Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

pierced with loop-holes for musketry; and the platform of this is ascended to by narrow flights of steps, but there were no cannon planted in any part of it.

The bazārs are very mean in appearance, though they are furnished with a sufficiency of provisions, and particularly with excellent fruit, among which melons and grapes are the best and most abundant.

There is a good cook-shop, at which kabaubs, or roasted meat and sausages, can be procured; and though there is only one coffeehouse in the place, this is adequate to the supply of all the idlers and passengers through the town.

The caravanserai at which we put up, during our detention here, was like the one described at Baiaat, in the general style of its architecture, which was purely Turkish. It consisted of many apartments, some of them having fire-places in the walls, like European chimneys; others, with benches and niches, or recesses, for the accommodation of travellers, and all ornamented and vaulted, in the Turkish rather than the Arabic manner.

It is remarkable, that though all the arches in the caravanserai and coffee-house are pointed in the Saracenic form, with concave or hollow parts beneath them, all those seen in the other buildings of this town are of a different kind: some of these are round arches, of the pure semi-circular Roman shape; others are the flattened segment of a circle, approaching to the Saxon form; and others again have a broad indentation in the centre of a flat arch, like those described in the mosque of Ibrahim el Khaleel, at Orfah; all apparently constructed without regard to any fixed rule, just as the caprice of the architect directed.

The language, features, and complexions of the inhabitants are chiefly Turkish. This circumstance, added to the fact of the caravanserai here, and at the last station, being of Turkish architecture, renders it probable, that the first settlement of many of these smaller places, as villages, was the erection of a post-house, or konauk, for the couriers between Constantinople and Bagdad, when

this last became the distant frontier town of the Turkish empire; and that villages of Turks have since grown up progressively around these halting-places. This would sufficiently account for their being placed at stated and equal distances from each other, while all the rest of the country between them is desert and unpeopled; as well as for the great predominance of Turkish features, and the preservation of the Turkish language, in these places, lying in the great post-route, though they are bordered on the one side by Arabs and on the other by Koords.

There are a few gardens, with date and other fruit trees, here ; and in walking in one of them I observed myriads of insects, of the genus Coccinella, all seemingly regaling themselves on the Aphides, or plant-lice, which are said to be their favourite food; they covered the leaves of all the lower shrubs, in countless multitudes. They were of the species that have red shells with black spots; though the spots were in many of them not very distinct, and they fre⚫quently went in pairs, attached together by their tails. Some pieces of clouded marble were brought to me in the course of the day, as stone from the neighbouring range of hills. These were all the natural curiosities, if these could so be called, which the place produced, excepting the large storks, "Hadjee Lug Lug," which had their nests on almost every house in the town.

On every part of our road from Mousul to this place, we had seen, for the last five days, the beautiful bird, called Syren by the French, and War-War by the Arabs; but here, probably on account of the great heat, we lost sight of them altogether. From the same cause, also, fleas, which had hitherto abounded in our route, had now entirely disappeared; though more offensive vermin were still seen on every carpet and cushion on which we could venture to recline. The heat was, indeed, intense, the thermometer being from 120° at noon to 125° at three hours after meridian, so that even the people of the country were oppressed by it. The wind was south-west blowing from the Desert, and in very light airs; and persons residing here, who had been often at Bussorah and Bagdad,

complained of the sultry air and suffocating blasts of hot wind, as being equal to those of the worst seasons at these respective cities.

As our detention began to be generally known and commiserated, we were invited, after the prayers of El Assr, to the house of a certain Hadjee Habeeb, who wished to learn the particulars of our being abandoned, and expressed an intention of assisting us out of our difficulty. As we proceeded to his abode, Suliman began to entertain an idea that this pilgrim might be a particular friend of his, of the same name, and when they met, this was verified by their embracing each other. We now learnt that the Hadjee had himself come thus far from Bagdad with a small caravan of merchandize, and this being now disposed of, he was homeward-bound with the returns of his speculation, which were to be carried back on the same animals, the beasts and their lading all belonging to himself. Our difficulties, as to further progress, were now at once removed. By increasing the lading of some of his mules, and making his servants dismount from others, to ride and walk by turns, a horse and two mules were set at liberty for the use of Ali, Suliman, and myself. The horse was given to me, as the greatest stranger of the party, it being known to all that I came from Egypt; and though the Tartar, Ali, had not only the self-regard to ask it for himself, but the effrontery to demand it as a right, he being the Sultan's messenger, yet no entreaties of mine could prevail on the young Suliman, for whose sake alone we had obtained these animals, to take the horse, and permit me to ride the mule. The laws of hospitality, he said, forbade it, and he was on this point quite immovable.

At sun-set, a grave and formal party was assembled at the Hadjee's place of halt, consisting of a sleek and full-bearded Moollah, and some of the chief elders of the town. Here, most of the party prayed, Ali and myself being the only ones who did not join ; at which the Moollah was not a little scandalized. From hence we retired to the bank of the stream, which ran through the town, and

partook of an excellent supper given by the Hadjee to all his dependants, including two dervishes, who had become permanent hangerson in his train. We were then summoned to mount, and about two hours after sun-set proceeded on our way; the whole party consisting of six horses, and about fifty mules and asses, besides two Tartars from Mousul, who had just joined us as we were setting out, and who rode the same horses which they had brought from their last stage.

JULY 13th. Our course, during the night, had been nearly south, and the whole of our road lay over a level and desert plain; when, after six hours of easy travelling, at the rate of about three miles an hour, we entered the town of Kara Tuppé, or the Black Hill, which that name, in Turkish, implies.

While the Tartars, and those who had charge of the laden animals, went to alight at the public khan, a new mosque, which stood just at the entrance of the village, was selected for our place of halt; it being suggested, by the Moollah, who had come with us from Kiffree, that within the building there would be good accommodation for ourselves, and in the court an excellent place for our horses. We accordingly alighted, and after formal prayers, led by the Moollah himself, as Imaum, at the head of the party, we took care of our animals, and all lay down to sleep.

On awaking, which was long after the sun had risen, I found near me an old white-bearded Sheikh, the priest and schoolmaster of the village, who was surrounded by about twenty pupils, all reading loudly the different portions of the Koran assigned to them as their tasks. The book, from which they were reading, was in Arabic; but the language of their conversation with each other, as well as the features and complexions of all, was still Turkish, and sufficiently bespoke their origin. The old Sheikh was very communicative; and as he pressed his inquiries on me with great earnestness, I answered them with readiness and freedom. The sun growing insupportably powerful, even soon after the day dawned,

some of the young scholars were despatched by their master to procure the cooling breakfast of raw sliced cucumbers steeped in sour milk, which, however little known among the epicures of Europe, is here a choice and favourite dish. This was set before me by the Sheikh himself; and, little as it was to my taste, we finished it between us. This same old man, who was priest of the mosque, spread out my carpet within the sacred precincts without a scruple, although, by this time, he knew, from my frank communications with him, that I was not a Moslem; and I retired into the most shady part of the building to enjoy a second nap, the whole of my tired companion being still soundly asleep.

When the grave elders of our travelling party awoke, and began to arrange themselves in a line, with the sleek Moollah at their head, for noon-day prayers, this holy and well-fed expounder of the law, on seeing me reposing on the ground near him, started back, as a Pharisee would have shrunk from a Publican, a Jew from a Samaritan, or a Bramin from the polluting touch of a Pariah. Strong objections were now raised by the Moollah, the Hadjee Habeeb, and two others of the party, to my remaining within the temple, and their prayers were consequently interrupted. The priest of the mosque, the young Suliman, and another of our companions, whom I had made my friend, by telling him long and entertaining stories on the road, all contended, however, for my not being disturbed from the spot where I lay. I was awake during the whole of this strife between fanaticism and hospitality; but I continued to remain quiet, and apparently still asleep, from a conviction, that any thing which I could do or say would rather inflame and irritate than calm the contention.

My friends ultimately prevailed; and the others, after a great deal of murmuring, at length went on with their devotions, though they all removed from near me, where they had just ranged themselves, to the other extremity of the mosque, in order to avoid the contamination of an infidel.

Our afternoon was lounged away, without my seeing much of

« EdellinenJatka »