The steamer "Sir Charles Forbes" (forty horse-power, Captain Lichfield) had only two cabins, a small and a large one. The former had already been engaged for some time by an Englishman, Mr. Ross; the latter was bespoken by some rich Persians for their wives and children. I was, therefore, obliged to content myself with a place upon deck; however, I took my meals at the captain's table, who showed me the most extreme attention and kindness during the whole voyage.

The little vessel was, in the fullest sense of the word, overloaded with people; the crew alone numbered forty-five; in addition to that there were 124 passengers, chiefly Persians, Mahomedans, and Arabs. Mr. Ross and myself were the only Europeans. When this crowd of persons were collected, there was not the smallest clear space on the deck; to get from one place to another it was necessary to climb over innumerable chests and boxes, and at the same time to use great caution not to tread upon the heads or feet of the people.

In such critical circumstances I looked about immediately to see where I could possibly secure a good place. I found what I sought, and was the most fortunate of all the passengers, more so than even Mr. Ross, who could not sleep any night in his cabin on account of the heat and insects. My eye fell upon the under part of the captain's dinner-table, which was fixed upon the stern deck; I took possession of this place, threw my mantle round me, so that I had a pretty secure position, and no cause to fear that I should have my hands, feet, or indeed my head trodden upon.

I was somewhat unwell when I left Bombay, and on the second day of the voyage a slight attack of bilious fever came on. I had to contend with this for five days. I crept painfully from my asylum at meal times to make way for the feet of the people at table. I did not take any medicine (I carried none with me), but trusted to Providence and my good constitution.

A much more dangerous malady than mine was discovered on board on the third day of the voyage. The small-pox was in the large cabin. Eighteen women and seven children were crammed in there. They had much less room than the negroes in a slave-ship; the air was in the highest degree infected, and they were not allowed to go on the deck, filled as it was with men; even we deck passengers were in great anxiety lest the bad air might spread itself over the whole ship through the opened windows. The disease had already broken out on the children before they were brought on board; but no one could suspect it, as the women came late at night, thickly veiled, and enveloped in large mantles, under which they carried the children. It was only on the third day, when one of the children died, that we discovered our danger.

The child was wrapped in a white cloth, fastened upon a plank, which was weighted by some pieces of coal or stone, and lowered into the sea. At the moment that it touched the water, the waves closed over it, and it was lost to our sight.

I do not know whether a relation was present at this sad event; I saw no tears flow. The poor mother might, indeed, have sorrowed, but she dare not accompany her child; custom forbade it.

Two more deaths occurred, the other invalids recovered, and the contagion happily did not spread any further.

30th April. Today we approached very near to the Arabian coast, where we saw a chain of mountains which were barren and by no means attractive. On the following morning (1st of May) small forts and watch-towers made their appearance, here and there, upon the peaks of beautiful groups of rock, and presently, also, a large one was perceptible upon an extensive mountain at the entrance of a creek.

We came to anchor off the town of Muscat, which lies at the extremity of the creek. This town, which is subject to an Arabian prince, is very strongly fortified, and surrounded by several ranges of extraordinarily formed rocks, all of which are also occupied by forts and towers. The largest of these excites a sad reminiscence: it was formerly a cloister of Portuguese monks, and was attacked by the Arabs one night, who murdered the whole of its inmates. This occurrence took place about two centuries since.

The houses of the town are built of stone, with small windows and terraced roofs. Two houses, distinguished from the others only by their larger dimensions, are the palaces of the mother of the reigning prince, and of the sheikh (governor). Some of the streets are so narrow that two persons can scarcely walk together. The bazaar, according to the Turkish custom, consists of covered passages, under which the merchants sit cross-legged before their miserable stalls.

In the rocky valley in which Muscat lies the heat is very oppressive (124 degrees Fah. in the sun), and the sunlight is very injurious to the eyes, as it is not in the slightest degree softened by any vegetation. Far and wide there are no trees, no shrubs or grass to be seen. Every one who is in any way engaged here, go as soon as their business is finished to their country-houses situated by the open sea. There are no Europeans here; the climate is considered fatal to them.

At the back of the town lies a long rocky valley, in which is a village containing several burial-places, and, wonderful to say, a little garden with six palms, a fig, and a pomegranate-tree. The village is larger and more populous than the town; containing 6,000 inhabitants, while the latter has only 4,000. It is impossible to form any conception of the poverty, filth, and stench in this village; the huts stand nearly one over the other, are very small, and built only of reeds and palm-leaves; every kind of refuse was thrown before the doors. It requires considerable self-denial to pass through such a place, and I wonder that plague, or some other contagion, does not continually rage there. Diseases of the eyes and blindness are, however, very frequent.

From this valley I passed into a second, which contains the greatest curiosity of Muscat, a rather extensive garden, which, with its date-palms, flowers, vegetables, and plantations, constitutes a true picture of an oasis in the desert. The vegetation is only kept up, for the most part, by continual watering. The garden belongs to the Arabian prince. My guide seemed to be very proud of this wonderful garden, and asked me whether there were such beautiful gardens in my country!

The women in Muscat wear a kind of mask of blue stuff over the face, fastened upon springs or wires, which project some distance beyond the face; a hole is cut in the mask between the forehead and nose, which allows something more than the eyes to be seen. These masks are worn by the women only when they are at some distance from home; in and near their houses they are not used. All the women that I saw were very ugly; the men, also, had not the fine, proud features which are so frequently met with among the Arabians. Great numbers of negroes are employed here as slaves.

I made this excursion at the time of the greatest heat (124 degrees Fah. in the sun), and rather weakened by my illness, but did not experience the slightest ill consequences. I had been repeatedly warned that in warm countries the heat of the sun was very injurious to Europeans who were not accustomed to it, and frequently caused fever and sometimes even sun-stroke. If I had attended to every advice, I should not have seen much. I did not allow myself to be led astray - went out in all weathers, and always saw more than my companions in travel.

On the 2nd of May we again set sail, and on the 3rd of May entered the Persian Sea, and passed very near to the island of Ormus. The mountains there are remarkable for a variegated play of colours; many spots shine as if they were covered with snow. They contain large quantities of salt, and numbers of caravans come annually from Persia and Arabia to procure it. In the evening we reached the small Persian town of Bandr-Abas, off which we anchored.

May 4th. The town is situated on low hills of sand and rocks, which are separated from higher mountains by a small plain. Here also the whole country is barren and wild; solitary groups of palms are found only in the plains.

I looked wistfully towards the land, - I would gladly have visited Persia. The captain, however, advised me not to do so in the dress I wore; because, as he informed me, the Persians were not so good-natured as the Hindoos, and the appearance of a European woman in this remote district was too uncommon an event; I might probably be greeted with a shower of stones.

Fortunately there was a young man on board who was half English and half Persian (his father, an Englishman, had married an Armenian from Teheran), and spoke both languages equally well. I asked him to take me on shore, which he very readily did. He conducted me to the bazaar, and through several streets. The people indeed flocked from all sides and gazed at me, but did not offer me the slightest annoyance.

The houses here are small, and built in the Oriental style, with few windows, and terraced roofs. The streets are narrow, dirty, and seemingly uninhabited; the bazaar only appeared busy. The bakers here prepare their bread in the most simple manner, and, indeed, immediately in the presence of their customers: they knead some meal with water into a dough, in a wooden dish, separate this into small pieces, which they squeeze and draw out with their hands, until they are formed into large thin flakes, which are smeared over with salt water, and stuck into the inner side of a round tube. These tubes are made of clay, are about eighteen inches in diameter, and twenty-two in length; they are sunk one half in the ground, and furnished with an air-draft below. Wood-charcoal is burnt inside the tube at the bottom. The cakes are baked on both sides at once; at the back by the red-hot tube, and in front by the charcoal fire. I had half-a-dozen of such cakes baked - when eaten warm, they are very good.

It is easy to distinguish the Persians from the Arabs, of whom there are many here. The former are larger, and more strongly built; their skin is whiter, their features coarse and powerful, and their general appearance rude and wild. Their dress resembles that of the Mahomedans. Many wear turbans, others a conical cap of black Astrachan, from a foot to one and a half high.

I was told of so great an act of gratitude of the young man, Mr. William Hebworth, who accompanied me to Bandr-Abas, that I cannot omit to mention it. At the age of sixteen he went from Persia to Bombay, where he met with the kindest reception in the house of a friend of his father's, by whom he was assisted in every way, and even obtained an appointment through his interest. One day his patron, who was married, and the father of four children, had the misfortune to be thrown from his horse, and died from the effects of the fall. Mr. Hebworth made the truly noble resolve of marrying the widow, who was much older than himself, and, instead of property, possessed only her four children, that he might in this way pay the debt of gratitude which he owed to his deceased benefactor.

In Bandr-Abas we hired a pilot to take us through the Straits of Kishma. About noon we sailed.

The passage through these straits is without danger for steamers, but is avoided by sailing vessels, as the space between the island Kishma and the mainland is in parts very narrow, and the ships might be driven on to the shore by contrary winds.

The inland forms an extended plain, and is partially covered with thin underwood. Great numbers of people come from the neighbouring mainland to fetch wood from here.

The captain had spoken very highly of the remarkable beauty of this voyage, the luxuriance of the island, the spots where the sea was so narrow that the tops of the palms growing on the island and mainland touched each other, etc. Since the last voyage of the good captain, a very unfrequent phenomenon would seem to have taken place - the lofty slender palms were transformed into miserable underwood, and, at the narrowest point, the mainland was at least half a mile from the island. Strange to say, Mr. Ross afterwards gave the same description of the place; he believed the captain in preference to his own eyes.

At one of the most considerable contractions stands the handsome fort Luft. Fifteen years since the principal stronghold of the Persian pirates was in this neighbourhood. A severe battle was fought between them and the English, near Luft, in which upwards of 800 were killed, many taken prisoners, and the whole gang broken up. Since that event, perfect security has been restored.

5th May. We left the straits, and three days later came to anchor off Buschir.

There are considerable quantities of sea-weeds and molluscae in the Persian Gulf; the latter had many fibres, were of a milk-white colour, and resembled a forest agaric in form; others had a glistening rose colour with small yellow spots. Conger eels of two or three feet in length were not uncommon.

8th May. The town of Buschir is situated on a plain six miles from the mountains, whose highest peak, called by the Persians Hormutsch, by the English Halala, is 5,000 feet high.

The town contains 15,000 inhabitants, and has the best harbour in Persia; but its appearance is very dirty and ugly.

The houses stand quite close together, so that it is easy to pass from one to the other over the terraces, and it requires no great exertion to run over the roofs, as the terraces are enclosed only by walls one or two feet high. Upon some houses, square chambers (called wind-catchers), fifteen or twenty feet high, are erected, which can be opened above and at the sides, and serve to intercept the wind and lead it into the apartments.

The women here cover up their faces to such a degree that I cannot imagine how they find their way about. Even the smallest girls imitate this foolish custom. There is also no lack of nose-rings, bracelets, sandals, etc.; but they do not wear nearly so many as the Hindoos. The men are all armed; even in the house they carry daggers or knives, and besides these, pistols in the streets.

We remained two days in Buschir, where I was very well received by Lieutenant Hennelt, the resident.

I would gladly have left the ship here to visit the ruins of Persepolis, and travel by land from thence to Shiraz, Ispahan, Teheran, and so onwards; but serious disturbances had broken out in these districts, and numerous hordes of robbers carried on their depredations. I was in consequence compelled to alter my plan, and to go straight on to Baghdad.

10th May. In the afternoon we left Buschir.

11th May. Today I had the gratification of seeing and sailing on one of the most celebrated rivers in the world, the Schatel-Arab (river of the Arabs), which is formed by the junction of the Euphrates, Tigris, and Kaurun, and whose mouth resembles an arm of the sea. The Schatel-Arab retains its name as far as the delta of the Tigris and Euphrates.

12th May. We left the sea and the mountains behind at the same time, and on both shores immense plains opened before us whose boundaries were lost in the distance.

Twenty miles below Bassora we turned off into the Kaurun to set down some passengers at the little town of Mahambrah, which lies near the entrance of that river. We immediately turned back again, and the captain brought the vessel round in the narrow space in an exceedingly clever way. This proceeding caused the uninitiated some anxiety; we expected every moment to see either the head or stern run a-ground, but it succeeded well beyond all measure. The whole population of the town was assembled on the shore; they had never before seen a steamer, and took the most lively interest in the bold and hazardous enterprise.

About six years ago, the town Mahambrah experienced a terrible catastrophe; it was at that time under Turkish rule, and was surprised and plundered by the Persians; nearly all the inhabitants, amounting to 5,000, were put to death. Since that period it has been retained by the Persians.

Towards noon we arrived at Bassora. Nothing is visible from the river but some fortified works and large forests of date-trees, behind which the town is situated far inland.

The journey from Bombay to this place had occupied eighteen days, in consequence of the unfavourable monsoon, and was one of the most unpleasant voyages which I ever made. Always upon deck in the midst of a dense crowd of people, with a heat which at noon time rose to 99 degrees 5' Fah., even under the shade of a tent. I was only once able to change my linen and dress at Buschir, which was the more annoying as one could not prevent the accumulation of vermin. I longed for a refreshing and purifying bath.

Bassora, one of the largest towns of Mesopotamia, has among its inhabitants only a single European. I had a letter to the English agent, an Armenian named Barseige, whose hospitality I was compelled to claim, as there was no hotel. Captain Lichfield presented my letter to him and made known my request, but the polite man refused to grant it. The good captain offered me accommodation on board his ship, so that I was provided for for the present.

The landing of the Persian women presented a most laughable spectacle: if they had been beauties of the highest order, or princesses from the sultan's harem, there could not have been more care taken to conceal them from the possibility of being seen by men.

I was indebted to my sex for the few glimpses which I caught of them in the cabin; but among the whole eighteen women I did not see a single good-looking one. Their husbands placed themselves in two rows from the cabin to the ship's ladder, holding large cloths stretched before them, and forming in this way a kind of opaque moveable wall on both sides. Presently the women came out of the cabin; they were so covered with large wrappers that they had to be led as if they were blind. They stood close together between the walls, and waited until the whole were assembled, when the entire party, namely, the moveable wall and the beauties concealed behind it, proceeded step by step. The scrambling over the narrow ship's ladders was truly pitiable; first one stumbled, and then another. The landing occupied more than an hour.

13th May. The captain brought me word that a German missionary was accidentally at Bassora, who had a dwelling with several rooms, and could probably give me shelter. I went to him immediately, and he was so obliging as to provide me with a room in which, at the same time, I found a fireplace. I took leave of the good captain with sincere regret. I shall never forget his friendliness and attentions. He was a truly good-hearted man, and yet the unfortunate crew, mostly Hindoos and negroes, were treated worse on board his ship than I had observed elsewhere. This was the fault of the two mates, who accompanied nearly every word with pushes and blows of the fist. In Muscat three of the poor fellows ran away.

The Christian Europeans excel the pagan Hindoos and Musselmen in learning and science; might they not also at least equal the latter in kindness and humanity?

A small English war-steamer was expected at Bassora in the course of a few days, which carried letters and dispatches between this place and Baghdad, and whose captain was so good as to take European travellers (of whom there are not many that lose themselves here) with him.

I availed myself of the few days of my stay to look about the town, and see what still remains of its ancient celebrity.

Bassora, or Bassra, was founded in the reign of the Caliph Omar, in the year 656. Sometimes under Turkish, sometimes under Persian dominion, it was at last permanently placed under the latter power. There are no vestiges of antiquity remaining; neither ruins of handsome mosques nor caravansaries. The fortified walls are much dilapidated, the houses of the town small and unattractive, the streets crooked, narrow, and dirty. The bazaar, which consists of covered galleries with wretched stalls, cannot show a single good stock of goods, although Bassora is the principal emporium and trading port for the Indian wares imported into Turkey. There are several coffee-stalls and a second-rate caravansary in the bazaar. A large open space, not very remarkable for cleanliness, serves in the day as a corn-market; and in the evening several hundred guests are to be seen seated before a large coffee-stall, drinking coffee and smoking nargillies.

Modern ruins are abundant in Bassora, the result of the plague which in the year 1832 carried off nearly one half of the inhabitants. Numbers of streets and squares consist only of forsaken and decaying houses. Where, a few years back, men were busily engaged in trade, there is now nothing left but ruins and rubbish and weeds, and palms grow between crumbling walls.

The position of Bassora is said to be particularly unhealthy: the plain surrounding it is intersected at one extremity with numerous ditches filled with mud and filth, which give off noxious exhalations, at the other it is covered with forests of date trees, which hinders the current of air. The heat is so great here, that nearly every house is furnished with an apartment, which lies several feet below the level of the street, and has windows only in the high arches. People live in these rooms during the day.

The inhabitants consist for the most part of Arabs; the rest are Persians, Turks, and Armenians. There are no Europeans. I was advised to wrap myself in a large cloth and wear a veil when I went out; the former I did, but I could not endure the veil in the excessive heat, and went with my face uncovered. The cloth (isar) I carried so clumsily that my European clothes were always visible; nevertheless I was not annoyed by any one.

On the 16th of May, the steamer Nitocris arrived. It was small (forty horse power), but very handsome and clean; the captain, Mr. Johns, declared himself ready to take me, and the first officer, Mr. Holland, gave up his cabin to me. They would not take any compensation either for passage or board.

The journey from Bassora to Baghdad would have been very fatiguing and inconvenient if I had not met with this opportunity. With a boat it would have required forty or fifty days, as the distance is 500 English miles, and the boat must have been for greater part of the distance drawn by men. The distance by land amounts to 390 miles; but the road is through deserts, which are inhabited by nomadic tribes of Bedouins, and over-run with hordes of robbers, whose protection must be purchased at a high price.

17th May. We weighed anchor in the morning at 11 o'clock, and availed ourselves of the current which extends 120 miles up the stream.

In the afternoon we reached the point Korne, also called the Delta (fifty miles from Bassora). The Tigris and Euphrates join here. Both rivers are equally large, and as it could not, probably, be decided which name should be retained, both were given up, and that of Schatel-Arab adopted.

Many learned writers attempt to give increased importance to this place, by endeavouring to prove by indubitable evidence that the garden of Eden was situated here. If this was the case, our worthy progenitor made a long journey after he was driven out of Paradise, to reach Adam's Peak in Ceylon.

We now entered the Tigris. For a distance of three miles further, we were gratified by the sight of beautiful forests of date-trees, which we had already enjoyed, almost without intermission, from the mouth of the Schatel-Arab; they now suddenly terminated. Both sides of the river were still covered with a rich vegetation, and beautiful orchards, alternated with extended plots of grass, which were partially covered with bushes or shrub-like trees. This fruitfulness, however, is said to extend only a few miles inland: more distant from the river the country is a barren wilderness.

We saw in several places large tribes of Bedouins, who had pitched their tents in long rows, for the most part close to the banks. Some of these hordes had large closely-covered tents; others again had merely a straw mat, a cloth, or some skins stretched on a pair of poles, scarcely protecting the heads of those lying under them from the burning rays of the sun. In winter, when the temperature frequently falls to freezing point, they have the same dwellings and clothing as in summer: the mortality among them is then very great. These people have a wild appearance, and their clothing consists of only a dark-brown mantle. The men have a part of this drawn between the legs, and another part hung round them; the women completely envelop themselves in it; the children very commonly go quite naked until the twelfth year. The colour of their skin is a dark brown, the face slightly tattooed: both the men and women braid their hair into four plaits, which hang down upon the back of the head and temples. The weapons of the men are stout knotted sticks; the women are fond of adorning themselves with glass beads, mussel-shells, and coloured rags; they also wear large nose-rings.

They are all divided into tribes, and are under the dominion of the Porte, to whom they pay tribute; but they acknowledge allegiance only to the sheikh elected by themselves, many of whom have forty or fifty thousand tents under their control. Those tribes who cultivate land have fixed dwellings; the pastoral tribes are nomadic.

Half-way between Bassora and Baghdad, the lofty mountain chain of Luristan becomes visible. When the atmosphere is clear, the summits, 10,000 feet high, and covered with perpetual snow, may be seen.

Every step in advance leads to the scene of the great deeds of Cambyses, Cyrus, Alexander, etc.: every spot of ground has historical associations. The country is the same; but what has become of its towns and its powerful empires? Ruined walls and heaps of earth and rubbish are the only remains of the most beautiful cities; and where firmly established empires formerly existed, are barren steppes overrun by robber hordes.

The Arabs engaged in agriculture are themselves exposed to the depredations of their nomadic countrymen, especially in harvest time. In order to avoid this evil as much as possible, they bring their crops into small fortified places, of which I observed many between Bassora and Baghdad.

We took in wood several times during the passage, and on these occasions I could approach the inhabitants without fear, as they were inspired with respect for the well-manned and armed vessel. In one instance, I was led far into the underwood in pursuit of some beautiful insects, when I found myself on a sudden surrounded by a swarm of women and children, so that I thought it advisable to hasten back again to the ship's people - not that any one offered me any violence; but they crowded round me, handled my dress, wanted to put on my straw bonnet; and this familiarity was far from pleasant on account of their extreme dirtiness. The children seemed shockingly neglected; many were covered with pimples and small sores; and both great and small had their hands constantly in their hair.

At the places where we stopped they generally brought sheep and butter, both of which were singularly cheap. A sheep cost at the utmost five krans (4s. 6d.). They were very large and fat, with long thick wool, and fat tails of about fifteen inches long and eight inches broad. Our crew had a better diet than I had ever noticed on board any ship. What pleased me even more was the equal good treatment of the natives, who were not in any particular less thought of than the English. I never met with greater order and cleanliness than here - a proof that blows and thumps are not indispensably necessary, as I had so often been assured.

In the districts where the ground was covered with underwood and grass, I saw several herds of wild swine; and there were said to be lions here, who come from the mountains, especially during the winter time, when they carried off cows and sheep: they very seldom attacked men. I was so fortunate as to see a pair of lions, but at such a distance, that I cannot say whether they exceeded in beauty and size those in European menageries. Among the birds, the pelicans were so polite as to make their respects to us by scraping.

21st May. Today we saw the ruins of the palace of Khuszew Anushirwan at Ctesiphon. Ctesiphon was formerly the capital of the Parthian, and afterwards of the new Persian empire: it was destroyed by the Arabs in the seventeenth century. Nearly opposite, on the right bank of the Tigris, lay Seleucia, one of the most celebrated towns of Babylon, and which, at the time of its prosperity, had a free independent government and a population of 600,000 souls. The chief portion were Greeks.

One obtained two views of Ctesiphon in passing, in consequence of the river winding considerably - almost running back again several miles. I made a trip there from Baghdad, and therefore reserve my account of it.

The old caliphate appears in marvellous magnificence and extent from a distance, but unfortunately loses this on nearer approach. The minarets and cupolas, inlaid with variegated earthenware tiles, glitter in the clear sunlight; palaces, gateways, and fortified works, in endless succession, bound the yellow, muddy Tigris; and gardens, with date and other fruit trees, cover the flat country for miles round.

We had scarcely anchored, when a number of natives surrounded the ship. They made use of very singular vehicles, which resemble round baskets: these are formed of thick palm leaves, and covered with asphalt. They are called "guffer;" are six feet in diameter and three feet in height; are very safe, for they never upset, and may be travelled in over the worst roads. Their invention is very ancient.

I had a letter to the English resident, Major Rawlinson; but as Mr. Holland, the first officer of the ship, offered me the use of his house, I took advantage of this, on account of his being a married man, which Mr. Rawlinson was not. I found Mrs. Holland a very pretty, amiable woman (a native of Baghdad), who, though only three-and-twenty, had already four children, the eldest of whom was eight years old.