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TENT LIFE IN PALESTINE.
BY THE EDITOR.
hand of Damascus."
DAMASCUS- "The Pearl of the East," "The Garden of Paradise," "Glorious as Eden!"-such are some of the titles given by its admirers to this oldest city in the world. And after crossing the arid desert or the sterile mountains, small wonder that pilgrims of every land and age have joined in the praises of this oasis of beauty.
How wonderful the story of this ancient city! The first Biblical record of Damascus is in Genesis, xiv. 15, nearly two thousand years before the Christian era, when the confederate kings made war upon Sodom and Gomorrah, and "Abraham pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left
A few verses later we read of the steward
of Abraham's house, "Eleazer of Damascus." A village in the neighbourhood still bears the name, "the Habitation of Abraham." VOL. XL. No. 3.
He who knows the history of Damascus knows very largely the history of the world. It has been well said:
"Leave the matters written of it in the first eleven chapters of the Old Testament out, and no recorded event has occurred in the world but Damascus was in existence to receive the news of it. Go back as far as you will into the vague past, there was always a Damascus. In the writings of every century, for more than four thousand years, its name has been mentioned and its praises sung.
"To Damascus years are only moments, decades are only flitting trifles of time. She measures time, not by days or months or years, but by the empires she has seen rise and prosper, and crumble to ruins. She is a type of immortality. She saw the foundations of Baalbec and Thebes and Ephesus laid. She saw these villages grow into mighty cities and amaze the world with their grandeur. And she has lived to see them desolate, deserted, and given over to the owls and the bats. She saw the Israelitish empire exalted, and she saw it annihilated. She saw Greece rise and flourish two thousand years, and die. In her old age she saw Rome built; she saw it overshadow the world with its power; she saw it perish. The few hundred years of Genoese and Venetian might and splendour were, to grave old Damascus, only a trifling scintillation hardly worth remembering. Damascus has seen all that ever occurred on earth, and yet she lives. Though another claims the name, old Damascus is by right the Eternal City."
Apart from its great age and Biblical memories, it is still a city of fascinating interest. More purely Oriental than Cairo or Constantinople, it is like a chapter out of the "Arabian Nights." After our arduous ride over the shoulder of Hermon, when the mountain so literally turned its cold shoulder on us, it was a thrilling moment when, from a rise in the road, we first saw in the distance the white minarets of Damascus, gleaming through its gardens of embowering trees. We indulged in a glorious gallop on the first good road we had met in Syria, bordered by familiar telegraph poles and wires which seemed like electric nerves reach
ing to our faroff homes beyond the sea. Soon we skirted rows of mudwalled houses and, mud-brick fences protecting the orchards of apricots, citrons, and pomegranates. Then we rode beside the rushing, sparkling clear waters of the Barada, the ancient Abana,*
stone walls, then on through shaded streets till we at length dismounted before the iron-studded gateway of the Hotel Demetri. Mrs. Carman has described with such graphic pen the fascinations of the bazaars and other features of Damascene life, that little remains but to describe our visit to the famous mosque and some other places of historic interest.
We made quite an imposing cavalcade as we started out, escorted by Abdallah in his most sumptuous array, by a local
* As we beheld the bright, flashing streams which flow in many branches through the city, so different from the turbid stream of the Jordan, we could not wonder at the haughty question of Naaman the Syrian, not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?"