We came aboard the steamer this morning to sail for Beyrout. She is a French steamer just arrived from Marseilles, and. going to Alexandria. I wish you could see this bay of Smyrna, this lovely morning. Everything is as perfect as a picture, and the air on deck is like the softest summer. We shall be four or five days on board, if all goes well, and I look forward to it with much enjoyment. This morning, as we sat at breakfast, you would have liked to see a big mulatto come in and be greeted by the captain and officers with immense respect as ” Pasha,” and take his seat alongside of my friend Dr. Leeds, and eat his breakfast with us in the most composed and matter of-course way. I wondered what they would have said to it in Philadelphia ?
Wednesday, November 22.
We are still pushing along towards Beyrout. The weather so far has been delightful, and the sea not at all rough. The scenery is perfect, as we go winding along among the many islands, every one of them a place of some old associations, the most interesting we have seen, but I was sorry to pass by Patmos (where St. John was banished and wrote the Revelation) in the night, so that we saw nothing of it. Yesterday we stopped two hours at Rhodes, but the quarantine is in force there at present and we were not allowed to land. Just enough cholera remains hanging about these parts to keep the quarantine alive, and that is the only danger from it now. I hear there is a ten days’ quarantine in Greece, which will seriously inconvenience me if I go there. The fear seems to be that the cholera will just linger along through the winter, and then break out with more violence next summer. However, I am in no danger now, nor shall be while I am in the East.
Thursday, November 23.
Here we are, laid by for a day to discharge and receive cargo at Messina, which you will find almost at the very northeast corner of the Levant. The place, which we can see plainly from the ship, is a little straggling village with its mosque. Lines of camels are continually winding in and out, carrying back into the interior the goods we bring. The only interest of the country is, that just behind those hills there lies the old town of Tarsus, where St. Paul was born, and where there still stands an old church, which they say he built. We have no time to go there, and must be content to know just where it lies. In the distance the Taurus Mountains, covered with snow, are very grand. The weather is superb, as soft as June. Last night was the most gorgeous starlight I ever saw.
Saturday, November 25.
I must finish this letter now, for to-night we shall be at Beyrout, and I must mail it. All day yesterday we were lying in front of Alexandretta (Iskanderoon), the port of Aleppo, where we discharged part of our cargo and took on board a lot of cotton. We went ashore and wandered about the picturesque and dirty little Turkish town. It had a quaint old bazaar, as all these places have, where the business of the place is carried on. Palm-trees, camels, and women muffled in white with only the eyes looking out, and all sorts of odd male costumes, made it a very Eastern picture. The day was oppressively hot, like August in Boston.
We sailed at night, and arrived early this morning at Latakia, a pretty little town among the trees, with mosques and minarets and an old castle. Here we only stayed two hours, and then started again for Bey-rout. We stopped once more at Tripolis. At Bey-rout our voyage ends. There we shall get a dragoman and horses, and ride down the coast to Sidon and Tyre ; then by the mountains up northeast to Baalbec ; from there to Lebanon and the Cedars ; then down to Damascus ; thence across to the Lake of Galilee and Tiberias, to Nazareth, to Mt. Carmel on the coast ; from there to Samaria, and thence down to Jerusalem. That is our route now, but it may be altered. Doesn’t it sound interesting? It will take in all about three weeks, and I will write again from Jerusalem. Now good-by. I am very well, and think much of you all.
God bless and keep you all, and bring us together again. Love to all. Your loving son,