Imágenes de páginas

destroyed a beautiful basin for vessels: the beach is broad, sandy, and firm. Had Lady Hester Stanhope chosen her residence about a mile or two from Sidon, at the foot of the hills, and planted and improved the spot with the same taste as at Marilius, it would have been a luxurious, sheltered, and exquisite home;' a bower of Armida, not a little oasis wrested from the mountain's brow: a retreat that may be said to be shelterless, neighbourless—a wild solitude, over which passes fiercely the sweep of the tempest . Would not one English companion, or friend, be a treasure here ?—to most persons it would, but not to the recluse of Marilius, who is surrounded by foreign domestics and attendants only. Miss W. who resided several years with her in a kind of honourable but bitter dependence, was married sometime since to a young Syrian of Beirout, who had been her ladyship's dragoman, but dismissed from her service for daring to fall in love with the former. The attachment, however, was mutual, yet sorely was it crossed for a protracted period; they both drank of the waters of jealousy and suspicion, for, like Elizabeth, the Syrian recluse cannot endure that any of her courtiers or attendants should be the slaves of love. Yet the storm has passed away: kindlier and more indulgent feelings at last succeeded: after a long interval of severe probation, the marriage was permitted; the young Englishwoman passed from the hold of Marilius, whose iron had entered into her soul, to that of her husband; and he has also since been benefited by the kindness of his former mistress. Where now is the prestige of the East? If the secret thoughts of her heart could be disclosed, she would perhaps desire to return to England to finish her days; but she never will return:—pride, the fear of derision, the affected scorn of European tastes and habits, the rooted preference to Oriental feelings, (even, may it be said, in faith,) will, cause her to go down to the grave without friend or lover to lament over her, or to say, "Alas! her glory!" The powers of her mind are as acute as ever, and her conversation as animated and brilliant; but the pallid face and now inactive frame tell of increasing infirmities; and perhaps there is at times the thought that it is a bitter thing to draw nearto the grave in a strange land, far from all the associations, the memories, and feelings, of our earlier and better life. The conquest of Syria by Ibrahim will diminish the influence of Lady H. over the potentates of the land: Abdallah, the pasha of Acre, was ever accessible to her interference, and indulgent to her requests; with the governor of Damascus also, her intercession rarely failed of success, whether on behalf of merchant or traveller, or of the oppressed subjects, or whether it concerned her own personal comfort or luxury. But Ibrahim is too powerful as well as too distant a despot to be sensible of the prestige, or gracious to the caprices, of the "great lady," whose queendom of the East has for some time been passing from her; even her local influence in the surrounding territory diminishes with every year: presents, and even considerable payments, have been made for some years to the religious orders of the Turks, or rather to their most eminent mosques and temples, to secure the continuance of the good will and word of the priesthood and their adherents. The soil about Sidon appears to be very rich: how large a portion of this, and of the whole Land of Promise, if cultivated, would again be as the "garden of the Lord!" This whole coast, so auspicious for commerce, may, under the rule of Ibrahim Pasha, once more be the scene of enterprise, industry, and wealth: the soil still resembles that of the times of old, when Jacob said, in his last blessing to his children, "his border shall be unto Sidon; out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties—the blessings of heaven above, and of the deep that lieth under, even to the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills."


The situation of this town is bold and beautiful; of that kind of beauty, however, that does not last long on the traveller: he feels here remote, unfriended; with few chosen associations: beyond the immediate neighbourhood, and to the east, a broad and uncultivated plain terminates in abrupt cliffs, above a hundred feet high; and about Adalia, a flat but elevated country extends a considerable distance inland; and beyond it a belt of sand-hills skirts the beach, behind which, broad swampy plains, with groups of low hills, intervene between the shore and the distant mountains: these plains are covered with coarse grass, which supports numerous herds of cattle, and have every appearance of being overflowed in winter. The people are not kind or civil to the stranger; and, were Adalia a very oasis of beauty in the wilderness, this circumstance alone would induce us not to linger within its gate. The accommodations are very bad: the khan is a dismal home; if no caravan is recently arrived from Smyrna, the stranger will probably find himself its only tenant, and he will miss bitterly even the companionship, poor as it is, of the merchants, pedlars, or even the vagabond dervise. There is something so sad in being by one's self in a khan! the hollow rooms and passages—the sun struggling through the tiled roof, and falling in broken gleams on the dim interior, on pillar, wall, and floor—the dull sound of the fountain, of which he alone drinks, and sits alone, for relief, on its bank: even in the splash and movement of its waters there is life. The old castle, with its mouldering Moorish battlements, frowns over the sea, which bathes the rocks at its base: the heat is intolerable here in the summer, in spite of the elevated position of the town, and the sea-breezes: somewhat like Algiers, the streets rise behind each other in tiers, like the seats of a theatre; and they are continued also on the level summit of the hill: during the rainy season, these narrow streets are wretchedly dirty and comfortless. Indeed, during the rains that visit most Turkish towns, the traveller had better remain within doors for days, or even weeks: unpaved and streaming streets, down which the water pours without a channel; the latticed windows all closed to keep out the showers; the turbans and robes of the few passengers dripping miserably: the coffee-houses filled with a dense population, who flock there for refuge from the clouds, and the monotony of their own homes. The writer was thus situated during twelve days in a town in the interior of Lebanon, where he lodged in the khan, and, after listening for some hours in his comfortless room to the loud fall of the rains on the roofs and pavements, used to repair to the only cafe in the place: it stood just without the town, near the precipices: what a savage scene these precipices and

« AnteriorContinuar »