From Aleppo,August 5. 1625.
HAving obtain'd licence of the Aga to depart, on the one and twentieth of May, in the Evening I caus'd my goods to be [ I] carri'd to a Field without the City, call'd Mascraqa, where the Camels were to take their burdens; and having order'd a little Tent to be pitcht there, I repair'd thither with Marian Tinatim, and all my servants.
May the twenty second, Having in the day dispatcht some small business which remain'd for me to do in order to my de∣parture, and paid a Custom, usually demanded of such as go out of Bassora; about midnight I departed the City, and tra∣vell'd all night (having presently enter'd into the Desart, which is altogether level) first in clayie and something dirty ways, and afterwards in dry with very little grass for Camels.
May the twenty third, After we had travell'd about six leagues, we arriv'd at a Town of the Arabians call'd Cuvebeda, where an Arabian Sceich resides, who receives a Gabel of the Caravans and Burdens that pass that way; at my time he was call'd Sceich Abdullah. Here we pitch't a tent in a field without the Town in expectation of our chief Camelier, who was to follow us with one of those Capigi's that had been sent from the Serdar to the Basha of Bassora. But on May the twenty fifth, because he came not, and it was tedious to me to abide longer in that place where the wind and the dust much molested us; in the Evening I dispatcht Page 258 my servant Michel to Bassora, with Letters to F. Fra: Basilio, Sig: Consalvo Martins de Castelbranco, Factor of the Portugals, and Chogia Negem, earnestly entreating them to procure that the chief Camelier might come away forth-with; or, in case he must stay yet longer for the Capigi, that he would give order to his under-Cameliers to conduct us forwards, and I would go without him; if not, I would return to Bassora. Two dayes after, my Servant return'd from Bassora with this account, That the Capigi would come away the next day without fail; and that F. Fra: Gregorio Orsino, a Dominican, formerly known to me, and Vicar General at Constantinople ten years before, was arriv'd at Bassora from Armenia, (where he had been Apostolical Visitor) in order to go speedily into Italy; and hearing of my being upon the way to Aleppo, intended to come along with the chief Came∣lier: Which last News was so welcome to me, that I accounted all the time of my pass'd, and yet future, waiting at Cuvebeda well spent; for I imagin'd the Capigi would not come so soon as they said, because the Moors never speak truth.
May the thirtieth, At dark night the above-said F. Fra: Gre∣gorio Orsino arriv'd with the chief Camelier Hhaggi Ahhamed. I receiv'd him with such contentment as you may imagine; and, though he civilly declin'd it, caus'd him to lodg with me in my Tent. The Capigi came not; and though they said, he would come presently after, yet I conceiv'd we were to wait for him yet a good while, and, perhaps, till the New Moon; it being the custom of the Moors almost ever to begin their journeys at the New Moon.
June the third, Early in the Morning the Capigi arriv'd at the place where we waited for him; whereupon, in order to our further progress, we discharg'd such duties of Gabels or Customs as were to be paid at this Town.
[ II] You must know that in the whole way of this Desart, we were to pay four Tolls or Customs, (if he that conducted us did not deceive us) namely, to Sceich Abdullah, Lord of Cuvebeda, for every Camel's load of fine Merchandize, valu'd at the rate of Indian Cloth, five Piastres; for every like load of any other Goods whatsoever, valu'd at the rate of Tobacco, a much lesser summ, but I know not how much. Another Gabel was to be paid to a Chieftain of the Arabians of the Desart, whom they call Ben Chaled; he takes for every load, be it what it will, five Lari, which amount to one Piastre and a Sciahi be∣sides, of which eight and a third part go for a Piastre at Bassora, but at Aleppo onely eight. The third Gabel was to be paid to another Head of the Arabians, sirnamed il Cieco, who takes for every load what soever, six Sciahi; and lastly, six other Sciahi, were in like manner to be paid for every load to another Captain of Arabians, Cousin to the fore-said Cieco. Scich Abdullah, Lord of Cuvebeda, said, he would take nothing of me, in regard of two Letters which I brought him; one from the Basha of Bassora,Page 259 and the other from the Factor of the Portugals his Friend; both of them having much recommended me to him. The other three were not themselves at Cuvebeda, but had their Agents or Officers there, to whom we paid what they said was due; and they gave us an Acquittance for it, that it might not be demand∣ed of us again by any other of their Officers in the Desart.
June the fourth, Sceich Abdullah, it seems alter'd his mind con∣cerning the Gabel which he had remitted, and requir'd the same of me, taking for my two Trunks ten Piastres; which was a most rigorous rate. I mention this to give notice of the manner of proceeding, and little punctualness observ'd by these Bar∣barians.
June the fifth, We departed very early from Cuvebeda, and before noon arriv'd at certain Wells or Pits, which they call Gane∣miat, (importing their use for Cattel) where we found many Arabians lodg'd. At a distant view of them, we betook our selves to our Arms, against what-ever should happen; but upon nearer approach, we perceiv'd them to be poor peaceable people; whereupon we lodg'd all together in that place. Yet here we had News that a band of Arabian Thieves had way-lay'd us at another Pass a little further off, with intent to assault us. For discovering the truth whereof, our chief Camelier went to Cuve∣beda, where the Spies of these Thieves use to reside; and at night he brought us word that it was true, and that therefore it be∣hov'd us to go back again. Whether it was true, or onely an Invention of his for some end of his own, I cannot affirm; but the next day early we return'd to Cuvebeda, and lodg'd without the Town at some distance from the place where we had been be∣fore. Two dayes after, we were perswaded to lodg within the Town, for more security from the Thieves, and to deceive their Spies, by making shew as if we resolv'd not to go further, which might divert them from their design. The same did the two Capigi that were with us; for, besides the former, whose Name was Scervanli Ibrahim Aga, there came another with him call'd Mahhmad Aga, who had been sent by the preceding Ser∣dar to Bassora, Lahhsa, and divers other adjacent places, and had not dispatch'd his business in order to his return before now.
June the thirteenth, After a long contest with our chief Came∣lier, about hiring certain Arabian Guides, which he pretended necessary, (to get money of us) and I refus'd as superfluous; since we knew the way without them, and they could do us no good against the Thieves: At length, the business resting half undecided, being, I said, if he would not go without those Guides, I would return back to Bassora, (which he was loth to hear of, because of restoring my money) without speaking a word more about it, he determin'd to proceed from Cavebeda; and travelling all night we pass'd by the Pits of Ganeniat.
June the fourteenth, Three hours before noon, (having Page 260 travell'd till then) we rested a while near certain Pits; and set∣ting forwards again in the Evening, travell'd till mid-night, and then we rested. The next day rising early, we travell'd till about noon; till coming to a little bitter water, we stay'd there to repose. Here the great wind, which blows continually in the Desart, allaying the great heat of the Season, having before much shatter'd our little Pavilions, now broke them all in pieces, so that we could no more make use of them: Which indeed, was a great inconvenience; but for the future, we had no other remedy but when we rested, to ward off the Sun-beams with little sheds made of our Cloths, fastned upon three Chairs where∣in the Women and I were carry'd, though they scarce suffic'd to cover three or four persons: Yet in the night, when there was no need of shadow, we slept more pleasantly and coolely under the fair Canopy of the Starry Heaven. After noon, we proceed∣ed further till an hour before night, and then took up our lodging near another water.
June the sixteenth, Having travell'd from break of day till noon, and then rested two hours, we proceeded again till night, lodging in a place where the multitude of Gnats suffer'd us to sleep but little. The next Morning early, we pass'd by a great dry Lake, (which yet seem'd to have water in it at some time of the year) and an hour before noon rested in a place full of Horn∣ets, very troublesome both to Men and beasts. At the usual hour we set forwards again, and journey'd till night.
June the eighteenth, Rising before day-break, we pass'd by, at [ III] a distance (leaving it on the right hand), a place inhabited by Arabians, which they call Argia, govern'd by one Hhasan Aga Curdo, a Fugitive from his own Country, and, by Alliance with the Arabians, become great amongst them. The Capigi Ibrahim Aga, had a Robe to present to him from the Serdar; but being we could not go to Argia, by reason all the Passages were then overflown with water, and the Cameliers had no mind to it in regard of a Gabel which would be requir'd there of us, we re∣pos'd our selves about noon in the place where we were. Having pass'd Argia a good way, the Capigi got one to swim over the waters, and to advertise Hhasan Aga of the Serdar's Present which he had for him, and would have deliver'd himself, had the way been passable; he also desir'd some Arquebusiers to accompa∣ny us over the Desart. In expectation of an Answer, we stay'd in this place all day, where I saw upon the ground abundance of Sea-shels, shining within, like Mother-of-Pearl, some whole, and some broken; I wonder'd how they came there so far from Sea. I saw also many pieces of Bitumen scatter'd up and down, which is produc'd in that brackish soil by the overflowing of the water at some time of the year: I have a piece of it by me to shew.
Being suspicious of some Arabian Maedi's, that is, Vagrants or [ IV] Vagabonds, (so call'd because they abide with Droves of Buffles, sometimes in the Desarts, and sometimes in Cities, and are differ∣ent Page 261 from the Bedavi; or Beduvi, that is, Deserticolae, who are the noblest amongst them, never residing in walled places, but wandring about the Fields with black Tents; as also from the Hhadesi who live in Cities and Stable-houses, and are therefore accounted by them the ignoblest and meanest, but indeed are of a middle condition between both the other sorts) for more secu∣rity we remov'd a mile further, and took up our station under a little Hill near some ruins of building, which we discover'd afar off, and I walkt on foot to behold near hand. In the revolutions of Baghdad, the above-said Hhasan Aga Lord of Argia, was visited by the Persians, the Sciah sending a Tag to him, as he uses to do to great Persons whom he intends to invite to be, or declare them∣selves of his Party: and he carri'd himself in such sort that his fi∣delity became something suspected to the Turks; insomuch that a Basha had an intention to kill him, but did not do it, perhaps because he knew not how to effect his purpose: wherefore to keep him still faithful, as I believe, since it was not possible to punish him, the Serdar sent him by this Capigi the above-mention'd Present.
June the nineteenth, Our removal hence being still deferr'd in expectation of the answer of Hhasan Aga, I went in the forenoon to take a more diligent view of the ruins of the above-said an∣cient building. What it had been I could not understand; but I found it to have been built with very good Bricks, most of which were stampt in the midst with certain unknown letters which appear'd very ancient. I observ'd that they had been cemented together in the Fabrick, not with lime, but with bitumen or pitch, which, as I said▪ is generated in these Desarts: whence the Hill, upon which these ruins are, is call'd by the Arabians, Mu∣qeijer, that is, Pitchy. In the evening two men came from Hha∣san Aga, to the Capigi with Letters and an Answer that he would send him some provisions; but they departed discontented be∣cause the Capigi gave them nothing.
June the twentieth, Surveying the above-said ruins again, I found on the ground some pieces of black Marble, hard and fine, ingraven with the same Letters as the Bricks; which seem'd to me to be a kind of Seal like what the Orientals use at this day: for their Seals are only letters or written words containing the name of him whose Seal it is, together with some Epithet of humility and devotion, Titles of Honour, or other words according as every one pleases; not being perpetual to the Fami∣ly, as ours are. Amongst other letters which I discover'd in that short time, two I found in many places, one of which was like a jacent Pyramid thus,
June the twenty first, We set forth by day-light, and journied till Noon, and after two hours rest, continued our way till night over Lands sometimes moorish with abundance of little canes, sometimes whitish with salt, and sometimes cover'd with thick∣ets of Shrubs.
June the twenty second, We travell'd again till Noon; and as we were reposing in these Plains which were all cover'd with small dry grass, a little sparkle falling from some of the Came∣liers, who, according to their custom, stood sucking the smoke of Tobacco, set this grass on fire, and the flame increas'd so sud∣denly that we had much ado to save our Goods from burning; but at length we extinguish't it by casting cloths and thick cover∣ings upon it; for water the place afforded none, and we had only enough for drink. Departing thence two or three hours before night, we quarter'd in another place call'd Ehathuer, where two or three men whom we met with their laden Camels, inform'd us that the great Cafila, which went so many days before us from Bassora, had incounter'd many difficulties, and was stopt by Emir Nasir, who, besides taking a great sum of money from them, also constrain'd many of the people to go to Mesched Hhus∣sein to fight with the Qizilbasci, with whom he was now at en∣mity; in which conflict, which prov'd little successful to the Arabians, the chief Leader of the Cafila was slain, his Son suc∣ceeding him in his Charge; with other like news, which made me doubt of the good estate of our Francks who went along with that Cafila.
June the twenty third▪ the twenty fourth, and the twenty fifth, [ V] We travelled and rested at our usual hours, during which dayes, we had the Iland Geuazir of the Chaldean Lake on our right hand; and on the last of them, we reposed at a place wherein grew certain low and thin plants, which to me seemed to be Ju∣niper.
June the twenty sixth, We travelled from day-break till two hours before Noon, and then rested near certain Pits, where we had on the right hand afar off Mesched-Ali, the place where an∣ciently stood the City of Kufa, and where Ali the Son-in-law of Mahhammed was slain; the name Mesched-Ali signifying the place of the Martyrdom of Ali, whom they hold a Martyr. And though the City of Kufa is no longer in being, yet, upon account of the said Sepulchre, venerated by Mahometans, and adorned with a noble Fabrick, the place is frequented and inhabited: when we passed by, it was in the power of the Qizilbasci, where∣as it used to be in that of the Turks whilst they were Masters of Baghdad. From hence we continued our Journey till two hours within night.
June the twenty seventh, We set forth by day-light, and at Page 263 Noon rested near a water, which rising out of the ground, runs under a thicket of Canes, where we stayed all day. The next day setting forth, and resting at our accustomed hours, we pas∣sed over many dry Lakes, which seem'd to have had water in them at some time of the year.
June the nine and twentieth, Two or three hours before Noon, we rested by a water near the ruines of an ancient great Fabrick, perfectly square with thirteen Pillasters, or round Columns on each side without, and other compartiments of Arches; within which were many Chambers, with a Court of no great bigness, and uncover'd. The Arabians call this Fabrick Casr Chaider. I could not conjecture whether it had been a Pal∣lace, or Temple, or Castle; but I incline to believe it a Palace rather then any thing else. In this place we had within half a dayes journey on the Right Hand Mesched-Hhussein, which signi∣fies the place of the Martyrdom of Hhussein, and where Hhussan the Son of Ali and Fatima, Muhhammed's Daughter, was slain, and buried by his Emulators; which place, in the Country call'd Kierbela, being inhabited and adorn'd with the said Sepulchre, which the Moors visit as Holy, (a very sumptuous Fabrick after their mode) was now in the Hands of the Qizilbasci, into which it fell with the other Territories of Baghdad, which is but a little distant from thence. Here we stay'd to pay a Gabel to Emir Nasir∣ben-Mahhanna, Lord of these Desarts, or rather, to Sceich Abitaleb his Son; for Sceich Nasir being now old, and devoted to a Spiritual Life, (as he that had been in pilgrimage at Meka) had resign'd the Government to his Son; and both of them were now remaining in Tents about a League from the place, where we rested to∣wards the North-East.
June the thirtieth, In the Morning the two Capigi's that were [ VI] in our company, went separately to carry their Letters and Pre∣sents from the Serdar to the Sceich; namely, Ibrahim Aga to the present, and Mahhmud Aga to the preceding Serdar; who, as they said, was poyson'd either by others, or by himself for fear of worse, because he had not been diligent enough in the war of Baghdad; yet this his Capigi, having been sent to several other places, could not come hither sooner to the Sceich. After dinner, in the absence of the Capigi, the Sceich's Men came to demand a Gabel; and after I had pay'd them as much as they requir'd, to wit, twelve Piastres, for onely two Chests, and two or three more Piastres of free-gift; nevertheless they open'd all my Trunks, breaking some for haste, turning all things topsie-turvy, and taking away for the Sceich and themselves some things of value which they lik'd, a rich Persian Turbant of Silk and Gold, a piece of fine checker'd Silk to make Cassocks with∣all, after the Persian Mode; many dishes of rare Porcellane, beautifi'd with Gold and colours; an Harquebuse belonging to my Servant; much curious Paper of Japan and India; besides, many other toyes which I remember not, telling me that they Page 264 would buy them; notwithstanding that I told them that they were not things to be sold, but onely such as I carry'd for my own use and service. Moreover, they made me by force (that is, refusing to hear any of my Reasons to the contrary, but saying, that the Sceich commanded so, though, in truth, I ought not) pay twenty Piastres to my chief Camelier their Friend, alledging that the same were for the Guide which he would have hired at Cuvebeda; which Guide, I neither hir'd nor made use of; and if I had, I ought to have pay'd onely half at most, the said Ca∣melier having other Carriages besides mine, and all of Merchan∣dize. But they were resolv'd to do a kindness to the Camelier, who was an Arabian, and a Thief like themselves, and gave not this money to any Guide, but kept it for his own use. Hereby the Readers may observe, how we Christians are us'd by these Barbarians in their own jurisdictions. At length, they would have taken for the Sceich a Sword, and Changiar or Arabian Pony∣ard, the hilts and garniture whereof were Silver-gilt, and which belong'd sometimes to Sitti Maani my Wife: Whereupon being no longer able to suffer so many insolencies, I resolv'd to go to the Sceich my self, and present him a Letter from the Basha of Bassora, which he had writ to him in commendation of me. Ac∣cordingly leaping upon a Mule of Ibrahim Aga's, who was already return'd, and highly angry with the proceeding of the Arabians, both towards me, the rest, and himself; I rid in haste with the Notary of the Sceich, and our cheating Camelier, (who was partly the cause of this bad usage, although I dissembled my re∣sentment thereof to him.) By the way I found many black Tents of his Arabians dispers'd in several places, and an hour within night I came to the Tent of Sceich Abitaleb, a little distant from that of his Father Sceich Nasir; which Tents differ'd from the rest, neither in colour nor stuff, (being all of coarse black Goats-hair) but onely in bigness, which shew'd them to be the princi∣pal. We enter'd not into the Tent, because we saw many of his chief Arabians sitting in a round on one side thereof, upon cer∣tain colour'd and coarse woollen clothes spread on the ground; and the Sceich was not there. Yet he came presently after, and we all rising up at his coming, he went and sat down in the midst of the circle, and so also did we in our places round about him. Then a Candle-stick with a light being plac'd before him, he per∣form'd his Orisons according to their manner; after which, sit∣ting down again, he began to read and subscribe certain Letters, giving dispatch to several businesses; and, amongst others, to the Capigi Mahhmud Aga, who was there, and waited for Licence to return. These things being over, I arose and presented him the Basha's Letter. He ask'd, whether I was the Frank, (or Christian) of the Cafila? Whereupon the Camelier answer'd that I was, and declar'd to him the cause of my coming; whereunto I ad∣ded in Arabick what I thought fit. He desir'd to see my Hat nearer Hand, and caus'd it to be brought before him; and being Page 265 inform'd that I understood the Be••in-Language, he told me, that I must excuse what his Officers had done, for he had great need of Arquebuzes for war; that the Turbant and piece of Silk much pleas'd him, but he would pay for them; whereto I an∣swer'd, that I did not value his payment, but would give him both the one and the other. Then he call'd for the Turbant, and having view'd and highly commended it, though I told him it had been us'd, (as indeed I had worn it several times in Persia) he enter'd into the Tent with it where his Women were, and from whence was heard a great noise of Hand-mils, where-with to make Meal for Bread; it being the custom amongst the Ara∣bians, for even the noblest Women to do such services: By and by he came out again with the Turbant upon his Head, where∣upon his people congratulated him for his new bravery, saying to him, Mubarek, that is, Blessed, to the same purpose with our Ad multos Annos. Then they set before him a brass dish full of Grapes, and we being all call'd about him, he began to eat and give us some of the said Grapes, which were very sweet and good, and the first that I had eaten this year. This ended, we retir'd to our places, and after a short stay, I took leave and departed with Mahhm•d Aga to the Cafila; one of his servants and the Camelier remaining behind by the Sceich's Order, who said he would send a dispatch for his own and my business the next day by them.
July the first, The Camelier return'd with an Answer, that the Sceich would not take the Sword, and the Changier or Ponyard from me; and for the Turbant and piece of Silk, he sent me 29 Piastres, whereof the Camelier said he had expended five; to wit, two to the Officer that pay'd him, and three to I know not who else, so that he brought me but 24; which were not a third part of what the things were worth. However I took them, because the barbarous dealing of the Sceich deserv'd not that I should correspond with him with better courtesie. I have related this Adventure, that thereby the dealings of these un∣civil Barbarians may be known.
July the second, We departed from this Station early in the [ VII] Morning, continuing our journey, but were detain'd near two hours by certain Arabian Officers of a Brother of Sceich Nasir, who also would needs extort some payment upon each Camel. We arriv'd late to bait near a water, where we found many Ara∣bian Tents, from which, and a neighbouring Village, we had plenty both of sweet and sower Milk, and also of Grapes. Here we stay'd all day, and upon a hasty quarrel between Batoni Mariam, and Eugenia my Indian Maid, at night the said Maid ran away from us in these desarts, yet was so honest as to leave even all her own things and ornaments behind; so that it was rather despair than infidelity that occasion'd her flight. I had much adoe to recover her again, and was in great danger of lo∣sing her, in case she had fallen into the hands of any Arabian, Page 266 who, undoubtedly, would have hid her; and, perhaps, carry'd her afar off, and made her a slave for ever. I mention this, to the end Masters may learn not to drive their Servants into de∣spair by too much rigor, which may redound to the prejudice of themselves, as well as of them.
July the third, Setting sorth early, we baited before noon [ VIII] near a Lake of Water, streaming there amongst certain Reeds and verdant Fields, about which flew many Assuetae ripis Volucres, some of which we took and eat. F. Gregorio Orsino, who was with me, bathing himself here, (as he was wont often to do for the heat) and being unskilful of swimming, was in great danger of being drowned; hapning unawares to go into a much deep∣er place of the Lake then he imagin'd. We travell'd no further this day, but onely at night went to joyn with the Capigi's, who had pitch'd a Tent a little further from the Water, to avoid the Gnats there, which were very troublesome both to Men and Beasts. The two next dayes we travell'd but little, because of some difference between the Arabians and the chief Camelier, who went back to the Sceich about it.
July the sixth, We travell'd this day over Lands full of a white and shining Mineral, which was either Talk, or Salt-petre, or some such thing. I brought a good quantity of it away with me.
July the seventh, We travell'd from day-break till noon, pas∣sing over a clayie and slippery ground, where the Camels went with much difficulty. We rested at a place full of prickly shrubs, the leavs whereof are less then a Man's naile, and of the shape of a heart; the fruit was round and red, like small coral-beads, of taste sweet, mixt with a little sharpness, having little stones in them; it was very pleasant to the taste, and afforded no small refreshment to us in these Desarts. The Mahometans celebrated their Bairam, the Fast of Ramadhan being now ended.
July the eighth, We came to several places of stagnant waters, and baited at one, two or three hours before noon; but the water was sulphureous and ill-tasted, as most of the rest were also, in regard of the many Minerals where-with the Earth of the Desart abounds. We departed not from this place at night, because we were to pay a Gabel to Emir Mudleg Aburisc, whose Territory here-abouts begins. Emir Aburisc is the greatest Prince of the Arabians in Arabia Deserta; and this Prince, (whose proper name is Mudleg) succeeded his deceased Uncle Feiad, who was living and reign'd when I went from Aleppo to Baghdad nine years before, having usurp'd the Government from Mudleg, who was very young at the time of his Father's decease. At night we were visited by some pilfring Arabians, who finding us prepar'd with our Arms, betook themselves to their heels, and escap'd unhurt from us, though we pursu'd them a while.
July the ninth, The Morning was spent in paying Gabels: I pay'd for my part for a load and half of portage, as they reckon'd Page 267 it, fifteen Piastres, and two more towards the abovemention'd Gabel of the Camels to Emir Nasir's Brother, besides other fees. They open'd my Trunks, and took away two Velvet Caps, much good Paper, and several other things; and had it not been more for the Capigi Ibrahim entreaties than authority, they would also have broken open the Chest, wherein I carri'd the Body of Sitti Maani my Wife. Three hours before night, we put our selves upon the way, and travell'd till about an hour before night, when we came to a place of water.
July the tenth, We travell'd till Noon, and rested in a great Plain surrounded with certain Hills, in the midst whereof stands erected a Stone, fashion'd at the Top like the bowl of a Foun∣tain. After which, we proceeded till an hour after Sun-set, and came to a place where we found good water between two little Hills. Here we staid to refresh our selves and our Camels till three hours before night; the Capigi's, who were to go by the way of Anna to find the Serdar at Mardin, or elsewhere, depart∣ing before us: but we, who intended to go to Aleppo without touching at Anna, for compendiousness of the way, and for avoiding payment of some kind of Gabel there, left the way to Anna on the right hand, and took that within the Desart more Southward. We travell'd all the remainder of this day, and all the night, with part also of the next day, without staying; to the end we might the sooner arrive at water, of which we had no less desire then need.
July the twelfth, About three hours after Sun-rise we baited, being weary, at the foot of certain little Hills, without finding water; so that we were fain to drink that little which remain'd in the Goat-skin borachoes which we carri'd with us. About three hours before Sun-set, we proceeded again till almost Noon the next day, when we arriv'd at water, to wit, the famous Ri∣ver Euphrates, lighting upon a place of the ordinary way to A∣leppo, where I had formerly pass'd when I went from thence to Baghdad, and where the road between the River and certain little Hills full of that Talk or shining Mineral is very narrow. Our further stirring at night was prevented by the supervening of some Soldiers, sent by the Officers of Anna, (whom the Capi∣gi's had inform'd of our passage) to demand those Tolls or Ga∣bels which we had sought to avoid, although we pass'd not through that City.
July the fourteenth, Most part of this day was spent in paying the said Gabel. I paid for my part six Piasters, and gave two more as a gratuity to the Soldiers; besides which, I was oblig'd to pay twenty to the chief Camelier, whose money was all gone; and in this manner I was constrain'd both to profit and pleasure him who never did me other than disprofit and displeasure. But for all this, they afterwards open'd the two greatest Trunks I had, and tumbled all my Goods about, treating me with all rigor and discourtesie. Only I took it well (and upon that account wil∣lingly Page 268 pardon'd them all the rest) that seeing the Chest wherein the body of Sitti Maani was, and understanding what it was (for I was glad to tell them, lest they should have broken it open) they not only gave me no trouble about it, as I thought they would, (being a thing contrary to custom and their Laws) but rather accounted it a picce of piety that I carri'd her with me to bury her in my own Country, both pitying and commending me for it: which hapning beyond all expectation I attributed to God's particular favour, and to her own effectual prayers, which undoubtedly helpt me therein.
[ IX] This being over, about three hours before night, We set forth and travell'd till night. Some of the above-mention'd Soldiers return'd to Anna, but others, who were carrying I know not what moneys to their Emir Mudleg, accompani'd with us. In the Evening the Leader or Chieftain of these Soldiers made me open my Trunks once again, (namely the two little ones which they had omitted in the day) and putting all my Goods in dis∣order, took away many things, as a Mantle of Sitti Maani of deep azure silk, according to the mode of Assyria, a Ball of Amber, an Alabaster Vessel curiously wrought, and consign'd to me in India by Sig. Antonio Baracho, to present in his name to Sig. Francesco del Drago at Rome; many exquisite Porcellane Dishes miniated with Gold; an Arabick Book, though of little importance; a great watchet Cloke or Mantle to keep off rain after the Persian mode; much paper besides other such things. At night we staid to rest, but the Soldiers went onwards; before their going, I redeem'd from them the Mantle of Sitti Maani, and Sig. Francesco del Drago's Alabaster Vessel, giving them in exchange two Abe's, or Arabian Surcoats which I bought of one of our company for seven Piastres; the Amber and other things I could not recover, but they carri'd them away; for they would neither restore them freely, nor take money for them, and our Cafila was so small that I could find nothing to give them instead thereof which pleas'd them. It was no small good luck that I sav'd the Sword and Ponyard of Sitti Maani, with many of her jewels, bracelets, & other ornaments of Gold from their rapacious hands; hiding them under a trunk: for, if they had seen them, 'tis ten to one but they would have taken them from me. I relate these things that it may be known what Tyranny these Barbarians exercise in their own Countries towards us, who in ours very often, with ill-employ'd courtesie, are wont to be undeservedly caress'd and honour'd when they come thither.
[ X] July the fifteenth, We travell'd from Day-break till Noon, and three hours after till night, when we took up our Station not far from the River, amongst many shrubs which to me seem'd to be Juniper, or else that plant which in Persia they call Ghiez. The next two days we travell'd and rested at our usual hours, and on the latter, we rested near a Pit or Well of bitter and stinking water in a mineral Soil, all full of Talk, of which I brought Page 269 away a parcel with me. In like manner we proceeded the two next days; and on the twenty first, we pass'd by a ruinous Castle call'd Hheir, which I had formerly seen only by night when I went from Aleppo to Baghdad. I took a better view of it now, and found it to be a great Building, all of good and large white Marble Stones; the form of it is a long Square, with walls round about, here and there distinguish'd with small round Turrets; within are many contrivances of Rooms, all likewise of white stone, but so rui∣nous that it cannot be known what they were. From hence we travell'd about three hours further, and at night arriv'd at Ta∣iba, a Town which I had formerly seen, and lodg'd in a by-place amongst the walls of the Houses near the Gate.
July the twenty second, This day was spent in paying the usu∣al Gabels, which every day are enhaunc'd in these Countries, and are now become insupportable. Though I had nothing of Merchandise, but only goods for my own use; yet I could not come off under twenty Piastres between Gabels and Donatives to the Officers, which they demanded as equally due. Here I found an Arabian nam'd Berekiet, who spoke a little Italian, and pass'd for Factor or Procurator of the Franks, saying, he had authority so to be from the Consuls of Aleppo. He present∣ly offer'd himself to speak to the Officers in our behalf, gave us an Entertainment, and invited us to lodg in his House, and, if we had been so minded, would have conducted us thither; but his services tended only to get some money of us, and by his speak∣ing with the Officers to make us pay more then perhaps we should otherwise have done.
July the twenty third, Two hours after Sun-rise, we departed from Taiba, whence the said Officer sent an Arabian with us, to conduct us first to Emir Mudleg (who they said was at Hhamah, between Aleppo and Damascus) and afterwards to Aleppo; they having done the same to the great Cafila of Bassora which had pass'd by Taiba a little before us. This going to the Emir, was a troublesom thing, both in regard of the great diversion out of the way, and the inconveniences we imagin'd the Emir himself would put us to, after all the Tyrannies we had hitherto met with in the Desart. We travell'd till past Noon, and after a short rest till Sun-set, having a continu'd ridg of little Hills al∣ways on the left hand.
July the twenty fourth, We travell'd again from day-light till past Noon, and two hours more in the Evening, taking up our Quarters an hour before Sun-set.
July twenty fifth, We set forth an hour before Sun-rise, tra∣velling till Noon, when the Arabian, assign'd to us by the Offi∣cers of Taiba to conduct us to the Emir, being so perswaded, as I believe, by the Cameliers, who alledg'd that the Camels were very weary (as indeed they were, and ovet-laden, in regard that many of them dy'd by the way, so that they could travel but gently) resolv'd to go alone before us by a neerer way over Page 270 the mountains, and leave us to follow him leisurely, as the Came∣liers said they would. I was glad of his going, and intended to take a different course from what the Cameliers imagin'd; but because it was not yet seasonable, I held my peace. After two hours rest, we travell'd till an hour before night, when we took up our Sta∣tion neer certain Pits, a little distant from the reliques of certain ancient Fabricks call'd Siria by me formerly seen and describ'd in my journey to Baghdad.
July the twenty sixth, Setting forth by day-light, we came to rest after Noon near a water which springs up in a place full of small Canes, whence we remov'd not this night, partly, that ourt ir'd and over-laden Camels might recover themselves a little, and partly, because the Cameliers were minded to eat a Camel there conveniently, which falling lame of one leg they knockt on the head in the morning; and indeed they had eaten all the others which fail'd by the way, either through Disease or other∣wise. Of this, which was not infirm, I was willing to take a trial, and lik'd the roasted flesh well enough, only it was some∣thing hard.
July the twenty seventh, Setting forth early, we wav'd the directest way to Aleppo, (which was by the Town of Achila) and took another more Southwards, and to the left hand, which led to the place where the Emir resided; intending to leave the Ca∣melier at a certain Town upon the way, from whence he was to go alone to the Emir, to carry him a Present, and excuse our go∣ing to him by alledging the death and weariness of our Camels. Hereby we endeavour'd to avoid (if possible) the troubles and disgusts which we were likely to meet with from the Emir and his Arabians, in case we should have gone to him our selves. At Noon, we came to the defign'd Village, call'd Haila; they ac∣count it a Mezar, that is, a place to be visited, and of devotion, in regard of some persons buried there whom the Mahometans hold for Saints: yet it consisted only of four poor Cottages, and those un-inhabited and abandoned, as is credible, by reason of the Tyrannies which the Arabians of the Desart, especially the Soldiers, exercis'd in these troublesom times upon the poor Pea∣sants. The Camelier, because he could not leave us here, by reason the Village was without people, purposed to carry us to the Emir; doubting, lest if he did otherwise, it might turn to his prejudice. Whereupon, considering what disgusts and per∣haps dangers too I might meet with there, both by reason of the women whom I carri'd with me, and of whom the Mahometans use to be very greedy; and also by reason of the body of Sitti Maani, and upon other accounts; I set my foot against the wall, and resolutely told the Camelier, that I would by no means go to Emir Mudleg, with whom I had nothing to do, now I had pay'd all his Gabels; I would go directly to Aleppo; whither if he would not carry me with his Camels, I would go on foot with my people, leaving all my Goods there on the ground to his Page 271 care; of which, if any were lost, he should be responsible to me for the same at Aleppo: And, indeed, had the Camelier been obstinate, I was resolv'd to do as I said, having little heart to trust to the mischievousness of the Emir, (which was very in∣famous); or to expose to so great danger, not onely the few goods I had, but also the body of Sitti Maani, our lives, and the Wo∣men's both Liberty and Souls (which was a great consideration); and little caring to present to the Emir the Letter which I had for him from the Basha of Bassora in my recommendation, because I had found by experience what little good the two former did me, which I had presented to Sceich Abdullah at Cuvebeda, and to Sceich Abitaleb the Son of Nasir in the Desart. The chief Came∣lier try'd a good while to prevail with me to go with him to the Emir; but at length seeing me obstinate, and some other Came∣liers of his companions of the same mind, he resolv'd at last to leave the Camels with me to carry my Goods directly to Aleppo, together with some few other companions of the journey, and to go himself alone with all his loads to the Emir, purposing also to tell him, that we by force, and against his will, had freed our selves from going to him; with which I was very well con∣tented.
After he was gone his own way, we took ours directly to [ XI] Aleppo, and after two hours travel, took up our station in a bare champian place, where night had over-taken us.
July the eight and twentieth, From Sun-rise we travell'd al∣most till noon, but the Camels being few, weary, and over-laden, made no great progress. After three hours baiting, we journey'd again till almost night, and lodg'd by a water near the Tents of some Arabian Beguin shepherds who were there.
July the nine and twentieth, Setting forth early, we saw some number of Horse cross the way before us at a good distance, and finding the place a Plain inclos'd with Hills, and consequently, fit for Ambuscades and Treacheries, we suspected that they were Thieves, and that they went to wait at some Pass to assault us. Wherefore we put our selves in order, and march'd a good while on foot with our Arms ready to defend our selves by fight: But at length these suspitions vanish'd, and we met no body; and, peradventure, they were people that were afraid of us, and fled. Such encounters we frequently had in the Desart, and many times betook our selves to our Arms; some times too in the night we were visited by Pilferers, who attempted to steal something clandestinely; but, God be thanked, no mischief ever befell us, and the Thieves finding us upon our guard, went away always frustrated; and sometimes too, either hurt or terri∣fy'd by our Arms. On this occasion I will not omit, (now we are near the end of this journey), that the Desart between Bassora and Aleppo, is a great Plain with very few inequalities; and some of the soil is dry, some saltish and full of other Minerals, little stony, and less moorish with Reeds; but the greatest part was green Page 272 with grass at the time of my passing through it, yet with grass most commonly thorney, and good onely for Camels to eat. The heat, even in these Summer-months, was alwayes supportable, and, provided a Man were shelter'd from the Sun, the wind was continually so great and constant that it caus'd coolness, though sometimes it molested us with the dust. The nights were always sufficiently cool, and, to avoid catching cold, it was requisite to be very well cover'd. But to return to my purpose, on the day above-said, a good while before noon we stay'd to rest in a little Village of Arabians, (not subject to the Emir, but Vassals of Aleppo) call'd Ludehi, lying in a fertile Valley irrigated with a running water. From hence I dispatch'd my Servant Giovanni Rubehh with a Camelier to Aleppo, which was about a League off; and I writ Letters by him to the most Illustrious Sig: Aluyse da Ca, the Venetian Consul in that City; and also to Doctor Luigi Ramiro his Physitian, a Roman both by Birth and Education, (upon which account I hop'd, that though I was unknown by sight, he would nevertheless be favourable to me) giving them account of my coming, and desiring the Doctor to provide me a convenient re∣sidence for my self and the Women with me. The Consul sent some of his servants to introduce us into the City, without disturb∣ance from the Turks or Custom-Officers; which to me, in re∣gard of the Coffin wherein I carry'd the Body of Sitti Maani, was a great happiness; for if it had been seen, I might have found much trouble from the Turks; as also by reason of the Books which I had in their Language, some about matters of Religion, which, (as it had hapned to some others at Aleppo) 'tis likely would have been taken from me. After my Servant was gone, we follow'd him till within a mile of Aleppo, where we stay'd his return in a Meschita or Sepulchre, upon the way, of one Sceich Saadi, venerated for a Saint; and because either the Consul's Servants miss'd of me and took another way, or else my Servant arriv'd there late; therefore hearing of no Answer, we remain'd in this place all night.
July the thirtieth, In the Morning I writ again to the Consul, [ XII] and to Sig: Giovan Maria de Bona, his chief Interpreter, and my ancient Friend, to whom I had not written the day before, because I beliv'd him dead, as was falsely reported at Bassora; but understanding in the said Meschita by certain Women that he was alive and well, I would not omit to write to him also. I gave account both to the Consul and to him where I was, and desir'd of both the same favours of being met and provided of a habitation, as I had done the day before. As soon as my Letters arriv'd at Aleppo, the Consul sent several persons to fetch me, who the Evening before had sought me a good while, but in vain, and went to look for me at the Town of Ludehi, whence I sent the first advice. There came from the Consul's House Sig: Andrea Buonanimi his Factor, some Janizaries, and other servants; with whom came also some Officers of the Doganier, or Chief-Customer Page 273Abedik, an Armenian Christian; the Consul intend∣ing by their means to render my entrance more facile, and less su∣spected. All of them conducted us to the Consul's House, where by all means he would have me lodg, having invited me so to do by a most courteous Letter, which he had written the day before, and his Factor presented to me before my entrance, with many good Reasons now urging the same; whereunto I knew not in civility how to gain-say. The Customers came to search my Goods, and to see whether we had any jewels conceal'd; which they did civilly enough: As for the Chest wherein the Body of Sitti Maani was, and the Books; partly, by the autho∣rity of the Consul, and the good management of my Friend Sig: Giovan Maria de Bona his Interpreter; and, partly, by a Present to the Doganier Abedick of fifty Piasters, and a vestment of Damask, worth thirty Piasters more to the Searcher, (who onely open'd the outward Chest, wherein the Coffin lay under many Indian medicinal Herbs, and saw nothing else but them) and above thirty Piasters to several other Officers, it was brought about that the Turks knew not what it was, and nothing was spoken of it. The Consul at first intended to receive my Women into his House; but afterwards being told that it was not convenient by reason of the churlishness of the Turks, who were now become more exorbitant than ever, he thought to lodg them in another decent place; but Sig: Giovan Maria de Bona, was pleas'd to take them to his House, where-with I was very well contented, because they could not go to a better place whilst separated from me: They were receiv'd there, and treated by the Women of Sig: Giovan Maria, with very great kindness. F. Orsino and I remain'd in the Consul's House, being entertain'd with the greatest Love and Courtesie imaginable: And indeed he hath been extreamly obliging to me, not onely in this par∣ticular, but in all other matters occurring about my departure from Aleppo; which we have determin'd to be, shortly, in some of the Dutch or French Ships, which are now in the Port of Alex∣andretta, ready to set sail upon the next fair wind; and, perhaps, together in consort: which, in regard of the many Pirates now infesting the Medeterranean, would be the securest way.