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June 20th.

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

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

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

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

June 21st.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Journey from Beyrout to Damascus, Balbeck, and mount Lebanon.

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.

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 forgotten.

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 us.

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 earth!”

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.