In the morning we sent back the man of Banias, left the baggage to take care of itself, and rode on to Damascus, as fast as our tired horses could carry us. The plain, at first barren and stony, became enlivened with vineyards and fields of wheat, as we advanced. Arabs were everywhere at work, ploughing and directing the water-courses. The belt of living green, the bower in which the great city, the Queen of the Orient, hides her beauty, drew nearer and nearer, stretching out a crescent of foliage for miles on either hand, that gradually narrowed and received us into its cool and fragrant heart. We sank into a sea of olive, pomegranate, orange, plum, apricot, walnut, and plane trees, and were lost. The sun sparkled in the rolling surface above; but we swam through the green depths, below his reach, and thus, drifted on through miles of shade, entered the city.
Since our arrival, I find that two other parties of travellers, one of which crossed the Anti-Lebanon on the northern side of Mount Hermon, were obliged to take guards, and saw several Druse spies posted on the heights, as they passed. A Russian gentleman travelling from here to Tiberias, was stopped three times on the road, and only escaped being plundered from the fact of his having a Druse dragoman. The disturbances are more serious than I had anticipated. Four regiments left here yesterday, sent to the aid of a company of cavalry, which is surrounded by the rebels in a valley of Dejebel Hauaran, and unable to get out.
Pictures of Damascus.
Damascus from the Anti-Lebanon—Entering the City—A Diorama of Bazaars—An Oriental Hotel—Our Chamber—The Bazaars—Pipes and Coffee—The Rivers of Damascus—Palaces of the Jews—Jewish Ladies—A Christian Gentleman—The Sacred Localities—Damascus Blades—The Sword of Haroun Al-Raschid—An Arrival from Palmyra.
“Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers
of Damascus, better than all the
waters of Israel?”—2 Kings, v. 12.
Damascus, Wednesday, May 19, 1852.