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En Route to Palestine.-Lady Hester Stanhope.-Reverend Joseph Wolff. -Sidon.-Mutations of Commerce.-The Fall of Rome.-Commerce in the olden Time.-Westward March of Commerce.
In order to redeem my promise of last evening, I have risen ere there is yet sufficient light to guide my pen. Th two hours thus gained I will devote to you.
The day we left Beyrout our road lay for a few miles over a sandy desert, formed by a current of wind, bringing the sand thrown up by the sea over the plain, quite to the foot of the mountains.
The range of the Lebanon Mountains lay on our left, and the sea on our right, with but a small strip of level ground between them. The mountains are cultivated in terraces on the west side quite to their summits. The valleys which wind up their slopes contain orchards of mulberry, pomegranate, fig, and olive-trees, growing in the greatest profusion. We soon passed over the sandy tract, and came to a small river, by which the lands in its vicinity are well watered. On its bank I saw the first oleander-trees that I have met with in the East, beside which the largest I ever saw in our country would be mere dwarfs. While feasting our eyes on the beautiful foliage and splendid flo ers, a gazelle started up from beneath their shade, and bounded off towards the mountain ere the gentlemen's guns could be brought to bear upon him. Our first day's journey was but a short one, as we had been detained until midday by
the usual delays attendant upon first setting out with a carWe encamped the first night on the sandy beach of the sea, close by the surf, the roaring of which kept us from sleeping until the land-wind lulled its waves, when we were permitted to partake of the repose which then reigned around us.
The next morning we recommenced our southern route; but, ere we had proceeded half a dozen miles, we found the path so rough and unsafe (owing to the rocks of Lebanon advancing into the sea), that we preferred making a considerable detour through the mountain defiles rather than pursue the direct road to Sidon. Another inducement was to get a view of the residence of Lady Stanhope. We had already been informed at Beyrout, by an acquaintance who is very intimate in her family, that she would no longer receive ladies of any nation; besides, also, that she has been ill for some time past. The truth is, her wits have kept pace with her exhausted finances, and she is no longer the person she was a few years since. Her friends have fallen away from her, and her treasures have been exhausted by hungry retainers and wily Arabs, who have long practised upon her credulity and silly vanity, while they ridiculed her extravagant religious creed.
In a few hours we found ourselves on an eminence, whence we had a full view of her stronghold. We there made our midday halt, during which time we sent to inquire if her ladyship was well enough, or in a mood to receive strangers. We learned that she still continued her sulky humour, and maintained the most rigid seclusion for the present.
It is a pity that I could not get a glimpse of this rara avis, if it were only to add her portrait to the gallery of biped lions which I have been collecting here and there for two years past.
All we could see was the exterior of her habitation. It