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Title: Out-of-Doors in the Holy Land - Impressions of Travel in Body and Spirit
Author: Van Dyke, Henry, 1852-1933
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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       *       *       *       *       *

                       BOOKS BY HENRY VAN DYKE


   +THE RULING PASSION.+ Illustrated in color.      $1.50

   +THE BLUE FLOWER.+ Illustrated in color.         $1.50

          *       *       *       *       *

   +OUTDOORS IN THE HOLY LAND.+ Illustrated in
   color                                      _net_ $1.50

   +DAYS OFF.+ Illustrated in color.                $1.50

   +LITTLE RIVERS.+ Illustrated in color.           $1.50

   +FISHERMAN'S LUCK.+ Illustrated in color.        $1.50

          *       *       *       *       *

   +THE BUILDERS, AND OTHER POEMS.+                 $1.00

   +MUSIC, AND OTHER POEMS.+                  _net_ $1.00


       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: The Gate of David, Jerusalem.]


Impressions of Travel in Body and Spirit




New York
Charles Scribner's Sons

Copyright, 1908, by Charles Scribner's Sons
Published November, 1908


                      HOWARD CROSBY BUTLER

                        MASTER OF MERWICK



                      THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED

                          BY HIS FRIEND

                           THE AUTHOR


For a long time, in the hopefulness and confidence of youth, I dreamed
of going to Palestine. But that dream was denied, for want of money and

Then, for a long time, in the hardening strain of early manhood, I was
afraid to go to Palestine, lest the journey should prove a
disenchantment, and some of my religious beliefs be rudely shaken,
perhaps destroyed. But that fear was removed by a little voyage to the
gates of death, where it was made clear to me that no belief is worth
keeping unless it can bear the touch of reality.

In that year of pain and sorrow, through a full surrender to the Divine
Will, the hopefulness and confidence of youth came back to me. Since
then it has been possible once more to wake in the morning with the
feeling that the day might bring something new and wonderful and
welcome, and to travel into the future with a whole and happy heart.

This is what I call growing younger; though the years increase, yet the
burden of them is lessened, and the fear that life will some day lead
into an empty prison-house has been cast out by the incoming of the
Perfect Love.

So it came to pass that when a friend offered me, at last, the
opportunity of going to Palestine if I would give him my impressions of
travel for his magazine, I was glad to go. Partly because there was a
piece of work,--a drama whose scene lies in Damascus and among the
mountains of Samaria,--that I wanted to finish there; partly because of
the expectancy that on such a journey any of the days might indeed bring
something new and wonderful and welcome; but most of all because I
greatly desired to live for a little while in the country of Jesus,
hoping to learn more of the meaning of His life in the land where it was
spent, and lost, and forever saved.

Here, then, you have the history of this little book, reader: and if it
pleases you to look further into its pages, you can see for yourself how
far my dreams and hopes were realised.

It is the record of a long journey in the spirit and a short voyage in
the body. If you find here impressions that are lighter, mingled with
those that are deeper, that is because life itself is really woven of
such contrasted threads. Even on a pilgrimage small adventures happen.
Of the elders of Israel on Sinai it is written, "They saw God and did
eat and drink"; and the Apostle Paul was not too much engrossed with his
mission to send for the cloak and books and parchments that he left
behind at Troas.

If what you read here makes you wish to go to the Holy Land, I shall be
glad; and if you go in the right way, you surely will not be

But there are two things in the book which I would not have you miss.

The first is the new conviction,--new at least to me,--that Christianity
is an out-of-doors religion. From the birth in the grotto at Bethlehem
(where Joseph and Mary took refuge because there was no room for them in
the inn) to the crowning death on the hill of Calvary outside the city
wall, all of its important events took place out-of-doors. Except the
discourse in the upper chamber at Jerusalem, all of its great words,
from the sermon on the mount to the last commission to the disciples,
were spoken in the open air. How shall we understand it unless we carry
it under the free sky and interpret it in the companionship of nature?

The second thing that I would have you find here is the deepened sense
that Jesus Himself is the great, the imperishable miracle. His words are
spirit and life. His character is the revelation of the Perfect Love.
This was the something new and wonderful and welcome that came to me in
Palestine: a simpler, clearer, surer view of the human life of God.

                                                   HENRY VAN DYKE.

June 10, 1908.


   I. _Travellers' Joy_                          1

  II. _Going up to Jerusalem_                   23

 III. _The Gates of Zion_                       45

  IV. _Mizpah and the Mount of Olives_          67

   V. _An Excursion to Bethlehem and Hebron_    83

  VI. _The Temple and the Sepulchre_           105

 VII. _Jericho and Jordan_                     125

VIII. _A Journey to Jerash_                    151

  IX. _The Mountains of Samaria_               191

   X. _Galilee and the Lake_                   217

  XI. _The Springs of Jordan_                  259

 XII. _The Road to Damascus_                   291


_The Gate of David, Jerusalem_             Frontispiece

_Jaffa_                               Facing page    14
_The port where King Solomon landed his cedar beams
from Lebanon for the building of the Temple_

_The Tall Tower of the Forty Martyrs at Ramleh_      28

_A Street in Jerusalem_                              60

_A Street in Bethlehem_                              86

_The Market-place, Bethlehem_                        90

_Great Monastery of St. George_                     136

_Ruins of Jerash, Looking West_                     184
  _Propyl[oe]um and Temple terrace_

_The Virgin's Fountain, Nazareth_                   232

_The Approach to Bâniyâs_                           276

_Bridge Over the River Lîtânî_                      282

_A Small Bazaar in Damascus_                        316


                               TRAVELLERS' JOY



Who would not go to Palestine?

To look upon that little stage where the drama of humanity has centred
in such unforgetable scenes; to trace the rugged paths and ancient
highways along which so many heroic and pathetic figures have travelled;
above all, to see with the eyes as well as with the heart

                 "Those holy fields
  Over whose acres walked those blessed feet
  Which, nineteen hundred years ago, were nail'd
  For our advantage on the bitter cross"--

for the sake of these things who would not travel far and endure many

It is easy to find Palestine. It lies in the south-east corner of the
Mediterranean coast, where the "sea in the midst of the nations," makes
a great elbow between Asia Minor and Egypt. A tiny land, about a hundred
and fifty miles long and sixty miles wide, stretching in a fourfold
band from the foot of snowy Hermon and the Lebanons to the fulvous crags
of Sinai: a green strip of fertile plain beside the sea, a blue strip of
lofty and broken highlands, a gray-and-yellow strip of sunken
river-valley, a purple strip of high mountains rolling away to the
Arabian desert. There are a dozen lines of steamships to carry you
thither; a score of well-equipped agencies to conduct you on what they
call "a _de luxe_ religious expedition to Palestine."

But how to find the Holy Land--ah, that is another question.

Fierce and mighty nations, hundreds of human tribes, have trampled
through that coveted corner of the earth, contending for its possession:
and the fury of their fighting has swept the fields as with fire.
Temples and palaces have vanished like tents from the hillside. The
ploughshare of havoc has been driven through the gardens of luxury.
Cities have risen and crumbled upon the ruins of older cities. Crust
after crust of pious legend has formed over the deep valleys; and
tradition has set up its altars "upon every high hill and under every
green tree." The rival claims of sacred places are fiercely disputed by
churchmen and scholars. It is a poor prophet that has but one birthplace
and one tomb.

And now, to complete the confusion, the hurried, nervous, comfort-loving
spirit of modern curiosity has broken into Palestine, with railways from
Jaffa to Jerusalem, from Mount Carmel to the Sea of Galilee, from Beirût
to Damascus,--with macadamized roads to Shechem and Nazareth and
Tiberias,--with hotels at all the "principal points of interest,"--and
with every facility for doing Palestine in ten days, without getting
away from the market-reports, the gossip of the _table d'hôte_, and all
that queer little complex of distracting habits which we call

But the Holy Land which I desire to see can be found only by escaping
from these things. I want to get away from them; to return into the long
past, which is also the hidden present, and to lose myself a little
there, to the end that I may find myself again. I want to make
acquaintance with the soul of that land where so much that is strange
and memorable and for ever beautiful has come to pass: to walk quietly
and humbly, without much disputation or talk, in fellowship with the
spirit that haunts those hills and vales, under the influence of that
deep and lucent sky. I want to feel that ineffable charm which breathes
from its mountains, meadows and streams: that charm which made the
children of Israel in the desert long for it as a land flowing with milk
and honey; and the great Prince Joseph in Egypt require an oath of his
brethren that they would lay his bones in the quiet vale of Shechem
where he had fed his father's sheep; and the daughters of Jacob beside
the rivers of Babylon mingle tears with their music when they remembered

There was something in that land, surely, some personal and indefinable
spirit of place, which was known and loved by prophet and psalmist, and
most of all by Him who spread His table on the green grass, and taught
His disciples while they walked the narrow paths waist-deep in rustling
wheat, and spoke His messages of love from a little boat rocking on the
lake, and found His asylum of prayer high on the mountainside, and kept
His parting-hour with His friends in the moon-silvered quiet of the
garden of olives. That spirit of place, that soul of the Holy Land, is
what I fain would meet on my pilgrimage,--for the sake of Him who
interprets it in love. And I know well where to find it,--out-of-doors.

I will not sleep under a roof in Palestine, but nightly pitch my
wandering tent beside some fountain, in some grove or garden, on some
vacant threshing-floor, beneath the Syrian stars. I will not join myself
to any company of labelled tourists hurrying with much discussion on
their appointed itinerary, but take into fellowship three tried and
trusty comrades, that we may enjoy solitude together. I will not seek to
make any archæological discovery, nor to prove any theological theory,
but simply to ride through the highlands of Judea, and the valley of
Jordan, and the mountains of Gilead, and the rich plains of Samaria, and
the grassy hills of Galilee, looking upon the faces and the ways of the
common folk, the labours of the husbandman in the field, the vigils of
the shepherd on the hillside, the games of the children in the
market-place, and reaping

  "The harvest of a quiet eye
  That broods and sleeps on his own heart."

Four things, I know, are unchanged amid all the changes that have passed
over the troubled and bewildered land. The cities have sunken into dust:
the trees of the forest have fallen: the nations have dissolved. But the
mountains keep their immutable outline: the liquid stars shine with the
same light, move on the same pathways: and between the mountains and the
stars, two other changeless things, frail and imperishable,--the flowers
that flood the earth in every springtide, and the human heart where
hopes and longings and affections and desires blossom immortally.
Chiefly of these things, and of Him who gave them a new meaning, I will
speak to you, reader, if you care to go with me out-of-doors in the Holy



Of the voyage, made with all the swiftness and directness of one who
seeks the shortest distance between two points, little remains in memory
except a few moving pictures, vivid and half-real, as in a

First comes a long, swift ship, the _Deutschland_, quivering and rolling
over the dull March waves of the Atlantic. Then the morning sunlight
streams on the jagged rocks of the Lizard, where two wrecked steamships
are hanging, and on the green headlands and gray fortresses of Plymouth.
Then a soft, rosy sunset over the mole, the dingy houses, the tiled
roofs, the cliffs, the misty-budded trees of Cherbourg. Then Paris at
two in the morning: the lower quarters still stirring with
somnambulistic life, the lines of lights twinkling placidly on the empty
boulevards. Then a whirl through the _Bois_ in a motor-car, a breakfast
at Versailles with a merry little party of friends, a lazy walk through
miles of picture-galleries without a guide-book or a care. Then the
night express for Italy, a glimpse of the Alps at sunrise, snow all
around us, the thick darkness of the Mount Cenis tunnel, the bright
sunshine of Italian spring, terraced hillsides, clipped and pollarded
trees, waking vineyards and gardens, Turin, Genoa, Rome, arches of
ruined aqueducts, snow upon the Southern Apennines, the blooming fields
of Capua, umbrella-pines and silvery poplars, and at last, from my
balcony at the hotel, the glorious curving panorama of the bay of
Naples, Vesuvius without a cloud, and Capri like an azure lion couchant
on the broad shield of the sea. So ends the first series of films, ten
days from home.

       *       *       *       *       *

After an intermission of twenty-four hours, the second series begins on
the white ship _Oceana_, an immense yacht, ploughing through the
tranquil, sapphire Mediterranean, with ten passengers on board, and the
band playing three times a day just as usual. Then comes the low line of
the African coast, the lighthouse of Alexandria, the top of Pompey's
Pillar showing over the white, modern city.

Half a dozen little rowboats meet us, well out at sea, buffeted and
tossed by the waves: they are fishing: see! one of the men has a strike,
he pulls in his trolling-line, hand over hand, very slowly, it seems, as
the steamship rushes by. I lean over the side, run to the stern of the
ship to watch,--hurrah, he pulls in a silvery fish nearly three feet
long. Good luck to you, my Egyptian brother of the angle!

Now a glimpse of the crowded, busy harbour of Alexandria, (recalling
memories of fourteen years ago,) and a leisurely trans-shipment to the
little Khedivial steamer, _Prince Abbas_, with her Scotch officers,
Italian stewards, Maltese doctor, Turkish sailors, and freight-handlers
who come from whatever places it has pleased Heaven they should be born
in. The freight is variegated, and the third-class passengers are a
motley crowd.

A glance at the forward main-deck shows Egyptians in white cotton, and
Turks in the red fez, and Arabs in white and brown, and coal-black
Soudanese, and nondescript Levantines, and Russians in fur coats and
lamb's-wool caps, and Greeks in blue embroidered jackets, and women in
baggy trousers and black veils, and babies, and cats, and parrots. Here
is a tall, venerable grandfather, with spectacles and a long gray beard,
dressed in a black robe with a hood and a yellow scarf; grave,
patriarchal, imperturbable: his little granddaughter, a pretty elf of a
child, with flower-like face and shining eyes, dances hither and yon
among the chaos of freight and luggage; but as the chill of evening
descends she takes shelter between his knees, under the folds of his
long robe, and, while he feeds her with bread and sweetmeats, keeps up a
running comment of remarks and laughter at all around her, and the
unspeakable solemnity of old Father Abraham's face is lit up, now and
then, with the flicker of a resistless smile.

Here are two bronzed Arabs of the desert, in striped burnoose and white
kaftan, stretched out for the night upon their rugs of many colours.
Between them lies their latest purchase, a brand-new patent
carpet-sweeper, made in Ohio, and going, who knows where among the hills
of Bashan.

A child dies in the night, on the voyage; in the morning, at anchor in
the mouth of the Suez Canal, we hear the carpenter hammering together a
little pine coffin. All day Sunday the indescribable traffic of Port
Saïd passes around us; ships of all nations coming and going; a big
German Lloyd boat just home from India crowded with troops in khâki,
band playing, flags flying; huge dredgers, sombre, oxlike-looking
things, with lines of incredibly dirty men in fluttering rags running up
the gang-planks with bags of coal on their backs; rowboats shuttling to
and fro between the ships and the huddled, transient, modern town, which
is made up of curiosity shops, hotels, business houses and dens of
iniquity; a row of Egyptian sail boats, with high prows, low sides, long
lateen yards, ranged along the entrance to the canal. At sunset we steam
past the big statue of Ferdinand de Lesseps, standing far out on the
break-water and pointing back with a dramatic gesture to his
world-transforming ditch. Then we go dancing over the yellow waves into
the full moonlight toward Palestine.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the early morning I clamber on deck into a thunderstorm: wild west
wind, rolling billows, flying gusts of rain, low clouds hanging over the
sand-hills of the coast: a harbourless shore, far as eye can see, a
land that makes no concession to the ocean with bay or inlet, but cries,
"Hitherto shalt thou come, but no farther; and here shall thy proud
waves be stayed." There are the flat-roofed houses, and the orange
groves, and the minaret, and the lighthouse of Jaffa, crowning its
rounded hill of rock. We are tossing at anchor a mile from the shore.
Will the boats come out to meet us in this storm, or must we go on to
Haifâ, fifty miles beyond? Rumour says that the police have refused to
permit the boats to put out. But look, here they come, half a dozen open
whale-boats, each manned by a dozen lusty, bare-legged, brown rowers,
buffeting their way between the scattered rocks, leaping high on the
crested waves. The chiefs of the crews scramble on board the steamer,
identify the passengers consigned to the different tourist-agencies,
sort out the baggage and lower it into the boats.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: Jaffa. The port where King Solomon landed his cedar beams
from Lebanon for the building of the Temple.]

My tickets, thus far, have been provided by the great Cook, and I fall
to the charge of his head boatman, a dusky demon of energy. A slippery
climb down the swaying ladder, a leap into the arms of two sturdy
rowers, a stumble over the wet thwarts, and I find myself in the
stern sheets of the boat. A young Dutchman follows with stolid
suddenness. Two Italian gentlemen, weeping, refuse to descend more than
half-way, climb back, and are carried on to Haifâ. A German lady with a
parrot in a cage comes next, and her anxiety for the parrot makes her
forget to be afraid. Then comes a little Polish lady, evidently a bride;
she shuts her eyes tight and drops into the boat, pale, silent, resolved
that she will not scream: her husband follows, equally pale, and she
clings indifferently to his hand and to mine, her eyes still shut, a
pretty image of white courage. The boat pushes off; the rowers smite the
waves with their long oars and sing "Halli--yallah--yah hallah"; the
steersman high in the stern shouts unintelligible (and, I fear, profane)
directions; we are swept along on the tops of the waves, between the
foaming rocks, drenched by spray and flying showers: at last we bump
alongside the little quay, and climb out on the wet, gliddery stones.

The kinematograph pictures are ended, for I am in Palestine, on the
first of April, just fifteen days from home.



Will my friends be here to meet me, I wonder? This is the question which
presses upon me more closely than anything else, I must confess, as I
set foot for the first time upon the sacred soil of Palestine. I know
that this is not as it should be. All the conventions of travel require
the pilgrim to experience a strange curiosity and excitement, a profound
emotion, "a supreme anguish," as an Italian writer describes it, "in
approaching this land long dreamed about, long waited for, and almost
despaired of."

But the conventions of travel do not always correspond to the realities
of the heart. Your first sight of a place may not be your first
perception of it: that may come afterward, in some quiet, unexpected
moment. Emotions do not follow a time-table; and I propose to tell no
lies in this book. My strongest feeling as I enter Jaffa is the desire
to know whether my chosen comrades have come to the rendezvous at the
appointed time, to begin our long ride together.

It is a remote and uncertain combination, I grant you. The Patriarch, a
tall, slender youth of seventy years, whose home is beside the Golden
Gate of California, was wandering among the ruins of Sicily when I last
heard from him. The Pastor and his wife, the Lady of Walla Walla, who
live on the shores of Puget Sound, were riding camels across the
peninsula of Sinai and steamboating up the Nile. Have the letters, the
cablegrams that were sent to them been safely delivered? Have the
hundreds of unknown elements upon which our combination depended been
working secretly together for its success? Has our proposal been
according to the supreme disposal, and have all the roads been kept
clear by which we were hastening from three continents to meet on the
first day of April at the _Hotel du Parc_ in Jaffa?

Yes, here are my three friends, in the quaint little garden of the
hotel, with its purple-flowering vines of Bougainvillea, fragrant
orange-trees, drooping palms, and long-tailed cockatoos drowsing on
their perches. When people really know each other an unfamiliar
meeting-place lends a singular intimacy and joy to the meeting. There
is a surprise in it, no matter how long and carefully it has been
planned. There are a thousand things to talk of, but at first nothing
will come except the wonder of getting together. The sight of the
desired faces, unchanged beneath their new coats of tan, is a happy
assurance that personality is not a dream. The touch of warm hands is a
sudden proof that friendship is a reality.

Presently it begins to dawn upon us that there is something wonderful in
the place of our conjunction, and we realise dimly,--very dimly, I am
sure, and yet with a certain vague emotion of reverence,--where we are.

"We came yesterday," says the Lady, "and in the afternoon we went to see
the House of Simon the Tanner, where they say the Apostle Peter lodged."

"Did it look like the real house?"

"Ah," she answers smilingly, "how do I know? They say there are two of
them. But what do I care? It is certain that we are here. And I think
that St. Peter was here once, too, whether the house he lived in is
standing yet, or not."

Yes, that is reasonably certain; and this is the place where he had his
strange vision of a religion meant for all sorts and conditions of men.
It is certain, also, that this is the port where Solomon landed his
beams of cedar from Lebanon for the building of the Temple, and that the
Emperor Vespasian sacked the town, and that Richard Lionheart planted
the banner of the crusade upon its citadel. But how far away and
dreamlike it all seems, on this spring morning, when the wind is tossing
the fronds of the palm-trees, and the gleams of sunshine are flying
across the garden, and the last clouds of the broken thunderstorm are
racing westward through the blue toward the highlands of Judea.

Here is our new friend, the dragoman George Cavalcanty, known as
"Telhami," the Bethlehemite, standing beside us in the shelter of the
orange-trees: a trim, alert figure, in his belted suit of khâki and his
riding-boots of brown leather.

"Is everything ready for the journey, George?"

"Everything is prepared, according to the instructions you sent from
Avalon. The tents are pitched a little beyond Latrûn, twenty miles away.
The horses are waiting at Ramleh. After you have had your mid-day
breakfast, we will drive there in carriages, and get into the saddle,
and ride to our own camp before the night falls."


_Happy is the man that seeth the face of a friend in a far country:
The darkness of his heart is melted in the rising of an inward joy._

_It is like the sound of music heard long ago and half forgotten:
It is like the coming back of birds to a wood that winter hath made bare._

_I knew not the sweetness of the fountain till I found it flowing in
          the desert:
Nor the value of a friend till the meeting in a lonely land._

_The multitude of mankind had bewildered me and oppressed me:
And I said to God, Why hast thou made the world so wide?_

_But when my friend came the wideness of the world had no more terror:
Because we were glad together among men who knew us not._

_I was slowly reading a book that was written in a strange language:
And suddenly I came upon a page in mine own familiar tongue._

_This was the heart of my friend that quietly understood me:
The open heart whose meaning was clear without a word._

_O my God whose love followeth all thy pilgrims and strangers:
I praise thee for the comfort of comrades on a distant road._


                         GOING UP TO JERUSALEM



You understand that what we had before us in this first stage of our
journey was a very simple proposition. The distance from Jaffa to
Jerusalem is fifty miles by railway and forty miles by carriage-road.
Thousands of pilgrims and tourists travel it every year; and most of
them now go by the train in about four hours, with advertised stoppages
of three minutes at Lydda, eight minutes at Ramleh, ten minutes at
Sejed, and unadvertised delays at the convenience of the engine. But we
did not wish to get our earliest glimpse of Palestine from a car-window,
nor to begin our travels in a mechanical way. The first taste of a
journey often flavours it to the very end.

The old highroad, which is now much less frequented than formerly, is
very fair as far as Ramleh; and beyond that it is still navigable for
vehicles, though somewhat broken and billowy. Our plan, therefore, was
to drive the first ten miles, where the road was flat and
uninteresting, and then ride the rest of the way. This would enable us
to avoid the advertised rapidity and the uncertain delays of the
railway, and bring us quietly through the hills, about the close of the
second day, to the gates of Jerusalem.

The two victorias rattled through the streets of Jaffa, past the low,
flat-topped Oriental houses, the queer little open shops, the
orange-groves in full bloom, the palm-trees waving their plumes over
garden-walls, and rolled out upon the broad highroad across the fertile,
gently undulating Plain of Sharon. On each side were the neat,
well-cultivated fields and vegetable-gardens of the German colonists
belonging to the sect of the Templers. They are a people of antique
theology and modern agriculture. Believing that the real Christianity is
to be found in the Old Testament rather than in the New, they propose to
begin the social and religious reformation of the world by a return to
the programme of the Minor Prophets. But meantime they conduct their
farming operations in a very profitable way. Their grain-fields, their
fruit-orchards, their vegetable-gardens are trim and orderly, and they
make an excellent wine, which they call "The Treasure of Zion." Their
effect upon the landscape, however, is conventional.

But in spite of the presence and prosperity of the Templers, the spirit
of the scene through which we passed was essentially Oriental. The
straggling hedges of enormous cactus, the rows of plumy
eucalyptus-trees, the budding figs and mulberries, gave it a
semi-tropical touch and along the highway we encountered fragments of
the leisurely, dishevelled, dignified East: grotesque camels, pensive
donkeys carrying incredible loads, flocks of fat-tailed sheep and
lop-eared goats, bronzed peasants in flowing garments, and white-robed
women with veiled faces.

Beneath the tall tower of the forty martyrs at Ramleh (Mohammedan or
Christian, their names are forgotten) we left the carriages, loaded our
luggage on the three pack-mules, mounted our saddle-horses, and rode on
across the plain, one of the fruitful gardens and historic battle-fields
of the world. Here the hosts of the Israelites and the Philistines, the
Egyptians and the Romans, the Persians and the Arabs, the Crusaders and
the Saracens, have marched and contended. But as we passed through the
sun-showers and rain-showers of an April afternoon, all was tranquillity
and beauty on every side. The rolling fields were embroidered with
innumerable flowers. The narcissus, the "rose of Sharon," had faded. But
the little blue "lilies-of-the-valley" were there, and the pink and
saffron mallows, and the yellow and white daisies, and the violet and
snow of the drooping cyclamen, and the gold of the genesta, and the
orange-red of the pimpernel, and, most beautiful of all, the glowing
scarlet of the numberless anemones. Wide acres of young wheat and barley
glistened in the light, as the wind-waves rippled through their short,
silken blades. There were few trees, except now and then an
olive-orchard or a round-topped carob with its withered pods.

[Illustration: The Tall Tower of the Forty Martyrs at Ramleh.]

The highlands of Judea lay stretched out along the eastern horizon, a
line of azure and amethystine heights, changing colour and seeming
almost to breathe and move as the cloud shadows fleeted over them, and
reaching away northward and southward as far as eye could see. Rugged
and treeless, save for a clump of oaks or terebinths planted here or
there around some Mohammedan saint's tomb, they would have seemed
forbidding but that their slopes were clothed with the tender herbage of
spring, their outlines varied with deep valleys and blue gorges, and all
their mighty bulwarks jewelled right royally with the opalescence of

In a hollow of the green plain to the left we could see the white houses
and the yellow church tower of Lydda, the supposed burial-place of Saint
George of Cappadocia, who killed the dragon and became the patron saint
of England. On a conical hill to the right shone the tents of the Scotch
explorer who is excavating the ancient city of Gezer, which was the
dowry of Pharaoh's daughter when she married King Solomon. City, did I
say? At least four cities are packed one upon another in that grassy
mound, the oldest going back to the flint age; and yet if you should
examine their site and measure their ruins, you would feel sure that
none of them could ever have amounted to anything more than what we
should call a poor little town.

It came upon us gently but irresistibly that afternoon, as we rode
easily across the land of the Philistines in a few hours, that we had
never really read the Old Testament as it ought to be read,--as a book
written in an Oriental atmosphere, filled with the glamour, the imagery,
the magniloquence of the East. Unconsciously we had been reading it as
if it were a collection of documents produced in Heidelberg, Germany, or
in Boston, Massachusetts: precise, literal, scientific.

We had been imagining the Philistines as a mighty nation, and their land
as a vast territory filled with splendid cities and ruled by powerful
monarchs. We had been trying to understand and interpret the stories of
their conflict with Israel as if they had been written by a Western
war-correspondent, careful to verify all his statistics and meticulous
in the exact description of all his events. This view of things melted
from us with a gradual surprise as we realised that the more deeply we
entered into the poetry, the closer we should come to the truth, of the
narrative. Its moral and religious meaning is firm and steadfast as the
mountains round about Jerusalem; but even as those mountains rose before
us glorified, uplifted, and bejewelled by the vague splendours of the
sunset, so the form of the history was enlarged and its colours
irradiated by the figurative spirit of the East.

There at our feet, bathed in the beauty of the evening air, lay the
Valley of Aijalon, where Joshua fought with the "five kings of the
Amorites," and broke them and chased them. The "kings" were head-men of
scattered villages, chiefs of fierce and ragged tribes. But the fighting
was hard, and as Joshua led his wild clansmen down upon them from the
ascent of Beth-horon, he feared the day might be too short to win the
victory. So he cheered the hearts of his men with an old war-song from
the Book of Jasher.

  "Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon;
  And thou, moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.
  And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed,
  Until the nation had avenged themselves of their enemies."

Does any one suppose that this is intended to teach us that the sun
moves and that on this day his course was arrested? Must we believe that
the whole solar system was dislocated for the sake of this battle? To
understand the story thus is to misunderstand its vital spirit. It is
poetry, imagination, heroism. By the new courage that came into the
hearts of Israel with their leader's song, the Lord shortened the
conflict to fit the day, and the sunset and the moonrise saw the Valley
of Aijalon swept clean of Israel's foes.

As we passed through the wretched, mud-built village of Latrûn (said to
be the birthplace of the Penitent Thief), a dozen long-robed Arabs were
earnestly discussing some question of municipal interest in the grassy
market-place. They were as grave as the storks, in their solemn plumage
of black and white, which were parading philosophically along the edge
of a marsh to our right. A couple of jackals slunk furtively across the
road ahead of us in the dusk. A _kafila_ of long-necked camels undulated
over the plain. The shadows fell more heavily over cactus-hedge and
olive-orchard as we turned down the hill.

In the valley night had come. The large, trembling stars were strewn
through the vault above us, and rested on the dim ridges of the
mountains, and shone reflected in the puddles of the long road like
fallen jewels. The lights of Latrûn, if it had any, were already out of
sight behind us. Our horses were weary and began to stumble. Where was
the camp?

Look, there is a light, bobbing along the road toward us. It is
Youssouf, our faithful major-domo, come out with a lantern to meet us. A
few rods farther through the mud, and we turn a corner beside an acacia
hedge and the ruined arch of an ancient well. There, in a little field
of flowers, close to the tiniest of brooks, our tents are waiting for us
with open doors. The candles are burning on the table. The rugs are
spread and the beds are made. The dinner-table is laid for four, and
there is a bright bunch of flowers in the middle of it. We have seen the
excellency of Sharon and the moon is shining for us on the Valley of



It is no hardship to rise early in camp. At the windows of a house the
daylight often knocks as an unwelcome messenger, rousing the sleeper
with a sudden call. But through the roof and the sides of a tent it
enters gently and irresistibly, embracing you with soft arms, laying
rosy touches on your eyelids; and while your dream fades you know that
you are awake and it is already day.

As we lift the canvas curtains and come out of our pavilions, the sun is
just topping the eastern hills, and all the field around us glittering
with immense drops of dew. On the top of the ruined arch beside the camp
our Arab watchman, hired from the village of Latrûn as we passed, is
still perched motionless, wrapped in his flowing rags, holding his long
gun across his knees.

"_Salâm 'aleikum, yâ ghafîr!_" I say, and though my Arabic is doubtless
astonishingly bad, he knows my meaning; for he answers gravely,
"_'Aleikum essalâm!_--And with you be peace!"

It is indeed a peaceful day in which our journey to Jerusalem is
completed. Leaving the tents and impedimenta in charge of Youssouf and
Shukari the cook, and the muleteers, we are in the saddle by seven
o'clock, and riding into the narrow entrance of the Wâdi 'Ali. It is a
long, steep valley leading into the heart of the hills. The sides are
ribbed with rocks, among which the cyclamens grow in profusion. A few
olives are scattered along the bottom of the vale, and at the tomb of
the Imâm 'Ali there is a grove of large trees. At the summit of the pass
we rest for half an hour, to give our horses a breathing-space, and to
refresh our eyes with the glorious view westward over the tumbled
country of the Shephelah, the opalescent Plain of Sharon, the sand-hills
of the coast, and the broad blue of the Mediterranean. Northward and
southward and eastward the rocky summits and ridges of Judea roll away.

Now we understand what the Psalmist means by ascribing "the strength of
the hills" to Jehovah; and a new light comes into the song:

  "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem,
  So Jehovah is round about his people."

These natural walls and terraces of gray limestone have the air of
antique fortifications and watch-towers of the border. They are truly
"munitions of rocks." Chariots and horsemen could find no field for
their man[oe]uvres in this broken and perpendicular country. Entangled
in these deep and winding valleys by which they must climb up from the
plain, the invaders would be at the mercy of the light infantry of the
highlands, who would roll great stones upon them as they passed through
the narrow defiles, and break their ranks by fierce and sudden downward
rushes as they toiled panting up the steep hillsides. It was this
strength of the hills that the children of Israel used for the defence
of Jerusalem, and by this they were able to resist and defy the
Philistines, whom they could never wholly conquer.

Yonder on the hillside, as we ride onward, we see a reminder of that old
tribal warfare between the people of the highlands and the people of the
plains. That gray village, perched upon a rocky ridge above thick
olive-orchards and a deliciously green valley, is the ancient
Kirjath-Jearim, where the Ark of Jehovah was hidden for twenty years,
after the Philistines had sent back this perilous trophy of their
victory over the sons of Eli, being terrified by the pestilence and
disaster that followed its possession. The men of Beth-shemesh, to whom
it was first returned, were afraid to keep it, because they also had
been smitten with death when they dared to peep into this dreadful box.
But the men of Kirjath-Jearim were at once bolder and wiser, so they
"came and fetched up the Ark of Jehovah, and brought it into the house
of Abinadab in the hill, and set apart Eleazar, his son, to keep the Ark
of Jehovah."

What strange vigils in that little hilltop cottage where the young man
watches over this precious, dangerous, gilded coffer, while Saul is
winning and losing his kingdom in a turmoil of blood and sorrow and
madness, forgetful of Israel's covenant with the Most High! At last
comes King David, from his newly won stronghold of Zion, seeking eagerly
for this lost symbol of the people's faith. "Lo, we heard of it at
Ephratah; we found it in the field of the wood." So the gray stone
cottage on the hilltop gave up its sacred treasure, and David carried it
away with festal music and dancing. But was Eleazar glad, I wonder, or
sorry, that his long vigil was ended?

To part from a care is sometimes like losing a friend.

I confess that it is difficult to make these ancient stories of peril
and adventure, (or even the modern history of Abu Ghôsh the robber-chief
of this village a hundred years ago), seem real to us to-day.
Everything around us is so safe and tranquil, and, in spite of its
novelty, so familiar. The road descends steeply with long curves and
windings into the Wâdi Beit Hanîna. We meet and greet many travellers,
on horseback, in carriages and afoot, natives and pilgrims, German
colonists, French priests, Italian monks, English tourists and
explorers. It is a pleasant game to guess from an approaching pilgrim's
looks whether you should salute him with "_Guten Morgen_," or "_Buon'
Giorno_," or "_Bon jour_, _m'sieur_." The country people answer your
salutation with a pretty phrase: "_Nehârak saîd umubârak_--May your day
be happy and blessed."

At Kalôniyeh, in the bottom of the valley, there is a prosperous
settlement of German Jews; and the gardens and orchards are flourishing.
There is also a little wayside inn, a rude stone building, with a
terrace around it; and there, with apricots and plums blossoming beside
us, we eat our lunch _al fresco_, and watch our long pack-train, with
the camp and baggage, come winding down the hill and go tinkling past us
toward Jerusalem.

The place is very friendly; we are in no haste to leave it. A few miles
to the southward, sheltered in the lap of a rounding hill, we can see
the tall cypress-trees and quiet gardens of 'Ain Karîm, the village
where John the Baptist was born. It has a singular air of attraction,
seen from a distance, and one of the sweetest stories in the world is
associated with it. For it was there that the young bride Mary visited
her older cousin Elizabeth,--you remember the exquisite picture of the
"Visitation" by Albertinelli in the Uffizi at Florence,--and the joy of
coming motherhood in these two women's hearts spoke from each to each
like a bell and its echo. Would the birth of Jesus, the character of
Jesus, have been possible unless there had been the virginal and
expectant soul of such a woman as Mary, ready to welcome His coming with
her song? "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in
God my Saviour." Does not the advent of a higher manhood always wait for
the hope and longing of a nobler womanhood?

The chiming of the bells of St. John floats faintly and silverly across
the valley as we leave the shelter of the wayside rest-house and mount
for the last stage of our upward journey. The road ascends steeply.
Nestled in the ravine to our left is the grizzled and dilapidated
village of Liftâ, a town with an evil reputation.

"These people sold all their land," says George the dragoman, "twenty
years ago, sold all the fields, gardens, olive-groves. Now they are
dirty and lazy in that village,--all thieves!"

Over the crest of the hill the red-tiled roofs of the first houses of
Jerusalem are beginning to appear. They are houses of mercy, it seems:
one an asylum for the insane, the other a home for the aged poor.
Passing them, we come upon schools and hospital buildings and other
evidences of the charity of the Rothschilds toward their own people. All
around us are villas and consulates, and rows of freshly built houses
for Jewish colonists.

This is not at all the way that we had imagined to ourselves the first
sight of the Holy City. All here is half-European, unromantic, not very
picturesque. It may not be "the New Jerusalem," but it is certainly a
modern Jerusalem. Here, in these comfortably commonplace dwellings, is
almost half the present population of the city; and rows of new houses
are rising on every side.

But look down the southward-sloping road. There is the sight that you
have imagined and longed to see: the brown battlements, the white-washed
houses, the flat roofs, the slender minarets, the many-coloured domes of
the ancient city of David, and Solomon, and Hezekiah, and Herod, and
Omar, and Godfrey, and Saladin,--but never of Christ. That great black
dome is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The one beyond it is the
Mosque of Omar. Those golden bulbs and pinnacles beyond the city are the
Greek Church of Saint Mary Magdalen on the side of the Mount of Olives;
and on the top of the lofty ridge rises the great pointed tower of the
Russians from which a huge bell booms out a deep-toned note of welcome.

On every side we see the hospices and convents and churches and palaces
of the different sects of Christendom. The streets are full of people
and carriages and beasts of burden. The dust rises around us. We are
tired with the trab, trab, trab of our horses' feet upon the hard
highroad. Let us not go into the confusion of the city, but ride quietly
down to the left into a great olive-grove, outside the Damascus Gate.

Here our white tents are pitched among the trees, with the dear flag of
our home flying over them. Here we shall find leisure and peace to unite
our hearts, and bring our thoughts into tranquil harmony, before we go
into the bewildering city. Here the big stars will look kindly down upon
us through the silvery leaves, and the sounds of human turmoil and
contention will not trouble us. The distant booming of the bell on the
Mount of Olives will mark the night-hours for us, and the long-drawn
plaintive call of the muezzin from the minaret of the little mosque at
the edge of the grove will wake us to the sunrise.


_This is the thanksgiving of the weary:
The song of him that is ready to rest._

_It is good to be glad when the day is declining:
And the setting of the sun is like a word of peace._

_The stars look kindly on the close of a journey:
The tent says welcome when the day's march is done._

_For now is the time of the laying down of burdens:
And the cool hour cometh to them that have borne the heat._

_I have rejoiced greatly in labour and adventure:
My heart hath been enlarged in the spending of my strength._

_Now it is all gone yet I am not impoverished:
For thus only may I inherit the treasure of repose._

_Blessed be the Lord that teacheth my hands to unclose and my fingers
          to loosen:
He also giveth comfort to the feet that are washed from the dust of
          the way._

_Blessed be the Lord that maketh my meat at nightfall savoury:
And filleth my evening cup with the wine of good cheer._

_Blessed be the Lord that maketh me happy to be quiet:
Even as a child that cometh softly to his mother's lap._

_O God thou faintest not neither is thy strength worn away with labour:
But it is good for us to be weary that we may obtain thy gift of rest._


                             THE GATES OF ZION



Out of the medley of our first impressions of Jerusalem one fact emerges
like an island from the sea: it is a city that is lifted up. No river;
no harbour; no encircling groves and gardens; a site so lonely and so
lofty that it breathes the very spirit of isolation and proud

  "Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth
  Is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north
  The city of the great King."

Thus sang the Hebrew poet; and his song, like all true poetry, has the
accuracy of the clearest vision. For this is precisely the one beauty
that crowns Jerusalem: the beauty of a high place and all that belongs
to it: clear sky, refreshing air, a fine outlook, and that indefinable
sense of exultation that comes into the heart of man when he climbs a
little nearer to the stars.

Twenty-five hundred feet above the level of the sea is not a great
height; but I can think of no other ancient and world-famous city that
stands as high. Along the mountainous plateau of Judea, between the
sea-coast plain of Philistia and the sunken valley of the Jordan, there
is a line of sacred sites,--Beërsheba, Hebron, Bethlehem, Bethel,
Shiloh, Shechem. Each of them marks the place where a town grew up
around an altar. The central link in this chain of shrine-cities is
Jerusalem. Her form and outline, her relation to the landscape and to
the land, are unchanged from the days of her greatest glory. The
splendours of her Temple and her palaces, the glitter of her armies, the
rich colour and glow of her abounding wealth, have vanished. But though
her garments are frayed and weather-worn, though she is an impoverished
and dusty queen, she still keeps her proud position and bearing; and as
you approach her by the ancient road along the ridges of Judea you see
substantially what Sennacherib, and Nebuchadnezzar, and the Roman Titus
must have seen.

"The sides of the north" slope gently down to the huge gray wall of the
city, with its many towers and gates. Within those bulwarks, which are
thirty-eight feet high and two and a half miles in circumference,
"Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together," covering with
her huddled houses and crooked, narrow streets, the two or three rounded
hills and shallow depressions in which the northern plateau terminates.
South and east and west, the valley of the Brook Kidron and the Valley
of Himmon surround the city wall with a dry moat three or four hundred
feet deep.

Imagine the knuckles of a clenched fist, extended toward the south: that
is the site of Jerusalem, impregnable, (at least in ancient warfare),
from all sides except the north, where the wrist joins it to the higher
tableland. This northern approach, open to Assyria, and Babylon, and
Damascus, and Persia, and Greece, and Rome, has always been the weak
point of Jerusalem. She was no unassailable fortress of natural
strength, but a city lifted up, a lofty shrine, whose refuge and
salvation were in Jehovah,--in the faith, the loyalty, the courage which
flowed into the heart of her people from their religion. When these
failed, she fell.

Jerusalem is no longer, and never again will be, the capital of an
earthly kingdom. But she is still one of the high places of the world,
exalted in the imagination and the memory of Jews and Christians and
Mohammedans, a metropolis of infinite human hopes and longings and
devotions. Hither come the innumerable companies of foot-weary pilgrims,
climbing the steep roads from the sea-coast, from the Jordan, from
Bethlehem,--pilgrims who seek the place of the Crucifixion, pilgrims who
would weep beside the walls of their vanished Temple, pilgrims who
desire to pray where Mohammed prayed. Century after century these human
throngs have assembled from far countries and toiled upward to this
open, lofty plateau, where the ancient city rests upon the top of the
closed hand, and where the ever-changing winds from the desert and the
sea sweep and shift over the rocky hilltops, the mute, gray battlements,
and the domes crowned with the cross, the crescent, and the star.

"The wind bloweth where it will, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but
knowest not whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth; so is every one that
is born of the Spirit."

The mystery of the heart of mankind, the spiritual airs that breathe
through it, the desires and aspirations that impel men in their
journeyings, the common hopes that bind them together in companies, the
fears and hatreds that array them in warring hosts,--there is no place
in the world to-day where you can feel all this so deeply, so
inevitably, so overwhelmingly, as at the Gates of Zion.

It is a feeling of confusion, at first: a bewildering sense of something
vast and old and secret, speaking many tongues, taking many forms, yet
never fully revealing its source and its meaning. The Jews, Mohammedans,
and Christians who flock to those gates are alike in their sincerity, in
their devotion, in the spirit of sacrifice that leads them on their
pilgrimage. Among them all there are hypocrites and bigots, doubtless,
but there are also earnest and devout souls, seeking something that is
higher than themselves, "a city set upon a hill." Why do they not
understand one another? Why do they fight and curse one another? Do they
not all come to humble themselves, to pray, to seek the light?

Dark walls that embrace so many tear-stained, blood-stained, holy and
dishonoured shrines! And you, narrow and gloomy gates, through whose
portals so many myriads of mankind have passed with their swords, their
staves, their burdens and their palm-branches! What songs of triumph you
have heard, what yells of battle-rage, what moanings of despair, what
murmurs of hopes and gratitude, what cries of anguish, what bursts of
careless, happy laughter,--all borne upon the wind that bloweth where it
will across these bare and rugged heights. We will not seek to enter yet
into the mysteries that you hide. We will tarry here for a while in the
open sunlight, where the cool breeze of April stirs the olive-groves
outside the Damascus Gate. We will tranquillize our thoughts,--perhaps
we may even find them growing clearer and surer,--among the simple cares
and pleasures that belong to the life of every day; the life which must
have food when it is hungry, and rest when it is weary, and a shelter
from the storm and the night; the life of those who are all strangers
and sojourners upon the earth, and whose richest houses and strongest
cities are, after all, but a little longer-lasting tents and camps.



The place of our encampment is peaceful and friendly, without being
remote or secluded. The grove is large and free from all undergrowth:
the trunks of the ancient olive-trees are gnarled and massive, the
foliage soft and tremulous. The corner that George has chosen for us is
raised above the road by a kind of terrace, so that it is not too easily
accessible to the curious passer-by. Across the road we see a gray stone
wall, and above it the roof of the Anglican Bishop's house, and the
schools, from which a sound of shrill young voices shouting in play or
chanting in unison rises at intervals through the day. The ground on
which we stand is slightly furrowed with the little ridges of last
year's ploughing: but it has not yet been broken this spring, and it is
covered with millions of infinitesimal flowers, blue and purple and
yellow and white, like tiny pansies run wild.

The four tents, each circular and about fifteen feet in diameter, are
arranged in a crescent. The one nearest to the road is for the kitchen
and service; there Shukari, our Maronite _chef_, in his white cap and
apron, turns out an admirable six-course dinner on a portable charcoal
range not three feet square. Around the door of this tent there is much
coming and going: edibles of all kinds are brought for sale; visitors
squat in sociable conversation; curious children hang about, watching
the proceedings, or waiting for the favours which a good cook can

The next tent is the dining-room; the huge wooden chests of the canteen,
full of glass and china and table-linen and new Britannia-ware, which
shines like silver, are placed one on each side of the entrance; behind
the central tent-pole stands the dining-table, with two chairs at the
back and one at each end, so that we can all enjoy the view through the
open door. The tent is lofty and lined with many-coloured cotton cloth,
arranged in elaborate patterns, scarlet and green and yellow and blue.
When the four candles are lighted on the well-spread table, and Youssouf
the Greek, in his embroidered jacket and baggy blue breeches, comes in
to serve the dinner, it is quite an Oriental scene. His assistant,
Little Youssouf, the Copt, squats outside of the tent, at one side of
the door, to wash up the dishes and polish the Britannia-ware.

The two other tents are of the same pattern and the same gaudy colours
within: each of them contains two little iron bedsteads, two Turkish
rugs, two washstands, one dressing-table, and such baggage as we had
imagined necessary for our comfort, piled around the tent-pole,--this by
way of precaution, lest some misguided hand should be tempted to slip
under the canvas at night and abstract an unconsidered trifle lying near
the edge of the tent.

Of our own men I must say that we never had a suspicion, either of their
honesty or of their good-humour. Not only the four who had most
immediately to do with us, but also the two chief muleteers, Mohammed
'Ali and Moûsa, and the songful boy, Mohammed el Nâsan, who warbled an
interminable Arabian ditty all day long, and Fâris and the two other
assistants, were models of fidelity and willing service. They did not
quarrel (except once, over the division of the mule-loads, in the
mountains of Gilead); they got us into no difficulties and subjected us
to no blackmail from humbugging Bedouin chiefs. They are of a
picturesque motley in costume and of a bewildering variety in
creed--Anglican, Catholic, Coptic, Maronite, Greek, Mohammedan, and one
of whom the others say that "he belongs to no religion, but sings
beautiful Persian songs." Yet, so far as we are concerned, they all do
the things they ought to do and leave undone the things they ought not
to do, and their way with us is peace. Much of this, no doubt, is due to
the wisdom, tact, and firmness of George the Bethlehemite, the best of

We have many visitors at the camp, but none unwelcome. The American
Consul, a genial scholar who knows Palestine by heart and has made
valuable contributions to the archæology of Jerusalem, comes with his
wife to dine with us in the open air. George's gentle wife and his two
bright little boys, Howard and Robert, are with us often. Missionaries
come to tell us of their labours and trials. An Arab hunter, with his
long flintlock musket, brings us beautiful gray partridges which he has
shot among the near-by hills. The stable-master comes day after day
with strings of horses galloping through the grove; for our first mounts
were not to our liking, and we are determined not to start on our longer
ride until we have found steeds that suit us. Peasants from the country
round about bring all sorts of things to sell--vegetables, and lambs,
and pigeons, and old coins, and embroidered caps.

There are two men ploughing in a vineyard behind the camp, beyond the
edge of the grove. The plough is a crooked stick of wood which scratches
the surface of the earth. The vines are lying flat on the ground, still
leafless, closely pruned: they look like big black snakes.

Women of the city, dressed in black and blue silks, with black mantles
over their heads, come out in the afternoon to picnic among the trees.
They sit in little circles on the grass, smoking cigarettes and eating
sweetmeats. If they see us looking at them they draw the corners of
their mantles across the lower part of their faces; but when they think
themselves unobserved they drop their veils and regard us curiously with
lustrous brown eyes.

One morning a procession of rustic women and girls, singing with shrill
voices, pass the camp on their way to the city to buy the bride's
clothes for a wedding. At nightfall they return singing yet more loudly,
and accompanied by men and boys firing guns into the air and shouting.

Another day a crowd of villagers go by. Their old Sheikh rides in the
midst of them, with his white-and-gold turban, his long gray beard, his
flowing robes of rich silk. He is mounted on a splendid white Arab
horse, with arched neck and flaunting tail; and a beautiful, gaily
dressed little boy rides behind him with both arms clasped around the
old man's waist. They are going up to the city for the Mohammedan rite
of circumcision.

Later in the day a Jewish funeral comes hurrying through the grove: some
twenty or thirty men in flat caps trimmed with fur and gabardines of
cotton velvet, purple, or yellow, or pink, chanting psalms as they
march, with the body of the dead man wrapped in linen cloth and carried
on a rude bier on their shoulders. They seem in haste, (because the hour
is late and the burial must be made before sunset), perhaps a little
indifferent, or almost joyful. Certainly there is no sign of grief in
their looks or their voices; for among them it is counted a fortunate
thing to die in the Holy City and to be buried on the southern slope of
the Valley of Jehoshaphat, where Gabriel is to blow his trumpet for the



Outside the gates we ride, for the roads which encircle the city wall
and lead off to the north and south and east and west, are fairly broad
and smooth. But within the gates we walk, for the streets are narrow,
steep and slippery, and to attempt them on horseback is to travel with
an anxious mind.

Through the Jaffa Gate, indeed, you may easily ride, or even drive in
your carriage: not through the gateway itself, which is a close and
crooked alley, but through the great gap in the wall beside it, made for
the German Emperor to pass through at the time of his famous imperial
scouting-expedition in Syria in 1898. Thus following the track of the
great William you come to the entrance of the Grand New Hotel, among
curiosity-shops and tourist-agencies, where a multitude of bootblacks
assure you that you need "a shine," and _valets de place_ press their
services upon you, and ingratiating young merchants try to allure you
into their establishments to purchase photographs or embroidered scarves
or olive-wood souvenirs of the Holy Land.

[Illustration: A Street in Jerusalem.]

Come over to Cook's office, where we get our letters, and stand for a
while on the little terrace with the iron railing, looking at the motley
crowd which fills the place in front of the citadel. Groups of
blue-robed peasant women sit on the curbstone, selling firewood and
grass and vegetables. Their faces are bare and brown, wrinkled with the
sun and the wind. Turkish soldiers in dark-green uniform, Greek priests
in black robes and stove-pipe hats, Bedouins in flowing cloaks of brown
and white, pale-faced Jews with velvet gabardines and curly ear-locks,
Moslem women in many-coloured silken garments and half-transparent
veils, British tourists with cork helmets and white umbrellas, camels,
donkeys, goats, and sheep, jostle together in picturesque confusion.
There is a water-carrier with his shiny, dripping, bulbous goat-skin
on his shoulders. There is an Arab of the wilderness with a young
gazelle in his arms.

Now let us go down the greasy, gliddery steps of David Street, between
the diminutive dusky shops with open fronts where all kinds of queer
things to eat and to wear are sold, and all sorts of craftsmen are at
work making shoes, and tin pans, and copper pots, and wooden seats, and
little tables, and clothes of strange pattern. A turn to the left brings
us into Christian Street and the New Bazaar of the Greeks, with its
modern stores.

A turn to the right and a long descent under dark archways and through
dirty, shadowy alleys brings us to the Place of Lamentations, beside the
ancient foundation wall of the Temple, where the Jews come in the
afternoon of Fridays and festival-days to lean their heads against the
huge stones and murmur forth their wailings over the downfall of
Jerusalem. "For the majesty that is departed," cries the leader, and the
others answer: "We sit in solitude and mourn." "We pray Thee have mercy
on Zion," cries the leader, and the others answer: "Gather the children
of Jerusalem." With most of them it seems a perfunctory mourning; but
there are two or three old men with the tears running down their faces
as they kiss the smooth-worn stones.

We enter convents and churches, mosques and tombs. We trace the course
of the traditional _Via Dolorosa_, and try to reconstruct in our
imagination the probable path of that grievous journey from the
judgment-hall of injustice to the Calvary of cruelty--a path which now
lies buried far below the present level of the city.

One impression deepens in my mind with every hour: this was never
Christ's city. The confusion, the shallow curiosity, the self-interest,
the clashing prejudices, the inaccessibility of the idle and busy
multitudes were the same in His day that they are now. It was not here
that Jesus found the men and women who believed in Him and loved Him,
but in the quiet villages, among the green fields, by the peaceful
lake-shores. And it is not here that we shall find the clearest traces,
the most intimate visions of Him, but away in the big out-of-doors,
where the sky opens free above us, and the landscapes roll away to far

As we loiter about the city, now alone, now under the discreet and
unhampering escort of the Bethlehemite; watching the Mussulmans at their
dinner in some dingy little restaurant, where kitchen, store-room and
banquet-hall are all in the same apartment, level and open to the
street; pausing to bargain with an impassive Arab for a leather belt or
with an ingratiating Greek for a string of amber beads; looking in
through the unshuttered windows of the Jewish houses where the families
are gathered in festal array for the household rites of Passover week;
turning over the chaplets, and rosaries, and anklets, and bracelets of
coloured glass and mother-of-pearl, and variegated stones, and curious
beans and seed-pods in the baskets of the street-vendors around the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre; stepping back into an archway to avoid a
bag-footed camel, or a gaily caparisoned horse, or a heavy-laden donkey
passing through a narrow street; exchanging a smile and an
unintelligible friendly jest with a sweet-faced, careless child;
listening to long disputes between buyers and sellers in that
resounding Arab tongue which seems full of tragic indignation and wrath,
while the eyes of the handsome brown Bedouins who use it remain
unsearchable in their Oriental languor and pride; Jerusalem becomes to
us more and more a symbol and epitome of that which is changeless and
transient, capricious and inevitable, necessary and insignificant,
interesting and unsatisfying, in the unfinished tragi-comedy of human
life. There are times when it fascinates us with its whirling charm.
There are other times when we are glad to ride away from it, to seek
communion with the great spirit of some antique prophet, or to find the
consoling presence of Him who spake the words of the eternal life.


_How wonderful are the cities that man hath builded:
Their walls are compacted of heavy stones,
And their lofty towers rise above the tree-tops._

_Rome, Jerusalem, Cairo, Damascus,--
Venice, Constantinople, Moscow, Pekin,--
London, New York, Berlin, Paris, Vienna,--_

_These are the names of mighty enchantments:
They have called to the ends of the earth,
They have secretly summoned an host of servants._

_They shine from far sitting beside great waters:
They are proudly enthroned upon high hills,
They spread out their splendour along the rivers._

_Yet are they all the work of small patient fingers:
Their strength is in the hand of man,
He hath woven his flesh and blood into their glory._

_The cities are scattered over the world like ant-hills:
Every one of them is full of trouble and toil,
And their makers run to and fro within them._

_Abundance of riches is laid up in their store-houses:
Yet they are tormented with the fear of want,
The cry of the poor in their streets is exceeding bitter._

_Their inhabitants are driven by blind perturbations:
They whirl sadly in the fever of haste,
Seeking they know not what, they pursue it fiercely._

_The air is heavy-laden with their breathing:
The sound of their coming and going is never still,
Even in the night I hear them whispering and crying._

_Beside every ant-hill I behold a monster crouching:
This is the ant-lion Death,
He thrusteth forth his tongue and the people perish._

_O God of wisdom thou hast made the country:
Why hast thou suffered man to make the town?_

_Then God answered, Surely I am the maker of man:
And in the heart of man I have set the city._


                    MIZPAH AND THE MOUNT OF OLIVES



Mizpah of Benjamin stands to the northwest: the sharpest peak in the
Judean range, crowned with a ragged, dusty village and a small mosque.
We rode to it one morning over the steepest, stoniest bridle-paths that
we had ever seen. The country was bleak and rocky, a skeleton of
landscape; but between the stones and down the precipitous hillsides and
along the hot gorges, the incredible multitude of spring flowers were

It was a stiff scramble up the conical hill to the little hamlet at the
top, built out of and among ruins. The mosque, evidently an old
Christian church remodelled, was bare, but fairly clean, cool, and
tranquil. We peered through a grated window, tied with many-coloured
scraps of rags by the Mohammedan pilgrims, into a whitewashed room
containing a huge sarcophagus said to be the tomb of Samuel. Then we
climbed the minaret and lingered on the tiny railed balcony, feeding on
the view.

The peak on which we stood was isolated by deep ravines from the other
hills of desolate gray and scanty green. Beyond the western range lay
the Valley of Aijalon, and beyond that the rich Plain of Sharon with
iridescent hues of green and blue and silver, and beyond that the yellow
line of the sand-dunes broken by the white spot of Jaffa, and beyond
that the azure breadth of the Mediterranean. Northward, at our feet, on
the summit of a lower conical hill, ringed with gray rock, lay the
village of El-Jib, the ancient Geba of Benjamin, one of the cities which
Joshua gave to the Levites.

This was the place from which Jonathan and his armour-bearer set out,
without Saul's knowledge, on their daring, perilous scouting expedition
against the Philistines. What fighting there was in olden days over that
tumbled country of hills and gorges, stretching away north to the blue
mountains of Samaria and the summits of Ebal and Gerizim on the horizon!

There on the rocky backbone of Benjamin and Ephraim, was Ramallah
(where we had spent Sunday in the sweet orderliness of the Friends'
Mission School), and Beëroth, and Bethel, and Gilgal, and Shiloh.
Eastward, behind the hills, we could trace the long, vast trench of the
Jordan valley running due north and south, filled with thin violet haze
and terminating in a glint of the Dead Sea. Beyond that deep line of
division rose the mountains of Gilead and Moab, a lofty, unbroken
barrier. To the south-east we could see the red roofs of the new
Jerusalem, and a few domes and minarets of the ancient city. Beyond
them, in the south, was the truncated cone of the Frank Mountain, where
the crusaders made their last stand against the Saracens; and the hills
around Bethlehem; and a glimpse, nearer at hand, of the tall cypresses
and peaceful gardens of 'Ain Karîm.

This terrestrial paradise of vision encircled us with jewel-hues and
clear, exquisite outlines. Below us were the flat roofs of Nebi Samwîl,
with a dog barking on every roof; the filthy courtyards and dark
doorways, with a woman in one of them making bread; the ruined archways
and broken cisterns with a pool of green water stagnating in one
corner; peasants ploughing their stony little fields, and a string of
donkeys winding up the steep path to the hill.

Here, centuries ago, Samuel called all Israel to Mizpah, and offered
sacrifice before Jehovah, and judged the people. Here he inspired them
with new courage and sent them down to discomfit the Philistines. Hither
he came as judge and ruler of Israel, making his annual circuit between
Gilgal and Bethel and Mizpah. Here he assembled the tribes again, when
they were tired of his rule, and gave them a King according to their
desire, even the tall warrior Saul, the son of Kish.

Do the bones of the prophet rest here or at Ramah? I do not know. But
here, on this commanding peak, he began and ended his judgeship; from
this aerie he looked forth upon the inheritance of the turbulent sons of
Jacob; and here, if you like, today, a pale, clever young Mohammedan
will show you what he calls the coffin of Samuel.



We had seen from Mizpah the sharp ridge of the Mount of Olives, rising
beyond Jerusalem. Our road thither from the camp led us around the city,
past the Damascus Gate, and the royal grottoes, and Herod's Gate, and
the Tower of the Storks, and St. Stephen's Gate, down into the Valley of
the Brook Kidron. Here, on the west, rises the precipitous Temple Hill
crowned with the wall of the city, and on the east the long ridge of

There are several buildings on the side of the steep hill, marking
supposed holy places or sacred events--the Church of the Tomb of the
Virgin, the Latin Chapel of the Agony, the Greek Church of St. Mary
Magdalen. On top of the ridge are the Russian Buildings, with the Chapel
of the Ascension, and the Latin Buildings, with the Church of the Creed,
the Church of the Paternoster, and a Carmelite Nunnery. Among the walls
of these inclosures we wound our way, and at last tied our horses
outside of the Russian garden. We climbed the two hundred and fourteen
steps of the lofty Belvidere Tower, and found ourselves in possession of
one of the great views of the world. There is Jerusalem, across the
Kidron, spread out like a raised map below us. The mountains of Judah
roll away north and south and east and west--the clean-cut pinnacle of
Mizpah, the lofty plain of Rephaïm, the dark hills toward Hebron, the
rounded top of Scopus where Titus camped with his Roman legions, the
flattened peak of Frank Mountain. Bethlehem is not visible; but there is
the tiny village of Bethphage, and the first roof of Bethany peeping
over the ridge, and the Inn of the Good Samaritan in a red cut of the
long serpentine road to Jericho. The dark range of Gilead and Moab seems
like a huge wall of lapis-lazuli beyond the furrowed, wrinkled,
yellowish clay-hills and the wide gray trench of the Jordan Valley,
wherein the river marks its crooked path with a line of deep green. The
hundreds of ridges that slope steeply down to that immense depression
are touched with a thousand hues of amethystine light, and the ravines
between them filled with a thousand tones of azure shadow. At the end
of the valley glitter the blue waters of the Dead Sea, fifteen miles
away, four thousand feet below us, yet seeming so near that we almost
expect to hear the sound of its waves on the rocky shores of the
Wilderness of Tekoa.

On this mount Jesus of Nazareth often walked with His disciples. On this
widespread landscape His eyes rested as He spoke divinely of the
invisible kingdom of peace and love and joy that shall never pass away.
Over this walled city, sleeping in the sunshine, full of earthly dreams
and disappointments, battlemented hearts and whited sepulchres of the
spirit, He wept, and cried: "O Jerusalem, how often would I have
gathered thy children together even as a hen gathereth her own brood
under her wings, and ye would not!"



Come down, now, from the mount of vision to the grove of olive-trees,
the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus used to take refuge with His
friends. It lies on the eastern slope of Olivet, not far above the
Valley of Kidron, over against that city-gate which was called the
Beautiful, or the Golden, but which is now walled up.

The grove probably belonged to some friend of Jesus or of one of His
disciples, who permitted them to make use of it for their quiet
meetings. At that time, no doubt, the whole hillside was covered with
olive-trees, but most of these have now disappeared. The eight aged
trees that still cling to life in Gethsemane have been inclosed with a
low wall and an iron railing, and the little garden that blooms around
them is cared for by Franciscan monks from Italy.

The gentle, friendly Fra Giovanni, in bare sandaled feet, coarse brown
robe, and broad-brimmed straw hat, is walking among the flowers. He
opens the gate for us and courteously invites us in, telling us in
broken French that we may pick what flowers we like. Presently I fall
into discourse with him in broken Italian, telling him of my visit years
ago to the cradle of his Order at Assisi, and to its most beautiful
shrine at La Verna, high above the Val d'Arno. His old eyes soften into
youthful brightness as he speaks of Italy. It was most beautiful, he
said, _bellisima!_ But he is happier here, caring for this garden, it is
most holy, _santissima!_

The bronzed Mohammedan gardener, silent, patient, absorbed in his task,
moves with his watering-pot among the beds, quietly refreshing the
thirsty blossoms. There are wall-flowers, stocks, pansies, baby's
breath, pinks, anemones of all colours, rosemary, rue, poppies--all
sorts of sweet old-fashioned flowers. Among them stand the scattered
venerable trees, with enormous trunks, wrinkled and contorted, eaten
away by age, patched and built up with stones, protected and tended with
pious care, as if they were very old people whose life must be tenderly
nursed and sheltered. Their boles hardly seem to be of wood; so dark, so
twisted, so furrowed are they, of an aspect so enduring that they
appear to be cast in bronze or carved out of black granite. Above each
of them spreads a crown of fresh foliage, delicate, abundant, shimmering
softly in the sunlight and the breeze, with silken turnings of the under
side of the innumerable leaves. In the centre of the garden is a kind of
open flower house with a fountain of flowing water, erected in memory of
a young American girl. At each corner a pair of slender cypresses lift
their black-green spires against the blanched azure of the sky.

It is a place of refuge, of ineffable tranquillity, of unforgetful
tenderness. The inclosure does not offend. How else could this sacred
shrine of the out-of-doors be preserved? And what more fitting guardian
for it than the Order of that loving Saint Francis, who called the sun
and the moon his brother and his sister and preached to a joyous
congregation of birds as his "little brothers of the air"? The flowers
do not offend. Their antique fragrance, gracious order, familiar looks,
are a symbol of what faithful memory does with the sorrows and
sufferings of those who have loved us best--she treasures and
transmutes them into something beautiful, she grows her sweetest flowers
in the ground that tears have made holy.

It is here, in this quaint and carefully tended garden, this precious
place which has been saved alike from the oblivious trampling of the
crowd and from the needless imprisonment of four walls and a roof, it is
here in the open air, in the calm glow of the afternoon, under the
shadow of Mount Zion, that we find for the first time that which we have
come so far to seek,--the soul of the Holy Land, the inward sense of the
real presence of Jesus.

It is as clear and vivid as any outward experience. Why should I not
speak of it as simply and candidly? Nothing that we have yet seen in
Palestine, no vision of wide-spread landscape, no sight of ancient ruin
or famous building or treasured relic, comes as close to our hearts as
this little garden sleeping in the sun. Nothing that we have read from
our Bibles in the new light of this journey has been for us so suddenly
illumined, so deeply and tenderly brought home to us, as the story of

Here, indeed, in the moonlit shadow of these olives--if not of these
very branches, yet of others sprung from the same immemorial stems--was
endured the deepest suffering ever borne for man, the most profound
sorrow of the greatest Soul that loved all human souls. It was not in
the temptation in the wilderness, as Milton imagined, that the crisis of
the Divine life was enacted and Paradise was regained. It was in the
agony in the garden.

Here the love of life wrestled in the heart of Jesus with the purpose of
sacrifice, and the anguish of that wrestling wrung the drops of blood
from Him like sweat. Here, for the only time, He found the cup of sorrow
and shame too bitter, and prayed the Father to take it from His lips if
it were possible--possible without breaking faith, without surrendering
love. For that He would not do, though His soul was exceeding sorrowful,
even unto death. Here He learned the frailty of human friendship, the
narrowness and dulness and coldness of the very hearts for whom He had
done and suffered most, who could not even watch with Him one hour.

What infinite sense of the poverty and feebleness of mankind, the
inveteracy of selfishness, the uncertainty of human impulses and
aspirations and promises; what poignant questioning of the necessity,
the utility of self-immolation must have tortured the soul of Jesus in
that hour! It was His black hour. None can imagine the depth of that
darkness but those who have themselves passed through some of its outer
shadows, in the times when love seems vain, and sacrifice futile, and
friendship meaningless, and life a failure, and death intolerable.

Jesus met the spirit of despair in the Garden of Gethsemane; and after
that meeting, the cross had no terrors for Him, because He had already
endured them; the grave no fear, because He had already conquered it.
How calm and gentle was the voice with which He wakened His disciples,
how firm the step with which He went to meet Judas! The bitterness of
death was behind Him in the shadow of the olive-trees. The peace of
Heaven shone above Him in the silent stars.


_Mine enemies have prevailed against me, O God:
Thou hast led me deep into their ambush._

_They surround me with a hedge of spears:
And the sword in my hand is broken._

_My friends also have forsaken my side:
From a safe place they look upon me with pity._

_My heart is like water poured upon the ground:
I have come alone to the place of surrender._

_To thee, to thee only will I give up my sword:
The sword which was broken in thy service._

_Thou hast required me to suffer for thy cause:
By my defeat thy will is victorious._

_O my King show me thy face shining in the dark:
While I drink the loving-cup of death to thy glory._





A sparkling morning followed a showery night, and all the little red and
white and yellow flowers were lifting glad faces to the sun as we took
the highroad to Bethlehem. Leaving the Jaffa Gate on the left, we
crossed the head of the deep Valley of Hinnom, below the dirty Pool of
the Sultan, and rode up the hill on the opposite side of the vale.

There was much rubbish and filth around us, and the sight of the
Ophthalmic Hospital of the English Knights of Saint John, standing in
the beauty of cleanness and order beside the road, did our eyes good.
Blindness is one of the common afflictions of the people of Palestine.
Neglect and ignorance and dirt and the plague of crawling flies spread
the germs of disease from eye to eye, and the people submit to it with
pathetic and irritating fatalism. It is hard to persuade these poor
souls that the will of Allah or Jehovah in this matter ought not to be
accepted until after it has been questioned. But the light of true and
humane religion is spreading a little. We rejoiced to see the
reception-room of the hospital filled with all sorts and conditions of
men, women and children waiting for the good physicians who save and
restore sight in the name of Jesus.

To the right, a little below us, lay the ugly railway station; before
us, rising gently southward, extended the elevated Plain of Rephaïm
where David smote the host of the Philistines after he had heard "the
sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry-trees." The red soil was
cultivated in little farms and gardens. The almond-trees were in leaf;
the hawthorn in blossom; the fig-trees were putting forth their tender

[Illustration: A Street in Bethlehem.]

A slowly ascending road brought us to the hill of Mâr Elyâs, and the
so-called Well of the Magi. Here the legend says the Wise Men halted
after they had left Jerusalem, and the star reappeared to guide them on
to Bethlehem. Certain it is that they must have taken this road; and
certain it is that both Bethlehem and Jerusalem, hidden from each other
by the rising ground, are clearly visible to one who stands in the
saddle of this hill.

There were fine views down the valleys to the east, with blue glimpses
of the Dead Sea at the end of them. The supposed tomb of Rachel, a dingy
little building with a white dome, interested us less than the broad
lake of olive-orchards around the distant village of Beit Jâlâ, and the
green fields, pastures and gardens encircling the double hill of
Bethlehem, the ancient "House of Bread." There was an aspect of
fertility and friendliness about the place that seemed in harmony with
its name and its poetic memories.

In a walled kitchen-garden at the entrance of the town was David's Well.
We felt no assurance, of course, as we looked down into it, that this
was the veritable place. But at all events it served to bring back to us
one of the prettiest bits of romance in the Old Testament. When the bold
son of Jesse had become a chieftain of outlaws and was besieged by the
Philistines in the stronghold of Adullam, his heart grew thirsty for a
draught from his father's well, whose sweetness he had known as a boy.
And when his three mighty men went up secretly at the risk of their
lives, and broke through the host of their enemies, and brought their
captain a vessel of this water, "he would not drink thereof, but poured
it out unto Jehovah."

There was a division of opinion in our party in regard to this act. "It
was sheer foolishness," said the Patriarch, "to waste anything that had
cost so much to get. What must the three mighty men have thought when
they saw that for which they had risked their lives poured out upon the
ground?" "Ah, no," said the Lady. "It was the highest gratitude, because
it was touched with poetry. It was the best compliment that David could
have given to his friends. Some gifts are too precious to be received in
any other way than this." And in my heart I knew that she was right.

Riding through the narrow streets of the town, which is inhabited almost
entirely by Christians, we noted the tranquil good looks of the women, a
distinct type, rather short of stature, round-faced, placid and kind of
aspect. Not a few of them had blue eyes. They wore dark-blue skirts,
dark-red jackets, and a white veil over their heads, but not over their
faces. Under the veil the married women wore a peculiar cap of stiff,
embroidered black cloth, about six inches high, and across the front of
this cap was strung their dowry of gold or silver coins. Such a dress,
no doubt, was worn by the Virgin Mary, and such tranquil, friendly
looks, I think, were hers, but touched with a rarer light of beauty
shining from a secret source within.

A crowd of little boys and girls just released from school for their
recess shouted and laughed and chased one another, pausing for a moment
in round-eyed wonder when I pointed my camera at them. Donkeys and
camels and sheep made our passage through the town slow, and gave us
occasion to look to our horses' footing. At one corner a great white sow
ran out of an alley-way, followed by a twinkling litter of pink pigs. In
the market-place we left our horses in the shadow of the monastery wall
and entered, by a low door, the lofty, bare Church of the Nativity.

The long rows of immense marble pillars had some faded remains of
painting on them. There were a few battered fragments of mosaic in the
clerestory, dimly glittering. But the general effect of the whitewashed
walls, the ancient brown beams and rafters of the roof, the large, empty
space, was one of extreme simplicity.

When we came into the choir and apse we found ourselves in the midst of
complexity. The ownership of the different altars with their gilt
ornaments, of the swinging lamps, of the separate doorways of the Greeks
and the Armenians and the Latins, was bewildering. Dark, winding steps,
slippery with the drippings from many candles, led us down into the
Grotto of the Nativity. It was a cavern perhaps forty feet long and ten
feet wide, lit by thirty pendent lamps (Greek, Armenian and Latin):
marble floor and walls hung with draperies; a silver star in the
pavement before the altar to mark the spot where Christ was born; a
marble manger in the corner to mark the cradle in which Christ was laid;
a never-ceasing stream of poor pilgrims, who come kneeling, and kissing
the star and the stones and the altar for Christ's sake.

[Illustration: The Market-place, Bethlehem.]

We paused for a while, after we had come up, to ask ourselves whether
what we had seen was in any way credible. Yes, credible, but not
convincing. No doubt the ancient Khân of Bethlehem must have been
somewhere near this spot, in the vicinity of the market-place of the
town. No doubt it was the custom, when there were natural hollows or
artificial grottos in the rock near such an inn, to use them as shelters
and stalls for the cattle. It is quite possible, it is even probable,
that this may have been one of the shallow caverns used for such a
purpose. If so, there is no reason to deny that this may be the place of
the wondrous birth, where, as the old French _Noel_ has it:

  "_Dieu parmy les pastoreaux,
  Sous la crêche des toreaux,
  Dans les champs a voulu naistre;
  Et non parmy les arroys
  Des grands princes et des roys,--
  Lui des plus grands roys le maistre._"

But to the eye, at least, there is no reminder of the scene of the
Nativity in this close and stifling chapel, hung with costly silks and
embroideries, glittering with rich lamps, filled with the smoke of
incense and waxen tapers. And to the heart there is little suggestion
of the lonely night when Joseph found a humble refuge here for his young
bride to wait in darkness, pain and hope for her hour to come.

In the church above, the Latins and Armenians and Greeks guard their
privileges and prerogatives jealously. There have been fights here about
the driving of a nail, the hanging of a picture, the sweeping of a bit
of the floor. The Crimean War began in a quarrel between the Greeks and
the Latins, and a mob-struggle in the Church of the Nativity. Underneath
the floor, to the north of the Grotto of the Nativity, is the cave in
which Saint Jerome lived peaceably for many years, translating the Bible
into Latin. That was better than fighting.



We ate our lunch at Bethlehem in a curiosity-shop. The table was spread
at the back of the room by the open window. All around us were hanging
innumerable chaplets and rosaries of mother-of-pearl, of carnelian, of
carved olive-stones, of glass beads; trinkets and souvenirs of all
imaginable kinds, tiny sheep-bells and inlaid boxes and carved fans
filled the cases and cabinets. Through the window came the noise of
people busy at Bethlehem's chief industry, the cutting and polishing of
mother-of-pearl for mementoes. The jingling bells of our pack-train,
passing the open door, reminded us that our camp was to be pitched miles
away on the road to Hebron.

We called for the horses and rode on through the town. Very beautiful
and peaceful was the view from the southern hill, looking down upon the
pastures of Bethlehem where "shepherds watched their flocks by night,"
and the field of Boaz where Ruth followed the reapers among the corn.

Down dale and up hill we journeyed; bright green of almond-trees, dark
green of carob-trees, snowy blossoms of apricot-trees, rosy blossoms of
peach-trees, argent verdure of olive-trees, adorning the valleys. Then
out over the wilder, rockier heights; and past the great empty Pools of
Solomon, lying at the head of the Wâdi Artâs, watched by a square ruined
castle; and up the winding road and along the lofty flower-sprinkled
ridges; and at last we came to our tents, pitched in the wide, green
Wâdi el-'Arrûb, beside the bridge.

Springs gushed out of the hillside here and ran down in a little
laughing brook through lawns full of tiny pink and white daisies, and
broad fields of tangled weeds and flowers, red anemones, blue iris,
purple mallows, scarlet adonis, with here and there a strip of
cultivated ground shimmering with silky leeks or dotted with young
cucumbers. There was a broken aqueduct cut in the rock at the side of
the valley, and the brook slipped by a large ruined reservoir.

"George," said I to the Bethlehemite, as he sat meditating on the edge
of the dry pool, "what do you think of this valley?"

"I think," said George, "that if I had a few thousand dollars to buy the
land, with all this runaway water I could make it blossom like a

The cold, green sunset behind the western hills darkened into night. The
air grew chilly, dropping nearly to the point of frost. We missed the
blazing camp-fire of the Canadian forests, and went to bed early,
tucking in the hot-water bags at our feet and piling on the blankets and
rugs. All through the night we could hear the passers-by shouting and
singing along the Hebron road. There was one unknown traveller whose
high-pitched, quavering Arab song rose far away, and grew louder as he
approached, and passed us in a whirlwind of lugubrious music, and
tapered slowly off into distance and silence--a chant a mile long.

The morning broke through flying clouds, with a bitter, wet, west wind
rasping the bleak highlands. There were spiteful showers with intervals
of mocking sunshine; it was a mischievous and prankish bit of weather,
no day for riding. But the Lady was indomitable, so we left the
Patriarch in his tent, wrapped ourselves in garments of mackintosh and
took the road again.

The country, at first, was wild and barren, a wilderness of rocks and
thorn bushes and stunted scrub oaks. Now and then a Greek partridge, in
its beautiful plumage of fawn-gray, marked with red and black about the
head, clucked like a hen on the stony hillside, or whirred away in low,
straight flight over the bushes. Flocks of black and brown goats, with
pendulous ears, skipped up and down the steep ridges, standing up on
their hind legs to browse the foliage of the little oak shrubs, or
showing themselves off in a butting-match on top of a big rock. Marching
on the highroad they seemed sedate, despondent, pattering along soberly
with flapping ears. In the midst of one flock I saw a fierce-looking
tattered pastor tenderly carrying a little black kid in his bosom--as
tenderly as if it were a lamb. It seemed like an illustration of a
picture that I saw long ago in the Catacombs, in which the infant church
of Christ silently expressed the richness of her love, the breadth of
her hope:

  "On those walls subterranean, where she hid
  Her head 'mid ignominy, death and tombs,
  She her Good Shepherd's hasty image drew--
  And on His shoulders, not a lamb, a kid."

As we drew nearer to Hebron the region appeared more fertile, and the
landscape smiled a little under the gleams of wintry sunshine. There
were many vineyards; in most of them the vines trailed along the ground,
but in some they were propped up on sticks, like old men leaning on
crutches. Almond and apricot-trees flourished. The mulberries, the
olives, the sycamores were abundant. Peasants were ploughing the fields
with their crooked sticks shod with a long iron point. When a man puts
his hand to such a plough he dares not look back, else it will surely go
aside. It makes a scratch, not a furrow. (I saw a man in the hospital at
Nazareth who had his thigh pierced clear through by one of these
dagger-like iron plough points.)

Children were gathering roots and thorn branches for firewood. Women
were carrying huge bundles on their heads. Donkey-boys were urging their
heavy-laden animals along the road, and cameleers led their deliberate
strings of ungainly beasts by a rope or a light chain reaching from one
nodding head to another.

A camel's load never looks as large as a donkey's, but no doubt he often
finds it heavy, and he always looks displeased with it. There is
something about the droop of a camel's lower lip which seems to express
unalterable disgust with the universe. But the rest of the world around
Hebron appeared to be reasonably happy. In spite of weather and poverty
and hard work the ploughmen sang in the fields, the children skipped and
whistled at their tasks, the passers-by on the road shouted greetings to
the labourers in the gardens and vineyards. Somewhere round about here
is supposed to lie the Valley of Eshcol from which the Hebrew spies
brought back the monstrous bunch of grapes, a cluster that reached from
the height of a man's shoulder to the ground.



Hebron lies three thousand feet above the sea, and is one of the ancient
market-places and shrines of the world. From time immemorial it has been
a holy town, a busy town, and a turbulent town. The Hittites and the
Amorites dwelt here, and Abraham, a nomadic shepherd whose tents
followed his flocks over the land of Canaan, bought here his only piece
of real estate, the field and cave of Machpelah. He bought it for a
tomb,--even a nomad wishes to rest quietly in death,--and here he and
his wife Sarah, and his children Isaac and Rebekah, and his
grandchildren Jacob and Leah were buried.

The modern town has about twenty thousand inhabitants, chiefly
Mohammedans of a fanatical temper, and is incredibly dirty. We passed
the muddy pool by which King David, when he was reigning here, hanged
the murderers of Ishbosheth. We climbed the crooked streets to the
Mosque which covers the supposed site of the cave of Machpelah. But we
did not see the tomb of Abraham, for no "infidel" is allowed to pass
beyond the seventh step in the flight of stairs which leads up to the

As we went down through the narrow, dark, crowded Bazaar a violent storm
of hail broke over the city, pelting into the little open shops and
covering the streets half an inch deep with snowy sand and pebbles of
ice. The tempest was a rude joke, which seemed to surprise the surly
crowd into a good humour. We laughed with the Moslems as we took shelter
together from our common misery under a stone archway.

After the storm had passed we ate our midday meal on a housetop, which
a friend of the dragoman put at our disposal, and rode out in the
afternoon to the Oak of Abraham on the hill of Mamre. The tree is an
immense, battered veteran, with a trunk ten feet in diameter, and
wide-flung, knotted arms which still bear a few leaves and acorns. It
has been inclosed with a railing, patched up with masonry, partially
protected by a roof. The Russian monks who live near by have given it
pious care, yet its inevitable end is surely near.

The death of a great sheltering tree has a kind of dumb pathos. It seems
like the passing away of something beneficent and helpless, something
that was able to shield others but not itself.

On this hill, under the oaks of Mamre, Abraham's tents were pitched many
a year, and here he entertained the three angels unawares, and Sarah
made pancakes for them, and listened behind the tent-flap while they
were talking with her husband, and laughed at what they said. This may
not be the very tree that flung its shadow over the tent, but no doubt
it is a son or a grandson of that tree, and the acorns that still fall
from it may be the seeds of other oaks to shelter future generations of
pilgrims; and so throughout the world, the ancient covenant of
friendship is unbroken, and man remains a grateful lover of the big,
kind trees.

We got home to our camp in the green meadow of the springs late in the
afternoon, and on the third day we rode back to Jerusalem, and pitched
the tents in a new place, on a hill opposite the Jaffa Gate, with a
splendid view of the Valley of Hinnom, the Tower of David, and the
western wall of the city.


_I will sing of the bounty of the big trees,
They are the green tents of the Almighty,
He hath set them up for comfort and for shelter._

_Their cords hath he knotted in the earth,
He hath driven their stakes securely,
Their roots take hold of the rocks like iron._

_He sendeth into their bodies the sap of life,
They lift themselves lightly towards the heavens.
They rejoice in the broadening of their branches._

_Their leaves drink in the sunlight and the air,
They talk softly together when the breeze bloweth,
Their shadow in the noonday is full of coolness._

_The tall palm-trees of the plain are rich in fruit,
While the fruit ripeneth the flower unfoldeth,
The beauty of their crown is renewed on high forever._

_The cedars of Lebanon are fed by the snow,
Afar on the mountain they grow like giants,
In their layers of shade a thousand years are sighing._

_How fair are the trees that befriend the home of man,
The oak, and the terebinth, and the sycamore,
The fruitful fig-tree and the silvery olive._

_In them the Lord is loving to his little birds,--
The linnets and the finches and the nightingales,--
They people his pavilions with nests and with music._

_The cattle are very glad of a great tree,
They chew the cud beneath it while the sun is burning,
There also the panting sheep lie down around their shepherd._

_He that planteth a tree is a servant of God,
He provideth a kindness for many generations,
And faces that he hath not seen shall bless him._

_Lord, when my spirit shall return to thee,
At the foot of a friendly tree let my body be buried,
That this dust may rise and rejoice among the branches._





There is an upward impulse in man that draws him to a hilltop for his
place of devotion and sanctuary of ascending thoughts. The purer air,
the wider outlook, the sense of freedom and elevation, help to release
his spirit from the weight that bends his forehead to the dust. A
traveller in Palestine, if he had wings, could easily pass through the
whole land by short flights from the summit of one holy hill to another,
and look down from a series of mountain-altars upon the wrinkled map of
sacred history without once descending into the valley or toiling over
the plain. But since there are no wings provided in the human outfit,
our journey from shrine to shrine must follow the common way of
men,--which is also a symbol,--the path of up-and-down, and many
windings, and weary steps.

The oldest of the shrines of Jerusalem is the threshing-floor of Araunah
the Jebusite, which David bought from him in order that it might be
made the site of the Temple of Jehovah. No doubt the King knew of the
traditions which connected the place with ancient and famous rites of
worship. But I think he was moved also by the commanding beauty of the
situation, on the very summit of Mount Moriah, looking down into the
deep Valley of the Kidron.

Our way to this venerable and sacred hill leads through the crooked
duskiness of David Street, and across the half-filled depression of the
Tyrop[oe]on Valley which divides the city, and up through the dim,
deserted Bazaar of the Cotton Merchants, and so through the central
western gate of the Haram-esh-Sherîf, "the Noble Sanctuary."

This is a great inclosure, clean, spacious, airy, a place of refuge from
the foul confusion of the city streets. The wall that shuts us in is
almost a mile long, and within this open space, which makes an immediate
effect of breadth and tranquil order, are some of the most sacred
buildings of Islam and some of the most significant landmarks of

Slender and graceful arcades are outlined against the clear, blue sky:
little domes are poised over praying-places and fountains of ablution:
wide and easy flights of steps lead from one level to another, in this
park of prayer.

At the southern end, beyond the tall cypresses and the plashing fountain
fed from Solomon's Pools, stands the long Mosque el-Aksa: to
Mohammedans, the place to which Allah brought their prophet from Mecca
in one night; to Christians, the Basilica which the Emperor Justinian
erected in honor of the Virgin Mary. At the northern end rises the
ancient wall of the Castle of Antonia, from whose steps Saint Paul,
protected by the Roman captain, spoke his defence to the Jerusalem mob.
The steps, hewn partly in the solid rock, are still visible; but the
site of the castle is occupied by the Turkish barracks, beside which the
tallest minaret of the Haram lifts its covered gallery high above the
corner of the great wall.

Yonder to the east is the Golden Gate, above the steep Valley of
Jehoshaphat. It is closed with great stones; because the Moslem
tradition says that some Friday a Christian conqueror will enter
Jerusalem by that gate. Not far away we see the column in the wall from
which the Mohammedans believe a slender rope, or perhaps a naked sword,
will be stretched, in the judgment day, to the Mount of Olives opposite.
This, according to them, will be the bridge over which all human souls
must walk, while Christ sits at one end, Mohammed at the other, watching
and judging. The righteous, upheld by angels, will pass safely; the
wicked, heavy with unbalanced sins, will fall.

Dominating all these wide-spread relics and shrines, in the centre of
the inclosure, on a raised platform approached through delicate arcades,
stands the great Dome of the Rock, built by Abd-el-Melik in 688 A.D., on
the site of the Jewish Temple. The exterior of the vast octagon, with
its lower half cased in marble and its upper half incrusted with Persian
tiles of blue and green, its broad, round lantern and swelling black
dome surmounted by a glittering crescent, is bathed in full sunlight;
serene, proud, eloquent of a certain splendid simplicity. Within, the
light filters dimly through windows of stained glass and falls on marble
columns, bronzed beams, mosaic walls, screens of wrought iron and carved
wood. We walk as if through an interlaced forest and undergrowth of
rich entangled colours. It all seems visionary, unreal, fantastic, until
we climb the bench by the end of the inner screen and look upon the Rock
over which the Dome is built.

This is the real thing,--a plain gray limestone rock, level and fairly
smooth, the unchanged summit of Mount Moriah. Here the priest-king
Melchizedek offered sacrifice. Here Abraham, in the cruel fervour of his
faith, was about to slay his only son Isaac because he thought it would
please Jehovah. Here Araunah the Jebusite threshed his corn on the
smooth rock and winnowed it in the winds of the hilltop, until King
David stepped over from Mount Zion, and bought the threshing-floor and
the oxen of him for fifty shekels of silver, and built in this place an
altar to the Lord. Here Solomon erected his splendid Temple and the
Chaldeans burned it. Here Zerubbabel built the second Temple after the
return of the Jews from exile, and Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated it,
and Herod burned part of it and pulled down the rest. Here Herod built
the third Temple, larger and more magnificent than the first, and the
soldiers of the Emperor Titus burned it. Here the Emperor Hadrian built
a temple to Jupiter and himself, and some one, perhaps the Christians,
burned it. Here Mohammed came to pray, declaring that one prayer here
was worth a thousand elsewhere. Here the Caliph Omar built a little
wooden mosque, and the Caliph Abd-el-Melik replaced it with this great
one of marble, and the Crusaders changed it into a Christian temple, and
Saladin changed it back again into a mosque.

This Haram-esh-Sherîf is the second holiest place in the Moslem world.
Hither come the Mohammedan pilgrims by thousands, for the sake of
Mohammed. Hither come the Christian pilgrims by thousands, for the sake
of Him who said: "Neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem shall ye
worship the Father." Hither the Jewish pilgrims never come, for fear
their feet may unwittingly tread upon "the Holy of Holies," and defile
it; but they creep outside of the great inclosure, in the gloomy trench
beside the foundation stones of the wall, mourning and lamenting for the
majesty that is departed and the Temple that is ground to powder.

But amid all these changes and perturbations, here stands the good old
limestone rock, the threshing-floor of Araunah, the capstone of the
hill, waiting for the sun to shine and the dews to fall on it once more,
as they did when the foundations of the earth were laid.

The legend says that you can hear the waters of the flood roaring in an
abyss underneath the rock. I laid my ear against the rugged stone and
listened. What sound? Was it the voice of turbulent centuries and the
lapsing tides of men?



"We ought to go again to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre," said the
Lady in a voice of dutiful reminder, "we have not half seen it." So we
went down to the heart of Jerusalem and entered the labyrinthine shrine.

The motley crowd in the paved quadrangle in front of the double-arched
doorway were buying and selling, bickering and chaffering and chattering
as usual. Within the portal, on a slightly raised platform to the left,
the Turkish guardians of the holy places and keepers of the peace
between Christians were seated among their rugs and cushions, impassive,
indolent, dignified, drinking their coffee or smoking their tobacco,
conversing gravely or counting the amber beads of their comboloios. The
Sultan owns the Holy Sepulchre; but he is a liberal host and permits all
factions of Christendom to visit it and celebrate their rites in turn,
provided only they do not beat or kill one another in their devotions.
We saw his silent sentinels of tolerance scattered in every part of the
vast, confused edifice.

The interior was dim and shadowy. Opposite the entrance was the Stone of
Unction, a marble slab on which it is said the body of Christ was
anointed when it was taken down from the cross. Pilgrim after pilgrim
came kneeling to this stone, and bending to kiss it, beneath the Latin,
Greek, Armenian and Coptic lamps which hang above it by silver chains.

The Chapel of the Crucifixion was on our right, above us, in the second
story of the church. We climbed the steep flight of stairs and stood in
a little room, close, obscure, crowded with lamps and icons and
candelabra, incrusted with ornaments of gold and silver, full of strange
odours and glimmerings of mystic light. There, they told us, in front of
that rich altar was the silver star which marked the place in the rock
where the Holy Cross stood. And on either side of it were the sockets
which received the crosses of the two thieves. And a few feet away,
covered by a brass slide, was the cleft in the rock which was made by
the earthquake. It was lined with slabs of reddish marble and looked
nearly a foot deep.

Priests in black robes and tall, cylindrical hats, and others with brown
robes, rope girdles and tonsured heads, were coming and going around us.
Pilgrims were climbing and descending the stairs, kneeling and murmuring
unintelligible devotions, kissing the star and the cleft in the rock and
the icons. Underneath us, though we were supposed to stand on the hill
called Golgotha, were the offices of the Greek clergy and the Chapel of

We went around from chapel to chapel; into the opulent Greek cathedral
where they show the "Centre of the World"; into the bare little Chapel
of the Syrians where they show the tombs of Nicodemus and Joseph of
Arimathæa; into the Chapel of the Apparition where the Franciscans say
that Christ appeared to His mother after the resurrection. There was
sweet singing in this chapel and a fragrant smell of incense. We went
into the Chapel of Saint Helena, underground, which belongs to the
Greeks; into the Chapel of the Parting of the Raiment which belongs to
the Armenians. We were impartial in our visitation, but we did not have
time to see the Abyssinian Chapel, the Coptic Chapel of Saint Michael,
nor the Church of Abraham where the Anglicans are allowed to celebrate
the eucharist twice a month.

The centre of all this maze of creeds, ceremonies and devotions is the
Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre, a little edifice of precious marbles,
carved and gilded, standing beneath the great dome of the church, in the
middle of a rotunda surrounded by marble pillars. We bought and lighted
our waxen tapers and waited for a lull in the stream of pilgrims to
enter the shrine. First we stood in the vestibule with its tall
candelabra; then in the Angels' Chapel, with its fifteen swinging lamps,
making darkness visible; then, stooping through a low doorway, we came
into the tiny chamber, six feet square, which is said to contain the
rock-hewn tomb in which the Saviour of the World was buried.

Mass is celebrated here daily by different Christian sects. Pilgrims,
rich and poor, come hither from all parts of the habitable globe. They
kneel beneath the three-and-forty pendent lamps of gold and silver. They
kiss the worn slab of marble which covers the tombstone, some of them
smiling with joy, some of them weeping bitterly, some of them with
quiet, business-like devotion as if they were performing a duty. The
priest of their faith blesses them, sprinkles the relics which they lay
on the altar with holy water, and one by one the pilgrims retire
backward through the low portal.

I saw a Russian peasant, sad-eyed, wrinkled, bent with many sorrows, lay
his cheek silently on the tombstone with a look on his face as if he
were a child leaning against his mother's breast. I saw a little
barefoot boy of Jerusalem, with big, serious eyes, come quickly in, and
try to kiss the stone; but it was too high for him, so he kissed his
hand and laid it upon the altar. I saw a young nun, hardly more than a
girl, slender, pale, dark-eyed, with a noble Italian face, shaken with
sobs, the tears running down her cheeks, as she bent to touch her lips
to the resting-place of the Friend of Sinners.

This, then, is the way in which the craving for penitence, for
reverence, for devotion, for some utterance of the nameless thirst and
passion of the soul leads these pilgrims. This is the form in which the
divine mystery of sacrificial sorrow and death appeals to them, speaks
to their hearts and comforts them.

Could any Christian of whatever creed, could any son of woman with a
heart to feel the trouble and longing of humanity, turn his back upon
that altar? Must I not go away from that mysterious little room as the
others had gone, with my face toward the stone of remembrance, stooping
through the lowly door?

And yet--and yet in my deepest heart I was thirsty for the open air,
the blue sky, the pure sunlight, the tranquillity of large and silent

The Lady went with me across the crowded quadrangle into the cool,
clean, quiet German Church of the Redeemer. We climbed to the top of the
lofty bell tower.

Jerusalem lay at our feet, with its network of streets and lanes,
archways and convent walls, domes small and great--the black Dome of the
Rock in the centre of its wide inclosure, the red dome and the green
dome of the Jewish synagogues on Mount Zion, the seven gilded domes of
the Russian Church of Saint Mary Magdalen, a hundred tiny domes of
dwelling-houses, and right in front of us the yellow dome of the Greek
"Centre of the World" and the black dome of the Holy Sepulchre.

The quadrangle was still full of people buying and selling, but the
murmur of their voices was faint and far away, less loud than the
twittering of the thousands of swallows that soared and circled, with
glistening of innumerable blue-black wings and soft sheen of white
breasts, in the tender light of sunset above the façade of the gray
old church.

Westward the long ridge of Olivet was bathed in the rays of the
declining sun.

Northward, beyond the city-gate, the light fell softly on a little rocky
hill, shaped like a skull, the ancient place of stoning for those whom
the cruel city had despised and rejected and cast out. At the foot of
that eminence there is a quiet garden and a tomb hewn in the rock.
Rosemary and rue grow there, roses and lilies; birds sing among the
trees. Is not that little rounded hill, still touched with the free
light of heaven, still commanding a clear outlook over the city to the
Mount of Olives--is not that the true Golgotha, where Christ was lifted

As we were thinking of this we saw a man come out on the roof of the
Greek "Centre of the World," and climb by a ladder up the side of the
huge dome. He went slowly and carefully, yet with confidence, as if the
task were familiar. He carried a lantern in one hand. He was going to
the top of the dome to light up the great cross for the night. We spoke
no word, but each knew the thought that was in the other's heart.

Wherever the crucifixion took place, it was surely in the open air,
beneath the wide sky, and the cross that stood on Golgotha has become
the light at the centre of the world's night.


_Man the maker of cities is also a builder of altars:
Among his habitations he setteth tables for his god._

_He bringeth the beauty of the rocks to enrich them:
Marble and alabaster, porphyry, jasper and jade._

_He cometh with costly gifts to offer an oblation:
He would buy favour with the fairest of his flock._

_Around the many altars I hear strange music arising:
Loud lamentations and shouting and singing and sighs._

_I perceive also the pain and terror of their sacrifices:
I see the white marble wet with tears and with blood._

_Then I said, These are the altars of ignorance:
Yet they are built by thy children, O God, who know thee not._

_Surely thou wilt have pity upon them and lead them:
Hast thou not prepared for them a table of peace?_

_Then the Lord mercifully sent his angel forth to lead me:
He led me through the temples, the holy place that is hidden._

_Lo, there are multitudes kneeling in the silence of the spirit:
They are kneeling at the unseen altar of the lowly heart._

_Here is plentiful forgiveness for the souls that are forgiving:
And the joy of life is given unto all who long to give._

_Here a Father's hand upholdeth all who bear each other's burdens:
And the benediction falleth upon all who pray in love._

_Surely this is the altar where the penitent find pardon:
And the priest who hath blessed it forever is the Holy One of God._


                           JERICHO AND JORDAN



In the memory of every visitor to Jerusalem the excursion to Jericho is
a vivid point. For this is the one trip which everybody makes, and it is
a convention of the route to regard it as a perilous and exciting
adventure. Perhaps it is partly this flavour of a not-too-dangerous
danger, this shivering charm of a hazard to be taken without too much
risk, that attracts the average tourist, prudently romantic, to make the
journey to the lowest inhabited town in the world.

Jericho has always had an ill name. Weak walls, weak hearts, weak morals
were its early marks. Sweltering on the rich plain of the lower Jordan,
eight hundred feet below the sea, at the entrance of the two chief
passes into the Judean highlands, it was too indolent or cowardly to
maintain its own importance. Stanley called it "the key of Palestine";
but it was only a latch which any bold invader could lift. The people
of Jericho were famous for light fingers and lively feet, great robbers
and runners-away. Joshua blotted the city out with a curse; five
centuries later Hiel the Bethelite rebuilt it with the bloody sacrifice
of his two sons. Antony gave it to Cleopatra, and Herod bought it from
her for a winter palace, where he died. Nothing fine or brave, so far as
I can remember, is written of any of its inhabitants, except the good
deed of Rahab, a harlot, and the honest conduct of Zacchæus, a publican.
To this day, at the _tables d'hôte_ of Jerusalem the name of Jericho
stirs up a little whirlwind of bad stories and warnings.

Last night we were dining with friends at one of the hotels, and the
usual topic came up for discussion. Imagine what followed.

"That Jericho road is positively frightful," says a British female
tourist in lace cap, lilac ribbons and a maroon poplin dress, "the heat
is most extr'ordinary!"

"No food fit to eat at the hotel," grumbles her husband, a rosy,
bald-headed man in plaid knickerbockers, "no bottled beer; beastly
little hole!"

"A voyage of the most fatiguing, of the most perilous, I assure you,"
says a little Frenchman with a forked beard. "But I rejoice myself of
the adventure, of the romance accomplished."

"I want to know," piped a lady in a green shirt-waist from Andover,
Mass., "is there really and truly any danger?"

"I guess not for us," answers the dominating voice of the conductor of
her party. "There's always a bunch of robbers on that road, but I have
hired the biggest man of the bunch to take care of us. Just wait till
you see that dandy Sheikh in his best clothes; he looks like a museum of
old weapons."

"Have you heard," interposed a lady-like clergyman on the other side of
the table, with gold-rimmed spectacles gleaming above his high, black
waistcoat, "what happened on the Jericho road, week before last? An
English gentleman, of very good family, imprudently taking a short cut,
became separated from his companions. The Bedouins fell upon him, beat
him quite painfully, deprived him of his watch and several necessary
garments, and left him prostrate upon the earth, in an embarrassingly
denuded condition. Just fancy! Was it not perfectly shocking?" (The
clergyman's voice was full of delicious horror.) "But, after all," he
resumed with a beaming smile, "it was most scriptural, you know, quite
like a Providential confirmation of Holy Writ!"

"Most unpleasant for the Englishman," growls the man in knickerbockers.
"But what can you expect under this rotten Turkish government?"

"I know a story about Jericho," begins a gentleman from Colorado, with a
hay-coloured moustache and a droop in his left eyelid--and then follows
a series of tales about that ill-reputed town and the road thither,
which leave the lady in the lace cap gasping, and the man with the
forked beard visibly swelling with pride at having made the journey, and
the little woman in the green shirt-waist quivering with exquisite fears
and mentally clinging with both arms to the personal conductor of her
party, who looks becomingly virile, and exchanges a surreptitious wink
with the gentleman from Colorado.

Of course, I am not willing to make an affidavit to the correctness of
every word in this conversation; but I can testify that it fairly
represents the _Jericho-motif_ as you may hear it played almost any
night in the Jerusalem hotels. It sounded to us partly like an echo of
ancient legends kept alive by dragomans and officials for purposes of
revenue, and partly like an outcrop of the hysterical habit in people
who travel in flocks and do nothing without much palaver. In our quiet
camp, George the Bethlehemite assured us that the sheikhs were
"humbugs," and an escort of soldiers a nuisance. So we placidly made our
preparations to ride on the morrow, with no other safeguards than our
friendly dispositions and a couple of excellent American revolvers.

But it was no brief _Ausflug_ to Jericho and return that we had before
us: it was the beginning of a long and steady ride, weeks in the saddle,
from six to nine hours a day.

Imagine us then, morning after morning, mounting somewhere between six
and eight o'clock, according to the weather and the length of the
journey, and jingling out of camp, followed at a discreet distance by
Youssouf on his white pony with the luncheon, and Paris on his tiny
donkey, Tiddly-winks. About noon, sometimes a little earlier, sometimes
a little later, the white pony catches up with us, and the tent and the
rugs are spread for the midday meal and the _siesta_. It may be in our
dreams, or while the Lady is reading from some pleasant book, or while
the smoke of the afternoon pipe of peace is ascending, that we hear the
musical bells of our long baggage-train go by us on the way to our

The evening ride is always shorter than the morning, sometimes only an
hour or two in the saddle; and at the end of it there is the surprise of
a new camp ground, the comfortable tents, the refreshing bath tub, the
quiet dinner by sunset-glow or candle-light. Then a bit of friendly talk
over the walnuts and the "Treasure of Zion"; a cup of fragrant Turkish
coffee; and George enters the door of the tent to report on the
condition of things in general, and to discuss the plan of the next
day's journey.



It is strange how every day, no matter in what mood of merry jesting or
practical modernity we set out, an hour of riding in the open air brings
us back to the mystical charm of the Holy Land and beneath the spell of
its memories and dreams. The wild hillsides, the flowers of the field,
the shimmering olive-groves, the brown villages, the crumbling ruins,
the deep-blue sky, subdue us to themselves and speak to us "rememberable

We pass down the Valley of the Brook Kidron, where no water ever flows;
and through the crowd of beggars and loiterers and pilgrims at the
crossroads; and up over the shoulder of the Mount of Olives, past the
wide-spread Jewish burying-ground, where we take our last look at the
towers and domes and minarets and walls of Jerusalem. The road descends
gently, on the other side of the hill, to Bethany, a disconsolate group
of hovels. The sweet home of Mary and Martha is gone. It is a waste of
time to look at the uncertain ruins which are shown here as sacred
sites. Look rather at the broad landscape eastward and southward, the
luminous blue sky, the joyful little flowers on the rocky slopes,--these
are unchanged.

Not far beyond Bethany, the road begins to drop, with great windings,
into a deep, desolate valley, crowded with pilgrims afoot and on
donkey-back and in ramshackle carriages,--Russians and Greeks returning
from their sacred bath in the Jordan. Here and there, at first, we can
see a shepherd with his flock upon the haggard hillside.

  "As for the grass, it grew as scant as hair
          In leprosy."

Once the Patriarch and I, scrambling on foot down a short-cut, think we
see a Bedouin waiting for us behind a rock, with his long gun over his
shoulder; but it turns out to be only a brown little peasant girl,
ragged and smiling, watching her score of lop-eared goats.

As the valley descends the landscape becomes more and more arid and
stricken. The heat broods over it like a disease.

                "I think I never saw
  Such starved, ignoble nature; nothing throve;
  For flowers--as well expect a cedar grove!"

We might be on the way with Childe Roland to the Dark Tower. But instead
we come, about noon, through a savage glen beset with blood-red rocks
and honeycombed with black caves on the other side of the ravine, to the
so-called "Inn of the Good Samaritan."

The local colour of the parable surrounds us. Here is a fitting scene
for such a drama of lawless violence, cowardly piety, and unconventional
mercy. In these caverns robbers could hide securely. On this wild road
their victim might lie and bleed to death. By these paths across the
glen the priest and the Levite could "pass by on the other side,"
discreetly turning their heads away from any interruption to their
selfish duties. And in some such wayside khân as this, standing like a
lonely fortress among the sun-baked hills, the friendly half-heathen
from Samaria could safely leave the stranger whom he had rescued,
provided he paid at least a part of his lodging in advance.

We eat our luncheon in one of the three big, disorderly rooms of the
inn, and go on, in the cool of the afternoon, toward Jericho. The road
still descends steeply, among ragged and wrinkled hills. On our left we
look down into the Wâdi el-Kelt, a gloomy gorge five or six hundred feet
deep, with a stream of living water singing between its prison walls.
Tradition calls this the Brook Cherith, where Elijah hid himself from
Ahab, and was fed by Arabs of a tribe called "the Ravens." But the
prophet's hiding-place was certainly on the other side of the Jordan,
and this Wâdi is probably the Valley of Achor, spoken of in the Book of
Joshua. On the opposite side of the cañon, half-way down the face of the
precipice, clings the monastery of Saint George, one of the pious
penitentiaries to which the Greek Church assigns unruly and criminal

[Illustration: Great Monastery of St. George.]

As we emerge from the narrow valley a great view opens before us: to the
right, the blue waters of the Dead Sea, like a mirror of burnished
steel; in front, the immense plain of the Jordan, with the dark-green
ribbon of the river-jungle winding through its length and the purple
mountains of Gilead and Moab towering beyond it; to the left, the
furrowed gray and yellow ridges and peaks of the northern "wilderness"
of Judea, the wild country into which Jesus retired alone after the
baptism by John in the Jordan.

One of these peaks, the Quarantana, is supposed to be the "high
mountain" from which the Tempter showed Jesus the "kingdoms of the
world." In the foreground of that view, sweeping from the snowy summits
of Hermon in the north, past the Greek cities of Pella and Scythopolis,
down the vast valley with its wealth of palms and balsams, must have
stood the Roman city of Jericho, with its imperial farms and the
palaces, baths and theatres of Herod the Great,--a visible image of what
Christ might have won for Himself if He had yielded to the temptation
and turned from the pathway of spiritual light to follow the shadows of
earthly power and glory.

Herod's Jericho has vanished; there is nothing left of it but the
outline of one of the great pools which he built to irrigate his
gardens. The modern Jericho is an unhappy little adobe village, lying a
mile or so farther to the east. A mile to the north, near a copious
fountain of pure water, called the Sultan's Spring, is the site of the
oldest Jericho, which Joshua conquered and Hiel rebuilt. The spring,
which is probably the same that Elisha cleansed with salt (II Kings ii:
19-22), sends forth a merry stream to turn a mill and irrigate a group
of gardens full of oranges, figs, bananas, grapes, feathery bamboos and
rosy oleanders. But the ancient city is buried under a great mound of
earth, which the German _Palästina-Verein_ is now excavating.

As we come up to the mound I pull out my little camera and prepare to
take a picture of the hundred or so dusty Arabs--men, women and
children--who are at work in the trenches. A German _gelehrter_ in a
very excited state rushes up to me and calls upon me to halt, in the
name of the Emperor. The taking of pictures by persons not imperially
authorised is _streng verboten_. He is evidently prepared to be abusive,
if not actually violent, until I assure him, in the best German that I
can command, that I have no political or archæological intentions, and
that if the photographing of his picturesque work-people to him
displeasing is, I will my camera immediately in its pocket put. This
mollifies him, and he politely shows us what he is doing.

A number of ruined houses, and a sort of central temple, with a rude
flight of steps leading up to it, have been discovered. A portion of
what seems to be the city-wall has just been laid bare. If there are any
inscriptions or relics of any value they are kept secret; but there is
plenty of broken pottery of a common kind. It is all very poor and
beggarly looking; no carving nor even any hewn stones. The buildings
seem to be of rubble, and "the walls of Jericho" are little better than
the stone fences on a Connecticut farm. No wonder they fell down at the
blast of Joshua's rams' horns and the rush of his fierce tribesmen.

We ride past the gardens and through the shady lanes to our camp, on the
outskirts of the modern village. The air is heavy and languid, full of
relaxing influence, an air of sloth and luxury, seeming to belong to
some strange region below the level of human duty and effort as far as
it is below the level of the sea. The fragrance of the orange-blossoms,
like a subtle incense of indulgence, floats on the evening breeze.
Veiled figures pass us in the lanes, showing lustrous eyes. A sound of
Oriental music and laughter and clapping hands comes from one of the
houses in an inclosure hedged with acacia-trees. We sit in the door of
our tent at sundown and dream of the vanished palm-groves, the gardens
of Cleopatra, the palaces of Herod, the soft, ignoble history of that
region of fertility and indolence, rich in harvests, poor in manhood.

Then it seems as if some one were saying, "I will lift up mine eyes unto
the hills, from whence cometh my help." There they stand, all about us:
eastward, the great purple ranges of Gad and Reuben, from which Elijah
the Tishbite descended to rebuke and warn Israel; westward, against the
saffron sky, the ridges and peaks of Judea, among which Amos and
Jeremiah saw their lofty visions; northward, the clear-cut pinnacle of
Sartoba, and far away beyond it the dim outlines of the Galilean hills
from which Jesus of Nazareth came down to open blind eyes and to
shepherd wandering souls. With the fading of the sunset glow a deep blue
comes upon all the mountains, a blue which strangely seems to grow
paler as the sky above them darkens, sinking down upon them through
infinite gradations of azure into something mysterious and
indescribable, not a color, not a shadow, not a light, but a secret
hyaline illumination which transforms them into aerial battlements and
ramparts, on whose edge the great stars rest and flame, the watch-fires
of the Eternal.



I have often wondered why the Jordan, which plays such an important part
in the history of the Hebrews, receives so little honour and praise in
their literature. Sentimental travellers and poets of other races have
woven a good deal of florid prose and verse about the name of this
river. There is no doubt that it is the chief stream of Palestine, the
only one, in fact, that deserves to be called a river. Yet the Bible has
no song of loving pride for the Jordan; no tender and beautiful words to
describe it; no record of the longing of exiled Jews to return to the
banks of their own river and hear again the voice of its waters. At
this strange silence I have wondered much, not knowing the reason of it.
Now I know.

The Jordan is not a little river to be loved: it is a barrier to be
passed over. From its beginning in the marshes of Huleh to its end in
the Dead Sea, (excepting only the lovely interval of the Lake of
Galilee), this river offers nothing to man but danger and difficulty,
perplexity and trouble. Fierce and sullen and intractable, it flows
through a long depression, at the bottom of which it has dug for itself
a still deeper crooked ditch, along the Eastern border of Galilee and
Samaria and Judea, as if it wished to cut them off completely. There are
no pleasant places along its course, no breezy forelands where a man
might build a house with a fair outlook over flowing water, no rich and
tranquil coves where the cattle would love to graze, or stand knee-deep
in the quiet stream. There is no sense of leisure, of refreshment, of
kind companionship and friendly music about the Jordan. It is in a hurry
and a secret rage. Yet there is something powerful, self-reliant,
inevitable about it. In thousands of years it has changed less than any
river in the world. It is a flowing, everlasting symbol of division, of
separation: a river of solemn meetings and partings like that of Elijah
and Elisha, of Jesus and John the Baptist: a type of the narrow stream
of death. It seems to say to man, "Cross me if you will, if you can; and
then go your way."

The road that leads us from Jericho toward the river is pleasant enough,
at first, for the early sunlight is gentle and caressing, and there is a
cool breeze moving across the plain. It is hard to believe that we are
eight hundred feet below the sea this morning, and still travelling
downward. The lush fields of barley, watered by many channels from the
brook Kelt, are waving and glistening around us. Quails are running
along the edge of the road, appearing and disappearing among the thick
grain-stalks. The bulbuls warble from the thorn-bushes, and a crested
hoopoo croons in a jujube-tree. Larks are on the wing, scattering music.

We are on the upper edge of that great belt of sunken land between the
mountains of Gilead and the mountains of Ephraim and Judah, which
reaches from the Lake of Galilee to the Dead Sea, and which the Arabs
call _El-Ghôr_, the "Rift." It is a huge trench, from three to fourteen
miles wide, sinking from six hundred feet below the level of the
Mediterranean, at the northern end, to thirteen hundred feet below, at
the southern end. The surface is fairly level, sloping gently from each
side toward the middle, and the soil is of an inexhaustible fertility,
yielding abundant crops wherever it is patiently irrigated from the
streams which flow out of the mountains east and west, but elsewhere
lying baked and arid under the heavy, close, feverous air. No strong
race has ever inhabited this trench as a home; no great cities have ever
grown here, and its civilization, such as it had, was a hot-bed product,
soon ripe and quickly rotten.

We have passed beyond the region of greenness already; the little
water-brooks have ceased to gleam through the grain: the wild grasses
and weeds have a parched and yellow look: the freshness of the early
morning has vanished, and we are descending through a desolate land of
sour and leprous hills of clay and marl, eroded by the floods into
fantastic shapes, furrowed and scarred and scabbed with mineral refuse.
The gullies are steep and narrow: the heat settles on them like a curse.

Through this battered and crippled region, the centre of the Jordan
Valley, runs the Jordan Bed, twisting like a big green serpent. A dense
half-tropical jungle, haunted by wild beasts and poisonous reptiles and
insects, conceals, almost at every point, the down-rushing, swirling,
yellow flood.

It has torn and desolated its own shores with sudden spates. The feet of
the pilgrims who bathe in it sink into the mud as they wade out
waist-deep, and if they venture beyond the shelter of the bank the
whirling eddies threaten to sweep them away. The fords are treacherous,
with shifting bottom and changing currents. The poets and prophets of
the Old Testament give us a true idea of this uninhabitable and
unlovable river-bed when they speak of "the pride of Jordan," "the
swellings of Jordan," where the lion hides among the reeds in his secret
lair, a "refuge of lies," which the "overflowing scourge" shall sweep

No, it was not because the Jordan was beautiful that John the Baptist
chose it as the scene of his preaching and ministry, but because it was
wild and rude, an emblem of violent and sudden change, of irrevocable
parting, of death itself, and because in its one gift of copious and
unfailing water, he found the necessary element for his deep baptism of
repentance, in which the sinful past of the crowd who followed him was
to be symbolically immersed and buried and washed away.

At the place where we reach the water there is an open bit of ground; a
miserable hovel gives shelter to two or three Turkish soldiers; an
ungainly latticed bridge, stilted on piles of wood, straddles the river
with a single span. The toll is three piastres, (about twelve cents,)
for a man and horse.

The only place from which I can take a photograph of the river is the
bridge itself, so I thrust the camera through one of the diamond-shaped
openings on the lattice-work and try to make a truthful record of the
lower Jordan at its best. Imagine the dull green of the tangled
thickets, the ragged clumps of reeds and water-grasses, the sombre and
silent flow of the fulvous water sliding and curling down out of the
jungle, and the implacable fervour of the pallid, searching sunlight
heightening every touch of ugliness and desolation, and you will
understand why the Hebrew poets sang no praise of the Jordan, and why
Naaman the Syrian thought scorn of it when he remembered the lovely and
fruitful rivers of Damascus.


_The rivers of God are full of water:
They are wonderful in the renewal of their strength:
He poureth them out from a hidden fountain._

_They are born among the hills in the high places:
Their cradle is in the bosom of the rocks:
The mountain is their mother and the forest is their father._

_They are nourished among the long grasses:
They receive the tribute of a thousand springs:
The rain and the snow are a heritage for them._

_They are glad to be gone from their birthplace:
With a joyful noise they hasten away:
They are going forever and never departed._

_The courses of the rivers are all appointed:
They roar loudly but they follow the road:
The finger of God hath marked their pathway._

_The rivers of Damascus rejoice among their gardens:
The great river of Egypt is proud of his ships:
The Jordan is lost in the Lake of Bitterness._

_Surely the Lord guideth them every one in his wisdom:
In the end he gathereth all their drops on high:
He sendeth them forth again in the clouds of mercy._

_O my God, my life runneth away like a river:
Guide me, I beseech thee, in a pathway of good:
Let me flow in blessing to my rest in thee._


                           A JOURNEY TO JERASH



I never heard of Jerash until my friend the Archæologist told me about
it, one night when we were sitting beside my study fire at Avalon. "It
is the site of the old city of Gerasa," said he. "The most satisfactory
ruins that I have ever seen."

There was something suggestive and potent in that phrase, "satisfactory
ruins." For what is it that weaves the charm of ruins? What do we ask of
them to make their magic complete and satisfying? There must be an
element of picturesqueness, certainly, to take the eye with pleasure in
the contrast between the frailty of man's works and the imperishable
loveliness of nature. There must also be an element of age; for new
ruins are painful, disquieting, intolerable; they speak of violence and
disorder; it is not until the bloom of antiquity gathers upon them that
the relics of vast and splendid edifices attract us and subdue us with a
spell, breathing tranquillity and noble thoughts. There must also be an
element of magnificence in decay, of symmetry broken but not destroyed,
a touch of delicate art and workmanship, to quicken the imagination and
evoke the ghost of beauty haunting her ancient habitations. And beyond
these things I think there must be two more qualities in a ruin that
satisfies us: a clear connection with the greatness and glory of the
past, with some fine human achievement, with some heroism of men dead
and gone; and last of all, a spirit of mystery, the secret of some
unexplained catastrophe, the lost link of a story never to be fully

This, or something like it, was what the Archæologist's phrase seemed to
promise me as we watched the glowing embers on the hearth of Avalon. And
it is this promise that has drawn me, with my three friends, on this
April day into the Land of Gilead, riding to Jerash.

The grotesque and rickety bridge by which we have crossed the Jordan
soon disappears behind us, as we trot along the winding bridle-path
through the river-jungle, in the stifling heat. Coming out on the open
plain, which rises gently toward the east, we startle great flocks of
storks into the air, and they swing away in languid circles, dappling
the blaze of morning with their black-tipped wings. Grotesque, ungainly,
gothic birds, they do not seem to belong to the Orient, but rather to
have drifted hither out of some quaint, familiar fairy tale of the
North; and indeed they are only transient visitors here, and will soon
be on their way to build their nests on the roofs of German villages and
clapper their long, yellow bills over the joy of houses full of little

The rains of spring have spread a thin bloom of green over the plain.
Tender herbs and light grasses partly veil the gray and stony ground.
There is a month of scattered feeding for the flocks and herds. Away to
the south, where the foot-hills begin to roll up suddenly from the
Jordan, we can see a black line of Bedouin tents quivering through the

Now the trail divides, and we take the northern fork, turning soon into
the open mouth of the Wâdi Shaîb, a broad, grassy valley between high
and treeless hills. The watercourse that winds down the middle of it is
dry: nothing but a tumbled bed of gray rocks,--the bare bones of a
little river. But as we ascend slowly the flowers increase; wild
hollyhocks, and morning-glories, and clumps of blue anchusa, and scarlet
adonis, and tall wands of white asphodel.

The morning grows hotter and hotter as we plod along. Presently we come
up with three mounted Arabs, riding leisurely. Salutations are exchanged
with gravity. Then the Arabs whisper something to each other and spur
away at a great pace ahead of us--laughing. Why did they laugh?

Ah, now we know. For here is a lofty cliff on one side of the valley,
hanging over just far enough to make a strip of cool shade at its base,
with ferns and deep grass and a glimmer of dripping water. And here our
wise Arabs are sitting at their ease to eat their mid-day meal under
"the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."

Vainly we search the valley for another rock like that. It is the only
one; and the Arabs laughed because they knew it. We must content
ourselves with this little hill where a few hawthorn bushes offer us
tiny islets of shade, beset with thorns, and separated by straits of
intolerable glare. Here we eat a little, but without comfort; and sleep
a little, but without refreshment; and talk a little, but restlessly. As
soon as we dare, we get into the saddle again and toil up through the
valley, now narrowing into a rugged gorge, crammed with ardent heat. The
sprinkling of trees and bushes, the multitude of flowers, assure us that
there must be moisture underground, along the bed of the stream; but
above ground there is not a drop, and not a breath of wind to break the
dead calm of the smothering air. Why did we come into this heat-trap?

But presently the ravine leads us, by steep stairs of rock, up to a
high, green table-land. A heavenly breeze from the west is blowing here.
The fields are full of flowers--red anemones, white and yellow daisies,
pink flax, little blue bell-flowers--a hundred kinds. One knoll is
covered with cyclamens; another with splendid purple iris, immense
blossoms, so dark that they look almost black against the grass; but
hold them up to the sun and you will see the imperial colour. We have
never found such wild flowers, not even on the Plain of Sharon; the
hills around Jerusalem were but sparsely adorned in comparison with
these highlands of bloom.

And here are oak-trees, broad-limbed and friendly, clothed in glistening
green. Let us rest for a while in this cool shade and forget the misery
of the blazing noon. Below us lies the gray Jordan valley and the
steel-blue mirror of the Dead Sea; and across that gulf we see the
furrowed mountains of Judea and Samaria, and far to the north the peaks
of Galilee. Around us is the Land of Gilead, a rolling hill-country,
with long ridges and broad summits, a rounded land, a verdurous land, a
land of rich pasturage. There are deep valleys that cut into it and
divide it up. But the main bulk of it is lifted high in the air, and
spread out nobly to the visitations of the wind. And see--far away
there, to the south, across the Wádi Nimrîn, a mountainside covered with
wild trees, a real woodland, almost a forest!

Now we must travel on, for it is still a long way to our night-quarters
at Es Salt. We pass several Bedouin camps, the only kind of villages in
this part of the world. The tents of goat's-hair are swarming with
life. A score of ragged Arab boys are playing hockey on the green with
an old donkey's hoof for a ball. They yell with refreshing vigour, just
like universal human boys.

The trail grows steeper and more rocky, ascending apparently impossible
places, and winding perilously along the cliffs above little vineyards
and cultivated fields where men are ploughing. Travel and traffic
increase along this rude path, which is the only highway: evidently we
are coming near to some place of importance.

But where is Es Salt? For nine hours we have been in the saddle, riding
steadily toward that mysterious metropolis of the Belka, the only living
city in the Land of Gilead; and yet there is no trace of it in sight.
Have we missed the trail? The mule-train with our tents and baggage
passed us in the valley while we were sweltering under the hawthorns. It
seems as if it must have vanished into the pastoral wilderness and left
us travelling an endless road to nowhere.

At last we top a rugged ridge and look down upon the solution of the
mystery. Es Salt is a city that can be hid; for it is not set upon a
hill, but tucked away in a valley that curves around three sides of a
rocky eminence, and is sheltered from the view by higher ranges.

Who can tell how this city came here, hidden in this hollow place almost
three thousand feet above the sea? Who was its founder? What was its
ancient name? It is a place without traditions, without antiquities,
without a shrine of any kind; just a living town, thriving and
prospering in its own dirty and dishevelled way, in the midst of a
country of nomads, growing in the last twenty years from six thousand to
fifteen thousand inhabitants, driving a busy trade with the surrounding
country, exporting famous raisins and dye-stuff made from sumach, the
seat of the Turkish Government of the Belka, with a garrison and a
telegraph office--decidedly a thriving town of to-day; yet without a
road by which a carriage can approach it; and old, unmistakably old!

The castle that crowns the eminence in the centre is a ruin of unknown
date. The copious spring that gushes from the castle-hill must have
invited men for many centuries to build their habitations around it.
The gray houses seem to have slipped and settled down into the curving
valley, and to have crowded one another up the opposite slopes, as if
hundreds of generations had found here a hiding-place and a city of

We ride through a Mohammedan graveyard--unfenced, broken, neglected--and
down a steep, rain-gulleyed hillside, into the filthy, narrow street.
The people all have an Arab look, a touch of the wildness of the desert
in their eyes and their free bearing. There are many fine figures and
handsome faces, some with auburn hair and a reddish hue showing through
the bronze of their cheeks. They stare at us with undisguised curiosity
and wonder, as if we came from a strange world. The swarthy merchants in
the doors of their little shops, the half-veiled women in the lanes, the
groups of idlers at the corners of the streets, watch us with a gaze
which seems almost defiant. Evidently tourists are a rarity
here--perhaps an intrusion to be resented.

We inquire whether our baggage-train has been seen, where our camp is
pitched. No one knows, no one cares; until at last a ragged, smiling
urchin, one of those blessed, ubiquitous boys who always know everything
that happens in a town, offers to guide us. He trots ahead, full of
importance, dodging through the narrow alleys, making the complete
circuit of the castle-hill and leading us to the upper end of the
eastern valley. Here, among a few olive-trees beside the road, our white
tents are standing, so close to an encampment of wandering gypsies that
the tent-ropes cross.

Directly opposite rises a quarter of the town, tier upon tier of
flat-roofed houses, every roof-top covered with people. A wild-looking
crowd of visitors have gathered in the road. Two soldiers, with the
appearance of partially reformed brigands, are acting as our guard, and
keeping the inquisitive spectators at a respectful distance. Our mules
and donkeys and horses are munching their supper in a row, tethered to a
long rope in front of the tents. Shukari, the cook, in his white cap and
apron, is gravely intent upon the operation of his little charcoal
range. Youssouf, the major-domo, is setting the table with flowers and
lighted candles in the dining-tent. After a while he comes to the door
of our sleeping-tents to inform us, with due ceremony, that dinner is
served; and we sit down to our repast in the midst of the swarming
Edomites and the wandering Zingari as peacefully and properly as if we
were dining at the Savoy.

The night darkens around us. Lights twinkle, one above another, up the
steep hillside of houses; above them are the tranquil stars, the lit
windows of unknown habitations; and on the hill-top one great planet
burns in liquid flame.

The crowd melts away, chattering down the road; it forms again, from
another quarter, and again dissolves. Meaningless shouts and cries and
songs resound from the hidden city. In the gypsy camp beside us insomnia
reigns. A little forge is clinking and clanking. Donkeys raise their
antiphonal lament. Dogs salute the stars in chorus. First a leader, far
away, lifts a wailing, howling, shrieking note; then the mysterious
unrest that torments the bosom of Oriental dogdom breaks loose in a
hundred, a thousand answering voices, swelling into a yapping, growling,
barking, yelling discord. A sudden silence cuts the tumult short, until
once more the unknown misery, (or is it the secret joy), of the canine
heart bursts out in long-drawn dissonance.

From the road and from the tents of the gypsies various human voices are
sounding close around us all the night. Through our confused dreams and
broken sleep we strangely seem to catch fragments of familiar speech,
phrases of English or French or German. Then, waking and listening, we
hear men muttering and disputing, women complaining or soothing their
babies, children quarrelling or calling to each other, in Arabic, or
Romany--not a word that we can understand--voices that tell us only that
we are in a strange land, and very far away from home, camping in the
heart of a wild city.



After such a night the morning is welcome, as it breaks over the eastern
hill behind us, with rosy light creeping slowly down the opposite slope
of houses. Before the sunbeams have fairly reached the bottom of the
valley we are in the saddle, ready to leave Es Salt without further

There is a general monotony about this riding through Palestine which
yet leaves room for a particular variety of the most entrancing kind.
Every day is like every other in its main outline, but the details are
infinitely uncertain--always there is something new, some touch of a
distinct and memorable charm.

To-day it is the sense of being in the country of the nomads, the
tent-dwellers, the masters of innumerable flocks and herds, whose wealth
goes wandering from pasture to pasture, bleating and lowing and browsing
and multiplying over the open moorland beneath the blue sky. This is the
prevailing impression of this day: and the symbol of it is the thin,
quavering music of the pastoral pipe, following us wherever we go,
drifting tremulously and plaintively down from some rock on the
hillside, or floating up softly from some hidden valley, where a brown
shepherd or goatherd is minding his flock with music.

What quaint and rustic melodies are these! Wild and unfamiliar to our
ears; yet doubtless the same wandering airs that were played by the sons
and servants of Jacob when he returned from his twenty years of
profitable exile in Haran with his rich wages of sheep and goats and
cattle and wives and maid-servants, the fruit of his hard labour and
shrewd bargaining with his father-in-law Laban, and passed cautiously
through Gilead on his way to the Promised Land.

On the highland to the east of Es Salt we see a fine herd of horses,
brood-mares and foals. A little farther on, we come to a muddy pond or
tank at which a drove of asses are drinking. A steep and winding path,
full of loose stones, leads us down into a grassy, oval plain, a great
cup of green, eight or ten miles long and five or six miles wide,
rimmed with bare hills from five to eight hundred feet high. This, we
conjecture, is the fertile basin of El Buchaia, or Bekaa.

Bedouin farmers are ploughing the rich, reddish soil. Their black
tent-villages are tucked away against the feet of the surrounding hills.
The broad plain itself is without sign of human dwelling, except that
near each focus of the ellipse there is a pile of shattered ruins with a
crumbling, solitary tower, where a shepherd sits piping to his lop-eared

In one place we pass through a breeding-herd of camels, browsing on the
short grass. The old ones are in the process of the spring moulting;
their thick, matted hair is peeling off in large flakes, like fragments
of a ragged, moth-eaten coat. The young ones are covered with pearl-gray
wool, soft and almost downy, like gigantic goslings with four legs.
(What is the word for a young camel, I wonder; is it camelet or
camelot?) But young and old have a family resemblance of ugliness.

The camel is the most ungainly and stupid of God's useful beasts--an
awkward necessity--the humpbacked ship of the desert. The Arabs have a
story which runs thus: "What did Allah say when He had finished making
the camel? He couldn't say anything; He just looked at the camel, and
laughed, and laughed!"

But in spite of his ridiculous appearance the camel seems satisfied with
himself; in fact there is an expression of supreme contempt in his face
when he droops his pendulous lower lip and wrinkles his nose, which has
led the Arabs to tell another story about him: "Why does the camel
despise his master? Because man knows only the ninety-nine common names
of Allah; but the hundredth name, the wonderful name, the beautiful
name, is a secret revealed to the camel alone. Therefore he scorns the
whole race of men."

The cattle that feed around the edges of this peaceful plain are small
and nimble, as if they were used to long, rough journeys. The prevailing
colour is black, or rusty brown. They are evidently of a degenerate and
played-out stock. Even the heifers are used for ploughing, and they look
but little larger than the donkeys which are often yoked beside them.
They come around the grassy knoll when our luncheon-tent is pitched,
and stare at us very much as the people stared in Es Salt.

In the afternoon we pass over the rim of the broad vale and descend a
narrower ravine, where oaks and terebinths, laurels and balsams,
pistachios and almonds are growing. The grass springs thick and lush,
tall weeds and trailing vines appear, a murmur of flowing water is heard
under the tangled herbage at the bottom of the wâdi. Presently we are
following a bright little brook, crossing and recrossing it as it leads
us toward our camp-ground.

There are the tents, standing in a line on the flowery bank of the
brook, across the water from the trail. A few steps lower down there is
a well-built stone basin with a copious spring gushing into it from the
hillside under an arched roof. Here the people of the village, (which is
somewhere near us on the mountain, but out of sight), come to fill their
pitchers and water-skins, and to let their cattle and donkeys drink. All
through the late afternoon they are coming and going, plashing through
the shallow ford below us, enjoying the cool, clear water, disappearing
along the foot-paths that lead among the hills.

These are very different cattle from the herds we saw among the Bedouins
a couple of hours ago; fine large creatures, well bred and well fed,
some cream-coloured, some red, some belted with white. And these men who
follow them, on foot or on horseback, truculent looking fellows with
blue eyes and light hair and broad faces, clad in long, close-fitting
tunics, with belts around their waists and small black caps of fur, some
of them with high boots--who are they?

They are some of the Circassian immigrants who were driven out of Russia
by the Czar after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877, and deported again
after the Bulgarian atrocities, and whom the Turkish Government has
colonized through eastern Palestine on land given by the Sultan. Nobody
really knows to whom the land belongs, I suppose; but the Bedouins have
had the habit, for many centuries, of claiming and using it as they
pleased for their roaming flocks and herds. Now these northern invaders
are taking and holding the most fertile places, the best springs, the
fields that are well watered through the year.

Therefore the Arab hates the Circassian, though he be of the same
religion, far more than he hates the Christian, almost as much as he
hates the Turk. But the Circassian can take care of himself; he is a
fierce and hardy fighter; and in his rude way he understands how to make
farming and stock-raising pay.

Indeed, this Land of Gilead is a region in which twenty times the
present population, if they were industrious and intelligent and had
good government, might prosper. No wonder that the tribe of Gad and
Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh, on the way to Canaan, "when they
saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, that, behold, the place
was a place for cattle," (Numbers xxxii) fell in love with it, and
besought Moses that they might have their inheritance there, and not
westward of the Jordan. No wonder that they recrossed the river after
they had helped Joshua to conquer the Canaanites, and settled in this
high country, so much fairer and more fertile than Judea, or even than

It was here, in 1880, that Laurence Oliphant, the gifted English
traveller and mystic, proposed to establish his fine scheme for the
beginning of the restoration of the Jews to Palestine. A territory
extending from the brook of Jabbok on the north to the brook of Arnon on
the south, from the Jordan Valley on the west to the Arabian desert on
the east; railways running up from the sea at Haifâ, and down from
Damascus, and southward to the Gulf of Akabah, and across to Ismailia on
the Suez Canal; a government of local autonomy guaranteed and protected
by the Sublime Porte; sufficient capital supplied by the Jewish bankers
of London and Paris and Berlin and Vienna; and the outcasts of Israel
gathered from all the countries where they are oppressed, to dwell
together in peace and plenty, tending sheep and cattle, raising fruit
and grain, pressing out wine and oil, and supplying the world with the
balm of Gilead--such was Oliphant's beautiful dream.

But it did not come true; because Russia did not like it, because Turkey
was afraid of it, because the rest of Europe did not care for it,--and
perhaps because the Jews themselves were not generally enthusiastic over
it. Perhaps the majority of them would rather stay where they are.
Perhaps they do not yearn passionately for Palestine and the simple

But it is not of these things that we are thinking, I must confess, as
the ruddy sun slowly drops toward the heights of Pennel, and we stroll
out in the evening glow, along the edge of the wild ravine into which
our little stream plunges, and look down into the deep, grand valley of
the Brook Jabbok.

Yonder, on the other side of the great gulf of heliotrope shadow,
stretches the long bulk of the Jebel Ajlûn, shaggy with oak-trees. It
was somewhere on the slopes of that wooded mountain that one of the most
tragic battles of the world was fought. For there the army of Absalom
went out to meet the army of his father David. "And the battle was
spread over the face of all the country, and the forest devoured more
people that day than the sword devoured." It was there that the young
man Absalom rode furiously upon his mule, "and the mule went under the
thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he
was taken up between heaven and earth." And a man came and told Joab,
the captain of David's host, "Behold I saw Absalom hanging in the midst
of an oak." Then Joab made haste; "and he took three darts in his hand,
and thrust them through the heart of Absalom while he was yet alive in
the midst of the oak." And when the news came to David, sitting in the
gate of the city of Mahanaim, he went up into the chamber over the gate
and wept bitterly, crying, "Would I had died for thee, O Absalom, my
son!" (II Samuel xviii.)

To remember a story like that is to feel the pathos with which man has
touched the face of nature. But there is another story, more mystical,
more beautiful, which belongs to the scene upon which we are looking.
Down in the purple valley, where the smooth meadows spread so fair, and
the little river curves and gleams through the thickets of oleander,
somewhere along that flashing stream is the place where Jacob sent his
wives and his children, his servants and his cattle, across the water in
the darkness, and there remained all night long alone, for "there
wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day."

Who was this "man" with whom the patriarch contended at midnight, and
to whom he cried, "I will not let thee go except thou bless me"? On the
morrow Jacob was to meet his fierce and powerful brother Esau, whom he
had wronged and outwitted, from whom he had stolen the birthright
blessing twenty years before. Was it the prospect of this dreaded
meeting that brought upon Jacob the night of lonely struggle by the
Brook Jabbok? Was it the promise of reconciliation with his brother that
made him say at dawn, "I have seen God face to face, and my life is
saved"? Was it the unexpected friendliness and gentleness of that
brother in the encounter of the morning that inspired Jacob's cry, "I
have seen _thy face as one seeth the face of God_, and thou wast pleased
with me"?

Yes, that _is_ what the old story means, in its Oriental imagery. The
midnight wrestling is the pressure of human enmity and strife. The
morning peace is the assurance of human forgiveness and love. The face
of God seen in the face of human kindness--that is the sunrise vision of
the Brook Jabbok.

Such are the thoughts with which we fall asleep in our tents beside the
murmuring brook of Er Rumman. Early the next morning we go down, and
down, and down, by ledge and terrace and grassy slope, into the Vale of
Jabbok. It is sixty miles long, beginning on the edge of the mountain of
Moab, and curving eastward, northward, westward, south-westward, between
Gilead and Ajlûn, until it opens into the Jordan Valley.

Here is the famous little river, a swift, singing current of gray-blue
water--Nahr ez-Zerka "blue river," the Arabs call it--dashing and
swirling merrily between the thickets of willows and tamaracks and
oleanders that border it. The ford is rather deep, for the spring flood
is on; but our horses splash through gaily, scattering the water around
them in showers which glitter in the sunshine.

Is this the brook beside which a man once met God? Yes--and by many
another brook too.



We are coming now into the region of the Decapolis, the Greek cities
which sprang up along the eastern border of Palestine after the
conquests of Alexander the Great.

They were trading cities, undoubtedly, situated on the great roads which
led from the east across the desert to the Jordan Valley, and so,
converging upon the Plain of Esdraelon, to the Mediterranean Sea and to
Greece and Italy. Their wealth tempted the Jewish princes of the
Hasmonean line to conquer and plunder them; but the Roman general Pompey
restored their civic liberties, B.C. 65, and caused them to be rebuilt
and strengthened. By the beginning of the Christian era, they were once
more rich and flourishing, and a league was formed of ten
municipalities, with certain rights of communal and local government,
under the protection and suzerainty of the Roman Empire.

The ten cities which originally composed this confederacy for mutual
defence and the development of their trade, were Scythopolis, Hippos,
Damascus, Gadara, Raphana, Kanatha, Pella, Dion, Philadelphia and
Gerasa. Their money was stamped with the image of Cæsar. Their soldiers
followed the Imperial eagles. Their traditions, their arts, their
literature were Greek. But their strength and their new prosperity were

Here in this narrow wâdi through which we are climbing up from the Vale
of Jabbok we find the traces of the presence of the Romans in the
fragments of a paved military road and an aqueduct. Presently we
surmount a rocky hill and look down into the broad, shallow basin of
Jerash. Gently sloping, rock-strewn hills surround it; through the
centre flows a stream, with banks bordered by trees; a water-fall is
flashing opposite to us; on a cluster of rounded knolls about the middle
of the valley, on the west bank of the stream, are spread the vast,
incredible, complete ruins of the ancient city of Gerasa.

They rise like a dream in the desolation of the wilderness, columns and
arches and vaults and amphitheatres and temples, suddenly appearing in
the bare and lonely landscape as if by enchantment.

How came these monuments of splendour and permanence into this country
of simplicity and transience, this land of shifting shepherds and
drovers, this empire of the black tent, this immemorial region that has
slept away the centuries under the spell of the pastoral pipe? What
magical music of another kind, strong, stately and sonorous, music of
brazen trumpets and shawms, of silver harps and cymbals, evoked this
proud and potent city on the border of the desert, and maintained for
centuries, amid the sweeping, turbulent floods of untamable tribes of
rebels and robbers, this lofty landmark of

    "the glory that was Greece
  And the grandeur that was Rome"?

What sudden storm of discord and disaster shook it all down again,
loosened the sinews of majesty and power, stripped away the garments of
beauty and luxury, dissolved the lovely body of living joy, and left
this skeleton of dead splendour diffused upon the solitary ground?

Who can solve these mysteries? It is all unaccountable,
unbelievable,--the ghost of the dream of a dream,--yet here it is,
surrounded by the green hills, flooded with the frank light of noon,
neighboured by a dirty, noisy little village of Arabs and Circassians on
the east bank of the stream, and with real goats and lean, black cattle
grazing between the carved columns and under the broken architraves of
Gerasa the Golden.

Let us go up into the wrecked city.

This triumphal arch, with its three gates and its lofty Corinthian
columns, stands outside of the city walls: a structure which has no
other use or meaning than the expression of Imperial pride: thus the
Roman conquerors adorn and approach their vassal-town.

Behind the arch a broad, paved road leads to the southern gate, perhaps
a thousand feet away. Beside the road, between the arch and the gate,
lie two buildings of curious interest. The first is a great pool of
stone, seven hundred feet long by three hundred feet wide. This is the
Naumachia, which is filled with water by conduits from the neighbouring
stream, in order that the Greeks may hold their mimic naval combats and
regattas here in the desert, for they are always at heart a seafaring
people. Beyond the pool there is a Circus, with four rows of stone seats
and an oval arena, for wild-beast shows and gladiatorial combats.

The city walls have almost entirely disappeared and the South Gate is in
ruins. Entering and turning to the left, we ascend a little hill and
find the Temple (perhaps dedicated to Artemis), and close beside it the
great South Theatre. There is hardly a break in the semicircular stone
benches, thirty-two rows of seats rising tier above tier, divided into
an upper and a lower section by a broader row of "boxes" or stalls,
richly carved, and reserved, no doubt, for magnates of the city and
persons of importance. The stage, over a hundred feet wide, is backed by
a straight wall adorned with Corinthian columns and decorated niches.
The theatre faces due north; and the spectator sitting here, if the play
wearies him, can lift his eyes and look off beyond the proscenium over
the length and breadth of Gerasa.

  "But he looked upon the city, every side,
                      Far and wide,
  All the mountains topped with temples, all the glades
  All the causeys, bridges, aqueducts,--and then,
                      All the men!"

In the hollow northward from this theatre is the Forum, or the
Market-place, or the Hippodrome--I cannot tell what it is, but a
splendid oval of Ionic pillars incloses an open space of more than three
hundred feet in length and two hundred and fifty feet in width, where
the Gerasenes may barter or bicker or bet, as they will.

From the Forum to the North Gate runs the main street, more than half a
mile long, lined with a double row of columns, from twenty to thirty
feet high, with smooth shafts and acanthus capitals. At the intersection
of the cross-streets there are tetrapylons, with domes, and pedestals
for statues. The pavement of the roadway is worn into ruts by the
chariot wheels. Under the arcades behind the columns run the sidewalks
for foot-passengers. Turn to the right from the main street and you come
to the Public Baths, an immense building like a palace, supplied with
hot and cold water, adorned with marble and mosaic. On the left lies the
Tribuna, with its richly decorated façade and its fountain of flowing
water. A few yards farther north is the Propylæum of the Great Temple; a
superb gateway, decorated with columns and garlands and shell niches,
opening to a wide flight of steps by which we ascend to the temple-area,
a terrace nearly twice the size of Madison Square Garden, surrounded by
two hundred and sixty columns, and standing clear above the level of the
encircling city.

The Temple of the Sun rises at the western end of this terrace, facing
the dawn. The huge columns of the portico, forty-five feet high and five
feet in diameter, with rich Corinthian capitals, are of rosy-yellow
limestone, which seems to be saturated with the sunshine of a thousand
years. Behind them are the walls of the Cella, or inner shrine, with its
vaulted apse for the image of the god, and its secret stairs and
passages in the rear wall for the coming and going of the priests, and
the ascent to the roof for the first salutation of the sunrise over the
eastern hills.

Spreading our cloth between two pillars of the portico we celebrate the
feast of noontide, and looking out over the wrecked magnificence of the
city we try to reconstruct the past.

[Illustration: Ruins of Jerash, Looking West. Propylæum and Temple

It was in the days of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius, in the latter
part of the second century after Christ, that these temples and palaces
and theatres were rising. Those were the palmy days of Græco-Roman
civilisation in Syria; then the shops along the Colonnade were filled
with rich goods, the Forum listened to the voice of world-famous orators
and teachers, and proud lords and ladies assembled in the Naumachia to
watch the sham battles of the miniature galleys. A little later the new
religion of Christianity found a foothold here, (see, these are the
ruined outlines of a Christian church below us to the south, and the
foundation of a great Basilica), and by the fifth century the pagan
worship was dying out, and the Bishop of Gerasa had a seat in the
Council of Chalcedon. It was no longer with the comparative merits of
Stoicism and Epicureanism and Neo-Platonism, or with the rival literary
fame of their own Ariston and Kerykos as against Meleager and Menippus
and Theodorus of Gadara, that the Gerasenes concerned themselves. They
were busy now with the controversies about Homoiousia and Homoöusia,
with the rivalry of the Eutychians and the Nestorians, with the
conflicting, not to say combative, claims of such saints as Dioscurus of
Alexandria and Theodoret of Cyrus. But trade continued brisk, and the
city was as rich and as proud as ever. In the seventh century an Arabian
chronicler named it among the great towns of Palestine, and a poet
praised its fertile territory and its copious spring.

Then what happened? Earthquake, pestilence, conflagration, pillage,
devastation--who knows? A Mohammedan writer of the thirteenth century
merely mentions it as "a great city of ruins"; and so it lay, deserted
and forgotten, until a German traveller visited it in 1806; and so it
lies to-day, with all its dwellings and its walls shattered and
dissolved beside its flowing stream in the centre of its green valley,
and only the relics of its temples, its theatres, its colonnades, and
its triumphal arch remaining to tell us how brave and rich and gay it
was in the days of old.

Do you believe it? Does it seem at all real or possible to you? Look up
at this tall pillar above us. See how the wild marjoram has thrust its
roots between the joints and hangs like "the hyssop that springeth out
of the wall." See how the weather has worn deep holes and crevices in
the topmost drum, and how the sparrows have made their nests there. Lean
your back against the pillar; feel it vibrate like "a reed shaken with
the wind"; watch that huge capital of acanthus leaves swaying slowly to
and fro and trembling upon its stalk "as a flower of the field."

       *       *       *       *       *

All the afternoon and all the next morning we wander through the ruins,
taking photographs, deciphering inscriptions, discovering new points of
view to survey the city. We sit on the arch of the old Roman bridge
which spans the stream, and look down into the valley filled with
gardens and orchards; tall poplars shiver in the breeze; peaches, plums,
and cherries are in bloom; almonds clad in pale-green foliage; figs
putting forth their verdant shoots; pomegranates covered with ruddy
young leaves. We go up to see the beautiful spring which bursts from
the hillside above the town and supplies it with water. Then we go back
again to roam aimlessly and dreamily, like folk bewitched, among the
tumbled heaps of hewn stones, the broken capitals, and the tall, rosy
columns, soaked with sunbeams.

The Arabs of Jerash have a bad reputation as robbers and extortionists;
and in truth they are rather a dangerous-looking lot of fellows, with
bold, handsome brown faces and inscrutable dark eyes. But although we
have paid no tribute to them, they do not molest us. They seem to regard
us with a contemptuous pity, as harmless idiots who loaf among the
fallen stones and do not even attempt to make excavations.

Our camp is in the inclosure of the North Theatre, a smaller building
than that which stands beside the South Gate, but large enough to hold
an audience of two or three thousand. The semicircle of seats is still
unbroken; the arrangements of the stage, the stairways, the entries of
the building can all be easily traced.

There were gay times in the city when these two theatres were filled
with people. What comedies of Plautus or Terence or Aristophanes or
Menander; what tragedies of Seneca, or of the seven dramatists of
Alexandria who were called the "Pleias," were presented here?

Look up along those lofty tiers of seats in the pale, clear starlight.
Can you see no shadowy figures sitting there, hear no light whisper of
ghostly laughter, no thin ripple of clapping hands? What flash of wit
amuses them, what nobly tragic word or action stirs them to applause?
What problem of their own life, what reflection of their own heart, does
the stage reveal to them? We shall never know. The play at Gerasa is


_The lizard rested on the rock while I sat among the ruins;
And the pride of man was like a vision of the night._

_Lo, the lords of the city have disappeared into darkness;
The ancient wilderness hath swallowed up all their work._

_There is nothing left of the city but a heap of fragments;
The bones of a carcass that a wild beast hath devoured._

_Behold the desert waiteth hungrily for man's dwellings;
Surely the tide of desolation returneth upon his toil._

_All that he hath painfully lifted up is shaken down in a moment;
The memory of his glory is buried beneath the billows of sand._

_Then a voice said, Look again upon the ruins;
These broken arches have taught generations to build._

_Moreover the name of this city shall be remembered;
Here a poor man spoke a word that shall not die._

_This is the glory that is stronger than the desert;
For God hath given eternity to the thought of man._


                        THE MOUNTAINS OF SAMARIA



Look down from these tranquil heights of Jebel Osha, above the noiseful,
squalid little city of Es Salt, and you see what Moses saw when he
climbed Mount Pisgah and looked upon the Promised Land which he was
never to enter.

  "Could we but climb where Moses stood,
        And view the landscape o'er,
  Not Jordan's stream, nor death's cold flood,
        Should fright us from the shore."

Pisgah was probably a few miles south of the place where we are now
standing, but the main features of the view are the same. These broad
mountain-shoulders, falling steeply away to the west, clad in the
emerald robe of early spring; this immense gulf at our feet, four
thousand feet below us, a huge trough of gray and yellow, through which
the dark-green ribbon of the Jordan jungle, touched with a few silvery
gleams of water, winds to the blue basin of the Dead Sea; those scarred
and wrinkled hills rising on the other side, the knotted brow of
Quarantana, the sharp cone of Sartoba, the distant peak of Mizpeh, the
long line of Judean, Samarian, and Galilean summits, Olivet, and Ebal,
and Gerizim, and Gilboa, and Tabor, rolling away to the northward,
growing ever fairer with the promise of fertile valleys between them and
rich plains beyond them, and fading at last into the azure vagueness of
the highlands round the Lake of Galilee.

Why does that country toward which we are looking and travelling seem to
us so much more familiar and real, so much more a part of the actual
world, than this region of forgotten Greek and Roman glory, from which
we are returning like those who awake from sleep? The ruined splendours
of Jerash fade behind us like a dream. Samaria and Galilee, crowded with
memories and associations which have been woven into our minds by the
wonderful Bible story, draw us to them with the convincing touch of
reality. Yet even while we recognise this strange difference between
our feelings toward the Holy Land and those toward other parts of the
ancient world, we know that it is not altogether true.

Gerasa was as really a part of God's big world as Shechem or Jezreel or
Sychar. It stood in His sight, and He must have regarded the human souls
that lived there. He must have cared for them, and watched over them,
and judged them equitably, dividing the just from the unjust, the
children of love from the children of hate, even as He did with men on
the other side of the Jordan, even as He does with all men everywhere
to-day. If faith in a God who is the Father and Lord of all mankind
means anything it means this: equal care, equal justice, equal mercy for
all the world. Gerasa has been forgotten of men, but God never forgot

What, then, is the difference? Just this: in the little land between the
Jordan and the sea, things came to pass which have a more enduring
significance than the wars and splendours, the wealth and culture of the
Decapolis. Conflicts were fought there in which the eternal issues of
good and evil were clearly manifest. Ideas were worked out there which
have a permanent value to the spiritual life of man. Revelations were
made there which have become the guiding stars of succeeding
generations. This is why that country of the Bible seems more real to
us: because its history is more significant, because it is Divinely
inspired with a meaning for our faith and hope.

Do you agree with this? I do not know. But at least if you were with us
on this glorious morning, riding down from the heights of Jebel Osha you
would feel the vivid beauty, the subduing grandeur of the scene. You
would rejoice in the life-renewing air that blows softly around us and
invites us to breathe deep,--in the pure morning faces of the flowers
opening among the rocks,--in the light waving of silken grasses along
the slopes by which we steeply descend.

There is a young Gileadite running beside us, a fine fellow about
eighteen years old, with his white robe girded up about his loins,
leaving his brown legs bare. His head-dress is encircled with the black
_'agâl_ of camel's hair like a rustic crown. A long gun is slung over
his back; a wicked-looking curved knife with a brass sheath sticks in
his belt; his silver powder-horn and leather bullet-pouch hang at his
waist. He strides along with a free, noble step, or springs lightly from
rock to rock like a gazelle.

His story is a short one, and simple,--if true. His younger brother has
run away from the family tent among the pastures of Gilead, seeking his
fortune in the wide world. And now this elder brother has come out to
look for the prodigal, at Nablûs, at Jaffa, at Jerusalem,--Allah knows
how far the quest may lead! But he is afraid of robbers if he crosses
the Jordan Valley alone. May he keep company with us and make the
perilous transit under our august protection? Yes, surely, my brown son
of Esau; and we will not inquire too closely whether you are really
running after your brother or running away yourself.

There may be a thousand robbers concealed along the river-bed, but we
can see none of them. The valley is heat and emptiness. Even the jackal
that slinks across the trail in front of us, droops and drags his tail
in visible exhaustion. His lolling, red tongue is a signal of distress.
In a climate like this one expects nothing from man or beast. Life
degenerates, shrivels, stifles; and in the glaring open spaces a sullen
madness lurks invisible.

We are coming to the ancient fording-place of the river, called Adamah,
where an event once happened which was of great consequence to the
Israelites and which has often been misunderstood. They were encamped on
the east side, opposite Jericho, nearly thirty miles below this point,
waiting for their first opportunity to cross the Jordan. Then, says the
record, "the waters which came down from above stopped, and were piled
up in a heap, a great way off, at Adam, ... and the people passed over
right against Jericho." (Joshua iii: 14-16.)

Look at these great clay-banks overhanging the river, and you will
understand what it was that opened a dry path for Israel into Canaan.
One of these huge masses of clay was undermined, and slipped, and fell
across the river, heaping up the waters behind a temporary natural dam,
and cutting off the supply of the lower stream. It may have taken three
or four days for the river to carve its way through or around that
obstruction, and meantime any one could march across to Jericho without
wetting his feet. I have seen precisely the same thing happen on a
salmon river in Canada quite as large as the Jordan.

The river is more open at this place, and there is a curious
six-cornered ferry-boat, pulled to and fro with ropes by a half-dozen
bare-legged Arabs. If it had been a New England river, the practical
Western mind would have built a long boat with a flat board at each
side, and rigged a couple of running wheels on a single rope. Then the
ferryman would have had nothing to do but let the stern of his craft
swing down at an angle with the stream, and the swift current would have
pushed him from one side to the other at his will. But these Orientals
have been running their ferry in their own way, no doubt, for many
centuries; and who are we to break in upon their laborious indolence
with new ideas? It is enough that they bring us over safely, with our
cattle and our stuff, in several bands, with much tugging at the ropes
and shouting and singing.

We look in vain on the shore of the Jordan for a pleasant place to eat
our luncheon. The big trees stand with their feet in the river, and the
smaller shrubs are scraggly and spiny. At last we find a little patch of
shade on a steep bank above the yellow stream, and here we make
ourselves as comfortable as we can, with the thermometer at 110°, and
the hungry gnats and mosquitoes swarming around us.

Early in the afternoon we desperately resolve to brave the sun, and ride
up from the river-bed into the open plain on the west. Here we catch our
first clear view of Mount Hermon, with its mantle of glistening snow,
hanging like a cloud on the northern horizon, ninety miles away, beyond
the Lake of Galilee and the Waters of Merom; a vision of distance and
coolness and grandeur.

The fields, watered by the full streams descending from the Wâdi Fârah,
are green with wheat and barley. Along our path are balsam-trees and
thorny jujubes, from whose branches we pluck the sweet, insipid fruit as
we ride beneath them. Herds of cattle are pasturing on the plain, and
long rows of black Bedouin tents are stretched at the foot of the
mountains. We cross a dozen murmuring watercourses embowered in the
dark, glistening foliage of the oleanders glowing with great soft flames
of rosy bloom.

At the Serâi on the hill which watches over this Jiftlîk, or domain of
the Sultan, there are some Turkish soldiers saddling their horses for an
expedition; perhaps to collect taxes or to chase robbers. The peasants
are returning, by the paths among the cornfields, to their huts. The
lines of camp-fires begin to gleam from the transient Bedouin villages.
Our white tents are pitched in a flowery meadow, beside a low-voiced
stream, and as we fall asleep the night air is trembling with the
shrill, innumerable _brek-ek-ek-coäx-coäx_ of the frog chorus.



Samaria is a mountain land, but its characteristic features, as
distinguished from Judea, are the easiness of approach through open
gateways among the hills, and the fertility of the broad vales and level
plains which lie between them. The Kingdom of Israel, in its brief
season of prosperity, was richer, more luxurious, and weaker than the
Kingdom of Judah. The poet Isaiah touched the keynote of the northern
kingdom when he sang of "the crown of pride of the drunkards of
Ephraim," and "the fading flower of his glorious beauty which is on the
head of the fat valley." (Isaiah xxviii: 1-6.)

We turn aside from the open but roundabout way of the well-tilled Wâdi
Fârah and take a shorter, steeper path toward Shechem, through a deep,
narrow mountain gorge. The day is hot and hazy, for the Sherkîyeh is
blowing from the desert across the Jordan Valley: the breath of
Jehovah's displeasure with His people, "a dry wind of the high places
of the wilderness toward the daughter of my people, neither to fan nor
to cleanse."

At times the walls of rock come so close together that we have to wind
through a passage not more than ten feet wide. The air is parched as in
an oven. Our horses scramble wearily up the stony gallery and the rough
stairways. One of our company faints under the fervent heat, and falls
from his horse. But fortunately no bones are broken; a half-hour's rest
in the shadow of a great rock revives him and we ride on.

The wonderful flowers are blooming wherever they can find a foothold
among the stones. Now and then we cross the mouth of some little lonely
side-valley, full of mignonette and cyclamens and tall spires of pink
hollyhock. Under the huge, dark sides of Eagle's Crag--bare and rugged
as Ben Nevis--we pass into the fruitful plain of Makhna, where the
silken grainfields rustle far and wide, and the rich olive-orchards on
the hill-slopes offer us a shelter for our midday meal and siesta. Mount
Ebal and Mount Gerizim now rise before us in their naked bulk; and, as
we mount toward the valley which lies between them, we stay for a while
to rest at Jacob's Well.

There is a mystery about this ancient cistern on the side of the
mountain. Why was it dug here, a hundred feet deep, although there are
springs and streams of living water flowing down the valley, close at
hand? Whence came the tradition of the Samaritans that Jacob gave them
this well, although the Old Testament says nothing about it? Why did the
Samaritan woman, in Jesus' time, come hither to draw water when there
was a brook, not fifty yards away, which she must cross to get to the

Who can tell? Certainly there must have been some use and reason for
such a well, else the men of long ago would never have toiled to make
it. Perhaps the people of Sychar had some superstition about its water
which made them prefer it. Or perhaps the stream was owned and used for
other purposes, while the water of the well was free.

It makes no difference whether a solution of the problem is ever found.
Its very existence adds to the touch of truth in the narrative of St.
John's Gospel. Certainly this well was here in Jesus' day, close beside
the road which He would be most likely to take in going from Jerusalem
to Galilee. Here He sat, alone and weary, while the disciples went on to
the village to buy food. And here, while He waited and thirsted, He
spoke to an unknown, unfriendly, unhappy woman the words which have been
a spring of living water to the weary and fevered heart of the world:
"God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit
and in truth."



About a mile from Jacob's Well, the city of Nablûs lies in the hollow
between Mount Gerizim on the south and Mount Ebal on the north. The side
of Gerizim is precipitous and jagged; Ebal rises more smoothly, but very
steeply, and is covered with plantations of thornless cactus, (_Opuntia
cochinillifera_), cultivated for the sake of the cochineal insects which
live upon the plant and from which a red dye is made.

The valley is well watered, and is about a quarter of a mile wide. A
little east of the city there are two natural bays or amphitheatres
opposite to each other in the mountains. Here the tribes of Israel may
have been gathered while the priests chanted the curses of the law from
Ebal and the blessings from Gerizim. (Joshua viii: 30-35.) The cliffs
were sounding-boards and sent the loud voices of blessing and cursing
out over the multitude so that all could hear.

It seems as if it were mainly the echo of the cursing of Ebal that
greets us as we ride around the fierce little Mohammedan city of Nablûs
on Friday afternoon, passing through the open and dilapidated cemeteries
where the veiled women are walking and gossiping away their holiday. The
looks of the inhabitants are surly and hostile. The children shout
mocking ditties at us, reviling the "Nazarenes." We will not ask our
dragoman to translate the words that we catch now and then; it is easy
to guess that they are not "fit to print."

Our camp is close beside a cemetery, near the eastern gate of the town.
The spectators who watch us from a distance while we dine are numerous;
and no doubt they are passing unfavourable criticisms on our table
manners, and on the Frankish custom of permitting one unveiled lady to
travel with three husbands. The population of Nablûs is about
twenty-five thousand. It has a Turkish governor, a garrison, several
soap factories, and a million dogs which howl all night.

At half-past six the next morning we set out on foot to climb Mount
Ebal, which is three thousand feet high. The view from the rocky summit
sweeps over all Palestine, from snowy Hermon to the mountains round
about Jerusalem, from Carmel to Nebo, from the sapphire expanse of the
Mediterranean to the violet valley of the Jordan and the garnet wall of
Moab and Gilead beyond.

For us the view is veiled in mystery by the haze of the south wind. The
ranges and peaks far away fade into cloudlike shadows. The depths below
us seem to sink unfathomably. Nablûs is buried in the gulf. On the
summit of Gerizim, a Mohammedan _wêli_, shining like a flake of mica,
marks the plateau where the Samaritan Temple stood. Hilltop towns,
Asîret, Tallûza, Yasîd, emerge like islands from the misty sea. In that
great shadowy hollow to the west lie the ruins of the city of Samaria,
which Cæsar Augustus renamed Sebaste, in honour of his wife Augusta. If
she could see the village of Sebastiyeh now she would not be proud of
her namesake town. It is there that we are going to make our midday

King Omri acted as a wise man when he moved the capital of Israel from
Shechem, an indefensible site, commanded by overhanging mountains and
approached by two easy vales, to Shomron, the "watch-hill" which stands
in the centre of the broad Vale of Barley.

As we ride across the smiling corn-fields toward the isolated eminence,
we see its strength as well as its beauty. It rises steeply from the
valley to a height of more than three hundred feet. The encircling
mountains are too far away to dominate it under the ancient conditions
of warfare without cannons, and a good wall must have made it, as its
name implied, an impregnable "stronghold," watching over a region of
immense fertility.

What pomps and splendours, what revels and massacres, what joys of
victory and horrors of defeat, that round hill rising from the Vale of
Barley has seen. Now there is nothing left of its crown of pride, but
the broken pillars of the marble colonnade a mile long with which Herod
the Great girdled the hill, and a few indistinguishable ruins of the
temple which he built in honour of the divine Augustus and of the
hippodrome which he erected for the people. We climb the terraces and
ride through the olive-groves and ploughed fields where the street of
columns once ran. A few of them are standing upright; others leaning or
fallen, half sunken in the ground; fragments of others built into the
stone walls which divide the fields. There are many hewn and carven
stones imbedded in the miserable little modern village which crouches on
the north end of the hill, and the mosque into which the Crusaders'
Church of Saint John has been transformed is said to contain the tombs
of Elisha, Obadiah and John the Baptist. This rumour does not concern us
deeply and we will leave its truth uninvestigated.

Let us tie our horses among Herod's pillars, and spread the rugs for our
noontide rest by the ruined south gate of the city. At our feet lies the
wide, level, green valley where the mighty host of Ben-hadad, King of
Damascus, once besieged the starving city and waited for its surrender.
(II Kings vii.) There in the twilight of long ago a panic terror
whispered through the camp, and the Syrians rose and fled, leaving their
tents and their gear behind them. And there four nameless lepers of
Israel, wandering in their despair, found the vast encampment deserted,
and entered in, and ate and drank, and picked up gold and silver, until
their conscience smote them. Then they climbed up to this gate with the
good news that the enemy had vanished, and the city was saved.



Over the steep mountains that fence Samaria to the north, down through
terraced vales abloom with hawthorns and blood-red poppies, across
hill-circled plains where the long, silvery wind-waves roll over the sea
of grain from shore to shore, past little gray towns sleeping on the
sunny heights, by paths that lead us near flowing springs where the
village girls fill their pitchers, and down stony slopes where the
goatherds in bright-coloured raiment tend their flocks, and over broad,
moist fields where the path has been obliterated by the plough, and
around the edge of marshes where the storks rise heavily on long
flapping wings, we come galloping at sunset to our camp beside the
little green hill of Dôthân.

Behind it are the mountains, swelling and softly rounded like breasts.
It was among them that the servant of Elisha saw the vision of horses
and chariots of fire protecting his master. (II Kings vi: 14-19.)

North and east of Dôthân the plain extends smooth and gently sloping,
full of young harvest. There the chariot of Naaman rolled when he came
down from Damascus to be healed by the prophet of Israel. (II Kings v:

On top of the hill is a spreading terebinth-tree, with some traces of
excavation and rude ruins beneath it. There Joseph's envious brethren
cast him into one of the dry pits, from which they drew him up again to
sell him to a caravan of merchants, winding across the plain on their
way from Midian into Egypt. (Genesis xxxvii.)

Truly, many and wonderful things came to pass of old around this little
green hill. And now, at the foot of it, there is a well-watered garden,
with figs, oranges, almonds, vines, and tall, trembling poplars,
surrounded by a hedge of prickly pear. Outside of the hedge a big, round
spring of crystal water is flowing steadily over the rim of its basin of
stones. There the flocks and herds are gathered, morning and evening, to
drink. There the children of the tiny hamlet on the hillside come to
paddle their feet in the running stream. There a caravan of Greek
pilgrims, on their way from Damascus to Jerusalem for Easter, halt in
front of our camp, to refresh themselves with a draught of the cool

As we watch them from our tents there is a sudden commotion among them,
a cry of pain, and then voices of dismay. George and two or three of our
men run out to see what is the matter, and come hurrying back to get
some cotton cloth and oil and wine. One of the pilgrims, an old woman of
seventy, has fallen from her horse on the sharp stones beside the
spring, breaking her wrist and cutting her head.

I do not know whether the way in which they bound up that poor old
stranger's wounds was surgically wise, but I know that it was humanly
kind and tender. I do not know which of our various churches were
represented among her helpers, but there must have been at least three,
and the muleteer from Bagdad who "had no religion but sang beautiful
Persian songs" was also there, and ready to help with the others. And so
the parable which lighted our dusty way going down to Jericho is
interpreted in our pleasant camp at Dôthân.

The paths of the Creeds are many and winding; they cross and diverge;
but on all of them the Good Samaritan is welcome, and I think he travels
to a happy place.


_The ways of the world are full of haste and turmoil:
I will sing of the tribe of helpers who travel in peace._

_He that turneth from the road to rescue another,
Turneth toward his goal:
He shall arrive in due time by the foot-path of mercy,
God will be his guide._

_He that taketh up the burden of the fainting,
Lighteneth his own load:
The Almighty will put his arms underneath him,
He shall lean upon the Lord._

_He that speaketh comfortable words to mourners,
Healeth his own heart:
In his time of grief they will return to remembrance,
God will use them for balm._

_He that careth for the sick and wounded,
Watcheth not alone:
There are three in the darkness together,
And the third is the Lord._

_Blessed is the way of the helpers:
The companions of the Christ._


                            GALILEE AND THE LAKE



Going from Samaria into Galilee is like passing from the Old Testament
into the New.

There is indeed little difference in the outward landscape: the same
bare lines of rolling mountains, green and gray near by, blue or purple
far away; the same fertile valleys and emerald plains embosomed among
the hills; the same orchards of olive-trees, not quite so large, nor so
many, but always softening and shading the outlook with their touches of
silvery verdure.

It is the spirit of the landscape that changes; the inward view; the
atmosphere of memories and associations through which we travel. We have
been riding with fierce warriors and proud kings and fiery prophets of
Israel, passing the sites of royal splendour and fields of ancient
havoc, retracing the warpaths of the Twelve Tribes. But when we enter
Galilee the keynote of our thoughts is modulated into peace. Issachar
and Zebulon and Asher and Naphtali have left no trace or message for us
on the plains and hills where they once lived and fought. We journey
with Jesus of Nazareth, the friend of publicans and sinners, the
shepherd of the lost sheep, the human embodiment of the Divine Love.

This transition in our journey is marked outwardly by the crossing of
the great Plain of Esdraelon, which we enter by the gateway of Jenîn.
There are a few palm-trees lending a little grace to the disconsolate
village, and the Turkish captain of the military post, a grizzled
veteran of Plevna, invites us into the guard-room to drink coffee with
him, while we wait for a dilatory telegraph operator to send a message.
Then we push out upon the green sea to a brown island: the village of
Zer'în, the ancient Jezreel.

The wretched hamlet of adobe huts, with mud beehives plastered against
the walls, stands on the lowest bench of the foothills of Mount Gilboa,
opposite the equally wretched hamlet of Sûlem in a corresponding
position at the base of a mountain called Little Hermon. The
widespread, opulent view is haunted with old stories of battle, murder
and sudden death.

Down to the east we see the line of brighter green creeping out from the
flanks of Mount Gilboa, marking the spring where Gideon sifted his band
of warriors for the night-attack on the camp of Midian. (Judges vii:
4-23.) Under the brow of the hill are the ancient wine-presses, cut in
the rock, which belonged to the vineyard of Naboth, whom Jezebel
assassinated. (I Kings xxi: 1-16.) From some window of her favourite
palace on this eminence, that hard, old, painted queen looked down the
broad valley of Jezreel, and saw Jehu in his chariot driving furiously
from Gilead to bring vengeance upon her. On those dark ridges to the
south the brave Jonathan was slain by the Philistines and the desperate
Saul fell upon his own sword. (I Samuel xxxi: 1-6.) Through that open
valley, which slopes so gently down to the Jordan at Bethshan, the
hordes of Midian and the hosts of Damascus marched against Israel. By
the pass of Jenîn, Holofernes led his army in triumph until he met
Judith of Bethulia and lost his head. Yonder in the corner to the
northward, at the base of Mount Tabor, Deborah and Barak gathered the
tribes against the Canaanites under Sisera. (Judges iv: 4-22.) Away to
the westward, in the notch of Megiddo, Pharaoh-Necho's archers pierced
King Josiah, and there was great mourning for him in Hadad-rimmon. (II
Chronicles xxxv: 24-25; Zechariah xii: 11.) Farther still, where the
mountain spurs of Galilee approach the long ridge of Carmel, Elijah put
the priests of Baal to death by the Brook Kishon. (I Kings xviii:

All over that great prairie, which makes a broad break between the
highlands of Galilee and the highlands of Samaria and Judea, and opens
an easy pathway rising no more than three hundred feet between the
Jordan and the Mediterranean--all over that fertile, blooming area and
around the edges of it are sown the legends

  "Of old, unhappy, far-off things
  And battles long ago."

But on this bright April day when we enter the plain of Armageddon,
everything is tranquil and joyous.

The fields are full of rustling wheat, and bearded barley, and
blue-green stalks of beans, and feathery _kirsenneh_, camel-provender.
The peasants in their gay-coloured clothing are ploughing the rich,
red-brown soil for the late crop of _doura_. The newly built railway
from Haifâ to Damascus lies like a yellow string across the prairie from
west to east; and from north to south a single file of two hundred
camels, with merchandise for Egypt, undulate along the ancient road of
the caravans, turning their ungainly heads to look at the puffing engine
which creeps toward them from the distance.

Larks singing in the air, storks parading beside the watercourses,
falcons poising overhead, poppies and pink gladioluses and blue
corn-cockles blooming through the grain,--a little village on a swell of
rising ground, built for their farm hands by the rich Greeks who have
bought the land and brought it under cultivation,--an air so pure and
soft that it is like a caress,--all seems to speak a language of peace
and promise, as if one of the old prophets were telling of the day when
Jehovah shall have compassion on His people Israel and restore them.
"They that dwell under His shadow shall return; they shall revive as
the grain, and blossom as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the
wine of Lebanon."

It is, indeed, not impossible that wise methods of colonization, better
agriculture and gardening, the development of fruit-orchards and
vineyards, and above all, more rational government and equitable
taxation may one day give back to Palestine something of her old
prosperity and population. If the Jews really want it no doubt they can
have it. Their rich men have the money and the influence; and there are
enough of their poorer folk scattered through Europe to make any land
blossom like the rose, if they have the will and the patience for the
slow toil of the husbandman and the vine-dresser and the shepherd and
the herdsman.

But the proud kingdom of David and Solomon will never be restored; not
even the tributary kingdom of Herod. For the land will never again stand
at the crossroads, the four-corners of the civilized world. The Suez
Canal to the south, and the railways through the Lebanon and Asia Minor
to the north, have settled that. They have left Palestine in a corner,
off the main-travelled roads. The best that she can hope for is a
restoration to quiet fruitfulness, to placid and humble industry, to
olive-crowned and vine-girdled felicity, never again to power.

And if that lowly re-coronation comes to her, it will not be on the
stony heights around Jerusalem: it will be in the Plain of Sharon, in
the outgoings of Mount Ephraim, in the green pastures of Gilead, in the
lovely region of "Galilee of the Gentiles." It will not be by the sword
of Gideon nor by the sceptre of Solomon, but by the sign of peace on
earth and good-will among men.

With thoughts like these we make our way across the verdurous inland sea
of Esdraelon, out of the Old Testament into the New. Landmarks of the
country of the Gospel begin to appear: the wooded dome of Mount Tabor,
the little village of Nain where Jesus restored the widow's only son.
(Luke vii: 11-16.) But these lie far to our right. The beacon which
guides us is a glimpse of white walls and red roofs, high on a shoulder
of the Galilean hills: the outlying houses of Nazareth, where the boy
Jesus dwelt with His parents after their return from the flight into
Egypt, and was obedient to them, and grew in wisdom and stature, and in
favour with God and men.



Our camp in Nazareth is on a terrace among the olive-trees, on the
eastern side of a small valley, facing the Mohammedan quarter of the

This is distinctly the most attractive little city that we have seen in
Palestine. The houses are spread out over a wider area than is usual in
the East, covering three sides of a gentle depression high on the side
of the Jebel es-Sikh, and creeping up the hill-slopes as if to seek a
larger view and a purer air. Some of them have gardens, fair white
walls, red-tiled roofs, balconies of stone or wrought iron. Even in the
more closely built portion of the town the streets seem cleaner, the
bazaars lighter and less malodorous, the interior courtyards into which
we glance in passing more neat and homelike. Many of the doorways and
living-rooms of the humbler houses are freshly whitewashed with a
light-blue tint which gives them an immaculate air of cleanliness.

The Nazarene women are generally good looking, and free and dignified in
their bearing. The children, fairer in complexion than is common in
Syria, are almost all charming with the beauty of youth, and among them
are some very lovely faces of boys and girls. I do not mean to say that
Nazareth appears to us an earthly paradise; only that it shines by
contrast with places like Hebron and Jericho and Nablûs, even with
Bethlehem, and that we find here far less of human squalor and misery to
sadden us with thoughts of

  "What man has made of man."

The population of the town is about eleven or twelve thousand, a quarter
of them Mussulmans, and the rest Christians of various sects, including
two or three hundred Protestants. The people used to have rather a bad
reputation for turbulence; but we see no signs of it, either in the
appearance of the city or in the demeanour of the inhabitants. The
children and the townsfolk whom we meet in the streets, and of whom we
ask our way now and then, are civil and friendly. The man who comes to
the camp to sell us antique coins and lovely vases of iridescent glass
dug from the tombs of Tyre and Sidon, may be an inveterate humbug, but
his manners are good and his prices are low. The soft-voiced women and
lustrous-eyed girls who hang about the Lady's tent, persuading her to
buy their small embroideries and lace-work and trinkets, are gentle and
ingratiating, though persistent.

I am honestly of the opinion that Christian mission-schools and
hospitals have done a great deal for Nazareth. We go this morning to
visit the schools of the English Church Missionary Society, where Miss
Newton is conducting an admirable and most successful work for the girls
of Nazareth. She is away on a visit to some of her outlying stations;
but the dark-eyed, happy-looking Syrian teacher shows us all the
classes. There are five of them, and every room is full and bright and

On the Christian side, the older girls sing a hymn for us, in their high
voices and quaint English accent, about Jesus stilling the storm on
Galilee, and the intermediate girls and the tiny co-educated boys and
girls in the kindergarten go through various pretty performances. Then
the teacher leads us across the street to the two Moslem classes, and we
cannot tell the difference between them and the Christian children,
except that now the singing of "Jesus loves me" and the recitation of
"The Lord is my Shepherd" are in Arabic. There is one blind girl who
recites most perfectly and eagerly. Another girl of about ten years
carries her baby-brother in her arms. Two little laggards, (they were
among the group at our camp early in the morning), arrive late, weeping
out their excuses to the teacher. She hears them with a kind, humorous
look on her face, gives them a soft rebuke and a task, and sends them to
their seats, their tears suddenly transformed to smiles.

From the schools we go to the hospital of the British Medical Mission, a
little higher up the hill. We find young Doctor Scrimgeour, who has
lately come out from Edinburgh University, and his white-uniformed,
cheerful, busy nurses, tasked to the limit of their strength by the
pressure of their work, but cordial and simple in their welcome. As I
walk with the doctor on his rounds I see every ward full, and all kinds
of calamity and suffering waiting for the relief and help of his kind,
skilful knife. Here are hernia, and tuberculous glands, and cataract,
and stone, and bone tuberculosis, and a score of other miseries; and
there, on the table, with pale, dark face and mysterious eyes, lies a
man whose knee has been shattered by a ball from a Martini rifle in an
affray with robbers.

"Was he one of the robbers," I ask, "or one of the robbed?"

"I really don't know," says the doctor, "but in a few minutes I am going
to do my best for him."

Is not this Christ's work that is still doing in Christ's town, this
teaching of the children, this helping of the sick and wounded, for His
sake, and in His name? Yet there are silly folk who say they do not
believe in missions.

There are a few so-called sacred places and shrines in Nazareth--the
supposed scene of the Annunciation; the traditional Workshop of Joseph;
the alleged _Mensa Christi_, a flat stone which He is said to have used
as a table when He ate with His disciples; and so on. But all these
uncertain relics and memorials, as usual, are inclosed in chapels, belit
with lamps, and encircled with ceremonial. The very spring at which the
Virgin Mary must have often filled her pitcher, (for it is the only
flowing fountain in the town), now rises beneath the Greek Church of
Saint Gabriel, and is conducted past the altar in a channel of stone
where the pilgrims bathe their eyes and faces. To us, who are seeking
our Holy Land out-of-doors, these shut-in shrines and altared memorials
are less significant than what we find in the open, among the streets
and on the surrounding hillsides.

The Virgin's Fountain, issuing from the church, flows into a big, stone
basin under a round arch. Here, as often as we pass, we see the maidens
and the mothers of Nazareth, with great earthern vessels poised upon
their shapely heads, coming with merry talk and laughter, to draw water.
Even so the mother of Jesus must have come to this fountain many a time,
perhaps with her wondrous boy running beside her, clasping her hand or a
fold of her bright-coloured garment. Perhaps, when the child was little
she carried Him on her shoulder, as the women carry their children

Passing through a street, we look into the interior of a carpenter-shop,
with its simple tools, its little pile of new lumber, its floor littered
with chips and shavings, and its air full of the pleasant smell of
freshly cut wood. There are a few articles of furniture which the
carpenter has made: a couple of chairs, a table, a stool: and he
himself, with his leg stretched out and his piece of wood held firmly by
his naked toes, is working busily at a tiny bed which needs only a pair
of rockers to become a cradle. Outside the door of the shop a boy of ten
or twelve is cutting some boards and slats, and putting them neatly
together. We ask him what he is making. "A box," he answers, "a box for
some doves"--and then bends his head over his absorbing task. Even so
Jesus must have worked at the shop of Joseph, the carpenter, and learned
His handicraft.

[Illustration: The Virgin's Fountain, Nazareth.]

Let us walk up, at eventide, to the top of the hill behind the town.
Here is one of the loveliest views in all Palestine. The sun is setting
and the clear-obscure of twilight already rests over the streets and
houses, the minarets and spires, the slender cypresses and round
olive-trees and grotesque hedges of cactus. But on the heights the warm
radiance from the west pours its full flood, lighting up all the
flowerets of delicate pink flax and golden chrysanthemum and blue
campanula with which the grass is broidered. Far and wide that roseate
illumination spreads itself; changing the snowy mantle of distant
Hermon, the great Sheikh of Mountains, from ermine to flamingo feathers;
making the high hills of Naphtali and the excellency of Carmel glow as
if with soft, transfiguring, inward fire; touching the little town of
Saffûriyeh below us, where they say that the Virgin Mary was born, and
the city of Safed, thirty miles away on the lofty shoulder of Jebel
Jermak; suffusing the haze that fills the Valley of the Jordan, and the
long bulwarks of the Other-Side, with hues of mauve and purple; and
bathing the wide expanse of the western sea with indescribable
splendours, over which the flaming sun poises for a moment beneath the
edge of a low-hung cloud.

On this hilltop, I doubt not, the boy Jesus often filled His hands with
flowers. Here He could watch the creeping caravans of Arabian merchants,
and the glittering legions of Roman soldiers, and the slow files of
Jewish pilgrims, coming up from the Valley of Jezreel and stretching out
across the Plain of Esdraelon. Hither, at the evening hour, He came as a
youth to find the blessing of wide and tranquil thought. Here, when the
burden of manhood pressed upon Him, He rested after the day's work, free
from that sadness which often touches us in the vision of earth's
transient beauty, because He saw far beyond the horizon into the
spirit-world, where there is no night, nor weariness, nor sin, nor

For nearly thirty years He must have lived within sight of this hilltop.
And then, one day, He came back from a journey to the Jordan and
Jerusalem, and entered into the little synagogue at the foot of this
hill, and began to preach to His townsfolk His glad tidings of spiritual
liberty and brotherhood and eternal life.

But they were filled with scorn and wrath. His words rebuked them, stung
them, inflamed them with hatred. They laid violent hands on Him, and
led Him out to the brow of the hill,--perhaps it was yonder on that
steep, rocky peak to the south of the town, looking back toward the
country of the Old Testament,--to cast Him down headlong.

Yet I think there must have been a few friends and lovers of His in that
disdainful and ignorant crowd; for He passed through the midst of them
unharmed, and went His way to the home of Peter and Andrew and John and
Philip, beside the Sea of Galilee, never to come back to Nazareth.



We thought to save a little time on our journey, and perhaps to spare
ourselves a little jolting on the hard high-road, by sending the
saddle-horses ahead with the caravan, and taking a carriage for the
sixteen-mile drive to Tiberias. When we came to the old sarcophagus
which serves as a drinking trough at the spring outside the village of
Cana, a strange thing befell us.

We had halted for a moment to refresh the horses. Suddenly there was a
sound of furious galloping on the road behind us. A score of cavaliers
in Bedouin dress, with guns and swords, came after us in hot haste. The
leaders dashed across the open space beside the spring, wheeled their
foaming horses and dashed back again.

"Is this our affair with robbers, at last?" we asked George.

He laughed a little. "No," said he, "this is the beginning of a wedding
in Kafr Kennâ. The bridegroom and his friends come over from some other
village where they live, to show off a bit of _fantasia_ to the bride
and her friends. They carry her back with them after the marriage. We
wait a while and see how they ride."

The horses were gayly caparisoned with ribbons and tassels and
embroidered saddle-cloths. The riders were handsome, swarthy fellows
with haughty faces. Their eyes glanced sideways at us to see whether we
were admiring them, as they shouted their challenges to one another and
raced wildly up and down the rock-strewn course, with their robes flying
and their horses' sides bloody with spurring. One of the men was a huge
coal-black Nubian who brandished a naked sword as he rode. Others
whirled their long muskets in the air and yelled furiously. The riding
was cruel, reckless, superb; loose reins and loose stirrups on the
headlong gallop; then the sharp curb brought the horse up suddenly, the
rein on his neck turned him as if on a pivot, and the pressure of the
heel sent him flying back over the course.

Presently there was a sound of singing and clapping hands behind the
high cactus-hedges to our left, and from a little lane the bridal
procession walked up to take the high-road to the village. There were a
dozen men in front, firing guns and shouting, then came the women, with
light veils of gauze over their faces, singing shrilly, and in the midst
of them, in gay attire, but half-concealed with long, dark mantles, the
bride and "the virgins, her companions, in raiment of needlework."

As they saw the photographic camera pointed at them they laughed, and
crowded closer together, and drew the ends of their dark mantles over
their heads. So they passed up the road, their shrill song broken a
little by their laughter; and the company of horsemen, the bridegroom
and his friends, wheeled into line, two by two, and trotted after them
into the village.

This was all that we saw of the wedding at Kafr Kennâ--just a vivid,
mysterious flash of human figures, drawn together by the primal impulse
and longing of our common nature, garbed and ordered by the social
customs which make different lands and ages seem strange to each other,
and moving across the narrow stage of Time into the dimness of that Arab
village, where Jesus and His mother and His disciples were guests at a
wedding long ago.



It is one of the ironies of fate that the lake which saw the greater
part of the ministry of Jesus, should take its modern name from a city
built by Herod Antipas, and called after one of the most infamous of the
Roman Emperors,--"the Sea of Tiberias."

Our road to this city of decadence leads gradually downward, through a
broad, sinking moorland, covered with weeds and wild flowers--rich,
monotonous, desolate. The broidery of pink flax and yellow
chrysanthemums and white marguerites still follows us; but now the wider
stretches of thistles and burdocks and daturas and cockleburs and
water-plantains seem to be more important. The landscape saddens around
us, under the deepening haze of the desert-wind, the sombre Sherkîyeh.
There are no golden sunbeams, no cool cloud-shadows, only a gray and
melancholy illumination growing ever fainter and more nebulous as the
day declines, and the outlines of the hills fade away from the dim,
silent, forsaken plain through which we move.

We are crossing the battlefield where the soldiers of Napoleon, under
the brave Junot, fought desperately against the overwhelming forces of
the Turks. Yonder, away to the left, in the mysterious haze, the double
"Horns of Hattin" rise like a shadowy exhalation.

That is said to be the mountain where Jesus gathered the multitude
around Him and spoke His new beatitudes on the meek, the merciful, the
peacemakers, the pure in heart. It is certainly the place where the
hosts of the Crusaders met the army of Saladin, in the fierce heat of a
July day, seven hundred years ago, and while the burning grass and weeds
and brush flamed around them, were cut to pieces and trampled and
utterly consumed. There the new Kingdom of Jerusalem,--the last that was
won with the sword,--went down in ruin around the relics of "the true
cross," which its soldiers carried as their talisman; and Guy de
Lusignan, their King, was captured. The noble prisoners were invited by
Saladin to his tent, and he offered them sherbets, cooled with snow from
Hermon, to slake their feverish thirst. When they were refreshed, the
conqueror ordered them to be led out and put to the sword,--just yonder
at the foot of the Mount of Beatitudes.

From terrace to terrace of the falling moor we roll along the winding
road through the brumous twilight, until we come within sight of the
black, ruined walls, the gloomy towers, the huddled houses of the
worn-out city of Tiberias. She is like an ancient beggar sitting on a
rocky cape beside the lake and bathing her feet in the invisible water.
The gathering dusk lends a sullen and forlorn aspect to the place.
Behind us rise the shattered volcanic crags and cliffs of basalt; before
us glimmer pallid and ghostly touches of light from the hidden waves; a
few lamps twinkle here and there in the dormant town.

This was the city which Herod Antipas built for the capital of his
Province of Galilee. He laid its foundations in an ancient graveyard,
and stretched its walls three miles along the lake, adorning it with a
palace, a forum, a race-course, and a large synagogue. But to strict
Jews the place was unclean, because it was defiled with Roman idols, and
because its builders had polluted themselves by digging up the bones of
the dead. Herod could get few Jews to live in his city, and it became a
catch-all for the off-scourings of the land, people of all creeds and
none, aliens, mongrels, soldiers of fortune, and citizens of the
high-road. It was the strongest fortress and probably the richest town
of Galilee in Christ's day, but so far as we know He never entered it.

After the fall of Jerusalem, strangely enough, the Jews made it their
favourite city, the seat of their Sanhedrim and the centre of
rabbinical learning. Here the famous Rabbis Jehuda and Akîba and the
philosopher Maimonides taught. Here the Mishna and the Gemara were
written. And here, to-day, two-thirds of the five thousand inhabitants
are Jews, many of them living on the charity of their kindred in Europe,
and spending their time in the study of the Talmud while they wait for
the Messiah who shall restore the kingdom to Israel. You may see their
flat fur caps, dingy gabardines, long beards and melancholy faces on
every street in the drowsy little city, dreaming (among fleas and
fevers) of I know not what impossible glories to come.

You may see, also, on the hill near the Serâi, the splendid Mission
Hospital of the United Free Church of Scotland, where for twenty-three
years Doctor Torrance has been ministering to the body and soul of
Tiberias in the name of Jesus. Do you find the building too large and
fine, the lovely garden too beautiful with flowers, the homes of the
doctors, and teachers, and helpers of the sick and wounded, too clean
and healthful and orderly? Do you say "To what purpose is this waste?"
Then I know not how to measure your ignorance. For you have failed to
see that this is the embassy of the only King who still cares for the
true welfare of this forsaken, bedraggled, broken-down Tiberias.

On the evening of our arrival, however, all these things are hidden from
us in the dusk. We drive past the ruined gate of the city, a mile along
the southern road toward the famous Hot Baths. Here, on a little terrace
above the lake, between the road and the black basalt cliffs, our camp
is pitched, and through the darkness

  'We hear the water lapping on the crag,
  And the long ripple washing in the reeds.'

In the freshness of the early morning the sunrise pours across the lake
into our tents. There is a light, cool breeze blowing from the north,
rippling the clear, green water, (of a hue like the stone called _aqua
marina_), with a thousand flaws and wrinkles, which catch the flashing
light and reflect the deep blue sky, and change beneath the shadow of
floating clouds to innumerable colours of lapis lazuli, and violet, and
purple, and peacock blue.

The old comparison of the shape of the lake to a lute, or a harp, is not
clear to us from the point at which we stand: for the northwestward
sweep of the bay of Gennesaret, which reaches a breadth of nearly eight
miles from the eastern shore, is hidden from us by a promontory, where
the dark walls and white houses of Tiberias slope to the water. But we
can see the full length of the lake, from the depression of the Jordan
Valley at the southern end, to the shores of Bethsaida and Capernaum at
the foot of the northern hills, beyond which the dazzling whiteness of
Hermon is visible.

Opposite rise the eastern heights of the Jaulân, with almost level top
and steep flanks, furrowed by rocky ravines, descending precipitously to
a strip of smooth, green shore. Behind us the mountains are more broken
and varied in form, lifted into sharper peaks and sloped into broader
valleys. The whole aspect of the scene is like a view in the English
Lake country, say on Windermere or Ullswater; only there are no forests
or thickets to shade and soften it. Every edge of the hills is like a
silhouette against the sky; every curve of the shore clear and distinct.

Of the nine rich cities which once surrounded the lake, none is left
except this ragged old Tiberias. Of the hundreds of fishing boats and
passenger vessels which once crossed its waters, all have vanished
except half a dozen little pleasure skiffs kept for the use of tourists.
Of the armies and caravans which once travelled these shores, all have
passed by into the eternal far-away, except the motley string of
visitors to the Hot Springs, who were coming up to bathe in the
medicinal waters in the days of Joshua when the place was called
Hammath, and in the time of the Greeks when it was named Emmaus, and who
are still trotting along the road in front of our camp toward the big,
white dome and dirty bath-houses of Hummam. They come from all parts of
Syria, from Damascus and the sea-coast, from Judea and the Haurân;
Greeks and Arabs and Turks and Maronites and Jews; on foot, on
donkey-back, and in litters. Now, it is a cavalcade of Druses from the
Lebanon, men, women and children, riding on tired horses. Now, it is a
procession of Hebrews walking with a silken canopy over the sacred books
of their law.

In the morning we visit Tiberias, buy some bread and fish in the market,
and go through the Mission Hospital, where one of the gentle nurses
binds up a foolish little wound on my wrist.

In the afternoon we sail on the southern part of the lake. The boatmen
laugh at my fruitless fishing with artificial flies, and catch a few
small fish for us with their nets in the shallow, muddy places along the
shore. The wind is strange and variable, now sweeping down in violent
gusts that bend the long arm of the lateen sail, now dying away to a
dead calm through which we row lazily home.

I remember a small purple kingfisher poising in the air over a shoal,
his head bent downward, his wings vibrating swiftly. He drops like a
shot and comes up out of the water with a fish held crosswise in his
bill. With measured wing-strokes he flits to the top of a rock to eat
his supper, and a robber-gull flaps after him to take it away. But the
industrious kingfisher is too quick to be robbed. He bolts his fish with
a single gulp. We eat ours in more leisurely fashion, by the light of
the candles in our peaceful tent.



A hundred little points of illumination flash into memory as I look back
over the hours that we spent beside the Sea of Galilee. How should I
write of them all without being tedious? How, indeed, should I hope to
make them visible or significant in the bare words of description?

Never have I passed richer, fuller hours; but most of their wealth was
in very little things: the personal look of a flower growing by the
wayside; the intimate message of a bird's song falling through the sunny
air; the expression of confidence and appeal on the face of a wounded
man in the hospital, when the good physician stood beside his cot; the
shadows of the mountains lengthening across the valleys at sunset; the
laughter of a little child playing with a broken water pitcher; the
bronzed profiles and bold, free ways of our sunburned rowers; the sad
eyes of an old Hebrew lifted from the book that he was reading; the
ruffling breezes and sudden squalls that changed the surface of the
lake; the single palm-tree that waved over the mud hovels of Magdala;
the millions of tiny shells that strewed the beach of Capernaum and
Bethsaida; the fertile sweep of the Plain of Gennesaret rising from the
lake; and the dark precipices of the "Robbers' Gorge" running back into
the western mountains.

The written record of these hours is worth little; but in experience and
in memory they have a mystical meaning and beauty, because they belong
to the country where Jesus walked with His fishermen-disciples, and took
the little children in His arms, and healed the sick, and opened blind
eyes to behold ineffable things.

Every touch that brings that country nearer to us in our humanity and
makes it more real, more simple, more vivid, is precious. For the one
irreparable loss that could befall us in religion,--a loss that is often
threatened by our abstract and theoretical ways of thinking and speaking
about Him,--would be to lose Jesus out of the lowly and familiar ways of
our mortal life. He entered these lowly ways as the Son of Man in order
to make us sure that we are the children of God.

Therefore I am glad of every hour spent by the Lake of Galilee.

       *       *       *       *       *

I remember, when we came across in our boat to Tell Hûm, where the
ancient city of Capernaum stood, the sun was shining with a fervent heat
and the air of the lake, six hundred and eighty feet below the level of
the sea, was soft and languid. The gray-bearded German monk who came to
meet us at the landing and admitted us to the inclosure of his little
monastery where he was conducting the excavation of the ruins, wore a
cork helmet and spectacles. He had been heated, even above the ninety
degrees Fahrenheit which the thermometer marked, by the rudeness of a
couple of tourists who had just tried to steal a photograph of his work.
He had foiled them by opening their camera and blotting the film with
sunlight, and had then sent them away with fervent words. But as he
walked with us among his roses and Pride of India trees, his spirit
cooled within him, and he showed himself a learned and accomplished man.

He told us how he had been working there for two or three years,
keeping records and drawings and photographs of everything that was
found; going back to the Franciscan convent at Jerusalem for his short
vacation in the heat of mid-summer; putting his notes in order, reading
and studying, making ready to write his book on Capernaum. He showed us
the portable miniature railway which he had made; and the little iron
cars to carry away the great piles of rubbish and earth; and the rich
columns, carved lintels, marble steps and shell-niches of the splendid
building which his workmen had uncovered. The outline was clear and
perfect. We could see how the edifice of fine, white limestone had been
erected upon an older foundation of basalt, and how an earthquake had
twisted it and shaken down its pillars. It was undoubtedly a synagogue,
perhaps the very same which the rich Roman centurion built for the Jews
in Capernaum (Luke vii: 5), and where Jesus healed the man who had an
unclean spirit. (Luke iv: 31-37.) Of all the splendours of that proud
city of the lake, once spreading along a mile of the shore, nothing
remained but these tumbled ruins in a lonely, fragrant garden, where the
patient father was digging with his Arab workmen and getting ready to
write his book.

"_Weh dir, Capernaum_" I quoted. The _padre_ nodded his head gravely.
"_Ja, ja,_" said he, "_es ist buchstäblich erfüllt!_"

       *       *       *       *       *

I remember the cool bath in the lake, at a point between Bethsaida and
Capernaum, where a tangle of briony and honeysuckle made a shelter
around a shell-strewn beach, and the rosy oleanders bloomed beside an
inflowing stream. I swam out a little way and floated, looking up into
the deep sky, while the waves plashed gently and caressingly around my

       *       *       *       *       *

I remember the old Arab fisherman, who was camped with his family in a
black tent on a meadow where several lively brooks came in (one of them
large enough to turn a mill). I persuaded him by gestures to wade out
into the shallow part of the lake and cast his bell-net for fish. He
gathered the net in his hand, and whirled it around his head. The leaden
weights around the bottom spread out in a wide circle and splashed into
the water. He drew the net toward him by the cord, the ring of sinkers
sweeping the bottom, and lifted it slowly, carefully--but no fish!

Then I rigged up my pocket fly-rod with a gossamer leader and two tiny
trout-flies, a Royal Coach-man and a Queen of the Water, and began to
cast along the crystal pools and rapids of the larger stream. How
merrily the fish rose there, and in the ripples where the brooks ran out
into the lake. There were half a dozen different kinds of fish, but I
did not know the name of any of them. There was one that looked like a
black bass, and others like white perch and sunfish; and one kind was
very much like a grayling. But they were not really of the _salmo_
family, I knew, for none of them had the soft fin in front of the tail.
How surprised the old fisherman was when he saw the fish jumping at
those tiny hooks with feathers; and how round the eyes of his children
were as they looked on; and how pleased they were with the _bakhshîsh_
which they received, including a couple of baithooks for the eldest boy!

       *       *       *       *       *

I remember the place where we ate our lunch in a small grove of
eucalyptus-trees, with sweet-smelling yellow acacias blossoming around
us. It was near the site which some identify with the ancient Bethsaida,
but others say that it was farther to the east, and others again say
that Capernaum was really located here. The whole problem of these lake
cities, where they stood, how they supported such large populations (not
less than fifteen thousand people in each), is difficult and may never
be solved. But it did not trouble us deeply. We were content to be
beside the same waters, among the same hills, that Jesus knew and loved.

It was here, along this shore, that He found Simon and his brother
Andrew casting their net, and James and his brother John mending theirs,
and called them to come with Him. These fishermen, with their frank and
free hearts unspoiled by the sophistries of the Pharisees, with their
minds unhampered by social and political ambitions, followers of a
vocation which kept them out of doors and reminded them daily of their
dependence on the bounty of God,--these children of nature, and others
like them, were the men whom He chose for His disciples, the listeners
who had ears to hear His marvellous gospel.

It was here, on these pale, green waves, that He sat in a little boat,
near the shore, and spoke to the multitude who had gathered to hear Him.

He spoke of the deep and tranquil confidence that man may learn from
nature, from the birds and the flowers.

He spoke of the infinite peace of the heart that knows the true meaning
of love, which is giving and blessing, and the true secret of courage,
which is loyalty to the truth.

He spoke of the God whom we can trust as a child trusts its father, and
of the Heaven which waits for all who do good to their fellowmen.

He spoke of the wisdom whose fruit is not pride but humility, of the
honour whose crown is not authority but service, of the purity which is
not outward but inward, and of the joy which lasts forever.

He spoke of forgiveness for the guilty, of compassion for the weak, of
hope for the desperate.

He told these poor and lowly folk that their souls were unspeakably
precious, and that He had come to save them and make them inheritors of
an eternal kingdom. He told them that He had brought this message from
God, their Father and His Father.

He spoke with the simplicity of one who knows, with the assurance of one
who has seen, with the certainty and clearness of one for whom doubt
does not exist.

He offered Himself, in His stainless purity, in His supreme love, as the
proof and evidence of His gospel, the bread of Heaven, the water of
life, the Saviour of sinners, the light of the world. "Come unto Me," He
said, "and I will give you rest."

This was the heavenly music that came into the world by the Lake of
Galilee. And its voice has spread through the centuries, comforting the
sorrowful, restoring the penitent, cheering the despondent, and telling
all who will believe it, that our human life is worth living, because it
gives each one of us the opportunity to share in the Love which is
sovereign and immortal.


_The Lord is my teacher:
I shall not lose the way to wisdom._

_He leadeth me in the lowly path of learning,
He prepareth a lesson for me every day;
He findeth the clear fountains of instruction,
Little by little he showeth me the beauty of the truth._

_The world is a great book that he hath written,
He turneth the leaves for me slowly;
They are all inscribed with images and letters,
His face poureth light on the pictures and the words._

_Then am I glad when I perceive his meaning,
He taketh me by the hand to the hill-top of vision;
In the valley also he walketh beside me,
And in the dark places he whispereth to my heart._

_Yea, though my lesson be hard it is not hopeless,
For the Lord is very patient with his slow scholar;
He will wait awhile for my weakness,
He will help me to read the truth through tears._

_Surely thou wilt enlighten me daily by joy and by sorrow:
And lead me at last, O Lord, to the perfect knowledge of thee._


                      THE SPRINGS OF JORDAN



Naphtali was the northernmost of the tribes of Israel, a bold and free
highland clan, inhabiting a country of rugged hills and steep
mountainsides, with fertile vales and little plains between.

"Naphtali is a hind let loose," said the old song of the Sons of Jacob
(Genesis xlix: 21); and as we ride up from the Lake of Galilee on our
way northward, we feel the meaning of the poet's words. A people
dwelling among these rock-strewn heights, building their fortress-towns
on sharp pinnacles, and climbing these steep paths to the open fields of
tillage or of war, would be like wild deer in their spirit of liberty,
and they would need to be as nimble and sure-footed.

Our good little horses are shod with round plates of iron, and they
clatter noisily among the loose stones and slip on the rocky ledges, as
we strike over the hills from Capernaum, without a path, to join the
main trail at Khân Yubb Yûsuf.

We are skirting fields of waving wheat and barley, but there are no
houses to be seen. Far and wide the sea of verdure rolls around us,
broken only by ridges of grayish rock and scarped cliffs of reddish
basalt. We wade saddle-deep in herbage; broad-leaved fennel and
trembling reeds; wild asparagus and artichokes; a hundred kinds of
flowering weeds; acres of last year's thistles, standing blanched and
ghostlike in the summer sunshine.

The phantom city of Safed gleams white from its far-away hilltop,--the
latest and perhaps the last of the famous seats of rabbinical learning.
It is one of the sacred places of modern Judaism. No Hebrew pilgrim
fails to visit it. Here, they say, the Messiah will one day reveal
himself, and after establishing His kingdom, will set out to conquer the

But it is not to the city, shining like a flake of mica from the
greenness of the distant mountain, that our looks and thoughts are
turning. It is backward to the lucent sapphire of the Lake of Galilee,
upon whose shores our hearts have seen the secret vision, heard the
inward message of the Man of Nazareth.

Ridge after ridge reveals new outlooks toward its tranquil loveliness.
Turn after turn, our winding way leads us to what we think must be the
parting view. Sleeping in still, forsaken beauty among the sheltering
hills, and open to the cloudless sky which makes its water like a little
heaven, it seems to silently return our farewell looks with pleading for
remembrance. Now, after one more round among the inclosing ridges,
another vista opens, the widest and the most serene of all.

Farewell, dear Lake of Jesus! Our eyes may never rest on thee again; but
surely they will not forget thee. For now, as often we come to some fair
water in the Western mountains, or unfold the tent by some lone lakeside
in the forests of the North, the lapping of thy waves will murmur
through our thoughts; thy peaceful brightness will arise before us; we
shall see the rose-flush of thy oleanders, and the waving of thy reeds;
the sweet, faint smell of thy gold-flowered acacias will return to us
from purple orchids and white lilies. Let the blessing that is thine go
with us everywhere in God's great out-of-doors, and our hearts never
lose the comradeship of Him who made thee holiest among all the waters
of the world!

       *       *       *       *       *

The Khân of Joseph's Pit is a ruin; a huge and broken building deserted
by the caravans which used to throng this highway from Damascus to the
cities of the lake, and to the ports of Acre and Joppa, and to the
metropolis of Egypt. It is hard to realize that this wild moorland path
by which we are travelling was once a busy road, filled with camels,
horses, chariots, foot-passengers, clanking companies of soldiers; that
these crumbling, cavernous walls, overgrown with thorny capers and wild
marjoram and mandragora, were once crowded every night with a motley mob
of travellers and merchants; that this pool of muddy water, gloomily
reflecting the ruins, was once surrounded by flocks and herds and beasts
of burden; that only a few hours to the southward there was once a ring
of splendid, thriving, bustling towns around the shores of Galilee, out
of which and into which the multitudes were forever journeying. Now they
are all gone from the road, and the vast wayside caravanserai is
sleeping into decay--a dormitory for bats and serpents.

What is it that makes the wreck of an inn more lonely and forbidding
than any other ruin?

A few miles more of riding along the flanks of the mountains bring us to
a place where we turn a corner suddenly, and come upon the full view of
the upper basin of the Jordan; a vast oval green cup, with the little
Lake of Huleh lying in it like a blue jewel, and the giant bulk of Mount
Hermon towering beyond it, crowned and cloaked with silver snows.

Up the steep and slippery village street of Rosh Pinnah, a modern Jewish
colony founded by the Rothschilds in 1882, we scramble wearily to our
camping-ground for the night. Above us on a hilltop is the old Arab
village of Jaûneh, brown, picturesque, and filthy. Around us are the
colonists' new houses, with their red-tiled roofs and white walls. Two
straight streets running in parallel lines up the hillside are roughly
paved with cobble-stones and lined with trees; mulberries,
white-flowered acacias, eucalyptus, feathery pepper-trees, and
rose-bushes. Water runs down through pipes from a copious spring on the
mountain, and flows abundantly into every house, plashing into covered
reservoirs and open stone basins for watering the cattle. Below us the
long avenues of eucalyptus, the broad vineyards filled with low, bushy
vines, the immense orchards of pale-green almond-trees, the smiling
wheat-fields, slope to the lake and encircle its lower end.

The children who come to visit our camp on the terrace wear shoes and
stockings, carry school-books in their bags, and bring us offerings of
little bunches of sweet-smelling garden roses and pendulous
locust-blooms. We are a thousand years away from the Khân of Joseph's
Pit; but we can still see the old mud village on the height against the
sunset, and the camp-fires gleaming in front of the black Bedouin tents
far below, along the edge of the marshes. We are perched between the old
and the new, between the nomad and the civilized man, and the unchanging
white head of Hermon looks down upon us all.

In the morning, on the way down, I stop at the door of a house and fall
into talk with an intelligent, schoolmasterish sort of man, a Roumanian,
who speaks a little weird German. Is the colony prospering? Yes, but
not so fast that it makes them giddy. What are they raising? Wheat and
barley, a few vegetables, a great deal of almonds and grapes. Good
harvests? Some years good, some years bad; the Arabs bad every year,
terrible thieves; but the crops are plentiful most of the time. Are the
colonists happy, contented? A thin smile wrinkles around the man's lips
as he answers with the statement of a world-wide truth, "_Ach, Herr, der
Ackerbauer ist nie zufrieden._" ("Ah, Sir, the farmer is never



All day we ride along the hills skirting the marshy plain of Huleh. Here
the springs and parent streams of Jordan are gathered, behind the
mountains of Naphtali and at the foot of Hermon, as in a great green
basin about the level of the ocean, for the long, swift rush down the
sunken trench which leads to the deep, sterile bitterness of the Dead
Sea. Was there ever a river that began so fair and ended in such waste
and desolation?

Here in this broad, level, well-watered valley, along the borders of
these vast beds of papyrus and rushes intersected by winding, hidden
streams, Joshua and his fierce clans of fighting men met the Kings of
the north with their horses and chariots, "at the waters of Merom," in
the last great battle for the possession of the Promised Land. It was a
furious conflict, the hordes of footmen against the squadrons of
horsemen; but the shrewd command that came from Joshua decided it:
"Hough their horses and burn their chariots with fire." The Canaanites
and the Amorites and the Hittites and the Hivites were swept from the
field, driven over the western mountains, and the Israelites held the
Jordan from Jericho to Hermon. (Joshua xi:1-15.)

The springs that burst from the hills to the left of our path and run
down to the sluggish channels of the marsh on our right are abundant and

Here is 'Ain Mellâha, a crystal pool a hundred yards wide, with wild
mint and watercress growing around it, white and yellow lilies floating
on its surface, and great fish showing themselves in the transparent
open spaces among the weeds, where the water bubbles up from the bottom
through dancing hillocks of clean, white sand and shining pebbles.

Here is 'Ain el-Belâta, a copious stream breaking forth from the rocks
beneath a spreading terebinth-tree, and rippling down with merry rapids
toward the jungle of rustling reeds and plumed papyrus.

While luncheon is preparing in the shade of the terebinth, I wade into
the brook and cast my fly along the ripples. A couple of ragged,
laughing, bare-legged Bedouin boys follow close behind me, watching the
new sport with wonder. The fish are here, as lively and gamesome as
brook trout, plump, golden-sided fellows ten or twelve inches long. The
feathered hooks tempt them, and they rise freely to the lure. My
tattered pages are greatly excited, and make impromptu pouches in the
breast of their robes, stuffing in the fish until they look quite fat.
The catch is enough for a good supper for their whole family, and a
dozen more for a delicious fish-salad at our camp that night. What kind
of fish are they? I do not know: doubtless something Scriptural and
Oriental. But they taste good; and so far as there is any record, they
are the first fish ever taken with the artificial fly in the sources of
the Jordan.

The plain of Huleh is full of life. Flocks of waterfowl and solemn
companies of storks circle over the swamps. The wet meadows are covered
with herds of black buffaloes, wallowing in the ditches, or staring at
us sullenly under their drooping horns. Little bunches of horses, and
brood mares followed by their long-legged, awkward foals, gallop beside
our cavalcade, whinnying and kicking up their heels in the joy of
freedom. Flocks of black goats clamber up the rocky hillsides, following
the goatherd who plays upon his rustic pipe quavering and fantastic
music, softened by distance into a wild sweetness. Small black cattle
with white faces march in long files across the pastures, or wander
through the thickets of bulrushes and papyrus and giant fennel,
appearing and disappearing as the screen of broad leaves and trembling
plumes close behind them.

A few groups of huts made out of wattled reeds stand beside the sluggish
watercourses, just as they did when Macgregor in his Rob Roy canoe
attempted to explore this impenetrable morass forty years ago. Along the
higher ground are lines of black Bedouin tents, arranged in transitory

These flitting habitations of the nomads, who come down from the hills
and lofty deserts to fatten their flocks and herds among unfailing
pasturage, are all of one pattern. The low, flat roof of black goats'
hair is lifted by the sticks which support it, into half a dozen little
peaks, perhaps five or six feet from the ground. Between these peaks the
cloth sags down, and is made fast along the edges by intricate and
confusing guy-ropes. The tent is shallow, not more than six feet deep,
and from twelve to thirty feet long, according to the wealth of the
owner and the size of his family,--two things which usually correspond.
The sides and the partitions are sometimes made of woven reeds, like
coarse matting. Within there is an apartment (if you can call it so) for
the family, a pen for the chickens, and room for dogs, cats, calves and
other creatures to find shelter. The fireplace of flat stones is in the
centre, and the smoke oozes out through the roof and sides.

The Bedouin men, in flowing _burnous_ and _keffiyeh_, with the _'agâl_
of dark twisted camel's hair like a crown upon their heads, are almost
all handsome: clean-cut, haughty faces, bold in youth and dignified in
old age. The women look weatherbeaten and withered beside them. Even
when you see a fine face in the dark blue mantle or under the white
head-dress, it is almost always disfigured by purplish tattooing around
the lips and chin. Some of the younger girls are beautiful, and most of
the children are entrancing.

They play games in a ring, with songs and clapping hands; the boys
charge up and down among the tents with wild shouts, driving a round
bone or a donkey's hoof with their shinny-sticks; the girls chase one
another and hide among the bushes in some primeval form of "tag" or

A merry little mob pursues us as we ride through each encampment, with
outstretched hands and half-jesting, half-plaintive cries of
"_Bakhshîsh! bakhshîsh!_" They do not really expect anything. It is only
a part of the game. And when the Lady holds out her open hand to them
and smiles as she repeats, "_Bakhshîsh! bakhshîsh!_" they take the joke
quickly, and run away, laughing, to their sports.

At one village, in the dusk, there is an open-air wedding: a row of men
dancing; a ring of women and girls looking on; musicians playing the
shepherd's pipe and the drum; maidens running beside us to beg a present
for the invisible bride: a rude charcoal sketch of human society,
primitive, irrepressible, confident, encamped for a moment on the
shadowy border of the fecund and unconquerable marsh.

Thus we traverse the strange country of Bedouinia, travelling all day in
the presence of the Great Sheikh of Mountains, and sleep at night on the
edge of a little village whose name we shall never know. A dozen times
we ask George for the real name of that place, and a dozen times he
repeats it for us with painstaking courtesy; it sounds like a compromise
between a cough and a sneeze.



The Jordan is assembled in the northern end of the basin of Huleh under
a mysterious curtain of tall, tangled water-plants. Into that ancient
and impenetrable place of hiding and blending enter many little springs
and brooks, but the main sources of the river are three.

The first and the longest is the Hasbâni, a strong, foaming stream that
comes down with a roar from the western slope of Hermon. We cross it by
the double arch of a dilapidated Saracen bridge, looking down upon
thickets of oleander, willow, tamarisk and woodbine.

The second and largest source springs from the rounded hill of Tel
el-Kâdi, the supposed site of the ancient city of Dan, the northern
border of Israel. Here the wandering, landless Danites, finding a
country to their taste, put the too fortunate inhabitants of Leshem to
the sword and took possession. And here King Jereboam set up one of his
idols of the golden calf.

There is no vestige of the city, no trace of the idolatrous shrine, on
the huge mound which rises thirty or forty feet above the plain. But it
is thickly covered with trees: poplars and oaks and wild figs and
acacias and wild olives. A pair of enormous veterans, a valonia oak and
a terebinth, make a broad bower of shade above the tomb of an unknown
Mohammedan saint, and there we eat our midday meal, with the murmur of
running waters all around us, a clear rivulet singing at our feet, and
the chant of innumerable birds filling the vault of foliage above our

After lunch, instead of sleeping, two of us wander into the dense grove
that spreads over the mound. Tiny streams of water trickle through it:
blackberry-vines and wild grapes are twisted in the undergrowth; ferns
and flowery nettles and mint grow waist-high. The main spring is at the
western base of the mound. The water comes bubbling and whirling out
from under a screen of wild figs and vines, forming a pool of palest,
clearest blue, a hundred feet in diameter. Out of this pool the new-born
river rushes, foaming and shouting down the hillside, through lines of
flowering styrax and hawthorn and willows trembling over its wild joy.

The third and most impressive of the sources of Jordan is at Bâniyâs, on
one of the foothills of Hermon. Our path thither leads us up from Dan,
through high green meadows, shaded by oak-trees, sprinkled with
innumerable blossoming shrubs and bushes, and looking down upon the
lower fields blue with lupins and vetches, or golden with yellow
chrysanthemums beneath which the red glow of the clover is dimly burning
like a secret fire.

Presently we come, by way of a broad, natural terrace where the white
encampment of the Moslem dead lies gleaming beneath the shade of mighty
oaks and terebinths, and past the friendly olive-grove where our own
tents are standing, to a deep ravine filled to the brim with luxuriant
verdure of trees and vines and ferns. Into this green cleft a little
river, dancing and singing, suddenly plunges and disappears, and from
beneath the veil of moist and trembling leaves we hear the sound of its
wild joy, a fracas of leaping, laughing waters.

[Illustration: The Approach to Bâniyâs.]

An old Roman bridge spans the stream on the brink of its downward
leap. Crossing over, we ride through the ruined gateway of the town of
Bâniyâs, turn to right and left among its dirty, narrow streets, pass
into a leafy lane, and come out in front of a cliff of ruddy limestone,
with niches and shrines carved on its face, and a huge, dark cavern
gaping in the centre.

A tumbled mass of broken rocks lies below the mouth of the cave. From
this slope of débris, sixty or seventy feet long, a line of springs gush
forth in singing foam. Under the shadow of trembling poplars and
broad-boughed sycamores, amid the lush greenery of wild figs and grapes,
bracken and briony and morning-glory, drooping maidenhair and
flower-laden styrax, the hundred rills swiftly run together and flow
away with one impulse, a full-grown little river.

There is an immemorial charm about the place. Mysteries of grove and
fountain, of cave and hilltop, bewitch it with the magic of Nature's
life, ever springing and passing, flowering and fading, basking in the
open sunlight and hiding in the secret places of the earth. It is such a
place as Claude Lorraine might have imagined and painted as the scene
of one of his mythical visions of Arcadia; such a place as antique fancy
might have chosen and decked with altars for the worship of unseen
dryads and nymphs, oreads and naiads. And so, indeed, it was chosen, and
so it was decked.

Here, in all probability, was Baal-Gad, where the Canaanites paid their
reverence to the waters that spring from underground. Here, certainly,
was Paneas of the Greeks, where the rites of Pan and all the nymphs were
celebrated. Here Herod the Great built a marble temple to Augustus the
Tolerant, on this terrace of rock above the cave. Here, no doubt, the
statue of the Emperor looked down upon a strange confusion of revelries
and wild offerings in honour of the unknown powers of Nature.

All these things have withered, crumbled, vanished. There are no more
statues, altars, priests, revels and sacrifices at Bâniyâs--only the
fragment of an inscription around one of the votive niches carved on the
cliff, which records the fact that the niche was made by a certain
person who at that time was "Priest of Pan." _But the name of this_
_person who wished to be remembered is precisely the part of the carving
which is illegible._

Ironical inscription! Still the fountains gush from the rocks, the
poplars tremble in the breeze, the sweet incense rises from the
orange-flowered styrax, the birds chant the joy of living, the sunlight
and the moonlight fall upon the sparkling waters, and the liquid
starlight drips through the glistening leaves. But the Priest of Pan is
forgotten, and all that old interpretation and adoration of Nature,
sensuous, passionate, full of mingled cruelty and ecstasy, has melted
like a mist from her face, and left her serene and pure and lovely as

Here at Paneas, after the city had been rebuilt by Philip the Tetrarch
and renamed after him and his Imperial master, there came one day a
Peasant of Galilee who taught His disciples to draw near to Nature, not
with fierce revelry and superstitious awe, but with tranquil confidence
and calm joy. The goatfoot god, the god of panic, the great god Pan,
reigns no more beside the upper springs of Jordan. The name that we
remember here, the name that makes the message of flowing stream and
sheltering tree and singing bird more clear and cool and sweet to our
hearts, is the name of Jesus of Nazareth.



Yes, this little Mohammedan town of Bâniyâs, with its twoscore wretched
houses built of stones from the ancient ruins and huddled within the
broken walls of the citadel, is the ancient site of Cæsarea Philippi. In
the happy days that we spend here, rejoicing in the most beautiful of
all our camps in the Holy Land, and yielding ourselves to the full charm
of the out-of-doors more perfectly expressed than we had ever thought to
find it in Palestine,--in this little paradise of friendly trees and
fragrant flowers,

      "at snowy Hermon's foot,
  Amid the music of his waterfalls,"--

the thought of Jesus is like the presence of a comrade, while the
memories of human grandeur and transience, of man's long toil, unceasing
conflict, vain pride and futile despair, visit us only as flickering

       *       *       *       *       *

We climb to the top of the peaked hill, a thousand feet above the town,
and explore the great Crusaders' Castle of Subeibeh, a ruin vaster in
extent and nobler in situation than the famous _Schloss_ of Heidelberg.
It not only crowns but completely covers the summit of the steep ridge
with the huge drafted stones of its foundations. The immense round
towers, the double-vaulted gateways, are still standing. Long flights of
steps lead down to subterranean reservoirs of water. Spacious
courtyards, where the knights and men-at-arms once exercised, are
transformed into vegetable gardens, and the passageways between the
north citadel and the south citadel are travelled by flocks of lop-eared

From room to room we clamber by slopes of crumbling stone, discovering
now a guard-chamber with loopholes for the archers, and now an arched
chapel with the plaster intact and faint touches of colour still showing
upon it. Perched on the high battlements we look across the valley of
Huleh and the springs of Jordan to Kal'at Hûnîn on the mountains of
Naphtali, and to Kal'at esh-Shakîf above the gorge of the River Lîtânî.

From these three great fortresses, in the time of the Crusaders, flashed
and answered the signal-fires of the chivalry of Europe fighting for
possession of Palestine. What noble companies of knights and ladies
inhabited these castles, what rich festivals were celebrated within
these walls, what desperate struggles defended them, until at last the
swarthy hordes of Saracens stormed the gates and poured over the
defences and planted the standard of the crescent on the towers and lit
the signal-fires of Islam from citadel to citadel.

All the fires have gone out now. The yellow whin blazes upon the
hillsides. The wild fig-tree splits the masonry. The scorpion lodges in
the deserted chambers. On the fallen stone of the Crusaders' gate, where
the Moslem victor has carved his Arabic inscription, a green-gray lizard
poises motionless, like a bronze figure on a paper-weight.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: Bridge Over the River Lîtânî.]

We pass through the southern entrance of the village of Bâniyâs, a
massive square portal, rebuilt by some Arab ruler, and go out on the
old Roman bridge which spans the ravine. The aqueduct carried by the
bridge is still full of flowing water, and the drops which fall from it
in a fine mist make a little rainbow as the afternoon sun shines through
the archway draped with maidenhair fern. On the stone pavement of the
bridge we trace the ruts worn two thousand years ago by the chariots of
the men who conquered the world. The chariots have all rolled by. On the
broken edge of the tower above the gateway sits a ragged Bedouin boy,
making shrill, plaintive music with his pipe of reeds.

       *       *       *       *       *

We repose in front of our tents among the olive-trees at the close of
the day. The cool sound of running streams and rustling poplars is on
the moving air, and the orange-golden sunset enchants the orchard with
mystical light. All the swift visions of striving Saracens and
Crusaders, of conquering Greeks and Romans, fade away from us, and we
see the figure of the Man of Nazareth with His little company of friends
and disciples coming up from Galilee.

It was here that Jesus retreated with His few faithful followers from
the opposition of the Scribes and Pharisees. This was the northernmost
spot of earth ever trodden by His feet, the longest distance from
Jerusalem that He ever travelled. Here in this exquisite garden of
Nature, in a region of the Gentiles, within sight of the shrines devoted
to those Greek and Roman rites which were so luxurious and so tolerant,
four of the most beautiful and significant events of His life and
ministry took place.

He asked His disciples plainly to tell their secret thought of Him--whom
they believed their Master to be. And when Peter answered simply: "Thou
art the Christ, the Son of the living God," Jesus blessed him for the
answer, and declared that He would build His church upon that rock.

Then He took Peter and James and John with Him and climbed one of the
high and lonely slopes of Hermon. There He was transfigured before them,
His face shining like the sun and His garments glistening like the snow
on the mountain-peaks. But when they begged to stay there with Him, He
led them down to the valley again, among the sinning and suffering
children of men.

At the foot of the mount of transfiguration He healed the demoniac boy
whom his father had brought to the other disciples, but for whom they
had been unable to do anything; and He taught them that the power to
help men comes from faith and prayer.

And then, at last, He turned His steps from this safe and lovely refuge,
(where He might surely have lived in peace, or from which He might have
gone out unmolested into the wide Gentile world), backward to His own
country, His own people, the great, turbulent, hard-hearted Jewish city,
and the fate which was not to be evaded by One who loved sinners and
came to save them. He went down into Galilee, down through Samaria and
Perea, down to Jerusalem, down to Gethsemane and to Golgotha,--fearless,
calm,--sustained and nourished by that secret food which satisfied His
heart in doing the will of God.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was in the quest of this Jesus, in the hope of somehow drawing nearer
to Him, that we made our pilgrimage to the Holy Land. And now, in the
cool of the evening at Cæsarea Philippi, we ask ourselves whether our
desire has been granted, our hope fulfilled?

Yes, more richly, more wonderfully than we dared to dream. For we have
found a new vision of Christ, simpler, clearer, more satisfying, in the
freedom and reality of God's out-of-doors.

Not through the mists and shadows of an infinite regret, the sadness of
sweet, faded dreams and hopes that must be resigned, as Pierre Loti saw
the phantom of a Christ whose irrevocable disappearance has left the
world darker than ever!

Not amid strange portents and mysterious rites, crowned with I know not
what aureole of traditionary splendours, founder of elaborate ceremonies
and centre of lamplit shrines, as Matilde Serao saw the image of that
Christ whom the legends of men have honoured and obscured!

The Jesus whom we have found is the Child of Nazareth playing among the
flowers; the Man of Galilee walking beside the lake, healing the sick,
comforting the sorrowful, cheering the lonely and despondent; the
well-beloved Son of God transfigured in the sunset glow of snowy Hermon,
weeping by the sepulchre in Bethany, agonizing in the moonlit garden of
Gethsemane, giving His life for those who did not understand Him, though
they loved Him, and for those who did not love Him because they did not
understand Him, and rising at last triumphant over death,--such a
Saviour as all men need and as no man could ever have imagined if He had
not been real.

His message has not died away, nor will it ever die. For confidence and
calm joy He tells us to turn to Nature. For love and sacrifice He bids
us live close to our fellowmen. For comfort and immortal hope He asks us
to believe in Him and in our Father, God.

That is all.

But the bringing of that heavenly message made the country to which it
came the Holy Land. And the believing of that message, to-day, will lead
any child of man into the kingdom of heaven. And the keeping of that
faith, the following of that Life, will transfigure any country beneath
the blue sky into a holy land.


_Thou hast taken me into the tent of the world, O God:
Beneath thy blue canopy I have found shelter:
Therefore thou wilt not deny me the right of a guest._

_Naked and poor I arrived at the door before sunset:
Thou hast refreshed me with beautiful bowls of milk:
As a great chief thou hast set forth food in abundance._

_I have loved the daily delights of thy dwelling:
Thy moon and thy stars have lighted me to my bed:
In the morning I have found joy with thy servants._

_Surely thou wilt not send me away in the darkness?
There the enemy Death is lying in wait for my soul:
Thou art the host of my life and I claim thy protection._

_Then the Lord of the tent of the world made answer:
The right of a guest endureth but for an appointed time:
After three days and three nights cometh the day of departure._

_Yet hearken to me since thou fearest the foe in the dark:
I will make with thee a new covenant of everlasting hospitality:
Behold I will come unto thee as a stranger and be thy guest._

_Poor and needy will I come that thou mayest entertain me:
Meek and lowly will I come that thou mayest find a friend:
With mercy and with truth will I come to give thee comfort._

_Therefore open the door of thy heart and bid me welcome:
In this tent of the world I will be thy brother of the bread:
And when thou farest forth I will be thy companion forever._

_Then my soul rested in the word of the Lord:
And I saw that the curtains of the world were shaken,
But I looked beyond them to the eternal camp-fires of my friend._


                       THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS



You may go to Damascus now by rail, if you like, and have a choice
between two rival routes, one under government ownership, the other
built and managed by a corporation. But to us encamped among the silvery
olives at Bâniyâs, beside the springs of Jordan, it seemed a happy
circumstance that both railways were so far away that it would have
taken longer to reach them than to ride our horses straight into the
city. We were delivered from the modern folly of trying to save time by
travelling in a conveyance more speedy than picturesque, and left free
to pursue our journey in a leisurely, independent fashion and by the
road that would give us most pleasure. So we chose the longer way, the
northern path around Mount Hermon, through the country of the Druses,
instead of the more frequented road to the east by Kafr Hawar.

How delightful is the morning of such a journey! The fresh face of the
world bathed in sparkling dew; the greetings from tent to tent as we
four friends make our rendezvous from the far countries of sleep; the
relish of breakfast in the open air; the stir of the camp in preparation
for a flitting; canvas sinking to the ground, bales and boxes heaped
together, mule-bells tinkling through the grove, horses refreshed by
their long rest whinnying and nipping at each other in play--all these
are charming variations and accompaniments to the old tune of "Boots and

The immediate effect of such a setting out for a day's ride is to renew
in the heart those "vital feelings of delight" which make one simply and
inexplicably glad to be alive. We are delivered from those morbid
questionings and exorbitant demands by which we are so often possessed
and plagued as by some strange inward malady. We feel a sense of health
and harmony diffused through body and mind as we ride over the beautiful
terrace which slopes down from Bâniyâs to Tel-el Kâdi.

We are glad of the green valonia oaks that spread their shade over us,
and of the blossoming hawthorns that scatter their flower-snow on the
hillside. We are glad of the crested larks that rise warbling from the
grass, and of the buntings and chaffinches that make their small merry
music in every thicket, and of the black and white chats that shift
their burden of song from stone to stone beside the path, and of the
cuckoo that tells his name to us from far away, and of the splendid
bee-eaters that glitter over us like a flock of winged emeralds as we
climb the rocky hill toward the north. We are glad of the broom in
golden flower, and of the pink and white rock-roses, and of the spicy
fragrance of mint and pennyroyal that our horses trample out as they
splash through the spring holes and little brooks. We are glad of the
long, wide views westward over the treeless mountains of Naphtali and
the southern ridges of the Lebanon, and of the glimpses of the ruined
castles of the Crusaders, Kal'at esh-Shakîf and Hûnîn, perched like
dilapidated eagles on their distant crags. Everything seems to us like a
personal gift. We have the feeling of ownership for this day of all the
world's beauty. We could not explain or justify it to any sad
philosopher who might reproach us for unreasoning felicity. We should be
defenceless before his arguments and indifferent to his scorn. We should
simply ride on into the morning, reflecting in our hearts something of
the brightness of the birds' plumage, the cheerfulness of the brooks'
song, the undimmed hyaline of the sky, and so, perhaps, fulfilling the
Divine Intention of Nature as well as if we chose to becloud our mirror
with melancholy thoughts.

       *       *       *       *       *

We are following up the valley of the longest and highest, but not the
largest, of the sources of the Jordan: the little River Hâsbânî, a
strong and lovely stream, which rises somewhere in the northern end of
the Wâdi et-Teim, and flows along the western base of Mount Hermon,
receiving the tribute of torrents which burst out in foaming springs far
up the ravines, and are fed underground by the melting of the perpetual
snow of the great mountain. Now and then we have to cross one of these
torrents, by a rude stone bridge or by wading. All along the way Hermon
looks down upon us from his throne, nine thousand feet in air. His head
is wrapped in a turban of spotless white, like a Druse chieftain, and
his snowy winter cloak still hangs down over his shoulders, though its
lower edges are already fringed and its seams opened by the warm suns of

Presently we cross a bridge to the west bank of the Hâsbânî, and ride up
the delightful vale where poplars and mulberries, olives, almonds, vines
and figs, grow abundantly along the course of the river. There are low
weirs across the stream for purposes of irrigation, and a larger dam
supplies a mill with power. To the left is the sharp barren ridge of the
Jebel ez-Zohr separating us from the gorge of the River Lîtânî. Groups
of labourers are at work on the watercourses among the groves and
gardens. Vine-dressers are busy in the vineyards. Ploughmen are driving
their shallow furrows through the stony fields on the hillside. The
little river, here in its friendliest mood, winds merrily among the
plantations and orchards which it nourishes, making a cheerful noise
over beds of pebbles, and humming a deeper note where the clear green
water plunges over a weir.

We have now been in the saddle five hours; the sun is ardent; the
temperature is above eighty-five degrees in the shade, and along the
bridle-path there is no shade. We are hungry, thirsty, and tired. As we
cross the river again, splashing through a ford, our horses drink
eagerly and attempt to lie down in the cool water. We have to use strong
persuasion not only with them, but also with our own spirits, to pass by
the green grass and the sheltering olive-trees on the east bank and push
on up the narrow, rocky defile in which Hâsbeiyâ is hidden. The
bridle-path is partly paved with rough cobblestones, hard and slippery,
which make the going weariful. The heat presses on us like a burden.
Things that would have delighted us in the morning now give us no
pleasure. We have made the greedy traveller's mistake of measuring our
march by the extent of our endurance instead of by the limit of our

Hâsbeiyâ proves to be a rather thriving and picturesque town built
around the steep sides of a bay or opening in the valley. The
amphitheatre of hills is terraced with olive-orchards and vineyards.
There are also many mulberry-trees cultivated for the silkworms, and the
ever-present figs and almonds are not wanting. The stone houses of the
town rise, on winding paths, one above the other, many of them having
arched porticoes, red-tiled roofs, and green-latticed windows. It is a
place of about five thousand population, now more than half Christian,
but formerly one of the strongholds and capitals of the mysterious Druse

Our tents are pitched at the western end of the town, on a low terrace
where olive-trees are growing. When we arrive we find the camp
surrounded and filled with curious, laughing children. The boys are a
little troublesome at first, but a word from an old man who seems to be
in charge brings them to order, and at least fifty of them, big and
little, squat in a semicircle on the grass below the terrace, watching
us with their lustrous brown eyes.

They look full of fun, those young Druses and Maronites and Greeks and
Mohammedans, so I try a mild joke on them, by pretending that they are
a class and that I am teaching them a lesson. "A, B, C," I chant, and
wait for them to repeat after me. They promptly take the lesson out of
my hands and recite the entire English alphabet in chorus, winding up
with shouts of "Goot mornin'! How you do?" and merry laughter. They are
all pupils from the mission schools which have been established since
the great Massacre of 1860, and which are helping, I hope, to make
another forever impossible.

One of our objects in coming to Hâsbeiyâ was to ascend Mount Hermon. We
send for the Druse guide and the Christian guide; both of them assure us
that the adventure is impossible on account of the deep snow, which has
increased during the last fortnight. We can not get within a mile of the
summit. The snow will be waist-deep in the hollows. The mountain is
inaccessible until June. So, after exchanging visits with the
missionaries and seeing something of their good work, we ride on our way
the next morning.



The journey to Râsheiyâ is like that of the preceding day, except that
the bridle-paths are rougher and more precipitous, and the views wider
and more splendid. We have crossed the Hâsbânî again, and leaving the
Druses' valley, the Wâdi et-Teim, behind us, have climbed the high
table-land to the west. We did not know why George Cavalcanty led us
away from the path marked in our Baedeker, but we took it for granted
that he had some good reason. It is well not to ask a wise dragoman all
the questions that you can think of. Tell him where you want to go, and
let him show you how to get there. Certainly we are not inclined to
complain of the longer and steeper route by which he has brought us,
when we sit down at lunch-time among the limestone crags and pinnacles
of the wild upland and look abroad upon a landscape which offers the
grandeur of immense outlines and vast distances, the beauty of a crystal
clearness in all its infinitely varied forms, and the enchantment of
gemlike colours, delicate, translucent, vivid, shifting and playing in
hues of rose and violet and azure and purple and golden brown and bright
green, as if the bosom of Mother Earth were the breast of a dove,
breathing softly in the sunlight.

As we climb toward Râsheiyâ we find ourselves going back a month or more
into early spring. Here are the flowers that we saw in the Plain of
Sharon on the first of April, gorgeous red anemones, fragrant purple and
white cyclamens, delicate blue irises. The fig-tree is putting forth her
tender leaf. The vines, lying flat on the ground, are bare and dormant.
The springing grain, a few inches long, is in its first flush of almost
dazzling green.

The town, built in terraces on three sides of a rocky hill, 4,100 feet
above the sea, commands an extensive view. Hermon is in full sight;
snow-capped Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon face each other for forty miles;
and the little lake of Kafr Kûk makes a spot of blue light in the

We are camped on the threshing-floor, a level meadow beyond and below
the town; and there the Râsheiyan gilded youth come riding their
blooded horses in the afternoon, running races over the smooth turf and
showing off their horsemanship for our benefit.

There is something very attractive about these Arabian horses as you see
them in their own country. They are spirited, fearless, sure-footed, and
yet, as a rule, so docile that they may be ridden with a halter. They
are good for a long journey, or a swift run, or a _fantasia_. The
prevailing colour among them is gray, but you see many bays and sorrels
and a few splendid blacks. An Arabian stallion satisfies the romantic
ideal of how a horse ought to look. His arched neck, small head, large
eyes wide apart, short body, round flanks, delicate pasterns, and little
feet; the way he tosses his mane and cocks his flowing tail when he is
on parade; the swiftness and spring of his gallop, the dainty grace of
his walk--when you see these things you recognise at once the real,
original horse which the painters used to depict in their "Portraits of
General X on his Favourite Charger."

I asked Calvalcanty what one of these fine creatures would cost. "A good
horse, two or three hundred dollars; an extra-good one, four hundred; a
fancy one, who knows?"

We find Râsheiyâ full of Americanism. We walk out to take photographs,
and at almost every street corner some young man who has been in the
United States or Canada salutes us with: "How are you to-day? You
fellows come from America? What's the news there? Is Bryan elected yet?
I voted for McKinley. I got a store in Kankakee. I got one in Jackson,
Miss." A beautiful dark-eyed girl, in a dreadful department-store dress,
smiles at us from an open door and says: "Take my picture? I been at

One talkative and friendly fellow joins us in our walk; in fact he takes
possession of us, guiding us up the crooked alleys and out on the
housetops which command the best views, and showing us off to his
friends,--an old gentleman who is spinning goats' hair for the coarse
black tents (St. Paul's trade), and two ladies who are grinding corn in
a hand-mill, one pushing and the other pulling. Our self-elected guide
has spent seven years in Illinois and Indiana, peddling and
store-keeping. He has returned to Râsheiyâ as a successful adventurer
and built a stone house with a red roof and an arched portico. Is he
going to settle down there for life? "I not know," says he. "Guess I
want sell my house now. This country beautiful; I like look at her. But
America free--good government--good place to live. Gee whiz! I go back
quick, you bet."



Our path the next day leads up to the east over the ridges of the slight
depression which lies between Mount Hermon and the rest of the
Anti-Lebanon range. We pass the disconsolate village and lake of Kafr
Kûk. The water which shone so blue in the distance now confesses itself
a turbid, stagnant pool, locked in among the hills, and breeding fevers
for those who live beside it. The landscape grows wild and sullen as we
ascend; the hills are strewn with shattered fragments of rock, or worn
into battered and fantastic crags; the bottoms of the ravines are
soaked and barren as if the winter floods had just left them. Presently
we are riding among great snowdrifts. It is the first day of May. We
walk on the snow, and pack a basketful on one of the mules, and pelt
each other with snowballs.

We have gone back another month in the calendar and are now at the place
where "winter lingers in the lap of spring." Snowdrops, crocuses, and
little purple grape-hyacinths are blooming at the edge of the drifts.
The thorny shrubs and bushes, and spiny herbs like astragalus and
cousinia, are green-stemmed but leafless, and the birds that flutter
among them are still in the first rapture of vernal bliss, the gay music
that follows mating and precedes nesting. Big dove-coloured partridges,
beautifully marked with black and red, are running among the rocks. We
are at the turn of the year, the surprising season when the tide of
light and life and love swiftly begins to rise.

From this Alpine region we descend through two months in half a day. It
is mid-March on a beautiful green plain where herds of horses were
feeding around an encampment of black Bedouin tents; the beginning of
April at Khân Meithelûn, on the post-road, where there are springs, and
poplar-groves, in one of which we eat our lunch, with lemonade cooled by
the snows of Hermon; the end of April at Dimas, where we find our tents
pitched upon the threshing-floor, a levelled terrace of clay looking
down upon the flat roofs of the village.

Our camp is 3,600 feet above sea-level, and our morning path follows the
telegraph-poles steeply down to the post-road, and so by a more gradual
descent along the hard and dusty turnpike toward Damascus. The
landscape, at first, is bare and arid: rounded reddish mountains, gray
hillsides, yellowish plains faintly tinged with a thin green. But at
El-Hâmi the road drops into the valley of the Baradâ, the far-famed
River Abana, and we find ourselves in a verdant paradise.

Tall trees arch above the road; white balconies gleam through the
foliage; the murmur and the laughter of flowing streams surround us. The
railroad and the carriage-road meet and cross each other down the vale.
Country houses and cafés, some dingy and dilapidated, others new and
trim, are half hidden among the groves or perched close beside the
highway. Poplars and willows, plane-trees and lindens, walnuts and
mulberries, apricots and almonds, twisted fig-trees and climbing roses,
grow joyfully wherever the parcelled water flows in its many channels.
Above this line, on the sides of the vale, everything is bare and brown
and dry. But the depth of the valley is an embroidered sash of bloom
laid across the sackcloth of the desert. And in the centre of this long
verdure runs the parent river, a flood of clear green; rushing, leaping,
curling into white foam; filling its channel of thirty or forty feet
from bank to bank, and making the silver-leafed willows and poplars,
that stand with their feet in the stream, tremble with the swiftness of
its cool, strong current. Truly Naaman the Syrian was right in his
boasting to the prophet Elisha: Abana, the river of Damascus, is better
than all the waters of Israel.

The vale narrows as we descend along the stream, until suddenly we pass
through a gateway of steep cliffs and emerge upon an open plain beset
with mountains on three sides. The river, parting into seven branches,
goes out to water a hundred and fifty square miles of groves and
gardens, and we follow the road through the labyrinth of rich and
luscious green. There are orchards of apricots enclosed with high mud
walls; and open gates through which we catch glimpses of crimson
rose-trees and scarlet pomegranates and little fields of wheat glowing
with blood-red poppies; and hedges of white hawthorn and wild brier; and
trees, trees, trees, everywhere embowering us and shutting us in.

Presently we see, above the leafy tops, a sharp-pointed minaret with a
golden crescent above it. Then we find ourselves again beside the main
current of the Baradâ, running swift and merry in a walled channel
straight across an open common, where soldiers are exercising their
horses, and donkeys and geese are feeding, and children are playing, and
dyers are sprinkling their long strips of blue cotton cloth laid out
upon the turf beside the river. The road begins to look like the
commencement of a street; domes and minarets rise before us; there are
glimpses of gray walls and towers, a few shops and open-air cafés, a
couple of hotel signs. The river dives under a bridge and disappears by
a hundred channels beneath the city, leaving us at the western entrance
of Damascus.



I cannot tell whether the river, the gardens, and the city would have
seemed so magical and entrancing if we had come upon them in some other
way or seen them in a different setting. You can never detach an
experience from its matrix and weigh it alone. Comparisons with the
environs of Naples or Florence visited in an automobile, or with the
suburbs of Boston seen from a trolley-car, are futile and

The point about the Baradâ is that it springs full-born from the barren
sides of the Anti-Lebanon, swiftly creates a paradise as it runs, and
then disappears absolutely in a wide marsh on the edge of the desert.

The point about Damascus is that she flourishes on a secluded plain,
the Ghûtah, seventy miles from the sea and twenty-three hundred feet
above it, with no _hinterland_ and no sustaining provinces, no political
leadership, and no special religious sanctity, with nothing, in fact, to
account for her distinction, her splendour, her populous vitality, her
self-sufficing charm, except her mysterious and enduring quality as a
mere city, a hive of men. She is the oldest living city in the world; no
one knows her birthday or her founder's name. She has survived the
empires and kingdoms which conquered her,--Nineveh, Babylon, Samaria,
Greece, Egypt--their capitals are dust, but Damascus still blooms "like
a tree planted by the rivers of water." She has given her name to the
reddest of roses, the sweetest of plums, the richest of metalwork, and
the most lustrous of silks; her streets have bubbled and eddied with the
currents of

            the multitudinous folk
  That do inhabit her and make her great.

She is the typical city, pure and simple, of the Orient, as New York or
San Francisco is of the Occident: the open port on the edge of the
desert, the trading-booth at the foot of the mountains, the pavilion in
the heart of the blossoming bower,--the wonderful child of a little
river and an immemorial Spirit of Place.

Every time we go into the city, (whether from our tents on the terrace
above an ancient and dilapidated pleasure-garden, or from our red-tiled
rooms in the good Hôtel d'Orient, to which we had been driven by a
plague of sand-flies in the camp), we step at once into a chapter of the
"Arabian Nights' Entertainments."

It is true, there are electric lights and there is a trolley-car
crawling around the city; but they no more make it Western and modern
than a bead necklace would change the character of the Venus of Milo.
The driver of the trolley-car looks like one of "The Three Calenders,"
and a gayly dressed little boy beside him blows loudly on an instrument
of discord as the machine tranquilly advances through the crowd. (A man
was run over a few months ago; his friends waited for the car to come
around the next day, pulled the driver from his perch, and stuck a
number of long knives through him in a truly Oriental manner.)

The crowd itself is of the most indescribable and engaging variety and
vivacity. The Turkish soldiers in dark uniform and red fez; the
cheerful, grinning water-carriers with their dripping, bulbous goatskins
on their backs; the white-turbaned Druses with their bold, clean-cut
faces; the bronzed, impassive sons of the desert, with their flowing
mantles and bright head-cloths held on by thick, dark rolls of camel's
hair; the rich merchants in their silken robes of many colours; the
picturesquely ragged beggars; the Moslem pilgrims washing their heads
and feet, with much splashing, at the pools in the marble courtyards of
the mosques; the merry children, running on errands or playing with the
water that gushes from many a spout at the corner of a street or on the
wall of a house; the veiled Mohammedan women slipping silently through
the throng, or bending over the trinkets or fabrics in some open-fronted
shop, lifting the veil for a moment to show an olive-tinted cheek and a
pair of long, liquid brown eyes; the bearded Greek priests in their
black robes and cylinder hats; the Christian women wrapped in their long
white sheets, but with their pretty faces uncovered, and a red rose or a
white jasmine stuck among their smooth, shining black tresses; the
seller of lemonade with his gaily decorated glass vessel on his back and
his clinking brass cups in his hand, shouting, "_A remedy for the
heat_,"--"_Cheer up your hearts_,"--"_Take care of your teeth_;" the boy
peddling bread, with an immense tray of thin, flat loaves on his head,
crying continually to Allah to send him customers; the seller of
turnip-pickle with a huge pink globe upon his shoulder looking like the
inside of a pale watermelon; the donkeys pattering along between fat
burdens of grass or charcoal; a much-bedizened horseman with embroidered
saddle-cloth and glittering bridle, riding silent and haughty through
the crowd as if it did not exist; a victoria dashing along the street at
a trot, with whip cracking like a pack of firecrackers, and shouts of,
"_O boy! Look out for your back! your foot! your side!_"--all these
figures are mingled in a passing show of which we never grow weary.

The long bazaars, covered with a round, wooden archway rising from the
second story of the houses, are filled with a rich brown hue like a
well-coloured meerschaum pipe; and through this mellow, brumous
atmosphere beams of golden sunlight slant vividly from holes in the
roof. An immense number of shops, small and great, shelter themselves in
these bazaars, for the most part opening, without any reserve of a front
wall or a door, in frank invitation to the street. On the earthen
pavement, beaten hard as cement, camels are kneeling, while the
merchants let down their corded bales and display their Persian carpets
or striped silks. The cook-shops show their wares and their processes,
and send up an appetising smell of lamb _kibâbs_ and fried fish and
stuffed cucumbers and stewed beans and okra, and many other dainties
preparing on diminutive charcoal grills.

In the larger and richer shops, arranged in semi-European fashion, there
are splendid rugs, and embroideries old and new, and delicately
chiselled brasswork, and furniture of strange patterns lavishly inlaid
with mother-of-pearl; and there I go with the Lady to study the art of
bargaining as practised between the trained skill of the Levant and the
native genius of Walla Walla, Washington. In the smaller and poorer
bazaars the high, arched roofs give place to tattered awnings, and
sometimes to branches of trees; the brown air changes to an atmosphere
of brilliant stripes and patches; the tiny shops, (hardly more than open
booths), are packed and festooned with all kinds of goods, garments and
ornaments: the chafferers conduct their negotiations from the street,
(sidewalk there is none), or squat beside the proprietor on the little
platform of his stall.

[Illustration: A Small Bazaar in Damascus.]

The custom of massing the various trades and manufactures adds to the
picturesque joy of shopping or dawdling in Damascus. It is like passing
through rows of different kinds of strange fruits. There is a region of
dangling slippers, red and yellow, like cherries; a little farther on we
come to a long trellis of clothes, limp and pendulous, like bunches of
grapes; then we pass through a patch of saddles, plain and coloured,
decorated with all sorts of beads and tinsel, velvet and morocco, lying
on the ground or hung on wooden supports, like big, fantastic melons.

In the coppersmiths' bazaar there is an incessant clattering of little
hammers upon hollow metal. The goldsmiths sit silent in their pens
within a vast, dim building, or bend over their miniature furnaces
making gold and silver filigree. Here are the carpenters using their
bare feet in their work almost as deftly as their fingers; and yonder
the dyers festooning their long strips of blue cotton from their windows
and balconies. Down there, on the way to the Great Mosque, the
booksellers hold together: a dwindling tribe, apparently, for of the
thirty or forty shops which were formerly theirs not more than half a
dozen remain true to literature: the rest are full of red and yellow
slippers. Damascus is more inclined to loafing or to dancing than to
reading. It seems to belong to the gay, smiling, easy-going East of
Scheherazade and Aladdin, not to the sombre and reserved Orient of
fierce mystics and fanatical fatalists.

Yet we feel, or imagine that we feel, the hidden presence of passions
and possibilities that belong to the tragic side of life underneath
this laughing mask of comedy. No longer ago than 1860, in the great
Massacre, five thousand Christians perished by fire and shot and dagger
in two days; the streets ran with blood; the churches were piled with
corpses; hundreds of Christian women were dragged away to Moslem harems;
only the brave Abd-el-Kader, with his body-guard of dauntless Algerine
veterans, was able to stay the butchery by flinging himself between the
blood-drunken mob and their helpless victims.

This was the last wholesale assassination of modern times that a great
city has seen, and prosperous, pleasure-loving, insouciant Damascus
seems to have quite forgotten it. Yet there are still enough wild
Kurdish shepherds, and fierce Bedouins of the desert, and riffraff of
camel-drivers and herdsmen and sturdy beggars and homeless men, among
her three hundred thousand people to make dangerous material if the
tiger-madness should break loose again. A gay city is not always a safe
city. The Lady and I saw a man stabbed to death at noon, not fifty feet
away from us, in a street beside the Ottoman Bank.

Nothing is safe until justice and benevolence and tolerance and mutual
respect are diffused in the hearts of men. How far this inward change
has gone in Damascus no one can tell. But that some advance has been
made, by real reforms in the Turkish government, by the spread of
intelligence and the enlightenment of self-interest, by the sense of
next-doorness to Paris and Berlin and London, which telegraphs,
railways, and steamships have produced, above all by the useful work of
missionary hospitals and schools, and by the humanizing process which
has been going on inside of all the creeds, no careful observer can
doubt. I fear that men will still continue to kill each other, for
various causes, privately and publicly. But thank God it is not likely
to be done often, if ever again, in the name of Religion!

The medley of things seen and half understood has left patterns
damascened upon my memory with intricate clearness: immense droves of
camels coming up from the wilderness to be sold in the market; factories
of inlaid woodwork and wrought brasswork in which hundreds of young
children, with beautiful and seeming-merry faces, are hammering and
filing and cutting out the designs traced by the draughtsmen who sit at
their desks like schoolmasters; vast mosques with rows of marble
columns, and floors covered with bright-coloured rugs, and files of men,
sometimes two hundred in a line, with a leader in front of them, making
their concerted genuflections toward Mecca; costly interiors of private
houses which outwardly show bare white-washed walls, but within welcome
the stranger to hospitality of fruits, coffee, and sweetmeats, in
stately rooms ornamented with rich tiles and precious marbles, looking
upon arcaded courtyards fragrant with blossoming orange-trees and
musical with tinkling fountains; tombs of Moslem warriors and
saints,--Saladin, the Sultan Beibars, the Sheikh Arslân, the philosopher
Ibn-el-Arabi, great fighters now quiet, and restless thinkers finally
satisfied; public gardens full of rose-bushes, traversed by clear, swift
streams, where groups of women sit gossiping in the shade of the trees
or in little kiosques, the Mohammedans with their light veils not
altogether hiding their olive faces and languid eyes, the Christians
and Jewesses with bare heads, heavy necklaces of amber, flowers behind
their ears, silken dresses of soft and varied shades; cafés by the
river, where grave and important Turks pose for hours on red velvet
divans, smoking the successive cigarette or the continuous nargileh. Out
of these memory-pictures of Damascus I choose three.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Lady and I are climbing up from the great Mosque of the Ommayyades
into the Minaret of the Bride, at the hour of 'Asr, or afternoon prayer.
As we tread the worn spiral steps in the darkness we hear, far above,
the chant of the choir of muezzins, high-pitched, long-drawn, infinitely
melancholy, calling the faithful to their devotions.

"_Allah akbar! Allah akbar! Allah is great! I testify there is no God
but Allah, and Mohammed is the prophet of Allah! Come to prayer!_"

The plaintive notes float away over the city toward all four quarters of
the sky, and quaver into silence. We come out from the gloom of the
staircase into the dazzling light of the balcony which runs around the
top of the minaret. For a few moments we can see little; but when the
first bewilderment passes, we are conscious that all the charm and
wonder of Damascus are spread at our feet.

The oval mass of the city lies like a carving of old ivory, faintly
tinged with pink, on a huge table of malachite. The setting of groves
and gardens, luxuriant, interminable, deeply and beautifully green,
covers a circuit of sixty miles. Beyond it, in sharpest contrast, rise
the bare, fawn-coloured mountains, savage, intractable, desolate; away
to the west, the snow-crowned bulk of Hermon; away to the east, the
low-rolling hills and slumbrous haze of the desert. Under these flat
roofs and white domes and long black archways of bazaars three hundred
thousand folk are swarming. And there, half emerging from the huddle of
decrepit modern buildings and partly hidden by the rounded shed of a
bazaar, is the ruined top of a Roman arch of triumph, battered, proud,
and indomitable.

       *       *       *       *       *

An hour later we are scrambling up a long, shaky ladder to the flat
roofs of the joiners' bazaar, built close against the southern wall of
the Mosque. We walk across the roofs and find the ancient south door of
the Mosque, now filled up with masonry, and almost completely concealed
by the shops above which we are standing. Only the entablature is
visible, richly carved with garlands. Kneeling down, we read upon the
lintel the Greek inscription in uncial letters, cut when the Mosque was
a Christian church. The Moslems who are bowing and kneeling and
stretching out their hands toward Mecca among the marble pillars below,
know nothing of this inscription. Few even of the Christian visitors to
Damascus have ever seen it with their own eyes, for it is difficult to
find and read. But there it still endures and waits, the bravest
inscription in the world: "_Thy kingdom, O Christ, is a kingdom of all
ages, and Thy dominion lasts throughout all generations._"

       *       *       *       *       *

From this eloquent and forgotten stone my memory turns to the Hospital
of the Edinburgh Medical Mission. I see the lovely garden full of roses,
columbines, lilies, pansies, sweet-peas, strawberries just in bloom. I
see the poor people coming in a steady stream to the neat, orderly
dispensary; the sweet, clean wards with their spotless beds; the
merciful candour and completeness of the operating-room; the patient,
cheerful, vigorous, healing ways of the great Scotch doctor, who limps
around on his broken leg to minister to the needs of other folk. I see
the little group of nurses and physicians gathered on Sunday evening in
the doctor's parlour for an hour of serious, friendly talk, hopeful and
happy. And there, amid the murmur of Abana's rills, and close to the
confused and glittering mystery of the Orient, I hear the music of a
simple hymn:

   "Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
     Forgive our foolish ways!
   Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
   In purer lives thy service find,
     In deeper reverence, praise.

   "O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
     O calm of hills above,
   Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
   The silence of eternity
     Interpreted by love!

   "Drop thy still dews of quietness,
     Till all our strivings cease;
   Take from our souls the strain and stress,
   And let our ordered lives confess
     The beauty of Thy peace."

       *       *       *       *       *

Corrections made to printed original.

p. 6, 'Eygpt' corrected to 'Egypt'.

p. 167, 'is is camelet' corrected to 'is it camelet'.

p. 182, 'acqueducts' corrected to 'aqueducts'.

p. 190, added a period after 'generations to build'.

p. 277, added a period after 'immemorial charm about the place'.

Where accented and non-accented versions of the same place-names
exist the non-accented were converted to accented:

Bakhshîsh ...... Bakhshish
Bâniyâs ........ Baniyas
Haifâ .......... Haifa
Lîtânî ......... Litani and Litâni
Serâi .......... Serai
Nablûs ......... Nablus

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