– After leaving this lovely place we traveled over a most rugged road,
passing here and there a vineyard, orchard of olives and mulberry trees;
also little patches of grain which your find everywhere admissible in this
stony land. We saw numbers of plows at work drawn by oxen; also the _____
used by their drivers. We have had at Mt. Hermon snow clad peak in view
all day and got our first view of the peaks of Lebanon which were also covered
with snow. We soon reached Rashisah and left in company with our baggage
this morning, April 15th, traveling until three o’clock over a barren
country, reminding us more of our desert trip than anything else. We are
now encamped at Damas within a few hours ride to Damascus, by the Turnpike.
We are now in the oldest city in the world, but have not been as much impressed
as travelers are generally, having been through the greater portion of Syria
and in Cairo and Alexandria we have seen much of the manners and customs
of the people, the bazaars, etc., we were in a measure prepared to see the
wonders here. Everything is on a vastly extensive scale. They cover a vast
area; are divided in sections, each trade together. The ___ bazaars are
all together. Our first view of Damascus was very pleasing. It is situated
in the midst of a lovely plain with the river Arbana running through it.
The city is surrounded on all sides by gardens and orchards. They cover
an area nearly thirty miles in circuit. One might almost compare it to a
diamond set in emeralds. Just before entering the city we passed the tomb
of Salidin which is now in ruins. His body has been removed to a mosque
in the city.
April 17th – Took an interesting ride this afternoon around the city. Saw the different cemeteries, Christian, Mussulman, Jewish. We were on the reputed site of Paul’s conversion. Saw the place where he was said to have been let down from the window; the tomb of St. George, who is said to have let him down. We visited the great mosque which does equal that of Cairo. We visited some to of the private residences of the Jews conducted by Abor Abraham. No contrast could be greater than that between the exterior and the interior – the mud walls and rickety looking projecting upper chambers and latticed windows give but little promise of splendor within. The entrance is by a mean door-way into a small passage or room which leads into a large marble court of red and white marble with a fountain in the center. The air is perfumed with lemon and citron trees and flowering shrubs. We were invited upon a dais and seated upon divans in their parlor which was a large room with the walls and ceiling ornamented elaborately gilt and rough paintings. The ladies sat opposite us presenting grotesque figures, with their faces with red white and black, their hair cur short; they wore a velvet ribbon around it with a profusion of jewels or artificial flowers. Their shoes were of wood inlaid with mother of pearl.
April 18th – Saw a Turkish Review in honor of General Le Clero and _____________ We were honored with a seat in one of their tents and refreshed with ices. Two regiments dressed in handsome Turkish costumes went through a mock battle. The Pasha with the guests and officers were mounted on fine Arab steeds, attended by their grooms.
April 19th – Went to see the dancing dervishes; drank coffee with their Effindi, after which the ladies were allowed to go into his Harem, to see his wives and to look through the dark eyes windows to see the ceremony. I have neglected to mention that the coffee was handed first to the ladies, which is the reverse of their custom. We saw three of his wives – they examined our dress and we returned the compliment. The dervishes, dressed in white, danced around the floor three times, continuing in the same rorary motion for ten minutes together without varying an inch either to the right or left. During the interval one or two men sang in a sing song tone. During the ceremony the women would talk to us, laugh at the men, etc. and were only quiet when the Effindi was praying and would repeat with him. After the dancing was over the men put on their cloth robes again.