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THE GREAT KHAN, AT DAMASCUS.
These khans are the hotels of the East: the observation of Dr. Johnson, that the warmest welcome met with, in life's dull round, was at an inn, provided a man had money in his pocket,—will scarcely hold good here. Open to all comers, from all lands, at all hours of the day, never of the night, the doors of the khan are not closed to the poor; the shabbily-dressed wanderer, whom the world has forsaken, will not find a cold and harsh welcome. This spacious khan may be said to be the grand hotel of Asia, where her various sons meet together, not for the purposes of ostentation or luxury, of expenditure or indulgence—but to buy and to sell, to display the useful as well as tasteful productions of their own lands, and to carry back, in return, those of Syria, Egypt, and Turkey. No clanging of doors, ringing of bells, hurried footsteps and voices of domestics and guests, rolling of carriage-wheels: there is one sound, heard amidst, and often above, the converse of the people—the fountain's fall, that seems almost like the speaker's call to order, in our House of Commons, and by its clear, steady, sweet reverberation, to remind the men of the East that loud speaking is a curse, and to recall them to a more subdued tone. The lonely and the friendless man will here be sure to meet his fellow; he may retire into the more shaded and silent parts of the building; and ere he has smoked and ruminated long, a little group, of similar or perhaps better fortunes, will gather round him: they will gaze calmly and without envy on the rich merchants, on their handsome robes and pipes, and many attendants: the envy and the thirst of wealth is not a frequent feeling in the Turkish breast Why did not Hafiz or Sadi write in praise of a noble caravanserai? what are banks of flowers, or roses, or the palm grove? what are the shades of the cedar and sycamore forest, compared to its solid comforts, its cool and grateful gloom? Muses of Persia and Arabia! ye ought to have known, that after a man has travelled all day through a sultry land, it is not a lonely joy he sighs for, beneath "a great rock," or a murmuring grove, or beside a stream; it is the kind, the social congregating of his fellow-men, the welcome meeting of the people of many nations, beneath the roof-tree of a goodly khan. It feels like a home, where each traveller enters, and gazes round him with a like glad feeling, and seems to say within himself, "We are wayfarers for a night; our fires shall burn; our words be peace and good-will to each other: we have each come from his own distant land, from family and friends; and to-morrow's sun shall send us forth, to see each other's face no more for ever."
This edifice is entered by a gate of fine Arabic architecture, through which strangers and men of business are continually passing on horseback and on foot Here assemble the merchants and traders of Damascus, to meet and confer with those of other lands: to inspect the merchandise, the goods, the precious things, which have travelled long
and wearily, during weeks, and even months, across the deserts. Here come to lodge, for a few or many days, till his speculation is completed, his camel-loads sold, and his purchases made, the Persian, the Egyptian, the Bedouin Arab, the Mussulman of Hindostan, and the Druse, with his worsted dress wrought in small stripes of red and black. In some parts, piles of goods covered the stone floor, by whose side was their thoughtful owner: a group was seated in another part, cross-legged, and dictating to a scribe the account of their sales or concerns: a grave and wealthy personage, earnestly accosted by two humbler acquaintances, was receiving their salutations coolly: and in a corner, a person, elevated a little above the few around him, was addressing them with some energy and action: had his audience been more numerous and devoted, he might have passed for a story-teller. This large area, or ground floor, is not, however, the aristocratic part of the edifice: flights of stone steps lead to the upper stories, in which are numerous chambers, unfurnished and carpetless, with a single window or casement, which are hired by the merchant or traveller, and are the more select portion of the building. Here he is attended by his own servants; or, should he not have any, it is easy to hire them: his meals are prepared and brought to him, and here he also receives his acquaintances and visitors. The roof of this splendid khan is very lofty, and supported by granite pillars: in the midst is a large dome; an immense fountain is in the centre of the floor, around which are the warehouses for the various merchants; there is a circular gallery above, into which the chambers of the guests open.
Little privacy can be enjoyed here; it is a place of business, where the love of traffic and gain is paramount, and renders the wealthy trader indifferent to the conveniences and enjoyments which he has left in his distant home. His bed laid on the floor of the chamber, the fire kindled on the bare hearth; if he be fastidious, a few articles of handsome furniture can instantly be procured from the great bazar, to which the khan adjoins. At evening, a circle is often formed in the large area beneath, around the fountain, where the men of business gather, and, while the light falls dimly through the dome, smoke and talk over their hopes and ventures. But in the khan, each individual is too intently occupied, actively or meditatively, to attend to the concerns of his neighbour: espionage or suspicion have little place here; the robber of the desart, the dervish, the trader in jewels, or slaves, or costly array, the soldier of fortune,—dwell together with an air of indifference and civility; and often, from the casual meeting in a khan, whether in the city or desart, intimacies are formed, that endure, and cast a merciful influence over the future life.
"This khan," observes Lamartine, in his sanguine description, "has been built by Hassad Pacha, within the last forty years. A people who possess architects capable of designing, and workmen capable of executing, such a monument, cannot be characterized as dead to the arts. These khans are generally built by wealthy pachas, who bequeath them to their families, or to the cities which they are desirous to enrich; they yield great revenues. It exhibits an immense cupola, whose boldly-constructed arch reminds one of that of St Peter's at Rome: it is equally supported by granite pillars. Guards are on the watch both day and night, to ensure the security of the khan; large stables
are provided for the horses belonging to travellers or caravans: beautiful fountains spout forth refreshing streams around the khan; the gate is one of the richest specimens of Moresque architecture, as well in conception as in all its details, and one of the most striking in point of effect, to be seen in the world. The Arabian style of architecture may there be recognised in its full perfection."
FORTIFIED CLIFFS OF ALAYA,
COAST OF CARAMANIA.
These vast precipices of Alaya drop perpendicularly into the sea, which has worn caverns in their base, and their summits are lined with ancient towers, probably of the middle ages. The town is partly seen at the foot of the declivity, up which the houses seem to climb, so as almost to rest on each other: the numerous walls and towers which still exist prove how anxious its former possessors were to make the place impregnable. The cliffs are between five and six hundred feet high above the sea, and continue equally perpendicular to sixty or seventy feet below it; at a little distance from the shore, they are lost under the lofty mountains of the interior, but close in they have a magnificent appearance. They consist of a compact white limestone, tinged here and there with red. The general aspect of the town and its vicinity exactly coincides with the short description Strabo gives of Coracesium, the first town of Cilicia; and the barren ridges of Mount Taurus, which here come down to the shore, sufficiently indicate the beginning of that rugged coast Other circumstances concur in proving the identity of these places; for we find that Coracesium shut its gates against Antiochus, when all the remaining fortresses of Cilicia had submitted. It was afterwards selected by the pirates, from their many strongholds, to make a last stand against the Romans; and certainly no place on the whole coast was so well calculated to arrest the march of a conqueror, or to bid defiance to a fleet, as these commanding precipices. On the top of a high conical hill, about three miles north-west of Alaya, and two miles from the coast, are the deserted remains of an ancient town: it was surrounded with walls; the ruins of a handsome temple were found there, much broken sculpture, and many Greek inscriptions; but they are all monumental, in honour of different individuals, and throw no light on the former name of the place. Laertes is described by Strabo as a fortress built on a hill, the shape of which is like a woman's breast, and the above hill has manifestly this peculiar form. Diogenes Laertius was a native of this town.