IT is not quite easy to realise that Alexander William Kinglake was living both one and twenty and one hundred
years ago. The journey that made him famous was undertaken in 1835, and "Eothen" was published in 1844, after
seven years of devoted labour in the course of which the manuscript was twice rewritten. Thereafter Kinglake
was to surrender the leisure of a generation to his laboured History of the Crimean War, to sit in the
House of Commons for more than a decade, to enjoy the friendship of many famous men, and, having lived
prosperously, to die painfully in his eighty-second year. Some few still read that graphic story of the
Crimean campaign; there are men and women who remember the author and can tell you of his idiosyncrasies, his
reserved manner, his gifts as a conversationalist, his long-preserved social reputation. Meredith introduces
him into one of his novels and calls him "the neatest in epigram, the widest of survey." But for the most of
us Kinglake's name stands for "Eothen," and there is enough in that cunningly wrought narrative for any one
 even though the manuscript was returned by many publishers, including John Murray. Here art conceals art,
close-fibred thought and hammered finish lend to each phrase and every period the quality of spontaneity. But
behind all the author's meticulous care are two gifts that should not be lacking in any man who would write
travel books, the first, an enthusiasm for the life described, the second, a sense of humour that is seldom in
Travel is a stern schoolmaster, more stern than Dr Keate who ruled Eton when Kinglake was a lad, but the
saving grace of a sense of humour will turn away most of the penalties that travel inflicts. Even in the West
the sense is useful, in the East it is indispensable, and it informed Kinglake to the finger-tips. He had more
than the usual equipment, for, besides being a scholar, he had fine physique and tolerable health, could ride
far without fatigue, and speak other languages than the one he used with such supreme felicity. A sane mind in
a sound body, brought into relation with incongruities, acts as flint to steel.
Travellers are given to introducing much extraneous matter into their books, it was so with Kinglake, but with
a difference. All his interpellations are shrewd and timely. In a young man, still on the sunny side of his
thirtieth year, sound convictions so well expressed and rank prejudices so readily assumed or confidently
defended are rare, one inclines to think that they were for the most part added in the seclusion of the study
when the desire came to present the travel narrative as a finished work of art. But, in spite of all additions
and emendations, in spite of suavely sounding phrases never turned without close labour, there is a quality of
frankness about "Eothen" that impresses every reader. "As I have felt, so I have written," he says of his
book, and the picture of contemporary life in the Mediterranean, in Palestine, and Syria is full of
fascination that owes not a little to its absolute sincerity.
And his lines were cast in pleasant places. If the sailing vessel, in which he wandered from Smyrna to Beyrout
 Cyprus, spent forty days at sea, surely it was better so to idle round the islands never knowing what the day
would bring forth in the way of meals or gales than to steam under the aegis of a tourist agency after the
most modern fashion, observing a time-table planned for the benefit of hotel-keepers, railway companies, touts
and other necessary evils. The Mediterranean to-day is well-nigh as prosaic as the Serpentine: it has aged
more in the past thirty years than in the three thousand that preceded them. But Kinglake knew "the tideless
dolorous inland sea" while it was still young, and he had all, or most of, the untrammelled enthusiasms of a
lad, with the sort of schooling behind him that lends enchantment to every island in the Greek Archipelago.
Nor did he lack eyes that see beauty in every woman's smile.
Perhaps there are times in which many a man with the gifts, natural or acquired, that Kinglake possessed,
might write a great travel book if the conditions of seventy or eighty years ago could return, and travel call
once more for endurance and individuality; but to-day all the pleasant places of the earth are assailed by an
army of tourists to whom circular notes and the red-covered volumes of the esteemed Baedeker have made all
things plain. Isis has no mysteries, the Sphinx of the Egyptian desert and the ruins of the Acropolis are no
more than backgrounds against which Messrs Brown, Smith & Jones pose to the amateur photographer of the party.
One must go far indeed to savour the sense that stirs our author to the writing of the chapter entitled "My
first Bivouac," the chapter in which he could speak of the journey from Tiberias to Jerusalem as "Eastern
Travels." Palestine, as he saw it, has passed beyond recovery of a personally-conducted generation.
Kinglake had an intense reverence for Paganism and for Christianity, his mind was so constituted that he could
find the beauty in both. The Greek islands were as enchanted as Palestine, and Paphos had for him as many
stimulating thoughts as Nazareth, though he quite mistook his bearings in the search for the ruined Temple of
Paphian Aphrodite. He
 could surrender himself to moods that were born of tradition and imagination, and give himself up to the
supreme enjoyment of the moment, whether it was associated with the scent of the flowers amid the foothills of
Olympus or the mystery of the Sanctuary that is in Galilee. And he could set down the mental associations of
those enchanted moments in language that preserves their life after the lapse of more than seventy years.
In all his descriptive passages Kinglake adjusts finely the delicate balance between freedom and restraint. He
rises to rare heights in moments of inspiration; some of his descriptive writing shows not a superfluous word
or one that could be advantageously replaced, but he does not stay too long in the rarefied atmosphere, and
because he soars but seldom his flights are invariably effective.
The self-consciousness of the literary artist is subdued by a strong sense of honesty throughout the book.
Take, for example, the passage in the chapter on Galilee, when he is looking over the Lake and thinking of
Christ's teaching there. "Ay, ay, but yet again the calm face of the lake was uplifted and smiled upon my eyes
with such familiar gaze that the 'deep, low tones' were hushed—the listening multitudes all passed away,
and instead there came to me a dear old memory from over the seas in England—a memory sweeter than
Gospel to that poor wilful mortal, me."
How few professed English men of letters would have dared to confess that the most spiritual surroundings
cannot for long turn the thoughts of a young and healthy man from mundane matters. Things of the spirit may
give the familiar world a radiance that is not all its own, they may make some happy memory shine out in
unexpected beauty, but the Heaven of the young is upon the earth, though few who do not belong to one or other
of the Latin races will admit as much in print.
Even when he goes astray through incomplete knowledge we forgive Kinglake. His picture of a Shareef (who must
needs be a descendant of Mohammed) is not always convincing and his anti-Semitism and contempt for Islam are
 diverting because one feels that they are traditional; his knowledge of camels is surprisingly inexact, and
his geography of Jerusalem is now quite out of date. One would like to know, too, where he went in Jerusalem
to learn that all the Jews believed in the miracles of the New Testament. Clearly he had not been long enough
in the East to understand how courtesy demands that every man be told what he is supposed to desire to hear.
Not only was Kinglake romantically inclined and delightfully young when he wrote "Eothen," but in his day the
Palestine pilgrims gathered more freely than they do now, and he saw the colour of life for which his
descendants must needs look in vain. He was devout too, and can suggest that if the Bedouin women would learn
from Christian girls how to pray "their souls might become more gentle and their limbs be clothed with grace."
It is but seldom that the sense of humour leaves him in the lurch like this.
The modern enthusiasm for travel is to Kinglake's as water is to wine. He faced Cairo when the plague was
rampant—it was the year of the Great Plague of Egypt—with a fear so deeply touched by interest
that the resultant emotion was hardly unpleasant. The thought of danger lent an added piquancy to adventure,
at a moment when he was the only European traveller in Cairo. Nothing in "Eothen" has greater interest than
the Egyptian pictures, for the city has changed more than any other through which Kinglake passed, and his
account of slave dealers and magicians is passing strange in these days of Egyptian commonplaces. One must
always regret the magician's surrender to the Plague when he had arranged to raise the devil for the modest
fee of fifty shillings.
We may be permitted a kindly smile at the few exaggerations in the story, at the dromedary from whose "bosom
piteous sobs burst in the tones of human misery," and at the thought that from the ridge to which the tearful
animal brought him "it is likely enough, the panting Israelites first saw the shining inlet of the Red Sea."
These are little extravagances, but how rare they are in a volume written at a time
 when there were few men living who were competent to criticise the story, let the perennial popularity of
The state of the Near East in 1835 did not encourage travel. Greece had but lately become an independent
kingdom. Mehemet Ali, Pasha of Egypt, had rebelled against the Sultan; his son, Ibrahim, had overrun and
conquered Syria. In the peace that followed, between Kinglake's return to England and the publication of
"Eothen," Mehemet was forced to acknowledge that Turkish Suzerainty over Egypt, which has been such a
perplexing factor in modern politics. Roumania had no existence save as Moldavia and Wallachia. Servia,
Bulgaria, Roumelia were parts of Turkey. The Suez Canal was undreamt of and western Europe took scant note of
How many men who have written travel books in their wander year would not, if they could, call them back to
cancel many a line? Seeing them in the light of mature reflection they would cry with Cleopatra:
"My salad days,
When I was green in judgment; cold in blood,
To say as I said then."
But Kinglake must have found little to regret when his ardent youth yielded to maturity, and maturity bowed to
inexorable age. He had captured the spirit of the early years and fashioned a monument in the light of it, so
that even a generation for which travel is made too easy, almost absurd, may follow his journeyings with
enjoyment. "Eothen" is in a certain fashion the spring song of the far-flung road that runs through countries
which felt the morning of the Golden Age, and woke, when the power of the gods was waning, to the thrill of
the Monotheistic idea and the coming of Him whom men name the Son of God. The land of many cultures, and of
dreams for which men died, for which men live, seen as the old world knew it before modern commercialism had
turned travel to a trade, and stolen the romance from realms where it seemed destined to live at least as long
civilisa-  tion, it found almost its last historian in Kinglake. To-day the hour of the Imperialist has come, and,
following in his wake, the company promoter and concessionaire hold every shore so firmly with their dirty
hands that not all the waters of the Mediterranean shall wash the littoral clean. The long procession of men,
who were independent under tyranny and picturesque in rags, has passed. Look for it in "Eothen" if you will,
but not along the modern beaten track. The railway that winds around the mountains of Judaea an ill-forged
chain connecting Jaffa with Jerusalem has shattered a part of the romance that Kinglake knew. The writer can
remember the shock that came to him when he visited Jerusalem for the first time, and found upon the station
walls some of the advertisements that help to preserve the perennial ugliness of London's suburbs. In that
hour something was lost to the East of his boyish imaginings. What would the Hadjis and the Shareef of
Kinglake's book have thought of a world in which Baghdad would be "linked" to the Bosphorus in like fashion
and the tourist ticket to Mecca would be slipping from the knees of the gods? How they would have stared to
see, mid-most the jarring sects that crowd round the Holy Sepulchre at Eastertide, the motley gathering that
follows the man from Cook's.
One would have had less to regret if the scene of Kinglake's travel had been left alone and the tidal wave of
vulgar popularity had swept over parts of the world that have contributed less to the making of the minds and
the faith of men. Seeing them as they are to-day, and reading of them as they were at the dawn of the
Victorian era, one realises that the world has lost something it could ill spare. Perhaps this sense of regret
that comes near to defy definition, and is yet sincere, serves to account in part for the claim that "Eothen"
asserts. For those of us who are on the border line of middle age, or are stepping across it, eheu
jugaces! read our Kinglake before we knew aught of the mysterious East. Then the man who had seen
the glamour of it all was in our midst, having fulfilled the chief purpose of travel
 according to the Arabian philosophy, by setting up for himself a goodly store of pleasant memories against the
season when the fire of life burns low and he makes ready to depart "along the path of Kings and Emperors," on
the longest journey of all. Some of us have looked hungrily over the road Kinglake travelled, straining the
eyes as the traveller over the dry, sandy plains of the Maghreb looks before the light falls from the heavens
for some douar with its tents of camel skin that shall give him meagre shelter until "the Dawn's
left hand is in the sky." But the landmarks have gone with those who made them, he who set them down so
vividly has followed, and the trail of the commis-voyageur is over the land that the Pharaohs
ruled, and is remaking the scene of the Passion of Christ. One feels that the time is coming indeed when Zion
shall rebuild her palaces, but they will be Picture Palaces with a continuous programme, and perhaps the True
Believer, whom Kinglake misunderstood, will be a little uncertain whether, though God's in his heaven, all
is right with the world. Only a Kinglake would be quite sure. He was a typical Englishman,
witness his method of riding a camel, and travelling in the desert during the "hours of fire," witness his
solemn satisfaction with his own methods. To understand these things we must remember that in his day the West
was content to dominate the East, it did not strive to understand the thought or way of life of subject races.
It is the supreme achievement of "Eothen" to strive with modernity for the soul of the near East, to hold it
enshrined within a few hundred pages, to give us with an infinity of subtle touches a picture that stands
revealed to the spirit within the sense. Here at least none may intrude, nor can all the discoveries of the
archeologist, all the wrangles of "two and seventy jarring sects," all the enterprises of philanthropist,
tradesman, or globe-trotter stir our deep content. Here is some meed of consolation for the disappointments of
modern travel, some encouragement to seek out untrodden ways even though Ailey be not hallowed by tradition.
For Kinglake saw the Greek islands in the spirit
 that illumines the Theocritean idylls, and none of his contemporaries save Henan brought to the Holy Land an
equally far-seeing vision. Kinglake's was a catholicity that could see the kindred beauty of the lone Sphinx
of the Egyptian desert and of Aphrodite new risen from the sea. Those who come after him to-day must needs
look through the present to the past. They are aided here, not only by an edition that gives the story a
setting worthy of its charm, but by illustrations that have carried captive the colour, mood and fashion of
the world which is moving so fast into the realm that shrouds all the prototypes of the figures "Eothen"
called to life.
DUTON HILL, ESSEX, September 1912.
ADDRESSED BY THE AUTHOR TO ONE OF HIS FRIENDS
 WHEN you first entertained the idea of travelling in the East, you asked me to send you an outline of the tour
which I had made, in order that you might the better be able to choose a route for yourself. In answer to this
request, I gave you a large French map, on which the course of my journey had been carefully marked; but I did
not conceal from myself that this was rather a dry mode for a man to adopt when he wished to impart the
results of his experience to a dear and intimate friend. Now, long before the period of your planning an
Oriental tour, I had intended to write some account of my Eastern Travels. I had, indeed, begun the task, and
had failed; I had begun it a second time, and failing again, had abandoned my attempt with a sensation of
utter distaste. I was unable to speak out, and chiefly, I think, for this reason—that I knew not to whom
I was speaking. It might be you, or per-
 haps our Lady of Bitterness, who would read my story; or it might be some member of the Royal Statistical
Society; and how on earth was I to write in a way that would do for all three?
Well, your request for a sketch of my tour suggested to me the idea of complying with your wish by a revival
of my twice-abandoned attempt. I tried; and the pleasure and confidence which I felt in speaking to you soon
made my task so easy, and even amusing, that after a while (though not in time for your tour) I completed the
scrawl from which this book was originally printed.
The very feeling, however, which enabled me to write thus freely prevented me from robing my thoughts in that
grave and decorous style which I should have maintained if I had professed to lecture the public. Whilst I
feigned to myself that you, and you only, were listening, I could not by possibility speak very solemnly.
Heaven forbid that I should talk to my own genial friend as though he were a great and enlightened Community,
or any other respectable Aggregate!
Yet I well understood that the mere fact of my professing to speak to you rather than to the public generally
could not perfectly excuse me for printing a narrative too roughly worded, and accordingly, in revising the
proof sheets, I have struck out those phrases which seemed to be less fit for a published volume than for
intimate conversation. It is hardly to be expected, however, that correction of this kind should be perfectly
complete, or that the almost boisterous tone in which many parts of the book were originally written should be
thoroughly subdued. I venture, therefore, to ask that the familiarity of language still possibly apparent in
the work may be laid to the account of our delightful intimacy rather than to any presumptuous motive. I feel,
as you know, much too timidly, too distantly, and too respectfully towards the Public to be capable of seeking
to put myself on terms of easy fellowship with strange and casual readers.
 It is right to forewarn people (and I have tried to do this as well as I can by my studiously unpromising
that the book is quite superficial in its character. I have endeavoured to discard from it all valuable matter
derived from the works of others, and it appears to me that my efforts in this direction have been attended
with great success. I believe I may truly acknowledge that from all details of geographical discovery or
antiquarian research, from all display of "sound learning and religious knowledge," from all historical and
scientific illustrations, from all useful statistics, from all political disquisitions, and from all good
moral reflections, the volume is thoroughly free.
My excuse for the book is its truth. You and I know a man, fond of hazarding elaborate jokes, who, whenever a
story of his happens not to go down as wit, will evade the awkwardness of the failure by bravely maintaining
that all he has said is pure fact. I can honestly take this decent though humble mode of escape. My narrative
is not merely righteous in matters of fact (where fact is in question), but it is true in this larger
sense—it conveys, not those impressions which ought to have been produced upon any "well-constituted
mind," but those which were really and truly received at the time of his rambles by a headstrong and not very
amiable traveller, whose prejudices in favour of other people's notions were then exceedingly slight. As I
have felt, so I have written; and the result is that there will often be found in my narrative a jarring
discord between the associations properly belonging to interesting sites and the tone in which I speak of
them. This seemingly perverse mode of treating the subject is forced upon me by my plan of adhering to
sentimental truth, and really does not result from any impertinent wish to tease or trifle with readers. I
ought, for instance, to have felt as strongly in Judaea as in
 Galilee, but it was not so in fact. The religious sentiment (born in solitude) which had heated my brain in
the Sanctuary of Nazareth was rudely chilled at the foot of Zion by disenchanting scenes, and this change is
accordingly disclosed by the perfectly worldly tone in which I speak of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
My notion of dwelling precisely upon those matters which happened to interest me, and upon none other, would
of course be intolerable in a regular book of travels. If I had been passing through countries not previously
explored, it would have been sadly perverse to withhold careful descriptions of admirable objects merely
because my own feelings of interest in them may have happened to flag; but where the countries which one
visits have been thoroughly and ably described, and even artistically illustrated, by others, one is fully at
liberty to say as little (though not quite so much) as one chooses. Now a traveller is a creature not always
looking at sights. He remembers (how often!) the happy land of his birth; he has, too, his moments of humble
enthusiasm about fire and food, about shade and drink; and if he gives to these feelings anything like the
prominence which really belonged to them at the time of his travelling, he will not seem a very good teacher.
Once having determined to write the sheer truth concerning the things which chiefly have interested him, he
must, and he will, sing a sadly long strain about Self; he will talk for whole pages together about his
bivouac fire, and ruin the Ruins of Baalbec with eight or ten cold lines.
But it seems to me that this egotism of a traveller, however incessant, however shameless and obtrusive, must
still convey some true ideas of the country through which he has passed. His very selfishness, his habit of
referring the whole external world to his own sensations, compels him, as it were, in his writings, to observe
the laws of perspective. He tells you of objects, not as he knows them to be, but as they seemed to him. The
people and the things that most concern him personally, however mean and insignificant,
 take large proportions in his picture, because they stand so near to him. He shows you his Dragoman and the
gaunt features of his Arabs, his tent, his kneeling camels, his baggage strewed upon the sand; but the proper
wonders of the land—the cities, the mighty ruins and monuments of bygone ages—he throws back
faintly in the distance. It is thus that he felt, and thus he strives to repeat, the scenes of the Elder
World. You may listen to him forever without learning much in the way of statistics; but, perhaps, if you bear
with him long enough, you may find yourself slowly and faintly impressed with the realities of Eastern Travel.
My scheme of refusing to dwell upon matters which failed to interest my own feelings has been departed from in
one instance—namely, in my detail of the late Lady Hester Stanhope's conversation on supernatural
topics. The truth is that I have been much questioned on this subject, and I thought that my best plan would
be to write down at once all that I could ever have to say concerning the personage whose career has excited
so much curiosity amongst Englishwomen. The result is that my account of the lady goes to a length which is
not justified either by the importance of the subject or by the extent to which it interested the narrator.
You will see that I constantly speak of "my People," "my Party," "my Arabs," and so on, using terms which
might possibly seem to imply that I moved about with a pompous retinue. This, of course, was not the case. I
travelled with the simplicity proper to my station, as one of the industrious class, who was not flying from
his country because of ennui, but was strengthening his will and tempering the metal of his nature for that
life of toil and conflict in which he is now engaged. But an Englishman journeying in the East must
necessarily have with him Dragomen capable of interpreting the Oriental languages; the absence of wheeled
carriages obliges him to use several beasts of burden for his baggage, as well as for himself and his
 the owners of the horses or camels, with their slaves or servants, fall in as part of his train, and
altogether the cavalcade becomes rather numerous, without, however, occasioning any proportionate increase of
expense. When a traveller speaks of all these followers in mass, he calls them his "people," or his "troop,"
or his "party," without intending to make you believe that he is therefore a Sovereign Prince.
You will see that I sometimes follow the custom of the Scots in describing my fellow-countrymen by the names
of their paternal homes.
Of course all these explanations are meant for casual readers. To you, without one syllable of excuse or
deprecation, and in all the confidence of a friendship that never yet was clouded, I give the long-promised
volume, and add but this one "Good-bye!" for I dare not stand greeting you here.
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