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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Cathedral Of St. Sophia, Famagusta .
Family Luperelli-pitti In Cortona
Wall Of New Reservoir, Acheritou
Monastery Of Bella Pais
Roman Catholic Convent With Ruins
Shepherd Carrying A Lost Sheep
Sacred Rock ....
A WINTER PILGRIMAGE
Surely Solomon foresaw these days when he set down that famous saying as to the making of many books. The aphorism, I confess, is one which strikes me through with shame whenever I chance to be called upon to read it aloud in the parish church on Sunday. Indeed it suggests to me a tale which has a moral—or a parallel. Some months ago I tarried at Haifa, a place on the coast of Syria with an abominable port. It was at or about the hour of midnight that a crowd of miserable travellers, of whom I was one, might have been seen cowering in the wind and rain at the gates of this harbour. There the judge and the officer bullied and rent them, causing them to fumble with damp hands and discover their tedcerchs in inaccessible pockets, which they did that the account given in those documents of their objects, occupations, past history, and personal appearance might be verified by a drowsy Turk seated in a box upon the quay. Not until he was satisfied on all these points, indeed, would he allow them the privilege of risking death by drowning in an attempt to reach a steamer which rolled outside the harbour.
At length the ordeal was done with and we were informed that we might embark. That is to say, we were graciously permitted to leap five feet from an unlit
pier—the steps of which had been washed away in the gale of the previous night, but will, I am informed, be repaired next season—trusting to Providence to cause us to fall into a dark object beneath believed to be a boat. Another Turkish officer watched our departure suspiciously, though what he imagined we could be carrying out of his barren land is beyond my guessing.
"Cook, Cook, Cook!" we croaked in deprecatory tones as one by one we crept past him cowed and cold, fearing that he might invent some pretext to detain us. Therefore it was indeed that we hurried to bring to his notice the only name which seems to have power in Syria; that famous name of the hydra-headed, the indispensable, the world-wide Cook.
"Cook, Cook, Cook!" we croaked.
"Oh! yes," answered the exasperated Turk in a tone not unlike that of a sleepy pigeon, " Coook, Coook, Coook! oh yes, all right! Coook, always Coook! Go to—Jericho —Coook!"
In the same way and with much the same feelings, thinking of the long line of works before me, I mutter to the reader now, " Book, Book, Book!"
Can he be so rude as to answer, after the example of the Haifa Turk—
"Oh! yes, all right! Boook, &c. &c." The thought is too painful: I leave it.
To be brief, I write for various reasons. Thus from the era of the "Bordeau Pilgrim" who wrote in the year 333, the very first of those who set on paper his impressions of the Holy Land, to this day, from time to time among those who have followed in his steps, some have left behind them accounts of what they saw and what befell them. The list is long. There are St. Sylvia, and the holy Paula; Arculfus and St. Wilibad, Mukadasi and Bernard the Wise; Saewulf and the Abbot Daniel; Phocas the Cretan and Theodoric; Felix Fabri; Sir John Mandeville, de la Brocqui&re and Maundrell—and so on down to Chateaubriand and our own times. But one thing they had in common. They—or most of them—were driven on by the same desire. Obedient to a voice that calls in the heart of so many, they travelled by land and sea to look upon the place where Jesus Christ was born—where the Master of mankind hung upon His cross at Calvary.
I will confess that I have a fancy to be numbered among their honourable company. So it may chance—this is my hope—that when another thousand years or more have gone by advancing the Holy Land thus far upon its appointed future, and the Moslem has ceased to occupy the sacred places, my name may appear with their names. Thus perhaps I also may be accounted a link in the chain of those who dedicated some of their uncertain days to visiting and describing that grey stretch of mountain land which is the cradle of man's hope in the darkness that draws near to every one of us.
My second reason is that I should like to say something about that neglected British possession, the fair island of Cyprus. To-day a Cinderella among our colonies, with a little more care — and capital — she might again become what she was of old, the Garden of the Mediterranean, a land of corn and wine, and in fact, as well as figuratively, a mine of wealth. Of Cyprus but few have written; travellers rarely think it worth the while to visit there, so in this particular at the least I trust that I may not be blamed.
There is, further, a last argument or excuse which I will venture to use, because it seems to me to have a very wide application, far wider, indeed, than is necessary to the instance of these humble pages. It is the fashion nowadays to say that everything is hackneyed; that the East itself, for instance, is practically exhausted; that the reader, who perchance has never travelled further than Ramsgate, can have little more to learn therefrom. "Give us some new thing," cries the tired world, as the Athenians cried of old. They ask in vain,