There is a bazaar especially for the Arabs immediately outside the walls of Mossul, built there for the purpose of keeping these suspicious characters from entering the city proper. Over the confusion of many small mud-huts some slender palm trees rise to majestic heights, the last ones of the desert. These palms are like reeds grown to the proportions of trees.
Where are the successors of the skilful workmen of Damascus, of Mossul, and of Angora; the navigators of Phoenicia, the artists of Ionia, and the wise men of Chaldea? Several distinct characters of civilisation have successively flourished in this part of Asia.
Mossul is the important half-way station for the caravans from Bagdad to Aleppo. Being situated in an oasis of the desert the city must at all times be on the lookout against the Arabs. The walls which completely surround the city are weak but high, and offer sufficient protection against the irregular bands of mounted Bedouins.
The Nestorian and Jacobite Christians of Mossul have the most beautiful churches I have seen in Turkey, but they are living in discord and hatred.
But only the empty areas within the walls and the fields adjacent to the city are cultivated. If only a fraction of all the water rushing past Mossul could be used for irrigation purposes this whole country would be one of the most fertile of the world.
The inhabitants of Mossul are a remarkable mixture of the original Chaldean populace and the Arabs, Kurds, Persians and Turks who successively have ruled over them. The common speech is Arabic. Indshe-Bairaktar, the governor, received us with great courtesy and had us quartered with the Armenian Patriarch.
For many centuries the dead city had slept under the irregular mounds of earth which covered it, like those of Mossul and Nineveh. Farmers raised heavy crops of turnips and grain from the surface and they scarcely ever ploughed or harrowed the ground without turning up Roman coins or pieces of pottery.
They come from all quarters of the world; some from Baghdad, others from Bassorah, from Mossul and even from the interior of Hedjaz. Those from the north have eyes that are bright and clear; and amongst those from Moghreb, from Morocco and the Sahara, are many whose skins are almost black.
Since the Arabs had been greatly incensed by the recent attacks, the expedition was increased by forty horsemen. We joined it toward evening in its encampment, about two hours from Mossul, near the Tigris where everybody wished to have one more last good fill of water.
"The disappointments I suffered, and the wild-goose chases I made, would fill a volume; but I persevered. At last, not two months ago, I was shown by an old dealer in Mossul one lamp such as I had looked for. I had been tracing it for nearly a year, always suffering disappointment, but always buoyed up to further endeavour by a growing hope that I was on the track.