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THE MONASTERY OF VEREH.
obliged by hard work of his body to keep up with the motion of his beast, and perform much the same sort of motion a steersman performs in a boatrace when he wishes to steer fast. The labour of riding is, to one unaccustomed to it, greater than that of walking. The dromedary's pace is softer, and not unpleasant. Some camels it is almost impossible to ride : they swing so much.
In an hour more I reached Shargeldee, a large Armenian village. The people praise the Pasha and his rule : the only thing they could find to grumble at was, that it could not last long. Three and a half hours after starting, during which the road was plain with undulating hills on either side, turned up a wooded gulley and halted, being lifted from my horse and laid on the ground. The Hadjee went in search of milk, which being refused, he inflicted, before I could prevent him, summary punishment. The village of Yarnik, an Armenian one, was here. My pipe had fallen amidst the herbs, which imparted a fragrance to it I never enjoyed before. I reached Merek, a large Christian village built on a hill overhanging the lake, where I encamped.
The monastery here, famed for its festival,
THE CYPRESS APPROPRIATE TO GROVES.
stands a little higher up, prettily situated among some crags.
The building is plain, merely four walls with a low square steeple. There is an old burial-ground here, many of the inscriptions of a date anterior to the schism of the Church. I find the crosses on the oldest ones are merely two crossbones ; then comes a cross with arrow-headed points, and later, a more arabesque one with ornamented devices. The church is dedicated to St. Miriam the Virgin : the keeper of the key lives at a considerable distance, so I was unable to see the interior : it, however, contains little that cannot be seen elsewhere. The festival is one numerously attended.
The graveyard had also several terebinth trees which were used by the Armenians much as the Turks use the cypress; the one, however, wants by a great deal, the picturesque and perfectly appropriate beauty of the other. The cypress, seems to me peculiarly a tree for the grave; there is a solemnity in it—a quiet that marks it for this
It seems to stand a watchful sentinel over the undefended dead : we look up to its lofty spire pointing whither the spirits have flown. Other trees have brighter foliage, others throw
MEDITATIONS AMONG THE TOMBS.
abroad their branches with more wanton verdure : this alone, winter and summer, day and dark night, seems to have an existence apart, never to rejoice him, as others do, but to watch. So much has this tree become to me a sign-post of death, that as one rises before my sight I look below for a clump of brighter verdure, beneath which, shielded, sheltered, screened, may appear the tomb, the short home of the case of the mind. Fancy will then indulge : fiction prunes her wings, and away imagination rides. This was, perhaps, some daughter, fair as the poet's dream, who died in the prime of her virgin bloom ere yet she had learned ill, or man had made her the creature of his will perhaps a wife loved, how loved, taken away in sleep, ere yet the horns of the marriage moon had waned. After all, perhaps it was only some beast, who ate, and drank, and lived, till this lone vault received his well-worn clay.
Island of Chifis Kloster-Axbraf-Myriads of Gnats-Abundance of Aquatic Birds on the Lake-Large Cemetery-Dispute as to its Occupants between the Hadjee and the Armenian-Reflections in Illness-Fascinations of Travel-Spirit of Independence it engenders-Variety of Scene-Girl's Advice to me-' -The Veil, how regarded in ancient times-Disappointed in finding Ruins-Serpent Rocks-Visit from two Priests, who prove Job's comforters-Admiration by Villagers of the Russian Rule-Autana, the Holy Island -The Old Man and his Legends-Past Grandeur-Plain of Ardisch -Swarms of Locusts-Tent pitched in a Prairie-Visit from Isman Bey-His Visit returned-Furniture of his Tent-Shields and Spears of the Koords-Mollah of Komdingars-His Gratitude for a trifling Present-The Hadjee disputes with some Koords-Armenians en Route for the Frontier—Arrive at Patnos-Fight between the Hadjee and a Christian-Its Cause-How settled-Present Appearance of Patnos-Its Buildings-Houses at Karakone-Its present Aspect-Wonder of the ex-Bey that Englishmen should study-Turkish Confidence in Christians as Guards of the HaremIts Cause-Karaka-Difference of Demeanour in Slaves and Freemen-Arrival at Melasquert.
MERIK to a Koordish kislah, one hour beyond Armis, six hours. I skirted along the plain, which is here, perhaps, a mile broad, from the lake to some steep and rocky cliffs, rising fifty or sixty feet high; the plain itself well cultivated. The hills above it produce a rough crop of hay and thistles beneath, the lake, so still, so quiet. We paused opposite the island of Chifis Kloster, with
its few trees and its lone, lifeless, monastic look ; and the pretty town of Aschraf, whose domes and minarets seemed to rise out of the blue lake and float amidst its limpid waters. An hour after starting we descended through a forest of roses to the lake's side, the road lying along the beach.
No pleasure but has its alloy : the road was charming ; the heavy scent of the roses softened by other sweet perfumes grateful to the sense ; yet myriads of gnats literally made the air ring, and the whole caravan were busy fanning them away : even the horses, generally so patient and enduring, were maddened by the bites ; so I felt no regret when we turned up over a dry barren plain, leaving a promontory to run out into the lake. The water here is said to be more salt than in any other portion of the lake : this is probably occasioned by the lake being for miles excessively shallow
; so much so, that here at the northern angle it may almost be waded. The lake here finishes in sedgy bogs, which abound with swans, coots, ducks, and geese. They were little disturbed by my approach, swimming slowly away ; but the hadjee, with an eye to dinner, fired; then the
l whole air was alive with birds ; every sedge and