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the period at which it occurs ; it is, however, on the average, generally from the middle of March to the middle of April. The best time, therefore, for those who seek health as well as amusement in visiting Palestine, is from the end of February to the middle of the ensuing month. It was for this reason we left Egypt* so early in the year, and spent the intervening time on the coast of Asia Minor.
We arrived at Ramla ; and with considerable pleasure again entered the comfortable convent, and being greatly fatigued by our day's journey and the sirocco, we soon retired to rest; but the whole of the early part of the evening we were disturbed by the noise and uproar caused by the Mooslim part of the population, who, along with the Jews, were keeping a solemn but not a silent fast, on account of the great scarcity of rain, on which account the wheat and barley crops were in a withering state. The Mohammadans were walking in procession through the town the greater part of the night, accompanied by their priests and a number of boys who chanted portions of the Kooran, in which the female part of the procession occasionally joined in most shrill piercing tones. Annoying as this was to us, yet I could not help reflecting on the apparent dependence on the bounty of the Almighty that dictated this feeling; and which might be more frequently imitated by their Christian neighbours, who have the Scriptures revealing to them the true character of God, and pointing out the service that he requires from his creatures.
We set forward for Jaffa early next morning. On the previous
* As far as my observation went during our stay in Egypt, I cannot say much for its climate as suited to invalids; indeed it requires a tolerably good constitution to withstand the effects of the nightly cold, which does not go off till the sun is well up. This variability of daily temperature is highly detrimental to health. There were severe harsh winds, attended with much rain, shortly before we left Alexandria, as can be seen by a reference to the register of temperature in the Appendix. To winter in Egypt with advantage it must be done at Cairo, and that with warm clothing and a fire in the bed-room. I consider that the most favourable time for travelling through the country, is from the fall of the inundation, in September, to the beginning of November, or from the end of February to the middle of April.
AN ADVENTURE WITH A MULE.
day one of our party rode a mule; a small, wiry, bitter creature ; and which, though as obstinate as mule could be, yet was not wanting in his paces; but could keep up with the horses very well when he liked. This being, however, a straightforward course, was by no means congenial to the stubborn little animal's taste ; and, so having caused my friend to ride nearly one half more than any of our party, I undertook to use my influence with the beast during the remaining part of the journey to Jaffa. All went on very smoothly for some time; the mule seemed to have got into good humour, and we reached the plains of haron, among the olive groves of which we soon espied several large storks and herons. I was anxious to get a shot at one of these ; and the mule, nothing loath to leave the direct path, carried me very quietly to where they had alighted. Arrived at the proper distance, I got down, and counting on the creature's recent good behaviour and improved disposition, I passed the bridle over my arm, and creeping stealthily among the bushes, presented my fowling-piece to fire at the birds ; when, just as I was about to pull the trigger, the evil spirit of the mule returned-it reared—the gun went off, and, leaving me sprawling on my back, it kicked up its heels, gave a neigh of delight, and galloped away, showing a determination not to be easily re-captured.
Then came the chase the whole mounted cavalcade set off after it; and, though they came up with, and several times surrounded it, the animal always contrived to escape, stopping and turning round with extraordinary quickness; and when its pur. suers were at fault, halting to look at them with the greatest composure. After nearly an hour spent in useless endeavours to capture the obstinate animal, the majority of our party proceeded to Jaffa, supposing that in a short time it would be so tired that it would easily be caught, or that the owners, who had lagged behind, would come up and recover it. They left, however, two of the sailors, who accompanied us, to make what they could of the wild creature, and watch his movements in the meantime. For myself, I ran after the brute until I was so wearied that I was unable to proceed farther, and was compelled to lie down upon the ground quite exhausted. After some time, when I recovered my strength, I made my way to the port on foot, and left the sailors in pursuit of the animal.
HOW TO CATCH A MULE.
The tars, however, were not to be beaten by a mule. Off they set, and tilting at him, from different directions, not unlike the efforts of Clown and Pantaloon, more frequently encountered each other than the object of their pursuit, which, like a nimble Harlequin, still skipt out of the way. Seeing no hope of retaking him left, they loaded their carabines with small shot, and very deliberately fired several rounds at the enemy-whom, to use their own words, they soon “ brought to;" for after having two or three rounds lodged in his hinder parts he fell back on his haunches, and rushing in, they captured him, and carried off their prize to Jaffa. They might have relinquished the pursuit for all the mule was worth ; but, as it had a handsome carpet strapt upon it of as much value as itself—that could not be lost. The animal was not, however, very much hurt, as the shot, which was very small, only entered the skin, the distance being considerable.
The whole scene was ludicrous in the extreme; but to me its consequences were any thing but agreeable-for, when I arrived at the port, almost in a state of fever, I very injudiciously exposed myself to a cold draft of air, while resting on the housetop of the consul's residence. The Crusader had put to sea on our first landing, but was now ready to take us aboard ; as soon therefore, as the baggage was shipped and the mule-owner satisfied, we once more set sail for Europe. My feverish symptoms, however, increased; I was confined to bed for several days, and did not recover from the effects of mule-hunting for a long time.
Having now completed the narrative of our eastern travel, and turned our back upon that land of wonders—the prospects that seemed in store for it, and the reflections suggested by the scenes that we had witnessed, kept our minds upon the stretch, till we gained the shores of Cyprus.
Departure from Jaffa— Flying Fish-Syra--Cape Colonna-Temple of Minerva Sunias- The
Piræus-Omnibuses-Athens-View of the Parthenon--Present Condition of the City--Sir Edmund Lyons-Society-King Otho—Bavarian Government—The New Palace-Its CostThe Greek Loan- Destruction of the Pentelic Quarries—Climate of Athens-Accommodation for Invalids--Means of Access-Fossil Beds of Pikermi-Visit to Marathon-Mr. Finlay --His Paper on the Battle--Arrow-heads-- Their Similarity to Irish-Varna-LeosheaReturn to Athens-Easter-The Greek Church-Christian Salutation-Romaic DanceMissionaries--Schools-The English Church-Hospitals-Museum-Proceed to the Morea Napoli di Romania, Tyrinthus, Tomb of Agamemnon-Mycena---Its Lions-ArchitectureArgos-Geological Appearance-Gibraltar-Advantages of Yachting-Return to Ireland.
On leaving Jaffa it blew a gale of wind, during which numbers of flying fish came aboard. It was then evident to all who observed the fight of these curious little animals, that, although they cannot, as some writers have stated, stop and turn back in their flight, they yet possess the power of making a considerable curve, nearly half a circle either to the right hand or to the left, in their transit through the air.
We arrived at Cyprus on the 28th, but finding that the plague had just broken out there, proceeded on our course to the bay of Symi, in Asia Minor, where we remained till the weather moderated.
On the 2nd of April we made the Grecian Archipelago, and cast anchor on the 4th at Syra, the Liverpool of modern regenerated Greece. The island of Syra is picturesque, but barren ; the town is not unlike Jaffa, being built on a conical hill, which is covered to the very summit with white-washed buildings, and crowned by a monastery. Below this, the town spreads out along the water's edge, where the crowds of busy traders, the number of boats lading and unlading and the mul
THE GRECIAN ISLANDS.
titude of sailors and porters that swarm on the wharfs and landing-places, tell of the rising condition, and commercial importance of this flourishing place. The harbour is one of the best in Greece, and generally exhibits a vast assemblage of the vessels of nearly every nation trading in the Mediterranean. There is a good light-house and safe anchorage.
The streets of the town are narrow, and the houses small and dirty; yet the number of shops, stalls, and bazaars, and the several happy faces that you meet in your walks through the town, speak, if not of wealth, at least of comfort and comparative independence.
I know of no place that has risen so rapidly as this. Its population in 1838 was above 21,000, though, but ten years before, it did not reach 6,000. The port is free; and all the steamers that ply in this portion of the Levant touch here. Not the least important item of the daily increasing trade of Syra is its pigs, which are the very finest I have seen out of Ireland.
We left Syra the next morning for Athens ; but, owing to the baffling winds and partial calms that are met with
the numerous islands of this sea, we were in the evening but a short distance from the place we had left. At day-break next morning we were roused by the welcome information, that we were within a short distance of Cape Colonna. The cold, thin, morning air was just beginning to usher in the dawn as we descended the vessel's side, and proceeded in our boat to visit the ruins of the famed temple of Minerva Sunias, that crowns the summit of this bare, steep, and rocky promontory. Standing, as it does, so lone and drear above that wild and sea-washed shore, it forms one of the most awakening objects that Greece presents, to remind us of her by-gone days and glory; and it is still as noted a land-mark to the modern mariner, as in other times it was to the steersman of the trireme. Independent of its classic associations, it will be ever memorable to the Englishman, as the scene of “Falconer's Shipwreck.” The hour at which we visited it, was one seldom chosen by the traveller ; but one that, although piercingly cold, we had no cause to regret, for all around us was in unison with the feelings the place called up. The sea remained a perfect mirror; and the birds of the ocean had not yet risen on the wing to skim its placid waters, or disturb the silence and solemnity of the moment by their fishing song.