect
remains in Europe put together; and it seems to me that nowhere except
in Athens is it possible to attain a comprehension of its depth and
loveliness. Something, I know, is due to the genius loci, but you come
to the knowledge that the entire life, even the commonest, was pervaded
by something that has gone from modern art. In the Museum we saw a
lovely statue of Isis, a noble one of Patroclus, fine ones of athletes,
and also, showing the intercourse with Egypt, several figures holding
the sacred sistrum, and one of Rameses II. But it is the humbler
and funereal art that gives one a new conception of the Greek grace,
tenderness, and sensibility. I have spoken of the sweet dignity, the
high-born grace, that accepted death with lofty resignation, and yet not
with stoical indifference, of some of the sepulchral groups. There was
even more poetry in some that are simpler. Upon one slab was carved a
figure, pensive, alone, wrapping his drapery about him and stepping into
the silent land, on that awful journey that admits of no companion. On
another, which was also without inscription, a solitary figure sat in
one corner; he had removed helmet and shield, and placed them on the
ground behind him; a line upon the stone indicated the boundary of the
invisible world, and, with a sad contemplation, the eyes of the soldier
were fixed upon that unknown region into which he was about to descend.

Scarcely a day passed that we did not ascend the Acropolis; and again
and again we traversed the Areopagus, the Pnyx, the Museum hills. From
the valley of the Agora stone steps lead up the Areopagus to a bench cut
in the rock. Upon this open summit the Areopagite Council held, in the
open air, its solemn sessions; here it sat, it is said, at night and in
the dark, that no face of witness or criminal, or gesture of advocate,
should influence the justice of its decisions. Dedicated to divine
justice, it was the most sacred and awful place in Athens; in a cavern
underneath it was the sanctuary of the dread Erinnyes, the avenging
Euries, whom a later superstition represented with snakes twisted
in their hair; whatever the gay frivolity of the city, this spot was
silent, and respected as the dread seat of judicature of the highest
causes of religion or of politics. To us Mars Hill is chiefly associated
with the name of St. Paul; and I do not suppose it matters much whether
he spoke to the men of Athens in this sacred place or, as is more
probable, from a point farther down the hill, now occupied by a little
chapel, where he would be nearer to the multitude of the market-place.
It does not matter; it was on the Areopagus, and in the centre of
temples and a thousand statues that bespoke the highest civilization of
the pagan world, that Paul proclaimed the truth, which man’s egotism
continually forgets, that in temples made with hands the Deity does not

From this height, on the side of the Museum Hill, we see the grotto that
has been dignified with the title of the “prison of Socrates,” but
upon slight grounds. When the philosopher was condemned, the annual
sacred ship which was sent with thank-offerings to Delos was still
absent, and until its return no execution was permitted in Athens. Every
day the soldiers who guarded Socrates ascended this hill, and went round
the point to see if the expected vessel was in sight; and it is for
their convenience that some antiquarian designated this grotto as the
prison. The delay of the ship gave us his last immortal discourse.

We went one evening by the Temple of Jupiter, along the Ilissus, to the
old Stadium. This classic stream, the Ilissus, is a gully, with steep
banks and a stony bottom, and apparently never wet except immediately
after a rain. You would think by the flattery it received from
the ancient Athenians that it was larger than the Mississippi. The
Panathenaic Stadium, as it is called, because its chief use was in
the celebration of the games of the great quadrennial festival, was
by nature and art exceedingly well adapted to chariot races and other
contests. Open at the end, where a bridge crossed the Ilissus, it
extended a hundred feet broad six hundred and fifty feet into the hill,
upon the three sloping sides of which, in seats of marble, could be
accommodated fifty thousand spectators. Here the Greek youth contended
for the prizes in the chariot race, and the more barbarous Roman
emperors amused a degenerate people with the sight of a thousand wild
beasts hunted and slain in a single celebration.

The Stadium has been lately re-excavated, and at the time of our visit
the citizens were erecting some cheap benches at one end, and preparing,
in a feeble way, for what it pleases them to call the Olympic Games,
which were to be inaugurated the following Sunday. The place must
inevitably dwarf the performance, and comparison render it ridiculous.
The committee-men may seem to themselves Olympic heroes, and they had
the earnest air of trying to make themselves believe that they were
really reviving the ancient glory of Greece, or that they could bring it
back by calling a horse-race and the wrestling of some awkward peasants
an “Olympiad.” The revival could be, as we afterwards learned it
was, only a sickly and laughable affair. The life of a nation is only
preserved in progress, not in attempts to make dead forms live again. It
is difficult to have chariot races or dramatic contests without chariots
or poets, and I suppose the modern imitation would scarcely be saved
from ludicrousness, even if the herald should proclaim that now a
Patroclus and now an Aristophanes was about to enter the arena. The
modern occupants of Athens seem to be deceiving themselves a little with
names and shadows. In the genuine effort to revive in its purity the
Greek language, and to inspire a love of art and literature, the Western
traveller will wholly sympathize. In the growth of a liberal commercial
spirit he will see still more hope of a new and enduring Greek state.
But a puerile imitation of a society and a religion which cannot
possibly have a resurrection excites only a sad smile. There is no more
pitiful sight than a man who has lost his ideals, unless it be a nation
which has lost its ideals. So long as the body of the American people
hold fast to the simple and primitive conception of a republican
society,—to the ideals of a century ago,—the nation can survive,
as England did, a period of political corruption. There never was, not
under Themistocles nor under Scanderbeg, a more glorious struggle
for independence than that which the battle of Navarino virtually
terminated. The world had a right to expect from the victors a new and
vigorous national life, not a pale and sentimental copy of a splendid
original, which is now as impossible of revival as the Roman Empire.
To do the practical and money-getting Greeks justice, I could not learn
that they took a deep interest in the “Olympiad”; nor that the
inhabitants of ancient Sparta were jealous of the re-institution of
the national games in Athens, since, they say, there are no longer any
Athenians to be jealous of.

The ancient Athenians were an early people; they liked the dewy
freshness of the morning; they gave the first hours of the day to the
market and to public affairs, and the rising sun often greeted the
orators on the bema, and an audience on the terrace below. We had seen
the Acropolis in almost every aspect, but I thought that one might
perhaps catch more of its ancient spirit at sunrise than at any other

It is four o’clock when my companion and I descend into the silent
street and take our way to the ancient citadel by the shortest and
steepest path. Dawn is just breaking in pink, and the half-moon is in
the sky. The sleepy guard unbolts the gate and admits us, but does not
care to follow; and we pass the Propylæa and have the whole field to
ourselves. There is a great hush as we come into the silent presence
of the gray Parthenon; the shades of night are still in its columns.
We take our station on a broken pillar, so that we can enjoy a
three-quarters view of the east front. As the light strengthens we have
a pink sky for background to the temple, and the smooth bay of Phalerum
is like a piece of the sky dropped down. Very gradually the light breaks
on the Parthenon, and in its glowing awakening it is like a sentient
thing, throwing shadows from its columns and kindling more and more; the
lion gargoyles on the corners of the pediment have a life which we had
not noticed before. There is now a pink tint on the fragments of columns
lying at the side; there is a reddish hue on the plain about Piræus;
the strait of Salamis is green, but growing blue; Phalerum is taking
an iridescent sheen; I can see, beyond the Gulf of Ægina, the distant
height of Acro-Corinth. .

The city is still in heavy shadow, even the Temple of Theseus does not
relax from its sombreness. But the light mounts; it catches the top
of the white columns of the Propylæa, it shines on the cornice of the
Erechtheum, and creeps down in blushes upon the faces of the Caryatides,
which seem to bow yet in worship of the long-since-departed Pallas
Athene. The bugles of the soldiers called to drill on the Thesean
esplanade float up to us; they are really bugle-notes summoning the
statues and the old Panathenaic cavalcades on the friezes to life and
morning action. The day advances, the red sun commanding the hill and
flooding it with light, and the buildings glowing more and more in it,
but yet casting shadows. A hawk sweeps around from the north and hangs
poised on motionless wings over the building just as the sun touches it.
We climb to the top of the western pediment for the wide sweep of view.
The world has already got wind of day, and is putting off its nightcaps
and opening its doors. As we descend we peer about for a bit of marble
as a memento of our visit; but Lord Elgin has left little for the
kleptomaniac to carry away.

At this hour the Athenians ought to be assembling on the Pnyx to hear
Demosthenes, who should be already on the bema; but the bema has
no orator, and the terrace is empty. We might perhaps see an early
representation at the theatre of Dionysus, into which we can cast
a stone from this wall. We pass the gate, scramble along the ragged
hillside,—the dumping-ground of the excavators on the Acropolis,—and
stand above the highest seats of the Amphitheatre. No one has come.
The white marble chairs in the front row—carved with the names of the
priests of Bacchus and reserved for them—wait, and even the seats not
reserved are empty. There is no white-clad chorus manoeuvring on
the paved orchestra about the altar; the stage is broken in, and the
crouching figures that supported it are the only sign of life. One would
like to have sat upon these benches, that look on the sea, and listened
to a chorus from the Antigone this morning. One would like to have
witnessed that scene when Aristophanes, on this stage, mimicked and
ridiculed Socrates, and the philosopher, rising from his undistinguished
seat high up among the people, replied.


WITH deep reluctance we tore ourselves from the fascinations of Athens
very early one morning. After these things, says the Christian’s
guide, Paul departed from Athens and came to Corinth. Our departure was
in the same direction. We had no choice of time, for the only steamer
leaves on Sunday morning, and, besides, our going then removed us from
the temptation of the Olympic games. At half past five we were on board
the little Greek steamer at the Piraeus.

We sailed along Salamis. It was a morning of clouds; but Ægina
(once mistress of these seas, and the hated rival of Athens) and the
Peloponnesus were robed in graceful garments that, like the veils of the
Circassian girls, did not conceal their forms. In four hours we landed
at Kalamaki, which is merely a station for the transfer of passengers
across the Isthmus. Six miles south on the coast we had a glimpse of
Cenchreæ, which is famous as the place where Paul, still under the
bonds of Jewish superstition, having accomplished his vow, shaved his
head. The neck of limestone rock, which connects the Peloponnesus with
the mainland, is ten miles long, and not more than four miles broad from
Kalamaki to Lutraki on the Gulf of Corinth, and as it is not, at its
highest elevation, over a hundred feet above the sea, the project of
piercing it with a canal, which was often entertained and actually begun
by Nero, does not seem preposterous. The traveller over it to-day will
see some remains of the line of fortification, the Isthmian Wall, which
served in turn Greeks, Macedonians, Saracens, Latin Crusaders, and
Slavonic settlers; and fragments of the ancient buildings of the
Isthmian Sanctuary, where the Panhellenic festivals were celebrated.

The drive across was exceedingly pleasant. The Isthmus is seamed with
ravines and ridges, picturesque with rocks which running vines drape and
age has colored, and variegated with corn-fields. We enjoyed on either
hand the splendid mountain forms; on the north white Helicon and
Parnassus; on the south the nearly two-thousand-feet wall-crowned height
of Acro-Corinth and the broken snowy hills of the Morea.

Familiar as we were with the atlas, we had not until now any adequate
conception how much indented the Grecian mainland and islands are, nor
how broken into peaks, narrow valleys, and long serrated summits are the
contours. When we appreciate, by actual sight, the multitude of islands
that compose Greece, how subject to tempests its seas are, how difficult
is communication between the villages of the mainland, or even those on
the same island, we understand the naturalness of the ancient divisions
and strifes; and we see the physical obstacles to the creation of a
feeling of unity in the present callow kingdom. And one hears with no
surprise that Corfu wishes herself back under English protection.

We drove through the cluster of white houses on the bay, which is now
called Corinth, and saw at three miles’ distance the site of the old
city and the Acropolis beyond it. Earthquakes and malaria have not been
more lenient to the ancient town than was Roman vengeance, and of the
capital which was to Greece in luxury what Athens was in wit, only a few
columns and sinking walls remain. Even the voluptuousness of Corinth is
a tale of two thousand years ago, and the name might long ago have sunk
with the fortunes of the city, but for the long residence there of a
poor tent-maker, in whom no proud citizen of that day, of all those
who “sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play,” would have
recognized the chief creator of its fame.

Our little Greek steamer was crowded excessively, and mainly with Greeks
going to Patras and Zante, who noisily talked politics and business in
a manner that savored more of New England than of the land of Solon and
Plato. For the first time in a travel of many months we met families
together, gentlemen with their wives and children, and saw the evidences
of a happy home-life. It is everything in favor of the Greeks that they
have preserved the idea of home, and cherish, as the centre of all good
and strength, domestic purity.

At dinner there was an undisguised rush for seats at the table, and the
strongest men got them. We looked down through the skylights and beheld
the valiant Greeks flourishing their knives, attacking, while expecting
soup, the caviare and pickles, and thrusting the naked blades into their
mouths without fear. The knife seems seldom to hurt the Greek, whose
display of deadly weapons is mainly for show. There are dozens of stout
swarthy fellows on board, in petticoats and quilted leggings, with each
a belly full of weapons,—the protruding leathern pouch contains a
couple of pistols, a cheese-knife, cartridges, and pipes and tobacco.

The sail through the Gulf of Corinth is one to be enjoyed and
remembered, but the reader shall not be wearied with a catalogue of
names. What is it to him that we felt the presence of Delphi, that we
had Parnassus on our right, and Mt. Panachaicum, lifting itself higher
than Mt. Washington, on our left, the Locrian coast on one side, and the
range of Arcadia on the other? The strait narrowed as we came at evening
near Patras, and between the opposite forts of Rheum and Antirheum it is
no broader than the Bosphorus; it was already dusky when we peered into
the Bay of Lepanto, which is not, however, the site of the battle of
that name in which the natural son of the pretty innkeeper of Ratisbon
rendered such a signal service to Christendom. Patras, a thriving new
city, which inherits the name but not the site of the ancient, lies
open in the narrow strait, subject to the high wind which always blows
through the passage, and is usually a dangerous landing. All the time
that we lay there in the dark we thought a tempest was prevailing, but
the clamor subsided when we moved into the open sea. Of Patras we saw
nothing except a circle of lights on the shore a mile long, a procession
of colored torches which illumined for an instant the façade of the
city hall, and some rockets which went up in honor of a local patriot
who had returned on our boat from Athens. And we had not even a glimpse
of Missolonghi, which we passed in the night.

At daylight we are at Zante, anchored in its eastward-looking harbor
opposite the Peloponnesian coast. The town is most charmingly situated,
and gives one an impression of wealth and elegance. Old Zacynthus was
renowned for its hospitality before the days of the Athenian and Spartan
wars, and—such is the tenacity with which traits are perpetuated
amid a thousand changes—its present wealthy and enterprising
merchant-farmers, whose villas are scattered about the slopes, enjoy a
reputation for the same delightful gift. The gentlemen are distinguished
among the Ionians for their fondness of country life and convivial
gayety. Early as it was, the town welcomed us with its most gracious
offerings of flowers and fruit; for the pedlers who swarmed on board
brought nothing less poetical than handfuls of dewy roses, carnations,
heliotrope, freshly cut mignonette, baskets of yellow oranges, and
bottles of red wine. The wine, of which the Zante passengers had
boasted, was very good, and the oranges, solid, juicy, sweet, the best
I have ever eaten, except, perhaps, some grown in a fortunate year in
Florida. Sharp hills rise behind the town, and, beyond, a most fertile
valley broadens out to the sea. Almost all the land is given up to the
culture of the currant-vine, the grapes of Corinth, for in the transfer
of the chief cultivation of this profitable fruit from Corinth to Zante,
the name went with the dwarf vines. On the hillsides, as we sailed
away, we observed innumerable terraces, broad, flat, and hard like
threshing-floors, and learned that they were the drying-grounds of the
ripe currants.

We were all day among the Ionian Islands, and were able to see all of
them except Cythera, off Cape Malea, esteemed for its honey and its
magnificent temple to the foam-born Venus. They lay in such a light as
the reader of Homer likes to think of them. We sailed past them as in
a dream, not caring to distinguish history from fable. It was off the
little Echinades, near the coast, by the mouth of the Achelous, that Don
John, three hundred years ago, broke the European onset of the Ottoman
arms; it was nearly a dear victory for Christendom, for among the
severely wounded was Cervantes, and Don Quixote had not yet been
written. But this battle is not more real to us than the story of
Ulysses and Penelope which the rocky surface of Ithaca recalls. And as
we lingered along the shores of Cephalonia and Leucadia, it was not of
any Cæsar or Byzantine emperor or Norman chieftain that we thought, but
of the poet whose verses will outlast all their renown. Leucadia still
harbors, it is said, the breed of wolves that, perhaps, of all the
inhabitants of these islands preserve in purity the Hellenic blood. We
sailed close to the long promontory, “Leucadia’s far-projecting rock
of woe,” and saw, if any one may see, the very precipice from which
Sappho, leaping, quenched in brine the amatory flames of a heart that
sixty years of song and trouble had not cooled.

Through the strait of Actium we looked upon the smooth inland sea of
Ambracia, while our steamer churned along the very waters that saw
the flight of the purple sails of Cleopatra, whom the enamored Antony
followed and left the world to Augustus. The world was a small affair
then, when its possession could be decided on a bit of water where, as
Byron says, two frigates could hardly manouvre. These historical empires
were fleeting shows at the best, not to be compared to the permanent
conquests and empire of the mind. The voyager from the Bosphorus to
Corfu feels that it is not any Alexander or Cæsar, Chagan or Caliph,
but Homer, who rules over the innumerable islands and sunny mainlands of

It was deep twilight when we passed the barren rock of Anti-paxos, and
the mountain in the sea called Paxos. There is no island in all these
seas that has not its legend; that connected with Paxos, and recorded
by Plutarch, I am tempted to transcribe from the handbook, in the quaint
language in which it is quoted, for it expresses not only the spirit of
this wild coast, but also our own passage out of the domain of mythology
into the sunlight of Christian countries: “Here, about the time that
our Lord suffered his most bitter passion, certain persons sailing from
Italy to Cyprus at night heard a voice calling aloud, Thamus! Thamus!
who giving ear to the cry was bidden (for he was pilot of the ship),
when he came near to Pelodes to tell that the great god Pan was dead,
which he doubting to do, yet for that when he came to Pelodes there was
such a calm of wind that the ship stood still in the sea unmoored, he
was forced to cry aloud that Pan was dead; wherewithal there were such
piteous outcries and dreadful shrieking as hath not been the like. By
which Pan, of some is understood the great Sathanas, whose kingdom was
at that time by Christ conquered, and the gates of hell broken up; for
at that time all oracles surceased, and enchanted spirits that were wont
to delude the people henceforth held their peace.”

It was ten o’clock at night when we reached Corfu, and sailed in under
the starlight by the frowning hill of the fortress, gliding spectrally
among the shipping, with steam shut off, and at a signal given by the
bowsman letting go the anchor in front of the old battery.

Corfu, in the opinion of Napoleon, enjoys the most beautiful situation
in the world. Its loveliness is in no danger of being overpraised. Shut
in by the Albanian coast opposite, the town appears to lie upon a
lake, surrounded by the noblest hills and decorated with a
tropical vegetation. Very picturesque in its moss-grown rock is the
half-dismantled old double fortress, which the English, in surrendering
to the weak Greek state, endeavored to render as weak as possible. It
and a part of the town occupy a bold promontory; the remainder of the
city lies around a little bay formed by this promontory and Quarantine
Island. The more we see of the charming situation, and become familiar
with the delicious mountain outlines, we regret that we can tarry but
a day, and almost envy those who make it a winter home. The interior
of the city itself, when we ascend the height and walk in the palace
square, appears bright and cheerful, but retains something of the
dull and decorous aspect of an English garrison town. In the shops the
traveller does not find much to interest him, except the high prices of
all antiquities. We drove five miles into the country, to the conical
hill and garden of Gasturi, whose mistress gathered for us flowers and
let us pluck from the trees the ripe and rather tasteless nespoli. From
this summit is an extraordinary prospect of blue sea, mountains, snowy
summits, the town, and the island, broken into sharp peaks and most
luxuriant valleys and hillsides. Ancient, gnarled olive-trees abound,
thousands of acres of grapevines were in sight, the hedges were the
prickly-pear cactus, and groves of walnuts and most vigorous fig-trees
interspersed the landscape. There was even here and there a palm. A
lovely land, most poetical in its contours.

The Italian steamer for Brindisi was crowded with passengers. On the
forward deck was a picturesque horde of Albanian gypsies. The captain
said that he counted eighty, without the small ones, which, to avoid the
payment of fare, were done up in handkerchiefs and carried in bags like
kittens. The men, in broad, short breeches and the jackets of their
country, were stout and fine fellows physically. The women, wearing
no marked costume, but clad in any rags of dresses that may have been
begged or stolen, were strikingly wild in appearance, and if it is
true that the women of a race best preserve the primeval traits, these
preserve, in their swarthy complexions, burning black eyes, and jet
black hair, the characteristics of some savage Oriental tribe. The hair
in front was woven into big braids, which were stiff with coins and
other barbarous ornaments in silver. A few among them might be called
handsome, since their profiles were classic; but it was a wild beauty
which woman sometimes shares with the panther. They slept about the deck
amidst their luggage, one family usually crawling into a single sack.
In the morning there were nests of them all about, and, as they crawled
forth, especially as the little ones swarmed out, it was difficult
to believe that the number of passengers had not been miraculously
increased in the night. The women carry the fortune of the family on
their heads; certainly their raiment, which drapes but does not conceal
their forms, would scarcely have a value in the rag-market of Naples. I
bought of one of them a silver ornament, cutting it from the woman’s
hair, but I observed that her husband appropriated the money.

It was like entering a new world of order and civilization, next
morning, to sail through the vast outer harbor of Brindisi into the
inner one, and lie, for the first time in the Mediterranean, at a dock.
The gypsies made a more picturesque landing than the other passengers,
trudging away with their hags, tags, rags, and tent-poles, the women and
children lugging their share. It was almost touching to see their care
for the heaps of rubbish which constitute all their worldly possessions.
They come like locusts to plunder sunny Italy; on a pretence of seeking
work in the fields, they will spend the summer in the open air, gaining
health and living, as their betters like to live, upon the labor of

Brindisi has a beautiful Roman column, near it the house where Virgil
is said to have died, and an ancient fortress, which is half crumbling
walls and half dwelling-houses, and is surrounded, like the city wall,
by a moat, now converted into a vegetable garden. As I was peacefully
walking along the rampart, intending to surround the town, a soldier
motioned me back, as if it had been time of war. I offered to stroll
over the drawbridge into the mouldy fortress. A soldier objected. As I
turned away, he changed his mind, and offered to show me the interior.
But it was now my turn to decline; and I told him that, the idle impulse
passed, I would rather not go in. Of all human works I care the least
for fortresses, except to look at from the outside; it is not worth
while to enter one except by storming it or strolling in, and when one
must ask permission the charm is gone. You get sick to death almost of
these soldier-folk who start up and bar your way with a bayonet wherever
you seek to walk in Europe. No, soldier; I like the view from the wall
of the moat, and the great fields of ripe wheat waving in the sweet
north-wind, but I don’t care for you or your fortress.

Brindisi is clean, but dull. Yet it was characteristically Italian
that I should encounter in the Duomo square a smart, smooth-tongued
charlatan, who sold gold chains at a franc each,—which did not seem
to be dear; and a jolly, almost hilarious cripple, who, having no use
of his shrunken legs, had mounted himself on a wooden bottom, like a
cheese-box, and, by the aid of his hands, went about as lively as a

I stepped into the cathedral; a service was droning on, with few
listeners. On one side of the altar was a hideous, soiled wax image of
the dead Christ. Over the altar, in the central place of worship, was
a flaring figure of the Virgin, clad in the latest mode of French
millinery, and underneath it was the legend, Viva Maria. This was the
salutation of our return to a Christian land: Christ is dead; the Virgin

Here our journey, which began on the other coast of Italy in November,
ends in June. In ascending the Nile to the Second Cataract, and making
the circuit of the Levant, we have seen a considerable portion of the
Moslem Empire and of the nascent Greek kingdom, which aspires, at least
in Europe, to displace it. We have seen both in a transition period, as
marked as any since the Saracens trampled out the last remnants of
the always sickly Greek Empire. The prospect is hopeful, although the
picture of social and political life is far from agreeble. But for
myself, now that we are out of the Orient and away from all its squalor
and cheap magnificence, I turn again to it with a longing which I cannot
explain; it is still the land of the imagination.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "In The Levant - Twenty Fifth Impression" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.