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together, and came back again to Bagdad, while others remained at Derya subject to daily persecution, in order to join the first caravan from thence to Mecca for the next Hadj.
Derya is said to be a large town, seated on a mountain, like Mardin, which it resembles in form, size, population, and manner of building; it lies to the south of the direct road from hence to Mecca. The surrounding country is generally desert, though there are some fertile spots and many date-trees, and there is no want of caravanserais or water in the way In his Dissertation on the Commerce of Arabia, Dr. Vincent says, "After the conquest of Persia by the Mohammedans, a road was made across the whole of the peninsula from Mecca to Kufa, the old city at which the Kufic character was completed, and whose ruins, among which are some very old Arabic buildings, still exist, between Mesjed Ali and the Euphrates. This road was reported to have been seven hundred miles long, marked out by distances, and provided with caravanserais and other accommodations for travellers. Into this road fell the route from Basra and from El Khatif or Gerrha."* Abulfeda speaks of a road from Mecca to Bagdad, seven hundred miles in length, which road was made by El-Madi, Caliph, in the year of the Hejira, 169.
The opportunity of going through Persia with the suite of this Persian ambassador, promised to be a favourable one; but the period of his return from the pilgrimage to Imam Ali seemed uncertain. By Bussorah there was no hope of finding an occasion until the latter end of October, by which time a cruiser was expected up from Bombay; but native Indian ships, if not English trading ones, were almost certain to be met with at Bushire: so that it was strongly recommended to me, both on the score of speed and certainty, as well as health, not to descend the Euphrates to Bussorah, but to go to some Persian port by land, the banks of the river being infested with robbers at every league, and the climate most unhealthy, from the heat and moisture of the autumnal season.
* Periplus of the Erythrean Sea, vol. ii. p. 327.
The route from Bagdad to Bushire, by way of Shooster, seemed the nearest in point of distance, and I should have preferred it, from the circumstance of its being an unfrequented one, and including the interesting province of Susiana, with the old capital of the Persian monarchs, in which interesting ruins might be found, and disputed positions established; but the road was deemed too unsafe to venture on, without a very strong guard, or a large caravan, and there was neither of these just now on the point of departure. During the mission of Sir John Malcolm to the King of Persia, two English gentlemen, Mr. Grant and Mr. Fotheringham, set out by this route from Bagdad to Ispahan, on their return to India, being attached to the military service of Madras. In the way, they were both murdered by one of the predatory chiefs, of which there are several, occupying this tract of country, in the mountains and plains; and since that period, these hostile marauders had grown progressively more powerful, more insolent, and more cruel. The only way that remained open, therefore, was by the regular caravan road of Kermanshah, Hamadān, and Ispahan; and finding, on inquiry, that there would be a caravan starting for that route in the early part of the ensuing month, I determined to accompany it.
On the 26th of August we were visited by a Dervish, from the northernmost part of the ancient Bactria. He described the present town of Balkh, which is thought to occupy the site of the city of Bactria, as being small, but having several colleges, and many learned men, with an extensive library of the most rare and valuable Eastern books; the date of the foundation of this library was unknown to him, but the collection of books in it, he said, was large, perfect, and undisturbed. The inhabitants he described as mostly Mohammedans, and of the Soonnee sect. Bokhāra he described to be as large as Bagdad, well built, peopled by Mohammedans, and descendants of Moghul tribes, having also many colleges and learned men, but no extensive library, like that of Balkh. Samarcand, which he knew by its original name, he said
was now only a small town, not half the size of Bokhāra, and having fewer Mussulmans among its population than either it or Balkh. The Turkish language was understood in each of these, but the Arabic, as a language of communication, in neither; the Toorki, or Turcoman, tongue, being spoken in all these towns and their surrounding neighbourhood.
We had brought to us in the Divan, on the morning of the 27th, an ancient mace, about two feet long, with a slender handle of wood, pointed and enamelled in green, and its head composed of a piece of coarse alabaster, about the size and shape of a turkey's egg, turning round on a rod of iron, and ending in a nail-head at the top. The history of this mace was more curious than the weapon itself, as nearly similar ones are even now in use; but this was dug up, with a number of others, enclosed in a vase, which had been found on the banks of the river Mendeli, near a place called Belled Drooze, about six days' journey to the eastward of Bagdad. The modern Mendeli is thought to be the ancient Gyndes, which Cyrus is said to have divided into three hundred and sixty channels, in order to render it insignificant, according to Herodotus,* in revenge for its current having carried away and drowned one of the sacred horses; but probably only with a view to render it more fordable, by diverting its waters into as many channels as possible.
During the remainder of my stay at Bagdad, my time was divided between looking out for occasions of departure, and seeing as much as I could of the state of society in this city, my Asiatic dress, beard, and language, easily procuring me admission to the company of all classes.
From my first entry into Bagdad, I was surprised to find the Turkish language much more generally spoken and understood than the Arabic, notwithstanding that this city is more surrounded by Arabs on all sides, than either Damascus, Aleppo, or Mousul, in each of which Arabic is the prevailing tongue. The Turkish spoken here is said, however, to be so corrupt, both in idiom and pronunciation, * Clio, 189.
that a native of Constantinople is always shocked at its utterance, and on his first arrival finds it almost unintelligible. I had sufficient evidence myself of the Arabic being very bad, taking that of Cairo, of Mecca, and of the Yemen, as standards of purity in pronunciation; for scarcely any thing more harsh in sound, or more barbarous in construction, and the use of foreign words, can be conceived, than the dialect of Bagdad. Turkish, Persian, Koord, and even Indian expressions, disfigure their sentences; and such Arabic words as are used are scarcely to be recognised on a first hearing, from the corrupted manner in which they are spoken.
Literature is at so low an ebb here, that there is no one known collection of good books or manuscripts in the whole city, nor any individual Moollah distinguished above his contemporaries by his proficiency in the learning of his country. I had hoped to procure at Bagdad a copy of the "Thousand and One Nights," particularly as this capital of the Abassides had been so much the scene of its story, and the Tomb of Zobeida was still popularly known, and pointed out by its inhabitants. But I learnt, with regret, that not a perfect copy of this work was thought to exist throughout all Bagdad, as inquiries had been frequently made after one, without success, though sufficiently large sums had been offered for the work to tempt its being brought out from any private collection, if it had existed in any such.
In this, as in all other respects as an Oriental city, Bagdad is infinitely inferior to Cairo, and the interior of its streets and bazārs presents nothing like the faithful pictures which are constantly met with in Egypt, to remind the traveller of the scenes and manners described in the Arabian Tales. From this circumstance, added to the detection of many phrases in the language of the "Thousand and One Nights," which are purely Egyptian, the best judges on this subject are of opinion that the work was originally composed, and first brought into circulation, at Cairo, though its deserved popularity soon extended its fame over all the Eastern world.
In the course of my peregrinations about Bagdad, I saw no
females unveiled in the streets, though I had occasion to observe, more than once, youths of the other sex, corresponding in appearance, manner, and character, with the one I had seen at the khan of the village where we halted on the night before arriving at this city. Such publicity has not been always allowed, however, to this species of libertinism; for, during the reign of a certain Ali Pasha, not many years ago, a man was thrown headlong from the highest minaret of the city, on being detected in the commission of this abominable vice.
The police of Bagdad is extremely defective. That quarrels should arise, and disputes be terminated in blood, among the Arabs who occupy the skirts of the city within the walls, and this without any cognizance of such affairs by the government, was not so surprising, as that murders should take place at the very gates of the palace, and of the great mosque, without the criminals being so much as even sought after to be brought to justice. Since the period of Mr. Rich's return from Europe to Bagdad, which was hardly six months since, no less than twelve murders had been committed within the city, one of which was close to the Pasha's residence, and another in the very porch of the mosque of Abd-ulKhadder. The latest instance of these atrocities was only a few days before my departure; and though committed in the public streets, and before the face of a hundred witnesses at mid-day, no one thought either of punishing the murderer on the spot, or of apprehending him for the common safety. "It is an affair of blood," said they, "which the relatives of the dead may revenge, and which the Pasha may investigate, but it is no business for us to meddle with."
Robberies too had been of late committed with impunity, in various parts of the town. They were generally effected during the night, by private gangs, who escaped without detection. But in one instance, a combination of a more extensive nature than usual was discovered to exist, for the carrying these daring outrages into execution; and one of the leading merchants of the city was found