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A Visit to the Holy Land by Ida Pfeiffer

Part 3 out of 6

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open field, which was luckily only a few paces off. By good
fortune, also, several people appeared near us, upon seeing whom the
fellow retired. This incident convinced us of the fact that Franks
should not leave the city unattended.

As the Mount of Olives is the highest point in the neighbourhood of
Jerusalem, it commands the best view of the town and its environs.
The city is large, and lies spread over a considerable area. The
number of inhabitants is estimated at 25,000. As in the remaining
cities of Syria, the houses here are built of stone, and frequently
adorned with round cupolas. Jerusalem is surrounded by a very lofty
and well-preserved wall, the lower portion composed of such massive
blocks of stone, that one might imagine these huge fragments date
from the period of the city's capture by Titus. Of the mosques,
that of Omar, with its lead-covered roof, has the best appearance;
it lies in an immense courtyard, which is neatly kept. This mosque
is said to occupy the site of Solomon's temple.

From the Mount of Olives we can plainly distinguish all the
convents, and the different quarters of the Catholics, Armenians,
Jews, Greeks, etc. The "Mount of Offence" (so called on account of
Solomon's idolatry) rises at the side of the Mount of Olives, and is
of no great elevation. Of the temple, and the buildings which
Solomon caused to be erected for his wives, but few fragments of
walls remain. I had also been told, that the Jordan and the Dead
Sea might be seen from this mountain; but I could distinguish
neither, probably on account of a mist which obscured the horizon.

At the foot of the Mount of Olives lies the valley of Jehosaphat.
The length of this valley does not certainly exceed three miles;
neither is it remarkable for its breadth. The brook Cedron
intersects this valley; but it only contains water during the rainy
season; at other times all trace of it is lost.

The town of Jerusalem is rather bustling, particularly the poor-
looking bazaar and the Jews' quarter; the latter portion of the city
is very densely populated, and exhales an odour offensive beyond
description; and here the plague always seizes its first victims.

The Greek convent is not only very handsome, but of great extent.
Hither most of the pilgrims flock, at Easter-time to the number of
five or six thousand. Then they are all herded together, and every
place is crowded with occupants; even the courtyard and terraces are
full. This convent is the richest of all, because every pilgrim
received here has to pay an exorbitant price for the very worst
accommodation. It is said that the poorest seldom escape for less
than four hundred piastres.

Handsomest of all is the Armenian convent; standing in the midst of
gardens, it has a most cheerful appearance. It is asserted to be
built on the site where St. James was decapitated, an event
commemorated by numerous pictures in the church; but most of the
pictures, both here and in the remaining churches, are bad beyond
conception. Like the Greeks, the Armenian priests enjoy the
reputation of thoroughly understanding how to make a harvest out of
their visitors, whom they are said generally to send away with empty
pockets. As an amends, however, they offer them a great quantity of
_spiritual_ food.

In the valley of Jehosaphat we find many tombs of ancient and modern
date. The most ancient among these tombs is that of Absolom; a
little temple of pieces of rock, but without an entrance. The
second is the tomb of Zacharias, also hewn out of the rock, and
divided within into two compartments. The third belongs to King
Jehosaphat, and is small and unimportant; one might almost call it a
mere block of stone. There are many more tombs cut out of the rock.
From this place we reach the Jewish burial-ground.

The little village of Sila also lies in this valley. It is so
humble, and all its houses (which are constructed of stone) are so
small, that wandering continually among tombs, the traveller would
rather take them to be ruined resting-places of the dead than
habitations of the living.

Opposite this village lies "Mary's Well," so called because the
Virgin Mary fetched water here every day. The inhabitants of Siloam
follow her example to this day. A little farther on is the pool of
Siloam, where our Lord healed the man who was born blind. This pool
is said to possess the remarkable property, that the water
disappears and returns several times in the course of twenty-four
hours.

At the extremity of the valley of Jehosaphat a small hill rises like
a keystone; in this hill are several grottoes, formed either by
nature or art, which also once served as sepulchres. They are
called the "rock-graves." At present the greater portion of them
are converted into stables, and are in so filthy a state that it is
impossible to enter them. I peeped into one or two, and saw nothing
but a cavern divided into two parts. At the summit of these rock-
graves lies the "Field of Blood," bought by the priests for the
thirty pieces of silver which Judas cast down in the temple.

In the neighbourhood of the Field of Blood rises the hill of Sion.
Here, it is said, stood the house of Caiaphas the high-priest,
whither our Lord was brought a prisoner. A little Armenian church
now occupies the supposed site. The tomb of David, also situated on
this hill, has been converted into a mosque, in which we are shewn
the place where the Son of Man ate the last Passover with His
disciples.

The burial-grounds of the Roman Catholics, Armenians, and Greeks
surround this hill.

The "Hill of Bad Counsel," so called because it is said that here
the judges determined to crucify Christ, rises in the immediate
vicinity of Mount Sion. A few traces of the ruins of Caiaphas'
house are yet visible.

The "Grotto of Jeremiah" lies beyond the "Gate of Damascus," in
front of which we found, near a cistern, an elaborately-sculptured
sarcophagus, which is used as a water-trough. This grotto is larger
than any I have yet mentioned. At the entrance stands a great
stone, called Jeremiah's bed, because the prophet is said generally
to have slept upon it. Two miles farther on we come to the graves
of the judges and the kings. We descend an open pit, three or four
fathoms deep, forming the courtyard. This pit is a square about
seventy feet long and as many wide. On one side of this open space
we enter a large hall, its broad portal ornamented with beautiful
sculpture, in the form of flowers, fruit, and arabesques. This hall
leads to the graves, which run round it, and consist of niches hewn
in the rock, just sufficiently large to contain a sarcophagus. Most
of these niches were choked up with rubbish, but into some we could
still see; they were all exactly alike. These long, narrow, rock-
hewn graves reminded me exactly of those I had seen in a vault at
Gran, in Hungary. I could almost have supposed the architect at
Gran had taken the graves of the valley of Jehosaphat for his model.

CHAPTER VIII.

Bethlehem--Rachel's grave--Convent at Bethlehem--Beggars--Grotto of
the Nativity--Solomon's cisterns--St. John's--Franciscan church at
Jerusalem--Mourning women--Eastern weddings--Mish-mish--Excursion to
the Jordan and the Dead Sea--Wilderness near Jerusalem--Convent of
St. Saba.

On the 2d of June I rode, in the company of Counts Berchtold and
Salm Reifferscheit and Pater Paul, to Bethlehem. Although, on
account of the bad roads, we are obliged to ride nearly the whole
distance at a foot-pace, it does not take more than an hour and a
half to accomplish the journey. The view we enjoy during this
excursion is as grand as it is peculiar. So far as the eye can
reach, it rests upon stone; the ground is entirely composed of
stones; and yet between the rocky interstices grow fruit-trees of
all kinds, and grape-vines trail along, besides fields whose
productions force their way upwards from the shingly soil.

I had already wondered when I saw the "Karst," near Trieste, and the
desert region of Gorz; but these sink into insignificance when
compared to the scenery of the Judean mountains.

It is difficult to conceive how these regions can ever have been
smiling and fertile. Doubtless they have appeared to better
advantage than at the present period, when the poor inhabitants are
ground to the bone by their pachas and officers; but I do not think
that meadows and woods can ever have existed here to any extent.

On the way we pass a well, surrounded by blocks of stone. At this
well the wise men from the East rested, and here the guiding star
appeared to them. Midway between Jerusalem and Bethlehem lies the
Greek convent dedicated to the prophet Elijah. From hence we can
see both towns; on the one hand, the spacious Jerusalem, and on the
other, the humble Bethlehem, with some small villages scattered
round it. On the right hand we pass "Rachel's grave," a ruined
building with a small cupola.

Bethlehem lies on a hill, surrounded by several others; with the
exception of the convent, it contains not a single handsome
building. The inhabitants, half of whom are Catholics, muster about
2500 strong; many live in grottoes and semi-subterranean domiciles,
cutting out garlands and other devices in mother-of pearl, etc. The
number of houses does not exceed a hundred at the most, and the
poverty here seems excessive, for nowhere have I been so much
pestered with beggar children as in this town. Hardly has the
stranger reached the convent-gates before these urchins are seen
rapidly approaching from all quarters. One rushes forward to hold
the horse, while a second grasps the stirrup; a third and a fourth
present their arm to help you to dismount; and in the end the whole
swarm unanimously stretch forth their hands for "backsheesh." In
cases like these it is quite necessary to come furnished either with
a multiplicity of small coins or with a riding-whip, in order to be
delivered in one way or another from the horrible importunity of the
diminutive mob. It is very fortunate that the horses here are
perfectly accustomed to such scenes; were this not the case, they
would take fright and gallop headlong away.

The little convent and church are both situated near the town, and
are built on the spot where the Saviour was born. The whole is
surrounded by a strong fortress-wall, a very low, narrow gate
forming the entrance. In front of this fortress extends a handsome
well-paved area. So soon as we have passed through the little gate,
we find ourselves in the courtyard, or rather in the nave of the
church, which is unfortunately more than half destroyed, but must
once have been eminent both for its size and beauty. Some traces of
mosaic can still be detected on the walls. Two rows of high
handsome pillars, forty-eight in number, intersect the interior; and
the beam-work, said to be of cedar-wood from Lebanon, looks almost
new. Beneath the high altar of this great church is the grotto in
which Christ was born. Two staircases lead downwards to it. One of
the staircases belongs to the Armenians, the other to the Greeks;
the Catholics have none at all. Both the walls and the floor are
covered with marble slabs. A marble tablet, with the inscription,

"HIC DE VIRGINE MARIA JESUS CHRISTUS NATUS EST,"

marks the spot whence the true Light shone abroad over the world. A
figure of a beaming sun, which receives its light from numerous
lamps kept continually burning, is placed in the back-ground of this
tablet.

The spot where our Saviour was shewn to the worshipping Magi is but
few paces distant. An altar is erected opposite, on the place where
the manger stood in which the shepherds found our Lord. The manger
itself is deposited in the basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, in Rome.
This altar belongs to the Roman Catholics. A little door, quite in
the background of the grotto, leads to a subterranean passage
communicating with the convent and the Catholic chapel. In this
passage another altar has been erected to the memory of the
innocents slaughtered and buried here. Proceeding along the passage
we come upon the grave of St. Paula and her daughter Eustachia on
one side, and that of St. Hieronymus on the other. The body of the
latter is, however, deposited at Rome.

Like the church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, this great
church at Bethlehem belongs at once to the Catholics, the Armenians,
and the Greeks. Each of these sects has built for itself a little
convent adjoining the church.

After spending at least a couple of hours here, we rode two miles
farther, towards Mount Hebron. At the foot of this mountain we
turned off to the left towards the three cisterns of Solomon. These
reservoirs are very wide and deep, hewn out of the rock, and still
partially covered with a kind of cement resembling marble in its
consistency and polish. We descended into the third of these
cisterns; it was about five hundred paces long, four hundred broad,
and a hundred deep.

Not one of these cisterns now contains water; the aqueducts which
once communicated with them have entirely vanished. A single
rivulet, across which one may easily step, flows beside these giant
reservoirs. The region around is barren in the extreme.

On returning to our convent at about two o'clock to partake of our
frugal but welcome meal, we were surprised to find that another
party of travellers, Franks like ourselves, had arrived. The new-
comers proved to be Count Zichy and Count Wratislaw, who had
travelled from Vienna to Cairo in company with Counts Berchtold and
Salm Reifferscheit. At the last-mentioned place the voyagers parted
company, one party proceeding to Jerusalem by way of Alexandria,
Damietta, and Joppa, while the other bent their course across the
burning sands of Africa towards Mount Sinai, and thence continued
their journey to Jerusalem by land. Here at length they had the
pleasure of meeting once more. A great and general rejoicing, in
which we all joined, was the consequence of this event.

After dinner we once more visited all the holy places in company of
the new-comers; we afterwards went to the so-called "Milk Grotto,"
distant about half a mile from our convent. In this grotto there is
nothing to be seen but a simple altar, before which lights are
continually burning. It is not locked, and every passer-by is at
liberty to enter. This place is held sacred not only by the
Christians, but also by the Turks, who bring many a cruise of oil to
fill the lamps after they have cleaned them. In this grotto the
Holy Family concealed themselves before the flight into Egypt, and
the Virgin for a long time nourished the infant Jesus with her milk,
from which circumstance the grotto derives its name. The women in
the neighbourhood believe that if they feel unwell during the time
they are nursing their children, they have merely to scrape some of
the sand from the rocks in this grotto, and to take it as a powder,
to regain their health.

Half a mile from this grotto we were shown the field in which the
angel appeared to announce the birth of the Redeemer to the
shepherds. But our newly-arrived friends were not able to visit
this spot. They were fain to content themselves with a distant
view, as it was high time to think of our return.

ST. JOHN'S.

On the 4th of June I rode out, accompanied by a guide, to the birth-
place of St. John the Baptist, distant about four miles from
Jerusalem. The way to this convent lies through the Bethlehem Gate,
opposite the convent of the "Holy Cross," a building supposed to
stand on the site where the wood was felled for our Saviour's cross!
Not far off, the place was pointed out to me where a battle was
fought between the Israelites and the Philistines, and where David
slew Goliath.

Situated in a rocky valley, the convent of St. John is, like all the
monasteries in these lands, surrounded by very strong walls. The
church of the convent is erected on the spot where the house of
Zacharias once stood, and a chapel commemorates the place where St.
John first beheld the light. The ascent to this chapel is by a
staircase, where a round tablet of stone bears the inscription,

"HIC PRAECURSOR DOMINI CHRISTI NATUS EST."

Many events of the prophet's life are here portrayed by sculptures
in white marble.

About a mile from the convent we find the "Grotto of Visitation,"
where St. Mary met St. Elizabeth. The remains of the latter are
interred here.

On the very first day of my arrival at Jerusalem I had made some
observations, during a visit to the church of St. Francis, which
gave me any thing but a high opinion of the behaviour of the
Catholics here. This unfavourable impression was confirmed by
subsequent visits to the church, so that at length I felt obliged to
tell Father Paul that I would rather pray at home than among people
who seemed to attend to any thing rather than their devotions. My
Frankish costume seemed to be such a stumbling-block in the eyes of
these people, that at length a priest came to me, and requested that
I would make an alteration in my dress, or at any rate exchange my
straw hat for a veil, in which I could muffle my head and face. I
promised to discard the obnoxious hat and to wear a handkerchief
round my head when I attended church, but refused to muffle my face,
and begged the reverend gentleman to inform my fellow-worshippers
that this was the first time such a thing had been required of a
Frankish woman, and that I thought they would be more profitably
employed in looking at their prayer-books than at me, for that He
whom we go to church to adore is not a respecter of outward things.
In spite of this remonstrance, their behaviour remained the same, so
that I was compelled almost to discontinue attending public worship.

On great festival-days the high altar of the church of St. Francis
is very profusely decorated. It is, in fact, almost overloaded with
ornament, and sparkles and glitters with a most dazzling brilliancy.
Innumerable candles display the lustre of gold and precious stones.
Foremost among the costly ornaments appear a huge gold monstrance
presented by the king of Naples, and two splendid candelabra, a gift
of the imperial house of Austria.

I happened one day to pass a house, from within which a great
screaming was to be heard. On inquiring of my companion what was
the matter, I was informed that some person had died in that house
the day before, and that the sound I heard was the wail of the
"mourning women." I requested admission to the room where the
deceased lay. Had it not been for the circumstance that a few
pictures of saints and a crucifix decorated the walls, I could never
have imagined that the dead man was a Catholic. Several "mourning
women" sat near the corpse, uttering every now and then such frantic
yells, that the neighbourhood rang with their din. In the intervals
between these demonstrations they sat comfortably regaling
themselves with coffee; after a little time they would again raise
their horrible cry. I had seen enough to feel excessively
disgusted, and so went away.

I was also fortunate enough to visit a newly-married pair. The
bride was gorgeously dressed in a silk under-garment, wide trousers
of peach-blossom satin, and a caftan of the same material; a rich
shawl encircled her waist, and on her feet she wore boots of yellow
morocco leather; the slippers had been left, according to the
Turkish fashion, at the entrance of the chamber. An ornamental
head-dress of rich gold brocade and fresh flowers completed the
bride's attire; her hair, arranged in a number of thin plaits and
decorated with coins, fell down upon her shoulders, and on her neck
glittered several rows of ducats and larger gold pieces.

Costumes of this kind are only seen in the family circle, and on the
occasion of some great event. Seldom or never are strange men
allowed to behold the ladies in their gorgeous apparel; so that it
is fruitless to expect to see picturesque female costumes in the
public places of the East.

After the marriage ceremony, which is always performed during the
forenoon, the young wife is compelled to sit for the remainder of
the day in a corner of the room with her face turned towards the
wall. She is not allowed to answer any question put by her husband,
her parents, or by any one whatever; still less is she permitted to
offer a remark herself. This silence is intended to typify the
bride's sorrow at changing her condition.

During my visit, the bridegroom sat next to his bride, vainly
endeavouring to lure a few words from her. On my rising to depart,
the young wife inclined her head towards me, but without raising her
eyes from the ground.

In Jerusalem, almost all the women and girls wear veils when they go
abroad. It was only in church, and in their own houses, that I had
an opportunity of fairly seeing these houris. Among the girls I
found many an interesting head; but the women who have attained the
age of twenty-six or twenty-eight years already look worn and ugly;
so that here, as in all tropical countries, we behold a great number
of very plain faces, among which handsome ones shine forth at long
intervals, like meteors. Thin people are rarely met with in Syria;
on the contrary, even the young girls are frequently decidedly
stout.

Not far from the bazaar is a great hall, wherein the Turks hold
their judicial sittings, decide disputes, and pass sentence on
criminals. Some ordinary-looking divans are placed round the
interior of this hall, and in one corner a wooden cell, about ten
feet long, six wide, and eight feet high, has been erected. This
cell, furnished with a little door, and a grated hole by way of
window, is intended for the reception of the criminal during his
period of punishment.

Throughout the thirteen days I passed at Jerusalem, I did not find
the heat excessive. The thermometer generally stood in the shade at
from 20 to 22 degrees, and in the sun at 28 degrees (Reaum.), very
seldom reaching 30 degrees.

Fruit I saw none, with the exception of the little apricots called
mish-mish, which are not larger than a walnut, but nevertheless have
a very fine flavour. It is a pity that the inhabitants of these
countries contribute absolutely nothing towards the cultivation and
improvement of their natural productions; if they would but exert
themselves, many a plant would doubtless flourish luxuriantly. But
here the people do not even know how to turn those gifts to
advantage which nature has bestowed upon them in rich profusion, and
of superior quality; for instance, olives. Worse oil can hardly be
procured than that which they give you in Syria. The Syrian oil and
olives can scarcely be used by Europeans. The oil is of a perfectly
green colour, thick, and disgusting alike to the smell and taste;
the olives are generally black, a consequence of the negligent
manner in which they are prepared. The same remark holds good with
regard to the wine, which would be of excellent quality if the
people did but understand the proper method of preparing it, and of
cultivating the vineyards. At present, however, they adulterate
their wine with a kind of herb, which gives it a very sharp and
disagreeable taste.

On the whole, the neighbourhood of Jerusalem is very desolate,
barren, and sterile. I found the town itself neither more nor less
animated than most Syrian cities. I should depart from truth if I
were to say, with many travellers, that it appeared as though a
peculiar curse rested upon this city. The whole of Judea is a stony
country, and this region contains many places with environs as
rugged and barren as those of Jerusalem.

Birds and butterflies are rarely seen at the present season of the
year, not only in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, but throughout the
whole of Syria. Where, indeed, could a butterfly or a bee find
nourishment, while not a flower nor a blade of grass shoots up from
the stony earth? And a bird cannot live where there are neither
seeds nor insects, but must soar away across the seas to cooler and
more fertile climes. Not only here, but throughout the whole of
Syria, I missed the delightful minstrels of the air. The sparrow
alone can find sustenance every where, for he lives in towns and
villages, wherever man is seen. A whole flock of these little
twittering birds woke me every morning.

I was as yet much less troubled by insects than I had anticipated.
With the exception of the small flies on the plain of Sharon, and of
certain little sable jumpers which seem naturalised throughout the
whole world, I could not complain of having been annoyed by any
creature.

Our common house-flies I saw every where; but they were not more
numerous or more troublesome than in Germany.

EXCURSION TO THE RIVER JORDAN AND TO THE DEAD SEA.

To travel with any degree of security in Palestine, Phoenicia, etc.,
it is necessary to go in large companies, and in some places it even
becomes advisable to have an escort. The stranger should further be
provided with cooking utensils, provisions, tents, and servants. To
provide all these things would have been a hopeless task for me; I
had therefore resolved to return from Jerusalem as I had come,
namely, via Joppa, and so to proceed to Alexandria or Beyrout, when,
luckily for me, the gentlemen whom I have already mentioned arrived
at Jerusalem. They intended making several excursions by land, and
the first of these was to be a trip to the banks of the Jordan and
to the Dead Sea.

I ardently wished to visit these places, and therefore begged the
gentlemen, through Father Paul, to permit my accompanying them on
their arduous journey. The gentlemen were of opinion that their
proposed tour would be too fatiguing for one of my sex, and seemed
disinclined to accede to my request. But then Count Wratislaw took
my part, and said that he had watched me during our ride from
Bethlehem to Jerusalem, and had noticed that I wanted neither
courage, skill, nor endurance, so that they might safely take me
with them. Father Paul immediately came to me with the joyful
intelligence that I was to go, and that I had nothing to do but to
provide myself with a horse. He particularly mentioned how kindly
Count Wratislaw, to whom I still feel obliged, had interested
himself in my behalf.

The journey to the Jordan and the Dead Sea should never be
undertaken by a small party. The best and safest course is to send
for some Arab or Bedouin chiefs, either at Jerusalem or Bethlehem,
and to make a contract with them for protection. In consideration
of a certain tribute, these chiefs accompany you in person, with
some of their tribe, to your place of destination and back again.
The Counts paid the two chiefs three hundred piastres, with the
travelling expenses for themselves and their twelve men.

At three o'clock in the afternoon of the 7th of June our cavalcade
started. The caravan consisted of the four counts, Mr. Bartlett, a
certain Baron Wrede, two doctors, and myself, besides five or six
servants, and the two chiefs with the body-guard of twelve Arabs.
All were strongly armed with guns, pistols, swords, and lances, and
we really looked as though we sallied forth with the intention of
having a sharp skirmish.

Our way lay through the Via Dolorosa, and through St. Stephen's
Gate, past the Mount of Olives, over hill and dale. Every where the
scene was alike barren. At first we still saw many fruit-trees and
olive-trees in bloom, and even vines, but of flowers or grass there
was not a trace; the trees, however, stood green and fresh, in spite
of the heat of the atmosphere and the total lack of rain. This
luxuriance may partly be owing to the coolness and dampness which
reigns during the night in tropical countries, quickening and
renewing the whole face of nature.

The goal of our journey for to-day lay about eight miles distant
from Jerusalem. It was the Greek convent of "St. Saba in the
Waste." The appellation already indicates that the region around
becomes more and more sterile, until at length not a single tree or
shrub can be detected. Throughout the whole expanse not the
lowliest human habitation was to be seen. We only passed a horde of
Bedouins, who had erected their sooty-black tents in the dry bed of
a river. A few goats, horses, and asses climbed about the
declivities, laboriously searching for herbs or roots.

About half an hour before we reach the convent we enter upon the
wilderness in which our Saviour fasted forty days, and was
afterwards "tempted of the devil." Vegetation here entirely ceases;
not a shrub nor a root appears; and the bed of the brook Cedron is
completely dry. This river only flows during the rainy season, at
which period it runs through a deep ravine. Majestic rocky
terraces, piled one above the other by nature with such exquisite
symmetry that the beholder gazes in silent wonder, overhang both
banks of the stream in the form of galleries.

A silence of death brooded over the whole landscape, broken only by
the footfalls of our horses echoing sullenly from the rocks, among
which the poor animals struggled heavily forward. At intervals some
little birds fluttered above our heads, silently and fearfully, as
though they had lost their way. At length we turn sharply round an
angle of the road,--and what a surprise awaits us! A large handsome
building, surrounded by a very strong fortified wall, pierced for
cannon in several places, lies spread before us near the bed of the
river, and rises in the form of terraces towards the brow of the
hill. From the position we occupied, we could see over the whole
extent of wall from without and from within. Fortified as it was,
it lay open before our gaze. Several buildings, and in front of all
a church with a small cupola, told us plainly that St. Saba lay
stretched below.

On the farther bank, seven or eight hundred paces from the convent,
rose a single square tower, apparently of great strength. I little
thought that I should soon become much better acquainted with this
isolated building.

The priests had observed our procession winding down the hill, and
at the first knocking the gate was opened. Masters, servants,
Arabs, and Bedouins, all passed through; but when my turn came, the
cry was, "Shut the gate!" and I was shut out, with the prospect of
passing the night in the open air,--a thing which would have been
rather disagreeable, considering how unsafe the neighbourhood was.
At length, however, a lay brother appeared, and, pointing to the
tower, gave me to understand that I should be lodged there. He
procured a ladder from the convent, and went with me to the tower,
where we mounted by its aid to a little low doorway of iron. My
conductor pushed this open, and we crept in. The interior of the
tower seemed spacious enough. A wooden staircase led us farther
upwards to two tiny rooms, situated about the centre of the tower.
One of these apartments, dimly lighted by the rays of a lamp,
contained a small altar, and served as a chapel, while the second
was used as a sleeping-room for female pilgrims. A wooden divan was
the only piece of furniture this room contained. My conductor now
took his leave, promising to return in a short time with some
provisions, a bolster, and a coverlet for me.

So now I was at least sheltered for the night, and guarded like a
captive princess by bolt and bar. I could not even have fled had I
wished to do so, for my leader had locked the creaking door behind
him, and taken away the ladder. After carefully examining the
chapel and my neatly-furnished apartment in this dreary prison-
house, I mounted the staircase, and gained the summit of the tower.
Here I had a splendid view of the country round about, my elevated
position enabling me distinctly to trace the greater part of the
desert, with its several rows of hills and mountains skirting the
horizon. All these hills were alike barren and naked; not a tree
nor a shrub, not a human habitation, could I discover. Silence lay
heavily on every thing around, and it seemed to me almost as though
no earth might here nourish a green tree, but that the place was
ordained to remain a desert, as a lasting memorial of our Saviour's
fasting. Unheeded by human eye, the sun sank beneath the mountains;
I was, perhaps, the only mortal here who was watching its beautiful
declining tints. Deeply moved by the scene around me, I fell on my
knees, to offer up my prayers and praise to the Almighty, here in
the rugged grandeur of the desert.

But I had only to turn away from the death-like silence, and to cast
my eye towards the convent as it lay spread out before me, to view
once more the bustle and turmoil of life. In the courtyard the
Bedouins and Arabs were employed in ministering to the wants of
their horses, bringing them water and food; beyond these a group of
men was seen spreading mats on the ground, while others, with their
faces bowed to the earth, were adoring, with other forms of prayer,
the Omnipotent Spirit whose protection I had so lately invoked;
others, again, were washing their hands and feet as a preparation
for offering up their worship; priests and lay brethren passed
hastily across the courtyard, busied in preparations for
entertaining and lodging the numerous guests; while some of my
fellow-travellers stood apart, in earnest conversation, and Mr. B.
and Count Salm Reifferscheit reclined in a quiet spot and made
sketches of the convent. Had a painter been standing on my tower,
what a picture of the building might he not have drawn as the wild
Arab and the thievish Bedouin leant quietly beside the peaceful
priest and the curious European! Many a pleasant recollection of
this evening have I borne away with me.

I was very unwilling to leave the battlements of the tower; but the
increasing darkness at length drove me back into my chamber.
Shortly afterwards a priest and a lay brother appeared, and with
them Mr. Bartlett. The priest's errand was to bring me my supper
and bedding, and my English fellow-traveller had kindly come to
inquire if I would have a few servants as a guard, as it must be
rather a dreary thing to pass a night quite alone in that solitary
tower. I was much flattered by Mr. Bartlett's politeness to a total
stranger, but, summoning all my courage, replied that I was not in
the least afraid. Thereupon they all took their leave; I heard the
door creak, the bolt was drawn, and the ladder removed, and I was
left to my meditations for the night.

After a good night's rest, I rose with the sun, and had been waiting
some time before my warder appeared with the coffee for my
breakfast. He afterwards accompanied me to the convent gate, where
my companions greeted me with high praises; some of them even
confessed that they would not like to pass a solitary night as I had
done.

CHAPTER IX.

Ride through the wilderness to the Dead Sea--The Dead Sea--The river
Jordan--Horde of Bedouins--Arab horses--The Sultan's well--Bivouac
in the open air--Return to Jerusalem--Bethany--Departure from
Jerusalem--Jacob's grave--Nablus or Sichem--Sebasta--Costume of
Samaritan women--Plain of Esdralon--Sagun.

June 8th.

At five o'clock in the morning we departed, and bent our course
towards the Dead Sea. After a ride of two hours we could see it,
apparently at such a short distance, that we thought half an hour at
the most would bring us there. But the road wound betwixt the
mountains, sometimes ascending, sometimes descending, so that it
took us another two hours to reach the shore of the lake. All
around us was sand. The rocks seem pulverised; we ride through a
labyrinth of monotonous sand-heaps and sand-hills, behind which the
robber-tribes of Arabs and Bedouins frequently lurk, making this
part of the journey exceedingly unsafe.

Before we reach the shore, we ride across a plain consisting, like
the rest, of deep sand, so that the horses sink to the fetlocks at
every step. On the whole of our way we had not met with a single
human being, with the exception of the horde of Bedouins whom we had
found encamped in the river-bed: this was a fortunate circumstance
for us, for the people whom the traveller meets during these
journeys are generally unable to resist the temptation of seizing
upon his goods, so that broken bones are frequently the result of
such meetings.

[Illustration 4. The Dead Sea. ill4.jpg]

The day was very hot (33 degrees Reaum). We encamped in the hot
sand on the shore, under the shelter of our parasols, and made our
breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, a piece of bad bread, and some
lukewarm water. I tasted the sea-water, and found it much more
bitter, salt, and pungent than any I have met with elsewhere. We
all dipped our hands into the lake, and afterwards suffered the heat
of the air to dry them without having first rinsed them with fresh
water; not one of us had to complain that this brought forth an
itching or an eruption on our hands, as many travellers have
asserted. The temperature of the water was 33 degrees Reaum.; in
colour it is a pale green. Near the shore the water is to a certain
extent transparent; but as it deepens it seems turbid, and the eye
can no longer pierce the surface. We could not even see far across
the water, for a light mist seemed to rest upon it, thus preventing
us from forming a good estimate of its breadth.

To judge from what we could distinguish, however, the Dead Sea does
not appear to be very broad; it may rather be termed an oblong lake,
shut in by mountains, than a sea. Not the slightest sign of life
can be detected in the water; not a ripple disturbs its sleeping
surface. A boat of any kind is of course quite out of the question.
Some years since, however, an Englishman made an attempt to navigate
this lake; for this purpose he caused a boat to be built, but did
not progress far in his undertaking,--a sickness came upon him, he
was carried to Jerusalem, and died soon after he had made the
experiment. It is rather a remarkable fact that, up to the present
moment, no Englishman has been found who was sufficiently weary of
his life to imitate his countryman's attempt.

Stunted fragments of drift-wood, most probably driven to shore by
tempests, lay scattered every where around. We could, however,
discover no fields of salt; neither did we see smoke rising, or find
the exhalations from the sea unpleasant. These phenomena are
perhaps observed at a different season of the year to that in which
I visited the Dead Sea. On the other hand, I saw not only separate
birds, but sometimes even flights of twelve or fifteen. Vegetation
also existed here to a certain extent. Not far from the shore, I
noticed, in a little ravine, a group of eight acicular-leaved trees.
On this plain there were also some wild shrubs bearing capers, and a
description of tall shrub, not unlike our bramble, bearing a
plentiful crop of red berries, very juicy and sweet. We all ate
largely of them; and I was the more surprised at finding these
plants here, as I had found it uniformly stated that animal and
vegetable life was wholly extinct on the shores of the Dead Sea.

Five cities, of which not a trace now remains, once lay in the plain
now filled by this sea--their names were Sodom, Gomorrah, Adama,
Zeboin, and Zona. A feeling of painful emotion, mingled with awe,
took possession of my soul as I thought of the past, and saw how the
works of proud and mighty nations had vanished away, leaving behind
them only a name and a memory. It was a relief to me when we
prepared, after an hour's rest, to quit this scene of dreary
desolation.

For about an hour and a half we rode through an enormous waste
covered with trailing weeds, towards the verdant banks of the
Jordan, which are known from a distance by the beautiful blooming
green of the meadows that surround it. We halted in the so-called
"Jordan-vale," where our Saviour was baptised by St. John.

The water of the Jordan is of a dingy clay-colour; its course is
very rapid. The breadth of this stream can scarcely exceed twenty-
five feet, but its depth is said to be considerable. The moment our
Arab companions reached the bank, they flung themselves, heated as
they were, into the river. Most of the gentlemen followed their
example, but less precipitately. I was fain to be content with
washing my face, hands, and feet. We all drank to our hearts'
content, for it was long since we had obtained water so cool and
fresh. I filled several tin bottles, which I had brought with me
for this purpose from Jerusalem, with water from the Jordan, and had
them soldered down on my return to the Holy City. This is the only
method with which I am acquainted for conveying water to the
farthest countries without its turning putrid.

We halted for a few hours beneath the shady trees, and then pursued
our journey across the plain. Suddenly a disturbance arose among
our Arab protectors; they spoke very anxiously with one another, and
continually pointed to some distant object. On inquiring the reason
why they were so disturbed, we were told that they saw robbers. We
strained our eyes in vain; even with the help of good spy-glasses we
could discover nothing, and already began to suspect our escort of
having cried "wolf" without reason, or merely to convince us that we
had not taken them with us for nothing. But in about a quarter of
an hour we could dimly discern figures emerging, one by one, from
the far, far distance. Our Bedouins prepared for the combat, and
advised us to take the opposite road while they advanced to
encounter the enemy. But all the gentlemen wished to take part in
the expedition, and joined the Bedouins, lusting for battle. The
whole cavalcade rode off at a rapid pace, leaving Count Berchtold
and myself behind. But when our steeds saw their companions
galloping off in such fiery style, they scorned to remain idly
behind, and without consulting our inclinations in the least, they
ran of at a pace which fairly took away our breath. The more we
attempted to restrain their headlong course, the more rapidly did
they pursue their career, so that there appeared every prospect of
our becoming the first, instead of the last, among the company. But
when the enemy saw such a determined troop advancing to oppose them,
they hurried off without awaiting our onset, and left us masters of
the field. So we returned in triumph to our old course; when
suddenly a wild boar, with its hopeful family, rushed across our
path. Away we all went in chase of the poor animals. Count
Wratislaw succeeded in cutting down one of the young ones with his
sabre, and it was solemnly delivered up to the cook. No further
obstacles opposed themselves to our march, and we reached our
resting-place for the night without adventure of any kind.

On this occasion I had an opportunity of seeing how the Arabs can
manage their horses, and how they can throw their spears and lances
in full career, and pick up the lances as they fly by. The horses,
too, appear quite different to when they are travelling at their
usual sleepy pace. At first sight these horses look any thing but
handsome. They are thin, and generally walk at a slow pace, with
their heads hanging down. But when skilful riders mount these
creatures, they appear as if transformed. Lifting their small
graceful heads with the fiery eyes, they throw out their slender
feet with matchless swiftness, and bound away over stock and stone
with a step so light and yet so secure that accidents very rarely
occur. It is quite a treat to see the Arabs exercise. Those who
escorted us good-naturedly went through several of their manoeuvres
for our amusement.

From the valley of the Jordan to the "Sultan's Well," in the vale of
Jericho, is a distance of about six miles. The road winds, from the
commencement of the valley, through a beautiful natural park of fig-
trees and other fruit-trees. Here, too, was the first spot where
the eye was gladdened by the sight of a piece of grass, instead of
sand and shingle. Such a change is doubly grateful to one who has
been travelling so long through the barren, sandy desert.

The village lying beside the Sultan's Well looks most deplorable.
The inhabitants seem rather to live under than above the ground. I
went into a few of these _hollows_. I do not know how else to
designate these little stoneheap-houses. Many of them are entirely
destitute of windows, the light finding its way through the hole
left for an entrance. The interiors contained only straw-mats and a
few dirty mattresses, not stuffed with feathers, but with leaves of
trees. All the domestic utensils are comprised in a few trenchers
and water-jugs: the poor people were clothed in rags. In one
corner some grain and a number of cucumbers were stored up. A few
sheep and goats were roaming about in the open air. A field of
cucumbers lies in front of every house. Our Bedouins were in high
glee at finding this valuable vegetable in such abundance. We
encamped beside the well, under the vault of heaven.

From the appearance of the valley in its present state, it is easy
to conclude, in spite of the poverty of the inhabitants and the air
of desolation spread over the farther landscape, that it must once
have been very blooming and fertile.

On the right, the naked mountains extend in the direction of the
Dead Sea; on the left rises the hill on which Moses completed his
earthly career, and from which his great spirit fled to a better
world. On the face of the mountain three caves are visible, and in
the centre one we were told the Saviour had dwelt during his
preparation in the wilderness before undertaking his mission of a
teacher. High above these caves towers the summit of the rock from
which Satan promised to give our Lord the sovereignty of all the
earth if He would fall down and worship him.

Baron Wrede, Mr. Bartlett, and myself were desirous of seeing the
interior of one of these caves, and started with this intention; but
no sooner did one of our Bedouins perceive what we were about, than
he came running up in hot haste to assure us that the whole
neighbourhood was unsafe. We therefore turned back, the more
willingly as the twilight, or rather sunset, was already
approaching.

Twilight in these latitudes is of very short duration. At sunrise
the shades of night are changed into the blaze of day as suddenly as
the daylight vanishes into night.

Our supper consisted of rather a smoky pilau, which we nevertheless
relished exceedingly; for people who have eaten nothing throughout
the day but a couple of hard-boiled eggs are seldom fastidious about
their fare at night. Besides, we had now beautiful fresh water from
the spring, and cucumbers in abundance, though without vinegar or
oil. But to what purpose would the unnatural mixture have been?
Whoever wishes to travel should first strive to disencumber himself
of what is artificial, and then he will get on capitally. The
ground was our bed, and the dark blue ether, with its myriads of
stars, our canopy. On this journey we had not taken a tent with us.

The aspect of the heavens is most beautiful here in Syria. By day
the whole firmament is of a clear azure--not a cloud sullies its
perfect brightness; and at night it seems spangled with a far
greater number of stars than in our northern climes.

Count Zichy ordered the servants to call us betimes in the morning,
in order that we might set out before sunrise. For once the
servants obeyed; in fact they more than obeyed, for they roused us
before midnight, and we began our march. So long as we kept to the
plain, all went well; but whenever we were obliged to climb a
mountain, one horse after another began to stumble and to stagger,
so that we were in continual danger of falling. Under these
circumstances it was unanimously resolved that we should halt
beneath the next declivity, and there await the coming daylight.

June 9th.

At four o'clock the reveille was beaten for the second time. We had
now slept for three hours in the immediate neighbourhood of the Dead
Sea, a circumstance of which we were not aware until daybreak: not
one of our party had noticed any noxious exhalation arising from the
water; still less had we been seized with headache or nausea, an
effect stated by several travellers to be produced by the smell of
the Dead Sea.

Our journey homewards now progressed rapidly, though for three or
four hours we were obliged to travel over most formidable mountain-
roads and through crooked ravines. In one of the valleys we again
came upon a Bedouin's camp. We rode up to the tents and asked for a
draught of water, instead of which these people very kindly gave us
some dishes of excellent buttermilk. In all my life I never partook
of any thing with so keen a relish as that with which I drank this
cooling beverage after my fatiguing ride in the burning heat. Count
Zichy offered our entertainers some money, but they would not take
it. The chief stepped forward and shook several of us by the hand
in token of friendship; for from the moment when a stranger has
broken bread with Bedouins or Arabs, or has applied to them for
protection, he is not only safe among their tribe, but they would
defend him with life and limb from the attacks of his enemies.
Still it is not advisable to meet them on the open plain; so
contradictory are their manners and customs.

We were now advancing with great strides towards a more animated, if
not a more picturesque landscape, and frequently met and overtook
small caravans. One of these had been attacked the previous
evening; the poor Arabs had offered a brave resistance, and had
beaten off the foe; but one of them was lying half dead upon his
camel, with a ghastly shot-wound in his head.

Nimble long-eared goats were diligently searching among the rocks
for their scanty food, and a few grottoes or huts of stone announced
to us the proximity of a little town or village. Right thankful
were we to emerge safely from these fearful deserts into a less
sterile and more populous region.

We passed through Bethany, and I visited the cave in which it is
said that Lazarus slumbered before he came forth alive at the voice
of the Redeemer. Then we journeyed on to Jerusalem by the same road
on which the Saviour travelled when the Jewish people shewed their
attachment and respect, for the last time, by strewing olive and
palm branches in his way. How soon was this scene of holy rejoicing
changed to the ghastly spectacle of the Redeemer's torture and
death!

Towards two o'clock in the afternoon we arrived safely at Jerusalem,
and were greeted with a hearty welcome by our kind hosts.

A few days after my return from the foregoing excursion, I left
Jerusalem for ever. A calm and peaceful feeling of happiness filled
my breast; and ever shall I be thankful to the Almighty that He has
vouchsafed me to behold these realms. Is this happiness dearly
purchased by the dangers, fatigues, and privations attendant upon
it? Surely not. And what, indeed, are all the ills that chequer
our existence here below to the woes endured by the blessed Founder
of our religion! The remembrance of these holy places, and of Him
who lived and suffered here, shall surely strengthen and console me
wherever I may be and whatever I may be called upon to endure.

FROM JERUSALEM TO BEYROUT.

My gentleman-protectors wished to journey from Jerusalem to Beyrout
by land, and intended taking a circuitous route, by way of Nazareth,
Galilee, Canaan, etc., in order to visit as many of these places as
possible, which are fraught with such interest to us Christians.
They were once more kind enough to admit me into their party, and
the 11th of June was fixed for our departure.

June 11th.

Quitting Jerusalem at three o'clock in the afternoon, we emerged
from the Damascus Gate, and entered a large elevated plateau.
Though this region is essentially a stony one, I saw several
stubble-fields, and even a few scanty blades of grass.

The view is very extended; at a distance of four miles the walls of
Jerusalem were still in view, till at length the road curved round a
hill, and the Holy City was for ever hidden from our sight.

On the left of the road, an old church, said to have been erected in
the days of Samuel, stands upon a hill.

At six in the evening we reached the little village of Bir, and
fixed our halting-place for the night in a neighbouring stubble-
field. During my first journey by land (I mean my ride from Joppa
to Jerusalem), I had already had a slight foretaste of what is to be
endured by the traveller in these regions. Whoever is not very
hardy and courageous, and insensible to hunger, thirst, heat, and
cold; whoever cannot sleep on the hard ground, or even on stones,
passing the cold nights under the open sky, should not pursue his
journey farther than from Joppa to Jerusalem: for, as we proceed,
the fatigues become greater and less endurable, and the roads are
more formidable to encounter; besides this, the food is so bad that
we only eat from fear of starvation; and the only water we can get
to drink is lukewarm, and offensive from the leathern jars in which
it is kept.

We usually rode for six or seven hours at a time without alighting
even for a moment, though the thermometer frequently stood at from
30 to 34 degrees Reaumur. Afterwards we rested for an hour at the
most; and this halt was often made in the open plain, where not a
tree was in sight. Refreshment was out of the question, either for
the riders or the poor beasts, and frequently we had not even water
to quench our burning thirst. The horses were compelled to labour
unceasingly from sunrise until evening, without even receiving a
feed during the day's journey. The Arabian horse is the only one
capable of enduring so much hardship. In the evening these poor
creatures are relieved of their burdens, but very seldom of the
saddle; for the Arabs assert that it is less dangerous for the horse
to bear the saddle day and night, than that it should be exposed
when heated by the day's toil to the cold night-air. Bridles,
saddles, and stirrups were all in such bad condition that we were in
continual danger of falling to the ground, saddle and all. In fact,
this misfortune happened to many of our party, but luckily it was
never attended with serious results.

June 12th.

The night was very chilly; although we slept in a tent, our thick
cloaks scarcely sufficed to shield us from the night-air. In the
morning the fog was so dense that we could not see thirty paces
before us. Towards eight o'clock it rolled away, and a few hours
later the heat of the sun began to distress us greatly. It is
scarcely possible to guard too carefully against the effects of the
heat; the head should in particular be kept always covered, as
carelessness in this respect may bring on coup de soleil. I always
wore two pocket handkerchiefs round my head, under my straw hat, and
continually used a parasol.

From Bir to Jabrud, where we rested for a few hours, we travelled
for six hours through a monotonous and sterile country. We had
still a good four hours' ride before us to Nablus, our resting-place
for the night.

The roads here are bad beyond conception, so that at first the
stranger despairs of passing them either on foot or on horseback.
Frequently the way leads up hill and down dale, over great masses of
rock; and I was truly surprised at the strength and agility of our
poor horses, which displayed extraordinary sagacity in picking out
the little ledges on which they could place their feet safely in
climbing from rock to rock. Sometimes we crossed smooth slabs of
stone, where the horses were in imminent danger of slipping; at
others, the road led us past frightful chasms, the sight of which
was sufficient to make me dizzy. I had read many accounts of these
roads, and was prepared to find them bad enough; but my expectations
were far surpassed by the reality. All that the traveller can do is
to trust in Providence, and abandon himself to fate and to the
sagacity of his horse.

An hour and a half before we reached the goal of this day's journey,
we passed the grave of the patriarch Jacob. Had our attention not
been particularly drawn to this monument, we should have ridden by
without noticing it, for a few scattered blocks of stone are all
that remain. A little farther on we enter the Samaritan territory,
and here is "Jacob's well," where our Saviour held converse with the
woman of Samaria. The masonry of the well has altogether vanished,
but the spring still gushes forth from a rock.

Nablus, the ancient Sichem, the chief town of Samaria, contains four
thousand inhabitants, and is reputed to be one of the most ancient
towns in Palestine. It is surrounded by a strong wall, and consists
of a long and very dirty street. We rode through the town from one
end to the other, and past the poor-looking bazaar, where nothing
struck me but the sight of some fresh figs, which were at this early
season already exposed for sale. Of course we bought the fruit at
once; but it had a very bad flavour.

A number of soldiers are seen in all the towns. They are Arnauts, a
wild, savage race of men, who appear to be regarded with more dread
by the inhabitants than the wandering tribes whose incursions they
are intended to repress.

We pitched our tents on a little hill immediately outside the town.
Few things are more disagreeable to the traveller than being
compelled to bivouac near a town or village in the East. All the
inhabitants, both young and old, flock round in order to examine the
European caravan, which is a most unusual sight for them, as closely
as possible. They frequently even crowd into the tents, and it
becomes necessary to expel the intruders almost by main force. Not
only are strangers excessively annoyed at being thus made a gazing-
stock, but they also run a risk of being plundered.

Our cook had the good fortune to obtain a kid only three or four
days old, which was immediately killed and at once boiled with rice.
We made a most sumptuous meal, for it was seldom we could get such
good fare.

June 13th.

The morning sun found us already on horseback; we rode through the
whole of the beautiful valley at the entrance of which Nablus lies.
The situation of this town is very charming. The valley is not
broad, and does not exceed a mile and a half in length; it is
completely surrounded with low hills. The mountain on the right is
called Ebal, and that on the left Grissim. The latter is celebrated
as being the meeting-place of the twelve tribes of Israel under
Joshua; they there consulted upon the means of conquering the land
of Canaan.

The whole valley is sufficiently fertile; even the hills are in some
instances covered to their summits with olive, fig, lemon, and
orange trees. Some little brooks, clear as crystal, bubble through
the beautiful plain. We were frequently compelled to ride through
the water; but all the streams are at this season of the year so
shallow, that our horses' hoofs were scarcely covered.

After gaining the summit of the neighbouring hill, we turned round
with regret to look our last on this valley; seldom has it been my
lot to behold a more charming picture of blooming vegetation.

Two hours more brought us to Sebasta, the ancient Samaria, which
also lies on a lovely hill, though for beauty of situation it is not
to be compared with Nablus. Sebasta is a wretched village. The
ruins of the convent built on the place where St. John the Baptist
was beheaded were here pointed out to us; but even of the ruins
there are few traces left.

Two hours later we reached Djenin, and had now entered the confines
of Galilee. Though this province, perhaps, no longer smiles with
the rich produce it displayed in the days of old, it still affords a
strong contrast to Judaea. Here we again find hedges of the Indian
fig-tree, besides palms and large expanses of field; but for flowers
and meadows we still search in vain.

The costume of the Samaritan and Galilean women appears as
monotonous as it is poor and dirty. They wear only a long dark-blue
gown, and the only difference to be observed in their dress is that
some muffle their faces and others do not. It would be no loss if
all wore veils; for so few pretty women and girls are to be
discovered, that they might be searched for, like the honest man of
Diogenes, with a lantern. The women have all an ugly brown
complexion, their hair is matted, and their busts lack the rounded
fullness of the Turkish women. They have a custom of ornamenting
both sides of the head, from the crown to the chin, with a row of
silver coins; and those women who do not muffle their faces usually
wear as head-dress a handkerchief of blue linen.

Djenin is a dirty little town, which we only entered in consequence
of having been told that we should behold the place where Queen
Jezebel fell from the window and was devoured by dogs. Both window
and palace have almost vanished; but dogs, who look even now as
though they could relish such royal prey, are seen prowling about
the streets. Not only in Constantinople, but in every city of Syria
we found these wild dogs; they were, however, nowhere so numerous as
in the imperial city.

We halted for an hour or two outside the town, beside a coffee-
house, and threw ourselves on the ground beneath the open sky. A
kind of hearth made of masonry, on which hot water was continually
in readiness, stood close by, and near it some mounds of earth had
been thrown up to serve as divans. A ragged boy was busy pounding
coffee, while his father, the proprietor of the concern, concocted
the cheering beverage, and handed it round to the guests. Straw-
mats were spread for our accommodation on the earthen divans, and
without being questioned we were immediately served with coffee and
argile. In the background stood a large and lofty stable of
brickwork, which might have belonged to a great European inn.

After recruiting ourselves here a little, we once more set forth to
finish our day's journey. Immediately after leaving the town, a
remarkably fine view opens before us over the great elevated plain
Esdralon, to the magnificent range of mountains enclosing this
immense plateau. In the far distance they shewed us Mount Carmel,
and, somewhat nearer, Mount Tabor. Here, too, the mountains are
mostly barren, without, however, being entirely composed of naked
masses of rock. Mount Tabor, standing entirely alone and richly
clothed with vegetation, has a very fine appearance.

For nearly two hours we rode across the plain of Esdralon, and had
thus ample leisure to meditate upon the great events that have
occurred here. It is difficult to imagine a grander battlefield,
and we can readily believe that in such a plain whole nations may
have struggled for victory. From the time of Nabucodonosor to the
period of the Crusades, and from the days of the Crusades to those
of Napoleon, armies of men from all nations have assembled here to
fight for their real or imaginary rights, or for the glory of
conquest.

The great and continuous heat had cracked and burst the ground on
this plain to such a degree, that we were in continual apprehension
lest our horses should catch their feet in one or other of the
fissures, and strain or even break them. The soil of the plain
seems very good, and is free from stones; it appears, however,
generally to lie fallow, being thickly covered with weeds and wild
artichokes. The villages are seen in the far distance near the
mountains. This plain forms part of Canaan.

We pitched our camp for the night beside a little cistern, near the
wretched village of Lagun; and thus slept, for the third night
consecutively, on the hard earth.

June 14th.

To-day we rode for an hour across the plain of Esdralon, and once
more suffered dreadfully from the stings of the minute gnats which
had annoyed us so much on our journey from Joppa to Ramla. These
plagues did not leave us until we had partly ascended the mountains
skirting the plain, from the summit of which we could see Nazareth,
prettily built on a hill at the entrance of a fruitful valley. In
the background rises the beautiful Mount Tabor.

From the time we first see Nazareth until we reach the town is a
ride of an hour and a half; thus the journey from Lagun to Nazareth
occupies four hours and a half, and the entire distance from
Jerusalem twenty-six or twenty-seven hours.

CHAPTER X.

Arrival at Nazareth--Franciscan convent--Tabarith--Mount Tabor--Lake
of Gennesareth--Baths--Mount Carmel--Grotto of the prophet Elijah--
Acre--The pacha's harem--Oriental women--Their listlessness and
ignorance--Sur or Tyre.

It was only nine o'clock when we reached Nazareth, and repaired to
the house for strangers in the Franciscan convent, where the priests
welcomed us very kindly. As soon as we had made a short survey of
our rooms (which resulted in our finding them very like those at
Jerusalem, both as regards appearance and arrangement), we set forth
once more to visit all the remarkable places, and above all the
church which contains the Grotto of Annunciation. This church, to
which we were accompanied by a clergyman, was built by St. Helena,
and is of no great size. In the background a staircase leads down
into the grotto, where it is asserted that the Virgin Mary received
the Lord's message from the angel. Three little pillars of granite
are still to be seen in this grotto. The lower part of one of these
pillars was broken away by the Turks, so that it is only fastened
from above. On the strength of this circumstance many have averred
that the pillar hangs suspended in air! Had these men but looked
beyond their noses, had they only cast their eyes upwards, they
could not have had the face to preach a miracle where it is so
palpable that none exists. A picture on the wall, not badly
executed, represents the Annunciation. The house of the Virgin is
not shewn here, because, according to the legend, an angel carried
it away to Loretto in Italy. A few steps lead to another grotto,
affirmed to be the residence of a neighbour of the Virgin, during
whose absence she presided over the house and attended to the duties
of the absent Mary.

Another grotto in the town is shewn as "the workshop of Joseph;" it
has been left in its primitive state, except that a plain wooden
altar has been added. Not far off we find the synagogue where our
Lord taught the people, thereby exasperating the Pharisees to such a
degree, that they wished to cast Him down from a rock outside the
city. In conclusion we were shewn an immense block of stone on
which the Saviour is said to have eaten the Passover with His
disciples(!).

In the afternoon we went to see "Mary's Well," on the road to
Tabarith, at a short distance from Nazareth. This well is fenced
round with masonry, and affords pure clear water. Hither, it is
said, the Virgin came every day to draw water, and here the women
and girls of Nazareth may still be daily seen walking to and fro
with pitchers on their shoulders. Those whom we saw were all poorly
clad, and looked dirty. Many wore no covering on their head, and,
what was far worse, their hair hung down in a most untidy manner.
Their bright eyes were the only handsome feature these people
possessed. The custom of wearing silver coins round the head also
prevailed here.

To-day was a day of misfortunes for me; in the morning, when we
departed from Lagun, I had already felt unwell. On the road I was
seized with violent headache, nausea, and feverish shiverings, so
that I hardly thought I should be able to reach Nazareth. The worst
of all this was, that I felt obliged to hide my illness, as I had
done on our journey to Jerusalem, for fear I should be left behind.
The wish to view all the holy places in Nazareth was also so
powerful within me, that I made a great effort, and accompanied the
rest of my party for the whole day, though I was obliged every
moment to retire into the background that my condition might not be
observed. But when we went to table, the smell of the viands
produced such an effect upon me, that I hastily held my handkerchief
before my face as though my nose were bleeding, and hurried out.
Thanks to my sunburnt skin, through which no paleness could
penetrate, no one noticed that I was ill. The whole day long I
could eat nothing; but towards evening I recovered a little. My
appetite now also returned, but unfortunately nothing was to be had
but some bad mutton-broth and an omelette made with rancid oil. It
is bad enough to be obliged to subsist on such fare when we are in
health, but the hardship increases tenfold when we are ill.
However, I sent for some bread and wine, and strengthened myself
therewith as best I might.

June 15th.

Thanks be to Heaven, I was to-day once more pretty well. In the
morning I could already mount my horse and take part in the
excursion we desired to make to

TABARITH.

Passing Mary's Well and a mountain crowned by some ruins, the
remains of ancient Canaan, we ride for about three miles towards the
foot of Mount Tabor, the highest summit of which we do not reach for
more than an hour. There were no signs of a beaten road, and we
were obliged to ride over all obstacles; a course of proceeding
which so tired our horses, that in half an hour's time they were
quite knocked up, so that we had to proceed on foot. After much
toil and hardship, with a great deal of climbing and much suffering
from the heat, we gained the summit, and were repaid for the toil of
the ascent, not only by the reflection that we stood on classic
ground, but also by the beautiful view which lay spread before our
eyes. This prospect is indeed magnificent. We overlook the entire
plain of Saphed, as far as the shores of the Galilean Sea. Mount
Tabor is also known by the name of the "Mountain of Bliss"--here it
was that our Lord preached His exquisite "Sermon on the Mount." Of
all the hills I have seen in Syria, Mount Tabor is the only one
covered to the summit with oaks and carob-trees. The valleys too
are filled with the richest earth, instead of barren sand; but in
spite of all this the population is thin, and the few villages are
wretched and puny. The poor inhabitants of Syria are woefully
ground down; the taxes are too high in proportion to the productions
of the soil, so that the peasants cannot possibly grow more produce
than they require for their own consumption. Thus, for instance,
orchards are not taxed in the aggregate, but according to each
separate tree. For every olive-tree the owner must pay a piastre,
or a piastre and a half; and the same sum for an orange or lemon
tree. And heavily taxed as he is, the poor peasant is never safe in
saying, "Such and such a thing belongs to me." The pacha may shift
him to another piece of land, or drive him away altogether, if he
thinks it advisable to do so; for a pacha's power in his province is
as great as that of the Sultan himself in Constantinople.

Porcupines are to be met with on Mount Tabor; we found several of
their fine horny quills.

From the farther side of the mountain we descended into the
beautiful and spacious valley of Saphed, the scene of the miracle of
the loaves and fishes, and rode on for some hours until we reached
Tabarith.

A very striking scene opens before the eyes of the traveller on the
last mountain before Tabarith. A lovely landscape lies suddenly
unrolled before him. The valley sinks deeply down to the Galilean
Sea, round the shores of which a glorious chain of mountains rises
in varied and picturesque terrace-like forms. More beautiful than
all the rest, towers in snowy grandeur the mighty chain of the Anti-
Lebanon, its white surface glittering in the rays of the sun, and
distinctly mirrored in the clear bosom of the lake. Deep down lies
the little town of Tabarith, shadowed by palm-trees, and guarded by
a castle raised a little above it. The unexpected beauty of this
scene surprised us so much that we alighted from our horses, and
passed more than half an hour on the summit of the mountain, to gaze
at our leisure upon the wondrous picture. Count S. drew a hurried
but very successful sketch of the landscape which we all admired so
much, though its mountains were naked and bare. But such is the
peculiar character of Eastern scenery; in Europe, meadows, alps, and
woods exhibit quite a distinct class of natural beauty. In a
mountain region of Europe, a sight like the one we were now admiring
would scarcely have charmed us so much. But in these regions, poor
alike in inhabitants and in scenery, the traveller is contented with
little, and a little thing charms him. For instance, would not a
plain piece of beef have been a greater luxury to us on our journey
than the most costly delicacies at home? Thus we felt also with
regard to scenery.

On entering the town we experienced a feeling of painful emotion.
Tabarith lay still half in ruins; for the dreadful earthquake of
1839 had made this place one of the chief victims of its fury. How
must the town have looked immediately after the calamity, when even
now, in spite of the extensive repairs, it appears almost like a
heap of ruins! We saw some houses that had completely fallen in;
others were very much damaged, with large cracks in the walls, and
shattered terraces and towers: every where, in short, we wandered
among ruins. Above 4000 persons, more than half of the entire
population, are said to have perished by this earthquake.

We alighted at the house of a Jewish doctor, who entertains
strangers, as there is no inn at Tabarith. I was quite surprised to
find every thing so clean and neat in this man's house. The little
rooms were simply but comfortably furnished, the small courtyard was
flagged with large stones, and round the walls of the hall were
ranged narrow benches with soft cushions. We were greatly
astonished at this appearance of neatness and order; but our wonder
rose when we made the discovery that the Jews, who are very numerous
at Tabarith, are not clothed in the Turkish or Greek fashion, but
quite like their brethren in Poland and Galicia. Most of them also
spoke German. I immediately inquired the reason of this
peculiarity, and was informed that all the Jewish families resident
in this town originally came from Poland or Russia, with the
intention of dying in the Promised Land. As a rule, all Jews seem
to cherish a warm desire to pass their last days in the country of
their forefathers, and to be buried there.

We requested our young hostess, whose husband was absent, to prepare
for us without delay a good quantity of pilau and fowls; adding,
that we would in the mean time look at the town and the neighbouring
baths at the Sea of Gennesareth, but that we should return in an
hour and a half at the most.

We then proceeded to the Sea of Gennesareth, which is a fresh-water
lake. We entered a fisherman's boat, in order that we might sail on
the waters where our Lord had once bid the winds "be still." We
were rowed to the warm springs, which rise near the shore, a few
hundred paces from the town. On the lake all was calm; but no
sooner had we landed than a storm arose--between the fishermen and
ourselves. In this country, if strangers neglect to bargain
beforehand for every stage with guides, porters, and people of this
description, they are nearly sure of being charged an exorbitant sum
in the end. This happened to us on our present little trip, which
certainly did not occupy more than half an hour. We took our seats
in the boat without arranging for the fares; and on disembarking
offered the fishermen a very handsome reward. But these worthies
threw down the money, and demanded thirty piastres; whereas, if we
had bargained with them at first, they would certainly not have
asked ten. We gave them fifteen piastres, to get rid of them; but
this did not satisfy their greediness; on the contrary, they yelled
and shouted, until the Count's servants threatened to restore peace
and quietness with their sticks. At length the fishermen were so
far brought to their senses that they walked away, scolding and
muttering as they went.

Adjoining the warm springs we found a bathing-house, built in a
round form and covered with a cupola. Here we also met a
considerable number of pilgrims, mostly Greeks and Armenians from
the neighbourhood, who were journeying to Jerusalem. They had
encamped beside the bathing-house. Half of these people were in the
water, where a most animated conversation was going on. We also
wished to enter the building, not for the purpose of bathing, but to
view the beauty and arrangements of the interior, which have been
the subject of many laudatory descriptions; but at the entrance such
a cloud of vapour came rolling towards us that we were unable to
penetrate far. I saw enough, however, to feel convinced, that in
the description of these baths poetry or exaggeration had led many a
pen far beyond the bounds of fact. Neither the exterior of this
building, nor the cursory glance I was enabled to throw into the
interior, excited either my curiosity or my astonishment. Seen from
without, these baths resemble a small-sized house built in a very
mediocre style, and with very slender claims to beauty. The
interior displayed a large quantity of marble,--for instance, in the
floor, the sides of the bath, etc. But marble is not such a rarity
in this country that it can raise this bathing-kiosk into a wonder-
building, or render it worthy of more than a passing glance. I
endeavour to see every thing exactly as it stands before me, and to
describe it in my simple diary without addition or ornament.

At eight o'clock in the evening we returned tired and hungry to our
comfortable quarters, flattering ourselves that we should find the
plain supper we had ordered a few hours before smoking on the
covered table, ready for our arrival. But neither in the hall nor
in the chamber could we find even a table, much less a covered one.
Half dead with exhaustion, we threw ourselves on chairs and benches,
looking forward with impatience to the supper and the welcome rest
that was to follow it. Messenger after messenger was despatched to
the culinary regions, to inquire if the boiled fowls were not yet in
an eatable condition. Each time we were promised that supper would
be ready "in a quarter of an hour," and each time nothing came of
it. At length, at ten o'clock, a table was brought into the room;
after some time a single chair, appeared, and then one more; then
came another interval of waiting, until at length a clean table-
cloth was laid. These arrivals occupied the time until eleven
o'clock, when the master of the house, who had been absent on an
excursion, made his appearance, and with him came a puny roast fowl.
No miracle, alas, took place at our table like that of the plain of
Saphed; we were but seven persons, and so the fowl need only have
been increased seven times to satisfy us all; but as it was, each
person received one rib and no more. Our supper certainly consisted
of several courses brought in one after the other. Had we known
this, we certainly should soon have arranged the matter, for then
each person would have appropriated the whole of a dish to himself.
In the space of an hour and a quarter nine or ten little dishes made
their appearance; but the portion of food contained in each was so
small, that our supper may be said to have consisted of a variety of
"tastes." We would greatly have preferred two good-sized dishes to
all these kickshaws. The dishes were, a roast, a boiled, and a
baked chicken, a little plate of prepared cucumbers, an equally
small portion of this vegetable in a raw state, a little pilau, and
a few small pieces of mutton.

Our host kindly provided food for the mind during supper by
describing to us a series of horrible scenes which had occurred at
the time of the earthquake. He, too, had lost his wife and children
by this calamity, and only owed his own life to the circumstance
that he was absent at a sick-bed when the earthquake took place.

Half an hour after midnight we at length sought our resting-places.
The doctor very kindly gave up his three little bedrooms to us, but
the heat was so oppressive that we preferred quartering ourselves on
the stones in the yard. They made a very hard bed, but we none of
us felt symptoms of indigestion after our sumptuous meal.

June 16th.

At five o'clock in the morning we took leave of our host, and
returned in six hours to Nazareth by the same road on which we had
already travelled. We did not, however, ascend Mount Tabor a second
time, but rode along beside its base. To-day I once more visited
all the spots I had seen when I was so ill two days before; in this
pursuit I passed some very agreeable hours.

June 17th.

In the morning, at half-past four, we once more bade farewell to the
worthy priests of Nazareth, and rode without stopping for nine hours
and a half, until at two o'clock we reached

MOUNT CARMEL.

It was long since we had travelled on such a good road as that on
which we journeyed to-day. Now and then, however, a piece truly
Syrian in character had to be encountered, probably lest we should
lose the habit of facing hardship and danger. Another comfort was
that we were not obliged to-day to endure thirst, as we frequently
passed springs of good clear water. At one time our way even led
through a small oak-wood, a phenomenon almost unprecedented in
Syria. There was certainly not a single tree in all the wood which
a painter might have chosen for a study, for they were all small and
crippled. Large leafy trees, like those in my own land, are very
seldom seen in this country. The carob, which grows here in
abundance, is almost the only handsome tree; it has a beautiful
leaf, scarcely larger than that of a rose-tree, of an oval form, as
thick as the back of a knife, and of a beautiful bright green
colour.

Mount Carmel lies on the sea-shore. It is not high, and half an
hour suffices the traveller to reach its summit, which is crowned by
a spacious and beautiful convent, probably the handsomest in all
Palestine, not even excepting the monasteries at Nazareth and
Jerusalem. The main front of the building contains a suite of six
or seven large rooms, with folding-doors and lofty regular windows.
These rooms, together with several in the wings, are devoted to the
reception of strangers. They are arranged in European style, with
very substantial pieces of furniture, among which neither sofas nor
useful chests of drawers are wanting.

[Illustration 5. Mount Carmel. ill5.jpg]

About an hour after we arrived our reverend hosts regaled us with a
more sumptuous meal than any of which I had partaken since my
departure from Constantinople.

In proportion as our fare had been meagre and our accommodation
indifferent at Nazareth and Jerusalem, did we find every thing here
excellent. In an elegant dining-room stood a large table covered
with a fine white cloth, on which cut glass and clean knives, forks,
and china plates gleamed invitingly. A servant in European garb
placed some capital fast-day fare on the table (it was Friday), and
a polite priest kept us company; but not in eating, for he rightly
considered that such a hungry company would not require any example
to fall to.

During the whole remainder of our journey through Syria this convent
occupied a green spot in our memory. How capitally would a few
days' rest here have recruited our strength! But the gentlemen had
a distant goal before their eyes, and "Forward!" was still the cry.

After dinner we went down to the sea-shore, to visit the large
grotto called the "Prophets' school." This grotto has really the
appearance of a lofty and spacious hall, where a number of disciples
could have sat and listened to the words of the prophet.

The grotto in which Elijah is said to have lived is situated in a
church at the top of the mountain. Mount Carmel is quite barren,
being only covered here and there with brambles; but the view is
magnificent. In the foreground the eye can roam over the boundless
expanse of ocean, while at the foot of the mountain it fords a
resting-place in the considerable town of Haifa, lying in a fertile
plain, which extends to the base of the high mountains, bounded in
the distance by the Anti-Libanus, and farther still by the Lebanon
itself. Along the line of coast we can distinguish Acre (or
Ptolemais), Sur (Tyre), and Soida (Sidon).

June 18th.

This morning we sent our poor over-tired horses on before us to
Hese, and walked on foot at midday under a temperature of 33 degrees
to Haifas, a distance of more than two miles. Heated and exhausted
to the last degree we reached the house of the Consul, who is a
Catholic, but seems nevertheless to live quite in Oriental fashion.
This gentleman is consul both for France and Austria. Although he
was not at home when we arrived, we were immediately shewn into the
room of state, where we reclined on soft divans, and were regaled
with sherbet of all colours, green, yellow, red, etc., and with
coffee flavoured with roses, which we did not like. Hookahs (or
tchibuks) were also handed round. At length the Consul's wife
appeared, a young and beautiful lady of an imposing figure, dressed
in the Oriental garb. She smoked her tchibuk with as much ease as
the gentlemen. Luckily a brother of this lady who understood
something of Italian was present, and kindly acted as interpreter.
I have never found an Oriental woman who knew any language but that
of her own country.

After we had rested ourselves, we pursued our journey in a boat to
Acre. On my road to Jerusalem I had only seen the outside of this
monument of the last war, now I could view its interior; but saw
nothing to repay me for my trouble. Considering how ugly the
Turkish towns are even when they are in good preservation, it may
easily be imagined that the appearance of one of these cities is not
improved when it is full of shot-holes, and the streets and
interiors of the houses are choked up with rubbish. The entrance to
the convent lies through the courtyard of the Turkish barracks,
where there seemed to be a great deal of bustle, and where we had an
opportunity of noticing how wretchedly clad, and still more
miserably shod, the Turkish soldiers are. These blemishes are not
so much observed when the men are seen singly at their posts.

The convent here is very small, being in fact only a dwelling-house
to which a chapel is attached. Two monks and a lay brother form the
whole household.

Scarcely had I established myself in my room, before a very polite
lady entered, who introduced herself to me as the wife of a surgeon
in the service of the pacha here. She stated that her husband was
at present absent at Constantinople, and added that she was in the
habit of spending several hours in the convent every evening to do
the honours of the house! This assertion struck me as so strange,
that I should certainly have remained dumb had not my visitor been a
very agreeable, polite French lady. As it was, however, we chatted
away the evening pleasantly together, until the supper-bell summoned
us to the refectory. All that I saw in this convent was in direct
contrast to the arrangement of the comfortable establishment of the
Carmelites. The refectory here is astonishingly dirty; the whole
furniture consists of two dingy tables and some benches; the table-
cloth, plates, etc. wore the prevailing livery; and the fare was
quite in keeping with every thing else. We supped at two tables;
the gentlemen and the reverend fathers sitting at one, while the
French lady and myself occupied the other.

June 19th.

As we were not to travel far to-day, we did not set out until ten
o'clock, when we started in company of several Franks who were in
the pacha's service. They led us into a park by the roadside
belonging to the mother of the Sultan. Here the pacha usually
resides during the summer. In half an hour's time we reached this
park. The garden is rather handsome, but does not display many
plants except lemon, orange, pomegranate, and cypress trees. The
display of flowers was not very remarkable; for not only could we
discover no rare or foreign plants, but we also missed many flowers
which grow plentifully in our gardens at home. A few kiosks are
here to be seen, but every thing seemed miserably out of repair.

The residence of the pacha, situated outside the gardens, has a more
inviting appearance. We paid our respects to his highness, who
received us very graciously, and caused us to be regaled with the
usual beverages. No sooner had the high ladies in the harem learnt
that a Frankish woman was in their territory, than they sent to
invite me to visit them. I gladly accepted this invitation, the
more so as it offered an opportunity of gratifying my curiosity. I
was conducted to another part of the house, where I stepped into a
chamber of middle size, the floor of which was covered with mats and
carpets, while on cushions ranged round the walls reclined beauties
of various complexions, who seemed to have been collected from every
quarter of the globe. One of these women, who was rather elderly,
appeared to be the pacha's chief wife, for all the rest pointed to
her. The youngest lady seemed about eighteen or nineteen years of
age, and was the mother of a child eight months old, with which they
were all playing as with a doll; the poor little thing was handed
about from hand to hand. These ladies were dressed exactly like the
daughters of the consul at Joppa, whose costume I have described. I
did not see any signs of particular beauty, unless the stoutness of
figure so prevalent here is considered in that light. I saw,
however, a woman with one eye, a defect frequently observed in the
East. Female slaves were there of all shades of colour. One wore a
ring through her nose, and another had tastefully painted her lips
blue. Both mistresses and slaves had their eyebrows and eyelashes
painted black, and their nails and the palm of the hand stained a
light-brown with the juice of the henna.

The Oriental women are ignorant and inquisitive in the highest
degree; they can neither read nor write, and the knowledge of a
foreign language is quite out of the question. It is very rarely
that one of them understands embroidering in gold. Whenever I
happened to be writing in my journal, men, women, and children would
gather round me, and gaze upon me and my book with many signs and
gestures expressive of astonishment.

The ladies of the harem seemed to look with contempt upon employment
and work of every kind; for neither here nor elsewhere did I see
them do any thing but sit cross-legged on carpets and cushions,
drinking coffee, smoking nargile, and gossiping with one another.
They pressed me to sit down on a cushion, and then immediately
surrounded me, endeavouring, by signs, to ask many questions. First
they took my straw hat and put it upon their heads; then they felt
the stuff of my travelling robe; but they seemed most of all
astonished at my short hair, {165} the sight of which seemed to
impress these poor ignorant women with the idea that nature had
denied long hair to the Europeans. They asked me by signs how this
came to pass, and every lady came up and felt my hair. They seemed
also very much surprised that I was so thin, and offered me their
nargile, besides sherbet and cakes. On the whole, our conversation
was not very animated, for we had no dragoman to act as interpreter,
so that we were obliged to guess at what was meant, and at length I
sat silently among these Orientals, and was heartily glad when, at
the expiration of an hour, my friends sent to fetch me away. At a
later period of my journey I frequently visited harems, and
sometimes considerable ones; but I found them all alike. The only
difference lay in the fact that some harems contained more beautiful
women and slaves, and that in others the inmates were more richly
clad; but every where I found the same idle curiosity, ignorance,
and apathy. Perhaps they may be more happy than European women; I
should suppose they were, to judge from their comfortable figures
and their contented features. Corpulence is said frequently to
proceed from a good-natured and quiet disposition; and their
features are so entirely without any fixed character and expression,
that I do not think these women capable of deep passions or feeling
either for good or evil. Exceptions are of course to be found even
among the Turkish women; I only report what I observed on the
average.

This day we rode altogether for seven hours. We passed a beautiful
orange-grove; for the greater part of the way our road led through
deep sand, close by the sea-shore; but once we had to pass a
dreadfully dangerous place called the "White Mount," one extremity
of which rises out of the sea. This once passed, we soon come upon
the beautiful far-stretching aqueduct which I noticed on my journey
from Joppa to Jerusalem. It traverses a portion of this fruitful
plain.

We could not enter the little town of Sur, the goal of this day's
journey, as it was closed on account of the plague. We therefore
passed by, and pitched our tents beside a village, in the
neighbourhood of which large and splendid cisterns of water, hewn in
the rock, are to be seen. The superfluous water from these cisterns
falls from a height of twenty or thirty feet, and after turning a
mill-wheel, flows through the vale in the form of a brook.

CHAPTER XI.

River Mishmir--Saida--Arnauts--Desert-path--Residence of Lady Hester
Stanhope--Beyrout--The consul's--Uncomfortable quarters--Sickness--
The Bazaar--Vexatious delays--Departure from Beyrout--Beautiful
views--Syrian costumes--Damascus--Aspect of the city--House of the
consul.

June 20th.

Shortly after five this morning we were in our saddles, and a few
hours afterwards arrived at the beautiful river Mishmir, which is as
broad as the Jordan, though it does not contain nearly so much
water. Next to the Jordan, however, this river is the largest we
find on our journey, besides being a most agreeable object in a
region so destitute of streams. Its water is pure as crystal.

In ten hours we reached the town, and at once repaired to the
convent, as not one of these cities contains an inn. The little
convent, with its tiny church, is situate at the end of a large
courtyard, which is so thronged with horses and men, particularly
with soldiers, that we had great difficulty in forcing our way
through. When we had at length cleared a passage for ourselves to
the entrance, we were received with the agreeable intelligence that
there was no room for us. What was to be done? We thought
ourselves lucky in obtaining a little room where we could pass the
night in a house belonging to a Greek family; beds were, however,
out of the question; we had to lie on the hard stones. In the
courtyard a kind of camp had been pitched, in which twelve state-
horses of the Emir {167} of Lebanon (creatures of the true Arab
breed) were bivouacking among a quantity of Arnauts.

The Arnaut soldiers are universally feared, but more by friend than
foe. They are very turbulent, and behave in an overbearing manner
towards the people. The Count, my fellow-traveller, was even
insulted in the street, not by a peasant, but by one of these
military fellows. These ill-disciplined troops are assembled every
where, in order that they may be ready to attack whenever a
disturbance occurs between the Druses and Maronites. I consider,
however, that the Arnauts are much more to be feared than either the
Druses or the Maronites, through whose territories we afterwards
journeyed without experiencing, in a single instance, either insult
or injury. I hardly think we should have escaped so well had we
encountered a troop of these wild horsemen.

Among all the Turkish soldiers the Arnauts are the best dressed;
with their short and full white skirts of linen or lawn, and tight
trousers of white linen, a scarf round the middle, and a white or a
red spencer, they closely resemble the Albanians.

June 21st.

This was a most fatiguing day, although we did not ride for more
than ten hours; but this ten hours' journey was performed without
even a quarter of an hour's rest, though the thermometer stood at 33
degrees Reaumur. Our path lay through a sandy desert, about two
miles in breadth, running parallel with the mountain-range from
Saida to Beyrout. The monotony of the steppe is only broken at
intervals by heaps of sand. The surface of the sand presents the
appearance of a series of waves; the particles of which it is
composed are very minute, and of a fine yellowish-brown colour. A
beautiful fertile valley adjoins this desert, and stretches towards
Mount Lebanon, on whose brown rocky surface several villages can be
descried.

This mountain-range has a most imposing appearance. White rocks and
strata of white sand shine forth from its broad and generally barren
expanse like fields of snow.

The residence of the late Lady Hester Stanhope can be seen in the
distance on the declivity of the mountain.

During our long ride of ten hours we did not pass a single tank,
spring, or even pool, and all the river-beds on our way were
completely dried up by the heat. Not a tree could we see that could
shelter us for a moment from the glaring heat of the sun. It was a
day of torment for us and for our poor beasts. Two of our brave
horses sank from exhaustion, and could go no farther, though
relieved of their burdens; we were obliged to leave the poor
creatures to perish by the wayside.

At three in the afternoon we at length arrived at Beyrout, after
having bravely encountered, during ten consecutive days, the toil
and hardship inseparable from a journey through Syria.

The distance from Jerusalem to Beyrout is about 200 miles, allowing
for the circuitous route by way of Tabarith, which travellers are
not, however, compelled to take. From Jerusalem to Nazareth is 54
miles; from Nazareth across Mount Tabor to Tabarith and back again
31 miles; from Nazareth to Mount Carmel, Haifas, and Acre, 46 miles;
and from Acre to Beyrout 69 miles; making the total 200 miles.

Our poor horses suffered dreadfully during this journey; for they
were continually obliged either to climb over rocks, stones, and
mountains, or to wade through hot sand, in which they sank above the
fetlocks at every step. It would have been a better plan had we
only engaged our horses from Jerusalem to Nazareth, where we could
have procured fresh ones to carry us on to Beyrout. We had been
told at Jerusalem that it was sometimes impossible to obtain horses
at Nazareth, and so preferred engaging our beasts at once for the
whole journey. On arriving at Nazareth we certainly discovered that
we had been deceived, for horses are always to be had there in
plenty; but as the contract was once made, we were obliged to abide
by it.

During the ten days of our journey the temperature varied
exceedingly. By day the heat fluctuated between 18 and 39 degrees
Reaumur; the nights too were very changeable, being sometimes
sultry, and sometimes bitterly cold.

BEYROUT

lies in a sandy plain; but the mulberry-trees by which it is
surrounded impart to this city an air of picturesque beauty. Still
we wade every where, in the streets, gardens, and alleys, through
deep sand. Viewed from a distance, Beyrout has a striking effect, a
circumstance I had remarked on my first arrival there from
Constantinople; but it loses considerably on a nearer approach. I
did not enjoy walking through the town and its environs; but it was
a great pleasure to me to sit on a high terrace in the evening, and
look down upon the landscape. The dark-blue sky rose above the
distant mountains, the fruitful valley, and the glittering expanse
of ocean. The golden sun was still illumining the peaks of the
mountains with its farewell rays, until at length it sunk from view,
shrouding every thing in a soft twilight. Then I saw the
innumerable stars shine forth, and the moon shed its magic light
over the nocturnal landscape; and that mind can scarcely be called
human which does not feel the stirring of better feelings within it
at such a spectacle. Truly the temple of the Lord is every where;
and throughout all nature there is a mysterious something that tells
even the infidel of the omnipresence of the Great Spirit. How many
beautiful evenings did I not enjoy at Beyrout! they were, in fact,
the only compensation for the grievous hardships I was obliged to
endure during my stay in this town.

In the inn I could again not find a single room, and was this time
much more at a loss to find a place of shelter than I had been
before; for our host's wife had gone out of town with her children,
and had let her private house; so I sat, in the fullest sense of the
word, "in the street." A clergyman, whose acquaintance I had made
in Constantinople, and who happened just then to be at Beyrout, took
compassion upon me, and procured me a lodging in the house of a
worthy Arab family just outside the town. Now I certainly had a
roof above my head, but I could not make myself understood; for not
a soul spoke Italian, and my whole knowledge of Arabic was comprised
in the four words: taib, moi, sut, mafish--beautiful, water, milk,
and nothing.

With so limited a stock of expressions at my command, I naturally
could not make much way, and the next day I was placed in a very
disagreeable dilemma. I had hired a boy to show me the way to a
church, and explained to him by signs that he was to wait to conduct
me home again. On emerging from the church I could see nothing of
my guide. After waiting for some time in vain, I was at length
compelled to try and find my way alone.

The house in which I lived stood in a garden of mulberry-trees, but
all the houses in the neighbourhood were built in the same style,
each having a tower attached, in which there is a habitable room;
all these dwellings stand in gardens planted with mulberry-trees,
some of them not separated from each other at all, and the rest
merely by little sand-hills. Flowers and vegetables are nowhere to
be seen, nor is the suburb divided into regular streets; so that I
wandered in an endless labyrinth of trees and houses. I met none
but Arabs, whose language I did not understand, and who could,
therefore, give me no information. So I rushed to and fro, until at
length, after a long and fatiguing pilgrimage, I was lucky enough to
stumble on the house I wanted. Unwilling to expose myself to such a
disagreeable adventure a second time, I thought it would be
preferable to dwell within the town; and therefore hired the young
guide before mentioned to conduct me to the house of the Austrian
Consul-General Herr von A. Unfortunately this gentleman was not
visible to such an insignificant personage as myself, and sent me
word that I might come again in a few hours. This was a true "Job's
message" for me, as far as consolation went. The heat was most
oppressive; I had now entered the town for the second time, to be
sent once more back to the glowing sands, with permission to "come
again in a few hours." Had I not been uncommonly hardy, I should
have succumbed. But luckily I knew a method to help myself. I
ordered my little guide to lead me to the house in which the wife of
Battista the innkeeper had lived.

During my previous residence at Beyrout I had accidentally heard
that a French lady lodged in the same house, and occupied herself
with the education of the children. I went to call on this French
lady, and was lucky enough to find her; so I had, at any rate, so
far succeeded that I had found a being with whom I could converse,
and of whom I might request advice and assistance. My new
acquaintance was an extremely cordial maiden lady about forty years
of age. Her name was Pauline Kandis. My unfortunate position
awakened her compassion so much, that she placed her own room at my
disposal for the time being. I certainly saw that my present
quarters left much to be desired, for my kind entertainer's lodging
consisted of a single room, divided into two parts by several tall
chests; the foremost division contained a large table, at which four
girls sat and stood at their lessons. The second division formed a
kind of lumber-room, redolent of boxes, baskets, and pots, and
furnished with a board, laid on an old tub, to answer the purposes
of a table. My condition was, however, so forlorn, that I took
joyful possession of the lumber-room assigned to me. I immediately
departed with my boy-guide, and by noon I was already installed,
with bag and baggage, in the dwelling of my kind hostess. But there
was no more walking for me that day. What with the journey and my
morning's peregrinations I was so exhausted that I requested nothing
but a resting-place, which I found among the old chests and baskets
on the floor. I was right glad to lie down, and court the rest that
I needed so much.

At seven o'clock in the evening the school closed. Miss K. then
took her leave, and I remained sole occupant of her two rooms, which
she only uses as school-rooms, for she sleeps at her brother's
house.

My lodging at Miss K.'s was, however, the most uncomfortable of any
I had yet occupied during my entire journey.

From eight o'clock in the morning until seven at night four or five
girls, who did any thing rather than study, were continually in the
room. The whole day long there was such a noise of shouting,
screaming, and jumping about, that I could not hear the sound of my
own voice. Moreover, the higher regions of this hall of audience
contained eight pigeons' nests; and the old birds, which were so
tame that they not only took the food from our plates, but stole it
out of our very mouths, fluttered continually about the room, so
that we were obliged to look very attentively at every chair on
which we intended to sit down. On the floor a cock was continually
fighting with his three wives; and a motherly hen, with a brood of
eleven hopeful ducks, cackled merrily between. I wonder that I did
not contract a squint, for I was obliged continually to look upwards
and downwards lest I should cause mischief, and lest mischief should
befall me. During the night the heat and the stench were almost
insupportable; and immediately after midnight the cock always began
to crow, as if he earned his living by the noise he made. I used to
open the window every night to make a passage of escape for the heat
and the foul air, while I lay down before the door, like Napoleon's
Mameluke, to guard the treasures entrusted to my care. But on the
second night two wandering cats had already discovered my
whereabouts--without the least compunction they stepped quietly over
me into the chamber, and began to raise a murderous chase. I
instantly jumped up and drove away the robbers; and from that time
forward I was obliged to remain in the interior of my fortress,
carefully to barricade all the windows, and bear my torments with
what fortitude I might.

Our diet was also of a very light description. A sister-in-law of
the good Pauline was accustomed to send in our dinner, which
consisted one day of a thimbleful of saffron-coloured pilau, while
the next would perhaps bring half the shoulder of a small fish. Had
I boarded with my hostess, I should have kept fast-day five days in
the week, and have had nothing to eat on the remaining two. I
therefore at once left off dining with them, and used to cook a good
German dish for myself every day. In the morning I asked for some
milk, in order to make my coffee after the German fashion. Yet I
think that some of our adulterators of milk must have penetrated
even to Syria, for I found it as difficult to obtain pure goats'
milk here as to get good milk from the cow in my own country.

My bedstead was formed out of an old chest, and my sole employment
and amusement was idling. I had not a book to read, no table to
write on; and if I once really succeeded in getting something to
read or made an attempt at writing, the whole tribe of youngsters
would come clustering round, staring at my book or at my paper. It
would certainly have been useless to complain, but yet I could not
always entirely conceal the annoyance I felt.

My friends must pardon me for describing my cares so minutely, but I
only do so to warn all those who would wish to undertake a journey
like mine, without being either very rich, very high-born, or very
hardy, that they had much better remain at home.

As I happened to be neither rich nor high-born, the Consul would not
receive me at all the first time I called upon him, although the
captain of a steamer had been admitted to an audience just before I
applied. A few days afterwards I once more waited upon the Consul,
told him of my troubles, and stated plainly how thankful I should
feel if any one would assist me so far as to procure me a
respectable lodging, for which I would gladly pay, and where I could
remain until an opportunity offered to go to Alexandria; the worthy
Consul was kind enough to reply to my request with a shake of the
head, and with the comforting admission that "he was very sorry for
me--it was really extremely unfortunate." I think the good
gentleman must have left all his feeling at home before settling in
Syria, otherwise he would never have dismissed me with a few
frivolous speeches, particularly as I assured him that I was
perfectly well provided with money, and would bear any expense, but
added that it was possible to be placed in positions where want of
advice was more keenly felt than want of means. During the whole of
my residence at Beyrout, my countryman never troubled himself any
more about me.

During my stay here I made an excursion to the grotto, said to be
the scene of St. George's combat with the dragon; this grotto is
situate to the right of the road, near the quarantine-house. The
ride thither offers many fine views, but the grotto itself is not
worth seeing.

Frequently in the evening I went to visit an Arab family, when I
would sit upon the top of the tower and enjoy the sight of the
beautiful sunset.

A very strong military force was posted at Beyrout, consisting
entirely of Arnauts. They had pitched their tents outside the town,
which thus wore the appearance of a camp. Many of these towns do
not contain barracks; and as the soldiers are not here quartered in
private houses, they are compelled to bivouack in the open field.

The bazaar is very large and straggling. On one occasion I had the
misfortune to lose myself among its numerous lanes, from which it

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