(No. 13 1/2 of "European Notes")
April 6, 1870
My Day in Damascus.
We rose early, but "Sister Paine" appeared late owing to the illness of her husband which robbed them both of their night's rest. The poor old hotel proprietor who has lately lost his two children & is disconsolate beyond help, paces the perfumed court with its marble floor & sparkling fountain & takes little notice of his guests. A bright looking young Syrian-"a Christian" as he is prompt to assure us-offers his services as valet-de-place. He rec'd his education in Bishop Gobet's school at Jerusalem-(that lonesome looking building perched up beside the Vale of Himmon,) & speaks French quite fluently. Donkeys are ordered to the door-through which small aperture we creep into the rude & stony street. Men's saddles are all that can be had but we are now adepts in equestrian operations & mount the great white animals with little difficulty.
So I am to see Damascus-city of so many vague & pleasant fancies- even I!_______
-We clatter along the muddy, wretchedly paved streets-where walk the same parti-colored processions of barbarians that trail their soiled but brilliant garments through the highways & the byways of the East.
We pass under the gigantic plane-tree down in all Guide-books as one of the marvels of Damascus, Grand & brave it looks-the sunshine sifting through its million leaves & the mild breeze singing a hymn away up in its branches. What a lesson it has preached here, quite unheeded during all the centuries of its noble growth;-