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

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

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

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

June 15th.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 16th.

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

June 17th.

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

Mount Carmel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 18th.

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

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

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

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

June 19th.

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

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

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

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

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

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