The Innocents Abroad
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

Part 7 out of 10

is a mass of solid masonry. Vast arches, that may have been the gates of
the city, are built in the same way. They have braved the storms and
sieges of three thousand years, and have been shaken by many an
earthquake, but still they stand. When they dig alongside of them, they
find ranges of ponderous masonry that are as perfect in every detail as
they were the day those old Cyclopian giants finished them. An English
Company is going to excavate Ephesus--and then!

And now am I reminded of--


In the Mount of Pion, yonder, is the Cave of the Seven Sleepers. Once
upon a time, about fifteen hundred years ago, seven young men lived near
each other in Ephesus, who belonged to the despised sect of the
Christians. It came to pass that the good King Maximilianus, (I am
telling this story for nice little boys and girls,) it came to pass, I
say, that the good King Maximilianus fell to persecuting the Christians,
and as time rolled on he made it very warm for them. So the seven young
men said one to the other, let us get up and travel. And they got up and
traveled. They tarried not to bid their fathers and mothers good-bye, or
any friend they knew. They only took certain moneys which their parents
had, and garments that belonged unto their friends, whereby they might
remember them when far away; and they took also the dog Ketmehr, which
was the property of their neighbor Malchus, because the beast did run his
head into a noose which one of the young men was carrying carelessly, and
they had not time to release him; and they took also certain chickens
that seemed lonely in the neighboring coops, and likewise some bottles of
curious liquors that stood near the grocer's window; and then they
departed from the city. By-and-by they came to a marvelous cave in the
Hill of Pion and entered into it and feasted, and presently they hurried
on again. But they forgot the bottles of curious liquors, and left them
behind. They traveled in many lands, and had many strange adventures.
They were virtuous young men, and lost no opportunity that fell in their
way to make their livelihood. Their motto was in these words, namely,
"Procrastination is the thief of time." And so, whenever they did come
upon a man who was alone, they said, Behold, this person hath the
wherewithal--let us go through him. And they went through him. At the
end of five years they had waxed tired of travel and adventure, and
longed to revisit their old home again and hear the voices and see the
faces that were dear unto their youth. Therefore they went through such
parties as fell in their way where they sojourned at that time, and
journeyed back toward Ephesus again. For the good King Maximilianus was
become converted unto the new faith, and the Christians rejoiced because
they were no longer persecuted. One day as the sun went down, they came
to the cave in the Mount of Pion, and they said, each to his fellow, Let
us sleep here, and go and feast and make merry with our friends when the
morning cometh. And each of the seven lifted up his voice and said, It
is a whiz. So they went in, and lo, where they had put them, there lay
the bottles of strange liquors, and they judged that age had not impaired
their excellence. Wherein the wanderers were right, and the heads of the
same were level. So each of the young men drank six bottles, and behold
they felt very tired, then, and lay down and slept soundly.

When they awoke, one of them, Johannes--surnamed Smithianus--said, We are
naked. And it was so. Their raiment was all gone, and the money which
they had gotten from a stranger whom they had proceeded through as they
approached the city, was lying upon the ground, corroded and rusted and
defaced. Likewise the dog Ketmehr was gone, and nothing save the brass
that was upon his collar remained. They wondered much at these things.
But they took the money, and they wrapped about their bodies some leaves,
and came up to the top of the hill. Then were they perplexed. The
wonderful temple of Diana was gone; many grand edifices they had never
seen before stood in the city; men in strange garbs moved about the
streets, and every thing was changed.

Johannes said, It hardly seems like Ephesus. Yet here is the great
gymnasium; here is the mighty theatre, wherein I have seen seventy
thousand men assembled; here is the Agora; there is the font where the
sainted John the Baptist immersed the converts; yonder is the prison of
the good St. Paul, where we all did use to go to touch the ancient chains
that bound him and be cured of our distempers; I see the tomb of the
disciple Luke, and afar off is the church wherein repose the ashes of the
holy John, where the Christians of Ephesus go twice a year to gather the
dust from the tomb, which is able to make bodies whole again that are
corrupted by disease, and cleanse the soul from sin; but see how the
wharves encroach upon the sea, and what multitudes of ships are anchored
in the bay; see, also, how the city hath stretched abroad, far over the
valley behind Pion, and even unto the walls of Ayassalook; and lo, all
the hills are white with palaces and ribbed with colonnades of marble.
How mighty is Ephesus become!

And wondering at what their eyes had seen, they went down into the city
and purchased garments and clothed themselves. And when they would have
passed on, the merchant bit the coins which they had given him, with his
teeth, and turned them about and looked curiously upon them, and cast
them upon his counter, and listened if they rang; and then he said, These
be bogus. And they said, Depart thou to Hades, and went their way. When
they were come to their houses, they recognized them, albeit they seemed
old and mean; and they rejoiced, and were glad. They ran to the doors,
and knocked, and strangers opened, and looked inquiringly upon them. And
they said, with great excitement, while their hearts beat high, and the
color in their faces came and went, Where is my father? Where is my
mother? Where are Dionysius and Serapion, and Pericles, and Decius? And
the strangers that opened said, We know not these. The Seven said, How,
you know them not? How long have ye dwelt here, and whither are they
gone that dwelt here before ye? And the strangers said, Ye play upon us
with a jest, young men; we and our fathers have sojourned under these
roofs these six generations; the names ye utter rot upon the tombs, and
they that bore them have run their brief race, have laughed and sung,
have borne the sorrows and the weariness that were allotted them, and are
at rest; for nine-score years the summers have come and gone, and the
autumn leaves have fallen, since the roses faded out of their cheeks and
they laid them to sleep with the dead.

Then the seven young men turned them away from their homes, and the
strangers shut the doors upon them. The wanderers marveled greatly, and
looked into the faces of all they met, as hoping to find one that they
knew; but all were strange, and passed them by and spake no friendly
word. They were sore distressed and sad. Presently they spake unto a
citizen and said, Who is King in Ephesus? And the citizen answered and
said, Whence come ye that ye know not that great Laertius reigns in
Ephesus? They looked one at the other, greatly perplexed, and presently
asked again, Where, then, is the good King Maximilianus? The citizen
moved him apart, as one who is afraid, and said, Verily these men be mad,
and dream dreams, else would they know that the King whereof they speak
is dead above two hundred years agone.

Then the scales fell from the eyes of the Seven, and one said, Alas, that
we drank of the curious liquors. They have made us weary, and in
dreamless sleep these two long centuries have we lain. Our homes are
desolate, our friends are dead. Behold, the jig is up--let us die. And
that same day went they forth and laid them down and died. And in that
self-same day, likewise, the Seven-up did cease in Ephesus, for that the
Seven that were up were down again, and departed and dead withal. And
the names that be upon their tombs, even unto this time, are Johannes
Smithianus, Trumps, Gift, High, and Low, Jack, and The Game. And with
the sleepers lie also the bottles wherein were once the curious liquors:
and upon them is writ, in ancient letters, such words as these--Dames of
heathen gods of olden time, perchance: Rumpunch, Jinsling, Egnog.

Such is the story of the Seven Sleepers, (with slight variations,) and I
know it is true, because I have seen the cave myself.

Really, so firm a faith had the ancients this legend, that as late as
eight or nine hundred years ago, learned travelers held it in
superstitious fear. Two of them record that they ventured into it, but
ran quickly out again, not daring to tarry lest they should fall asleep
and outlive their great grand-children a century or so. Even at this day
the ignorant denizens of the neighboring country prefer not to sleep in


When I last made a memorandum, we were at Ephesus. We are in Syria, now,
encamped in the mountains of Lebanon. The interregnum has been long,
both as to time and distance. We brought not a relic from Ephesus!
After gathering up fragments of sculptured marbles and breaking ornaments
from the interior work of the Mosques; and after bringing them at a cost
of infinite trouble and fatigue, five miles on muleback to the railway
depot, a government officer compelled all who had such things to
disgorge! He had an order from Constantinople to look out for our party,
and see that we carried nothing off. It was a wise, a just, and a
well-deserved rebuke, but it created a sensation. I never resist a
temptation to plunder a stranger's premises without feeling insufferably
vain about it. This time I felt proud beyond expression. I was serene
in the midst of the scoldings that were heaped upon the Ottoman
government for its affront offered to a pleasuring party of entirely
respectable gentlemen and ladies I said, "We that have free souls, it
touches us not." The shoe not only pinched our party, but it pinched
hard; a principal sufferer discovered that the imperial order was
inclosed in an envelop bearing the seal of the British Embassy at
Constantinople, and therefore must have been inspired by the
representative of the Queen. This was bad--very bad. Coming solely
from the Ottomans, it might have signified only Ottoman hatred of
Christians, and a vulgar ignorance as to genteel methods of expressing
it; but coming from the Christianized, educated, politic British
legation, it simply intimated that we were a sort of gentlemen and
ladies who would bear watching! So the party regarded it, and were
incensed accordingly. The truth doubtless was, that the same
precautions would have been taken against any travelers, because the
English Company who have acquired the right to excavate Ephesus, and
have paid a great sum for that right, need to be protected, and deserve
to be. They can not afford to run the risk of having their hospitality
abused by travelers, especially since travelers are such notorious
scorners of honest behavior.

We sailed from Smyrna, in the wildest spirit of expectancy, for the chief
feature, the grand goal of the expedition, was near at hand--we were
approaching the Holy Land! Such a burrowing into the hold for trunks
that had lain buried for weeks, yes for months; such a hurrying to and
fro above decks and below; such a riotous system of packing and
unpacking; such a littering up of the cabins with shirts and skirts, and
indescribable and unclassable odds and ends; such a making up of bundles,
and setting apart of umbrellas, green spectacles and thick veils; such a
critical inspection of saddles and bridles that had never yet touched
horses; such a cleaning and loading of revolvers and examining of
bowie-knives; such a half-soling of the seats of pantaloons with
serviceable buckskin; then such a poring over ancient maps; such a
reading up of Bibles and Palestine travels; such a marking out of
routes; such exasperating efforts to divide up the company into little
bands of congenial spirits who might make the long and arduous Journey
without quarreling; and morning, noon and night, such mass-meetings in
the cabins, such speech-making, such sage suggesting, such worrying and
quarreling, and such a general raising of the very mischief, was never
seen in the ship before!

But it is all over now. We are cut up into parties of six or eight, and
by this time are scattered far and wide. Ours is the only one, however,
that is venturing on what is called "the long trip"--that is, out into
Syria, by Baalbec to Damascus, and thence down through the full length of
Palestine. It would be a tedious, and also a too risky journey, at this
hot season of the year, for any but strong, healthy men, accustomed
somewhat to fatigue and rough life in the open air. The other parties
will take shorter journeys.

For the last two months we have been in a worry about one portion of this
Holy Land pilgrimage. I refer to transportation service. We knew very
well that Palestine was a country which did not do a large passenger
business, and every man we came across who knew any thing about it gave
us to understand that not half of our party would be able to get dragomen
and animals. At Constantinople every body fell to telegraphing the
American Consuls at Alexandria and Beirout to give notice that we wanted
dragomen and transportation. We were desperate--would take horses,
jackasses, cameleopards, kangaroos--any thing. At Smyrna, more
telegraphing was done, to the same end. Also fearing for the worst, we
telegraphed for a large number of seats in the diligence for Damascus,
and horses for the ruins of Baalbec.

As might have been expected, a notion got abroad in Syria and Egypt that
the whole population of the Province of America (the Turks consider us a
trifling little province in some unvisited corner of the world,) were
coming to the Holy Land--and so, when we got to Beirout yesterday, we
found the place full of dragomen and their outfits. We had all intended
to go by diligence to Damascus, and switch off to Baalbec as we went
along--because we expected to rejoin the ship, go to Mount Carmel, and
take to the woods from there. However, when our own private party of
eight found that it was possible, and proper enough, to make the "long
trip," we adopted that programme. We have never been much trouble to a
Consul before, but we have been a fearful nuisance to our Consul at
Beirout. I mention this because I can not help admiring his patience,
his industry, and his accommodating spirit. I mention it also, because I
think some of our ship's company did not give him as full credit for his
excellent services as he deserved.

Well, out of our eight, three were selected to attend to all business
connected with the expedition. The rest of us had nothing to do but look
at the beautiful city of Beirout, with its bright, new houses nestled
among a wilderness of green shrubbery spread abroad over an upland that
sloped gently down to the sea; and also at the mountains of Lebanon that
environ it; and likewise to bathe in the transparent blue water that
rolled its billows about the ship (we did not know there were sharks
there.) We had also to range up and down through the town and look at the
costumes. These are picturesque and fanciful, but not so varied as at
Constantinople and Smyrna; the women of Beirout add an agony--in the two
former cities the sex wear a thin veil which one can see through (and
they often expose their ancles,) but at Beirout they cover their entire
faces with dark-colored or black veils, so that they look like mummies,
and then expose their breasts to the public. A young gentleman (I
believe he was a Greek,) volunteered to show us around the city, and said
it would afford him great pleasure, because he was studying English and
wanted practice in that language. When we had finished the rounds,
however, he called for remuneration--said he hoped the gentlemen would
give him a trifle in the way of a few piastres (equivalent to a few five
cent pieces.) We did so. The Consul was surprised when he heard it, and
said he knew the young fellow's family very well, and that they were an
old and highly respectable family and worth a hundred and fifty thousand
dollars! Some people, so situated, would have been ashamed of the berth
he had with us and his manner of crawling into it.

At the appointed time our business committee reported, and said all
things were in readdress--that we were to start to-day, with horses, pack
animals, and tents, and go to Baalbec, Damascus, the Sea of Tiberias, and
thence southward by the way of the scene of Jacob's Dream and other
notable Bible localities to Jerusalem--from thence probably to the Dead
Sea, but possibly not--and then strike for the ocean and rejoin the ship
three or four weeks hence at Joppa; terms, five dollars a day apiece, in
gold, and every thing to be furnished by the dragoman. They said we
would lie as well as at a hotel. I had read something like that before,
and did not shame my judgment by believing a word of it. I said nothing,
however, but packed up a blanket and a shawl to sleep in, pipes and
tobacco, two or three woollen shirts, a portfolio, a guide-book, and a
Bible. I also took along a towel and a cake of soap, to inspire respect
in the Arabs, who would take me for a king in disguise.

We were to select our horses at 3 P.M. At that hour Abraham, the
dragoman, marshaled them before us. With all solemnity I set it down
here, that those horses were the hardest lot I ever did come across, and
their accoutrements were in exquisite keeping with their style. One
brute had an eye out; another had his tail sawed off close, like a
rabbit, and was proud of it; another had a bony ridge running from his
neck to his tail, like one of those ruined aqueducts one sees about Rome,
and had a neck on him like a bowsprit; they all limped, and had sore
backs, and likewise raw places and old scales scattered about their
persons like brass nails in a hair trunk; their gaits were marvelous to
contemplate, and replete with variety under way the procession looked
like a fleet in a storm. It was fearful. Blucher shook his head and

"That dragon is going to get himself into trouble fetching these old
crates out of the hospital the way they are, unless he has got a permit."

I said nothing. The display was exactly according to the guide-book, and
were we not traveling by the guide-book? I selected a certain horse
because I thought I saw him shy, and I thought that a horse that had
spirit enough to shy was not to be despised.

At 6 o'clock P.M., we came to a halt here on the breezy summit of a
shapely mountain overlooking the sea, and the handsome valley where dwelt
some of those enterprising Phoenicians of ancient times we read so much
about; all around us are what were once the dominions of Hiram, King of
Tyre, who furnished timber from the cedars of these Lebanon hills to
build portions of King Solomon's Temple with.

Shortly after six, our pack train arrived. I had not seen it before, and
a good right I had to be astonished. We had nineteen serving men and
twenty-six pack mules! It was a perfect caravan. It looked like one,
too, as it wound among the rocks. I wondered what in the very mischief
we wanted with such a vast turn-out as that, for eight men. I wondered
awhile, but soon I began to long for a tin plate, and some bacon and
beans. I had camped out many and many a time before, and knew just what
was coming. I went off, without waiting for serving men, and unsaddled
my horse, and washed such portions of his ribs and his spine as projected
through his hide, and when I came back, behold five stately circus tents
were up--tents that were brilliant, within, with blue, and gold, and
crimson, and all manner of splendid adornment! I was speechless. Then
they brought eight little iron bedsteads, and set them up in the tents;
they put a soft mattress and pillows and good blankets and two snow-white
sheets on each bed. Next, they rigged a table about the centre-pole, and
on it placed pewter pitchers, basins, soap, and the whitest of towels
--one set for each man; they pointed to pockets in the tent, and said we
could put our small trifles in them for convenience, and if we needed
pins or such things, they were sticking every where. Then came the
finishing touch--they spread carpets on the floor! I simply said, "If
you call this camping out, all right--but it isn't the style I am used
to; my little baggage that I brought along is at a discount."

It grew dark, and they put candles on the tables--candles set in bright,
new, brazen candlesticks. And soon the bell--a genuine, simon-pure bell
--rang, and we were invited to "the saloon." I had thought before that
we had a tent or so too many, but now here was one, at least, provided
for; it was to be used for nothing but an eating-saloon. Like the
others, it was high enough for a family of giraffes to live in, and was
very handsome and clean and bright-colored within. It was a gem of a
place. A table for eight, and eight canvas chairs; a table-cloth and
napkins whose whiteness and whose fineness laughed to scorn the things we
were used to in the great excursion steamer; knives and forks,
soup-plates, dinner-plates--every thing, in the handsomest kind of
style. It was wonderful! And they call this camping out. Those
stately fellows in baggy trowsers and turbaned fezzes brought in a
dinner which consisted of roast mutton, roast chicken, roast goose,
potatoes, bread, tea, pudding, apples, and delicious grapes; the viands
were better cooked than any we had eaten for weeks, and the table made a
finer appearance, with its large German silver candlesticks and other
finery, than any table we had sat down to for a good while, and yet that
polite dragoman, Abraham, came bowing in and apologizing for the whole
affair, on account of the unavoidable confusion of getting under way for
a very long trip, and promising to do a great deal better in future!

It is midnight, now, and we break camp at six in the morning.

They call this camping out. At this rate it is a glorious privilege to
be a pilgrim to the Holy Land.


We are camped near Temnin-el-Foka--a name which the boys have simplified
a good deal, for the sake of convenience in spelling. They call it
Jacksonville. It sounds a little strangely, here in the Valley of
Lebanon, but it has the merit of being easier to remember than the Arabic


"The night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away."

I slept very soundly last night, yet when the dragoman's bell rang at
half-past five this morning and the cry went abroad of "Ten minutes to
dress for breakfast!" I heard both. It surprised me, because I have not
heard the breakfast gong in the ship for a month, and whenever we have
had occasion to fire a salute at daylight, I have only found it out in
the course of conversation afterward. However, camping out, even though
it be in a gorgeous tent, makes one fresh and lively in the morning
--especially if the air you are breathing is the cool, fresh air of the

I was dressed within the ten minutes, and came out. The saloon tent had
been stripped of its sides, and had nothing left but its roof; so when we
sat down to table we could look out over a noble panorama of mountain,
sea and hazy valley. And sitting thus, the sun rose slowly up and
suffused the picture with a world of rich coloring.

Hot mutton chops, fried chicken, omelettes, fried potatoes and coffee
--all excellent. This was the bill of fare. It was sauced with a savage
appetite purchased by hard riding the day before, and refreshing sleep in
a pure atmosphere. As I called for a second cup of coffee, I glanced
over my shoulder, and behold our white village was gone--the splendid
tents had vanished like magic! It was wonderful how quickly those Arabs
had "folded their tents;" and it was wonderful, also, how quickly they
had gathered the thousand odds and ends of the camp together and
disappeared with them.

By half-past six we were under way, and all the Syrian world seemed to be
under way also. The road was filled with mule trains and long
processions of camels. This reminds me that we have been trying for some
time to think what a camel looks like, and now we have made it out. When
he is down on all his knees, flat on his breast to receive his load, he
looks something like a goose swimming; and when he is upright he looks
like an ostrich with an extra set of legs. Camels are not beautiful, and
their long under lip gives them an exceedingly "gallus"--[Excuse the
slang, no other word will describe it]--expression. They have immense,
flat, forked cushions of feet, that make a track in the dust like a pie
with a slice cut out of it. They are not particular about their diet.
They would eat a tombstone if they could bite it. A thistle grows about
here which has needles on it that would pierce through leather, I think;
if one touches you, you can find relief in nothing but profanity. The
camels eat these. They show by their actions that they enjoy them. I
suppose it would be a real treat to a camel to have a keg of nails for

While I am speaking of animals, I will mention that I have a horse now by
the name of "Jericho." He is a mare. I have seen remarkable horses
before, but none so remarkable as this. I wanted a horse that could shy,
and this one fills the bill. I had an idea that shying indicated spirit.
If I was correct, I have got the most spirited horse on earth. He shies
at every thing he comes across, with the utmost impartiality. He appears
to have a mortal dread of telegraph poles, especially; and it is
fortunate that these are on both sides of the road, because as it is now,
I never fall off twice in succession on the same side. If I fell on the
same side always, it would get to be monotonous after a while. This
creature has scared at every thing he has seen to-day, except a haystack.
He walked up to that with an intrepidity and a recklessness that were
astonishing. And it would fill any one with admiration to see how he
preserves his self-possession in the presence of a barley sack. This
dare-devil bravery will be the death of this horse some day.

He is not particularly fast, but I think he will get me through the Holy
Land. He has only one fault. His tail has been chopped off or else he
has sat down on it too hard, some time or other, and he has to fight the
flies with his heels. This is all very well, but when he tries to kick a
fly off the top of his head with his hind foot, it is too much variety.
He is going to get himself into trouble that way some day. He reaches
around and bites my legs too. I do not care particularly about that,
only I do not like to see a horse too sociable.

I think the owner of this prize had a wrong opinion about him. He had an
idea that he was one of those fiery, untamed steeds, but he is not of
that character. I know the Arab had this idea, because when he brought
the horse out for inspection in Beirout, he kept jerking at the bridle
and shouting in Arabic, "Ho! will you? Do you want to run away, you
ferocious beast, and break your neck?" when all the time the horse was
not doing anything in the world, and only looked like he wanted to lean
up against something and think. Whenever he is not shying at things, or
reaching after a fly, he wants to do that yet. How it would surprise his
owner to know this.

We have been in a historical section of country all day. At noon we
camped three hours and took luncheon at Mekseh, near the junction of the
Lebanon Mountains and the Jebel el Kuneiyiseh, and looked down into the
immense, level, garden-like Valley of Lebanon. To-night we are camping
near the same valley, and have a very wide sweep of it in view. We can
see the long, whale-backed ridge of Mount Hermon projecting above the
eastern hills. The "dews of Hermon" are falling upon us now, and the
tents are almost soaked with them.

Over the way from us, and higher up the valley, we can discern, through
the glasses, the faint outlines of the wonderful ruins of Baalbec, the
supposed Baal-Gad of Scripture. Joshua, and another person, were the two
spies who were sent into this land of Canaan by the children of Israel to
report upon its character--I mean they were the spies who reported
favorably. They took back with them some specimens of the grapes of this
country, and in the children's picture-books they are always represented
as bearing one monstrous bunch swung to a pole between them, a
respectable load for a pack-train. The Sunday-school books exaggerated
it a little. The grapes are most excellent to this day, but the bunches
are not as large as those in the pictures. I was surprised and hurt when
I saw them, because those colossal bunches of grapes were one of my most
cherished juvenile traditions.

Joshua reported favorably, and the children of Israel journeyed on, with
Moses at the head of the general government, and Joshua in command of the
army of six hundred thousand fighting men. Of women and children and
civilians there was a countless swarm. Of all that mighty host, none but
the two faithful spies ever lived to set their feet in the Promised Land.
They and their descendants wandered forty years in the desert, and then
Moses, the gifted warrior, poet, statesman and philosopher, went up into
Pisgah and met his mysterious fate. Where he was buried no man knows

"* * * no man dug that sepulchre,
And no man saw it e'er
-- For the Sons of God upturned the sod
And laid the dead man there!"

Then Joshua began his terrible raid, and from Jericho clear to this
Baal-Gad, he swept the land like the Genius of Destruction. He
slaughtered the people, laid waste their soil, and razed their cities to
the ground. He wasted thirty-one kings also. One may call it that,
though really it can hardly be called wasting them, because there were
always plenty of kings in those days, and to spare. At any rate, he
destroyed thirty-one kings, and divided up their realms among his
Israelites. He divided up this valley stretched out here before us, and
so it was once Jewish territory. The Jews have long since disappeared
from it, however.

Back yonder, an hour's journey from here, we passed through an Arab
village of stone dry-goods boxes (they look like that,) where Noah's tomb
lies under lock and key. [Noah built the ark.] Over these old hills and
valleys the ark that contained all that was left of a vanished world once

I make no apology for detailing the above information. It will be news
to some of my readers, at any rate.

Noah's tomb is built of stone, and is covered with a long stone building.
Bucksheesh let us in. The building had to be long, because the grave of
the honored old navigator is two hundred and ten feet long itself! It is
only about four feet high, though. He must have cast a shadow like a
lightning-rod. The proof that this is the genuine spot where Noah was
buried can only be doubted by uncommonly incredulous people. The
evidence is pretty straight. Shem, the son of Noah, was present at the
burial, and showed the place to his descendants, who transmitted the
knowledge to their descendants, and the lineal descendants of these
introduced themselves to us to-day. It was pleasant to make the
acquaintance of members of so respectable a family. It was a thing to be
proud of. It was the next thing to being acquainted with Noah himself.

Noah's memorable voyage will always possess a living interest for me,

If ever an oppressed race existed, it is this one we see fettered around
us under the inhuman tyranny of the Ottoman Empire. I wish Europe would
let Russia annihilate Turkey a little--not much, but enough to make it
difficult to find the place again without a divining-rod or a
diving-bell. The Syrians are very poor, and yet they are ground down by
a system of taxation that would drive any other nation frantic. Last
year their taxes were heavy enough, in all conscience--but this year
they have been increased by the addition of taxes that were forgiven
them in times of famine in former years. On top of this the Government
has levied a tax of one-tenth of the whole proceeds of the land. This
is only half the story. The Pacha of a Pachalic does not trouble
himself with appointing tax-collectors. He figures up what all these
taxes ought to amount to in a certain district. Then he farms the
collection out. He calls the rich men together, the highest bidder gets
the speculation, pays the Pacha on the spot, and then sells out to
smaller fry, who sell in turn to a piratical horde of still smaller fry.
These latter compel the peasant to bring his little trifle of grain to
the village, at his own cost. It must be weighed, the various taxes set
apart, and the remainder returned to the producer. But the collector
delays this duty day after day, while the producer's family are
perishing for bread; at last the poor wretch, who can not but understand
the game, says, "Take a quarter--take half--take two-thirds if you will,
and let me go!" It is a most outrageous state of things.

These people are naturally good-hearted and intelligent, and with
education and liberty, would be a happy and contented race. They often
appeal to the stranger to know if the great world will not some day come
to their relief and save them. The Sultan has been lavishing money like
water in England and Paris, but his subjects are suffering for it now.

This fashion of camping out bewilders me. We have boot-jacks and a
bath-tub, now, and yet all the mysteries the pack-mules carry are not
revealed. What next?


We had a tedious ride of about five hours, in the sun, across the Valley
of Lebanon. It proved to be not quite so much of a garden as it had
seemed from the hill-sides. It was a desert, weed-grown waste, littered
thickly with stones the size of a man's fist. Here and there the natives
had scratched the ground and reared a sickly crop of grain, but for the
most part the valley was given up to a handful of shepherds, whose flocks
were doing what they honestly could to get a living, but the chances were
against them. We saw rude piles of stones standing near the roadside, at
intervals, and recognized the custom of marking boundaries which obtained
in Jacob's time. There were no walls, no fences, no hedges--nothing to
secure a man's possessions but these random heaps of stones. The
Israelites held them sacred in the old patriarchal times, and these other
Arabs, their lineal descendants, do so likewise. An American, of
ordinary intelligence, would soon widely extend his property, at an
outlay of mere manual labor, performed at night, under so loose a system
of fencing as this.

The plows these people use are simply a sharpened stick, such as Abraham
plowed with, and they still winnow their wheat as he did--they pile it on
the house-top, and then toss it by shovel-fulls into the air until the
wind has blown all the chaff away. They never invent any thing, never
learn any thing.

We had a fine race, of a mile, with an Arab perched on a camel. Some of
the horses were fast, and made very good time, but the camel scampered by
them without any very great effort. The yelling and shouting, and
whipping and galloping, of all parties interested, made it an
exhilarating, exciting, and particularly boisterous race.

At eleven o'clock, our eyes fell upon the walls and columns of Baalbec, a
noble ruin whose history is a sealed book. It has stood there for
thousands of years, the wonder and admiration of travelers; but who built
it, or when it was built, are questions that may never be answered. One
thing is very sure, though. Such grandeur of design, and such grace of
execution, as one sees in the temples of Baalbec, have not been equaled
or even approached in any work of men's hands that has been built within
twenty centuries past.

The great Temple of the Sun, the Temple of Jupiter, and several smaller
temples, are clustered together in the midst of one of these miserable
Syrian villages, and look strangely enough in such plebeian company.
These temples are built upon massive substructions that might support a
world, almost; the materials used are blocks of stone as large as an
omnibus--very few, if any of them, are smaller than a carpenter's tool
chest--and these substructions are traversed by tunnels of masonry
through which a train of cars might pass. With such foundations as
these, it is little wonder that Baalbec has lasted so long. The Temple
of the Sun is nearly three hundred feet long and one hundred and sixty
feet wide. It had fifty-four columns around it, but only six are
standing now--the others lie broken at its base, a confused and
picturesque heap. The six columns are their bases, Corinthian capitals
and entablature--and six more shapely columns do not exist. The columns
and the entablature together are ninety feet high--a prodigious altitude
for shafts of stone to reach, truly--and yet one only thinks of their
beauty and symmetry when looking at them; the pillars look slender and
delicate, the entablature, with its elaborate sculpture, looks like rich
stucco-work. But when you have gazed aloft till your eyes are weary, you
glance at the great fragments of pillars among which you are standing,
and find that they are eight feet through; and with them lie beautiful
capitals apparently as large as a small cottage; and also single slabs of
stone, superbly sculptured, that are four or five feet thick, and would
completely cover the floor of any ordinary parlor. You wonder where
these monstrous things came from, and it takes some little time to
satisfy yourself that the airy and graceful fabric that towers above your
head is made up of their mates. It seems too preposterous.

The Temple of Jupiter is a smaller ruin than the one I have been speaking
of, and yet is immense. It is in a tolerable state of preservation. One
row of nine columns stands almost uninjured. They are sixty-five feet
high and support a sort of porch or roof, which connects them with the
roof of the building. This porch-roof is composed of tremendous slabs of
stone, which are so finely sculptured on the under side that the work
looks like a fresco from below. One or two of these slabs had fallen,
and again I wondered if the gigantic masses of carved stone that lay
about me were no larger than those above my head. Within the temple, the
ornamentation was elaborate and colossal. What a wonder of architectural
beauty and grandeur this edifice must have been when it was new! And
what a noble picture it and its statelier companion, with the chaos of
mighty fragments scattered about them, yet makes in the moonlight!

I can not conceive how those immense blocks of stone were ever hauled
from the quarries, or how they were ever raised to the dizzy heights they
occupy in the temples. And yet these sculptured blocks are trifles in
size compared with the rough-hewn blocks that form the wide verandah or
platform which surrounds the Great Temple. One stretch of that platform,
two hundred feet long, is composed of blocks of stone as large, and some
of them larger, than a street-car. They surmount a wall about ten or
twelve feet high. I thought those were large rocks, but they sank into
insignificance compared with those which formed another section of the
platform. These were three in number, and I thought that each of them
was about as long as three street cars placed end to end, though of
course they are a third wider and a third higher than a street car.
Perhaps two railway freight cars of the largest pattern, placed end to
end, might better represent their size. In combined length these three
stones stretch nearly two hundred feet; they are thirteen feet square;
two of them are sixty-four feet long each, and the third is sixty-nine.
They are built into the massive wall some twenty feet above the ground.
They are there, but how they got there is the question. I have seen the
hull of a steamboat that was smaller than one of those stones. All these
great walls are as exact and shapely as the flimsy things we build of
bricks in these days. A race of gods or of giants must have inhabited
Baalbec many a century ago. Men like the men of our day could hardly
rear such temples as these.

We went to the quarry from whence the stones of Baalbec were taken. It
was about a quarter of a mile off, and down hill. In a great pit lay the
mate of the largest stone in the ruins. It lay there just as the giants
of that old forgotten time had left it when they were called hence--just
as they had left it, to remain for thousands of years, an eloquent rebuke
unto such as are prone to think slightingly of the men who lived before
them. This enormous block lies there, squared and ready for the
builders' hands--a solid mass fourteen feet by seventeen, and but a few
inches less than seventy feet long! Two buggies could be driven abreast
of each other, on its surface, from one end of it to the other, and leave
room enough for a man or two to walk on either side.

One might swear that all the John Smiths and George Wilkinsons, and all
the other pitiful nobodies between Kingdom Come and Baalbec would
inscribe their poor little names upon the walls of Baalbec's magnificent
ruins, and would add the town, the county and the State they came from
--and swearing thus, be infallibly correct. It is a pity some great ruin
does not fall in and flatten out some of these reptiles, and scare their
kind out of ever giving their names to fame upon any walls or monuments
again, forever.

Properly, with the sorry relics we bestrode, it was a three days' journey
to Damascus. It was necessary that we should do it in less than two.
It was necessary because our three pilgrims would not travel on the
Sabbath day. We were all perfectly willing to keep the Sabbath day, but
there are times when to keep the letter of a sacred law whose spirit is
righteous, becomes a sin, and this was a case in point. We pleaded for
the tired, ill-treated horses, and tried to show that their faithful
service deserved kindness in return, and their hard lot compassion. But
when did ever self-righteousness know the sentiment of pity? What were a
few long hours added to the hardships of some over-taxed brutes when
weighed against the peril of those human souls? It was not the most
promising party to travel with and hope to gain a higher veneration for
religion through the example of its devotees. We said the Saviour who
pitied dumb beasts and taught that the ox must be rescued from the mire
even on the Sabbath day, would not have counseled a forced march like
this. We said the "long trip" was exhausting and therefore dangerous in
the blistering heats of summer, even when the ordinary days' stages were
traversed, and if we persisted in this hard march, some of us might be
stricken down with the fevers of the country in consequence of it.
Nothing could move the pilgrims. They must press on. Men might die,
horses might die, but they must enter upon holy soil next week, with no
Sabbath-breaking stain upon them. Thus they were willing to commit a sin
against the spirit of religious law, in order that they might preserve
the letter of it. It was not worth while to tell them "the letter
kills." I am talking now about personal friends; men whom I like; men
who are good citizens; who are honorable, upright, conscientious; but
whose idea of the Saviour's religion seems to me distorted. They lecture
our shortcomings unsparingly, and every night they call us together and
read to us chapters from the Testament that are full of gentleness, of
charity, and of tender mercy; and then all the next day they stick to
their saddles clear up to the summits of these rugged mountains, and
clear down again. Apply the Testament's gentleness, and charity, and
tender mercy to a toiling, worn and weary horse?--Nonsense--these are for
God's human creatures, not His dumb ones. What the pilgrims choose to
do, respect for their almost sacred character demands that I should allow
to pass--but I would so like to catch any other member of the party
riding his horse up one of these exhausting hills once!

We have given the pilgrims a good many examples that might benefit them,
but it is virtue thrown away. They have never heard a cross word out of
our lips toward each other--but they have quarreled once or twice. We
love to hear them at it, after they have been lecturing us. The very
first thing they did, coming ashore at Beirout, was to quarrel in the
boat. I have said I like them, and I do like them--but every time they
read me a scorcher of a lecture I mean to talk back in print.

Not content with doubling the legitimate stages, they switched off the
main road and went away out of the way to visit an absurd fountain called
Figia, because Baalam's ass had drank there once. So we journeyed on,
through the terrible hills and deserts and the roasting sun, and then far
into the night, seeking the honored pool of Baalam's ass, the patron
saint of all pilgrims like us. I find no entry but this in my note-book:

"Rode to-day, altogether, thirteen hours, through deserts, partly,
and partly over barren, unsightly hills, and latterly through wild,
rocky scenery, and camped at about eleven o'clock at night on the
banks of a limpid stream, near a Syrian village. Do not know its
name--do not wish to know it--want to go to bed. Two horses lame
(mine and Jack's) and the others worn out. Jack and I walked three
or four miles, over the hills, and led the horses. Fun--but of a
mild type."

Twelve or thirteen hours in the saddle, even in a Christian land and a
Christian climate, and on a good horse, is a tiresome journey; but in an
oven like Syria, in a ragged spoon of a saddle that slips fore-and-aft,
and "thort-ships," and every way, and on a horse that is tired and lame,
and yet must be whipped and spurred with hardly a moment's cessation all
day long, till the blood comes from his side, and your conscience hurts
you every time you strike if you are half a man,--it is a journey to be
remembered in bitterness of spirit and execrated with emphasis for a
liberal division of a man's lifetime.


The next day was an outrage upon men and horses both. It was another
thirteen-hour stretch (including an hour's "nooning.") It was over the
barrenest chalk-hills and through the baldest canons that even Syria can
show. The heat quivered in the air every where. In the canons we almost
smothered in the baking atmosphere. On high ground, the reflection from
the chalk-hills was blinding. It was cruel to urge the crippled horses,
but it had to be done in order to make Damascus Saturday night. We saw
ancient tombs and temples of fanciful architecture carved out of the
solid rock high up in the face of precipices above our heads, but we had
neither time nor strength to climb up there and examine them. The terse
language of my note-book will answer for the rest of this day's

"Broke camp at 7 A.M., and made a ghastly trip through the Zeb Dana
valley and the rough mountains--horses limping and that Arab
screech-owl that does most of the singing and carries the
water-skins, always a thousand miles ahead, of course, and no water
to drink--will he never die? Beautiful stream in a chasm, lined
thick with pomegranate, fig, olive and quince orchards, and nooned
an hour at the celebrated Baalam's Ass Fountain of Figia, second in
size in Syria, and the coldest water out of Siberia--guide-books do
not say Baalam's ass ever drank there--somebody been imposing on
the pilgrims, may be. Bathed in it--Jack and I. Only a
second--ice-water. It is the principal source of the Abana river
--only one-half mile down to where it joins. Beautiful
place--giant trees all around--so shady and cool, if one could keep
awake--vast stream gushes straight out from under the mountain in a
torrent. Over it is a very ancient ruin, with no known history
--supposed to have been for the worship of the deity of the fountain
or Baalam's ass or somebody. Wretched nest of human vermin about
the fountain--rags, dirt, sunken cheeks, pallor of sickness, sores,
projecting bones, dull, aching misery in their eyes and ravenous
hunger speaking from every eloquent fibre and muscle from head to
foot. How they sprang upon a bone, how they crunched the bread we
gave them! Such as these to swarm about one and watch every bite
he takes, with greedy looks, and swallow unconsciously every time
he swallows, as if they half fancied the precious morsel went down
their own throats --hurry up the caravan!--I never shall enjoy a
meal in this distressful country. To think of eating three times
every day under such circumstances for three weeks yet--it is worse
punishment than riding all day in the sun. There are sixteen
starving babies from one to six years old in the party, and their
legs are no larger than broom handles. Left the fountain at 1 P.M.
(the fountain took us at least two hours out of our way,) and
reached Mahomet's lookout perch, over Damascus, in time to get a
good long look before it was necessary to move on. Tired? Ask of
the winds that far away with fragments strewed the sea."

As the glare of day mellowed into twilight, we looked down upon a picture
which is celebrated all over the world. I think I have read about four
hundred times that when Mahomet was a simple camel-driver he reached this
point and looked down upon Damascus for the first time, and then made a
certain renowned remark. He said man could enter only one paradise; he
preferred to go to the one above. So he sat down there and feasted his
eyes upon the earthly paradise of Damascus, and then went away without
entering its gates. They have erected a tower on the hill to mark the
spot where he stood.

Damascus is beautiful from the mountain. It is beautiful even to
foreigners accustomed to luxuriant vegetation, and I can easily
understand how unspeakably beautiful it must be to eyes that are only
used to the God-forsaken barrenness and desolation of Syria. I should
think a Syrian would go wild with ecstacy when such a picture bursts upon
him for the first time.

From his high perch, one sees before him and below him, a wall of dreary
mountains, shorn of vegetation, glaring fiercely in the sun; it fences in
a level desert of yellow sand, smooth as velvet and threaded far away
with fine lines that stand for roads, and dotted with creeping mites we
know are camel-trains and journeying men; right in the midst of the
desert is spread a billowy expanse of green foliage; and nestling in its
heart sits the great white city, like an island of pearls and opals
gleaming out of a sea of emeralds. This is the picture you see spread
far below you, with distance to soften it, the sun to glorify it, strong
contrasts to heighten the effects, and over it and about it a drowsing
air of repose to spiritualize it and make it seem rather a beautiful
estray from the mysterious worlds we visit in dreams than a substantial
tenant of our coarse, dull globe. And when you think of the leagues of
blighted, blasted, sandy, rocky, sun-burnt, ugly, dreary, infamous
country you have ridden over to get here, you think it is the most
beautiful, beautiful picture that ever human eyes rested upon in all the
broad universe! If I were to go to Damascus again, I would camp on
Mahomet's hill about a week, and then go away. There is no need to go
inside the walls. The Prophet was wise without knowing it when he
decided not to go down into the paradise of Damascus.

There is an honored old tradition that the immense garden which Damascus
stands in was the Garden of Eden, and modern writers have gathered up
many chapters of evidence tending to show that it really was the Garden
of Eden, and that the rivers Pharpar and Abana are the "two rivers" that
watered Adam's Paradise. It may be so, but it is not paradise now, and
one would be as happy outside of it as he would be likely to be within.
It is so crooked and cramped and dirty that one can not realize that he
is in the splendid city he saw from the hill-top. The gardens are hidden
by high mud-walls, and the paradise is become a very sink of pollution
and uncomeliness. Damascus has plenty of clear, pure water in it,
though, and this is enough, of itself, to make an Arab think it beautiful
and blessed. Water is scarce in blistered Syria. We run railways by our
large cities in America; in Syria they curve the roads so as to make them
run by the meagre little puddles they call "fountains," and which are not
found oftener on a journey than every four hours. But the "rivers" of
Pharpar and Abana of Scripture (mere creeks,) run through Damascus, and
so every house and every garden have their sparkling fountains and
rivulets of water. With her forest of foliage and her abundance of
water, Damascus must be a wonder of wonders to the Bedouin from the
deserts. Damascus is simply an oasis--that is what it is. For four
thousand years its waters have not gone dry or its fertility failed.
Now we can understand why the city has existed so long. It could not
die. So long as its waters remain to it away out there in the midst of
that howling desert, so long will Damascus live to bless the sight of the
tired and thirsty wayfarer.

"Though old as history itself, thou art fresh as the breath of
spring, blooming as thine own rose-bud, and fragrant as thine own
orange flower, O Damascus, pearl of the East!"

Damascus dates back anterior to the days of Abraham, and is the oldest
city in the world. It was founded by Uz, the grandson of Noah. "The
early history of Damascus is shrouded in the mists of a hoary antiquity."
Leave the matters written of in the first eleven chapters of the Old
Testament out, and no recorded event has occurred in the world but
Damascus was in existence to receive the news of it. Go back as far as
you will into the vague past, there was always a Damascus. In the
writings of every century for more than four thousand years, its name has
been mentioned and its praises sung. To Damascus, years are only
moments, decades are only flitting trifles of time. She measures time,
not by days and months and years, but by the empires she has seen rise,
and prosper and crumble to ruin. She is a type of immortality. She saw
the foundations of Baalbec, and Thebes, and Ephesus laid; she saw these
villages grow into mighty cities, and amaze the world with their
grandeur--and she has lived to see them desolate, deserted, and given
over to the owls and the bats. She saw the Israelitish empire exalted,
and she saw it annihilated. She saw Greece rise, and flourish two
thousand years, and die. In her old age she saw Rome built; she saw it
overshadow the world with its power; she saw it perish. The few hundreds
of years of Genoese and Venetian might and splendor were, to grave old
Damascus, only a trifling scintillation hardly worth remembering.
Damascus has seen all that has ever occurred on earth, and still she
lives. She has looked upon the dry bones of a thousand empires, and will
see the tombs of a thousand more before she dies. Though another claims
the name, old Damascus is by right the Eternal City.

We reached the city gates just at sundown. They do say that one can get
into any walled city of Syria, after night, for bucksheesh, except
Damascus. But Damascus, with its four thousand years of respectability
in the world, has many old fogy notions. There are no street lamps
there, and the law compels all who go abroad at night to carry lanterns,
just as was the case in old days, when heroes and heroines of the Arabian
Nights walked the streets of Damascus, or flew away toward Bagdad on
enchanted carpets.

It was fairly dark a few minutes after we got within the wall, and we
rode long distances through wonderfully crooked streets, eight to ten
feet wide, and shut in on either side by the high mud-walls of the
gardens. At last we got to where lanterns could be seen flitting about
here and there, and knew we were in the midst of the curious old city.
In a little narrow street, crowded with our pack-mules and with a swarm
of uncouth Arabs, we alighted, and through a kind of a hole in the wall
entered the hotel. We stood in a great flagged court, with flowers and
citron trees about us, and a huge tank in the centre that was receiving
the waters of many pipes. We crossed the court and entered the rooms
prepared to receive four of us. In a large marble-paved recess between
the two rooms was a tank of clear, cool water, which was kept running
over all the time by the streams that were pouring into it from half a
dozen pipes. Nothing, in this scorching, desolate land could look so
refreshing as this pure water flashing in the lamp-light; nothing could
look so beautiful, nothing could sound so delicious as this mimic rain to
ears long unaccustomed to sounds of such a nature. Our rooms were large,
comfortably furnished, and even had their floors clothed with soft,
cheerful-tinted carpets. It was a pleasant thing to see a carpet again,
for if there is any thing drearier than the tomb-like, stone-paved
parlors and bed-rooms of Europe and Asia, I do not know what it is.
They make one think of the grave all the time. A very broad, gaily
caparisoned divan, some twelve or fourteen feet long, extended across one
side of each room, and opposite were single beds with spring mattresses.
There were great looking-glasses and marble-top tables. All this luxury
was as grateful to systems and senses worn out with an exhausting day's
travel, as it was unexpected--for one can not tell what to expect in a
Turkish city of even a quarter of a million inhabitants.

I do not know, but I think they used that tank between the rooms to draw
drinking water from; that did not occur to me, however, until I had
dipped my baking head far down into its cool depths. I thought of it
then, and superb as the bath was, I was sorry I had taken it, and was
about to go and explain to the landlord. But a finely curled and scented
poodle dog frisked up and nipped the calf of my leg just then, and before
I had time to think, I had soused him to the bottom of the tank, and when
I saw a servant coming with a pitcher I went off and left the pup trying
to climb out and not succeeding very well. Satisfied revenge was all I
needed to make me perfectly happy, and when I walked in to supper that
first night in Damascus I was in that condition. We lay on those divans
a long time, after supper, smoking narghilies and long-stemmed chibouks,
and talking about the dreadful ride of the day, and I knew then what I
had sometimes known before--that it is worth while to get tired out,
because one so enjoys resting afterward.

In the morning we sent for donkeys. It is worthy of note that we had to
send for these things. I said Damascus was an old fossil, and she is.
Any where else we would have been assailed by a clamorous army of
donkey-drivers, guides, peddlers and beggars--but in Damascus they so
hate the very sight of a foreign Christian that they want no intercourse
whatever with him; only a year or two ago, his person was not always
safe in Damascus streets. It is the most fanatical Mohammedan purgatory
out of Arabia. Where you see one green turban of a Hadji elsewhere (the
honored sign that my lord has made the pilgrimage to Mecca,) I think you
will see a dozen in Damascus. The Damascenes are the ugliest, wickedest
looking villains we have seen. All the veiled women we had seen yet,
nearly, left their eyes exposed, but numbers of these in Damascus
completely hid the face under a close-drawn black veil that made the
woman look like a mummy. If ever we caught an eye exposed it was
quickly hidden from our contaminating Christian vision; the beggars
actually passed us by without demanding bucksheesh; the merchants in the
bazaars did not hold up their goods and cry out eagerly, "Hey, John!"
or "Look this, Howajji!" On the contrary, they only scowled at us and
said never a word.

The narrow streets swarmed like a hive with men and women in strange
Oriental costumes, and our small donkeys knocked them right and left as
we plowed through them, urged on by the merciless donkey-boys. These
persecutors run after the animals, shouting and goading them for hours
together; they keep the donkey in a gallop always, yet never get tired
themselves or fall behind. The donkeys fell down and spilt us over their
heads occasionally, but there was nothing for it but to mount and hurry
on again. We were banged against sharp corners, loaded porters, camels,
and citizens generally; and we were so taken up with looking out for
collisions and casualties that we had no chance to look about us at all.
We rode half through the city and through the famous "street which is
called Straight" without seeing any thing, hardly. Our bones were nearly
knocked out of joint, we were wild with excitement, and our sides ached
with the jolting we had suffered. I do not like riding in the Damascus

We were on our way to the reputed houses of Judas and Ananias. About
eighteen or nineteen hundred years ago, Saul, a native of Tarsus, was
particularly bitter against the new sect called Christians, and he left
Jerusalem and started across the country on a furious crusade against
them. He went forth "breathing threatenings and slaughter against the
disciples of the Lord."

"And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus, and suddenly there
shined round about him a light from heaven:

"And he fell to the earth and heard a voice saying unto him, 'Saul,
Saul, why persecutest thou me?'

"And when he knew that it was Jesus that spoke to him he trembled,
and was astonished, and said, 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?'"

He was told to arise and go into the ancient city and one would tell
him what to do. In the meantime his soldiers stood speechless and
awe-stricken, for they heard the mysterious voice but saw no man. Saul
rose up and found that that fierce supernatural light had destroyed his
sight, and he was blind, so "they led him by the hand and brought him to
Damascus." He was converted.

Paul lay three days, blind, in the house of Judas, and during that time
he neither ate nor drank.

There came a voice to a citizen of Damascus, named Ananias, saying,
"Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire at
the house of Judas, for one called Saul, of Tarsus; for behold, he

Ananias did not wish to go at first, for he had heard of Saul before, and
he had his doubts about that style of a "chosen vessel" to preach the
gospel of peace. However, in obedience to orders, he went into the
"street called Straight" (how he found his way into it, and after he did,
how he ever found his way out of it again, are mysteries only to be
accounted for by the fact that he was acting under Divine inspiration.)
He found Paul and restored him, and ordained him a preacher; and from
this old house we had hunted up in the street which is miscalled
Straight, he had started out on that bold missionary career which he
prosecuted till his death. It was not the house of the disciple who sold
the Master for thirty pieces of silver. I make this explanation in
justice to Judas, who was a far different sort of man from the person
just referred to. A very different style of man, and lived in a very
good house. It is a pity we do not know more about him.

I have given, in the above paragraphs, some more information for people
who will not read Bible history until they are defrauded into it by some
such method as this. I hope that no friend of progress and education
will obstruct or interfere with my peculiar mission.

The street called Straight is straighter than a corkscrew, but not as
straight as a rainbow. St. Luke is careful not to commit himself; he
does not say it is the street which is straight, but the "street which is
called Straight." It is a fine piece of irony; it is the only facetious
remark in the Bible, I believe. We traversed the street called Straight
a good way, and then turned off and called at the reputed house of
Ananias. There is small question that a part of the original house is
there still; it is an old room twelve or fifteen feet under ground, and
its masonry is evidently ancient. If Ananias did not live there in St.
Paul's time, somebody else did, which is just as well. I took a drink
out of Ananias' well, and singularly enough, the water was just as fresh
as if the well had been dug yesterday.

We went out toward the north end of the city to see the place where the
disciples let Paul down over the Damascus wall at dead of night--for he
preached Christ so fearlessly in Damascus that the people sought to kill
him, just as they would to-day for the same offense, and he had to escape
and flee to Jerusalem.

Then we called at the tomb of Mahomet's children and at a tomb which
purported to be that of St. George who killed the dragon, and so on out
to the hollow place under a rock where Paul hid during his flight till
his pursuers gave him up; and to the mausoleum of the five thousand
Christians who were massacred in Damascus in 1861 by the Turks. They say
those narrow streets ran blood for several days, and that men, women and
children were butchered indiscriminately and left to rot by hundreds all
through the Christian quarter; they say, further, that the stench was
dreadful. All the Christians who could get away fled from the city, and
the Mohammedans would not defile their hands by burying the "infidel
dogs." The thirst for blood extended to the high lands of Hermon and
Anti-Lebanon, and in a short time twenty-five thousand more Christians
were massacred and their possessions laid waste. How they hate a
Christian in Damascus!--and pretty much all over Turkeydom as well. And
how they will pay for it when Russia turns her guns upon them again!

It is soothing to the heart to abuse England and France for interposing
to save the Ottoman Empire from the destruction it has so richly deserved
for a thousand years. It hurts my vanity to see these pagans refuse to
eat of food that has been cooked for us; or to eat from a dish we have
eaten from; or to drink from a goatskin which we have polluted with our
Christian lips, except by filtering the water through a rag which they
put over the mouth of it or through a sponge! I never disliked a
Chinaman as I do these degraded Turks and Arabs, and when Russia is ready
to war with them again, I hope England and France will not find it good
breeding or good judgment to interfere.

In Damascus they think there are no such rivers in all the world as their
little Abana and Pharpar. The Damascenes have always thought that way.
In 2 Kings, chapter v., Naaman boasts extravagantly about them. That was
three thousand years ago. He says: "Are not Abana and Pharpar rivers of
Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them
and be clean?" But some of my readers have forgotten who Naaman was,
long ago. Naaman was the commander of the Syrian armies. He was the
favorite of the king and lived in great state. "He was a mighty man of
valor, but he was a leper." Strangely enough, the house they point out
to you now as his, has been turned into a leper hospital, and the inmates
expose their horrid deformities and hold up their hands and beg for
bucksheesh when a stranger enters.

One can not appreciate the horror of this disease until he looks upon it
in all its ghastliness, in Naaman's ancient dwelling in Damascus. Bones
all twisted out of shape, great knots protruding from face and body,
joints decaying and dropping away--horrible!


The last twenty-four hours we staid in Damascus I lay prostrate with a
violent attack of cholera, or cholera morbus, and therefore had a good
chance and a good excuse to lie there on that wide divan and take an
honest rest. I had nothing to do but listen to the pattering of the
fountains and take medicine and throw it up again. It was dangerous
recreation, but it was pleasanter than traveling in Syria. I had plenty
of snow from Mount Hermon, and as it would not stay on my stomach, there
was nothing to interfere with my eating it--there was always room for
more. I enjoyed myself very well. Syrian travel has its interesting
features, like travel in any other part of the world, and yet to break
your leg or have the cholera adds a welcome variety to it.

We left Damascus at noon and rode across the plain a couple of hours, and
then the party stopped a while in the shade of some fig-trees to give me
a chance to rest. It was the hottest day we had seen yet--the sun-flames
shot down like the shafts of fire that stream out before a blow-pipe--the
rays seemed to fall in a steady deluge on the head and pass downward like
rain from a roof. I imagined I could distinguish between the floods of
rays--I thought I could tell when each flood struck my head, when it
reached my shoulders, and when the next one came. It was terrible. All
the desert glared so fiercely that my eyes were swimming in tears all the
time. The boys had white umbrellas heavily lined with dark green. They
were a priceless blessing. I thanked fortune that I had one, too,
notwithstanding it was packed up with the baggage and was ten miles
ahead. It is madness to travel in Syria without an umbrella. They told
me in Beirout (these people who always gorge you with advice) that it was
madness to travel in Syria without an umbrella. It was on this account
that I got one.

But, honestly, I think an umbrella is a nuisance any where when its
business is to keep the sun off. No Arab wears a brim to his fez, or
uses an umbrella, or any thing to shade his eyes or his face, and he
always looks comfortable and proper in the sun. But of all the
ridiculous sights I ever have seen, our party of eight is the most so
--they do cut such an outlandish figure. They travel single file; they all
wear the endless white rag of Constantinople wrapped round and round
their hats and dangling down their backs; they all wear thick green
spectacles, with side-glasses to them; they all hold white umbrellas,
lined with green, over their heads; without exception their stirrups are
too short--they are the very worst gang of horsemen on earth, their
animals to a horse trot fearfully hard--and when they get strung out one
after the other; glaring straight ahead and breathless; bouncing high and
out of turn, all along the line; knees well up and stiff, elbows flapping
like a rooster's that is going to crow, and the long file of umbrellas
popping convulsively up and down--when one sees this outrageous picture
exposed to the light of day, he is amazed that the gods don't get out
their thunderbolts and destroy them off the face of the earth! I do--I
wonder at it. I wouldn't let any such caravan go through a country of

And when the sun drops below the horizon and the boys close their
umbrellas and put them under their arms, it is only a variation of the
picture, not a modification of its absurdity.

But may be you can not see the wild extravagance of my panorama. You
could if you were here. Here, you feel all the time just as if you were
living about the year 1200 before Christ--or back to the patriarchs--or
forward to the New Era. The scenery of the Bible is about you--the
customs of the patriarchs are around you--the same people, in the same
flowing robes, and in sandals, cross your path--the same long trains of
stately camels go and come--the same impressive religious solemnity and
silence rest upon the desert and the mountains that were upon them in the
remote ages of antiquity, and behold, intruding upon a scene like this,
comes this fantastic mob of green-spectacled Yanks, with their flapping
elbows and bobbing umbrellas! It is Daniel in the lion's den with a
green cotton umbrella under his arm, all over again.

My umbrella is with the baggage, and so are my green spectacles--and
there they shall stay. I will not use them. I will show some respect
for the eternal fitness of things. It will be bad enough to get
sun-struck, without looking ridiculous into the bargain. If I fall,
let me fall bearing about me the semblance of a Christian, at least.

Three or four hours out from Damascus we passed the spot where Saul was
so abruptly converted, and from this place we looked back over the
scorching desert, and had our last glimpse of beautiful Damascus, decked
in its robes of shining green. After nightfall we reached our tents,
just outside of the nasty Arab village of Jonesborough. Of course the
real name of the place is El something or other, but the boys still
refuse to recognize the Arab names or try to pronounce them. When I say
that that village is of the usual style, I mean to insinuate that all
Syrian villages within fifty miles of Damascus are alike--so much alike
that it would require more than human intelligence to tell wherein one
differed from another. A Syrian village is a hive of huts one story high
(the height of a man,) and as square as a dry-goods box; it is
mud-plastered all over, flat roof and all, and generally whitewashed
after a fashion. The same roof often extends over half the town,
covering many of the streets, which are generally about a yard wide.
When you ride through one of these villages at noon-day, you first meet
a melancholy dog, that looks up at you and silently begs that you won't
run over him, but he does not offer to get out of the way; next you meet
a young boy without any clothes on, and he holds out his hand and says
"Bucksheesh!" --he don't really expect a cent, but then he learned to
say that before he learned to say mother, and now he can not break
himself of it; next you meet a woman with a black veil drawn closely
over her face, and her bust exposed; finally, you come to several
sore-eyed children and children in all stages of mutilation and decay;
and sitting humbly in the dust, and all fringed with filthy rags, is a
poor devil whose arms and legs are gnarled and twisted like grape-vines.
These are all the people you are likely to see. The balance of the
population are asleep within doors, or abroad tending goats in the
plains and on the hill-sides. The village is built on some consumptive
little water-course, and about it is a little fresh-looking vegetation.
Beyond this charmed circle, for miles on every side, stretches a weary
desert of sand and gravel, which produces a gray bunchy shrub like
sage-brush. A Syrian village is the sorriest sight in the world, and
its surroundings are eminently in keeping with it.

I would not have gone into this dissertation upon Syrian villages but for
the fact that Nimrod, the Mighty Hunter of Scriptural notoriety, is
buried in Jonesborough, and I wished the public to know about how he is
located. Like Homer, he is said to be buried in many other places, but
this is the only true and genuine place his ashes inhabit.

When the original tribes were dispersed, more than four thousand years
ago, Nimrod and a large party traveled three or four hundred miles, and
settled where the great city of Babylon afterwards stood. Nimrod built
that city. He also began to build the famous Tower of Babel, but
circumstances over which he had no control put it out of his power to
finish it. He ran it up eight stories high, however, and two of them
still stand, at this day--a colossal mass of brickwork, rent down the
centre by earthquakes, and seared and vitrified by the lightnings of an
angry God. But the vast ruin will still stand for ages, to shame the
puny labors of these modern generations of men. Its huge compartments
are tenanted by owls and lions, and old Nimrod lies neglected in this
wretched village, far from the scene of his grand enterprise.

We left Jonesborough very early in the morning, and rode forever and
forever and forever, it seemed to me, over parched deserts and rocky
hills, hungry, and with no water to drink. We had drained the goat-skins
dry in a little while. At noon we halted before the wretched Arab town
of El Yuba Dam, perched on the side of a mountain, but the dragoman said
if we applied there for water we would be attacked by the whole tribe,
for they did not love Christians. We had to journey on. Two hours later
we reached the foot of a tall isolated mountain, which is crowned by the
crumbling castle of Banias, the stateliest ruin of that kind on earth, no
doubt. It is a thousand feet long and two hundred wide, all of the most
symmetrical, and at the same time the most ponderous masonry. The
massive towers and bastions are more than thirty feet high, and have been
sixty. From the mountain's peak its broken turrets rise above the groves
of ancient oaks and olives, and look wonderfully picturesque. It is of
such high antiquity that no man knows who built it or when it was built.
It is utterly inaccessible, except in one place, where a bridle-path
winds upward among the solid rocks to the old portcullis. The horses'
hoofs have bored holes in these rocks to the depth of six inches during
the hundreds and hundreds of years that the castle was garrisoned. We
wandered for three hours among the chambers and crypts and dungeons of
the fortress, and trod where the mailed heels of many a knightly Crusader
had rang, and where Phenician heroes had walked ages before them.

We wondered how such a solid mass of masonry could be affected even by an
earthquake, and could not understand what agency had made Banias a ruin;
but we found the destroyer, after a while, and then our wonder was
increased tenfold. Seeds had fallen in crevices in the vast walls; the
seeds had sprouted; the tender, insignificant sprouts had hardened; they
grew larger and larger, and by a steady, imperceptible pressure forced
the great stones apart, and now are bringing sure destruction upon a
giant work that has even mocked the earthquakes to scorn! Gnarled and
twisted trees spring from the old walls every where, and beautify and
overshadow the gray battlements with a wild luxuriance of foliage.

From these old towers we looked down upon a broad, far-reaching green
plain, glittering with the pools and rivulets which are the sources of
the sacred river Jordan. It was a grateful vision, after so much desert.

And as the evening drew near, we clambered down the mountain, through
groves of the Biblical oaks of Bashan, (for we were just stepping over
the border and entering the long-sought Holy Land,) and at its extreme
foot, toward the wide valley, we entered this little execrable village of
Banias and camped in a great grove of olive trees near a torrent of
sparkling water whose banks are arrayed in fig-trees, pomegranates and
oleanders in full leaf. Barring the proximity of the village, it is a
sort of paradise.

The very first thing one feels like doing when he gets into camp, all
burning up and dusty, is to hunt up a bath. We followed the stream up to
where it gushes out of the mountain side, three hundred yards from the
tents, and took a bath that was so icy that if I did not know this was
the main source of the sacred river, I would expect harm to come of it.
It was bathing at noonday in the chilly source of the Abana, "River of
Damascus," that gave me the cholera, so Dr. B. said. However, it
generally does give me the cholera to take a bath.

The incorrigible pilgrims have come in with their pockets full of
specimens broken from the ruins. I wish this vandalism could be stopped.
They broke off fragments from Noah's tomb; from the exquisite sculptures
of the temples of Baalbec; from the houses of Judas and Ananias, in
Damascus; from the tomb of Nimrod the Mighty Hunter in Jonesborough; from
the worn Greek and Roman inscriptions set in the hoary walls of the
Castle of Banias; and now they have been hacking and chipping these old
arches here that Jesus looked upon in the flesh. Heaven protect the
Sepulchre when this tribe invades Jerusalem!

The ruins here are not very interesting. There are the massive walls of
a great square building that was once the citadel; there are many
ponderous old arches that are so smothered with debris that they barely
project above the ground; there are heavy-walled sewers through which the
crystal brook of which Jordan is born still runs; in the hill-side are
the substructions of a costly marble temple that Herod the Great built
here--patches of its handsome mosaic floors still remain; there is a
quaint old stone bridge that was here before Herod's time, may be;
scattered every where, in the paths and in the woods, are Corinthian
capitals, broken porphyry pillars, and little fragments of sculpture; and
up yonder in the precipice where the fountain gushes out, are well-worn
Greek inscriptions over niches in the rock where in ancient times the
Greeks, and after them the Romans, worshipped the sylvan god Pan. But
trees and bushes grow above many of these ruins now; the miserable huts
of a little crew of filthy Arabs are perched upon the broken masonry of
antiquity, the whole place has a sleepy, stupid, rural look about it, and
one can hardly bring himself to believe that a busy, substantially built
city once existed here, even two thousand years ago. The place was
nevertheless the scene of an event whose effects have added page after
page and volume after volume to the world's history. For in this place
Christ stood when he said to Peter:

"Thou art Peter; and upon this rock will I build my church, and the
gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto
thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt
bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt
loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

On those little sentences have been built up the mighty edifice of the
Church of Rome; in them lie the authority for the imperial power of the
Popes over temporal affairs, and their godlike power to curse a soul or
wash it white from sin. To sustain the position of "the only true
Church," which Rome claims was thus conferred upon her, she has fought
and labored and struggled for many a century, and will continue to keep
herself busy in the same work to the end of time. The memorable words I
have quoted give to this ruined city about all the interest it possesses
to people of the present day.

It seems curious enough to us to be standing on ground that was once
actually pressed by the feet of the Saviour. The situation is suggestive
of a reality and a tangibility that seem at variance with the vagueness
and mystery and ghostliness that one naturally attaches to the character
of a god. I can not comprehend yet that I am sitting where a god has
stood, and looking upon the brook and the mountains which that god looked
upon, and am surrounded by dusky men and women whose ancestors saw him,
and even talked with him, face to face, and carelessly, just as they
would have done with any other stranger. I can not comprehend this; the
gods of my understanding have been always hidden in clouds and very far

This morning, during breakfast, the usual assemblage of squalid humanity
sat patiently without the charmed circle of the camp and waited for such
crumbs as pity might bestow upon their misery. There were old and young,
brown-skinned and yellow. Some of the men were tall and stalwart, (for
one hardly sees any where such splendid-looking men as here in the East,)
but all the women and children looked worn and sad, and distressed with
hunger. They reminded me much of Indians, did these people. They had
but little clothing, but such as they had was fanciful in character and
fantastic in its arrangement. Any little absurd gewgaw or gimcrack they
had they disposed in such a way as to make it attract attention most
readily. They sat in silence, and with tireless patience watched our
every motion with that vile, uncomplaining impoliteness which is so truly
Indian, and which makes a white man so nervous and uncomfortable and
savage that he wants to exterminate the whole tribe.

These people about us had other peculiarities, which I have noticed in
the noble red man, too: they were infested with vermin, and the dirt had
caked on them till it amounted to bark.

The little children were in a pitiable condition--they all had sore eyes,
and were otherwise afflicted in various ways. They say that hardly a
native child in all the East is free from sore eyes, and that thousands
of them go blind of one eye or both every year. I think this must be so,
for I see plenty of blind people every day, and I do not remember seeing
any children that hadn't sore eyes. And, would you suppose that an
American mother could sit for an hour, with her child in her arms, and
let a hundred flies roost upon its eyes all that time undisturbed? I see
that every day. It makes my flesh creep. Yesterday we met a woman
riding on a little jackass, and she had a little child in her arms
--honestly, I thought the child had goggles on as we approached, and I
wondered how its mother could afford so much style. But when we drew
near, we saw that the goggles were nothing but a camp meeting of flies
assembled around each of the child's eyes, and at the same time there was
a detachment prospecting its nose. The flies were happy, the child was
contented, and so the mother did not interfere.

As soon as the tribe found out that we had a doctor in our party, they
began to flock in from all quarters. Dr. B., in the charity of his
nature, had taken a child from a woman who sat near by, and put some sort
of a wash upon its diseased eyes. That woman went off and started the
whole nation, and it was a sight to see them swarm! The lame, the halt,
the blind, the leprous--all the distempers that are bred of indolence,
dirt, and iniquity--were represented in the Congress in ten minutes, and
still they came! Every woman that had a sick baby brought it along, and
every woman that hadn't, borrowed one. What reverent and what worshiping
looks they bent upon that dread, mysterious power, the Doctor! They
watched him take his phials out; they watched him measure the particles
of white powder; they watched him add drops of one precious liquid, and
drops of another; they lost not the slightest movement; their eyes were
riveted upon him with a fascination that nothing could distract.
I believe they thought he was gifted like a god. When each individual
got his portion of medicine, his eyes were radiant with joy
--notwithstanding by nature they are a thankless and impassive race--and
upon his face was written the unquestioning faith that nothing on earth
could prevent the patient from getting well now.

Christ knew how to preach to these simple, superstitious,
disease-tortured creatures: He healed the sick. They flocked to our
poor human doctor this morning when the fame of what he had done to the
sick child went abroad in the land, and they worshiped him with their
eyes while they did not know as yet whether there was virtue in his
simples or not. The ancestors of these--people precisely like them in
color, dress, manners, customs, simplicity--flocked in vast multitudes
after Christ, and when they saw Him make the afflicted whole with a
word, it is no wonder they worshiped Him. No wonder His deeds were the
talk of the nation. No wonder the multitude that followed Him was so
great that at one time--thirty miles from here--they had to let a sick
man down through the roof because no approach could be made to the door;
no wonder His audiences were so great at Galilee that He had to preach
from a ship removed a little distance from the shore; no wonder that
even in the desert places about Bethsaida, five thousand invaded His
solitude, and He had to feed them by a miracle or else see them suffer
for their confiding faith and devotion; no wonder when there was a great
commotion in a city in those days, one neighbor explained it to another
in words to this effect: "They say that Jesus of Nazareth is come!"

Well, as I was saying, the doctor distributed medicine as long as he had
any to distribute, and his reputation is mighty in Galilee this day.
Among his patients was the child of the Shiek's daughter--for even this
poor, ragged handful of sores and sin has its royal Shiek--a poor old
mummy that looked as if he would be more at home in a poor-house than in
the Chief Magistracy of this tribe of hopeless, shirtless savages. The
princess--I mean the Shiek's daughter--was only thirteen or fourteen
years old, and had a very sweet face and a pretty one. She was the only
Syrian female we have seen yet who was not so sinfully ugly that she
couldn't smile after ten o'clock Saturday night without breaking the
Sabbath. Her child was a hard specimen, though--there wasn't enough of
it to make a pie, and the poor little thing looked so pleadingly up at
all who came near it (as if it had an idea that now was its chance or
never,) that we were filled with compassion which was genuine and not put

But this last new horse I have got is trying to break his neck over the
tent-ropes, and I shall have to go out and anchor him. Jericho and I
have parted company. The new horse is not much to boast of, I think.
One of his hind legs bends the wrong way, and the other one is as
straight and stiff as a tent-pole. Most of his teeth are gone, and he is
as blind as bat. His nose has been broken at some time or other, and is
arched like a culvert now. His under lip hangs down like a camel's, and
his ears are chopped off close to his head. I had some trouble at first
to find a name for him, but I finally concluded to call him Baalbec,
because he is such a magnificent ruin. I can not keep from talking about
my horses, because I have a very long and tedious journey before me, and
they naturally occupy my thoughts about as much as matters of apparently
much greater importance.

We satisfied our pilgrims by making those hard rides from Baalbec to
Damascus, but Dan's horse and Jack's were so crippled we had to leave
them behind and get fresh animals for them. The dragoman says Jack's
horse died. I swapped horses with Mohammed, the kingly-looking Egyptian
who is our Ferguson's lieutenant. By Ferguson I mean our dragoman
Abraham, of course. I did not take this horse on account of his personal
appearance, but because I have not seen his back. I do not wish to see
it. I have seen the backs of all the other horses, and found most of
them covered with dreadful saddle-boils which I know have not been washed
or doctored for years. The idea of riding all day long over such ghastly
inquisitions of torture is sickening. My horse must be like the others,
but I have at least the consolation of not knowing it to be so.

I hope that in future I may be spared any more sentimental praises of the
Arab's idolatry of his horse. In boyhood I longed to be an Arab of the
desert and have a beautiful mare, and call her Selim or Benjamin or
Mohammed, and feed her with my own hands, and let her come into the tent,
and teach her to caress me and look fondly upon me with her great tender
eyes; and I wished that a stranger might come at such a time and offer me
a hundred thousand dollars for her, so that I could do like the other
Arabs--hesitate, yearn for the money, but overcome by my love for my
mare, at last say, "Part with thee, my beautiful one! Never with my
life! Away, tempter, I scorn thy gold!" and then bound into the saddle
and speed over the desert like the wind!

But I recall those aspirations. If these Arabs be like the other Arabs,
their love for their beautiful mares is a fraud. These of my
acquaintance have no love for their horses, no sentiment of pity for
them, and no knowledge of how to treat them or care for them. The Syrian
saddle-blanket is a quilted mattress two or three inches thick. It is
never removed from the horse, day or night. It gets full of dirt and
hair, and becomes soaked with sweat. It is bound to breed sores. These
pirates never think of washing a horse's back. They do not shelter the
horses in the tents, either--they must stay out and take the weather as
it comes. Look at poor cropped and dilapidated "Baalbec," and weep for
the sentiment that has been wasted upon the Selims of romance!


About an hour's ride over a rough, rocky road, half flooded with water,
and through a forest of oaks of Bashan, brought us to Dan.

From a little mound here in the plain issues a broad stream of limpid
water and forms a large shallow pool, and then rushes furiously onward,
augmented in volume. This puddle is an important source of the Jordan.
Its banks, and those of the brook are respectably adorned with blooming
oleanders, but the unutterable beauty of the spot will not throw a
well-balanced man into convulsions, as the Syrian books of travel would
lead one to suppose.

From the spot I am speaking of, a cannon-ball would carry beyond the
confines of Holy Land and light upon profane ground three miles away.
We were only one little hour's travel within the borders of Holy Land--we
had hardly begun to appreciate yet that we were standing upon any
different sort of earth than that we had always been used to, and see how
the historic names began already to cluster! Dan--Bashan--Lake Huleh
--the Sources of Jordan--the Sea of Galilee. They were all in sight but
the last, and it was not far away. The little township of Bashan was
once the kingdom so famous in Scripture for its bulls and its oaks.
Lake Huleh is the Biblical "Waters of Merom." Dan was the northern and
Beersheba the southern limit of Palestine--hence the expression "from Dan
to Beersheba." It is equivalent to our phrases "from Maine to Texas"
--"from Baltimore to San Francisco." Our expression and that of the
Israelites both mean the same--great distance. With their slow camels
and asses, it was about a seven days' journey from Dan to Beersheba---say
a hundred and fifty or sixty miles--it was the entire length of their
country, and was not to be undertaken without great preparation and much
ceremony. When the Prodigal traveled to "a far country," it is not
likely that he went more than eighty or ninety miles. Palestine is only
from forty to sixty miles wide. The State of Missouri could be split
into three Palestines, and there would then be enough material left for
part of another--possibly a whole one. From Baltimore to San Francisco
is several thousand miles, but it will be only a seven days' journey in
the cars when I am two or three years older.--[The railroad has been
completed since the above was written.]--If I live I shall necessarily
have to go across the continent every now and then in those cars, but one
journey from Dan to Beersheba will be sufficient, no doubt. It must be
the most trying of the two. Therefore, if we chance to discover that
from Dan to Beersheba seemed a mighty stretch of country to the
Israelites, let us not be airy with them, but reflect that it was and is
a mighty stretch when one can not traverse it by rail.

The small mound I have mentioned a while ago was once occupied by the
Phenician city of Laish. A party of filibusters from Zorah and Eschol
captured the place, and lived there in a free and easy way, worshiping
gods of their own manufacture and stealing idols from their neighbors
whenever they wore their own out. Jeroboam set up a golden calf here to
fascinate his people and keep them from making dangerous trips to
Jerusalem to worship, which might result in a return to their rightful
allegiance. With all respect for those ancient Israelites, I can not
overlook the fact that they were not always virtuous enough to withstand
the seductions of a golden calf. Human nature has not changed much since

Some forty centuries ago the city of Sodom was pillaged by the Arab
princes of Mesopotamia, and among other prisoners they seized upon the
patriarch Lot and brought him here on their way to their own possessions.
They brought him to Dan, and father Abraham, who was pursuing them, crept
softly in at dead of night, among the whispering oleanders and under the
shadows of the stately oaks, and fell upon the slumbering victors and
startled them from their dreams with the clash of steel. He recaptured
Lot and all the other plunder.

We moved on. We were now in a green valley, five or six miles wide and
fifteen long. The streams which are called the sources of the Jordan
flow through it to Lake Huleh, a shallow pond three miles in diameter,
and from the southern extremity of the Lake the concentrated Jordan flows
out. The Lake is surrounded by a broad marsh, grown with reeds. Between
the marsh and the mountains which wall the valley is a respectable strip
of fertile land; at the end of the valley, toward Dan, as much as half
the land is solid and fertile, and watered by Jordan's sources. There is
enough of it to make a farm. It almost warrants the enthusiasm of the
spies of that rabble of adventurers who captured Dan. They said: "We
have seen the land, and behold it is very good. * * * A place where
there is no want of any thing that is in the earth."

Their enthusiasm was at least warranted by the fact that they had never
seen a country as good as this. There was enough of it for the ample
support of their six hundred men and their families, too.

When we got fairly down on the level part of the Danite farm, we came to
places where we could actually run our horses. It was a notable

We had been painfully clambering over interminable hills and rocks for
days together, and when we suddenly came upon this astonishing piece of
rockless plain, every man drove the spurs into his horse and sped away
with a velocity he could surely enjoy to the utmost, but could never hope
to comprehend in Syria.

Here were evidences of cultivation--a rare sight in this country--an acre
or two of rich soil studded with last season's dead corn-stalks of the
thickness of your thumb and very wide apart. But in such a land it was a
thrilling spectacle. Close to it was a stream, and on its banks a great
herd of curious-looking Syrian goats and sheep were gratefully eating
gravel. I do not state this as a petrified fact--I only suppose they
were eating gravel, because there did not appear to be any thing else for
them to eat. The shepherds that tended them were the very pictures of
Joseph and his brethren I have no doubt in the world. They were tall,
muscular, and very dark-skinned Bedouins, with inky black beards. They
had firm lips, unquailing eyes, and a kingly stateliness of bearing.
They wore the parti-colored half bonnet, half hood, with fringed ends
falling upon their shoulders, and the full, flowing robe barred with
broad black stripes--the dress one sees in all pictures of the swarthy
sons of the desert. These chaps would sell their younger brothers if
they had a chance, I think. They have the manners, the customs, the
dress, the occupation and the loose principles of the ancient stock.
[They attacked our camp last night, and I bear them no good will.]
They had with them the pigmy jackasses one sees all over Syria and
remembers in all pictures of the "Flight into Egypt," where Mary and the
Young Child are riding and Joseph is walking alongside, towering high
above the little donkey's shoulders.

But really, here the man rides and carries the child, as a general thing,
and the woman walks. The customs have not changed since Joseph's time.
We would not have in our houses a picture representing Joseph riding and
Mary walking; we would see profanation in it, but a Syrian Christian
would not. I know that hereafter the picture I first spoke of will look
odd to me.

We could not stop to rest two or three hours out from our camp, of
course, albeit the brook was beside us. So we went on an hour longer.
We saw water, then, but nowhere in all the waste around was there a foot
of shade, and we were scorching to death. "Like unto the shadow of a
great rock in a weary land." Nothing in the Bible is more beautiful than
that, and surely there is no place we have wandered to that is able to
give it such touching expression as this blistering, naked, treeless

Here you do not stop just when you please, but when you can. We found
water, but no shade. We traveled on and found a tree at last, but no
water. We rested and lunched, and came on to this place, Ain Mellahah
(the boys call it Baldwinsville.) It was a very short day's run, but the
dragoman does not want to go further, and has invented a plausible lie
about the country beyond this being infested by ferocious Arabs, who
would make sleeping in their midst a dangerous pastime. Well, they ought
to be dangerous. They carry a rusty old weather-beaten flint-lock gun,
with a barrel that is longer than themselves; it has no sights on it, it
will not carry farther than a brickbat, and is not half so certain. And
the great sash they wear in many a fold around their waists has two or
three absurd old horse-pistols in it that are rusty from eternal disuse
--weapons that would hang fire just about long enough for you to walk out
of range, and then burst and blow the Arab's head off. Exceedingly
dangerous these sons of the desert are.

It used to make my blood run cold to read Wm. C. Grimes' hairbreadth
escapes from Bedouins, but I think I could read them now without a
tremor. He never said he was attacked by Bedouins, I believe, or was
ever treated uncivilly, but then in about every other chapter he
discovered them approaching, any how, and he had a blood-curdling fashion
of working up the peril; and of wondering how his relations far away
would feel could they see their poor wandering boy, with his weary feet
and his dim eyes, in such fearful danger; and of thinking for the last
time of the old homestead, and the dear old church, and the cow, and
those things; and of finally straightening his form to its utmost height
in the saddle, drawing his trusty revolver, and then dashing the spurs
into "Mohammed" and sweeping down upon the ferocious enemy determined to
sell his life as dearly as possible. True the Bedouins never did any
thing to him when he arrived, and never had any intention of doing any
thing to him in the first place, and wondered what in the mischief he was
making all that to-do about; but still I could not divest myself of the
idea, somehow, that a frightful peril had been escaped through that man's
dare-devil bravery, and so I never could read about Wm. C. Grimes'
Bedouins and sleep comfortably afterward. But I believe the Bedouins to
be a fraud, now. I have seen the monster, and I can outrun him. I shall
never be afraid of his daring to stand behind his own gun and discharge

About fifteen hundred years before Christ, this camp-ground of ours by
the Waters of Merom was the scene of one of Joshua's exterminating
battles. Jabin, King of Hazor, (up yonder above Dan,) called all the
sheiks about him together, with their hosts, to make ready for Israel's
terrible General who was approaching.

"And when all these Kings were met together, they came and pitched
together by the Waters of Merom, to fight against Israel. And they
went out, they and all their hosts with them, much people, even as
the sand that is upon the sea-shore for multitude," etc.

But Joshua fell upon them and utterly destroyed them, root and branch.
That was his usual policy in war. He never left any chance for newspaper
controversies about who won the battle. He made this valley, so quiet
now, a reeking slaughter-pen.

Somewhere in this part of the country--I do not know exactly where
--Israel fought another bloody battle a hundred years later. Deborah, the
prophetess, told Barak to take ten thousand men and sally forth against
another King Jabin who had been doing something. Barak came down from
Mount Tabor, twenty or twenty-five miles from here, and gave battle to
Jabin's forces, who were in command of Sisera. Barak won the fight, and
while he was making the victory complete by the usual method of
exterminating the remnant of the defeated host, Sisera fled away on foot,
and when he was nearly exhausted by fatigue and thirst, one Jael, a woman
he seems to have been acquainted with, invited him to come into her tent
and rest himself. The weary soldier acceded readily enough, and Jael put
him to bed. He said he was very thirsty, and asked his generous
preserver to get him a cup of water. She brought him some milk, and he
drank of it gratefully and lay down again, to forget in pleasant dreams
his lost battle and his humbled pride. Presently when he was asleep she
came softly in with a hammer and drove a hideous tent-pen down through
his brain!

"For he was fast asleep and weary. So he died." Such is the touching
language of the Bible. "The Song of Deborah and Barak" praises Jael for
the memorable service she had rendered, in an exultant strain:

"Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be,
blessed shall she be above women in the tent.

"He asked for water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter
in a lordly dish.

"She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workman's
hammer; and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head
when she had pierced and stricken through his temples.

"At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed,
he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down dead."

Stirring scenes like these occur in this valley no more. There is not a
solitary village throughout its whole extent--not for thirty miles in
either direction. There are two or three small clusters of Bedouin
tents, but not a single permanent habitation. One may ride ten miles,
hereabouts, and not see ten human beings.

To this region one of the prophecies is applied:

"I will bring the land into desolation; and your enemies which dwell
therein shall be astonished at it. And I will scatter you among the
heathen, and I will draw out a sword after you; and your land shall
be desolate and your cities waste."

No man can stand here by deserted Ain Mellahah and say the prophecy has
not been fulfilled.

In a verse from the Bible which I have quoted above, occurs the phrase
"all these kings." It attracted my attention in a moment, because it
carries to my mind such a vastly different significance from what it
always did at home. I can see easily enough that if I wish to profit by
this tour and come to a correct understanding of the matters of interest
connected with it, I must studiously and faithfully unlearn a great many
things I have somehow absorbed concerning Palestine. I must begin a
system of reduction. Like my grapes which the spies bore out of the
Promised Land, I have got every thing in Palestine on too large a scale.
Some of my ideas were wild enough. The word Palestine always brought to
my mind a vague suggestion of a country as large as the United States.
I do not know why, but such was the case. I suppose it was because I
could not conceive of a small country having so large a history. I think
I was a little surprised to find that the grand Sultan of Turkey was a
man of only ordinary size. I must try to reduce my ideas of Palestine to
a more reasonable shape. One gets large impressions in boyhood,
sometimes, which he has to fight against all his life. "All these
kings." When I used to read that in Sunday School, it suggested to me
the several kings of such countries as England, France, Spain, Germany,
Russia, etc., arrayed in splendid robes ablaze with jewels, marching in
grave procession, with sceptres of gold in their hands and flashing
crowns upon their heads. But here in Ain Mellahah, after coming through
Syria, and after giving serious study to the character and customs of the
country, the phrase "all these kings" loses its grandeur. It suggests
only a parcel of petty chiefs--ill-clad and ill-conditioned savages much
like our Indians, who lived in full sight of each other and whose
"kingdoms" were large when they were five miles square and contained two
thousand souls. The combined monarchies of the thirty "kings" destroyed
by Joshua on one of his famous campaigns, only covered an area about
equal to four of our counties of ordinary size. The poor old sheik we
saw at Cesarea Philippi with his ragged band of a hundred followers,
would have been called a "king" in those ancient times.

It is seven in the morning, and as we are in the country, the grass ought
to be sparkling with dew, the flowers enriching the air with their
fragrance, and the birds singing in the trees. But alas, there is no dew
here, nor flowers, nor birds, nor trees. There is a plain and an
unshaded lake, and beyond them some barren mountains. The tents are
tumbling, the Arabs are quarreling like dogs and cats, as usual, the
campground is strewn with packages and bundles, the labor of packing them
upon the backs of the mules is progressing with great activity, the
horses are saddled, the umbrellas are out, and in ten minutes we shall
mount and the long procession will move again. The white city of the
Mellahah, resurrected for a moment out of the dead centuries, will have
disappeared again and left no sign.


We traversed some miles of desolate country whose soil is rich enough,
but is given over wholly to weeds--a silent, mournful expanse, wherein we
saw only three persons--Arabs, with nothing on but a long coarse shirt
like the "tow-linen" shirts which used to form the only summer garment of
little negro boys on Southern plantations. Shepherds they were, and they
charmed their flocks with the traditional shepherd's pipe--a reed
instrument that made music as exquisitely infernal as these same Arabs
create when they sing.

In their pipes lingered no echo of the wonderful music the shepherd
forefathers heard in the Plains of Bethlehem what time the angels sang
"Peace on earth, good will to men."

Part of the ground we came over was not ground at all, but
rocks--cream-colored rocks, worn smooth, as if by water; with seldom an
edge or a corner on them, but scooped out, honey-combed, bored out with
eye-holes, and thus wrought into all manner of quaint shapes, among
which the uncouth imitation of skulls was frequent. Over this part of
the route were occasional remains of an old Roman road like the Appian
Way, whose paving-stones still clung to their places with Roman

Gray lizards, those heirs of ruin, of sepulchres and desolation, glided
in and out among the rocks or lay still and sunned themselves. Where
prosperity has reigned, and fallen; where glory has flamed, and gone out;
where beauty has dwelt, and passed away; where gladness was, and sorrow
is; where the pomp of life has been, and silence and death brood in its
high places, there this reptile makes his home, and mocks at human
vanity. His coat is the color of ashes: and ashes are the symbol of
hopes that have perished, of aspirations that came to nought, of loves
that are buried. If he could speak, he would say, Build temples: I will
lord it in their ruins; build palaces: I will inhabit them; erect
empires: I will inherit them; bury your beautiful: I will watch the worms
at their work; and you, who stand here and moralize over me: I will crawl
over your corpse at the last.

A few ants were in this desert place, but merely to spend the summer.
They brought their provisions from Ain Mellahah--eleven miles.

Jack is not very well to-day, it is easy to see; but boy as he is, he is
too much of a man to speak of it. He exposed himself to the sun too much
yesterday, but since it came of his earnest desire to learn, and to make
this journey as useful as the opportunities will allow, no one seeks to
discourage him by fault-finding. We missed him an hour from the camp,
and then found him some distance away, by the edge of a brook, and with
no umbrella to protect him from the fierce sun. If he had been used to
going without his umbrella, it would have been well enough, of course;
but he was not. He was just in the act of throwing a clod at a
mud-turtle which was sunning itself on a small log in the brook.
We said:

"Don't do that, Jack. What do you want to harm him for? What has he

"Well, then, I won't kill him, but I ought to, because he is a fraud."

We asked him why, but he said it was no matter. We asked him why, once
or twice, as we walked back to the camp but he still said it was no
matter. But late at night, when he was sitting in a thoughtful mood on
the bed, we asked him again and he said:

"Well, it don't matter; I don't mind it now, but I did not like it today,
you know, because I don't tell any thing that isn't so, and I don't think
the Colonel ought to, either. But he did; he told us at prayers in the
Pilgrims' tent, last night, and he seemed as if he was reading it out of
the Bible, too, about this country flowing with milk and honey, and about
the voice of the turtle being heard in the land. I thought that was
drawing it a little strong, about the turtles, any how, but I asked Mr.
Church if it was so, and he said it was, and what Mr. Church tells me, I
believe. But I sat there and watched that turtle nearly an hour today,
and I almost burned up in the sun; but I never heard him sing. I believe
I sweated a double handful of sweat---I know I did--because it got in my
eyes, and it was running down over my nose all the time; and you know my
pants are tighter than any body else's--Paris foolishness--and the
buckskin seat of them got wet with sweat, and then got dry again and
began to draw up and pinch and tear loose--it was awful--but I never
heard him sing. Finally I said, This is a fraud--that is what it is, it
is a fraud--and if I had had any sense I might have known a cursed
mud-turtle couldn't sing. And then I said, I don't wish to be hard on
this fellow, and I will just give him ten minutes to commence; ten
minutes --and then if he don't, down goes his building. But he didn't
commence, you know. I had staid there all that time, thinking may be he
might, pretty soon, because he kept on raising his head up and letting
it down, and drawing the skin over his eyes for a minute and then
opening them out again, as if he was trying to study up something to
sing, but just as the ten minutes were up and I was all beat out and
blistered, he laid his blamed head down on a knot and went fast asleep."

"It was a little hard, after you had waited so long."

"I should think so. I said, Well, if you won't sing, you shan't sleep,
any way; and if you fellows had let me alone I would have made him shin
out of Galilee quicker than any turtle ever did yet. But it isn't any
matter now--let it go. The skin is all off the back of my neck."

About ten in the morning we halted at Joseph's Pit. This is a ruined
Khan of the Middle Ages, in one of whose side courts is a great walled
and arched pit with water in it, and this pit, one tradition says, is the
one Joseph's brethren cast him into. A more authentic tradition, aided
by the geography of the country, places the pit in Dothan, some two days'
journey from here. However, since there are many who believe in this
present pit as the true one, it has its interest.

It is hard to make a choice of the most beautiful passage in a book which
is so gemmed with beautiful passages as the Bible; but it is certain that
not many things within its lids may take rank above the exquisite story
of Joseph. Who taught those ancient writers their simplicity of
language, their felicity of expression, their pathos, and above all,
their faculty of sinking themselves entirely out of sight of the reader
and making the narrative stand out alone and seem to tell itself?
Shakspeare is always present when one reads his book; Macaulay is present
when we follow the march of his stately sentences; but the Old Testament
writers are hidden from view.

If the pit I have been speaking of is the right one, a scene transpired
there, long ages ago, which is familiar to us all in pictures. The sons
of Jacob had been pasturing their flocks near there. Their father grew
uneasy at their long absence, and sent Joseph, his favorite, to see if
any thing had gone wrong with them. He traveled six or seven days'
journey; he was only seventeen years old, and, boy like, he toiled
through that long stretch of the vilest, rockiest, dustiest country in
Asia, arrayed in the pride of his heart, his beautiful claw-hammer coat
of many colors. Joseph was the favorite, and that was one crime in the
eyes of his brethren; he had dreamed dreams, and interpreted them to
foreshadow his elevation far above all his family in the far future, and
that was another; he was dressed well and had doubtless displayed the
harmless vanity of youth in keeping the fact prominently before his
brothers. These were crimes his elders fretted over among themselves and
proposed to punish when the opportunity should offer. When they saw him
coming up from the Sea of Galilee, they recognized him and were glad.
They said, "Lo, here is this dreamer--let us kill him." But Reuben
pleaded for his life, and they spared it. But they seized the boy, and
stripped the hated coat from his back and pushed him into the pit. They
intended to let him die there, but Reuben intended to liberate him
secretly. However, while Reuben was away for a little while, the
brethren sold Joseph to some Ishmaelitish merchants who were journeying
towards Egypt. Such is the history of the pit. And the self-same pit is
there in that place, even to this day; and there it will remain until the
next detachment of image-breakers and tomb desecraters arrives from the
Quaker City excursion, and they will infallibly dig it up and carry it
away with them. For behold in them is no reverence for the solemn
monuments of the past, and whithersoever they go they destroy and spare

Joseph became rich, distinguished, powerful--as the Bible expresses it,
"lord over all the land of Egypt." Joseph was the real king, the
strength, the brain of the monarchy, though Pharaoh held the title.
Joseph is one of the truly great men of the Old Testament. And he was
the noblest and the manliest, save Esau. Why shall we not say a good
word for the princely Bedouin? The only crime that can be brought
against him is that he was unfortunate. Why must every body praise
Joseph's great-hearted generosity to his cruel brethren, without stint of
fervent language, and fling only a reluctant bone of praise to Esau for
his still sublimer generosity to the brother who had wronged him? Jacob
took advantage of Esau's consuming hunger to rob him of his birthright
and the great honor and consideration that belonged to the position; by
treachery and falsehood he robbed him of his father's blessing; he made
of him a stranger in his home, and a wanderer. Yet after twenty years
had passed away and Jacob met Esau and fell at his feet quaking with fear
and begging piteously to be spared the punishment he knew he deserved,
what did that magnificent savage do? He fell upon his neck and embraced
him! When Jacob--who was incapable of comprehending nobility of
character--still doubting, still fearing, insisted upon "finding grace
with my lord" by the bribe of a present of cattle, what did the gorgeous
son of the desert say?

"Nay, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself!"

Esau found Jacob rich, beloved by wives and children, and traveling in
state, with servants, herds of cattle and trains of camels--but he
himself was still the uncourted outcast this brother had made him. After
thirteen years of romantic mystery, the brethren who had wronged Joseph,
came, strangers in a strange land, hungry and humble, to buy "a little
food"; and being summoned to a palace, charged with crime, they beheld in
its owner their wronged brother; they were trembling beggars--he, the
lord of a mighty empire! What Joseph that ever lived would have thrown
away such a chance to "show off?" Who stands first--outcast Esau
forgiving Jacob in prosperity, or Joseph on a king's throne forgiving the
ragged tremblers whose happy rascality placed him there?

Just before we came to Joseph's Pit, we had "raised" a hill, and there, a
few miles before us, with not a tree or a shrub to interrupt the view,
lay a vision which millions of worshipers in the far lands of the earth
would give half their possessions to see--the sacred Sea of Galilee!

Therefore we tarried only a short time at the pit. We rested the horses
and ourselves, and felt for a few minutes the blessed shade of the
ancient buildings. We were out of water, but the two or three scowling
Arabs, with their long guns, who were idling about the place, said they
had none and that there was none in the vicinity. They knew there was a
little brackish water in the pit, but they venerated a place made sacred
by their ancestor's imprisonment too much to be willing to see Christian
dogs drink from it. But Ferguson tied rags and handkerchiefs together
till he made a rope long enough to lower a vessel to the bottom, and we
drank and then rode on; and in a short time we dismounted on those shores
which the feet of the Saviour have made holy ground.

At noon we took a swim in the Sea of Galilee--a blessed privilege in this
roasting climate--and then lunched under a neglected old fig-tree at the
fountain they call Ain-et-Tin, a hundred yards from ruined Capernaum.


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