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The extremely unfavourable reports I heard from Beyrout and Palestine caused me to defer my departure from day to day. When I applied to my consul for a “firmann” (Turkish passport), I was strongly advised not to travel to the Holy Land. The disturbances on Mount Lebanon and the plague were, they assured me, enemies too powerful to be encountered except in cases of the most urgent necessity.

A priest who had arrived from Beyrout about two months previously affirmed positively that, in consequence of the serious disturbances, even he, known though he was far and wide as a physician, had not dared to venture more than a mile from the town without exposing himself to the greatest danger. He advised me to stay in Constantinople until the end of September, and then to travel to Jerusalem with the Greek caravan. This, he said, was the only method to reach that city in safety.

One day I met a pilgrim in a church who came from Palestine. On my asking his advice, he not only confirmed the priest’s report, but even added that one of his companions had been murdered whilst journeying homeward, and that he himself had been despoiled of his goods, and had only escaped death through the special interposition of Providence. I did not at all believe the asseverations of this man; he related all his adventures with such a Baron Munchausen air, assumed probably to excite admiration. I continued my investigations on this subject until I was at length fortunate enough to find some one who told an entirely different tale. From this I felt assured at least of the fact, that it would be almost impossible to learn the true state of the case here in Constantinople, and at length made up my mind to avail myself of the earliest opportunity of proceeding as far as Beyrout, where there was a chance of my getting at the truth.

I was advised to perform this journey in male attire; but I did not think it advisable to do so, as my short, spare figure would have seemed to belong to a youth, and my face to an old man. Moreover, as I had no beard, my disguise would instantly have been seen through, and I should have been exposed to much annoyance. I therefore preferred retaining the simple costume, consisting of a kind of blouse and wide Turkish trousers, which I then wore. The further I travelled, the more I became persuaded how rightly I had acted in not concealing my sex. Every where I was treated with respect, and kindness and consideration were frequently shewn me merely because I was a woman. On

May 17th

I embarked on board a steamboat belonging to the Austrian Lloyd. It was called the Archduke John.

It was with a feeling of painful emotion that I stood on the deck, gazing with an air of abstraction at the preparations for the long voyage which were actively going on around me. Once more I was alone among a crowd of people, with nothing to depend on but my trust in Providence. No friendly sympathetic being accompanied me on board. All was strange. The people, the climate, country, language, the manners and customs all strange. But a glance upward at the unchanging stars, and the thought came into my soul, “Trust in God, and thou art not alone.” And the feeling of despondency passed away, and soon I could once more contemplate with pleasure and interest all that was going on around me.

Near me stood a poor mother who could not bear to part with her son. Time after time she folded him in her arms, and kissed and blessed him. Poor mother! wilt thou see him again, or will the cold ground be a barrier between you till this life is past? Peace be with you both!

A whole tribe of people came noisily towards us; they were friends of the crew, who bounced about the ship from stem to stern, canvassing its merits in comparison with French and English vessels.

Suddenly there was a great crowding on the swinging ladder, of chests, boxes, and baskets. Men were pushing and crushing backwards and forwards. Turks, Greeks, and others quarrelled and jostled each other for the best places on the upper deck, and in a few moments the whole large expanse wore the appearance of a bivouac. Mats and mattresses were every where spread forth, provisions were piled up in heaps, and culinary utensils placed in order beside them; and before these preparations had been half completed the Turks began washing their faces, hands, and feet, and unfolding their carpets, to perform their devotions. In one corner of the ship I even noticed that a little low tent had been erected; it was so closely locked, that for a long time I could not discern whether human beings or merchandise lay concealed within. No movement of the interior was to be perceived, and it was not until some days afterwards that I was informed by a Turk what the tent really contained. A scheick from the Syrian coast had purchased two girls at Constantinople, and was endeavouring to conceal them from the gaze of the curious. I was for nine days on the same vessel with these poor creatures, and during the whole time had not an opportunity of seeing either of them. At the debarcation, too, they were so closely muffled that it was impossible to discover whether they were white or black.

At six o’clock the bell was rung to warn all strangers to go ashore; and now I could discover who were really to be the companions of my journey. I had flattered myself that I should find several Franks on board, who might be bound to the same destination as myself; but this hope waxed fainter and fainter every moment, as one European after another left the ship, until at length I found myself alone among the strange Oriental nations.

The anchor was now weighed, and we moved slowly out of the harbour. I offered up a short but fervent prayer for protection on my long and dangerous voyage, and with a calmed and strengthened spirit I could once more turn my attention towards my fellow-passengers, who having concluded their devotions were sitting at their frugal meal. During the whole time they remained on the steamer these people subsisted on cold provisions, such as cheese, bread, hard-boiled eggs, anchovies, olives, walnuts, a great number of onions, and dried “mishmish,” a kind of small apricot, which instead of being boiled is soaked in water for a few hours. In a sailing vessel it is usual to bring a small stove and some wood, in order to cook pilau, beans, fowls, and to boil coffee, etc. This, of course, is not allowed on board a steamboat.

The beauty of the evening kept me on deck, and I looked with a regretful feeling towards the imperial city, until the increasing distance and the soft veil of evening combined to hide it from my view, though at intervals the graceful minarets were still dimly discernible through the mist. But who shall describe my feelings of joy when I discovered a European among the passengers? Now I was no longer alone; in the first moments we even seemed fellow-countrymen, for the barriers that divide Europeans into different nations fall as they enter a new quarter of the globe. We did not ask each other, Are you from England, France, Italy; we inquired, Whither are you going? and on its appearing that this gentleman intended proceeding, like myself, to Jerusalem, we at once found so much to talk about concerning the journey, that neither of us thought for a moment of inquiring to what country the other belonged. We conversed in the universal French language, and were perfectly satisfied when we found we could understand each other. It was not until the following day that I discovered the gentleman to be an Englishman, and learned that his name was Bartlett.

In Constantinople we had both met with the same fate. He had been, like myself, unable to obtain any certain intelligence, either at his consul’s or from the inhabitants, as to the feasibility of a journey to Jerusalem, and so he was going to seek further information at Beyrout. We arranged that we would perform the journey from Beyrout to Jerusalem in company, if, indeed, we found it possible to penetrate among the savage tribes of Druses and Maronites. So now I no longer stood unprotected in the wide world. I had found a companion as far as Jerusalem, the goal of my journey, which I could now hope to reach.

I was well satisfied with the arrangements on board. I had made up my mind, though not without sundry misgivings, to take a second-class berth; and on entering the steamer of the Austrian Lloyd, I discovered to my surprise how much may be effected by order and good management. Here the men and the women were separately lodged, wash-hand basins were not wanting, we fared well, and could not be cheated when we paid for our board, as the accounts were managed by the first mate: on the remaining steamers belonging to this company I found the arrangements equally good.

Crossing the Sea of Marmora, we passed the “Seven Towers,” leaving the Prince’s Islands behind us on the left.

Early on the following day,

May 18th,

we reached the little town of Galipoli, situate on an eminence near the Hellespont. A few fragments of ruins in the last stage of dilapidation cause us to think of the ages that have fled, as we speed rapidly on. We waited here a quarter of an hour to increase the motley assemblage on deck by some new arrivals.

For the next 20 miles, as far as Sed Bahe, the sea is confined within such narrow bounds, that one could almost fancy it was a channel dug to unite the Sea of Marmora with the Archipelago. It is very appropriately called the Strait of the Dardanelles. On the left we have always the mainland of Asia, and on the right a tongue of land belonging to Europe, and terminating at Sed Bahe. The shores on both sides are desert and bare. It is a great contrast to former times, a contrast which every educated traveller must feel as he travels hither from the Bosphorus. What stirring scenes were once enacted here! Of what deeds of daring, chronicled in history, were not these regions the scene! Every moment brought us nearer to the classic ground. Alas, that we were not permitted to land on any of the Greek Islands, past which we flew so closely! I was obliged, perforce, to content myself with thinking of the past, of the history of ancient Greece, without viewing the sites where the great deeds had been done.

The two castles of the Dardanelles, Tschenekalesi and Kilidil Bahar, that on the Asiatic shore looking like a ruin, while its European neighbour wore the appearance of a fortress, let us steam past unchallenged. And how shall I describe the emotions I felt as we approached the plains of Troy?

I was constantly on deck, lest I should lose any portion of the view, and scarcely dared to breathe when at length the long-wished-for plain came in sight.

Here it is, then, that this famous city is supposed to have stood. Yonder mounds, perchance, cover the resting-places of Achilles, Patroclus, Ajax, Hector, and many other heroes who may have served their country as faithfully as these, though their names do not live in the page of history. How gladly would I have trodden the plain, there to muse on the legends which in my youth had already awakened in me such deep and awe-struck interest, and had first aroused the wish to visit these lands a desire now partially fulfilled! But we flew by with relentless rapidity. The whole region is deserted and bare. It seems as if nature and mankind were mourning together for the days gone by. The inhabitants may indeed weep, for they will never again be what they once were.

In the course of the day we passed several islands. In the foreground towered the peak of the Hydrae, shortly afterwards Samothrace rose from the waves, and we sailed close by the island of Tenedos. At first this island does not present a striking appearance, but after rounding a small promontory we obtained a view of the fine fortress skirting the sea; it seems to have been built for the protection of the town beyond.

After passing Tenedos we lost sight of the Greek islands for a short time (the mainland of Asia can always be distinguished on our left), but soon afterwards we reached the most beautiful of them all Mytelene, which has justly been sung by many poets as the Island of the Fairies. For seven hours we glided by its coast. It resembles a garden of olives, orange-trees, pomegranates, etc. The view is bounded at the back by a double row of peaked mountains, and the town lies nearly in the midst. It is built in a circular form, round a hill, strengthened with fortifications. In front the town is girded by a strong wall, and in the rear extends a deep bay. A few masts peered forth and shewed us where the bay ended. From this point we saw numerous villages prettily situated among the luxuriant shade of large trees. It must be a delightful thing to spend the spring-time on this island.

I remained on deck till late in the night, so charming, so rich in varied pictures of verdant isles is this voyage on the AEgaean Sea. Had I been a magician, I would have fixed the sun in the heavens until we had arrived at Smyrna. Unfortunately many a beauteous island which we next morning contemplated ruefully on the map was hidden from us by the shades of night.

May 19th.

Long before the sun was up, I had resumed my post on deck, to welcome Smyrna from afar.

A double chain of mountains, rising higher and higher, warned us of our approach to the rich commercial city. At first we can only distinguish the ancient dilapidated castle on a rock, then the city itself, built at the foot of the rock, on the sea-shore; at the back the view is closed by the “Brother Mountains.”

The harbour is very spacious, but has rather the appearance of a wharf, with room for whole fleets to anchor. Many ships were lying here, and there was evidently plenty of business going on.

The “Franks’ town,” which can be distinctly viewed from the steamer, extends along the harbour, and has a decidedly European air.

Herr von Cramer had been previously apprised of my arrival, and was obliging enough to come on board to fetch me. We at once rode to Halizar, the summer residence of many of the citizens, where I was introduced to my host’s family.

Halizar is distant about five English miles from Smyrna. The road thither is beautiful beyond description, so that one has no time to think about the distance. Immediately outside the town we pass a large open place near a river, where the camels rest, and where they are loaded and unloaded; I saw a whole herd of these animals. Their Arab or Bedouin drivers were reclining on mats, resting after their labours, while others were still fully employed about their camels. It was a truly Arabian picture, and moreover so new to me, that I involuntarily stopped my long-eared Bucephalus to contemplate it at my leisure.

Not far from this resting-place is the chief place of rendezvous and pastime of the citizens. It consists of a coffee-booth and a few rows of trees, surrounded by numerous gardens, all rich in beautiful fruit-trees. Charming beyond all the rest, the flower of the pomegranate-tree shines with the deepest crimson among the green leaves. Wild oleanders bloomed every where by the roadside. We wandered through beautiful shrubberies of cypress-trees and olives, and never yet had I beheld so rich a luxuriance of vegetation. This valley, with its one side flanked by wild and rugged rocks, in remarkable contrast to the fruitful landscape around, has a peculiar effect when viewed from the hill across which we ride. I was also much amazed by the numerous little troops of from six to ten, or even twenty camels, which sometimes came towards us with their grave majestic pace, and were sometimes overtaken by our fleet donkeys. Surrounded on all sides by objects at once novel and interesting, it will not be wondered at that I found the time passing far too rapidly.

The heat is said not to be more oppressive at Smyrna during the summer than at Constantinople. Spring, however, commences here earlier, and the autumn is longer. This fact, I thought, accounted for the lovely vegetation, which was here so much more forward than at Constantinople.

Herr von Cramer’s country-house stands in the midst of a smiling garden; it is spacious and built of stone. The large and lofty apartments are flagged with marble or tiles. In the garden I found the first date-palm, a beautiful tree with a tall slender stem, from the extremity of which depend leaves five or six feet in length, forming a magnificent crown. In these regions and also in Syria, whither my journey afterwards led me, the date-palm does not attain so great a height as in Egypt, nor does it bear any fruit, but only stands as a noble ornament beside the pomegranate and orange trees. My attention was also attracted to numerous kinds of splendid acacias; some of these grew to an immense size, as high as the walnut-trees of my own country.

The villas of the townspeople all strongly resemble each other. The house stands in the midst of the garden, and the whole is surrounded by a wall.

In the evening I visited some of the peasants, in company with Herr von C. This gentleman informed me that these people were very poor, but still I found them decently clad and comfortably lodged in large roomy dwellings built of stone. Altogether, the condition of affairs seems here vastly superior to that in Galicia and in Hungary near the Carpathian mountains.

I reckoned the day I spent with this amiable family among the most pleasant I had yet passed. How gladly would I have accepted their hearty invitation to remain several weeks with them! But I had lost so much time in Constantinople, that on the morning of

May 20th

I was compelled to bid adieu to Frau von C. and her dear children. Herr von C. escorted me back to Smyrna. We took the opportunity of roaming through many streets of the Franks’ quarter, which I found, generally speaking, pretty and cheerful enough, and moreover level and well paved. The handsomest street is that in which the consuls reside. The houses are finely built of stone, and the halls are tastefully paved with little coloured pebbles, arranged in the form of wreaths, stars, and squares. The inhabitants generally take up their quarters in these entrance-halls during the day, as it is cooler there than in the rooms. To nearly every house a pretty garden is attached.

The Turkish town is certainly quite different; it is built of wood, and is angular and narrow; dogs lie about in the streets, just as at Brussa and Constantinople. And why should it be otherwise here? Turks live in all this quarter, and they do not feel the necessity of clean and airy dwellings like the fastidious Franks.

The bazaars are not roofed; and here also the costlier portion of the wares is kept under lock and key.

It is well worth the traveller’s while to make an excursion to Burnaba, a place lying on the sea-coast not far from the town, and serving, like Halizar, as a retreat for the townspeople during the summer. The views in this direction are various, and the road is good. The whole appearance of the place is that of a very extended village, with all its houses standing in the midst of gardens and surrounded by walls.

From the Acropolis we have a fine view in every direction, and find, in fact, a union of advantages only met with separately elsewhere.

In Smyrna I found the most beautiful women I had yet seen; and even during my further journey I met with few who equalled, and none who surpassed them. These fairy forms are, however, only to be sought among the Greeks. The natural charms of these Graces are heightened by the rich costume they wear. They have a peculiarly tasteful manner of fastening their little round fez-caps, beneath which their rich hair falls in heavy plaits upon their shoulders, or is wound with a richly embroidered handkerchief round the head and brow.

Smyrna is, however, not only celebrated as possessing the loveliest women, but also as the birthplace of one of the greatest men. O Homer, in the Greece of to-day thou wouldst find no materials for thine immortal Iliad!

At five o’clock in the afternoon we quitted the harbour of Smyrna. In this direction the town is seen to much greater advantage after we have advanced a mile than when we approach it from Constantinople; for now the Turks’ town lies spread in all its magnitude before us, whereas on the other side it is half hidden by the Franks’ quarter.

The sea ran high, and adverse winds checked the speed of our good ship; but I am thankful to say that, except when the gale is very strong, it does not affect my health. I felt perfectly well, and stood enjoying the aspect of the waves as they came dancing towards our vessel. In Smyrna our company had been augmented by the arrival of a few more Franks.

May 21st.

Yesterday evening and all this day we have been sailing among islands. The principal of these were Scio, Samos, and Cos, and even these form a desolate picture of bare, inhospitable mountains and desert regions. On the island of Cos alone we saw a neat town, with strong fortifications.

May 22d.

This morning, shortly after five o’clock, we ran into the superb harbour of Rhodes. Here, for the first time, I obtained a correct notion of a harbour. That of Rhodes is shut in on all sides by walls and masses of rock, leaving only a gap of a hundred and fifty to two hundred paces in width for the ships to enter. Here every vessel can lie in perfect safety, be the sea outside the bar as stormy as it may; the only drawback is, that the entering of this harbour, a task of some difficulty in calm weather, becomes totally impracticable during a storm. A round tower stands as a protection on either side of the entrance to the harbour. The venerable church of St. John and the palace of the Komthur can be distinguished towering high above the houses and fortifications.

Our captain imparted to us the pleasant intelligence that we might spend the hours between this and three o’clock in the afternoon on shore. Our ship had for some time lain surrounded by little boats, and so we lost no time in being conveyed to the land. The first thing we did on reaching it was to ask questions concerning the ancient site of the celebrated Colossus. But we could gain no information, as neither our books nor the people here could point out the place to us with certainty; so we left the coast, to make up for the disappointment by exploring the ancient city.

Rhodes is surrounded with three rows of strong fortifications. We passed over three drawbridges before entering the town. We were quite surprised to see the beautiful streets, the well-kept houses, and the excellent pavement. The principal street, containing the houses of the ancient Knights of St. John, is very broad, with buildings so massively constructed of stone as almost to resemble fortresses. Heraldic bearings, with dates carved in stone, grace many of the Gothic gateways. The French shield, with the three lilies and the date 1402, occurs most frequently. On the highest point in the city are built the church of St. John and the house of the governor.

All the exteriors seem in such good preservation, that one could almost fancy the knights had only departed to plant their victorious banner on the Holy Sepulchre. They have in truth departed departed to a better home. Centuries have breathed upon their ashes, scattered in all the regions of the earth. But their deeds have been chronicled both in heaven and among men, and the heroes still live in the admiration of posterity.

The churches, the house of the governor, and many other buildings, are not nearly so well preserved inside as a first glance would lead us to imagine. The reason of this is that the upper part of the town is but thinly inhabited. A gloomy air of silence and vacancy reigns around. We could wander about every where without being stared at or annoyed by the vulgar and envious. Mr. Bartlett, the Englishman, made a few sketches in his drawing-book of some of the chief beauties, such as the Gothic gateways, the windows, balconies, etc., and no inhabitant came to disturb him.

The pavement in the city, and even in the streets around the fortifications, consists wholly of handsome slabs of stone, often of different colours, like mosaic, and in such good preservation that we could fancy the work had been but recently concluded. This is certainly partly owing to the fact that no loaded wagon ever crushes over these stones, for the use of vehicles is entirely unknown in these parts; every thing is carried by horses, asses, or camels.

Cannons dating from the time of the Genoese still stand upon the ramparts. The carriages of these guns are very clumsy, the wheels consisting of round discs without spokes.

From our tower of observation we can form a perfect estimate of the extent and strength of the fortifications. The city is completely surrounded by three lofty walls, which seem to have been calculated to last an eternity, for they still stand almost uninjured in all their glory. In some places images of the Virgin, of the size of life, are hewn out of the walls.

The neighbourhood of Rhodes is most charming, and almost resembles a park. Many country houses lie scattered throughout this natural garden. The vegetation is here no less luxuriant than in Smyrna.

The architecture of the houses already begins to assume a new character. Many dwellings have towers attached, and the roofs are flat, forming numerous terraces, which are all built of stone. Some streets in the lower part of the town, inhabited chiefly by Jews, are bordered with cannon-balls, and present a most peculiar appearance.

I was also much struck with the costumes worn by the country-people, who were dressed quite in the Swabian fashion. It was in vain that I inquired the reason of this circumstance. The books we had with us gave no information on the subject, and I could not ask the natives through my ignorance of their language.

By three o’clock in the afternoon we were once more on board, and an hour afterwards we sailed out into the open sea. To-day we saw nothing further, except a high and lengthened mountain-range on the Asiatic mainland. It was a branch of the Taurus. The highest peaks glistened like silver in the evening light, enveloped in a garment of snow.

May 23d.

To-day our organs of vision had a rest, for we were sailing on the high seas. Late in the evening, however, the sailors descried the mountains of Cyprus looming in the far distance like a misty cloud. With my less practised eyes I could see nothing but the sunset at sea a phenomenon of which I had had a more exalted conception. The rising and setting of the sun at sea is not nearly so striking a spectacle as the same phenomenon in a rocky landscape. At sea the sky is generally cloudless in the evening, and the sun gradually sinks, without refraction of rays or prismatic play of colours, into its ocean-bed, to pursue its unchanging course the next day. How infinitely more grand is this spectacle when seen from the “Rigi Kulm” in Switzerland! There it is really a spectacle, in contemplating which we feel impelled to fall on our knees in speechless adoration, and admire the wisdom of the Almighty in his wondrous works.

May 24th.

On mounting to the deck this morning at five o’clock I could distinguish the island of Cyprus, which looks uglier the nearer we approach. Both the foreground and the mountain-peaks have an uncomfortable barren air. At ten o’clock we entered the harbour of Larnaka. The situation of this town is any thing but fine; the country looks like an Arabian desert, and a few unfruitful date-palms rise beside the roofless stone houses.

I should not have gone on shore at all, if Doctor Faaslanc, whose acquaintance I had made at Constantinople, and who had been appointed quarantine physician here four weeks before my departure, had not come to fetch me. The streets of Larnaka are unpaved, so that we were obliged literally to wade more than ankle-deep in sand and dust. The houses are small, with irregular windows, sometimes high and sometimes low, furnished with wooden grated shutters; and the roofs are in the form of terraces. This style of building I found to be universal throughout Syria.

Of a garden or a green place not a trace was to be seen. The sandy expanse reaches to the foot of the mountains, which viewed from this direction form an equally barren picture. Behind these mountains the appearance of the landscape is said to be very fruitful; but I did not penetrate into the interior, nor did I go to Nikosia, the capital of the island, distant some twelve miles from Larnaka.

Doctor Faaslanc took me to his house, which had an appearance of greater comfort than I had expected to find, for it consisted of two spacious rooms which might almost have been termed halls. An agreeable coolness reigned every where.

Neither stoves nor chimneys were to be seen, as winter is here replaced by a very mild rainy season. The heat in summer is often said to be insupportable, the temperature rising to more than 36 degrees Reaumur. To-day it reached 30 degrees in the sun.

We drank to my safe return to my country, in real old Cyprian wine. Shall I ever see it again? I hope so, if my journey progresses as favourably as it has begun. But Syria is a bad country, and the climate is difficult to bear; yet with courage and perseverance for my companions, I may look forward to the accomplishment of my task. The good doctor seemed much annoyed that he had nothing to offer me but Cyprian wine and a few German biscuits. At this early season fruit is not to be had, and cherries do not flourish here because the climate is too hot for them. In Smyrna I ate the last for this year. When I re-embarked in the afternoon, Mr. Bartlett came with the English consul, who wished, he said, to make the acquaintance of a lady possessing sufficient courage to undertake so long and perilous a journey by herself. His astonishment increased when he was informed that I was an unpretending native of Vienna. The consul was kind enough to offer me the use of his house if I returned by way of Cyprus; he also inquired if he could give me some letters of recommendation to the Syrian consuls. I was touched by this hearty politeness on the part of a perfect stranger an Englishman moreover, a race on whom we are accustomed to look as cold and exclusive!