Excursion To The Lakes East Of Damascus -- By: J. L. Porter
BSac 11:42 (April 1854) p. 329
Excursion To The Lakes East Of Damascus
[This Article, like the one on Hermon in the preceding number of this work, is from the pen of one of the Missionaries of the Irish Presbyterian Church stationed at Damascus. Mr. Porter has paid great attention to the topography and antiquities of the district round about that ancient city, and has constructed an accurate map of the region. The present Article gives us the first definite information respecting the lakes and marshes which receive the waters of the Barada and the ‘Awaj, the two rivers of Damascus.—E.R.]
November 17th, 1852. Long had my mind been set on an excursion to the unknown regions on the east of Damascus; but never till this day was- I able to accomplish it A cessation of hostilities on the part of the government, opened my way. So I got up a strong party, engaged a competent guide, and we set off from the east gate at 6.57. Our party consisted of Messrs. Robson and Barnett, and M. Anton Bulâd, a learned monk of the Greek Catholic church.
The air was fresh and frosty, and blew keenly in our faces as we rode along the bank of the Akrabâny, a canal from the Barada. Ere long, however, the rising sun dissolved the congealed vapor from the grass and foliage, and lighted up the distant hills, so that they appeared like gigantic gilded domes rising over the forests of the plain. A cloud covered the top of Hermon, and the deep sound of the thunder was heard in the distance; we consequently feared some approaching change. But as the day advanced, every cloud disappeared; and every hill and mountain round the whole horizon, stood forth in bold relief against the clear blue sky. It was a glorious day. But why speak of the weather in the sunny East? Amid the clouds and gloom of old England, or the showers of the Emerald Isle, or the mists of Scotland, the weather may form a topic of conversation. A glorious November day would there be, indeed, a rara avis. But in Syria, where for six long months the deep azure of the heavens and the bright beams of the sun are never once dimmed by a passing cloud — why speak here of a glorious day? However, it was glorious even for Syria. The atmosphere was transparent as crystal; a
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passing shower had dispelled the quivering haze that looms over the desert during the summer heats; the magic power of the mirage did not convert burning sands and parched plains into placid lakes with verdant isles; nature was seen as it existed.
We followed the ordinary eastern road for some distance, and then, turning a little to the right, passed near Jeramâna, and had Balât on our right at 7.50. Five minutes later, we entered Melîha, where a few columns along ...
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