The Lands of the Saracen eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 452 pages of information about The Lands of the Saracen.
bath, a glass of very acid sherbet was presented to me, and after drinking it I experienced instant relief.  Still the spell was not wholly broken, and for two or three days I continued subject to frequent involuntary fits of absence, which made me insensible, for the time, to all that was passing around me.  I walked the streets of Damascus with a strange consciousness that I was in some other place at the same time, and with a constant effort to reunite my divided perceptions.

Previous to the experiment, we had decided on making a bargain with the shekh for the journey to Palmyra.  The state, however, in which we now found ourselves, obliged us to relinquish the plan.  Perhaps the excitement of a forced march across the desert, and a conflict with the hostile Arabs, which was quite likely to happen, might have assisted us in throwing off the baneful effects of the drug; but all the charm which lay in the name of Palmyra and the romantic interest of the trip, was gone.  I was without courage and without energy, and nothing remained for me but to leave Damascus.

Yet, fearful as my rash experiment proved to me, I did not regret having made it.  It revealed to me deeps of rapture and of suffering which my natural faculties never could have sounded.  It has taught me the majesty of human reason and of human will, even in the weakest, and the awful peril of tampering with that which assails their integrity.  I have here faithfully and fully written out my experience, on account of the lesson which it may convey to others.  If I have unfortunately failed in my design, and have but awakened that restless curiosity which I have endeavored to forestall, let me beg all who are thereby led to repeat the experiment upon themselves, that they be content to take the portion of hasheesh which is considered sufficient for one man, and not, like me, swallow enough for six.

Chapter XI.

A Dissertation on Bathing and Bodies.

  “No swan-soft woman, rubbed with lucid oils,
  The gift of an enamored god, more fair.”


We shall not set out from Damascus—­we shall not leave the Pearl of the Orient to glimmer through the seas of foliage wherein it lies buried—­without consecrating a day to the Bath, that material agent of peace and good-will unto men.  We have bathed in the Jordan, like Naaman, and been made clean; let us now see whether Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, are better than the waters of Israel.

The Bath is the “peculiar institution” of the East.  Coffee has become colonized in France and America; the Pipe is a cosmopolite, and his blue, joyous breath congeals under the Arctic Circle, or melts languidly into the soft airs of the Polynesian Isles; but the Bath, that sensuous elysium which cradled the dreams of Plato, and the visions of Zoroaster, and the solemn meditations of Mahomet, is only to

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The Lands of the Saracen from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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