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shrubs and flowers. From thence it flows into the swift running water from the canal, which passes under the house, to the river.
The quantity of water which still flows in the main chan. nel of the river, directly through the heart of the city, is suf ficient to produce twice as much fertile soil as now exists in the environs. But then another sort of luxury would be destroyed, which consists of beautiful kiosks that are projected out over the river from the rear of all the neighbouring houses. Near the main streets the caffijées spread their mats on the bank of the swift-running river, under immense sycamore-trees; the idlers (nearly all the population are of this class) there sit, smoking their chiboucks and nargilès, and taking coffee and sherbet. In the evening, lamps are suspended from the branches of the trees. Hundreds sleep out all night on the mats under these trees. In every direction round the city are fine roads, which were made formerly for carriages, with good stone bridges over the canals. They are now so much out of repair that they only serve as bridle-paths, and are everywhere sheltered from the sun by such magnificent trees as would make any one stop to admire them, even in our own native forests.
As yet we have taken but one long ride among these delightful bowers; but I have seen enough of them to feel a desire to remain here a year, to enjoy their charming shade and fragrance. Although each side of the road is lined with high mud walls, yet these are in so many places fallen down, that access is to be had to most of the gardens and orchards; so that one can ride or walk into them whenever so disposed. These orchards and gardens contain a variety of fruit-trees: figs, pomegranates, plums, peaches, apricots, almonds, and the largest and finest English walnuts I ever saw, all in the greatest profusion. The apricot-tree, in particular, deserves especial notice, from the enormous size which it here attains. It is more like a huge, wide-spread
ing oak than a fruit-tree, and is much larger than our lar. gest pear-trees. The apricot-trees are now in full bearing, but I will refrain from stating the immense quantity of fruit each of these trees produces, lest you might suspect my ac count to partake of their exceeding amplification.
The ground under these trees is covered with all kinds of crop. It is rare to see a house beyond the limits of the city walls, so that a ride among the out-grounds is delight. fully solitary.
I find that, instead of carrying you off from the summit of Mohammed's mountain upon the wings of ecstasy, and float. ing with you in mid air over the towers and gardens of El Sham, I have contented myself with keeping nearer to earth, and endeavouring to give you a graphic description of the locale, as far as my observation has yet reached, leaving to your own fruitful imagination to supply the deficiency. Were I able, however, to impart to you one half of the de lightful impressions this beautiful spot of earth has produced upon my feelings, you would be ready to join in my frequent exclamation,
"Oh! if there be an Elysium on earth, it is this, it is this!"
In a few days I will say something to you respecting the city of Damascus, the oldest inhabited city that now exists upon the globe. Until then, adieu.
LUXURIANCE OF FRUIT.
New Quarters.-Caravans.-The Great Khan.-The Bazars.-Light and Shade. An important Character.-Oriental Dignitaries.—The Naigila. -A Dinner à la Frenk.-The Plague again.
SINCE my last we are installed in new quarters; we have deserted our tents, and are established in a comfortable house belonging to the English consulate. We had letters to the British consul general, Mr. Farren! The gentlemen went to deliver them, when Mr. F. insisted that we should abandon our out-door lodgings, and take up our residence at his delightful country house. We were obliged to decline this polite and hospitable invitation, on the ground that we could not presume to quarter upon him our whole retinue of suivants. He then offered us a house near him, belonging to the consulate, which we accepted, for the sake of being in a more convenient location to pay our daily visits to the city and environs, besides that of enjoying the agreeable society of this amiable family.
Mr. F. is the consul general for all Syria, and it is only very lately that he has been permitted to reside at Damascus by the bigoted Moslems. Ibrahim Pacha has broken down all the ancient intolerance of the Turks.
We arrived in Damascus too late for the returning hadj. The Mecca caravan, consisting of many thousands of camels, had arrived here, and taken its departure a few days previous to our arrival. Every year all the smaller caravans from the different sections of Islam lying north and east of this, rendezvous here at a fixed period, and then depart for the south in one vast body, over the plains of Bashan and the Houran, thence through Moab, through the Arabian
desert, along the east coast of the Red Sea to Mecca. turning by the same route, the hadjees halt here a few days for repose, doing a little trade by way of paying expenses, and then, breaking up into different parties, each wends its weary way towards its distant home: Bagdad, Ispahan, Persia, and Turkey. The return of the great caravan from the Tomb of the Prophet is always looked for with much anxiety; its numbers are always much diminished; multitudes die on the journey out and back, from fatigue, famine, pestilence, and the sword.
Although the great mass have now departed, yet many numerous companies of traders are still lingering round the bazars and khans of this metropolis of Moslem traffic. A trading caravan has just arrived from Bagdad, which adds no little to the interest of the scene. We yesterday visited the bazars, which we found superior to any we had before seen in the Levant, though inferior to those of Constantinople. We made a few purchases as souvenirs. There was nothing to be done in Cachemeres, as the best all go to Stamboul. I shall defer that matter until we revisit the latter place.
The curious and truly Oriental gold-embroidered tissues of Aleppo next caught my eye; their unique designs and singular fabric induced me to make a few purchases. Little else is to be found here, so good and in so great variety as at Constantinople, except incense, gums, perfumes, Mecca balsam (balm of Gilead), and Persian tobacco. We therefore took a small assortment of each. Pearls are much dearer here than at the great capital.
Damascus is merely a great exchange mart for all western and central Asia. European manufactures are brought here in order to be disseminated over the far East. I saw quantities of our own domestic cottons being loaded on board the "ships of the desert," destined for the interior of Asia.
The most interesting building here is the great khan.
It is a vast circular edifice of cut stone, with an immense stone dome, lighted from the top. Around the walls are several stories for warerooms, with cach an opening intë the khan, defended by an iron door; each has a window opening through the outer wall, also with iron shutters, thus being quite fire-proof. These rooms contain great treasures in the way of rich merchandise. They are approached by stone staircases, leading up to circular balconies, which sweep round the vast area of the khan. The large ground. floor is occupied by piles of merchandise, done up into va rious water-proof packages, two of which form a load for one camel. These goods'are only here in transitu, waiting for a caravan which is being formed for some distant expedition.
In the centre of the arca is a large circular fountain, twenty feet in diameter, full to overflowing of delicious cool water; and around it are raised platforms, on which the owners of the bales sit smoking on their mats and car.. pets by day, and repose by night, obtaining their meals from the "kiebobjee," who has the right of catering for the whole of this establishment. I should estimate the diameter of this building at two hundred feet. It is not only fire-proof, but secure against any attacks caused by sudden civil com motion. At the time of the great hadj there is a vast amount of property stored here for safe keeping. Damascus has always been a great entrepot since the first ships of the desert came to anchor under its walls, and departed again for Babylon or Tyre, laden with "fine linen and broidered work of Egypt," "purple from the isles of Elisha,” “sil. ver, and iron, and tin, and lead, from Tarshish," "horns, ivory, and cbony of Dedan," "wheat of Minneth," "and honey, and oil, and balm," "precious cloths for chariots," "spices, precious stones, and gold, from Sheba," "blue cloths, and broiderwork, and chests of rich apparel, bound with cords and made of cedar.”