Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

eldest son, and about twenty-five Arabs dined with me, and were all enchanted, and the melleki, the queen, is in the mouth of every Arab, both in Damascus and the desert. As to the Wahabees, Mahanna assures me that as one of his family he shall guarantee me with his life, and whether I meet or do not meet with them it is the same thing. To see this extraordinary people is what I wish, but not in the town or environs of Damascus, to be confounded with the crowd of those they wish to injure.

Bruce and Mr. Barker are now upon their road from Aleppo, because they chose to take it into their heads I must go with a caravan to Palmyra. No caravan goes the road I intended to go, and if it had as I told them, nothing should persuade me to join one. This put them into a fright, so they are coming with a wire thing, a tartaravan, which Mr. Barker pronounces necessary, but which all the consuls in the universe shall never persuade me to get into. What an absurd idea, in case of danger to be stuck upon a machine, the tartaravangees running away and leaving you to the mercy of two obstinate mules ; the swiftest horse one can find is the best thing, and what the Arabs often owe their lives to. My second messenger (saying more positively than the first, that whether they come or not, I would have nothing to do with a tartaravan, or caravan) had only left this place three days when the caravan between Homs and Damascus (composed of several hundred persons, and fifty armed men, I believe), was attacked by Arabs, and sixteen men killed. Who is right, I or the consulgeneral ?

The pacha answers for my safety, so do all the chiefs of the Delibaches, and so do the Arabs, but they do not answer for rich, cowardly merchants, who are left to take care of themselves. By this time, Barker must be halfway from Aleppo, therefore it is right I should think about setting off to meet them at Homs: four armed men is all I shall take, just to keep watch about the tents at night and to have an eye upon the horses that no stray robber may make off with them. As to great tribes, &c., I am perfectly secure with them, I know.

During my residence here, I have made a great number of very pleasant acquaintances, and have seen all the most famous harems. I believe I am the only person who can give an account of the manner in which a great Turk is received by his wives and women. A particular friend of mine who has four wives and three mistresses took me to see them himself. None of his wives sat down in his presence or even came up upon the raised part of the room where we sat, except to serve his pipe and give him coffee. When he invited me to a dinner, apparently for fifteen or twenty people, I of course thought the poor women were to eat, but not at all, they only presented him with what he wanted from the hands of the slaves, and never spoke but when he asked some question. Yet this is one of the most pleasant and goodnatured men I know, and with me he behaves just like any body else, and is full as civil and attentive as another man, but in this instance he does not consider his dignity lowered.

The other day I was paying a visit to the wife of a very great effendi (who though not the most agreeable, is perhaps the cleverest man I know here); not less than fifty women were assembled in the harem to see me;

when in came the lord and master—all put on their veils except his wife and his own women, and he made a sign and all retired. He then told me he had sent for my little dragoman, who shortly appeared. We talked some time and then he proposed dining ; he had led me into a beautiful court paved with coloured marble, with foun. tains playing amongst the orange-trees, and in a sort of alcove we found dinner prepared, or rather supper, for it was at sunset. Every thing was served in high style by black female slaves, and a black gentleman. Immense gilt candlesticks, with candles nearly six feet high were set on the ground and great illumination of small elegant lamps suspended in clusters in different parts of the court; the proud man talked a great deal, and kept my little dragoman nearly four hours upon his knees, having fetched a great book to talk astronomy, upon which he asked me ten thousand questions. In short, he kept me there till nearly ten o'clock, an hour past the time which if any one is found in the streets they are to have their head cut off; such is the pacha's new decree. All the gates were shut, but all opened for me and not a word said. The pacha cuts off a head or two nearly every day; but yet I do not think he has added much to his own security, for he is by no means liked, nor does he command half so much as my friend, the old Delibache.

What surprises me so much is the extreme civility of the Turks to a Christian, which they detest much more here than in any other part of the Sultan's dominions. A woman in man's clothes, a woman on horseback-every thing directly in opposition to their strongest prejudices, and yet never even a smile of impertinence, let me go where I will. If it was as it is in England it would be quite impossible to get through with it all. Like Doctor Pangloss I always try to think that every thing is for the best; if I had not been shipwrecked I should have seen nothing here; if I had been born a man instead of a woman, I could not have entered all the harems as I have done, and got acquainted with all the Turkish customs, and seen all that is to be seen of most magnificent-for a Turk's splendour is in his harem, the rooms, the dresses, the whole air of luxury is not to be described.

Dreadful news from Russia, but we shall hear worse I foresee. Times are coming when every English soldier will have reason to hide his head, and weep his country's disgrace.

Adieu, my dear general, I have written you a long letter, because I thought my last might have put you in a fright: had the Wahabees come here, it would have been no joke, at least for the inhabitants of this town. for they burn and destroy all before them.

When you have read this, will you enclose it to Lord Ebrington, who is so good as always to feel anxious about me, and I have not time to write to him now, and I shall have no opportunity of sending another letter for a long time most probably. If Captain Hope is at Malta, pray remember me most kindly to him, and tell him I prosper.

Believe me,
Ever yours most sincerely,

H. L. STANHOPE.

Lady Hester Stanhope to Lieut.-General Oakes.

Damascus,

November 14, 1812. My dear General, The enclosed I wrote some time ago, and the messenger set off without my letter. I have written to D. E., but you may equally enclose the letter if you please. B. and Mr. Barker arrived here about the first; the latter has been laid up with a fever ever since, and I have given up my journey to the desert for the present, as the pacha insists upon sending 800 or 1000 men with me, and the expense would be ruin, but I am going off to Homs to-morrow, and in the course of the winter shall contrive to go in some way or other.

It seems very cross to be angry at people being anxious about you, but had B. and Mr. B. made less fuss about my safety, and let me had perfectly my own way, I should have been returned by this time from Palmyra. But this, and the state of the country, I do not wish to be the conversation of Malta, for it might be scribbled back again here by some of the merchants. Yet I cannot but regret that (for I had leave to dig and do every thing I pleased at Palmyra), chance having put such extraordinary power in my hands, it has been lost by mismanagement. It is not here as in other parts of the world ; if you only go a mile to the right instead of the left, which you have not previously bargained to do, your camels leave you, your guards won't stir out of their district, you must pay them four times their price to induce them to go on, &c. Therefore it was very fine and very natural to write every three days from Aleppo, we will meet here, then there, and to make fifty changes, and to express fifty fears. For people who did not know the country it might be expected, but those who did ought to have been aware it would have been taken advantage of, which has been the case.

We have no plague here at present, but I suppose it will come when goods arrive from Constantinople; it is said it is already suspected in Egypt, and then it generally comes here. But there will be no possibility of leaving this country till the spring, as no English ships come to the coast in the winter, and we have had enough of Greek vessels. I, for one, have little apprehensions of the plague; all in this world rests with Providence, and over-caution ever exposes persons more to danger than remaining quiet.

I hear General Graham is gone home; James, I hope, has gone with him; pray if you know any news of him write it me. I have just sent to Seyde for the things Captain Hope sent me from Smyrna ; I trust I shall find all my packets of letters with them. I have sought in vain for some good thing to send you from hence, but can find nothing; but I have ordered some wild-boar hams to be made, which you will receive in the course of the winter. I should feel so ungrateful were I not to think of you constantly even in little matters. B. ordered some of the famous Vino d'Oro, of Mount Lebanon, when the casks are well seasoned, and an opportunity offers, it shall be sent to Malta. B. desires to be most kindly remembered to you, he hates this place, as I thought he would, but must remain here till Mr. B. is well enough to set off. Aleppo he also thought abominable. I knew I should dislike Aleppo if I went there, because it is full of vulgar people, but here there are chiefly great Turks, and as I get on very well with them, I rather like the place than otherwise, but think it very unwholesome from the quantity of water and trees in and about the town; but very beautiful in its way, but it is not the way I like. Brousa and the banks of the Bosphorus for me, enchanting scenes which I think upon with delight. But I must not write on for ever, I forget all the business you have

upon your hands; may your health not suffer from it is all I pray.

Yours ever, most sincerely,

H. L. S. I scribble sadly, but my ink is so bad, and I have no table; the Turks always write upon their hand, and so slow, it is quite amusing.

THE SPIRIT OF THE LAKE.

BY ELIZABETH YOUATT.

And so we come at last
To an old history of the past,
Connected with this place.

C. S. The city of Perugia is famous for having been the birthplace of a long line of bright names, more so perhaps than any other in all Italy. The streets are wide and spacious—the squares lined with massive and ancient-looking buildings, and the churches—of which it is said to possess more than a hundred-exquisitely sculptured, with lofty domes; while the fine old gates, occasionally to be met with, give it all the appearance of an important, although somewhat decayed city. Here on the beautifully frescoed walls of the old Exchange, Sala del Cambio the well-known Pietro Perugino has wrought out his own eternal, monument. While in the square, del Papa, a bronze statue of Julius III., cast by Vincenzo Danti, keeps his memory alive in the hearts of his countrymen—who would not be remembered thus?

The citadel, built by Pope Paul III., occupies a considerable space, and commands on one side a splendid view of the valley of the Tiber; while the other looks over the lake to the plains beyond, bounded in the far horizon by the lofty Apennines.

It was here that a joyous party of girls, one of whom had a lover occupying some post of distinction in the place, set out one summerday to visit.

"Let us call for poor Magdalene," said one; “she so seldom goes out, it will be quite a treat for her.”

The rest willingly agreed, and turning a little out of their way stopped before a house, the gloomy magnificence of which told a sad tale of departed greatness.

Magdalene was evidently a favourite with all of them, although they treated her with a degree of deference which marked her superiority. She was tall and slightly formed, with a clear, pearl-like complexion, and large, dark, dreamy-looking eyes, the silken lashes of

Feb. - VOL. LXVII, NO. CCLXVI.

R

[ocr errors]

which swept like shadows over her pale cheeks. Her hair was dark and shining, and she had it swept back from her lofty brow, and hanging upon her shoulders in a profusion of braids and tresses. There was nothing remarkable in the dress she wore, which was that com. monly adopted by the middle class of the inhabitants of Perugia, and her dejected air and gentle voice were far from commanding the involuvtary homage which they paid her.

“ Is not the signora, your mother, any better to-day?" asked one.

“ Alas! no, I, fear not; and yet she slept well last night, blessed be the saints !”

“ I wish you could bave gone with us," said the girl; “I am sure you would have liked it, and the day is so fine and clear,"

I “I wish it too,” repeated Magdalene, with a sigh.

“And what is to hinder you, signora, if you have a mind ?" asked her old nurse. “My lady is too drowsy from the effects of the opiate administered to her, to miss you for some hours, and I am sure you want fresh air bad enough.”

“Well then, I think I will go, nurse'; but you will not leave her?" " Do not fear.”

“ And if she should wake and ask for me, tell her I shall soon return."

Ay, ay, darling !" said the old woman, as she threw the veil over her head; “ now go and forget every thing but the sunny beauties of this glorious day.

Magdalene was too young not to follow her nurse's advice in a great measure, but sadder thoughts would occasionally intrude, and her glad laughter become all of a sudden hushed with the fear that her mother might be worse. .

Magdalene was an only child, and being alone with a parent, whose health habitually delicate got daily worse and worse, had thrown a sad and gloomy cloud over the bright, fresh spirit of youth. Too affectionate to leave the bedside of her mother, she had but few companions and no friends; and her greatest amusement was to sit in the summer twilight, or by the midnight couch of the restless invalid, and listen to those wild tales which her nurse was never tired of repeating, and with such a semblance of truth, that it is no great wonder that Magdalene should believe such things might be, or that they should mingle in her dreams, and form part of her waking musings, which were perforce so sad and solitary.

The girls explored every part of the old citadel with unabated curiosity, and then, wearied with their exertions, gladly adjourned to the apartment where refreshments had been provided for them.

“ It is strange,” said Magdalene," as she stood in the recess of one of the windows, with the fading sunlight glittering upon her long hair, and lighting up her pale but animated face. “It is strange that there should be no legend attached to such a place as this.”

“ It would be easy to make one,” said one of the officers, laughing at the grave and earnest tone in which she spoke.

Magdalene looked bewildered.

“Although there is no legend that I know of belonging to the citadel, I can tell you one of yonder lake," said the young Italian, winking at his companions, and drawing nearer to the unsuspecting girl.

« ZurückWeiter »