In Tent At Rascheya, Syria
( Originally Published Mid 1800's )
Tuesday, December 5, 1865.
DEAR WILLIAM, — I wrote to father from Damascus on Sunday, and I will continue my plan of a journal while I am in Syria. I want you to keep the letters, for they will be all that I shall have to recall the details of my route. Let 's see, then. Monday morning, early, we went out with the janizary of the British consul, who was kindly loaned for the occasion, and went over the great mosque. Except for its history, there is not much of interest about it, but it is curious here, as in St. Sophia and elsewhere, to see how in changing a Christian church to Moslem purposes they have left ever so many Christian emblems uneffaced ; the communion cup is still upon the bronze doors, and the outside has a walled up doorway with the inscription, " Thy Kingdom, O Christ, is an ever-lasting Kingdom, and thy Dominion endureth from generation to generation." After the mosque, we roamed about the bazaars, especially a dim little picturesque hole where the silversmiths of Damascus do their beautiful work.
At two o'clock we were on horseback again, and riding out on the French road, through the gardens that girdle the city, along the sparkling Abana. We said good-by to Damascus, and encamped for the night at Dinas, a little village about twelve miles off in the Anti-Lebanon mountains. The night was very cold, and early this morning we were off, and have ridden eight hours to-day, still over the Anti-Lebanon. We passed an old castle and temple in ruins about noon, perhaps one of the old Baal temples which abounded in this region of Hermon. Then we stopped and lunched under a little group of trees by the wayside, and at last, after a hard day's ride, came to our camp-ground. It is a larger village than usual, but very forlorn. There is an old castle on the hill, to which we wandered before dinner and saw its Turkish garrison. This was one of the towns where the massacre of the Christians by the Druses was most terrible in 1860, and much of it is still in ruins. But the most interesting thing of all is Mt. Hermon. There it lies to-night above the town, with its broad top covered with snow, — a splendid old hill, the northern limit of Palestine. We have had it in sight from time to time for a week, and here we are close to its feet, and, sitting among our Syrians round our fire, we fancy we can see the old Israelites doing " their idolatry on this one of the high places," where the old altar still stands. Here, just now, came the commander of cavalry from the pasha of the town, to offer the Franks his profound regards and any help they wanted. You should have heard the palaver that went on between us with our good Ibrahim for interpreter.