Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. I.: THE TOUR. - The Ruins: or a Survery of the Revolutions of Empires
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CHAP. I.: THE TOUR. - Constantin-François Chasseboeuf, marquis de Volney, The Ruins: or a Survery of the Revolutions of Empires 
The Ruins: or a Survery of the Revolutions of Empires, 3rd ed. (London: J. Johnson, 1796).
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In the eleventh year of the reign of Abd-ul Hamid, son of Ahmed, emperor of the Turks; when the Nogaian Tartars were driven from the Crimea, and a Mussulman prince, of the blood of Gengis Khan, became the vassal and guard of a woman, a Christian, and a queen*[ ] ; I journeyed in the empire of the Ottomans, and traversed the provinces which formerly were kingdoms of Egypt and of Syria.
Directing all my attention to what concerns the happiness of mankind in a state of society, I entered cities, and studied the manners of their inhabitants; I gained admission into palaces, and observed the conduct of those who govern; I wandered over the country, and examined the condition of the peasants: and no where perceiving aught but robbery and devastation, tyranny and wretchedness, my heart was oppressed with sorrow and indignation.
Every day I found in my route fields abandoned by the plough, villages deserted, and cities in ruins. Frequently I met with antiquemonuments; wrecks of temples, palaces, and fortifications; pillars, aqueducts, sepulchres. By these objects my thoughts were directed to past ages, and my mind absorbed in serious and profound meditation.
Arrived at Hamsa on the borders of the Orontes, and being at no great distance from the city of Palmyra, situated in the desert, I resolved to examine for myself its boasted monuments. After three days travel in barren solitude, and having passed through a valley filled with grottoes and tombs, my eyes were suddenly struck, on leaving this valley and entering a plain, with a most astonishing scene of ruins. It consisted of a countless multitude of superb columns standing erect, and which, like the avenues of our parks, extended in regular files farther than the eye could reach. Among these columns magnificent edifices were observable, some entire, others in a state half demolished. The ground was covered on all sides with fragments of similar buildings, cornices, capitals, shafts, entablatures, and pilasters, all constructed of a marble of admirable whiteness and exquisite workmanship. After a walk of three quarters of an hour along these ruins, I entered the inclosure of a vast edifice which had formerly been a temple dedicated to the sun; and I accepted the hospitality of some poor Arabian peasants, who had established their huts in the very area of the temple. Here I resolved for some days to remain, that I might contemplate, at leisure, the beauty of so many stupendous works.
Every day I visited some of the monuments which covered the plain; and one evening that, my mind lost in reflection, I had advanced as far as the Valley of Sepulchres, I ascended the heights that bound it, and from which the eye commands at once the whole of the ruins and the immensity of the desert. . . . The sun had just sunk below the horizon; a streak of red still marked the place of his descent, behind the distant mountains of Syria: the full moon, appearing with brightness upon a ground of deep blue, rose in the east from the smooth bank of the Euphrates: the sky was unclouded; the air calm and serene; the expiring light of day served to soften the horror of approaching darkness; the refreshing breeze of the night gratefully relieved the intolerable sultriness of the day that had preceded it; the shepherds had led the camels to their stalls; the grey firmament bounded the silent landscape; through the whole desert every thing was marked with stillness, undisturbed but by the mournful cries of the bird of night, and of some chacals* . . . . The dusk increased, and already I could distinguish nothing more than the pale phantoms of walls and columns. . . . The solitariness of the situation, the serenity of evening, and the grandeur of the scene, impressed my mind with religious thoughtfulness. The view of an illustrious city deserted, the remembrance of past times, their comparison with the present state of things, all combined to raise my heart to a strain of sublime meditations. I sat down on the base of a column; and there, my elbow on my knee, and my head resting on my hand, sometimes turning my eyes towards the desert, and sometimes fixing them on the ruins, I sell into a profound reverie.
[* ]That is to say, in the year 1784. The reader is requested not to lose sight of this epocha. See the notes at the end of the volume.
[* ]An animal considerably like the fox, but less cunning, and of a frightful aspect. It lives upon dead bodies, and rocks and ruins are the places of its habitation.
[Page 1. (*)]Eleventh year of Abd-ul Hâmid. That is, 1784 of the Christion æra, and 1198 of the Hegira. The emigration of the Tartars took place in March, immediately on the manifesto of the empress declaring the Crimea to be incorporated with Russia. . . . A Mussulman prince of the name of Gengis Khan. It was Châhin Guerai. Gengis Khan was borne and served by the kings whom he conquered: Châhin, on the contrary, after selling his country for a pension of eighty thousand roubles, accepted the commission of captain of guards to Catherine II. He afterwards returned home, and, according to custom was strangled by the Turks.