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JOURNEY OVER LAND
DONALD CAMPBELL, ESQ.
MR. CAMPBELL for some time commanded a regiment
of cavalry in the service of the nabob of the Carnatic, by whom he was allowed a pension for his services. A variety of unpropitious circumstances compelled him to leave London in May 1781, and to hasten over land to India. His adventures and observations were written in a series of letters addressed to his son.
Having crossed the continent of Europe, he embarked at Trieste for Alexandria. Here he had the misfortune to lose his servant, whom he had sent back to Venice for letters, and from whose honesty and activity he expected much during the journey. Having touched at the island of Zante, he there resigned himself to melancholy. “I now felt,' says he, the disquietude of domestic embarrassment--the bitterness of separation from all I loved the solitary sadness of my situation, wandering through unknown countries--myself unknown and unfriended-aggravated at length by the loss of my servant, who was a sort of prop to my spirits--and my being cast into a ship among a people whose language I little
understood, without any soul or one circumstance to mitigate my sorrow, or console me under it; all these, I say, had wound up my feelings to the highest pitch of fortune- More miserable I could not be when the island of Zante received me, and, for the first time for a sad series of days, raised me with the transporting sound of an English voice.
• I have promised, my Frederick, to give you a candid relation, in hopes that you will improve by it: but if I thought that, on the contrary, any thing I said should tend to raise in your mind a sentiment injurious to your principles, or reflective on your father's conduct, but to be an example and admonitory guide to your own, I should condemn my candour and curse the hour that I wrote-but, I trust to your good sense and disposition, with my care to direct them; and shall
, but not without hesitation, proceed. • At the time I set out upon my journey over land to India, I was (though married, and the father of children) very young, naturally of a sanguine constitution: my attachment to the fair sex was no ways diminished by a military education; and a warmth of temper, an ardent sensibility of mind, and a frank unsuspicious disposition, left me but too often to regret the facility with which I yielded to the charms of women.. But the regret for each error was wilfully smothered in vain determinations of amendment---and the promised amendment again broken in upon by some new error. Thus it was, till riper years and circumstances of weight strengthened my reason, and gave it in some greater degree that dominion it should have
actions. • Circumstanced as I have described myself to be, and constituted by nature and education as I have mentioned above, I landed in the charming island of Zante, where Nature berself seems to have conspired against chastity---making the very air breathe nothing but transport and delight. There I met a young lady, a native of England---extremely pretty, highly accomplished, and captivating in the extreme: she had been at Venice for her education--was a complete mistress of music, and expressed an intention of following it professionally on her arrival in England, whither she was
going passenger in a vessel bound there from Zante.
To have accidentally met with a native of England, even of my own sex, in such a distant corner of the world, under such circumstances as mine, just escaped from the horrid life I had for some time led, must have filled me with joy: allowance, therefore, may be made for my feelings on meeting this young lady, and for my thinking of some expedient to prevent our separation. She laboured, perhaps, under the pressure of feelings as disagreeable as my own, and expressed her satisfaction at meeting with a countryman so very unexpectedly. Reserve was soon thrown off on both sides; we entered into a conversation interesting and confidential, which increased my anxiety to keep her with me, and in order to persuade her to accompany me, I pointed out in the strongest colours possible, the great advantages she might derive from her accomplishments in India, where her musical talents alone, exclusive of her various captivating qualities, would be an inexhaustible mine of wealth. In short, I so very eagerly enforced my proposal to accompany me, and time was so very short, that she consented, and in two hours we had arranged every thing for our departure together and here with shame and sorrow I confess (nor shall ever to regret it), that this ecclairecissement communicated the first ray of substantial pleasure to my heart that it felt since I left London.
· Thus far, our project sailed before the wind : wayward imagination had decked it out in the most alluring drapery that fancy could fabricate, and prevented us from seeing the impracticability of it, as it stood in the nakedness of truth; and when it came to be carried into execution, a thousand difficulties occurred, that the wildness of passion, and the warmth of our feelings, had before concealed from our view. In the first place, it was necessarry for her to obtain the consent of a lady to whose care and protection she was committed : in the next place, accommodations were to be procured for her in the same ship with me---a circumstance of most arduous difficulty ; besides which, a variety of other impediments---insuperable indeed--concurred to frustrate our views, and put an end to our project. If my pleasure at
meeting her was great, my anguish at parting with her was inexpressible. I had once more to face the world alone; and, on the second day of my sojourning at Zante, embarked with a heavy heart, and set sail for Alexandria. The last disappointments we undergo, seem always the heaviest ; and this at Zante I thought at that time to be the greatest of my life. But-oh! short-sighted man! bubble of every delusive shadow! I never reflected, as I have since done, what serious mischiefs, what endless misery, what loss of time, means and reputation, I may by that providential disappointment have escaped----for these are the almost never-failing consequences of such affairs. It too often happens, that the syren who deludes a man into her snares, is the very person who inflicts the deadly wound into his heart.'
At Alexandria Mr. Campbell remained 12 days, till weary of the confined state in which he lived on account of the plague, he hired a boat to carry him to Cyprus. In this island, to his sorrow and astonishment, he found an epidemical fever, equal in its effects to the plague, prevailed. “Still, however,' says he, I felt great pleasure in entering Cyprus----it was classic ground, and dedicated to Venus, the queen of love. But a traveller who visits it with the hopes of amusement, will be much disappointed; for in no particular did it seem to me to resemble that Cyprus famed in the heathen story and mythology. Of the Cyprian queen's favours the ladies seemed to boast no one mark, save the most nauseous, disgusting lewdness and the natural fertility of the soil is half lost beneath the oppressive yoke of the servants of the Turkish government. Thus, in the extraordinary revolutions that human affairs are incessantly undergoing, that island which for its superior beauties was supposed to be the residence of love, which gave birth to the philosophers Zeno, Appollonius, and Xenophon, is now a miserable, half-cultivated spot, peopled with a mixture of wretched Turks, Jews, Greeks, and Christians -groaning under the tyranny of a barbarous despotic abuse of delegated power-infested with locusts which devour the fruits of the earth and disgraced by a race of ignominious
women, who esteem it to be an act of religion to prostitute themselves to all strangers.'
From Cyprus our author proceeded to Aleppo, where he was constrained to remain until some means of travelling occurred. “A distant view of this city,' says he, "fills the mind with expectations of great splendour and magnificence. The mosques, the towers, the large ranges of houses with flat roofs, rising above each other, according to the sloping hills on which they stand, the whole variegated with beautiful rows of trees, form altogether a scene magnificent, gay, and delightful: : but, on entering the town, all those expected beauties vanish, and leave nothing in the streets to meet the eye, but a dismal succession of high stone walls, gloomy as the recesses of a convent or state prison, and unenlivened by windows embellished, as with us, by the human face divine. The streets themselves, not wider than some of the meanest alleys in London, overcast by the height of the prison-houses on either side, are rendered still more formidably gloomy by the solitude and silence that pervade them; while here and there a lattice towards the top, barely visible, strikes the soul with the gloomy idea of thraldom, coercion, and imprisonment.
• This detestable mode of building, which owes its origin to jealousy, and the scandalous restraints every man is empowered by the laws and religion of the place to impose upon the women consigned either by sale or birth to his tyranny, extends not to the inside of the houses, many of which are magnificent and handsome, and all admirably suited to the exigencies of the climate, and the domestic customs and manners of living of the inhabitants.
« The city is adorned, it is true, here and there, with mosques and appendant towers, called minarets, from which criers call the faithful to prayers; and in some of the streets there are arches built at certain distances from each other, so as to carry the eye directly through them, and form a vista of considerable grandeur: but all these are far from sufficient to counterbalance the general aspect of gloominess and solitude which reigns over the whole, and renders it so peculiarly