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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 76

Egypt and Palestine

Egypt and Palestine.

During the time I held office in New Zea- page 48 land I obtained leave of absence at the close of each period of 10 years' service, and took those opportunities to visit parts of Europe and America, to be noticed more particularly farther on; and after my retirement from the colony I took every means afforded me for a few months in each year to become acquainted with the most interesting countries of all the great Continents. Having also been favoured by circumstances in acquiring considerable practical knowledge of the principal European languages, which enabled me to hold pleasant and profitable intercourse with fellow-travellers and inhabitants of places visited, I met with great success on most of my journeys. Next to the attachment felt to our native country and its history, probably most intelligent persons think of the land and the people from whom we have derived our religion, and are constantly brought to mind from our childhood onwards in reading the sacred Scriptures. I was, therefore, inclined to place the Holy Land of Palestine before all others, and I look back with satisfaction on having been able to visit the sacred and classic shores of the countries bordering the Levant (or "Sea of the Sunrise"), whilst they were, to a certain extent, really Oriental both as regards the aspect of the laud and the manners and customs of the inhabitants, when railways and luxurious hotels were unknown, and travellers had to undergo fatigue, and at times to meet the risk of personal maltreatment; because in those page 49 days one seemed to be carried back to primitive times of Biblical history and ancient Story, together with a feeling of adventure and complete change of circumstances from those of ordinary Western life. Thirty years ago travellers in Egypt and Palestine were comparatively few in number, and usually went through the Holy Land in parties, headed by a dragoman, or interpreter and guide, who provided escorts, servants, and all things necessary for sight-seeing and encampments, but at great expense both of time and money. This costly mode of progression did not suit my purse nor the time at my disposal; and I contented myself with the services of one man to show me the way and take care of the horses, finding shelter and food in convents and in native khans, with sometimes kind hospitality at Protestant Mission stations; taking ah escort, or guard only, on parts of the route which were beset with Bedouin Arabs, and somewhat dangerous. From Alexandria I went by a Russian steamer to Jaffa, the ancient Joppa, and spent the first evening on the flat housetop of my lodging, like St Peter, in view of the house of "Simon the Tanner," and over-looking the sea, where fishermen were casting their nets from the rocks. The next evening I spent in a convent on the Plain of Sharon, where I was hospitably received by the monks, and on the second day I came