KELMAN, John. From Damascus to Palmyra. Painted by Margaret Thomas. London, A. & C. Black, 1908.
8vo. Original cream cloth, elaborate floral motif to upper cover, partly reprised on spine, lettered in gilt, top edge gilt; pp. xvi, 367;[4, advertisements], 70 colour plates with captioned tissue guards, 16 plates of black and white photographs, 1 folding sketch map; the binding a little marked, very light darkening to cloth, offsetting from endpapers, a few minimal spots to margins, otherwise very good and unfaded.
First edition. We were not able to find out more about the author, than that he was a Scottish priest. The illustrator however was a painter and sculptor, who travelled widely and exhibited in the RA in 1868. Clearly written by a traveller in the Middle East, Kelman has an optimistic outlook on the possibility of religious tolerance in the region: 'But for the present at least (and this spirit seems to have been rapidly advancing of late years), all is good-humour and smiling acquiescense. Less than ten years ago, a Damascene was almost killed by the mob for attempting to photograph the ruins of the Mosque after the fire. We set up our cameras unmolested, and obtained time-exposure views of the most sacred of all shrines, and the very mihrab (praying niche) and pulpit of that same Mosque. Here, dreamy and secure, the call to prayer floats over an unquestioning city, and there is nothing about the mosques to remind any one of a bitter piety or a fanatical attachment' (p. 123). Kelman starts his journey in Lebanon, which is described and illustrated not only in the chapter titled Across Lebanon (pp. 24 to 50) but also in the introductory chapter East and West.