Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

A Visit to the Holy Land by Ida Pfeiffer

Part 4 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

took me some time to extricate myself; I had an opportunity of
seeing many of the articles of merchandise, and an immense number of
shops, but none which contained any thing very remarkable. Once
more I found how prone people are to exaggerate. I had been warned
to abstain from walking in the streets, and, above all, to avoid
venturing into the bazaar. I neglected both pieces of advice, and
walked out once or twice every day during my stay, without once
meeting with an adventure of any kind.

I had already been at Beyrout ten long, long days, and still no
opportunity offered of getting to Alexandria. But at the end of
June the worthy artist Sattler, whose acquaintance I had made at
Constantinople, arrived here. He found me out, and proposed that I
should travel to Damascus with Count Berchtold, a French gentleman
of the name of De Rousseau, and himself, instead of wasting my time
here. This proposition was a welcome one to me, for I ardently
desired to be released from my fowls' nest. My arrangements were
soon completed, for I took nothing with me except some linen and a
mattress, which were packed on my horse's back.


July 1st.

At one o'clock in the afternoon we were all assembled before the
door of M. Battista's inn, and an hour later we were in our saddles
hastening towards the town-gate. At first we rode through a deep
sea of sand surrounding the town; but soon we reached the beautiful
valley which lies stretched at the foot of the Anti-Libanus, and
afterwards proceeded towards the range by pleasant paths, shaded by
pine-woods and mulberry-plantations.

But now the ascent of the magnificent Anti-Libanus became steeper
and more dangerous, as we advanced on rocky paths, often scarcely a
foot in breadth, and frequently crossed by fissures and brooklets.
Some time elapsed before I could quite subdue my fear, and could
deliver myself wholly up to the delight of contemplating these grand
scenes, so completely new to us Europeans, leaving my horse, which
planted its feet firmly and without once stumbling among the blocks
of stone lying loosely on each other, to carry me as its instinct
directed; for these horses are exceedingly careful, being well used
to these dangerous roads. We could not help laughing heartily at
our French companion, who could not screw up his courage
sufficiently to remain on his horse at the very dangerous points.
At first he always dismounted when we came to such a spot; but at
length he grew weary of eternally mounting and dismounting, and
conquered his fear, particularly when he observed that we depended
so entirely on the sagacity of our steeds, and gave ourselves
completely up to the contemplation of the mountains around us. It
is impossible adequately to describe the incomparable forms of this
mountain-range. The giant rocks, piled one above the other, glow
with the richest colours; lovely green valleys lie scattered
between; while numerous villages are seen, sometimes standing
isolated on the rocks, and at others peering forth from among the
deep shade of the olive and mulberry trees.

[Illustration 6. Lebanon. ill6.jpg]

The sun sinking into the sea shot its last rays through the clear
pure air towards the highest peaks of the mighty rocks. Every thing
united to form a picture which when once seen can never be

The tints of the rocky masses are peculiarly remarkable; exhibiting
not only the primary colours, but many gradations, such as bluish-
green, violet, etc. Many rocks were covered with a red coating
resembling cinnabar, in several places we found small veins of pure
sulphur, and each moment something new and wonderful met our gaze.
The five hours which we occupied in riding from Beyrout to the
village of Elhemsin passed like five minutes. The khan of Elhemsin
was already occupied by a caravan bringing wares and fruit from
Damascus, so that we had nothing for it but to raise our tent and
encamp beneath it.

July 2d.

The rising sun found us prepared for departure, and soon we had
reached an acclivity from whence we enjoyed a magnificent view.
Before us rose the lofty peaks of Lebanon and Anti-Libanus, partly
covered with snow; while behind us the mountains, rich in vineyards,
olive-plantations, and pine-woods, stretched downward to the sea-
shore. We had mounted to such a height, that the clouds soaring
above the sea and the town of Beyrout lay far beneath us, shrouding
the city from our gaze.

Vineyards are very common on these mountains. The vines do not,
however, cling round trees for support, nor are they trained up
poles as in Austria; they grow almost wild, the stem shooting
upwards to a short distance from the ground, towards which the vine
then bends. The wine made on these mountains is of excellent
quality, rather sweet in flavour, of a golden-yellow colour, and
exceedingly fiery.

We still continued to climb, without experiencing much inconvenience
from the heat, up a fearful dizzy path, over rocks and stones, and
past frightful chasms. Our leathern bottles were here useless to
us, for we had no lack of water; from every crevice in the rocks a
clear crystal flood gushed forth, in which the gorgeously-coloured
masses of stone were beautifully mirrored.

After a very fatiguing ride of five hours we at length reached the
ridge of the Anti-Libanus, where we found a khan, and allowed
ourselves an hour's rest. The view from this point is very
splendid. The two loftiest mountain-ridges of Lebanon and Anti-
Libanus enclose between them a valley which may be about six miles
long, and ten or twelve broad. Our way led across the mountain's
brow and down into this picturesque valley, through which we
journeyed for some miles to the village of Maschdalanscher, in the
neighbourhood of which place we pitched our tents.

It is, of course, seldom that a European woman is seen in these
regions, and thus I seemed to be quite a spectacle to the
inhabitants; at every place where we halted many women and children
would gather round me, busily feeling my dress, putting on my straw
hat, and looking at me from all sides, while they endeavoured to
converse with me by signs. If they happened to have any thing
eatable at hand, such as cucumbers, fruits, or articles of that
description, they never failed to offer them with the greatest good-
nature, and seemed highly rejoiced when I accepted some. On the
present evening several of these people were assembled round me, and
I had an opportunity of noticing the costume of this mountain tribe.
Excepting the head-dress, it is the same as that worn throughout all
Palestine, and indeed in the whole of Syria; the women have blue
gowns, and the men, white blouses, wide trousers, and a sash:
sometimes the women wear spencers, and the more wealthy among them
even display caftans and turbans. The head-dress of the women is
very original, but does not look remarkably becoming. They wear on
their foreheads a tin horn more than a foot in length, and over this
a white handkerchief, fastened at the back and hanging down in
folds. This rule, however, only applies to the wealthier portion of
the community, which is here limited enough. The poorer women wear
a much smaller horn, over which they display an exceedingly dingy
handkerchief. During working hours they ordinarily divest
themselves of these ornaments, as they would render it impossible to
carry loads on the head. The rich inhabitants of the mountains,
both male and female, dress in the Oriental fashion; but the women
still retain the horn, which is then made of silver.

The village of Maschdalanscher is built of clay huts thatched with
straw. I saw many goats and horned cattle, and a good store of corn
lay piled up before the doors.

We were assured that the roads through the mountains inhabited by
the Druses and Maronites were very unsafe, and we were strongly
urged to take an escort with us; but as we met caravans almost every
hour, we considered this an unnecessary precaution, and arrived
safely without adventure of any kind at Damascus.

July 3d.

This morning we rode at first over a very good road, till at length
we came upon a ravine, which seemed hardly to afford us room to
pass. Closer and more closely yet did the rocky masses approach
each other, as we passed amongst the loose shingle over the dry bed
of a river. Frequently the space hardly admitted of our stepping
aside to allow the caravans we met to pass us. Sometimes we
thought, after having painfully laboured through a ravine of this
kind, that we should emerge into the open field; but each time it
was only to enter a wilder and more desert pass. So we proceeded
for some hours, till the rocky masses changed to heaps of sand, and
every trace of vegetation disappeared. At length we had climbed the
last hill, and Damascus, "the vaunted city of the East," lay before

It is certainly a striking sight when, escaping from the
inhospitable domains of the mountain and the sandhill, we see
stretched at our feet a great and luxuriant valley, forming in the
freshness of its vegetation a singular contrast to the desert region
around. In this valley, amid gardens and trees innumerable, extends
the town, with its pretty mosques and slender lofty minarets; but I
was far from finding the scene so charming that I could have
exclaimed with other travellers, "This is the most beauteous spot on

The plain in which Damascus lies runs on at the foot of the Anti-
Libanus as far as the mountain of Scheik, and is shut in on three
sides by sandhills of an incomparably dreary appearance. On the
fourth side the plain loses itself in the sandy desert. This valley
is exceedingly well watered by springs descending from all the
mountains, which we could not, however, see on our approach; but no
river exists here. The water rushes forth but to disappear beneath
the sand, and displays its richness only in the town and its
immediate neighbourhood.

From the hill whence we had obtained the first view of Damascus, we
have still a good two miles to ride before we reach the plantations.
These are large gardens of mish-mish, walnut, pomegranate, orange,
and lemon trees, fenced in with clay walls, traversed by long broad
streets, and watered by bubbling brooks. For a long time we
journeyed on in the shade of these fruitful woods, till at length we
entered the town through a large gate. Our enthusiastic conceptions
of this renowned city were more and more toned down as we continued
to advance.

The houses in Damascus are almost all built of clay and earth, and
many ugly wooden gables and heavy window-frames give a disagreeable
ponderous air to the whole. Damascus is divided into several parts
by gates, which are closed soon after sunset. We passed through a
number of these gates, and also through the greater portion of the
bazaar, on our road to the Franciscan convent.

We had this day accomplished a journey of more than twenty-four
miles, in a temperature of 35 to 36 degrees Reaum., and had suffered
much from the scorching wind, which came laden with particles of
dust. Our faces were so browned, that we might easily have been
taken for descendants of the Bedouins. This was the only day that I
felt my eyes affected by the glare.

Although we were much fatigued on arriving at the convent, the first
thing we did, after cleansing ourselves from dust and washing our
burning eyes, was to hasten to the French and English consuls, so
eager were we to see the interior of some of these clay huts.

A low door brought us into a passage leading to a large yard. We
could have fancied ourselves transported by magic to the scene of
one of the fantastic "Arabian Nights," for all the glory of the East
seemed spread before our delighted gaze. In the midst of the
courtyard, which was paved with large stones, a large reservoir,
with a sparkling fountain, spread a delightful coolness around.
Orange and lemon trees dipped their golden fruit into the crystal
flood; while at the sides flower-beds, filled with fragrant roses,
balsams, oleanders, etc., extended to the stairs leading to the
reception-room. Every thing seemed to have been done that could
contribute to ornament this large and lofty apartment, which opened
into the courtyard. Swelling divans, covered with the richest
stuffs, lined the walls, which, tastefully ornamented with mirrors
and painted and sculptured arabesques, and further decked with
mosaic and gilding, displayed a magnificence of which I could not
have formed a conception. In the foreground of this fairy apartment
a jet of water shot upwards from a marble basin. The floor was also
of marble, forming beautiful pictures in the most varied colours;
and over the whole scene was spread that charm so peculiar to the
Orientals, a charm combining the tasteful with the rich and
gorgeous. The apartment in which the women dwell, and where they
receive their more confidential visitors, are similar to the one I
have just described, except that they are smaller, less richly
furnished, and completely open in front. The remaining apartments
also look into the courtyard; they are simply, but comfortably and
prettily arranged.

All the houses of the Orientals are similar to this one, except that
the apartments of the women open into another courtyard than those
of the men.

After examining and admiring every thing to our heart's content, we
returned to our hospitable convent. This evening the clerical
gentlemen entertained us. A tolerably nice meal, with wine and good
bread, restored our exhausted energies to a certain extent.

At Beyrout we were quite alarmed at the warnings we received
concerning the numbers of certain creeping things we should find
here in the bedsteads. I therefore betook myself to bed with many
qualms and misgivings; but I slept undisturbed, both on this night
and on the following one.


The bazaar at Damascus--The khan--Grotto of St. Paul--Fanaticism of
the inhabitants--Departure from Damascus--The desert--Military
escort--Heliopolis or Balbeck--Stupendous ruins--Continuation of our
voyage through the desert--The plague--The Lebanon range--Cedar-
trees--Druses and Maronites--Importunate beggars--Thievish
propensities of the Arabs.

July 4th.

Damascus is one of the most ancient cities of the East, but yet we
see no ruins; a proof that no grand buildings ever existed here, and
that therefore the houses, as they became old and useless, were
replaced by new ones.

To-day we visited the seat of all the riches--the great bazaar. It
is mostly covered in, but only with beams and straw mats. On both
sides are rows of wooden booths, containing all kinds of articles,
but a great preponderance of eatables, which are sold at an
extraordinarily cheap rate. We found the "mish-mish" particularly

As in Constantinople, the rarest and most costly of the wares are
not exposed for sale, but must be sought for in closed store-houses.
The booths look like inferior hucksters' shops, and each merchant is
seen sitting in the midst of his goods. We passed hastily through
the bazaar, in order soon to reach the great mosque, situate in the
midst of it. As we were forbidden, however, not only to enter the
mosque, but even the courtyard, we were obliged to content ourselves
with wondering at the immense portals, and stealing furtive glances
at the interior of the open space beyond. This mosque was
originally a Christian church; and a legend tells that St. George
was decapitated here.

The khan, also situate in the midst of the bazaar, is peculiarly
fine, and is said to be the best in all the East. The high and
boldly-arched portal is covered with marble, and enriched with
beautiful sculptures. The interior forms a vast rotunda, surrounded
by galleries, divided from each other, and furnished with writing-
tables for the use of the merchants. Below in the hall the bales
and chests are piled up, and at the side are apartments for
travelling dealers. The greater portion of the floor and the walls
is covered with marble.

Altogether, marble seems to be much sought after at Damascus. Every
thing that passes for beautiful or valuable is either entirely
composed of this stone, or at least is inlaid with it. Thus a
pretty fountain in a little square near the bazaar is of marble; and
a coffee-house opposite the fountain, the largest and most
frequented of any in Damascus, is ornamented with a few small marble
pillars. But all these buildings, not even excepting the great
bathing-house, would be far less praised and looked at if they stood
in a better neighbourhood. As the case is, however, they shine
forth nobly from among the clay houses of Damascus.

In the afternoon we visited the Grotto of St. Paul, lying
immediately outside the town. On the ramparts we were shewn the
place where the apostle is said to have leaped from the wall on
horseback, reaching the ground in safety, and taking refuge from his
enemies in the neighbouring grotto, which is said to have closed
behind him by miracle, and not to have opened again until his
persecutors had ceased their pursuit. At present, nothing is to be
seen of this grotto excepting a small stone archway, like that of a
bridge. Tombs of modern date, consisting of vaults covered with
large blocks of stone, are very numerous near this grotto.

We paid several more visits, and every where found great pomp of
inner arrangement and decoration, varying of course in different
houses. We were always served with coffee, sherbet, and argile; and
in the houses of the Turks a dreary conversation was carried on
through the medium of an interpreter.

Walks and places of amusement there are none. The number of Franks
resident here is too small to call for a place of general
recreation, and the Turk never feels a want of this kind. The most
he does is to saunter slowly from the bath to the coffee-house, and
there to kill his time with the help of a pipe and a cup of coffee,
staring vacantly on the ground before him. Although the coffee-
houses are more frequented than any other buildings in the East,
they are often miserable sheds, being all small, and generally built
only of wood.

The inhabitants of Damascus wear the usual Oriental garb, but as a
rule I thought them better dressed than in any Eastern town. Some
of the women are veiled, but others go abroad with their faces
uncovered. I saw here some very attractive countenances; and an
unusual number of lovely children's heads looked at me from all
sides with an inquisitive smile.

In reference to religious matters, these people seem very fanatical;
they particularly dislike strangers. For instance, the painter S.
wished to make sketches of the khan, the fountain, and a few other
interesting objects or views. For this purpose he sat down before
the great coffee-house to begin with the fountain; but scarcely had
he opened his portfolio before a crowd of curious idlers had
gathered around him, who, as soon as they saw his intention, began
to annoy him in every possible way. They pushed the children who
stood near against him, so that he received a shock every moment,
and was hindered in his drawing. As he continued to work in spite
of their rudeness, several Turks came and stood directly before the
painter, to prevent him from seeing the fountain. On his still
continuing to persevere, they began to spit upon him. It was now
high time to be gone, and so Mr. S. hastily gathered his materials
together and turned to depart. Then the rage of the rabble broke
noisily forth. They followed the artist yelling and screaming, and
a few even threw stones at him. Luckily he succeeded in reaching
our convent unharmed.

Mr. S. had been allowed to draw without opposition at
Constantinople, Brussa, Ephesus, and several other cities of the
East, but here he was obliged to flee. Such is the disposition of
these people, whom many describe as being so friendly.

The following morning at sunrise Mr. S. betook himself to the
terrace of the convent, to make a sketch of the town. Here too he
was discovered, but luckily not until he had been at work some
hours, and had almost completed his task; so that as soon as the
first stone came flying towards him, he was able quietly to evacuate
the field.

July 5th.

In Damascus we met Count Zichy, who had arrived there with his
servants a few days before ourselves, and intended continuing his
journey to Balbeck to-day.

Count Zichy's original intention had been to make an excursion from
this place to the celebrated town of Palmyra, an undertaking which
would have occupied ten days. He therefore applied to the pacha for
a sufficient escort for his excursion. This request was, however,
refused; the pacha observing, that he had ceased for some time to
allow travellers to undertake this dangerous journey, as until now
all strangers had been plundered by the wandering Arabs, and in some
instances men had even been murdered. The pacha added, that it was
not in his power to furnish so large an escort as would be required
to render this journey safe, by enabling the travellers to resist
all aggressions. After receiving this answer, Count Zichy
communicated with some Bedouin chiefs, who could not guarantee a
safe journey, but nevertheless required 6000 piastres for
accompanying him. Thus it became necessary to give up the idea
altogether, and to proceed instead to Balbeck and to the heights of

At the hour of noon we rode out of the gate of Damascus in company
with Count Zichy. The thermometer stood at 40 degrees Reaumur. Our
procession presented quite a splendid appearance; for the pacha had
sent a guard of honour to escort the Count to Balbeck, to testify
his respect for a relation of Prince M---.

At first our way led through a portion of the bazaar; afterwards we
reached a large and splendid street which traverses the entire city,
and is said to be more than four miles in length. It is so broad,
that three carriages can pass each other with ease, without
annoyance to the pedestrians. It is a pity that this street, which
is probably the finest in the whole kingdom, should be so little
used, for carriages are not seen here any more than in the remaining
portion of Syria.

Scarcely have we quitted this road, before we are riding through
gardens and meadows, among which the country-houses of the citizens
lie scattered here and there. On this side of the city springs also
gush forth and water the fresh groves and the grassy sward. A stone
bridge, of very simple construction, led us across the largest
stream in the neighbourhood, the Barada, which is, however, neither
so broad nor so full of water as the Jordan.

But soon we had left these smiling scenes behind us, and were
wending our way towards the lonely desert. We passed several
sepulchres, a number of which lie scattered over the sandy hills and
plains round us. On the summit of one of these hills a little
monument was pointed out to us, with the assertion that it was the
grave of Abraham. We now rode for hours over flats, hills, and
ridges of sand and loose stones; and this day's journey was as
fatiguing as that of our arrival at Damascus. From twelve o'clock
at noon until about five in the evening we continued our journey
through this wilderness, suffering lamentably from the heat. But
now the wilderness was passed; and suddenly a picture so lovely and
grand unfolded itself before our gaze, that we could have fancied
ourselves transported to the romantic vales of Switzerland. A
valley enriched with every charm of nature, and shut in by gigantic
rocks of marvellous and fantastic forms, opened at our feet. A
mountain torrent gushed from rock to rock, foaming and chafing among
mighty blocks of stone, which, hurled from above, had here found
their resting-place. A natural rocky bridge led across the roaring
flood. Many a friendly hut, the inhabitants of which looked forth
with stealthy curiosity upon the strange visitors, lay half hidden
between the lofty walls. And so our way continued; valley lay
bordered on valley, and the little river which ran bubbling by the
roadside led us past gardens and villages, through a region of
surpassing loveliness, to the great village of Zabdeni, where we at
length halted, after an uninterrupted ride of ten hours and a half.

The escort which accompanied us consisted of twelve men, with a
superior and a petty officer. These troopers looked very
picturesque when, as we travelled along the level road, they went
through some small manoeuvres for our amusement, rushing along on
their swift steeds and attacking each other, one party flying across
the plain, and the other pursuing them as victors.

The character of these children of nature is, on the whole, a very
amiable one. They behaved towards us in an exceedingly friendly and
courteous manner, bringing us fruit and water whenever they could
procure them, leading us carefully by the safest roads, and shewing
us as much attention as any European could have done. But their
idea of _mine_ and _thine_ does not always appear to be very clearly
defined. Once, for instance, we passed through fields in which grew
a plant resembling our pea, on a reduced scale. Each plant
contained several pods, and each pod two peas. Our escort picked a
large quantity, ate the fruit with an appearance of great relish,
and very politely gave us a share of their prize. I found these
peas less tender and eatable than those of my own country, and
returned them to the soldier who had offered them to me, observing
at the same time that I would rather have had mish-mish. On hearing
this he immediately galloped off, and shortly afterwards returned
with a whole cargo of mish-mish and little apples, which had
probably been borrowed for an indefinite period from one of the
neighbouring gardens. I mention these little circumstances, as they
appeared to me to be characteristic. On the one hand, Mr. S. had
been threatened with the fate of St. Stephen for wishing to make a
few sketches; and yet, on the other, these people were so kind and
so ready to oblige.

This region produces abundance of fruit, and is particularly rich in
mish-mish, or apricots. The finest of these are dried; while those
which are over-ripe, or half decayed, are boiled to a pulp in large
pots, and afterwards spread to dry on long smooth boards, in the
form of cakes, about half an inch in thickness. These cakes, which
look like coarse brown leather, are afterwards folded up, and form,
together with the dried mish-mish, a staple article of commerce,
which is exported far and wide. In Constantinople, and even in
Servia, I saw cakes of this description which came from these parts.

The Turks are particularly fond of taking this dried pulp with them
on their journeys. They cut it into little pieces, which they
afterwards leave for several hours in a cup of water to dissolve; it
then forms a really aromatic and refreshing drink, which they
partake of with bread.

From Damascus to Balbeck is a ride of eighteen hours. Count Zichy
wished to be in Balbeck by the next day at noon; we therefore had
but a short night's rest.

The night was so mild and beautiful, that we did not want the tents
at all, but lay down on the bank of a streamlet, beneath the shade
of a large tree. For a long time sleep refused to visit us, for our
encampment was opposite to a coffee-house, where a great hubbub was
kept up until a very late hour. Small caravans were continually
arriving or departing, and so there was no chance of rest. At
length we dropped quietly asleep from very weariness, to be awakened
a few hours afterwards to start once more on our arduous journey.

July 6th.

We rode without halting for eight hours, sometimes through pleasant
valleys, at others over barren unvarying regions, upon and between
the heights of the Anti-Libanus. At the hour of noon we reached the
last hill, and


the "city of the sun," lay stretched before us.

We entered a valley shut in by the highest snow-covered peaks of
Lebanon and Anti-Libanus, more than six miles in breadth and
fourteen or sixteen miles long, belonging to Caelosyria. Many
travellers praise this vale as one of the most beautiful in all

It certainly deserves the title of the 'most remarkable' valley, for
excepting at Thebes and Palmyra we may search in vain for the grand
antique ruins which are here met with; the title of the 'most
beautiful' does not, according to my idea, appertain to it. The
mountains around are desert and bare. The immeasurable plain is
sparingly cultivated, and still more thinly peopled. With the
exception of the town of Balbeck, which has arisen from the ruins of
the ancient city, not a village nor a hut is to be seen. The corn,
which still partly covered the fields, looked stunted and poor; the
beds of the streams were dry, and the grass was burnt up. The
majestic ruins, which become visible directly the brow of the last
hill is gained, atone in a measure for these drawbacks; but we were
not satisfied, for we had expected to see much more than met our

We wended our way along stony paths, past several quarries, towards
the ruins. On reaching these quarries we dismounted, to obtain a
closer view of them. In the right hand one lies a colossal block of
stone, cut and shaped on all sides; it is sixty feet in length,
eighteen in breadth, and thirteen in diameter. This giant block was
probably intended to form part of the Cyclops wall surrounding the
Temple of the Sun, for we afterwards noticed several stones of equal
length and breadth among the ruins. Another to the left side of the
road was remarkable for several grottoes and fragments of rock
picturesquely grouped.

We had sent our horses on to the convent, and now hastened towards
the ruined temples. At the foot of a little acclivity a wall rose
lofty and majestic; it was constructed of colossal blocks of rock,
which seemed to rest firmly upon each other by their own weight,
without requiring the aid of mortar. Three of these stones were
exactly the size of one we had seen in the quarry. Many appeared to
be sixty feet in length, and broad and thick in proportion. This is
the Cyclops wall surrounding the hill on which the temples stand. A
difficult path, over piled-up fragments of marble and pieces of rock
and rubbish, serves as a natural rampart against the intrusion of
camels and horses; and this circumstance alone has prevented these
sanctuaries of the heathen deities from being converted into dirty

When we had once passed this obstruction, delight and wonder
arrested our footsteps. For some moments our glances wandered
irresolutely from point to point; we could fix our attention on
nothing, so great was the number of beauties surrounding us:
splendid architecture--arches rising boldly into the air, supported
on lofty pillars--every thing wore an air so severely classic, and
yet all was gorgeously elegant, and at the same time perfectly

At first we reviewed every thing in a very hasty manner, for our
impulse hurried us along, and we wished to take in every thing at
one glance. Afterwards we began a new and a more deliberate survey.

As we enter a large open courtyard, our eye is caught by numerous
pieces of marble and fragments of columns, some of the latter
resting on tastefully sculptured plinths. Almost every thing here
is prostrate, covered with rubbish and broken fragments, but yet all
looks grand and majestic in its ruin. We next enter a second and a
larger courtyard, above two hundred paces in length and about a
hundred in breadth. Round the walls are niches cut in marble, and
ornamented with the prettiest arabesques. These niches were
probably occupied in former times by statues of the numerous heathen
gods. Behind these are little cells, the dwellings of the priests;
and in the foreground rise six Corinthian pillars, the only trace
left of the great Temple of the Sun. These six pillars, which have
hitherto bid defiance to time, devastation, and earthquakes, are
supposed to be the loftiest and most magnificent in the world.
Nearly seventy feet in height, each pillar a rocky colossus, resting
on a basement twenty-seven feet high, covered with excellent
workmanship, a masterpiece of ancient architecture, they tower above
the Cyclops wall, and look far away into the distance--giant
monuments of the hoary past.

[Illustration 7. Balbeck. ill7.jpg]

How vast thus temple must originally have been is shewn by the
remaining pedestals, from which the pillars have fallen, and lay
strewed around in weather-stained fragments. I counted twenty such
pedestals along the length of the temple, and ten across its

The lesser temple, separated from the greater merely by a wall, lies
deeper and more sheltered from the wind and weather; consequently it
is in better preservation. A covered hall, resting on pillars fifty
feet in height, leads round this temple. Statues of gods and
heroes, beautifully sculptured in marble, and surrounded by
arabesques, deck the lofty arches of this corridor. The pillars
consist of three pieces fastened together with such amazing
strength, that when the last earthquake threw down a column it did
not break, but fell with its top buried in the earth, where it is
seen leaning its majestic height against a hill.

From this hall we pass through a splendid portal into the interior
of the little sanctuary. An eagle with outspread wings overshadows
the upper part of the gate, which is thirty feet in height by twenty
in breadth. The two sides are enriched with small figures prettily
executed, in a tastefully-carved border of flowers, fruit, ears of
corn, and arabesques. This portal is in very good preservation,
excepting that the keystone has slipped from its place, and hangs
threateningly over the entrance, to the terror of all who pass
beneath. But we entered and afterwards returned unhurt, and many
will yet pass unharmed like ourselves beneath the loose stone. We
shall have returned to dust, while the pendent mass will still see
generation after generation roll on.

This lesser temple would not look small by any means, were it not
for its colossal neighbour. On one side nine, and on the other six
pillars are still erect, besides several pedestals from which the
pillars have fallen. Walls, niches, every thing around us, in fact,
is of marble, enriched with sculptured work of every kind. The
sanctuary of the Sun is separated from the nave of the temple by a
row of pillars, most of them prostrate.

To judge from what remains of both these temples, they must
originally have been decorated with profuse splendour. The
costliest statues and bas-reliefs, sculptured in a stone resembling
marble, once filled the niches and halls, and the remains of
tasteful ornaments and arabesques bear witness to the luxury which
once existed here. The only fault seems to have been a redundancy
of decoration.

A subterranean vaulted passage, two hundred and fifty paces in
length and thirty in breadth, traverses this temple. In the midst
of this walk a colossal head is hewn out of the rocky ceiling
representing probably some hero of antiquity. This place is now
converted into a stable for horses and camels!

The little brook Litany winds round the foot of the hill on which
these ruins stand.

We had been cautioned at Damascus to abstain from wandering alone
among these temples; but our interest in all we saw was so great
that we forgot the warning and our fears, and hastened to and fro
without the least protection. We spent several hours here,
exploring every corner, and meeting no one but a few curious
inhabitants, who wished to see the newly-arrived Franks. Herr S.
even wandered through the ruins at night quite alone, without
meeting with an adventure of any kind.

I am almost inclined to think that travellers sometimes detail
attacks by robbers, and dangers which they have not experienced, in
order to render their narrative more interesting. My journey was a
very long one through very dangerous regions; on some occasions I
travelled alone with only one Arab servant, and yet nothing serious
ever happened to me.

Heliopolis is in such a ruined state, that no estimate can be formed
of the pristine size and splendour of this celebrated town.
Excepting the two temples of the Sun, and a very small building in
their vicinity, built in a circular form and richly covered with
sculpture and arabesques, and a few broken pillars, not a trace of
the ancient city remains.

The present town of Balbeck is partly built on the site occupied by
its predecessor; it lies to the right of the temples, and consists
of a heap of small wretched-looking houses and huts. The largest
buildings in the place are the convent and the barracks; the latter
of these presents an exceedingly ridiculous appearance; fragments of
ancient pillars, statues, friezes, etc. having been collected from
all sides, and put together to form a modern building according to
Turkish notions of taste.

We were received into the convent, but could command no further
accommodation than an empty room and a few straw mats. Our
attendant brought us pilau, the every-day dish of the East; but to-
day he surprised us with a boiled fowl, buried beneath a heap of the
Turkish fare. Count Zichy added a few bottles of excellent wine
from Lebanon to the feast; and so we sat down to dinner without
tables or chairs, as merry as mortals need desire to be.

Here, as in most other Eastern towns, I had only to step out on the
terrace-roof of the house to cause a crowd of old and young to
collect, eager to see a Frankish woman in the costume of her
country. Whoever wishes to create a sensation, without possessing
either genius or talent, has only to betake himself, without loss of
time, to the East, and he will have his ambition gratified to the
fullest extent. But whoever has as great an objection to being
stared at as I have, will easily understand that I reckoned this
among the greatest inconveniences of my journey.

July 7th.

At five o'clock in the morning we again mounted our horses, and rode
for three hours through an immense plain, where nothing was to be
seen but scattered columns, towards the foremost promontories of the
Lebanon range. The road towards the heights was sufficiently good
and easy; we were little disturbed by the heat, and brooks caused by
the thawing of snow-fields afforded us most grateful refreshment.
In the middle of the day we took an hour's nap under the shady trees
beside a gushing stream; then we proceeded to climb the heights. As
we journeyed onwards the trees became fewer and farther between,
until at length no soil was left in which they could grow.

The way was so confined by chasms and abysses on the one side, and
walls of rock on the other, that there was scarcely room for a horse
to pass. Suddenly a loud voice before us cried, "Halt!" Startled
by the sound, we looked up to find that the call came from a
soldier, who was escorting a woman afflicted with the plague from a
village where she had been the first victim of the terrible disease
to another where it was raging fearfully. It was impossible to turn
aside; so the soldier had no resource but to drag the sick person
some paces up the steep rocky wall, and then we had to pass close by
her. The soldier called out to us to cover our mouths and noses.
He himself had anointed the lower part of his face with tar, as a
preventive against contagion.

This was the first plague-stricken person I had seen; and as we were
compelled to pass close by her, I had an opportunity of observing
the unfortunate creature closely. She was bound on an ass, appeared
resigned to her fate, and turned her sunken eyes upon us with an
aspect of indifference. I could see no trace of the terrible
disease, except a yellow appearance of the face. The soldier who
accompanied her seemed as cool and indifferent as though he were
walking beside a person in perfect health.

As the plague prevailed to a considerable extent throughout the
valleys of the Lebanon, we were frequently obliged to go some
distance out of our way to avoid the villages afflicted with the
scourge; we usually encamped for the night in the open fields, far
from any habitation.

On the whole long distance from Balbeck to the cedars of Lebanon we
found not a human habitation, excepting a little shepherd's hut near
the mountains. Not more than a mile and a half from the heights we
came upon small fields of snow. Several of our attendants
dismounted and began a snow-balling match,--a wintry scene which
reminded me of my fatherland. Although we were travelling on snow,
the temperature was so mild that not one of our party put on a
cloak. We could not imagine how it was possible for snow to exist
in such a high temperature. The thermometer stood at 9 degrees

A fatiguing and dangerous ride of five hours at length brought us
from the foot to the highest point of Mount Lebanon. Here, for the
first time, we can see the magnitude and the peculiar construction
of the range.

Steep walls of rock, with isolated villages scattered here and there
like beehives, and built on natural rocky terraces, rise on all
sides; deep valleys lie between, contrasting beautifully in their
verdant freshness with the bare rocky barriers. Farther on lie
stretched elevated plateaux, with cows and goats feeding at
intervals; and in the remote distance glitters a mighty stripe of
bluish-green, encircling the landscape like a broad girdle--this is
the Mediterranean. On the flat extended coast several places can be
distinguished, among which the most remarkable is Tripoli. On the
right the "Grove of Cedars" lay at our feet.

For a long time we stood on this spot, and turned and turned again,
for fear of losing any part of this gigantic panorama. On one side
the mountain-range, with its valleys, rocks, and gorges; on the
other the immense plain of Caelosyria, on the verge of which the
ruins of the Sun-temple were visible, glittering in the noontide
rays. Then we climbed downwards and upwards, then downwards once
more, through ravines and over rocks, along a frightful path, to a
little grove of the far-famed cedars of Lebanon. In this direction
the peculiar pointed formation which constitutes the principal charm
of these mountains once more predominates.

The celebrated Grove of Cedars is distant about two miles and a half
from the summit of Lebanon; it consists of between five and six
hundred trees: about twenty of these are very aged, and five
peculiarly large and fine specimens are said to have existed in the
days of Solomon. One tree is more than twenty-five feet in
circumference; at about five feet from the ground it divides into
four portions, and forms as many good-sized trunks.

For more than an hour we rested beneath these ancient monuments of
the vegetable world. The setting sun warned us to depart speedily;
for our destination for the night was above three miles away, and it
was not prudent to travel on these fearful paths in the darkness.

Our party here separated. Count Zichy proceeded with his attendants
to Huma, while the rest of us bent our course towards Tripoli.
After a hearty leave-taking, one company turned to the right and the
other to the left.

We had hardly held on our way for half an hour, before one of the
loveliest valleys I have ever beheld opened at our feet; immense and
lofty walls of rock, of the most varied and fantastic shapes,
surrounded this fairy vale on all sides: in the foreground rose a
gigantic table-rock, on which was built a beautiful village, with a
church smiling in the midst. Suddenly the sound of chimes was borne
upwards towards us on the still clear air; they were the first I had
heard in Syria. I cannot describe the feeling of delicious emotion
this familiar sound caused in me. The Turkish government every
where prohibits the ringing of bells; but here on the mountains,
among the free Maronites, every thing is free. The sound of church-
bells is a simple earnest music for Christian ears, too intimately
associated with the usages of our religion to be heard with
indifference. Here, so far from my native country, they appeared
like links in the mysterious chain which binds the Christians of all
countries in one unity. I felt, as it were, nearer to my hearth and
to my dear ones, who were, perhaps, at the same moment listening to
similar sounds, and thinking of the distant wanderer.

The road leading into this valley was fearfully steep. We were
obliged to make a considerable detour round the lovely village of
Bscharai; for the plague was raging there, which made it forbidden
ground for us. Some distance beyond the village we pitched our camp
beside a small stream. This night we suffered much from cold and

The inhabitants of Bscharai paid us a visit for the purpose of
demanding backsheesh. We had considerable difficulty in getting rid
of them, and were obliged almost to beat them off with sticks to
escape from their contagious touch.

The practice of begging is universal in the East. So soon as an
inhabitant comes in sight, he is sure to be holding out his hand.
In those parts where poverty is every where apparent, we cannot
wonder at this importunity; but we are justly surprised when we find
it in these fruitful valleys, which offer every thing that man can
require; where the inhabitants are well clothed, and where their
stone dwellings look cheerful and commodious; where corn, the grape-
vine, the fig and mulberry tree, and even the valuable potato-plant,
which cannot flourish throughout the greater part of Syria on
account of the heat and the stony soil, are found in abundance.
Every spot of earth is carefully cultivated and turned to the best
account, so that I could have fancied myself among the industrious
German peasantry; and yet these free people beg and steal quite as
much as the Bedouins and Arabs. We were obliged to keep a sharp
watch on every thing. My riding-whip was stolen almost before my
very eyes, and one of the gentlemen had his pocket picked of his

Our march to-day had been very fatiguing; we had ridden for eleven
hours, and the greater part of the road had been very bad. The
night brought us but little relaxation, for our cloaks did not
sufficiently protect us from the cold.


The Lebanon--Druses and Maronites--Illness of Herr Sattler--Djebel
or Byblus--Rocky passes--Dog's-river--Return to Beyrout--Sickness--
Departure for Alexandria--Roguery of the captain--Disagreeables on
board--Limasol--Alarm of pirates--Cowardice of the crew--Arrival at

July 8th.

To-day we quitted our cold hard couch at six o'clock in the morning,
and travelled agreeably for two hours through this romantic valley,
which appeared almost at every step in a new aspect of increased
beauty. Above the village a foaming stream bursts from the mighty
rocks in a beautiful waterfall, irrigates the valley, and then
vanishes imperceptibly among the windings of the ravine. Brooks
similar to this one, but smaller, leapt from the mountains round
about. On the rocky peaks we seem to behold ruined castles and
towers, but discover with astonishment, as we approach nearer, that
what we supposed to be ruins are delusive pictures, formed by the
wonderful masses of rock, grouped one above the other in the most
fantastic forms. In the depths on the one side, grottoes upon
grottoes are seen, some with their entrances half concealed, others
with gigantic portals, above which the wild rocks tower high; on the
other a rich soil is spread in the form of terraces on the rocky
cliffs, forming a lovely picture of refreshing vegetation. Had I
been a painter, it would have been difficult to tear me away from
the contemplation of these regions.

Below the greater waterfall a narrow stone bridge, without
balustrades or railing, leads across a deep ravine, through which
the stream rushes foaming, to the opposite shore. After having once
crossed, we enter upon a more inhabited tract of country, and travel
on between rows of houses and gardens. But many of the houses stood
empty, the inhabitants having fled into the fields, and there
erected huts of branches of trees, to escape the plague. The
Maronites, the real inhabitants of these mountains, are strong
people, gifted with a determined will; they cannot be easily brought
under a foreign yoke, but are ready to defend their liberty to the
death among the natural strongholds of their rocky passes. Their
religion resembles that of the Christians, and their priests are
permitted to marry. The women do not wear veils, but I saw few such
handsome countenances among them as I have frequently observed in
the Tyrol.

On the first mountain-range of Lebanon, in the direction of
Caelosyria, many Druses are found, besides a few tribes of
"Mutualis." The former incline to the Christian faith, while the
latter are generally termed "calf-worshippers." They practise their
religion so secretly, that nothing certain is known concerning it;
the general supposition is, however, that they worship their deity
under the form of a calf.

Our way led onwards, for about six miles from Bscharai, through the
beautiful valleys of the Lebanon. Then the smiling nature changed,
and we were again wandering through sterile regions. The heat, too,
became very oppressive; but every thing would have been borne
cheerfully had there not been an invalid among us.

Herr Sattler had felt rather unwell on the previous day; to-day he
grew so much worse that he could not keep his seat in his saddle,
and fell to the ground half insensible. Luckily we found a cistern
not far off, and near it some trees, beneath which we made a bed of
cloaks for our sick friend. A little water mixed with a few drops
of strong vinegar restored him to consciousness. After the lapse of
an hour, the patient was indeed able to resume his journey; but
lassitude, headache, and feverish shiverings still remained, and we
had a ride of many hours before us ere we could reach our resting-
place for the night. From every hill we climbed the ocean could be
seen at so short a distance that we thought an hour's journeying
must bring us there. But each time another mountain thrust itself
between, which it was necessary to climb. So it went on for many
hours, till at length we reached a small valley with a lofty
isolated mass of rock in the midst, crowned by a ruined castle. The
approach to this stronghold was by a flight of stairs cut in the
rock. From this point our journey lay at least over a better road,
between meadows and fruit-trees, to the little town which we reached
at night-fall. We had a long and weary search before we could
obtain for our sick comrade even a room, destitute of every
appearance of comfort. Poor Herr Sattler, more dead than alive, was
compelled, after a ride of thirteen hours, to take up his lodging on
the hard ground. The room was perfectly bare, the windows were
broken, and the door would not lock. We were fain to search for a
few boards, with which we closed up the windows, that the sick man
might at least be sheltered from the current of air.

I then prepared him a dish of rice with vinegar; this was the only
refreshment we were able to procure.

The rest of us lay down in the yard; but the anxiety we felt
concerning our sick friend prevented us from sleeping much. He
exhibited every symptom of the plague; in this short time his
countenance was quite changed; violent headache and exhaustion
prevented him from moving, and the burning heat added the pangs of
thirst to his other ills. As we had been travelling for the last
day and a half through regions where the pestilence prevailed, it
appeared but too probable that Herr Sattler had been attacked by it.
Luckily the patient himself had not any idea of the kind, and we
took especial care that he should not read our anxiety in our

July 9th.

Heaven be praised, Herr Sattler was better to-day, though too weak
to continue his journey. As we had thus some time on our hands, the
French gentleman and I resolved to embark in a boat to witness the
operation of fishing for sponges, by which a number of the poorer
inhabitants of the Syrian coast gain their livelihood.

A fisherman rowed us about half a mile out to sea, till he came to a
place where he hoped to find something. Here he immersed a plummet
in the sea to sound its depth, and on finding that some thing was to
be gained here, he dived downwards armed with a knife to cut the
sponge he expected to find from the rocks; and after remaining below
the surface for two or three minutes, reappeared with his booty,
When first loosened from the rocks, these sponges are usually full
of shells and small stones, which give them a very strong and
disagreeable smell. They require to be thoroughly cleansed from
dirt and well washed with sea-water before being put into fresh.

After our little water-party, we sallied forth to see the town,
which is very prettily situated among plantations of mulberry-trees
in the vicinity of the sea-coast. The women here are not only
unveiled, but frequently wear their necks bare; we saw some of them
working in their gardens and washing linen; they were half
undressed. We visited the bazaar, intending to purchase a few eggs
and cucumbers for our dinner, and some oranges for our convalescent
friend. But we could not obtain any; and moderate as our wishes
were, it was out of our power to gratify them.

By the afternoon Herr Sattler had so far regained his strength, that
he could venture to undertake a short journey of ten miles to the
little town of Djaebbehl. This stage was the less difficult for our
worthy invalid from the fact that the road lay pleasantly across a
fruitful plain skirting the sea, while a cool sea-breeze took away
the oppressiveness of the heat. The majestic Lebanon bounded the
distant view on the left, and several convents on the foremost chain
of mountains looked down upon the broad vale.

We seemed to have but just mounted our horses when we already
descried the castle of the town to which we were bound rising above
its walls, and soon after halted at a large khan in its immediate
neighbourhood. There were large rooms here in plenty, but all were
empty, and the unglazed windows could not even be closed by

Houses of entertainment of this description barely shield the
traveller from the weather. We took possession of a large entrance-
hall for our night's quarters, and made ourselves as comfortable as
we could.

Count Berchtold and I walked into the town of Djaebbehl (Byblus).
This place is, as I have already mentioned, surrounded by a wall; it
contains also a small bazaar, where we did not find much to buy.
The majority of dwellings are built in gardens of mulberry-trees.
The castle lies rather high, and is still in the condition to which
it was reduced after the siege by the English in 1840; the side
fronting the ocean has sustained most damage. This castle is now
uninhabited, but some of the lower rooms are converted into stables.
Not far off we found some fragments of ancient pillars; an
amphitheatre is said to have once stood here.

July 10th.

To-day Herr Sattler had quite recovered his health, so that we could
again commence our journey, according to custom, early in the
morning. Our road lay continually by the sea-shore. The views were
always picturesque and beautiful, as on the way from Batrun to
Djaebbehl; but to-day we had the additional luxury of frequently
coming upon brooks which flowed from the neighbouring Lebanon, and
of passing springs bursting forth near the seashore; one indeed so
close to the sea, that the waves continually dashed over it.

After riding forward for four hours, we reached the so-called
"Dog's-river," the greatest and deepest on the whole journey. This
stream also has its origin in the heights of the Lebanon, and after
a short course falls into the neighbouring sea.

At the entrance of the valley where the Dog's-river flowed lay a
simple khan. Here we made halt to rest for an hour.

Generally we got nothing to eat during the day, as we seldom or
never passed a village; even when we came upon a house, there was
rarely any thing to be had but coffee: we were therefore the more
astonished to find here fresh figs, cucumbers, butter-milk, and
wine,--things which in Syria make a feast for the gods. We revelled
in this unwonted profusion, and afterwards rode into the valley,
which smiled upon us in verdant luxuriance.

This vale cannot be more than five or six hundred feet in breadth.
On either side high walls rise towering up; and on the left we see
the ruins of an aqueduct quite overgrown with ivy. This aqueduct is
seven or eight hundred paces in length, and extends as far as the
spot where the Dog's-river rushes over rocks and stones, forming not
a lofty, but yet a fine waterfall. Just below this fall a bridge of
Roman architecture, supported boldly on rocky buttresses, unites the
two shores. The road to this bridge is by a broad flight of stone
stairs, upon which our good Syrian horses carried us in perfect
safety both upwards and downwards; it was a fearful, dizzy road.
The river derives its name from a stone lying near it, which is said
to resemble a dog in form. Stones and pieces of rock, against which
the stream rushed foaming, we saw in plenty, but none in which we
could discover any resemblance to a dog. Perhaps the contour has
been destroyed by the action of wind and weather.

Scarcely had we crossed this dangerous bridge when the road wound
sharply round a rock in the small but blooming valley, and we
journeyed towards the heights up almost perpendicular rocks, and
past abysses that overhung the sea.

The rocky mountain we were now climbing juts far out into the sea,
and forms a pass towards the territory of Beyrout which a handful of
men might easily hold against an army. Such a pass may that of
Thermopylae have been; and had these mountaineers but a Leonidas,
they would certainly not be far behind the ancient Spartans.

A Latin inscription on a massive stone slab, and higher up four
niches, two of which contain statues, while the others display
similar inscriptions, seemed to indicate that the Romans had already
known and appreciated the importance of this pass. Unfortunately
both statues and writing were so much injured by the all-destroying
hand of time, that only a man learned in these matters could have
deciphered their meaning. In our party there was no one equal to
such a task.

We rode on for another half-hour, after which the path led downwards
into the territory of Beyrout; and we rode quietly and comfortably
by the sea-side towards this city. Mulberry trees and vineyards
bloomed around us, country-houses and villages lay half hidden
between, and convents crowned the lower peaks of the Lebanon, which
on this side displays only naked rocks, the majority of a bluish-
grey colour.

At a little distance from Beyrout we came upon a second giant
bridge, similar to that over the Dog's-river. Broad staircases, on
which four or five horsemen could conveniently ride abreast, led
upwards and downwards. The steps are so steep, and lie so far
apart, that it seems almost incredible that the poor horses should
be able to ascend and descend upon them. We looked down from a
dizzy height, not upon a river, but upon a dry river-bed.

At five o'clock in the evening we arrived safely at Beyrout; and
thus ended our excursion to the "lovely and incomparable city of the
East," to the world-renowned ruin, and to the venerable Grove of
Cedars. Our tour had occupied ten days; the distance was about 180
miles; namely, from Beyrout to Damascus about 60, from Damascus to
Balbeck 40, and from Balbeck across the Lebanon to Beyrout about 80

Of four-footed beasts, amphibious creatures, birds, or insects, we
had seen nothing. Count Berchtold caught a chameleon, which
unfortunately effected its escape from its prison a few days
afterwards. At night we frequently heard the howling of jackals,
but never experienced any annoyance from them. We had not to
complain of the attacks of insects; but suffered much from the
dreadful heat, besides being frequently obliged to endure hunger and
thirst: the thermometer one day rose to 40 degrees.

In Beyrout I once more put up at the house of the kind French lady.
The first piece of news I heard was that I had arrived twenty-four
hours too late, and had thus missed the English packet-boat; this
was a most annoying circumstance, for the boat in question only
starts for Alexandria once a month (on the 8th or 9th), and at other
times it is a great chance if an opportunity of journeying thither
can be found. On the very next day I hastened to the Austrian
consulate, and begged the Vice-consul, Herr C., to let me know when
a ship was about to start for Egypt, and also to engage a place for
me. I was told that a Greek vessel would start for that country in
two or three days; but these two or three days grew into nineteen.

Never shall I forget what I had to endure in Beyrout. When I could
no longer bear the state of things at night in the Noah's ark of my
good Pauline, I used to creep through the window on to a terrace,
and sleep there; but was obliged each time to retire to my room
before daybreak lest I should be discovered. It is said that
misfortunes seldom happen singly, and my case was not an exception
to the rule. One night I must have caught cold; for in the morning
when I hastened back to my prison, and lay down on the bed to
recover from the effects of my stone couch, I experienced such an
acute pain in my back and hips that I was unable to rise. It
happened to be a Sunday morning, a day on which my kind Pauline did
not come to the house, as there was no school to keep; and so I lay
for twenty-four hours in the greatest pain, without help, unable
even to obtain a drop of water. I was totally unable to drag myself
to the door, or to the place where the water-jug stood. The next
day, I am thankful to say, I felt somewhat better; my Pauline also
came, and prepared me some mutton-broth. By the fourth day I was
once more up, and had almost recovered from the attack.


It was not until the 28th of July that a Greek brig set sail for
Alexandria. At ten o'clock in the evening I betook myself on board,
and the next morning at two we weighed anchor. Never have I bid
adieu to any place with so much joy as I felt on leaving the town of
Beyrout; my only regret was the parting from my kind Pauline. I had
met many good people during my journey, but she was certainly one of
the best.

Unhappily, my cruel fate was not yet weary of pursuing me; and in my
experience I fully realised the old proverb of, "out of the frying-
pan into the fire." On this vessel, and during the time we had to
keep quarantine in Alexandria, I was almost worse off than during my
stay in Beyrout. It is necessary, in dealing with the captain of a
vessel of this description, to have a written contract for every
thing--stating, for instance, where he is to land, how long he may
stay at each place, etc. I mentioned this fact at the consulate,
and begged the gentlemen to do what was necessary; but they assured
me the captain was known to be a man of honour, and that the
precaution I wished to take would be quite superfluous. Upon this
assumption, I placed myself fearlessly in the hands of the man; but
scarcely had we lost sight of land, when he frankly declared that
there were not sufficient provisions and water on board to allow of
our proceeding to Alexandria, but that he must make for the harbour
of Limasol in Cyprus. I was exceedingly angry at this barefaced
fraud, and at the loss of time it would occasion me, and offered all
the opposition I could. But nothing would avail me; I had no
written contract, and the rest of the company offered no active
resistance--so to Cyprus we went.

A voyage in an ordinary sailing-vessel, which is not a packet-boat,
is as wearisome a thing as can be well conceived. The lower portion
of the ship is generally so crammed with merchandise, that the deck
alone remains for the passengers. This was the case on the present
occasion. I was obliged to remain continually on deck: during the
daytime, when I had only my umbrella to shield me from the piercing
rays of the sun; at night, when the dews fell so heavily, that after
an hour my cloak would be quite wet through, in cold and in stormy
weather. They did not even spread a piece of sailcloth by way of
awning. This state of things continued for ten days and eleven
nights, during which time I had not even an opportunity to change my
clothes. This was a double hardship; for if there is a place above
all others where cleanliness becomes imperative to comfort, it is
certainly on board a Greek ship, the generality of which are
exceedingly dirty and disgusting. The company I found did not make
amends for the accommodation. The only Europeans on board were two
young men, who had received some unimportant situation in a
quarantine office from the Turkish government. The behaviour of
both was conceited, stupid, and withal terribly vulgar. Then there
were four students from Alexandria, who boarded at Beyrout, and were
going home to spend the vacation--good-natured but much-neglected
lads of fourteen or fifteen years, who seemed particularly partial
to the society of the sailors, and were always talking, playing, or
quarrelling with them. The remainder of the company consisted of a
rich Arab family, with several male and female negro slaves, and a
few very poor people. And in such society I was to pass a weary
time. Many will say that this was a good opportunity for obtaining
an insight into the customs and behaviour of these people; but I
would gladly have declined the opportunity, for it requires an
almost angelic patience to bear such a complication of evils with
equanimity. Among the Arabs and the lower class of Greeks,
moreover, every thing possessed by one member of the community is
looked upon as public property. A knife, a pair of scissors, a
drinking-glass, or any other small article, is taken from its owner
without permission, and is given back after use without being
cleaned. On the mat, the carpet, or the mattress, which you have
brought on board as bedding, a negro and his master will lie down;
and wherever a vacant space is left, some one is sure to stand or
lie down. Take what precautions you may, it is impossible to avoid
having your person and garments infested by certain very disgusting
parasitical creatures. One day I cleaned my teeth with a
toothbrush; one of the Greek sailors, noticing what I was about,
came towards me, and when I laid the brush down for an instant, took
it up. I thought he only wished to examine it; but no, he did
exactly as I had done, and after cleaning his teeth returned me my
brush, expressing himself entirely satisfied with it.

The diet on board a vessel of this kind is also exceedingly bad.
For dinner we have pilau, stale cheese, and onions; in the evening,
we get anchovies, olives, stale cheese again, and ship-biscuit
instead of bread. These appetising dishes are placed in a tray on
the ground, round which the captains (of whom there are frequently
two or three), the mate, and those passengers who have not come
furnished with provisions of their own, take their places. I did
not take part in these entertainments; for I had brought a few live
fowls, besides some rice, butter, dried bread, and coffee, and
prepared my own meals. The voyage in one of these agreeable ships
is certainly not very dear, if we do not take the discomforts and
privations into account; but these I can really not estimate at too
high a price. For the voyage to Alexandria (a distance of 2000 sea-
miles) I paid sixty piastres; the provisions I took with me cost
thirty more; and thus the entire journey came only to ninety

In general the wind was very unfavourable, so that we frequently
cruised about for whole nights, and awoke in the morning to find
ourselves in almost the same position we had occupied the previous

This is one of the most disagreeable impressions, and one which can
scarcely be described, to be continually driving and driving without
approaching the conclusion of your journey. To my shame I must
confess that I sometimes shed tears of regret and annoyance. My
fellow-passengers could not at all understand why I was so
impatient; for, with their constitutional indolence, they were quite
indifferent as to whether they spent their time for a week or a
fortnight longer in smoking, sleeping, and idling on board or on
shore--whether they were carried to Cyprus or Alexandria. It was
not until the fourth day that we landed at


This place contains pretty houses, some of which are even provided
with slated roofs, and resemble European habitations. Here, for the
first time since my departure from Constantinople, I saw a vehicle;
it was not, however, a coach, but simply a wooden two-wheeled cart,
and is used to transport stones, earth, and merchandise. The region
around Limasol is barren in the extreme, almost like that of
Larnaca, except that the mountains are here much nearer.

We stayed in this port the whole of the day; and now I learnt for
the first time that the captain had not put in here so much on
account of scarcity of provisions, as because he wanted to take in
wine and endeavour to take in passengers. Of the latter, however,
none presented themselves. The wine is very cheap; I bought a
bottle containing about three pints for a piastre. As soon as we
were again at sea, our worthy captain gave out that he wished to
call at Damietta. My patience was at length exhausted. I called
him a cheat, and insisted that he should bend his course to no other
port than to Alexandria, otherwise I should have him brought before
a judge if it cost me a hundred piastres. This remonstrance
produced so much effect upon the captain, that he promised me not to
cast anchor any where else; and, marvellous to relate, he kept his

One other circumstance occurred during this journey which is
interesting as furnishing a sample of the heroism of the modern

On the 5th of August, about noon, our sailors discovered a two-
masted ship in the distance, which altered her course immediately on
perceiving our vessel, and came sailing towards us. It was at once
concluded by all that this ship must be a pirate, else why did she
alter her course and give chase to us? The circumstance was indeed
singular; yet these maritime heroes ought to have been used to all
kinds of adventures, and not at once to have feared the worst,
particularly as, so far as I am aware, the pirate's trade is very
nearly broken up, and attempts of this kind are unprecedented--at
least in these regions.

A painter like Hogarth should have been on board our ship, to mark
the expression of fear and cowardice depicted on the several
countenances. It was wonderful to behold how the poor captains ran
from one end of the ship to the other, and huddled us travellers
together into a heap, recommending us to sit still and keep silence;
how they then hurried away and ran to and fro, making signs and
gestures, while the pale sailors tumbled after them with scared
faces, wringing their hands. Any one who had not witnessed the
scene would think this description exaggerated. What would the
Grecian heroes of antiquity say if they could throw a glance upon
their gallant descendants! Instead of arming themselves and making
preparations, the men ran about in the greatest confusion. We were
in this enviable state when the dreaded pirate came within gunshot;
and the reason of her approach turned out to be that her compass was
broken. The whole scene at once changed, as though a beneficent
fairy had waved her wand. The captains instantly recovered their
dignity, the sailors embraced and jumped about like children, and we
poor travellers were released from durance and permitted to take
part in the friendly interview between the two heroic crews.

The captain who had spoken us asked our gallant leader in what
latitude we were, and hearing that we were sailing to Alexandria,
requested that a lantern should be hung at the mainmast-head, at
which he might look as at a guiding-star.

With the exception of Cyprus, we had seen no land during all our
weary journey. We could only judge when we arrived in the
neighbourhood of Damietta by the altered colour of the sea; as far
as the eye could reach, the beautiful dark-blue wave had turned to
the colour of the yellow Nile. From these tokens I could judge of
the magnitude and volume of that river, which at this season of the
year increases greatly, and had already been rising for two months.

August 7th.

At eight o'clock in the morning we safely reached the quay of


Alexandria--Keeping quarantine--Want of arrangement in the
quarantine house--Bad water--Fumigating of the rooms--Release--
Aspect of the city--Departure by boat for Atfe--Mehemet Ali--Arrival
at Atfe--Excellence of the Nile water--Good-nature of the Arab
women--The Delta of the Nile--The Libyan desert--The pyramids--
Arrival at Cairo.

At first we could only perceive the tops of masts, behind which low
objects seemed to be hiding as they rose from the sea. In a little
time a whole forest of masts appeared, while the objects before
mentioned took the shape of houses peering forth amongst them. At
length the land itself could be distinguished from the surrounding
ocean, and we discerned hills, shrubberies, and gardens in the
vicinity of the town, the appearance of which is not calculated to
delight the traveller, for a large desert region of sand girdles
both city and gardens, giving an air of dreariness to the whole

We cast anchor between the lighthouse and the new hospital. No
friendly boat was permitted to approach and carry us to the wished-
for shore; we came from the land of the plague to enter another
region afflicted with the same scourge, and yet we were compelled to
keep quarantine, for the Egyptians asserted that the Syrian plague
was more malignant than the variety of the disease raging among
them. Thus a compulsory quarantine is always enforced in these
regions, a circumstance alike prejudicial to visitors, commerce, and

We waited with fear and trembling to hear how long a period of
banishment in the hospital should be awarded us. At length came a
little skiff, bringing two guardians (servants of the hospital), and
with them the news that we must remain in the hospital ten days from
the period of our entrance, but that we could not disembark to-day,
as it was Sunday. Excepting at the arrival of the English packet-
boats, the officials have no time to examine vessels on Sundays or
holidays,--a truly Egyptian arrangement. Why could not an officer
be appointed for these days to take care of the poor travellers?
Why should fifty persons suffer for the convenience of one, and be
deprived of their liberty for an extra day? We came from Beyrout
furnished with a Teshkeret (certificate of health) by the
government, besides the voucher of our personal appearance, and yet
we were condemned to a lengthened imprisonment. But Mehemet Ali is
far more mighty and despotic in Egypt than the Sultan in
Constantinople; he commands, and what can we do but obey, and submit
to his superior power?

From the deck of our ship I obtained a view of the city and the
desert region around. The town seems tolerably spacious, and is
built quite in European style.

Of the Turkish town, which lies in the background, we can
distinguish nothing; the proper harbour, situate at the opposite
side of the city, is also invisible, and its situation can only be
discerned from the forest of masts that towers upwards. The eye is
principally caught by two high sand-hills, on one of which stands
Fort Napoleon, while the other is only surmounted by several cannon;
the foreground is occupied by rocky ridges of moderate elevation,
flanked on one side by the lighthouse, and on the other by the new
quarantine buildings. The old quarantine-house lies opposite to the
new one. In several places we notice little plantations of date-
palms, which make a very agreeable impression on the European, as
their appearance is quite new to him.

August 8th.

At seven o'clock this morning we disembarked, and were delivered
with bag and baggage at the quarantine-house. I now trod a new
quarter of the globe, Africa. When I sit calmly down to think of
the past, I frequently wonder how it was that my courage and
perseverance never once left me while I followed out my project step
by step. This only serves to convince me that, if the resolution be
firm, things can be achieved which would appear almost impossible.

I had expected to find neither comfort nor pleasure in the
quarantine-house, and unfortunately I had judged but too well. The
courtyard into which we were shewn was closely locked, and furnished
on all sides with wooden bars; the rooms displayed only four bare
walls, with windows guarded in the same manner. It is customary to
quarter several persons in the same room, and then each pays a share
of the expense. I requested a separate apartment, which one can
also have, but of course at a higher charge. Such a thing as a
chair, a table, or a piece of furniture, was quite out of the
question; whoever wishes to enjoy such a luxury must apply by letter
to an innkeeper of the town, who lends any thing of the kind, but at
an enormously high rate. Diet must be obtained in the same way. In
the quarantine establishment there is no host, every thing must be
procured from without. An innkeeper generally demands between
thirty and forty piastres per diem for dinner and supper. This I
considered a little too exorbitant, and therefore ordered a few
articles of food through one of the keepers. He promised to provide
every thing punctually; but I fear he cannot have understood me, for
I waited in vain, and during the whole of the first day had nothing
to eat. On the second day my appetite was quite ravenous, and I did
not know what to do. I betook myself to the room of the Arab family
who had come in the same ship with me, and were therefore also in
quarantine; I asked for a piece of bread, for which I offered to pay
but the kind woman not only gave me bread, but pressed upon me a
share of all the provisions she was preparing for her family, and
would not be prevailed upon to accept any remuneration; on the
contrary, she explained to me by signs that I was to come to her
whenever I wanted any thing.

It was not until the evening of the second day that, perceiving it
was hopeless to expect any thing from my stupid messenger, I applied
to the chief superintendent of the hospital, who came every evening
at sunset to examine us and to lock us in our rooms. I ordered my
provisions of him, and from this time forward always received them
in proper time.

The keepers were all Arabs, and not one of them could understand or
speak any language but their own; this is also a truly Egyptian
arrangement. I think that in an establishment of this kind, where
travellers from all parts of the world are assembled, it would at
least be advisable to have a person who understands Italian, even if
he cannot speak it. An individual of this kind could easily be
obtained; for Italian, as I afterwards found, is such a well-known
language throughout the East, but particularly at Alexandria and
Cairo, that many people are to be met with, even among the lowest
classes, who understand and can speak it.

The supply of water is also very badly managed. Every morning,
immediately after sunrise, a few skins of water are brought for the
purpose of cleaning the cooking utensils; at nine o'clock in the
morning and five in the afternoon a few camels come laden with skins
of fresh water, which are emptied into two stone tanks in the
courtyard. Then all fill their cooking and drinking vessels, but in
such an untidy way that I felt not the slightest inclination to
drink. One man was ladling out the water with a dirty pot, while
another dabbled in the tank with his filthy hands; and some even put
their dirty feet on the run and washed them, so that some of the
water ran back into the tank. This receptacle is moreover never
cleaned, so that dirt accumulates upon dirt, and the only way to
obtain clear water is by filtering it.

On the second day of my residence here I was exceedingly surprised
to observe that the courtyard, the staircases, the rooms, etc. were
being cleaned and swept with particular care. The mystery was soon
solved; the commissioner appeared with a great stick, and paused at
the threshold of the door to see that the linen, clothes, etc. were
hung up to air, the books opened, and the letters or papers
suspended by strings. No idea can be formed of the stupid nervous
fear of this commissioner. For instance, on passing through the
first room on his way to my apartment, he saw the stalk of a bunch
of grapes lying on the ground. With fearful haste he thrust this
trifling object aside with his stick, for fear his foot should
strike against it in passing; and as he went he continually held his
stick in rest, to keep us plague-struck people at a respectful

On the seventh day of our incarceration we were all sent to our
rooms at nine o'clock in the morning. Doors and windows were then
locked, and great chafing-dishes were brought, and a dreadful odour
of brimstone, herbs, burnt feathers, and other ingredients filled
the air. After we had been compelled to endure this stifling
atmosphere for four or five minutes, the windows and doors were once
more opened. A person of a consumptive habit could scarcely have
survived this inhuman ordeal.

On the ninth day the men were drawn up in a row, to undergo an
examination by the doctor. The old gentleman entered the room, with
a spy-glass in one hand and a stick in the other, to review the
troop. Every man had to strike himself a blow on the chest and
another in the side; if he could do this without feeling pain, it
was considered a sign of health, because the plague-spots appear
first on these parts of the body. On the same day, the women were
led into a large room, where a great female dragoon was waiting for
us to put us through a similar ceremony. Neither men nor women are,
however, required to undress.

A few hours later we were summoned to the iron grating which
separated us from the disinfected people. On the farther side were
seated several officers, to whom we paid the fee for our rooms and
the keepers--the charge was very trifling. My room, with
attendance, only cost me three piastres per diem. But how gladly
would every traveller pay a higher price if he could only have a
table and a few chairs in his apartment, and an attendant who
understood what was said to him!

So far as cleanliness is concerned, there is nothing to complain of;
the rooms, the staircases and the courtyard were kept very neatly,
and the latter was even profusely watered twice a day. We were not
at all annoyed by insects, and we were but little incommoded by the
heat. In the sun the temperature never exceeded 33 degress; and in
the shade the greatest heat was 22 degrees Reaumur.

August 17th.

At seven o'clock this morning our cage was at length opened. Now
all the world rushed in; friends and relations of the voyagers,
ambassadors from innkeepers, porters, and donkey-drivers, all were
merry and joyous, for every one found a friend or an acquaintance,
and I only stood friendless and alone, for nobody hastened towards
me or took an interest in me; but the envoys of the innkeepers, the
porters, and donkey-drivers, cruel generation that they were,
quarrelled and hustled each other for the possession of the solitary

I collected my baggage, mounted a donkey, and rode to "Colombier,"
one of the best inns in Alexandria. Swerving a little from the
direct road, I passed "Cleopatra's Needles," two obelisks of
granite, one of which is still erect, while the other lies prostrate
in the sand at a short distance. We rode through a miserable
poverty-stricken village; the huts were built of stones, but were so
small and low that we can hardly understand how a man can stand
upright in them. The doors were so low that we had to stoop
considerably in entering. I could not discover any signs of
windows. And this wretched village lay within the bounds of the
city, and even within the walls, which inclose such an immense
space, that they not only comprise Alexandria itself, but several
small villages, besides numerous country-houses and a few
shrubberies and cemeteries.

In this village I saw many women with yellowish-brown countenances.
They looked wretched and dirty, and were all clothed in long blue
garments, sitting before their doors at work, or nursing children.
These women were employed in basket-making and in picking corn. I
did not notice any men; they were probably employed in the fields.

I now rode forward across the sandy plain on which the whole of
Alexandria is built, and suddenly, without having passed through any
street, found myself in the great square.

I can scarcely describe the astonishment I felt at the scene before
me. Every where I saw large beautiful houses, with lofty gates,
regular windows, and balconies, like European dwellings; equipages,
as graceful and beautiful as any that can be found in the great
cities of Europe, rolled to and fro amid a busy crowd of men of
various nations. Franks, in the costume of their country, were
distinguished among the turbans and fez-caps of the Orientals; and
tall women, in their blue gowns, wandered amidst the half-naked
forms of the Arabs and Bedouins. Here a negro was running with
argile behind his master, who trotted along on his noble horse;
there Frankish or Egyptian ladies were to be seen mounted on asses.
Coming from the dreary monotony of the quarantine-house, this sight
made a peculiar impression upon me.

Scarcely had I arrived at the hotel before I hastened to the
Austrian consulate, where Herr von L., the government councillor,
received me very kindly. I begged this gentleman to let me know
what would be the first opportunity for me to continue my journey to
Cairo; I did not wish to take passage on board an English steamboat,
as the charge on this vessel for the short distance of about 400 sea
miles is five pounds. The councillor was polite enough to procure
me a berth on board an Arabian barque, which was to start from Atfe
the same evening.

I also learnt at the consulate, that Herr Sattler, the painter, had
arrived by the packet-boat a few days previously, and was now at the
old quarantine-house. I rode out in company with a gentleman to
visit him, and was glad to find him looking very well. He was just
returning from his journey to Palestine.

I found the arrangements in the old quarantine-building rather more
comfortable than those in the new; the establishment is moreover
nearer the town, so that it is easier to obtain the necessaries of
life. On my return, my companion was so kind as to conduct me
through the greater portion of the Turkish town, which appeared to
be better built and more neatly kept than any city of the Turks I
had yet seen. The bazaar is not handsome; it consists of wooden
booths, displaying only the most ordinary articles of merchandise.

On the same day that I quitted the quarantine-house, I rode in the
evening to the Nile Canal, which is twenty-four feet broad and about
twenty-six miles long. A number of vessels lay there, on one of
which a place had been taken for me (the smaller division of the
cabin) as far as Atfe, for the sum of fifteen piastres. I at once
took possession of my berth, made my arrangements for the night and
for the following day, and waited hour after hour till we should
depart. Late in the night I was at length told that we could not
set out to-night at all. To pack up my things again, and to set off
to walk to the inn, a distance of two miles, and to return next
morning, would have been a rather laborious proceeding; I therefore
resolved to remain on board, and sat down among the Arabs and
Bedouins to eat my frugal supper, which consisted of cold

Next day I was told every half-hour that we should depart
immediately, and each time I was again disappointed.

Herr von L. had wished to supply me with wine and provisions for the
passage; but as I had calculated upon being in Atfe to-day at noon,
I had declined his offer with many thanks. But now I had no
provisions; I could not venture into the town on account of the
distance, and found it quite impossible to make the sailors
understand that they were to bring me some bread and baked fish from
the neighbouring bazaar. At length hunger compelled me to venture
out alone: I pushed through the crowd, who looked at me curiously,
but suffered me to pass unmolested, and bought some provisions.

In Alexandria I procured beef and beef-soup, for the first time
since my departure from Smyrna. In Alexandria and throughout the
whole of Egypt the white bread is very delicious.

At four in the afternoon we at length set sail. The time had passed
rapidly enough with me, for there was a great deal of bustle around
this canal. Barques came and departed, took in or discharged cargo;
long processions of camels moved to and fro with their drivers to
fetch and carry goods; the soldiers passed by, to the sound of
military music, to exercise in the neighbouring square; there was
continually something new to see, so that when four o'clock arrived,
I could not imagine what had become of the time.

With the exception of the crew, I was the only person on board.
These vessels are long and narrow, and are fitted up with a cabin
and an awning. The cabin is divided into two little rooms; the
first and larger of these contains two little windows on each side.
The second and smaller one is often only six feet long by five
broad. The space under the awning is appropriated to the poorer
class of passengers and to the servants. It is necessary to take on
board, besides provisions, a little stove, wood for fuel, kitchen-
utensils and articles of this kind, a supply of water. The water of
the Nile is, indeed, very good and thoroughly tasteless, so that it
is universally drunk in Alexandria, Cairo, and elsewhere; but it is
very turbid and of a yellowish colour, so that it must be filtered
to render it clear and pure. Thus it happens that even on the river
we are obliged to take water with us.

Handsome country-houses with gardens skirt the sides of the canal;
the finest of these belongs to a pacha, the son-in-law of Mehemet
Ali. As we passed this palace I saw the Egyptian Napoleon for the
first time; he is a very little old man, with a long snow-white
beard; his eyes and his gestures are very animated. Several
Europeans stood around him, and a number of servants, some of them
clothed in Greek, others in Turkish costume. In the avenue his
carriage was waiting, a splendid double-seated vehicle, with four
beautiful horses, harnessed in the English style. The Franks are
favourably disposed towards this despot, whose subjects cherish a
very opposite feeling. His government is very lenient to
Christians, while the Mussulmen are obliged to bend their necks
beneath a yoke of iron slavery.

This view of villas and gardens only lasts for two hours at the
most. Afterwards we continue our journey to Atfe through a very
uniform and unsatisfactory region of sandy hills and plains. On the
right we pass the Mariotic Sea; and on both sides lie villages of a
very wretched appearance.

August 19th.

At eleven in the forenoon we reached Atfe, and had therefore
travelled about 180 sea-miles in sixteen hours. Atfe is a very
small town, or rather a mere heap of stones.

The landing-places were always the scenes of my chief troubles. It
was seldom that I could find a Frank, and was generally obliged to
address several of the bystanders before I succeeded in finding one
who could speak Italian and give me the information I required. I
requested to be taken at once to the Austrian consulate, where this
difficulty was usually removed. This was also the case here. The
consul immediately sent to inquire how I could best get to Cairo,
and offered me a room in his house in the mean time. A ship was
soon found, for Atfe is a harbour of some importance. The canal
joins the Nile at this place; and as larger vessels are used on the
stream itself, all goods are transhipped here, so that barques are
continually starting for Alexandria and Cairo. In a few hours I was
obliged to re-embark, and had only time to provide myself with
provisions and a supply of water, and to partake of a sumptuous
dinner at the consul's, whose hospitality was doubly grateful to me
as I had fasted the previous day. The chief compartment of the
cabin had been engaged for me, at an expense of 100 piastres. On
embarking, however, I found that this place had been so filled with
goods, that hardly a vacant space remained for the poor occupant. I
at once hastened back to the consulate and complained of the
captain, whereupon the consul sent for that worthy and desired him
to clear my cabin, and to refrain from annoying me during the
voyage, if he wished to be paid on our arrival at Cairo. This
command was strictly obeyed, and until we reached our destination I
was left in undisturbed possession of my berth. At two in the
afternoon I once more set sail alone in the company of Arabs and

I would counsel any one who can only make this journey to Cairo once
in his lifetime to do it at the end of August or the beginning of
September. A more lovely picture, and one more peculiar in its
character, can scarcely be imagined. In many places the plain is
covered as far as the eye can trace by the Nile-sea (it can scarcely
be called river in its immense expanse), and every where little
islands are seen rising from the waters, covered with villages
surrounded by date-palms, and other trees, while in the background
the high-masted boats, with their pyramidal sails, are gliding to
and fro. Numbers of sheep, goats, and poultry cover the hills, and
near the shore the heads of the dark-grey buffaloes, which are here
found in large herds, peer forth from the water. These creatures
are fond of immersing their bodies in the cool flood, where they
stand gazing at the passing ships. Here and there little
plantations of twenty to thirty trees are seen, which appear, as the
ground is completely overflowed, to be growing out of the Nile. The
water here is much more muddy and of a darker colour than in the
canal between Atfe and Alexandria. The sailors pour this water into
great iron vessels, and leave it to settle and become clearer; this
is, however, of little use, for it remains almost as muddy as the
river. Notwithstanding this circumstance, however, this Nile-water
is not at all prejudicial to health; on the contrary, the
inhabitants of the valley assert that they possess the best and
wholesomest water in the world. The Franks are accustomed, as I
have already stated, to take filtered water with them. When the
supply becomes exhausted, they have only to put a few kernels of
apricots or almonds chopped small into a vessel of Nile-water to
render it tolerably clear within the space of five or six hours. I
learnt this art from an Arab woman during my voyage on the Nile.

The population of the region around the Nile must be very
considerable, for the villages almost adjoin each other. The ground
consists every where of sand, and only becomes fruitful through the
mud which the Nile leaves behind after its inundation. Thus the
luxuriant vegetation here only commences after the waters of the
Nile have retired.

The villages cannot be called handsome, as the houses are mostly
built of earth and clay, or of bricks made of the Nile mud. Man,
the "crown of creation," does not appear to advantage here; the
poverty, the want of cleanliness, and rude savage state of the
people, cannot be witnessed without a feeling of painful emotion.

The dress of the women consists of the usual long blue garment, and
the men wear nothing but a shirt reaching to the knee. Some of the
women veil their faces, but others do not.

I was astonished at the difference between the fine strongly-built
men and the ugly disgusting women and neglected children. In
general the latter present a most lamentable appearance, with faces
covered with scabs and sores, on which a quantity of flies are
continually settling. Frequently also they have inflamed eyes. In
spite of the oppressive heat, I remained nearly the whole day seated
on the roof of my cabin, enjoying the landscape, and gazing at the
moving panorama to my heart's content.

The company on board could be called good or bad; bad, because there
was not a soul present to whom I could impart my feelings and
sentiments on the marvels of nature around me; good, because all,
but particularly the Arab women who occupied the little cabin in the
forepart of the vessel, were very good-natured and attentive to me.

They wished me to accept a share of every thing they possessed, and
gave me a portion of each of their dishes, which generally consisted
either of pilau, beans, or cucumbers, and which I did not find
palatable; when they drank coffee in the morning, the first cup was
always handed to me. In return I gave them some of my provisions,
all of which they liked, excepting the coffee, which had milk in it.
When we landed at a village, the inhabitants would inquire by signs
if I wished for any thing. I wanted some milk, eggs, and bread, but
did not know how to ask for them in Arabic. I therefore had
recourse to drawing; for instance, I made a portrait of a cow, gave
an Arab woman a bottle and some money, and made signs to her to milk
her cow and to fill my bottle. In the same way I drew a hen, and
some eggs beside her; pointed to the hen with a shake of my head,
and then to the eggs with a nod, counting on the woman's fingers how
many she was to bring me. In this way I could always manage to get
on, by limiting my wants to such objects as I could represent by

When they brought me the milk, and I explained to the Arab woman by
signs that, after she had finished cooking, I wished to have the use
of the fire to prepare my milk and eggs, she immediately took off
her pot from the fire and compelled me, in spite of all
remonstrances, to cook my dinner first. If I walked forward towards
the prow to obtain a better view of the landscape, the best place
was immediately vacated on my behalf; and, in short, they all
behaved in such a courteous and obliging way, that these
uncultivated people might have put to shame many a civilised
European. They certainly, however, requested a few favours of me,
which, I am ashamed to say, it cost me a great effort to grant. For
instance, the oldest among them begged permission to sleep in my
apartment, as they only possessed a small cabin, while I had the
larger one all to myself. Then they performed their devotions, even
to the preliminary washing of face and feet, in my cabin: this I
permitted, as I was more on deck than below. At first these women
called me Mary, imagining, probably, that every Christian lady must
bear the name of the Virgin. I told them my baptismal name, which
they accurately remembered; they told me theirs in return, which I
very soon forgot. I mention this trifling circumstance, because I
afterwards was frequently surprised at the retentive memory of these
people during my journey through the desert towards the Red Sea.

August 21st.

Although I felt solitary among all the voyagers on the barque, these
two days passed swiftly and agreeably away. The flatter the land
grew, the broader did the lordly river become. The villages
increased in size; and the huts, mostly resembling a sugar-loaf,
with a number of doves roosting on its apex, wore an appearance of
greater comfort. Mosques and large country-houses presently
appeared; and, in short, the nearer we approached towards Cairo, the
more distinct became these indications of affluence. The sand-hills
appeared less frequently, though on the route between Atfe and Cairo
I still saw five or six large barren places which had quite the look
of deserts. Once the wind blew directly towards us from one of
these burning wastes with such an oppressive influence, that I could
easily imagine how dreadful the hot winds (chamsir) must be, and I
no longer wondered at the continual instances of blindness among the
poor inhabitants of these regions. The heat is unendurable, and the
fine dust and heated particles of sand which are carried into the
air by these winds cannot fail to cause inflammation of the eyes.

Little towers of masonry, on the tops of which telegraphs have been
fixed, are seen at intervals along the road between Alexandria and

Our vessel was unfortunate enough to strike several times on sand-
banks, besides getting entangled among the shallows--a circumstance
of frequent occurrence during the time that the Nile is rising. On
these occasions I could not sufficiently admire the strength,
agility, and hard-working perseverance of our sailors, who were
obliged to jump overboard and push off the ship with poles, and
afterwards were repeatedly compelled to drag it for half an hour
together through shallow places. These people are also very expert
at climbing. They could ascend _without_ ratlines to the very tops
of the slanting masts, and take in or unloose the sails. I could
not repress a shudder on seeing these poor creatures hanging betwixt
earth and heaven, so far above me that they appeared like dwarfs.
They work with one hand, while they cling to the mast with the
other. I do not think that a better, or a more active, agile, and
temperate race of sailors exists than these. Their fare consists of
bread or ship-biscuit in the morning, with sometimes a raw cucumber,
a piece of cheese, or a handful of dates in addition. For dinner
they have the same diet, and for supper they have a dish of warm
beans, or a kind of broth or pilau. Roast mutton is a rare delicacy
with them, and their drink is nothing but the Nile water.

During the period of the inundation, the river is twice as full of
vessels as at other times. When the river is swollen, the only
method of communication is by boats.

On the last day of this expedition a most beauteous spectacle
awaited me--the Delta! Here the mighty Nile, which irrigates the
whole country with the hundreds of canals cut from its banks through
every region, divides itself into two principal branches, one of
which falls into the sea at Rosetta, and the other at Damietta. If
the separate aims of the river could be compared to seas, how much
more does its united vastness merit the appellation!

When I was thus carried away by the beauty and grandeur of nature,
when I thus saw myself placed in the midst of new and interesting
scenes, it would appear to me incredible how people can exist,
possessing in abundance the gifts of riches, health, and leisure
time, and yet without a taste for travelling. The petty comforts of
life and enjoyments of luxury are indeed worth more in the eyes of
some than the opportunity of contemplating the exalted beauties of
nature or the monuments of history, and of gaining information
concerning the manners and customs of foreign nations. Although I
was at times very badly situated, and had to encounter more
hardships and disagreeables than fall to the lot of many a man, I
would be thankful that I had had resolution given me to continue my
wanderings whenever one of these grand spectacles opened itself
before me. What, indeed, are the entertainments of a large town
compared to the Delta of the Nile, and many similar scenes? The
pure and perfect enjoyment afforded by the contemplation of the
beauty of nature is not for a moment to be found in the ball-room or
the theatre; and all the ease and luxury in the world should not buy
from me my recollections of this journey.

Not far from the Delta we can behold the Libyan Desert, of which we
afterwards never entirely lose sight, though we sometimes approach
and sometimes recede from it. I became conscious of certain dark
objects in the far distance; they developed themselves more and
more, and at length I recognised in them the wonder-buildings of
ancient times, the Pyramids; far behind them rises the chain of
mountains, or rather hills, of Mokattam.

Evening was closing in when we at length arrived at Bulak, the
harbour of Cairo. If we could have landed at once, I might,
perhaps, have reached the town itself this evening; as the harbour
is, however, always over-crowded with vessels, the captain is often
compelled to wait for an hour before he can find a place to moor his
craft. By the time I could disembark it had already grown quite
dark, and the town-gates were shut. I was thus obliged to pass the
night on board.

The journey from Atfe to Cairo had occupied two days and a half.
This passage had been one of the most interesting, although the heat
became more and more oppressive, and the burning winds of the desert
were sometimes wafted over to us. The highest temperature at midday
was 36 degrees, and in the shade from 24 to 25 degrees Reaumur. The
sky was far less beautiful and clear than in Syria; it was here
frequently overcast with white clouds.


Cairo--Quarrel with the captain--Rapacity of the beggars--The
custom-house--The consulate--Aspect of Cairo--Narrow and crowded
streets--Costumes--The mad-house--Disgusting exhibition--Joseph's
well--Palace of Mehemet Ali--Dates--Mosques at Cairo--Excursion to
the pyramids of Gizeh--Gizeh--Eggs hatched by artificial heat--
Ascent of the pyramids--The sphynx--Return to Cairo.

August 22d.

The aspect of this great Egyptian metropolis is not nearly so
imposing as I had fancied it to be; its situation is too flat, and
from on board we can only discern scattered portions of its extended
area. The gardens skirting the shore are luxuriant and lovely.

At my debarcation, and on the road to the consulate, I met with
several adventures, which I relate circumstantially, trifling as
they may appear, in order to give a hint as to the best method of
dealing with the people here.

At the very commencement I became involved in a dispute with the
captain of the vessel. I had still to pay him three dollars and a
half, and gave him four dollars, in the expectation that he would
return me my change. This, however, he refused to do, and persisted
in keeping the half-dollar. He said it should be divided as
backsheesh among the crew; but I am sure they would have seen
nothing of it. Luckily, however, he was stupid enough not to put
the money in his pocket, but kept it open in his hand. I quickly
snatched a coin from him, and put it into my pocket, explaining to
him at the same time that he should not have it back until he had
given me my change, adding that I would give the men a gratuity
myself. He shouted and stormed, and kept on asking for the money.
I took no heed of him, but continued quietly packing up my things.
Seeing, at length, that nothing was to be done with me, he gave me
back my half-dollar; whereupon we parted good friends. This affair
concluded, I had to look about for a couple of asses; one for
myself, and another for my luggage. If I had stepped ashore I
should have been almost torn in pieces by contending donkey-drivers,
each of whom would have lugged me in a different direction. I
therefore remained quietly for a time in my cabin, until the drivers
ceased to suspect that any one was there. In the meantime I had
been looking upon the shore from the cabin-window, and speculating
upon which animal I should take; then I quickly rushed out, and
before the proprietors of the long-eared steeds were aware of my
intention, I had seized one by the bridle and pointed to another.
This concluded the matter at once; for the proprietors of the chosen
animals defended me from the rest, and returned with me to the boat
to carry my baggage.

A fellow came up and arranged my little trunk on the back of the
ass. For this trifling service I gave him a piastre; but observing
that I was alone, he probably thought he could soon intimidate me
into giving whatever he demanded. So he returned me my piastre, and
demanded four. I took the money, and told him (for fortunately he
understood a little Italian) that if he felt dissatisfied with this
reward he might accompany me to the consulate, where his four
piastres would be paid so soon as it appeared that he had earned
them. He shouted and blustered, just as the captain had done; but I
remained deaf, and rode forward towards the custom-house. Then he
came down to three piastres, then to two, and finally said he would
be content with one, which I threw to him. When I reached the
custom-house, hands were stretched out towards me from all sides; I
gave something to the chief person, and let the remaining ones
clamour on. When, after experiencing these various annoyances, I
rode on towards the town, a new obstacle arose. My Arab guide
inquired whither he should conduct me. I endeavoured in vain to
explain to him where I wanted to go; he could not be made to
understand me. Nothing now remained for me but to accost every
well-dressed Oriental whom I met, until I should find one who could
understand either French or Italian. The third person I addressed

Book of the day: