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they answered our guide in Arabic monosyllables. Here and there a Jew with a more pretentious stock would solicit custom in the old way of Israel, but the Arab was silent, indifferent, disinterested. Clearly it was his preference that we pass by as quickly as possible. His goods were not for such as us. I did manage to add to my collection of donkey-beads, and would have bought more if Laura had not suggested that they probably thought I was buying them to wear myself. At the book-booth they even would not let us touch the volumes displayed for sale.
Another thing I have noticed: there are no beggars here-none worth while. Now and then, perhaps, somebody half extends a timid hand, but on the whole there is a marked absence of begging. Damascus does not beg from the Christian.
It is a weird, wonderful place, that bazaar. It covers an endless space, if one may judge from its labyrinthine interior. Everywhere they stretch away, the dim arcades, flimsily roofed with glass and matting and bark, fading into vague Oriental vistas of fitting figures and magic outlines. Here in the main thoroughfare a marvellous life goes on. The space is wide, and there are masses of people moving to and fro, mingled with donkeys and camels, and even carriages that dash recklessly through; and there is a constant cry of this thing and that thing from the donkey-boys and the pedlers of nuts and bread and insipid sweetened drinks. Some of the pedling people clatter little brass cymbals as they walk up and down, and repeat over and over some words which our guide said were something between a prayer and
a song, probably as old as the language. And the vendors of drinks carry their stock in trade in a goatskin, or maybe in a pigskin, which is not a pretty thing to look at—all black and hairy and wet, with distended legs sticking out like something drowned. We didn't buy any of those drinks. We thought they might be clean enough, but we were no longer thirsty.
All sorts of things are incorporated in this bazaar: old dwelling-houses; columns of old temples; stairways beginning anywhere, leading nowhere; mosques
—the limitless roof of merchandise has stretched out and enveloped these things. To attempt a detailed description of the place would be unwisdom. One may only generalize this vast hive of tiny tradesmen and tiny trades. All the curious merchants and wares we have seen pictured for a lifetime are gathered here. It is indeed the Grande Bazaar—the emporium of the East.
The street we followed came to an end by-and-by at a great court open to the sky. It was a magnificent enclosure, and I was quite willing to enter it. I did not do so, however. I had my foot raised to step over the low barrier, when there was a warning cry and a brown hand pushed me back. Our guide had dropped a step behind. He came hurrying up now, and explained that this was the court of the Great Mosque. We must have special permission to enter. We would come with the party to-morrow.
The place impressed me more than any mosque 1 The pedler of bread cries, “O Allah who sustaineth us, send trade!” The pedler of beverages, “O cheer thine heart!”
we have seen-not for its beauty, though it is beautiful, but because of its vastness, its open sky, and its stone floor, polished like glass by the bare and stockinged feet that have slipped over it for centuries. We could not enter, but we were allowed to watch those who came as they removed their shoes and stepped over into the court to pray. When you realize that the enclosure is as big as two or three city squares, and that the stones, only fairly smooth in the beginning, reflect like a mirror now, you will form some idea of the feet and knees and hands that have pressed them, and realize something of the fervor of the Damascus faith.
We left the bazaar by a different way, and our guide got lost getting us back to the hotel. I didn't blame him, though-anybody could get lost in those tangled streets. We were in a hopeless muddle, for it was getting dark, when down at the far end of a narrow defile Laura got a glimpse of a building which she said was like one opposite our hotel. So we went to look for it, and it was the same building. Then our guide found the hotel for us, and we paid him, and everything was all right. He didn't know anything about the city, I believe, but was otherwise a perfect guide.
Following, we put in a busy two days in Damascus-a marvellous two days, I thought. Our carriages were at the hotel next morning, and I want to say here that of all the carriages and horses we have seen, those of Damascus are far and away the best. The horses are simply beautiful creatures and in perfect condition. Even those kept for hire are superb animals with skins of velvet. They are Arabian, of course, and I can believe, now, that the Arab loves his horse, for I have never seen finer animals, not even on Fifth Avenue. I can understand, too, why the Quaker City pilgrims-ambling into Damascus on those old, blind, halt and spavined Beirut nags—made their entry by night.
And these Damascus horses go. Their drivers may love them, but they make them hurry. They crack their whips, and we go racing through the streets like mad. However deliberate the East may be in most things, it is swift enough in the matter of driving.
I don't care for it. It keeps me watching all the time to see what kind of an Arab we are going to kill, and I miss a good many sights. We went through that crowded thoroughfare of the Grande Bazaar at a rate which fairly was homicidal. Certainly if those drowsy shopkeepers did not hate Christians enough before, they do now.
We drove to the Grande Mosque, and we had to put on slippers, of course, to enter even the outer court. It is nearly a quarter of a mile long, and we slid and straddled across that vast marble skating-rink, pausing at a little pavilion—the Dome of the Treasury
—where they keep some venerable books—the oldest books in the world, I believe, and so sacred that nobody ever sees them. Then we entered the Grande Mosque itself—still known as the Church of St. John the Divine.
For, like the temples of Baalbec and otherwheres, the Grande Mosque of Damascus has sheltered a variety of religious doctrines. It was the Temple of Rimmon, first, god of the Syrians. The Romans, who conquered and templed the world, came next, and built here, as they always built, in magnificence and pride, with architecture stolen from the Greeks. After the Romans, the early Christians under Constantine and Theodosius, who for some reason did not destroy, as was their habit, but only adapted the great temple to their needs. The son of Theodosius made some improvements, and above the south door left a Christian inscription which stands to this day.
When, in 634 A.D., Damascus fell, the church was at first divided between Mohammedan and Christian worshippers—the two entering by the same gate. They were not so far asunder in those days—not farther, I think, than some of our present-day Christian sects—so called. Seventy years later the strife became bitter, and the followers of Mohammed claimed it all. The Caliph entered the church with guards, smashed the Christian images, and set up emblems of the new faith. Then he lavished quantities of money, making the place as splendid as possible, until it was more beautiful even than St. Sophia's. Sixteen years ago it was badly damaged by fire, but now it has been restored—by Christian workmen, Habib said. Habib, I should add, is our party guide—a Christian Syrian, educated in a college at Beirut-a quite wonderful person of many languages.
The mosque interior is the most beautiful place we have seen. Its ceiling, its windows, its mosaic walls, its rugs—all overwhelming in exquisite work