A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 07 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 685 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 07.

On the 11th of April we departed from Mezaris to the number of 40,000 men with 35,000 camels, having only sixty Mamelukes to guide and guard us.  We were regularly marshalled for the march into a van and main body, with two wings, in which order the caravans of pilgrims always travel in these regions.  From Damascus to Mecca is a journey of forty days and forty nights.  Departing from Mezaris we continued our journey that day till the twenty-second hour of the day.  Then our captain or Agmirus[36], having given the appointed signal, the whole caravan immediately halted and disburdened the camels, two hours only being allowed for rest and refreshment for the men and beasts.  Then upon a new signal the camels were all reloaded, and we resumed our march.  Every camel has for one feed five barley loaves, raw and not baked, as large as pomegranates.  We continued our second days journey like the first, all day and night, from sun-rise to the twenty-second hour of the day, and this was the constant regular order.  Every eighth day they procure water by digging the ground or sand, though sometimes we found wells and cisterns.  Likewise after every eight day, they rest two days, that the camels and horses may recover strength.  Every camel bears an incredible load, being equal to that Which is borne by two strong-mules.

[Footnote 36:  The Emir Haji, or captain of the pilgrimage, which name of office is transposed in the text to Haji-emir, corrupted Agmir, and latinized Agmirus.—­E.]

At every resting-place at the waters, they are always obliged to defend themselves against vast numbers of Arabians, but these conflicts are hardly ever attended with bloodshed, insomuch that though we often fought with them, we had only one man slain during the whole journey, these Arabians are so weak and cowardly that our threescore Mamelukes have often driven 60,000 Arabians before them.  Of these Mamelukes, I have often seen wonderful instances of their expertness and activity.  I once saw a Mameluke place an apple on the head of his servant at the distance of 12 or 14 paces, and strike it off from his head, another while riding at full speed took the saddle from his horse, and carried it some time on his head, and put it again on the horse without checking his career.

At the end of twelve days journey we came to the valley of Sodom and Gomorra, which we found, as is said in the holy scripture, to retain the ruins of the destroyed city as a lasting memorial of God’s wrath.  I may affirm that there are three cities, each situated on the declivity of three separate hills, and the ruins do not seem above three or four cubits high, among which is seen something like blood, or rather like red wax mixed with earth.  It is easy to believe that these people were addicted to horrible vices, as testified by the barren, dry, filthy unwholesome region, utterly destitute of water.  These people were once fed with manna sent from heaven, but abusing

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 07 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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