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March. 30—April 12

    TO travel in the desert is in one respect curiously akin to travelling on the sea: it gives you no premonition of the changed environment to which the days of journeying are conducting you. When you set sail from a familiar shore you enter on a course from which the usual landmarks of daily existence have been swept away. What has become of the march of time? Dawn leads to noon, noon to sunset, sunset to the night; but night breaks into a dawn indistinguishable from the last, the same sky above, the same sea on every side, the same planks beneath your feet. Is it indeed another day? or is it yesterday lived over again? Then on a sudden you touch the land and find that that recurring day has carried you round half the globe. So it is in the desert. You rise and look out upon the same landscape that greeted you before — the contour of the hills may have altered ever so slightly, the hollow that holds your camp has deepened by a few yards since last week, the limitless sweep of the plain was not hidden a fortnight ago by that little mound; but here are the same people about you, speaking of the same things, here is the same path to be followed, yes, even the seasons are the same, and the dusty face of the desert is too old to flush at the advent of spring or to be wreathed in autumn garlands of gold and scarlet. Yet at the end of a long interval composed of periods recurrent and alike, you look round and see that the whole face of the universe has changed.
     When we reached Kerbelâ we passed into a world of which the aspect and the associations were entirely new to me. I had set out from an Arab town in North Shyria, and I emerged in a Persian city linked historically with the Holy p.160 / Places, with the first struggles and the only great schism of Islâm. At Kerbelâ was enacted the tragedy of the death of Hussein, son of 'Alî ibn abi Tâlib; the place has grown up round the mosque that holds his tomb, and to one half of those who profess the Mohammadan creed it is a goal no less sacred than Mecca. But it was not the golden dome of Hussein, though it covers the richest treasure of offerings possessed by any known shrine (unless the treasure in 'Alî's tomb of Nejef touch a yet higher value), nor yet the presence of the green-robed Persians, narrow of soul, austere and stern of countenance — it was not the wealth and fame of the Shî'ah sanctuary that made the strongest assault upon the imagination. It was the sense of having reached those regions which saw the founding of imperial Islâm, regions which remained for many centuries the seat of the paramount ruler, the Commander of the Faithful. Within the compass of a two-days' journey lay the battlefield of Kâdisîyah, where Khâlid ibn u'l Walîd overthrew at once and for ever the Sassanian power. Chosroes with his hosts, his satraps, his Arab allies — those princes of the house of Mundhîr whose capital was one of the first cradles of Arab culture — stepped back at his coming into the shadowy past; their cities and palaces faded and disappeared, Hîrah, Khawarnak, Ctesiphon, and many another of which the very site is forgotten; all the pomp and valour of an earlier time fell together like an army of dreams at the first trumpet-blast of those armies of the Faith which hold the field until this hour. Then came the day of vigour; the addingt of dominion to dominion; the building of great Mohammadan towns, Kûfah, Wâsit, Basrah, and last of all Baghdâd, last and greatest. And then decline, and finally the transference of authority. This was the story that was unfolded before me as I stood upon the roof of a Persian house and gazed down into the gorgeously tiled courtyard of the mosque of Hussein, in which none but the Faithful may set foot. When I lifted my eyes and looked westward I saw the desert across which the soldiers of the Prophet had come to batter down the old civilizations; when I looked east I saw the road to Baghdâd, where their descendants had cultivated KERBEL   p.161 / with no less renown, the arts of peace. The low sun shone upon the golden dome; the nesting storks held conversation from minaret to minaret, with much clapping of beaks and shaking out of unruffled wings; the Spirit of Islâm marched out of the wilderness and seized the fruitful earth.
     There were other lesser things which aroused a more personal if not a keener interest. The oranges were good at Kerbelâ, as Fattûh had said. The shops were heaped with them and with pale sweet lemons: I fear I must have astonished my military escort, for I stopped at every corner to buy more and yet more, and ate them as I went along the streets, hoping to satisfy the inextinguishable thirst born of the desert. Side by side with the oranges lay mountains of pink roses, the flowers cut off short and piled together; every one in the town carried a handful of them and sniffed at them as he walked. After night had fallen I was invited to a bountiful Persian dinner, where we feasted on lamb stuffed with pistachios, and drank sherbet out of deep wooden spoons. And there I heard some talk of politics.
     Under the best of circumstances, said one of my informants, constitutional government was not likely to be popular in the province of 'Irâk. Men of property were all reactionary at heart. They had got together their wealth by force and oppression; their title-deeds would not bear critical examination, and they resented the curiousity and the comments of the newly-fledged local press. Nor were the majority of the officials better inclined — how was it possible? To forbid corruption, unless the order were accompanied by a rise in salary corresponding to the perquisites of which they were deprived (and this was forbidden by the state of the imperial exchequer) meant for them starvation. A judge, for example, is appointed for two and a half years and his salary is £T15 a month, not enough to keep himself and his family in circumstances which would accord with his position. But over and above the expenses of living he must see to the provision of a sum sufficient to engage the sympathies of his superiors when his appointment shall have expired; otherwise he might abandon the hope of further employment. Most probably he would p.162 / have to defray the heavy charges of a journey to Constantinople, to enable him to push his claim, not to speak of the fact that he might spend several unsalaried months in the capital before his request was granted. "And so it is that out of ten men, eleven take bribes, and, as far as we can see, nothing has come of the constitution but the black fez" (this because of the boycott on the red fez, made in Austria), "free speech and two towers, one at Kerbelâ and one at Nejef, to commemorate the age of liberty." Under the new régime Kerbelâ had received a mutesarrif whose story was a good example of the mistakes which men were apt to commit when first the old restraints were relaxed. He was of the Ahrâr, the Liberals, and had begun his career as secretary to the Vâlî of Baghdâd. The people of Baghdâd raised a complaint against him, on the ground that in the fast month of Ramadân he had been seen to smoke a cigarette in the bazaar between sunrise and sunset, which showed clearly that he was an infidel, and he was dismissed from his post; but since he was one of the Ahrâr and had friends in Constantinople, he was presently appointed to Kerbelâ. Now Kerbelâ, being a holy place inhabited mostly by Persian Shî'ahs, is one of the most fanatical cities in the Ottoman Empire, and a mutesarrif who brought with him so unfortunate a reputation could do nothing that was right. Some of his reforms were in themselves reasonable, but he was not the man to initiate them, nor was Kerbelâ the best field for experiments. The town, owing to blind extortion on the part of the government and to neglect of the irrigation system, is growing rapidly poorer and yields an ever diminishing revenue. This revenue is burdened by a number of pensions, and the mutesarrif, looking for a way of retrenchment, found it by depriving all pensioners of their means of livelihood. The pensioners were holy men, sayyids, whose duty it was to pray for the welfare of the Sultan. Some were old and some were deserving, some were neither, but all were holy, and the feelings that were aroused in Kerbelâ when they were left destitute baffle description.
     "Yet," continued my host, "the Turks understand govern- KERBEL   p.163 / ment. There was once in Basrah an excellent governor; his name was Hamdî Bey. When he came to Basrah it was the worst city in Turkey; every night there were murders, and no one dared to leave his house after dark lest when he returned he should find that he had been robbed of all he possessed."
     "So it is now in Basrah," said I, for the town is a by-word in Mesopotamia.
     "Yes, so it is now," he returned, "but it was different when Hamdî Bey was governor. For a year he sat quiet and collected information concerning all the villains in the place; but he did nothing. Now there was at that time a harmless madman in Basrah whom the people called Hajjî Beidâ, the White Pilgrim; and when they saw Hamdî Bey driving through the streets, they would point at him and laugh, saying: 'There goes Hajjî Beidâ.' But at the end of a year he assembled all the chief men and said: ' Hitherto you have called me Hajjî Beidâ; now you shall call me Hajjî Kara, the Black Pilgrim.' And then and there he cast most of them into prison and produced his evidence against them. And after a year's time the town was so peaceful that he ordered the citizens to leave their doors open at night; and as long as Hamdî Bey remained at Basrah no man troubled to lock his door. And at another time there was a Commandant in Basrah, and he too brought the place to order. For when he knew a prisoner to be guilty, yet failed to get the witnesses to speak against him, he would put the man to death in prison by means of a hot iron which he drove into his stomach through a tube. Then it was given out that the man had died of an illness, and every one rejoiced that there should be a rogue the less."
     I made no comment, but my expression must have betrayed me, for my interlocutor added a justification of the commandant's methods. "In Persia," said he, "they bury them alive."
     "My soldiers have told me," said I, not to be outdone, "that in Persia they cut off a thief's hand, and I think they regard it as the proper sentence, for they generally add: 'That is hukm, justice.' "
p.164 /
     "It is the sherî'ah," he replied simply, "the holy law," and he recited the passage from the Kurân : "If a man or woman steal, cut off their hands in retribution for that which they have done; this is an exemplary punishment appointed by God, and God is mighty and wise."
     I had intended to go straight from Kerbelâ to Babylon, but I was reckoning without full knowledge of the Hindîyeh swamp. The history of this swamp is both curious and instructive. A few miles above the village of Museiyib, north-east of Kerbelâ, the Euphrates divides into two channels. The eastern channel, the true bed of the river, runs past Babylon and Hilleh and discharges its waters into the great swamp which has existed in southern 'Irak ever since the last days of the Sassanian kings. The western channel is known as the Nahr Hindîyeh; it waters Kûfah, now a miserable hamlet clustered about the great mosque in which the khalif 'Alî was assassinated, and flowing through the great swamp re-enters the Euphrates some way above the junction of the latter with the Tigris.1

   1 The history of Mesopotamian rivers is exceedingly complicated owing to the frequency with which they change their beds. Mr. Le Strange (Lands of the Eastern Caliphate, p. 70 et seq.) believes that the Nahr Hindîyeh, which is probably identical with the 'Alkâmî of Kudâmah and Mas'ûdî, was considered in the tenth century to be the main stream of the Euphrates, though even at that time it was not so broad as the Hilleh branch. Writing in 1905 Mr. Le Strange speaks of the Hilleh branch as being undoubtedly the main stream in modern times, but in 1909 nearly all the water, as I shall describe, flowed down the Kûfah branch (the Hindiyeh canal) and the Hilleh branch lay dry all the winter. This, however, will, it is to be hoped, be rectified by the new irrigation schemes on which Sir William Willcocks is at present engaged.

The dam on the Euphrates which regulated the flowing of its waters into the Hindîyeh canal has been allowed to fall into disrepair; every year a deeper and a stronger stream flows down the Hindîyeh, and matters have reached such a pass that during the season of low water the eastern bed is dry, the palm gardens of Hilleh are dying for lack of irrigation, and all the country along the river-bank below Hilleh has gone out of cultivation. The growth of the Hindîyeh has proved scarcely less disastrous. KERBEL   p.165 / The district to the west of the canal, in which Kerbelâ lies, is lower than the level of the stream, while the increasing torrents, bringing with them the silt of the spring floods, yearly raise the bed of the canal and add to the difficulty of keeping it within bounds. The Hindîyeh has become an ever-present danger to the town of Kerbelâ, and indeed in one year, when the stream was unusually high, the water flowed into the streets. It was the duty of the owners of the land, a duty prescribed by immemorial custom, to keep up the dykes, in order to save the cultivated country, and incidentally the town, from inundation. Needless to say they neglected to do so. A large part of the land — and here the story takes a very Oriental turn — had been bought up by a rich Mohammadan who proposed to do a good office by the holy city and to take the charge of the dykes upon himself. But as the canal silted up the charge became heavier, until at last the pious benefactor wearied of his task and refused to do another hand's turn in the matter. Thereupon the mutesarrif sent for him and ordered him to perform his lawful duty. But the landowner was an Indian and a British subject (at this point I realized that I had come once more into the net of our vast empire) and he refused to be bullied by a Turkish official. He pointed out that the floods were largely due to the negligence of the Arab tribes, who draw from the Hindîyeh ten times as much water as they need and let it go to waste upon the land, where it helps to form the redoubted swamp; and since, said he, the swamp was caused not by the will of God, but by the conduct of the Sultan's subjects, the government would do well to remedy the evil by applying to the dykes the forced labour which it has the right to exact from every man during four days in the year.1

   1 It is known as the 'Amalîyeh Mukallifeh.

The mutesarrif replied that the Indian had not cultivated his land for four years and that it was therefore forfeit to the State;2

   2 This applies, I believe, only to lands leased from the State, ardîyeh amîrîyeh.

the Indian countered him with the rejoinder that the land had been under pasture and had paid a regular tithe. So the matter stood in the p.166 / spring of 1909; the town of Kerbelâ might at any time be flooded if the river rose, the Hindîyeh swamp was growing day by day, and the road to Babylon was impassable. No one seemed to regard these perils and inconveniences as otherwise than inevitable, and I with the rest bowed my head to the inscrutable decrees of God and took my way to Museiyib.
     Museiyib, as I have said, lies on the Euphrates above the point where the Hindîyeh canal branches off from the river. For the last half of the day's journey we skirted the swamp. It was in reality much more than a swamp: it was a shallow lake extending over a vast area. It had invaded even the Museiyib road, which is the direct road from Kerbelâ to Baghdâd, and we, together with all other travellers, had to make a long détour through the desert. The other travellers were mainly Persian pilgrims, men, women and children riding on mules in panniers. It is the ardent wish of every pious Persian to make the pilgrimage to Kerbelâ once during his lifetime, and still more does he desire to make it once again after his death, that his body may lie in earth hallowed by the vicinity of Hussein's grave. Countless caravans of corpses journey yearly from Persia to Kerbelâ, and the living should bear in mind that the khâns of the towns are insalubrious, to say the least, owing to the fact that they are packed with dead bodies awaiting their final burial. The close connection between Kerbelâ and Persia has been during recent years of considerable political significance. The large Persian community, rich, influential and safely placed under the protection of the Turkish government, has more than once tendered advice to the struggling factions of its native country, and more than once the advice has been in the nature of a command. The European is not accustomed to think of the Ottoman Empire as a haven of refuge for the oppressed, but the Persian, comparing Turkish administration with his own, regards it as an unattainable standard of tranquillity and equity. Turkey must be judged by Asiatic, not by European, possibilities of achievement, and I tried to keep my thoughts fixed upon the pilgrims jogging sadly home to MUSEIYIB   p.167 / their intolerable anarchy; but it was difficult not to notice the bands of peasants who came wading through the shallow waters of the Hindîyeh floods, their fields submerged, their crops devastated, their houses reduced to mud-heaps and their possessions scattered over the swamp. Six hours from Kerbelâ we reached the Euphrates, a river much smaller than the one we had left at Hît, since a great part of its waters had been drawn off into irrigation canals. To my amazement it was provided with a practicable bridge of boats, by which we crossed, glorifying the works of man. It was the first, and I may add the only bridge over the Euphrates that I was privileged to see. We pitched camp on the further side just beyond the village of Museiyib.
     On the following day we turned southwards to Babylon. For two hours we continued to do battle with the waters, not, however, with untamed floods, but with the almost equally obtrusive irrigation canals and runnels which the industrious fellâh conducts in all directions across his fields, regardless of road and path and of the time and temper of the wayfarer. At length we reached the high road from Baghdâd to Hilleh, beyond the belt of cultivation, and made the rest of the stage dry-footed. We crossed the Nasrîyeh canal by a bridge near a ruined khân, and five hours from Museiyib we came to the village of Mahawîl on a canal of the same name, also bridged. There I lunched under palm-trees — there are no other trees in these regions — and so rode on, catching up the caravan and crossing many another canal, now dry, now bringing water to villages far to the east of us. It was a very barren world, scarred with the traces of former cultivation, and all the more poverty-stricken and desolate because it had once been rich and peopled; flat, too, an interminable, featureless expanse from which the glory had departed. I was almost immersed in the rather jejune reflections which must assail every one who approaches Babylon, when, as good-luck would have it, I turned my eyes to the south and perceived, on the edge of the arid, sun-drenched plain a mighty mound. There was no need to ask its name; as certainly as if temple and fortress wall still crowned its summit I knew it to be p.168 / Bâbil, the northern mound that retains on the lips of the Arabs the echo of its ancient title. I left the road, hoping to find a direct path across the plain to that great vestige of ancient splendours, but the deep cutting of a water-course, as dry and dead as Babylon itself, barred the way. My mare climbed to the top of the high bank that edged it and we stood gazing over the site of the city. A furtive jackal crept out along the bank, caught sight of Fattûh and fled back into the dry ditch.
     "The son of retreat," said Fattû in the speech of the people.
     "Chakâl," said I, searching dimly for some familiar swell of sonorous phrases which the word seemed to bring with it. And suddenly they rolled out over the formless thought : "The wolves howl in their palaces and the jackals in the pleasant places."
     For the past twelve years a little group of German excavators has lived and worked among the mounds of Babylon. To them I went, in full assurance of the hospitality which they extend to all comers. The traveller who enters their house, sheltered by palm-trees, on the banks of the Euphrates, will find it stored with the best fruits of civilization : studious activity, hard-won learning and that open-handed kindness which abolishes distinctions of race and country. As he watches the daily task of men who are recovering the long-buried history of the past, he will not know how to divide his admiration between the almost incredible labour entailed by their researches and the marvellous culture which their work has laid bare. "Only to the wise is wisdom given, and knowledge to them that have understanding."
     Within the largest of the mounds, the Kasr, or castle, as the Arabs call it, lie the remains of Nebuchadnezzar's palace. Another eight or ten years' work will be needed to complete the ground plan of the whole structure, but enough has been done to show the nature of the house wherein the king rested. It is built of square tiles, stamped with his name and bound together with asphalt. The part which has been excavated consists of an immense irregular area enclosed by thick walls. BABYLON   p.169 / One of these (it forms the quay of a canal) is called by the workmen "the father of twenty-two," i. e. it is twenty-two metres across; another reaches the respectable width of seventeen metres, but usually the royal builder was content with five or six metres, or even less. Within the enclosure lies a bewildering complexity of small courts and passages with chambers leading out of them — the more bewildering because in many cases the bricks have disappeared, and the walls must be traced by means of the spaces left behind. For more than a thousand years after the fall of Babylon no man building in its neighbourhood was at the pains to construct brick-kilns, but when he needed material he sought it in Nebuchadnezzar's city. Greek, Persian and Arab used it as a quarry, and as you climb the stairs of the German house you will become aware of the characters that spell the king's name upon the steps beneath your feet. The small courts and chambers, which were no doubt occupied by retinues of officials and servants of the palace, formed a bulwark of defence for the king. His apartments lay behind a wide paved court. From the court a doorway leads into a large oblong chamber, in the back wall of which is a niche for the throne. This is believed to be the banqueting hall where Belshazzar made his feast, and on a fragment of wall facing the throne you may see, if you please, the fingers of a man's hand writing the fatal message. How this hall was roofed is an unsolved problem. No traces of vaulting have been found, yet the width from wall to wall is so great that it is doubtful whether it could have been covered by a roof of beams. If there were indeed a vault it would be the earliest example of such construction on so big a scale. Behind the banqueting hall are the private chambers, and behind all a narrow passage leading to an emergency exit, by means of which the king could escape to his boat on the Euphrates in the last extremity of danger.
     Nebuchadnezzar's father, Nabopolassar, had built himself a smaller, but still very considerable, dwelling which occupied the western side of the mound. This Nebuchadnezzar destroyed; he filled up the walls and chambers with rubble p.170 / and masonry and laid out an extension of his own palace above it. The plan both of the upper and of the lower palace has now been ascertained. Above the Babylonian walls are the remains of Greek and Parthian settlements, each of which has to be carefully planned before it can be swept away and the lower strata studied. I saw work being carried on in a mound which formed one of the most ancient parts of the city; the excavation pits had been sunk twelve or fifteen metres deep to dwelling-houses of the first Babylonian Empire. They passed through the periods of the Parthian and of the Greek, through the age of Nebuchadnezzar and that of the Assyrians, and each stratum was levelled and planned before the next could be revealed. Add to this that the most ancient walls were constructed of sun-dried brick, scarcely distinguishable from the closely-packed earth, and some idea can be obtained of the extreme difficulty of the work. The oldest Babylonian houses which have been uncovered rest themselves on rubbish-heaps and ruins, but deeper digging is impossible owing to the fact that water-level has been reached. The Euphrates channel has silted up several metres during the last six thousand years and the primaeval dwellings are now below it. While we were standing at the bottom of a deep pit, a workman struck out with his pick a little heap of ornaments, a couple of copper bracelets and the beads of a necklace which had been worn by some Babylonian woman in the third millennium before Christ and were restored at last to the light of the sun.
     The northern part of the palace mound is as yet almost untouched. Here can be seen a sculptured block which used to lie among the earth-heaps until a French engineer built a pedestal for it and set it up above the ruins (Fig. 104). It is carved in the shape of a colossal lion standing above the body of a man who lies with arms uplifted. The man's head is broken away and the whole group is only half finished, but the huge beast with the helpless human figure beneath his feet could not have been given an aspect more sinister. It is as though the workmen of the Great King had fashioned an image of Destiny, treading relentlessly over the generations

Illustrations opposite p.170 ]

Babylon, the Lion
FIG. 104.—BABYLON, THE LION.   (enlargement)

Illustrations opposite p.171 ]



BABYLON   p.171 / of mankind, before they too passed into its clutches. All along the east side of the palace stretches the Via Sacra, contracting at one point only its splendid width that it may pass through the gate that stands midway between the house of Nebuchadnezzar and the temple of the goddess Ishtar. The Ishtar gate — its name is attested by a cuneiform inscription — is the most magnificent fragment that remains of all Nebuchadnezzar's constructions. Four or five times did he fill up the Via Sacra and raise its level, and each time he built up the brick towers of the double gateway to correspond. The various levels of the pavements can now be seen on the sides of the excavation trench, while the towers, completely disclosed, rear their unbroken height in stupendous masses of solid masonry. They are decorated on every side with alternate rows of bulls and dragons cast in relief on the brick; the noble strength of the bulls, stepping out firmly with arched neck, contracts with the slender ferocious grace of the dragons, and the two companies form a bodyguard worthy of the gate of kings and of gods (Figs. 105 and 106). Along the walls of the Via Sacra marched a procession of lions, fragments of which have been found and pieced together. They, too, were in relief, but covered with a fine enamel in which the colours were laid side by side without the intermission of cloissons. This art of enamelling is lost, and no modern workman has been able to imitate the lion frieze.
     On the east side of the gate stands the little temple of Ishtar, raised on a high platform and commanding the city below. The temple is built of sun-baked brick, probably in accordance with hieratic tradition, which held to the ancient building material used in an age when the architects were unacquainted with the finer and more durable burnt brick. Small courts with side chambers lead into an inner holy of holies, where in a niche stood the symbol or effigy of the goddess. Behind the sanctuary there is a narrow blind passage where the priests could lurk behind the cult image and confound the common folk with mysterious sounds and hidden voices. The Via Sacra pursues from the gate its stately way, skirting along the edge of an immense open court p.172 / that lay between the palace and the temple of the god Marduk, the patron divinity of Babylon. The mound in which the temple lies has not as yet been completely excavated, but a pit sunk in its centre has laid bare the walls of the entrance court. It will be no easy matter to continue the work here. The mound was thickly inhabited during the Greek and Parthian periods, and its upper levels consist chiefly of refuse-heaps. When the workmen cut down through them to reach the temple gate, the stench of the old rubbish-heaps, combined with the stifling heat of the pit, was so intolerable that their labours had to be interrupted for several days until a breeze arose and made it possible to continue them.
     The excavations are carried on all through the summer heats, but the director, Professor Koldewey, was at the time of my visit paying a penalty for his tireless energy. He had been ill for some months owing to his exertions during the previous summer, and to my permanent loss I was unable to see him. I retain notwithstanding the most delightful memory of the days at Babylon, of the peace and the dignified simplicity of life in the house by the river, of the little garden in the courtyard where Badrî Bey, the delegate from the Constantinople museum, coaxed his roses into flower and his radishes into red and succulent root; of long and pleasant conversations with Mr. Buddensieg and Mr. Wetzel, wherein they poured out for me their knowledge of the forgotten things of the past; of quiet hours with books which they brought for me out of their library — and books were a luxury from which I had been cut off since I left Aleppo. When I rode out of an afternoon one of the zaptiehs of Babylon was detailed to accompany me. He knew the ruin-field well, having been the fortunate occupier of a post at the Expeditions-haus for several years. I would find him waiting in the palm-grove where my horses were stabled, alert, respectful and less ragged than his brothers in arms whose pay does not come to them through the hands of European excavators. One day I asked him to take me to the Greek theatre, wondering a little whether he would understand the request.
     "Effendim," he said, "you mean the place of Alexander."
BABYLON   p.173 /
     The great name fell strangely among the palm-trees, and from out of the horde of ghosts that people Babylon strode the Conqueror at the end of his course. So we rode to the place of Alexander, the theatre near the city wall, ruined almost beyond recognition, but preserving in the popular nomenclature the memory of the most brilliant figure in the history of the world.
     And once the clouds gathered as we were riding through the palm-groves by the river. "Praise God!" said the zaptieh, "maybe we shall have rain." He shouted the good tidings to a peasant who drove the oxen of a water-wheel: "Oh brother, rain, please God!" But it was dust that was heralded by the darkness, and as we hastened to the great mound of Bâbil the wind bore down upon us and the parched earth rose and enveloped us. We left our horses standing with downcast heads under the lee of the mound and picked our way up the sides between the trial trenches of the excavators. In a few moments the dust-storm swept past, and we saw the wide expanse that was Babylon, embraced by gleaming reaches of river and the circuit of mound and ditch which marks the line of the city wall.
     "Effendim," said the zaptieh, "yonder is Birs Nimrûd," and he pointed to the south-west, where, in the heart of the desert, rose the huge outline of a temple pyramid, a zigurrat. Legend has given it a notable place in the story of our first forefathers: it was believed to be no other than the impious tower that witnessed the confusion of speech.
     I heard at Babylon some hint of the state of unrest, bordering on revolution, into which the province of 'Irak had fallen. The German excavators had been sucked into the outer edges of the whirlpool. Their workpeople, drawn from different tribes (they had relinquished nomad life, but the tribal system still held good among them), had caught the infection of hatred and turned from the excavation pits to the settling of ancient scores — so effectually that many a score had been settled for ever, and the debtor came back to his place in the trench no more. Most of the survivors had been clapped into gaol by a justly incensed civil authority, and what with death and the p.174 / serving out of sentences, Professor Koldewey and his colleagues had suffered from a scarcity of labour. This was nothing, as I was to learn at Baghdâd, to the confusion that reigned in other parts of 'Irak, and it was fortunate that I had no intention of going south from Babylon; at that time it would have been impossible.
     On the way to Baghdâd I was resolved to visit Ctesiphon, but we were obliged to follow, during the first day's journey, the Baghdâd road, re-traversing for some hours the line of our march from Museiyib. Ever since we had left Kebeisah the temperature had been exceedingly high, and from Babylon to Baghdâd we travelled through a heat wave very unusual at the beginning of April. The early morning was cool and pleasant, but by about ten o'clock the scorching sun became almost unbearable, even for people so well inured to heat as my servants and I. As long as we were moving, it was tempered by the breath of our progress, but if we stood still it burnt through our clothes like a flame. There was not a leaf or any green thing upon the plain, and the only diversion in a monotonous ride was caused by a peasant who caught us up with lamentations and laid hold of my stirrup.
     "Effendim!" he cried, "you have soldiers with you; bid them do justice on the man who stole my cow."
     "Where is the man?" said I in bewilderment.
     "He is here," he answered, weeping more loudly than before, "but a quarter of an hour back upon the road. An Arab he is; and while I was driving my cow to Museiyib, he came out of the waste and took her from me, threatening me with his rifle."
     "The effendi has nought to do with your cow," said one of the zaptiehs impatiently — and indeed the sun withered us as we stood. "Go tell the Kâdî at Museiyib."
     "How shall I get justice from the Kâdî?" wailed the peasant. "I have no money."
     The rejoinder struck me as correct, and I sent one of the zaptiehs back with the lawful owner of the cow, telling him to catch the thief if he were still upon the road and I would give a reward. The zaptieh re-joined us while we were lunch- HASUA   p.175 / ing at the khân of Hasua, but he had not seen the cow, nor yet the thief, and perhaps it was unreasonable to expect that the latter should keep to the high road with stolen goods trotting before him. The khân at Hasua is large and built on the Persian plan for Persian pilgrims. We ate our lunch in the shadow of its gateway, and when we came out the sun struck us in the face like a sword. There was nothing to be done but to try and forget it; I summoned Fattûh and drew him into conversation.
     "Oh Fattûh," said I, "is there any justice in the land of the Ottomans?"
     "Effendim," replied Fattûh cautiously, "there is justice and there is injustice, as in other lands. Have I not told you of Rejef Pasha and the thief who stole from me £T28?"
     "No," said I, settling myself expectantly in the saddle.
     "It happened one year that I was in Baghdâd," Fattûh began, "for your Excellency knows that I drive the gentry back and forth between Aleppo and Baghdâd in my carriage, and so it is that I am often in Baghdâd."
     "I know," said I. "Once you sent me some blue and red belts embroidered with gold that you had bought in the bazaars."
     "Is is true," said Fattûh. "One I gave to Zekîyeh, and the others I sent by the post for you and for their Excellencies your sisters. Please God they rejoiced to have them?" he inquired anxiously.
     "They rejoiced exceedingly," I assured him for the fiftieth time; a present that has to be sent by the post is no small thing, and it would be matter for consternation if it did not please. "But what of Rejef Pasha?"
     "Rejef Pasha was Mushîr of Baghdâd," Fattûh picked up his tale. "And God knows he was a just man. Now I had sold my carriage to one who needed it and gave me £T28 for it, which was a good price, for it was old. And as I was walking in the bazaars a thief stole the money from me, and when I put my hand into my pocket, lo, it was empty."
     "Wah, wah!" commiserated the zaptieh.
     "Eh yes," said Fattûh. "Twenty-eight Ottoman pounds. p.176 / Now I had heard men speak of Rejef Pasha that he was famed for justice, and I went to him where he sat in the serâyah and said: 'Effendim, I am a man of Aleppo, a stranger in Baghdâd; and a thief has stolen from me £T28. And there are many here who can speak for me.' Then Rejef Pasha sent into the bazaars and all the thieves he arrested."
     "Did he know them all?" I asked.
     "Without doubt," replied Fattûh. "He was Mushîr. And some he questioned and let them go, and others he caused to be beaten upon the soles of their feet with rods, and them too he released, until only three men remained, and then only one. And Rejef Pasha said: 'This is the thief.' Then they cast him upon the ground and beat him many times, and every time when they had beaten him till he could bear no more, he cried out: 'Cease the beating, and I will give back the money.' But when they ceased he said he had not so much as a mejîdeh. Then one of the soldiers caught him by the leg to throw him to the ground, and the man's garment tore in his hand, and out of it fell £T26 and rolled upon the floor. But two pounds he had eaten," explained Fattûh. "And Rejef Pasha cast him into prison, and I visited him and lent him £ T1, for he was very poor. and we ate together."
     "Did you see him again?" said I, deeply interested in this simple history.
     "Eh, wallah!" replied Fattûh. "I met him in Deir, and there I feasted him in the bazaar. And now he lives in Deir, and I go to his house whenever I pass through the town, for we are like brothers. But he has not returned me the pound I lent him while he was in prison," added Fattûh regretfully.
     "Mâshallah!" said the zaptieh. "Rejef Pasha was a good man."
     "But I will tell you another tale of Rejef Pasha, better than the last," pursued Fattûh, drawing, with the perfect art of the narrator, upon yet choicer stores of his memory — or was it of his imagination? "Effendim, I had a friend, and he hired from me one of my carriages that he might drive a certain daftardâr from Aleppo to Baghdâd. Now at Ramâdî MAHMUDIYAH   p.177 / the daftardâr spent two nights in the house of the son of his uncle, and when they reached Baghdâd the daftardâr searched in his box for the gold ornaments of his wife, and, look you, they were missing. And they cost £T60. Then the daftardâr said that the carriage driver had stolen them, and he caused him to be imprisoned for a period of three years. And soon after, I came to Baghdâd and inquired concerning my carriage; and a man in the bazaar told me that which had befallen, but I did not believe that my friend had stolen the gold ornaments of the daftardâr's wife. And the man in the bazaar said: ' You are his friend, and moreover you are a walad melîh, a good lad, and he has a wife and two little children in Aleppo. You will not let him starve in prison.' And when I heard him call me a walad melîh and thought upon the children in Aleppo, I went away and sold my two carriages for £T60, and set my friend free. And then," Fattûh continued his gratifying reminiscences, "I went to a scribe in the bazaar and gave him half a mejîdeh. And your Excellency knows that a scribe charges one piastre. And I said: 'Take this half mejîdeh and write a letter to Rejef Pasha that shall be worthy to be sent to the Sultan and explain to him the whole matter.' So the scribe wrote the letter, and I took it to the serâyah. Then Rejef Pasha called me before him, for he had not forgotten me, nor the £T28 that were stolen by the thief. And he said: 'My son, do not fear. I will get back your money if I have to pay from the treasure of our Lord the Sultan.' And he sent for the daftardâr and rebuked him for committing a man to prison without evidence, for he said that without doubt the gold ornaments had been stolen at Ramâdî. And the daftardâr paid me back £T60. Never was there a pasha like Rejef Pasha," concluded Fattûh. 'He feared none but God. God give him peace — he died a year ago."
     Late in the afternoon we came to Mahmûdîyeh. The baggage got in half-an-hour afterwards, and found me established in the upper room of a khân which Jûsef had noted down as he passed through on his way to Kerbelâ as "the very place for our effendi." The room was cooler than a p.178 / tent, and to sit in the shade and drink tea seemed to me to be the consummation of earthly happiness. My lodging opened on to a flat roof on which I dined, and realized that the more intolerably blasting the day, the more perfect was the soft and delicate night. The khânjî, when he heard that we were bound for Ctesiphon, declared that the Tigris was in flood and the road under water. We stood aghast, seeing a second enemy flow into the field just as we had circumvented the first, but a Kurdish zaptieth (his name was 'Abdu'l Kâdir) stepped up with a smart salute and bade us take courage, for he would lead us to Ctesiphon. He was as good as his word; there was, in fact, no water on the road. We reached the mounds of Seleucia in three hours, and in another half-hour camped by the Tigris under the ruined wall of the Greek city. The Tigris, where we came to it, was a mighty stream and a well-conducted. It flowed solemnly between its low banks, which it did not attempt to overstep, in spite of the fact that the snows were beginning to melt in the Kurdish hills and the river was in flood. A belt of cultivation ran like a narrow green ribbon beside it, intersected by a network of irrigation canals which were fed by a regiment of jirds along the bank. The whole area of Seleucia was covered with corn, but half-a-mile inland the relentless desert resumed its rule, for the crops that had been sown beyond the irrigation streams, in expectation of the usual sprinkling of winter rain, had never sprouted. Out of the cornfields rose the mounds of Seleucia, the capital of the Seleucid empire, which for two hundred years after the death of Alexander embraced Mesopotamia, North Syria and a varying part of Asia Minor. Of all cities in Turkey, Seleucia is perhaps the one which would yield most to the spade of the excavator. The Greek civilization of the Diadochi has given up few of its secrets in any of the regions where the generals of Alexander cut their empires out of the fruits of his victories, but in Mesopotamia we are completely ignorant of what the Greek conquest may have meant in the history of architecture and the lesser arts. We know only that at the end of the period of Greek rule the arts emerged profoundly CTESIPHON   p.179 / modified, and thus modified governed the late antique and the early Christian world.
     I had no sooner appointed a camping-ground than I embarked on the broad waters of the Tigris in a basket. The craft that navigate that river are known in Arabic as guffahs, but I have applied to them the correct English word (Fig. 110). They are round with an incurving lip, like any other basket, made of plaited withes and pitched without and within to keep them water-tight. Their size and the pitch alone differentiate them from their fellows in the European market, and I readily admit that when first you are invited to cross a deep and rapid stream in a guffah you feel a shadow of reluctance. But for all their unpromising appearance they are stout and trustworthy vessels, and when you have crossed once, you and your zaptieh and your mares all in the same guffah, and accustomed yourself to its peculiar mode of progression, you come to feel a justifiable confidence in it. The guffah cannot make headway against stream; it must be pulled up the river to a distance considerably above the point you design to touch on the opposite bank — the two guffahjîs push off, the basket spins upon its axis, and so spinning advances, on the principle of the moon's advance across space, or, for that matter, of the earth's; the guffahjîs paddle with a genteel nonchalance, first on one side and then on the other, and at the end of all you reach your goal.
     My goal was Ctesiphon (Fig. 107). The huge fragment of the palace, which is all that remains of the Sassanian capital, successor and heir to Seleucia, lies about half-a-mile from the river on the edge of a reed-grown marsh. No more of it is standing than the central vaulted hall (and here half the vault has fallen) and the east wall of one of the wings (Fig. 108). The second wing has disappeared, and nothing is left of the rooms on either side of the hall1 (Fig. 109).

   1 The foundations were, however, traced by Dieulafoy, who has indicated them in his plan : L'Art ancien de la Perse, Vol. V. When he first visited Ctesiphon, the east wall of both wings and all the vault of the hall were perfect.

Even in this condition Ctesiphon is the most remarkable of all known p.180 / Sassanian buildings and one of the most imposing ruins in the world. The great curtain of wall, the face of the right wing, rises stark and gaunt out of the desert, bearing upon its surface a shallow decoration of niches and engaged columns which is the final word in the Asiatic treatment of wall spaces, the end of the long history of artistic endeavour which began with the Babylonians and was quickened into fresh vigour by the Greeks. Tradition has it that the whole wall was covered with precious metals. The gigantic vault, built over empty space without the use of centering beams, is one of the most stupendous creations of any age. It spans 25.80 metres: the barrel vaults of the basilica of Maxentius in the Roman Forum span 23.50 metres; the barrel vault that covered the aula of Domitian's palace on the Palatine spanned 30.40 metres, but it has fallen. The Roman vaults were built over centering beams, not over space on the Mesopotamian system, and the latter, what with the appeal which it makes to the imagination and the high ovoid curve which it involves, gives a result incomparably more impressive. In this hall Chrosroes held his court. It must have lain open to the rising sun, or perhaps the entrance was sheltered by a curtain which hung from the top of the vault down to the floor. The Arab historian, Tabarî, gives an account of a carpet seventy cubits long and sixty cubits broad which formed part of the booty when the Mohammadans sacked the city. It was woven into the likeness of a garden; the ground was worked in gold and the paths in silver; the meadows were of emeralds and the streams of pearls; the trees, flowers and fruits of diamonds and other precious stones. Such a texture as this may have been drawn aside to reveal the Great King seated in state in his hall of audience, with the light of a thousand lamps, suspended from the roof, catching his jewelled tiara, his sword and girdle, illuminating the hangings on the walls and the robes and trappings of the army of courtiers who stood round the throne.
     The pages of the historian who relates the Mohammadan conquest of Ctesiphon ring still with the triumph of that victory. The Sassanian capital comprised both the old Greek

Illustrations opposite p.180 ]

Ctesiphon, from east

Ctesiphon, from west

Illustration opposite p.181 ]

Ctesiphon, remains of vault on west side of south wing

CTESIPHON   p.181 / foundation on the west bank of the river and the later Persian town with its palaces on the east bank.1

   1 It was founded by Anushirwân the Just after he had taken Antioch of Syria in 540. He transported the inhabitants of Antioch to the Tigris and settled them opposite Seleucia in a new city which is said to have been built on the plan of Antioch. Le Strange : Lands of the Eastern Caliphate, p. 33.

Sa'd ibn abi Wakkâs, the leader of the army of Islâm, had little to fear from the last of the Sassanian kings, Yazdegird, a boy of twenty-one, and having entered the western city (known to the Arabs as Bahurasîr) without striking a blow, he assembled his troops and, Kurân in hand, pointed to the fulfilment of prophecy: "Did ye not swear aforetime that ye would never pass away? Yet ye inhabited the dwellings of a people that had dealt unjustly by their own souls, and ye saw how we dealt with them. We made them a warning and an example to you."2

   2 Sûrah, XIV. vs. 46. The Arabs called the double town Medâin, the cities, but Tabarî uses the name for the eastern city and describes the western as Bahurasir. I have abridge Tabari's account of the siege from the text of de Goeje's edition, Vol. V., Prima Series, under the years 15 and 16 A.H.

"And when the Moslems entered Bahurasîr, and that was in the middle of the night, the White Palace flashed upon them. Then said Dirâr ibn u'l Khattâb: 'God is great! the White Palace of Chosroes! This is what God and his Prophet promised.' "3

   3 The White Palace is not represented by the existing ruin on the east bank, which was known to the Arabs as Aywân Kisrâ, the hall of Chosroes. The White Palace was also on the left bank, but about a mile higher up. It had disappeared by the beginning of the tenth century. Le Strange, op. cit., p. 34.

     But the fording of the Tigris was a serious matter, and some days passed before Sa'd announced to the army that he had resolved to make the venture. "And all of them cried: ' God has resolved on the right path for us and for thee; act thou.' And Sa'd urged the people to the ford and said: ' Who will lead, and guard for us the head of the ford that the people may follow him?' And 'Âsim ibn 'Amr came forward and after him six hundred men. And he said: ' Who will go with me and guard the head of the passage p.182 / that the people may ford?' And there came forward sixty. And when the Prsians saw what they did, they plunged into the Tigris against them and swam their horses towards them. And 'Âsim they met in the forefront, for he had neared the head of the ford. Then said 'Âsim: ' The spears! the spears! aim them at their eyes.' And they joined in contest and the Moslems aimed at their eyes and they turned back towards the bank. And the Moslems urged on their horses against them and caught them on the bank and killed the greater part of them; and he who escaped, escaped one eyed. And their horses trembled under them until they broke from the ford. And when Sa'd saw 'Âsim at the head of the ford he said: ' Say: We call upon the Lord and in Him we put our trust and excellent is the Entrusted; there is no power nor strength but in God, the Exalted, the Almighty.' And when Sa'd entered Madâin and saw it deserted, he came to the hall of Chosroes and began to read: ' How many gardens and fountains have they left behind, cornfields and fair dwellings and delights which were theirs; thus we dispossessed them thereof and gave their possession for an inheritance unto another people.' And he repeated the opening prayer and made eight prostrations. And he chose the hall for a mosque; and in it were effigies in plaster of men and horses and they heeded them not but left them as they were, though the Mohammadans do not so. And we entered Madâin and came to domed chambers filled with baskets; and we thought them to be food, and lo, they were overflowing with gold and silver. And they were divided among the people. And we found much camphor and thought it to be salt, and kneaded it into the bread, until we perceived the bitterness of it in the bread. And Zuhrah ibn u'l Hawîyeh went out with the vanguard and pursued the fugitives till he reached the bridge of Nahrwân; and the fugitives crowded upon it and a mule fell into the water, and they struggled round it greedily. And Zuhrah said: ' Verily, I believe, billah, that the mule bears something precious.' And that which it bore was the regalia of Chosroes, his robes and his strings of pearls, his girdle and his armour covered CTESIPHON   p.183 / with jewels, in which he was wont to sit, vaingloriously attired." . . .
      In the grey dawn I returned to Ctesiphon. The moon was setting in the west and as we floated down the river the sun rose out of the east and struck the ruined hall of the palace.
      "Allah, Allah!" murmured 'Abdu'l Kâdir, moved to wonder as he watched the vast walls, in their unmatched desolation, take on the glory of another day.
       We rode up to Baghdâd along the edge of the Tigris, and as we went, Fattûh, who thought little of ruins except as a divertisement for the gentry, dilated upon the splendours that we were to witness. Especially was he anxious that I should not fail to see the famous cannon which stands near the arsenal, chained to the ground lest it should fly away. "For," said Fattûh, "the people of Baghdâd relate that in a certain year there was a great battle at a distance of many days' journey. Now the soldiers of Baghdâd were giving way before the enemy when one looked up and saw the cannon flying through the air to their help. And without the aid of hands it fired at the army of the foe and drove them back. Then they brought the cannon back with them and chained it by the arsenal, for they prized it mightily. So I have heard in Baghdâd."
      "And what do you think of the story?" I asked.
      "My lady," said Fattûh with a fine show of contempt, "the people of Baghdâd are very ignorant. They will believe anything. But we in Aleppo would laugh if we were told that a cannon had flown through the air."
      Every few hundred yards we came upon the deep cutting of an irrigation canal and our road passed over it airily, borne on the most fragile of bridges. At first I could scarcely control my alarm as I saw rider and baggage animals suspended above the gulf, but the horses made light of it and no one can keep up a fear that is unshared by his comrades. We were fortunate in finding all the bridges intact, but our good luck deserted us in the middle of the day, and when we came to Garârah, where we hoped to cross the Tigris by a p.184 / bridge of boats, we found that the bridge had been swept away and the keeper of the toll-house seemed surprised to learn that we had expected it to stand firm in time of flood. So we turned wearily round an immense bend of the Tigris and entered Baghdâd by the Hilleh road (Fig. 111). Here the pontoon bridge had been mercifully spared; it was crowded with folk, and as we pushed our way slowly across it I had time to offer up a short thanksgiving for the first stage of a journey successfully accomplished, new roads traversed, unvisited sites explored, another web of delightful experiences woven and laid by. At the end of the bridge we found ourselves in the bazaars and made our way to the British Residency. It is a pleasant thing to be English and to see the Sikh guard leap to the salute at the gateway of that palace by the Tigris which is our much-envied Consulate General. My thanksgiving must certainly have broken into a hymn of praise when I found that the hospitable Resident and his wife were expecting my arrival and had prepared for me a room almost as spacious as the hall of Chosroes.
     At Baghdâd I learnt that the rumours of a revolt which had reached Babylon fell far short of the truth. Two of the Tigris tribes were up in arms and had effectually blocked all communication with Basrah and the Persian Gulf. They were holding up five steamers at Amârah, together with a couple of gunboats, which had been sent down to clear the channel, and over two thousand soldiers. Among the passengers was Sir William Willcocks, who was at that time engaged on the irrigation survey, and the disturbance had therefore become a matter of grave concern to the Resident and to all others who had the interests of Turkey at heart. During the few days which I spent in Baghdâd, I saw many people and heard much talk concerning the state of affairs that prevailed in the delta, and I came to the conclusion that the government were garnering the ripe fruit both of their inaction and of their action. On the one hand, the Arab tribes had been allowed to reach an alarming excess of insubordination. For three years the boats of the Turkish and of the Lynch Company had been exposed to perpetual danger of attack, and in 1908 one of the steamers of the Lynch

Illustrations opposite p.184 ]

Guffahs opposite the wall of Seleucia

Baghdad, the lower bridge

Illustrations opposite p.185 ]

Baghdad, tomb of Sitt Zobeideh

Baghdad, interior of spire, Sitt Zobeideh

BAGHDAD   p.185 / Company had been fired upon and several persons had been killed or wounded. Nevertheless no attempt has been made to bring the sheikhs to justice. In remoter districts, even where the land was under cultivation, the fiction of established government had been for all practical purposes abandoned. Where the tax-gatherers still ventured to put in an appearance they were bribed by the Arabs, and little money flowed through their hands into the imperial treasury, while not infrequently they did not dare to breathe the name of taxes. "The very shepherds are armed with rifles," said one, "and if I were to ask them to pay the aghnâm, the sheep tax, they would raise their guns to their shoulders, saying: ' Take the aghnâm.' " On the other hand, the authorities had sought to cover their weakness by setting one sheikh against another and thus fostering disorder. Individual officials had been guilty of methods of extortion almost unparalleled in the Ottoman empire, and a well-known sheikh had declared with some reason that to pay in the arrears which had been scored up against him would be little better than an act of madness, since the receipt given by one man would be pronounced invalid by the next and the whole sum would be demanded of him a second time. While I pondered over these tales, my interlocutor would generally add: "Wait till you see Môsul. The vilayet of Môsul is worse governed than the vilayet of Baghdâd."
     The one ray of hope for the future sprang from the labours of the irrigation survey whose leader was lying imprisoned in midstream at Amârah. "He who holds the irrigation canals, holds the country," is a maxim which can be applied as well to Mesopotamia as it was to Egypt, and it was generally admitted that an irrigation system, justly administered, would be a better means of coercion than an army corps. The Arabs depend for their existence upon the river-side crops; the control of the water and the possibility of turning it off at any moment would prove an effective check on revolt. Moreover the man who has something to lose is never on the side of anarchy; prosperity is the best incentive to orderliness, and prosperity might in time be brought back to districts which had been for many ages the richest in the world. The p.186 / native of 'Irâk, gazing upon the empty desert which now meets his eye, is accustomed to allude proudly to the days when "a cock could hop from house to house all the way from Basrah to Baghdâd," and the saying illustrates the fundamental truth that the present poverty-stricken condition of the land is due not to the niggardliness of nature, but to the destructive folly of man. The forerunner of effective reform must always be honest administration, and how was that to be attained where corruption was as natural as the drawing in of the breath? Even to this, perhaps the most critical of all the questions that beset the new government, there seemed to me to exist the germs of an answer in the growth and free expression of popular opinion. In Baghdâd the public mind was on the alert and the public tongue was no longer to be silenced. One day when I went down into the bazaars I heard on every lip the rumour that a noted Arab from one of the rebellious tribes had arrived in the town, his hands filled with gold which he was prepared to transfer to those of a certain high military authority. The next day the tale was in the local papers, the official was mentioned by name, and if it were indeed true that the Arab had been sent on the mission with which he was credited, his distinguished patron would have found it hard to accept the money intended for him and impossible to carry out his part in the proposed bargain. But the press, though it was as yet inefficient enough, was the best asset of the new order. Not even the most optimistic could assert that constitutional government had taken deep root in Baghdâd. The local committee was a negligible quantity, and men of all creeds were persuaded that the revolution was still to come and that it would come with bloodshed. But it must be added that when the news of the counter-revolution in Constantinople reached Baghdâd, not a finger was lifted nor a voice heard to support anything that would approach to a return to the old régime, and the military authorities of Baghdâd were among those who telegraphed to the Committee with offers of assistance when the fate of the latter hung in the balance.
     Here as elsewhere the chief bar to progress was the political  BAGHDÂD   p.187 / fatalism of the people themselves. But amid the universal scepticism there was one section of the community which showed a desire to profit by the advantages which had been promised. The Jews form a very important part of the population, rich, intelligent, cultivated and active. One example of their attitude towards the new order will be enough to show their quality. It had been given out that all the subjects of the Sultan would ultimately be called upon to perform military service; the law (which has since been passed) had not yet assumed a definite shape and many were of the opinion that it would be found impossible to frame it. Not so the Jews of Baghdâd. As soon as the idea of universal service had been conceived, a hundred young men of the Jewish community applied for leave to enter the military school so that they might lose no time in qualifying to serve as officers. The permission was granted, and I trust that they may now be well on the road to promotion. The Christians showed no similar desire to take up the duties of the soldier. On the contrary, all those who were in arrears with the payment of their exemption money hastened to make good the sum due, that they might show that they had fulfilled their obligations under the old system and claim acquittal from those imposed by the new.
     I heard these tales by snatches as I explored Baghdâd and tried to reconstitute the city which had been for five centuries the capital of the Abbâsid khalifs, a period during which it had witnessed a magnificence as profuse and destruction as reckless as any others on the pages of history. Of the original Mohammadan foundation, Mansûr's Round City, built in A.D. 762 on the right bank of the Tigris, no vestige remains.1.

   1 Bricks stamped with Nebuchadnezzar's name have been found along the quays, and there was a flourishing Persian Baghdâd on the west bank of the Tigris towards the end of the Sassanian period. The chief authority for the history of Baghdâd is Mr. Le Strange's admirable book, Baghdâd during the Abbâsid Caliphate, which has made it possible to understand the very complicated topography of the town.

The site of the great quarters which sprung up to north and south of the Round City are marked only by the tomb of p.188 / Sheikh Ma'rûf and the celebrated Shi'ah sanctuary of Kâzimein. The west bank is at present occupied by a small modern quarter, about and below the pontoon bridge which we crossed when we arrived. As early as Mansûr's time a palace had been built on the east side of the river and the eastern city gradually eclipsed the western in importance. But it did not occupy the site of modern Baghdâd; it lay to the north of the present town and the sole relic of it is the shrine of Abu Hanîfah in the village of Mu'azzam, which is now situated some distance to the north of Baghdâd. Finally the existing town grew up round the palaces of the later khalifs, and its walls and gates are the same as those which were seen and described by Ibn Jubeir in the twelfth century. It no longer fills the circuit of those walls; between them and the modern houses there are large empty spaces which were once occupied by streets and gardens. I drove out one windy morning to the village of Mu'azzam and gazed respectfully from a house-top at the tiled dome which covers the tomb of the Imâ Abu Hanîfah. He was the founder of the earliest of the four orthodox sects of the Sunnis and he aided Mansûr in the building of Baghdâd. Even in Ibn Jubeir's time the city had retreated from the shrine and he describes it as lying far outside the walls, as it does to-day. We then crossed the Tigris by an upper bridge of boats and visited the Kâzimein. Here too a village has sprung up round the sanctuary which shelters the remains of the seventh and ninth Shî'ah Imâms.1

   1 It is perhaps unnecessary to explain that the Shî'ahs regard 'Ali ibn abu Tâlib, who lies buried at Nejef, as the only lawful khalif. He and his eleven immediate heirs are known as the Twelve Imâms, the twelfth being Muhammad III al Mahdî, who is credited with having been concealed in a cave at Sâmarrâ whence he will emerge at the end of days and re-establish the true faith.

The place is now purely a Shî'ah shrine, though its original sanctity was due to the fact that somewhere in this region stood the tomb of Ibn Hanbal, the founder of the last of the four orthodox Sunni sects. His tomb still existed when Ibn Batûtah visited Baghdâd in 1327, but it fell subsequently into ruin and has now disappeared. No infidel is permitted to enter a Shî'ah mosque, and it is well not to linger with too BAGHDÂD   p.189 / great a show of interest at the gates, so as to avoid the ignominy, which you are helpless to avert, of being hustled out of the way by a fanatical crowd. I went therefore to a neighbouring building, the tomb of Sir Ikbâl ed Dauleh, brother to the king of Oudh, and begged the wakîl to allow me to look upon the Kâzimein from his roof. The wakîl, the guardian of Sir Ikbâl's tomb, was a charming and cheerful mullah, dressed in long robes and a white turban. He turned a friendly eye upon me, partly out of the innate sociability of his character, and partly in view of the fact that I was a fellow subject of his departed master. Not only did he grant my request, but he presented me with a bunch of pomegranate flowers and entertained me with coffee and sherbet.
     "Why," said he, "do you travel so far?"
     I replied that I had a great curiosity to see the world and all that lay therein.
     "You are right," he answered. "Man has but a short while to live, and to see everything is a natural desire. But few have time to accomplish it — what would you? we are but human." And he drew his robe round him and sipped contentedly at the sherbet, repeating as he did so his elegy on the race: "Insân ! we are human."
     With that he turned his attention to the things of this brief world and gave me his opinion of a high official of the empire. "He is mad," he declared, "majnûn."
     "He is a man of books rather than of deeds," said I, for I knew the official in question and held him in respect.
     "That is what I call majnûn," replied the mullah sharply.
     When I had finished the sherbet I took my leave and went to the tomb of Sheikh Ma'rûf, who was a contemporary of Hârûn er Rashîd and by origin a Christian, but having professed Islâm he became noted as the ascetic of the age and the imâm of his time. He was one of the four saints who by their intercessions protected Baghdâd, however inadequately, from the approach of evil. The existing tomb, though it has frequently been repaired, probably covers the very site of the earliest shrine. It is surrounded by a large cemetery in which stands a building known as the tomb of p.190 / the Sitt Zobeideh, the wife of Hârûn er Rashîd (Fig. 112). The attribution does not appear earlier than 1718 and is undoubtedly erroneous. The Princess Zobeideh was buried in the Kâzimein, her tomb has long been destroyed and its exact site forgotten.1

   1 The whole argument is given by Le Strange, Baghdâd, p. 160 et seq., and pp. 351-2.

A very cursory inspection of the architecture is enough to prove that the building near the tomb of Ma'rûf cannot date from the ninth century.2

   2 From its relation to similar buildings (for instance at Hadîthah on the Euphrates and at Dûr on the Tigris) in places which probably flourished until the time of the Mongol invasion, i.e. towards the end of the thirteenth century, I should, however, place the tomb of Sitt Zobeîdeh earlier than 1360

It has been in great part reconstructed and contains nothing of architectural interest except the form of its cone-like roof, narrowing upwards by a series of superimposed alveolate niches or squinches (Fig. 113). I have never seen any roof of this kind which could be dated as early as the ninth century.
     In the city on the east bank, the modern Baghdâd, by far the most interesting relic of the age of the khalifs is the line of the enclosing wall with its gates. The wall itself is largely destroyed, but its position is marked by a mound and a deep ditch; of the gates the two on the eastern side are the best preserved. One of these, the Bâb et Tilism, is dated by a fine inscription of the Khalif Nâsir in the year A.H. 618 (A.D. 1221) (Fig. 114). It is a splendid octagonal tower, but the door has been walled up ever since the Sultan Murâd IV, the Turkish conqueror of Baghdâd, rode through it in triumph in the year 1638. Round the top of this closed gateway runs a remarkable decoration consisting of a pair of dragons with the wreathed bodies of serpents (Fig. 115). They confront one another with open jaws above the summit of the pointed arch and between them sits cross-legged a small figure with a hand outstretched into each gaping mouth. The serpent motive is not unknown in the decoration of Islâm; it appears, as has been said, upon the gateway of the citadel of Aleppo, where the inscription in [lit.] dated in the year 1209. I have seen it upon

Illustrations opposite p.190 ]

Baghdad, Bab et Tilism

Baghdad, detail of ornament, Bab et Tilism

Illustration opposite p.191 ]

Baghdad, minaret in Suk el Ghazl
FIG. 116.—BAGHDÂD, MINARET IN SÛK EL GHAZL.   (enlargement)

BAGHDÂD   p.191 / many a lintel of the churches in and near Môsul, which are generally to be dated in the thirteenth century and owe their decorative motives entirely to the arts of Islâm. There the snakes are sometimes combined with the cross-legged figure, precisely as at Baghdâd, and frequently the figure appears seated between a pair of rampant lions. I am inclined to regard the whole snake-and-figure or lion-and-figure scheme as Inner Asiatic, possibly it is due to Chinese influence. The seated figure, as has been noticed by de Beylié,1

   1 See de Beylié: Prome et Samara, p. 34.

bears a curious resemblance to the Buddha type, and at Môsul the affinities with early Buddhist motives are even more strongly accentuated in the art of the thirteenth century. The second of the eastern gates, the Bâb el Wustânî, consists also of a domed octagonal chamber outside the wall, connected with the city by a low bridge, with walls on either hand, that leads across the moat. The dome, set on eight niches, is a fine piece of construction.
     Within the town the traces of the Baghdâd that existed before the Mongol invasion are woefully scanty. There is a beautiful minaret in the Sûk el Ghazl (Fig. 116) which is dated by an inscription of the Khalif Mustansir in the year 1236,2

   2 Mr. Le Strange gives good reasons for believing that Mustansir did not found the mosque to which this minaret belongs, but that it is no other than the Jâmi' el Kasr, built by the Khalif el Muktafi (A.D. 902) as a Friday Mosque adjoining the palace of his father Mu'tadid. The palace was known as the Kasr et Tâj, the Palace of the Crown: Baghdâd, p. 269.

and at the end of the lower pontoon bridge stand considerable remains of the Mustansirîyeh College, completed by the Khalif Mustansir in the year 1233 and now used as a custom house. A splendid inscription of Mustansir runs along the wall facing the river to the north of the bridge. Behind the wall there are parts of a court with ruined chambers round it, and to the south of the bridge I was conducted through another series of chambers which look as if they had belonged to a bath. The mastery of structural problems shown by the architects of Islâm in the thirteenth century is nothing short p.192 / of amazing. Every trace of decoration has disappeared from the walls of these buildings, yet the admirable quality of the brick masonry and the feats performed in the vaulting make the half-ruined halls as beautiful as a palace. The octagonal rooms are covered by very shallow brick domes set over the angle on squinch arches of patterned brick.1

   1 These are exactly copied in the domes over the carrefours in the bazaars, which are certainly much later in date.

Square chambers are invariably roofed with four-sided domes, and over long rectangular halls the four-sided dome again appears, the two extremities being parted by a span of absolutely flat brick roof which depends for its solidity upon the excellence of the mortar.2

   2 I have been able to give an illustration of this system from Khân Kheraîna; the chambers at Baghdâd were so dark that photography was almost impossible.

Not far from the custom house is a twelfth-century khân, Khân Orthma,3

   3 Some admirable photographs of it are given by De Beylié, op. cit., p. 33 et seq.

and in the Khâsakî Jâmi' there is a very beautiful mihrâb cut out of a single block of stone.4

   4 A good photograph has been given by Vioilet: Le palais de Al-Moutasim. Mémoires présentés à l'Acad. des Inscrip. et Belles-Lettres , Vol. XII. Part II. Vioilet believes it to have come from a church. See too Hersfeld: "Die Genesis der islamischen Kunst," in Der Islâm, Vol. I. Part I.

Beyond these there was but one other place which I desired to see. I had read5

   5 De Beylié, op. cit., p. 30. He gives several illustrations.

that there existed in the arsenal some fragments of one of the palaces of the khalifs, beautifully decorated with stucco, and accordingly I set out in all innocence to visit them. The arsenal lies at the extreme north end of the bazaar, not far from the northern gate, and to reach it I passed by the khân where my servants and horses had found a lodging. Fattûh and Jûsef were standing at the entrance and they gave me a cordial greeting.
     "Please God," said Fattûh, "your Excellency has seen the cannon which is chained to the ground?"
     I confessed that I did not know where it was to be found.
     "But it is here in the Maidân, close at hand," exclaimed Fattûh, and hurried out to conduct me to the spot. There it BAGHDÂD   p.193 / was, sure enough, a rusty piece of artillery and an ancient, chained to the ground under a big tree. Fattûh gazed upon it with an interest that was not unmixed with contempt.
     "In Aleppo," said he, "we do not chain our cannon."
     At the arsenal I was received by a polite officer to whom I explained my errand. He asked me whether I had brought with me a letter from the English Resident, and I replied that I had not, but that I could easily obtain one.
     "Good," said he. "If you will return to-morrow with the letter you shall see all that you will."
     On the following day I returned, letter in hand. I gave it to a sentry and desired him to convey it to the Commandant, to whom it was addressed. After a due interval an officer descended the stairs below which I was sitting; he regretted, said he, that I could not be shown the palace of the khalifs, it must be for another day. Upon this the hasty European blood, which no amount of sojourning in the East can bring to subjection, rose in revolt, and brushing aside (I blush to relate it) the officer and the sentry, I sprang up the stairs, drew back a heavy leather curtain and burst unannounced into a room filled with distinguished military men. They were, I suppose, the Mesopotamian equivalent for an army council, and if I am not mistaken they were composing themselves to slumber — the hour was the somnolent hour of noon and the day was hot. But my advent galvanized them into wakefulness. They listened with the greatest courtesy to my tale, and when I had finished, one who sat behind a green baize table pronounced judgment.
     "The letter," said he, "is addressed to the Commandant and may be opened by none but he."
     "Effendim," said I, "could it not be given to the Commandant?"
     "Effendim," he replied, "the Commandant Pasha is in his house, asleep, but if you wish I will send the letter."
     I thanked him and begged him to do so, saying that I would go with it.
     The Commandant's house was a stone's throw from the arsenal. I was greeted by a smiling major-domo who said p.194 / that the Commandant should be informed of my arrival, and meantime would I please to look at the lions upon the roof. I agreed to this suggestion — as who would not? — and together we climbed up to the housetop, where a pair of Mesopotamian lions, thin, poor beasts, and ill-conditioned, were confined in an exiguous cage. And they too were spending the midday house in the approved fashion. After we had succeeded in rousing them, I was conducted into the Commandant's reception-room, where the Commandant in full uniform awaited me. We exchanged salutations and sat down.
     "Effendim," said the Commandant, "I trust you were satisfied with the lions."
     I expressed complete satisfaction, mingled with astonishment at finding them upon his roof.
     "They are now rare," said the Commandant. "I had them captured in the swamps near Amârah while they were yet young."
     "Effendim," said I, "I have seen them pictured upon the ancient stones of the Assyrians."
     "Indeed!" he replied. "They were no doubt more plentiful in the days of the Assyrians." At this point coffee was handed to us, and I ventured to put forward my request.
     "Effendim," I said, "I would now gaze upon the rooms of the khalifs in the arsenal, if your Excellency permit."
     The Commandant took a moment for reflection and then gave me his answer. It was in three parts. He said, firstly, that those rooms were much ruined and not worth seeing, secondly, that they were full of military stores, and thirdly, that they did not exist. I recognized at once that I had lost the game, and having thanked the Commandant for his kindness, I bade him farewell. So it came about that I never set eyes on what remains of the palace of the khalifs, but I did not realize till afterwards that the clue to the whole situation had been the military stores, the most jealously guarded of all the treasures of the Turkish empire. And upon reflection my sympathies are with the Commandant, the lions and the military council.
     Besides the great shrines at the Kâzimein and Mu'azzam, BAGHDAD   p.195 / there is a much-frequented place of pilgrimage which lies within the area of the modern city. It is the mosque and tomb of 'Abdu'l Kâdir, the founder of the Kâdirîyeh sect of dervishes, a widespread order which has many votaries in India. 'Abdu'l Kâdir died in Baghdâd in 1253; his tomb was erected a few years before the Mongol invasion, and is therefore one of the last of the buildings that fell within the days of the Abbâsid Khalifate. Connected with the mosque is a large tekîyeh, a house for the lodging of pilgrims, richly endowed and visited by the pious from all parts of the world. The ordering of this establishment, the distribution of its funds and the cares of its maintenance rest upon the descendants of 'Abdu'l Kâdir. The head of the family, who is known by the name of the Nakîb, a title of honour applied to the chief of a tribe, is an important person in Baghdâd, lord of great possessions and still greater sanctity — important, too, to us, since his tekîyeh is the resort of many subjects of our empire. As I was strolling through the streets I happened to pass by the gateway of his house opposite to the tekîyeh. The Residency kawwâs, who was my guide (and very efficient he proved himself), stopped short and said, "Does not your Excellency wish to visit the Nakîb?" Before I could answer he had addressed himself to the gatekeeper and informed him that a beg who was staying with the Resident stood at the door, and in another moment I was ushered into the garden and into the presence of its master. The Nakîb was taking the air under his orange-trees. He received me with cordiality and appeared to regard the introduction of the kawwâs as a sufficient basis for acquantance. After compliments had passed between us, he gathered his cloak round him, mounted the stairs and led me into a cool upper chamber furnished with a divan. "Bismillah!" said he as we sat down upon the cushions, "in the name of God." Conversation came easily to the Nakîb, and the two hours which I spent with him passed lightly away. hearing that I was interested in antiquities he gave me a short sketch of the history of the world, beginning with the days of Hammurabi and ending with our own times, during the course of p.196 / which he proved that all human culture had originated in Asia. He then turned to a review of the English rule in Egypt, and I pricked up my ears, for it is not often that a high dignitary of Islâm will give his impartial opinion on such subjects. He had nothing but good to say of our administration, and he deplored the unpopularity into which it had fallen. According to him this unpopularity dated from the Denshâwî incident. He detailed the events that had taken place at Denshâwî in the version under which they have become known to Asia, a version irreconcilable with the facts, though it was repeated by the Nakîb in all good faith and with implicit confidence. He said that the whole Mohammadan world had been outraged by the story and had learnt from it to distrust the character of the English. "When you conquered India you won it by love and gentleness" (oh shade of Clive and Warren Hastings!), "thus showing how excellent was your civilization; but when we heard that at Denshâwî you had shot down women and children, we knew that you had fallen from your lofty place." I did not attempt to answer these charges; it would have been useless, for the Nakîb would not have believed me — and had not some of my country-people brought similar accusations against their own officers? — but I would point here a simple moral. It is that Islâm is like a great sounding board stretched across Asia. Every voice goes up to it and reverberates back; every judgment pronounced in anger, every misrepresentation, comes down from it magnified a thousandfold. At the end of the interview the Nakîb sent one of his servants with me to show me the tekîyeh. It is a very remarkable sight. Thousands of pilgrims can be lodged in the two-storeyed rooms which surround the broad courts, and men of every nationality were washing at the fountain and strolling under the arcades. Such foundations as these are the meeting places of Islâm; here news is circulated from lip to lip, here opinions are formed, here the Mohammadan faith realizes its unity.
     The day before I left Baghdâd was Easter Sunday, Yaum el Âzirah as it is popularly called, the Day of the Silk BAGHDÂD   p.197 / Mantles, on account of the gorgeous garments worn by the Christian women. They walked through the streets dressed in cloaks of every soft and brilliant hue, woven in exquisitely contrasting colours. The Greek Catholic church, where I went to Mass, looked like a garden of tulips, but one of the priests, an Austrian by nationality, whom I met as I came away, deplored the scene and said that his congregation thought of nothing but clothes and adornments. The Catholic community is increasing, so he told me; when he came to Baghdâd eleven years ago it numbered but 4,000, and now he reckoned it at 10,000. He proposed that I should see the school, which was close at hand, and accompanied me thither to introduce me to one of his colleagues, a French father. It was an exalted moment at the school; the black-eyed children were sitting in rows upon the floor and eating their Sunday breakfast. Usually this breakfast consists of the simplest fare, but on the Day of the Silk Mantles there are bowls of steaming hot crushed grain and succulent chunks of meat, a feast to satisfy the children of kings.
     With this I returned to the roses and green lawns of the Residency garden, to dream of brightly-robed women and far-travelled pilgrims, of the clash and contest of creeds, and of truth, which lies somewhere concealed behind them all.