ePub 版

enough for this interesting spot, it contains a Saracenic inscription giving the date of the building of the wall.

A native guide will point out to the unwary traveller the identical house of Naaman, the Syrian; and I have no doubt if you wished to see the domicile of Eliezer, of Damascus, or even that of Uz, the great-grandson of Noah-its reputed founder*-they would be found for you.

The rivers of Damascus, however, still remain to illustrate the eventful past, and the Barada and Nahr-el-Awaj are generally accepted as the ancient Abana and Pharpar, of which Naaman indignantly said, "Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them and be clean?" We were now joined by the American viceconsul, an intelligent young Syrian, named Meshaka, the son of a man whose bold Christian writings had gained for him the appellation of "the Syrian Luther." We subsequently visited this worthy reformer, whose reception of us was most cordial and affectionate. We next visited the British vice-consul, Mr. Kirby Green, to whom I had letters of introduction from my friends in Beyrout. Mr. Green received us politely, and showed us his handsome house, arabesqued and tesselated in true Damascene style, possessing the usual courtyard, with trees and fountains, upon which all the rooms opened. It also had its alcove with raised cushioned platform, where coffee and cigarettes were brought us.

After taking our leave of Mr. Green, we went to see the English Presbyterian missionary, Mr. Wright, who bade us such genial welcome that our hearts were at once loosened to him. After a long conversation about home and the state of the missions in Damascus and Syria, we all went out together. Mr. Wright proved to be a valuable addition to our little party. We soon discovered him to be a son of Erin, and learned that he was a native of Belfast, and had been educated at King's College, Dublin. His ready mother-wit and beaming intelligence vied gracefully with Mr. Crawford's minute topographical knowledge and antiquarian learning, the fruits of a long sojourn at Damascus and of deep laborious study. With such guides as these, we made the most of our brief visit.

We peered into the Grand Mosque, but did not cross its threshold, not that we found this impossible, or dared not enter, for our missionary friends informed us that a couple of gold pieces would secure our admission to the Moslem's shrine, even in this fanatical city. In Egypt backsheesh will take one anywhere, no matter how sacred or apparently close the portals. In Damascus things are somewhat


We saw,

different. Whilst standing at the threshold of
this mosque, watching the genuflections and
prostrations of a few devotees, black and angry
looks were darted at us by many of the passers
by. Even whilst traversing the crowded
narrow streets, it was considered necessary by
both the British and the American consuls that
we should be properly attended, and although
the Effendi Meshaka never left us except at our
hotel, a Janissary, or Cawass, marched in front
of our little party with drawn sword in his hand,
lest an involuntary jostling against some intoler-
ant son of the Prophet might be answered by vio-
lence. In Damascus trivial causes might soon
lead to bloody frays. This city has a sanguinary
history, both ancient and modern.
Its very
name signifies a "sack of blood."
therefore, but little of the Grand Mosque save
a gigantic court paved with polished limestone.
We cared to see no more, for both the Doctor
and myself had "done" mosques thoroughly
at Cairo, where they are more accessible, if
less famous, than this shop and ruin-surrounded
sanctuary of Damascus. It was, originally, a
Heathen Temple, possibly that of Rimmon,
and may be described as a compound of various
architectures. It is very ancient, and is said
to contain the head of John the Baptist in a
subterranean cave. Many conflicts has it
witnessed. When the fierce Khaled led the
surging Moslems northward and captured
Damascus, this sanctuary, then a Christian
Church, was divided between the followers
of Christ and Mohammed, one sect wor-
shipping in the western, and the other in the
eastern end. The Christians were afterwards
turned out by the Khalif Waled, who re-embel-
lished and decorated the building intothe utmost
splendour. It was afterwards pillaged by
Tamerlane, and altogether has figured promi-
nently in the history of Damascus.*

We next entered the bazaar of the silversmiths, a large rambling low-roofed room, close to the Grand Mosque. Every man worked his own forge and for his own individual profit. There was no co-operation towards the finite perfection of any article, as in our own manufactories; no special men for special parts, but every one, from feeding his forge to chasing his silver worked for himself. Some of the filagree work, chiefly representing those tiny egg-cupshape receptacles of the still tinier coffee-cups, which are so dear to Orientals, was extremely chaste and delicate. These silversmiths of Damascus-disciples of Demetrius-were all Christians, and it is strange that they should be located so close to the Grand Mosque, whose interior can be seen from the roof of their bazaar, with its marble-tesselated floor and gorgeous Persian carpets, its ornamented walls, Porter (Five Years in Damascus).

and stately columns. Generally speaking, each trade or handicraft in Damascus has its own special quarter.

in the year of the Hegira 803. The impetuous conqueror, however, caused the citadel to be undermined, and eventually razed it to the ground. At one time it held the mortal remains of the great and chivalrous Saladin, whose trials of strength and skill against our brave Richard Cœur de Lion are chronicled by Sir Walter Scott. The relics of the distinguished Saracen were afterwards removed to another part of the city.

Bazaar is simply the Turkish word for bargain. An Oriental invariably asks double or treble the value of the article offered for sale. Bid him half his price, and should he put his hand upon his heart and say no," bid him "good morning." In the twinkling of an eye he is after you, and if you but feign a masterly inactivity" of hearing, the triumph is yours. Don't haggle! You have no chance with the Oriental, who spends his whole lifetime in haggling. If ever he gets to Paradise he will haggle with his Houris. If you do not want an article never hazard a low bid, for, should you remain long enough in the locality, the chances are much in favour of that article becoming yours. When time is no object, and patience is uppermost, things may be bought at onethird of the price, the very lowest price possible for the wily Mohammedan to take. He will call Allah to witness his statements,WHAT is alcohol? It is carbon, hydroreducing his price all the time.

Dragomen, as a rule, are notorious rogues. A wink between the dragoman and his friend the merchant, and the too confiding traveller barters his good gold for a heap of tinselled trumpery. He is smilingly and obligingly conducted back to his hotel, and the dragoman returns to the merchant for his share of the plunder. I had every reason to feel satisfied with Farah Maloof, but he was far above the average dragoman, having been educated at the American College of Beyrout. Farah was intelligent and most anxious to please; he was eager to visit Europe, and begged hard to be allowed to accompany me. Not knowing what to do at home with such a stalwart Syrian, I was obliged to refuse him. He left me at Damascus, taking back to Beyrout the two horses which had carried us so bravely.

Human nature in the East corresponds but too faithfully with that of the West. Whether Christianity or Mohammedanism be the outward profession of faith, money is but too often the inward object of adoration. "The trail of the serpent" is over all men, go where we list. In Damascus, man is ignorant, constrained, and fanatical; yet, when his fingers close over the gold, the stern son of Islam forgets his creed, his prejudices, and his superstitions. He hates the Giaour, but loves the Giaour's gold.

We did not enter the castle. There was some difficulty in the way. It is an ancient place with crumbling walls, and has stood many a bloody siege. It was surrounded by a moat, which in the days of the Saracens was filled from the river. Its citadel in these times was of great strength, and defied Tamerlane successfully for some time, after he conquered the city,

The gates of the citadel were carefully guarded by soldiers, and we were told that it contained many prisoners. Near this place is the residence of the Pasha-the Governor of the Pashalik or Vilâyet of Damascus, which includes Judea and all Eastern Palestine, and stretches away to the banks of the Euphrates. (To be continued.)




gen, and oxygen, combined in the proportions expressed by the chemical formula C, H, O. And perhaps this short formula might tell us all about alcohol and its strange power over men, if men were (as some very confident scientific folk tell us) only cunning mechanisms, woven out of protoplasm, wherein physico-chemical forces play certain strange antics until the mechanism wears out. When our brains are dead-no longer disturbed by thoughts and joys and sorrows-then they may be put "in pickle" in the jars of some anatomical museum. And then the action of alcohol upon them will be simply that of C2 He O-a fluid which has a strong chemical attraction for water. (How differently alcohol behaves in a test-tube and in a wine-glass!) But the action of alcohol upon a living brain is not quite such a simple matter, nor so easily disposed of. So chemistry, after a trial to solve the riddle of the power of alcohol, "gives it up."

Then we turn to physiology, and learn from Lallemand that alcohol passes out of the body as it passed in, unchanged; and, therefore, cannot be regarded in any sense as food. And we read again that Anstie declares that Lallemand is mistaken. We may leave the physiologists to fight it out. The question is a very interesting one, but it is not relevant to the present discussion; for topers will continue to drink, and teetotallers to abstain, whether alcohol is oxydised in the body or not. toper is vastly more anxious about the ways



and means of getting alcohol into him, than about the form in which it is to get out again. And if the teetotaller could be persuaded that alcohol is really a food, he would probably still prefer potatoes to the "British Brandy" manufactured therefrom.

Dr. Ratcliffe tells us that alcohol economises food by diminishing tissue waste. Possibly: but the information, if correct, is not practically important in relation to the present question. Your drunkard is not usually much given to considering questions of economy; except perhaps to the extent of carefully selecting the public-house where he can get the strongest twopennyworth for twopence. And your teetotaller will not be easily convinced that a gin-palace is a favourable place for studying domestic economy.

We must go deeper than this food question, if we want to know the secret of the power of alcohol. So we turn, for a while at least, from physiology to question a science that is a thriving daughter of hers. What says Therapeutics?

There are some well-meaning, but over zealous teetotallers, who are unable to believe any good of an agent so dangerous as alcohol. Their advice about its use reminds us of Mr. Punch's laconic advice to those about to marry: "Don't." And sometimes they are ready to support their opinion by a display of some hastily crammed and superficial scientific knowledge. They will describe to you the effect of placing a cubic inch of beef in a bottle with some rectified spirit and artificial gastric juice. They may even show you some beef which has been so cruelly ill-used. They will point out that the spirit has reduced it to a consistence much resembling that of the sole of an old shoe, and then they will triumphantly ask whether alcohol is likely to promote digestion. But it happens that the human stomach has certain properties which are not shared by glass bottles. And this circumstance, though overlooked by our zealous partizans, really has an important bearing on the matter under discussion. The fact is, difficult scientific questions are not to be solved quite so easily as mere dabblers in science are apt to think. A solution, which seems so very simple, generally has something wrong about it. If you tried to get to the top of the Monument at a jump, you would be more likely to tumble and hurt your knees, than to succeed.

Unfortunately this question of the use of alcohol has been so hotly debated that the disputants on either side are apt to seize any weapon provided only they fancy they can bring down their man with it; they take the readiest arguments rather than the best. For instance, one will say "Alcohol is a gift of

Therefore we are bound to drink it—in moderation of course." And then your zealous teetotal friend will return a vehement "No! Alcohol is an evil invention of man, if not of the devil (the natural father of all evil spirits.) Fermentation is an artificial process, whereby good food is unnaturally destroyed."

These two doughty disputants are wellmatched. If this fiction of the human or diabolical origin of alcohol were true, it might simplify the question, perhaps. But the facts are against it. If you take a weak solution of grape sugar, and just leave it to itself, in moderately warm weather, by-and-by you will find it cloudy, with a film upon the top, and some bubbles will escape. Examine with a microscope, and you will find some things like strings of beads.

That is the yeast plant, self-sown from what we are pleased to call "the pure air of Heaven." Taste the liquid and you will find its sweetness has all gone the sugar has disappeared. But do not, for your conscience' sake make that experiment, if you have joined the "Blue Ribbon Army." The liquid will be alcoholic !

In truth, so far from fermentation being an artificial process, you will have to resort carefully to very artificial processes to prevent fermentation in grape juice and many similar liquids.

But our alcohol-loving friend must not be in a great hurry to triumph. Alcohol is a natural production no doubt, but alcohol-drinking is an artificial habit. Alcohol is a natural production, and so are arsenic, and opium, and deadly nightshade, and a variety of other such-like nice things which we do not yet think it an essential part of politeness to offer to our friends as pleasing luxuries. They are useful medicines in small doses, and poisons in large doses. Perhaps something like this may be true of alcohol. Alcohol is a natural production; therefore it has its right use. But it does not follow that its right use is as a daily beverage. There are many other spheres for it, e.g., to burn in spirit lamps, to make vinegar, to "pickle" various portions of the "human frame divine" for the instruction of students of medicine, and the like. And as regards its application to the living body, we must question Dame Nature before we jump to conclusions. How do you know but she may have labelled the bottle "For external application only?" We do not exactly think she has; but the mere existence of alcohol as a natural production is no proof either way.

Alcohol is undoubtedly a very valuable medicine in certain diseased conditions. Healthy people, however, do not need it, and are better without it. To leave well alone is a very good

[blocks in formation]

But, after all, the great power of alcohol over men is not its power as a medicine. Men do not drink for the most part because they are ill and desire to recover health. The public houses are not kept open merely to relieve the chemists' shops of a part of their natural trade. So we leave Therapeutics and pass on.

What says Morbid Anatomy? Morbid Anatomy has a sad story (and yet not the saddest) to tell of the evil effects of alcohol in those who have loved it "not wisely, but too well." Dr. Moxon * says, "that oracular science claims the sot. When the sot has descended his chosen course

of imbecility, or dropsy, to the dead-house, Morbid Anatomy is ready to receive himknows him well. At the post mortem she would say, 'liver hard and modulated, brain dense and small; its covering thick.' And if you would listen to her unattractive but interesting tale, she would trace throughout the sot's body a series of changes which leave unaltered no part of him worth speaking of. She would tell you that the once delicate, filmy texture which, when he was young, had surrounded, like a pure atmosphere, every fibre and tube of his mechanism, making him lithe and supple, has now become rather a dense fog than a pure atmosphere-dense stuff which, instead of lubricating, has closed in upon and crushed out of existence more and more of the fibres and tubes, especially in the brain and liver whence the imbecility and the dropsy."

A terrible comment that on the text, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap?" But will it avail as a warning? We fear not. Men who yield to the fascination of alcohol know well enough that they risk far worse evils than liver disease, and dropsy, and premature death. When they are reckless of the greater danger, will it save them if we tell

them of the less?

* In the Contemporary Review.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

"Bother your fears!" interrupted the youth. to do our duty-mine is plain; now that you "Nay; but, Percy, let us think-let us try are going away I must desire you to forget me. Sir James and Lady Ilford, your mother"


'Enough, May! I know all you would say," again interrupted the young man. "I know all the pros and cons. Duty! Yes, May, I mean to be dutiful, and when I marry you-as marry you I will-providing, indeed, you do not forget me whilst I am away


"O, Percy, how can you be so cruel?" exclaimed May, interrupting him.

"I did but jest," said the young man. "But, as I was going to say, when I marry you, May, it will be with my father's full consent and my mother's also. I have my projects-it may

take years to accomplish them-but if I live -nay, do not weep my darling! May's heart had failed her, and, sobbing, her head fell on her lover's shoulder.

Let me here introduce to my readers Percy Ilford and May Leigh.

Percy was the only son of Sir James Ilford, of an old family, proud but poor. Old Dorset Hall had once been a fine place, but the improvident and wild life of Percy's grandfather had impoverished it in many ways. The grand old woods had disappeared beneath the axe to furnish money for his extravagance, and the estate had dwindled to small dimensions-or rather, more strictly speaking, it had become so encumbered that the rental that found its way into Sir James's pocket was very contracted. Too proud to enter trade as a means of recruiting his finances, the Baronet and Lady Ilford had hopes of their son, and counted upon him to revive the old family affluence and honours by a prudent marriage. Little did they think that this son-their one hope-was bent on marrying their own steward's daughter-for such was May Leigh.

She was born on Old Dorset Farm. Percy and Ada Ilford, her brother Frank and herself had been brought up as near neighbours-for the steward's house stood not far from the hall. They had been companions as much as their relative positions would allow-that is to say, in out-door amusements-in summer, in boating on the lake, and wandering through the woods and lanes; in winter, skating on the ice, or playing at blindman's-buff after tea in Mrs. Leigh's best parlour, which the young folk from the hall had learnt to make as free with as if it had been their own nursery at home. So the years rolled on, rivetting link by link the chain that bound the youthful hearts of Percy Ilford and May Leigh.

This brings us to the night on which the story opens. On the morrow the ship was to sail that was to bear Percy to the land where he hoped to achieve great things. His parents did not wish him to go. They thought no good would come of it. The only project they could form for him was to marry an heiress; square up Old Dorset Hall with her money, and settle down there like his fathers before him. This was his mother's dearest wish, and often she was wont to plead with her son.

"We'll see in days to come, mother, mine," Percy would reply. "In the meantime, I am going to try my fortune at the diggings."

"The diggings, Percy!" said his mother, 'you an Ilford to go with common farmers' sons to the rough life there-it will kill you, my son-you will never be able to do such hard work. O, Percy! why do you not marry Miss Collingwood? I am quite sure you could win

[ocr errors]


her; indeed, the poor girl can scarcely disguise her love for you. There 's Miss Crawford too; there is no doubt but she prefers you; and they are both rich, and of good family. Do marry one of them, dear Percy, and make us all right.' "You pain me very much, mother, when you ask me to marry to fill our empty coffers," plied her son proudly, "but you underrate my ability for labour, dear mother; I am not robust, but I am not without strength-see." And he playfully took up a chair, and with one hand lifted it above his head. It was no great feat, but he wished to impress his mother with the idea that he was by no means a weakling, albeit of slender frame.

Sir James reconciled himself with less difficulty than Lady Ilford to their son's going to Australia. "If you will go, my son," he said, at last, "God speed you. You are carried away by exaggerated accounts of men becoming fabulously rich; you do not consider that there are thousands who have no such luck. But go, and if you do not make a fortune you cannot lose one. One thing you must carefully observe, never allow your cash to come below the amount necessary for your passage home again; and come at once whenever you feel the least pressed. The discomforts and even hardships which you must undergo, will, I am quite sure, make you more desirous of the comforts of home; and more anxious to secure the means of obtaining them, when you come back," he added significantly.

And so it came to pass that Percy Ilford was to go to Australia to try his fortune at the diggings. The great gold discovery in Australia had smitten the whole community with what was called the "gold fever," and thousands of all classes were hastening from old England to the new El Dorado to snatch a share of the spoil.

But Percy was not going alone; Frank Leigh, May's brother, was going with him. The young men had "laid their heads together" in the project. Frank gained the permission of his parents to accompany the young master; but it was a sore trial for them. He would not, however, go penniless, or dependent upon the Ilfords. Mrs. Leigh, by careful management and prudent forethought for her children's welfare, had made considerable saving.

Lady Ilford was secretly glad that Frank Leigh was going with her son, though she was too proud to say so. She had her misgivings as to Percy's ability to "rough it," and she thought the stalwart youth would bear the heavier burden, and take care of him.

"The diggings for ever, mother!" cried Frank, tossing his hat in the air, and throwing himself into a chair beside her.

"I shall miss you, my son," sighed Mrs.

« 上一頁繼續 »