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Title: Letters from Palestine - Written during a residence there in the years 1836, 7 and 8
Author: Paxton, J. D.
Language: English
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LETTERS FROM PALESTINE



  LETTERS
  FROM
  PALESTINE:

  WRITTEN

  DURING A RESIDENCE THERE IN THE YEARS
  1836, 7, AND 8.

  BY THE REV. J. D. PAXTON.

  LONDON:
  CHARLES TILT, 86, FLEET STREET.
  MDCCCXXXIX.



  LONDON:
  BRADBURY AND EVANS, PRINTERS,
  WHITEFRIARS.



LETTERS ON PALESTINE.



LETTER I.


  _Beyroot, June 18th, 1836._

After a stay of twenty-four hours at Cyprus, rendered pleasant by
the several interviews which we had with the missionaries at that
place, we sailed about three o'clock P. M. with a fine wind, and
before night, the isle, and even the mountains of Cyprus, were
sinking out of view in the north-western waters. In the night our
winds became light. At a little past five in the morning I went on
deck, hoping to see the top of Mount Lebanon, which, from our run,
I thought must be within the reach of the eye; but a dull heavy fog
lay on our eastern horizon, and limited our view. Just as I was
finishing my breakfast, the captain put his head down the hatchway,
and let me know that the mountains could be seen. I ran on deck, and
could see the faint outline of the top of Mount Lebanon, peering
above a long line of fog that spread like a wide circle round the
horizon. The upper part of the fog was breaking into irregular
masses and rolling off; at times the mountain could at some points
be seen very clearly; then, again, the fog or clouds would close in
upon it, and hide it from our view. The highest parts of it were
partially covered with snow. It lay, however, in parts and parcels;
and often in long irregular forms. This was owing, most probably,
to the form of the ground on which it lay; being most abundant in
hollows, and on the north sides of ridges.

Great is the power of association. From my childhood, I have been
taught to read the book of God, and prize its precious truths; and I
bless God, and thank my dear and beloved parents, more for this, the
religious instruction they gave me, and their prayers, than for all
other benefits received through them; and they have not been few.
Mount Lebanon I found often, very often, referred to in that best of
all books; and, from the various ways in which it is introduced, it
associates itself in my mind with many parts of Scripture history;
with some of its most touching incidents; with many of its most
precious and consoling truths. How often in my boyhood, and even in
more mature days, have I wished, like Moses, that I could see that
"goodly mountain and Lebanon!" Now, indeed and in truth, I saw it
rising into view, and hoped before long to land at its foot, and in
due time to traverse its ridges, visit its cedars, and drink of its
pure snow waters. I was born and grew to manhood among mountains,
and it is natural for me to love mountain scenery. A landscape is
to my eye,--I was going to say, defective,--that does not give, at
least, a glimpse of a mountain.

I was often much struck with my feelings on this matter, during
the ten or fifteen years I have spent in situations in which no
mountains could be seen. When a journey of business or pleasure led
me to the neighbourhood of mountains, they appeared to have a beauty
and a charm in them, that rose paramount to all that the wide and
extended plains could have.

But never did I feel such pulsations of delight from beholding a
single mountain as now from looking at that "goodly mountain and
Lebanon"--that Lebanon so associated with patriarchs and prophets,
with the Land of Promise, with the Temple of the Lord, and with
those thousand things which give such ever newness and freshness to
the oracles of God.

As the day passed away, we drew nearer and nearer, but our winds
were so light, that our approach was slow, and a peculiar haziness
of weather much impeded our view of the changing aspect of the
mountain. Beyroot came in view towards night; but, owing to the
lightness of wind, and that against us, we did not reach it until
about sunrise next morning.

Beyroot lies at the south side of the river Beyroot, which runs in
from the mountains. The coast recedes at this place, and forms a
wide, open, halfmoon-like kind of a bay. A small part of the town
lying near the water appears pretty closely built; but much of the
town, or very many houses, stand out over the gentle rise of the
hill, with gardens connected with them. Indeed, the whole face of
the plain and ridge, on which the town stands, is quite covered with
trees. The trees are not large, being many of them mulberry, almond,
(the pride of China I think it is called), a few olive and apricot,
&c. I have seen no place in the East that struck me more pleasantly
than Beyroot.

The mountains behind it rise in succession. They have a good many
trees on them, but are not entirely covered. They appear to be
rather confined to spots as if planted by man, and cultivated for
special purposes. With the help of a glass, I can see that, while a
small growth is more generally spread over the side of the mountain,
there are many places where a much larger growth may be seen. But I
must omit farther notice of this until I have rambled over them, and
ascertained their true character.

We learned, on communicating with the shore, that there had been
several cases of plague, that the quarantine was strict, and that we
should have nearly two weeks' quarantine to pass, before we would be
allowed to have free intercourse with the friends we hoped to find
there.

In the course of the day our consul came off, and informed us that
he had procured for us a house in a healthy and airy part of the
suburbs, in which we must pass our quarantine. Mr. B. also, who is
connected with the mission at this place, came off to see us. From
him we learned that the Rev. E. B. Smith and lady had, within four
or five days, left this for Smyrna, partly on account of Mrs. S.'s
health, which has lately failed much; and that the other families
were on the mountains, about three or four hours' ride from town.



LETTER II.


  _Beyroot, June 27th, 1836._

We had hoped to get out of quarantine to-day, or at least to-morrow,
when to our discomfort we heard that they had added four days to
our time, owing to information which they had received from Smyrna.
There is no better way to manage such matters than patiently to wait
until the time is out. But as they give me more of quarantine, I see
not why I may not tell you more about it.

Through the kind agency of our consul we were not put in the
Lazaretto, which is said to be a miserable place at best, and
worse now as the plague is there; but had a very comfortable house
assigned us, to the west of the town, on the side of the hill,
nearly a quarter of a mile from the walls. The whole side of the
hill where we are is cut up in plots, which form gardens planted
with trees, and here and there is a dwelling-house. We had all our
baggage landed and carried by the _crew_ to our house, except a
few boxes, which being wood were not infectious, and were carried
by porters. Two guardians are assigned us--one of them must be
always at the house, to see that no person touches us, or any of
our articles; the other we may send on errands, such as to do our
marketing. They are not to touch us, nor we them.

They bring us what we want, lay it down, and we take it. They bring
us water, wood, jugs, pitchers, dishes, provisions, fruits: these
are not infectious--but cloth, paper, &c. are. They bring us notes,
papers, books; but we cannot send such articles without a special
observance. For instance, if we wish to send a letter to any one, or
a note not as big as your finger, with the name of any article on it
which we may need, the guardian may not touch it. He takes a small
box; you put it in; he takes it to the health-office, where it is
smoked with sulphur, and then it may be received and read. Or, you
may write on a small board, or on a slate; the guardian may touch
_them_. While there is care to avoid touching you or anything that
conveys infection, there is, in other respects, a free intercourse.
We received many visits--our friends come, and sit down, a few feet
from us, and remain as long as they please, conversing with us, and
thus helping to while away the time. They furnish us with any books
that we may need, and we at the end of our quarantine can restore
them. We are allowed to walk as much as we please, taking one of our
guardians with us, who sees that we touch no one or anything that
conveys infection; availing ourselves of this privilege, we have
rambled about a good deal, and made ourselves acquainted with the
neighbourhood.

To the west and south-west, at a quarter of a mile from the town,
commences what may be called _the sands_, which gave me a better
idea of the _sands of the desert_ than anything I have before seen.
The whole surface is a bed of fine sand. It includes the highest
part of the promontory, and much, if not all the south-west side of
it. There is, at places, occasionally, a weed or bush, but much of
the surface is very fine sand, which is moved more or less by the
wind; and as the wind blows much from the south, the sand has the
appearance of approaching nearer and nearer the town--at the place
where it stops, and the gardens begin, the sands are a good deal
higher than the gardens, ten, fifteen, or twenty feet; and the bank
advances, owing to the sand that is carried forward by the wind, and
rolls down towards the gardens. Some houses and fields have been
covered, and others are in danger, and must soon be overwhelmed with
it.

The side of the hill next the city, and west of it, is all cut up
into small plots; and much labour has been expended in making these
plots level. The side of the hill is thus thrown into terraces
one above another, but without any order or regularity. The plots
are of various sizes and shapes. A stone wall is built up at the
lower side, and the earth drawn to a level. On the tops of the wall
is often planted the Indian fig, or prickly pear, which abounds
here. Few of these gardens have either flowers or vegetables in
them--have, in fact, little else beside mulberry-trees, with a few
fig, olive, apricot, pomegranate, and other fruit-trees. From the
appearance of the hill side, I am disposed to think, that it was
once covered more with houses than it now is--that the levelling
of the ground may, in part at least, have been made to fit it for
houses, which have now disappeared. There are some old cisterns,
pillars, &c., which indicate this.

I have met with several things which struck me with some force, as
illustrating Scripture. The roofs of the houses are flat, and a way
is made to ascend to the top, which is a most pleasant place for a
walk in the cool of the evening. "Samuel called Saul to the top of
the house."--1 Sam. ix. 2, 6.

A number of the houses have a kind of a tent on the top, made of
reeds, &c., in which they sit, and I believe sleep. "They spread
Absalom a tent on the top of the house."--2 Sam. xvi. 22.

There is usually a small railing, or elevation, round the edge, to
prevent any from falling over; and the law of Moses required them to
make a battlement for this purpose.--Deut. xxii. 8.

While some have tents on the top of the house, others have them out
under the trees; and the fig-tree and the vine, having large shady
leaves, are very favourable for this. Thus they sit "under their
vine and fig-tree." And where they do not use tents they are very
fond of sitting out under the trees. They usually take out a straw
mat or small carpet, which they spread down; sometimes on this they
lay their beds, and sit on them. They have not feather beds, as we
have, but a kind of wool mattress, which is easily folded up and
removed. Mr. and Mrs. ----, who are of our party, are natives of
this place, and hopefully pious. They often take out their mat, and
spread it down under a tree, and spend much of the day there. In our
walks we see many thus under the vines and fig-trees, whiling away
their hours.

Almost every night we hear music and dancing at no great distance
from us. The music is hardly worth the name--is a kind of _beating_,
accompanied with some wind instrument, and serves to keep the time.
The dancing, as it is called, is not much more than a slow walking,
stooping, changing of position. It has none of that active and
fatiguing action which dancing has in the western world. The men and
women do not join together in it. It is done almost wholly by men;
and often old men. The women sit by and look on. The Sabbath night
appears more especially a favourite time for this amusement.

The promontory on which Beyroot stands is low at the south-east
side, where it joins the main land, and on that low part, which once
may have been covered with water (making the promontory an island),
there is much sand. On a part of this there are many pines; a few of
them are large; and a large space is covered with small ones. There
is some care taken of them, and persons are not allowed to pillage
them. The larger ones are trimmed up very high, and have a large,
flat, bushy top, which gives them a rather singular, but pretty
appearance.

The sycamore here is a different tree from that which bears the name
with us. The wood is valuable, being hard and very durable. It is a
low tree, with a thick body, many branches, shaped a little like the
apple-tree, the leaf large. It bears a fruit which is to some extent
valuable. One of the prophets said he was "a gatherer of sycamore
fruit." It would seem that much of it was used, and gathering of it
a business.

There are few, if any, springs here, as we should call them--but
wells; at least, in all my walks I have not seen any. There is a low
place a little out of the city gate, where there are three or four
wells. They are walled up, with a large flat area over them, in
the middle of which is a hole, large enough to let down a bucket.
There is no pump, or windlass, nor even a well-sweep; but a rope.
The vessel used almost constantly for bringing water, is a large
jug with two handles, and a small mouth. It may hold from two to
four gallons. They tie the rope to the neck or to the handles, and
let it down. It fills, and they draw it up. In passing these wells,
especially in the evening or morning, you find a crowd of people
drawing water. Some have mules and donkeys on which they carry
it--usually having four of these water-pots, two swung in a wooden
frame on each side of the animal. The others carry the jar on their
shoulders, or rather on the back, held over the shoulder; but one
hand is raised to support it. You see no one carrying anything in
his arms, as is the custom with us, but upon the head or shoulder
when not too large, otherwise upon the back--even children are
carried in this way--it is amusing to see the little things riding
upon their parents' shoulders. There is no vessel attached to these
wells; and thus we see the force of the saying of the woman, "Thou
hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep;" and thus Rebecca
came "out with her pitcher upon her shoulder." A large proportion of
those whom we saw drawing water were females.

The Turks are usually a grave and silent people. They talk less
than the Greeks, and indeed than almost any other people that I
have been among. It was therefore rather a novelty to meet with one
who was of a different cast of temperament. Both our guardians are
young Turks, I should think about twenty; and very good-looking. One
of them is rather of a grave cast; a genuine Turkish, but withal
an unusually mild aspect. The other is as full of life and glee
and innocent mischief as he can hold. The first day or two he did
not show it much, except in occasionally playing off a little of
his humour on his companion. He then began upon Angelo, my Maltese
servant, whom I had engaged at Smyrna. The Maltese language is a
dialect of the Arabic, and they could therefore converse with him.
Our establishment having but two rooms, one of which being occupied
by the ladies, and the other by the gentlemen, Angelo had to take
up his lodgings in the porch where some of the baggage was placed.
The guardians slept in the yard under the tree. They pretended
that they would do all sorts of bad things to him at night, and
excited his fears not a little. On finding it out I interposed, and
assured them, through an interpreter, that if they did not desist
from thus working on his fears, I would report them to the police.
They assured me they were only in fun, and would not trouble him.
Angelo had more spunk than I expected; he got a large knife to
defend himself with--we took it from him. I told him to sleep in our
room--he would not. I told him to sleep close to the door, which I
left open; no, he would sleep at his selected place--and he did.

When we walk out, one of our guardians always walks with us, and
generally the lively and talkative one chooses that office. He
amuses himself and us in various ways, and usually contrives to put
in a claim for a boksheesh (a present) at the close of the walk.
As he does not always get it, it is amusing to observe in how many
ways he contrives to let us know that it would be very acceptable.
At times when he does not get it, he pretends to his companion that
he has; and thus has sport with him, in refusing to let him have any
part of it. They are very obliging--I have seldom seen more perfect
good-humour than they manifest.



LETTER III.


  _Beyroot, July 4th, 1836._

I think I informed you that Beyroot is a walled town, and has a
strong garrison. It is held under Ibrahim Pasha, and for his father
or step-father Mahommed Ali of Egypt. Ibrahim spends most of his
time north of this at Aleppo, Tripoli, Scanderoon, and Tarsoos. He
is erecting a palace not far from Aleppo, and may possibly purpose
making that his home. Beyroot is the most important port on the
coast, but still its trade is small. The walls are of considerable
height, appear strong, and have several strong towers connected with
them. The number of troops at this place I have not been able to
ascertain with certainty; there must be several thousands, possibly
from 3000 to 5000.

I have been equally unable to ascertain the population of the town
and suburbs; nearly one-third of the population, I should think,
live without the walls, in what is called the Gardens. The houses
without the walls are much more pleasant, at least in summer, than
those within the town. They stand apart; have gardens and trees
about them, are higher and much more cool. The town stands in a
low spot, is much crowded with houses, has narrow filthy streets,
and during the hot weather the heat is considerable, which causes
sickness. The gates of the town are guarded, and at an early hour in
the night all but one are closed. This one is kept open to a late
hour.

At the quay, or public landing-place, there is an immense number
of old, broken pillars. The wall fronting the bay is for thirty,
possibly fifty yards, composed almost wholly of them. Most of them
are more or less broken. Many of them have been connected, no
doubt, with buildings of consequence, as their high finish seems
to indicate; a number of them are fine Egyptian marble. They are of
various sizes, but most of them of the largest kind. Broken pieces
of pillars and other work in marble are to be seen in many places
about the town, both without and within the walls, all indicating
that, at some period, this was the seat of wealth and taste, of
luxury and splendour.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Brumanah, Mount Lebanon, July 20th, 1836._

After getting out of quarantine, and spending ten or twelve days
in Beyroot to see the place, I came up to this village, where the
mission families are spending the summer months. It lies about three
hours' ride from Beyroot, on the top of one of the ridges which runs
down from the main ridge of the Lebanon towards the sea. It may be
about one-third of the way to the top, and one-third of the height
of Jebal Sun-neen, the highest point of Mount Lebanon. We have from
Bru-ma-nah a fair view of the mountains, as they rise above us, and
run far to the north-east and south-west: a long sea coast spreads
out before us--the town of Beyroot--the shipping that lies off the
town on the face of the smooth waters, all rise into view, and give
a rich and beautiful variety to the prospect.

Nearly one-half of the village is composed of Greeks, and the other
half about equally divided between the Druses and Maronites. They
all speak the Arabic, which is indeed the vernacular language of
this region. The people appear friendly, and but for the influence
of the priests would, no doubt, give more proof of their friendship.
The missionaries have opened a school among them, which promises to
do good. The females wear what is called the tantoor on their heads.
It is very like those tin horns which are often used by hunters to
call their dogs; stage-drivers at times use them. The tantoor is a
foot long; the largest part is fixed to the forehead, and by means
of a small piece of wood, or some such thing, which passes over the
head, and is fastened to the hair, the whole is made to stand upon
the head like a horn. It usually leans forward, and reminds one of
the figure of the unicorn. The horn is of silver, and has at times
various ornamental devices engraved on it. The chief use of it seems
to be to sustain the veil, which is universally worn by the women
here. It is thrown over the horn, and hangs down over the shoulders.
When men are present, they draw the veil with one hand close over
the mouth, so as to cover the lower part of the face, leaving but
one eye exposed. While they are thus careful to cover the face,
they often, I might say usually, leave the breast most shamefully
exposed. Indeed, they seem to have pride in exposing that part of
the body.

Sometime before I got out of quarantine, there was a death in the
Emeer family of this village; and, as is the custom, the people are
not allowed to wash their clothes for forty days--as they are not
much given to cleanliness at any time, this was an order grievously
out of place. About the time I came up the people were most
fearfully dirty. The days of restriction are, however, past, and it
is thought the people have been using water. It is a rare evil for
people to get habituated to--a disregard of cleanliness--for it is
hard to correct the evil.

Most, if not all, of the houses here are of one story--a few,
indeed, that stand on the hill-side, have a small room under the
elevated side of the main floor. The floors are uniformly, as far
as I have seen, made of clay, as also is the roof. They wet it and
make it into a kind of mortar, and have a heavy stone roller with
which to make it smooth. For the roof, pieces of timber are laid
across, mostly a few strong beams, then across them smaller pieces
of boards, and flat stones; and on these the earth is laid, in a
wet state, and the roller made to pass over it, until with that
and their feet they make it hard and smooth. All the roofs are
flat, having some little channels to collect the water, and a low
place at one side to let it off. There is a way of ascending to
the top, which, in large houses, is a fine place for walking and
taking the air. These roofs do very well in dry weather, but in
the rainy season the water, it is said, comes through, and gives
much annoyance to the inmates. The sides are usually made of stone,
very coarsely put together; very little mortar is used--often none.
They plaster the inside with clay, such as they use for making the
floors; and give it a slight coat of whitewash. It is, to be sure,
done in poor style; still the houses do pretty well for a summer
residence. Generally they have but one room, but occasionally they
have two or three.

These flat roofs and their earthen materials illustrate what was
meant by the grass upon the house-tops--grass does often spring up
in the wet season, but the heat of the sun withers it and it comes
to nought.

"Shall men give into your bosom?"--The usual dress here, is a long
robe, not much unlike a woman's gown. It is fastened about the
waist with a girdle. This is a long, large piece, often as large,
and even much larger than a sheet, but of a fine texture; usually
of the shawl kind. They wrap this round them four or five times,
forming a band from four inches to a foot wide, as the taste of each
may be,--then give such a fastening to the end as each may choose.
It is odd, and to us laughable to see them putting them on. I have
seen them fasten the end of their long girdle to a door, post, or
table--adjust its folds--regulate its width--put one end to their
body, and turn round and round until they have wrapped it all to
their liking. Yea, I have seen them do it on the road. On my visit
to Nice, not long after I left that plain, I passed a man on the
road who from some cause wished to adjust his girdle. Possibly it
was a preparation before he entered that city of ancient name. He
had stopped, taken off his girdle, adjusted its width, arranged
its folds, fastened one end of it to a bush, drew it out to its
full length, applied the other end to his side, and holding it,
turned round and round carefully, attending to its width and the
adjustment of its folds. I felt strongly disposed to laugh, and
had there been any one to join me in it, I doubt not should have
laughed heartily, the danger of offending the gravity of the Turk
to the contrary notwithstanding. But there is no fun in laughing
alone; and my old Greek guide looked as grave as if he saw nothing
amusing, in seeing a man winding himself in a shawl. But to the
point I meant to illustrate. The part of the dress above the girdle
having an opening, is used for stowing away all sorts of things;
handkerchiefs, when they have any; bread, fruit, &c., nothing comes
amiss; they put it into the bosom. As the receptacle goes all round
the body, it is equal to three or four of those large pockets our
great-grandmothers used to wear.



LETTER IV.


  _Bru-ma-nah, July 23d, 1836._

I have just returned from a tour of four days among the mountains.
The ladies rode on donkeys, which are not much larger than the
largest kind of sheep; they have great strength and a pleasant gait.
They are also sure-footed, which in such rough roads is no small
recommendation. I hired a mule, the owner of which, as is usual in
such cases, went along to take care of his animal. The other two
gentlemen had their own horses. It is not here as in Europe, where
you can find taverns and beds. There are no such things here. We, of
course, had to take all things needful for eating and sleeping. We
carried two tents--one for the ladies, the other for the gentlemen;
our bedding, provisions, utensils for cooking, a pot, a pan, plates,
knives, forks, spoons, coffee, tea-cups, sugar, salt, towels, &c.
We required, of course, two or three mules to carry these, and a
servant to take care of them and cook for us. Although our plan was
to take no more than was really necessary, we made quite a cavalcade.

You have, no doubt, heard that coal has lately been found in the
mountains near Beyroot. The chief mine that is worked lies near
a village called Corneil, about three or four hours' ride from
Brumanah, and up near the main ridge of the mountain. Our first
object was to visit those mines which lay south-east of Brumanah. We
passed up the ridge on which Brumanah stands, but gradually wound
along its south-east side, until we reached the bottom of the ravine
which separates it from the ridge which lies to the south. Much of
the higher part of the ridge on which Brumanah stands is of the
sandstone formation; it is, however, singularly mixed with patches
of limestone. We found the ravine a most rugged and rocky one, and
almost wholly of limestone. We saw many loose masses of green stone
at the bottom, which must have been brought from some distance, as
there was no appearance of that rock in sight.

In crossing the next ridge, we passed a village, in the midst of a
well-cultivated spot. There were more trees, and vines, and garden
herbs, than I had seen at any of the villages that I had passed.
The prince of this village has a pretty good-looking palace, of
considerable size. We passed close by it, and as the people within
assembled to see the party of Franks, it gave us an opportunity to
see them. After ascending about half way up this ridge, we again
passed into the sandstone formation, which occupies the top, except
some small locations of limestone, which appears in some strange
way to have got out of its proper place. But of this hereafter. We
passed over this ridge, and at the foot, near the lower part of
the sandstone formation, we found the coal mines. Mr. Brattle, the
English superintendant, received us most kindly, and took us through
and showed us the mine. He has made four or five openings, and finds
ample stores of coal. It is from three to four feet thick--dips a
little into the mountain--has several considerable falls in the
strata, which will require more labour in working it. There is
another mine south of the next ridge, which is also now worked. The
coal is not, however, as good as at the one we visited. None of the
coal yet found is as good as the English coal, but most probably a
further search may discover coal of a better quality.

It is about ten or fifteen years since this coal was first
discovered. Several men were sent to examine it, but were not
skilful, and did not report favourably. There was an attempt to work
it a few years since, but no good resulted. At length Mr. Brattle,
who is acquainted with the business, was induced to come out, and
under his direction they are becoming more and more important. He
labours under great disadvantages, from the absence of most of those
aids and facilities which are so needful in carrying on such work.
He has proved, or is proving, however, that they are valuable.
This coal is carried on mules and donkeys to Beyroot, over a most
villanous road. Were a good road made, and proper coal wagons used,
it would greatly facilitate the matter. But that day is not yet
come. There is no such thing as a wheeled conveyance here, at least
I have seen none, nor the track of one of any description.

There is a great irregularity in the sandstone strata near and
above the coal, it is thrown about in all sorts of ways. But I
shall have occasion to notice this repeatedly in my tour. After
spending several hours at the mine, Mr. Brattle took us to his
house at Corneil (the old palace, the best house in the village),
and entertained and lodged us with great kindness and hospitality.
From the terrace of the palace, which looks towards Beyroot, we had
one of the most splendid views I have ever seen. We saw the sun set
in the ocean behind Cyprus; could distinctly see the island in the
full blaze of the setting sun. It lies so far to the west, that
it is only in peculiar states of the air it can be seen. Corneil
stands on a rocky knoll on the top of a ridge. At this place the
limestone is thrown up, while both above and below on the ridge
the sandstone prevails. It is surrounded with vines, mulberry, fig
and other kinds of trees. But they stop here. This is the highest
point on this part of the mountain where trees are seen. Almost
immediately after leaving Corneil we saw no more trees, not even
bushes, except occasionally a very low evergreen, which appeared to
be a kind of thorn. It grows in bunches, spreads over the ground,
but seldom rises above from six inches to a foot. Occasionally we
saw some heather and fern in wet places, and more frequently furze
and thistle; a few low flowers appeared, and some other mountain
plants that were new to me. The whole face of the mountain was
bare rocks, rocks, rocks. The ridge on which Corneil stands leads
up to a very high point of the mountain called, if I recollect
right, Jebal Knee-se. There are now, it is said, the remains of a
church and monastery on the top. It was a place of some interest as
an ecclesiastical establishment. It really must have looked like
literally getting up, if not _to_ at least _towards_ heaven, to
live upon the top of a mountain which is supposed to be from nine
to ten thousand feet above the level of the sea. It was, no doubt,
a monastic establishment. Why it was deserted I know not. I felt a
wish to visit it, but the labour would have been considerable, and
as another point which lies several hours' ride north-east is still
higher, and is the one that is usually ascended, and as we thought
the ascent of one would be quite enough for our invalids, we passed
round the foot of the high peak of Jebal Knee-se, and made for the
top of the ridge, at a low place between Jebal Knee-se and Jebal
Sun-neen.

The upper part of Jebal Knee-se is regularly stratified limestone,
and horizontal. It has many shells in it; we stopped and collected
some fine specimens of four or five different kinds. About the
middle of the day, we reached the top of the ridge of Lebanon, at
the low place between the two points before named. This place is
above the limits of trees and cultivation. The mountain is barren
even of bushes. There are, however, some of the smaller plants which
I mentioned a few lines above.

We had from this place a fine view of the Bokar, or plain of
Celo-Syria, which lies between Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon. It is a
long and narrow plain--narrow compared with its length. It may be
from fifteen to twenty miles wide, but must be several hundred miles
long. It looked like a dead level. We could see many villages in it,
and groves of trees, and the green fields. It was a lovely sight.
We pitched our tents on the top, and made our dinner, enjoying the
delightful view which lay around us on all sides. The cultivation on
the side next the plain ascended much higher up the mountain than
it did on the north-western side. There were fields of grain but a
short distance below us, so near indeed that one of our muleteers
took down his mule, and let it feed on the grain, and even brought
up a bundle of green wheat which he procured there.

The place on which we pitched our tents was the upper part of the
sandstone formation. There was a good deal of sandstone, breccia
or puddingstone, but near us on all sides the limestone formation
was seen. After the heat of the day was a little over, we set out
north-east along the top of the Mount for the Sun-neen, the high
point which is usually ascended, and on which the most snow is
found. There is a little flat, or nearly flat, space along the top,
on which we found a footpath, much beaten. All over these high
places the sheep and goats and cattle are driven for the sake of
pasture. We saw more flocks on these upper parts of the mountain
than we did on the lower parts.

Not far from our encampment, we passed a place near the upper part
of the sandstone formation, where strata of a peculiar character
cropt out. It split easily into lamina as fine as paper; was
peculiarly elastic. You might roll it up in rolls, and it would,
when let loose, spring back to its former state. It burnt freely.
You might almost make torches of it. It was, no doubt, bituminous
shale. In some places it had more of these properties than others.
The strata was of considerable thickness, as we could see on the
sides of the hollow on which we found it. It lay on the north-west
side, a little below the top of the ridge. Most likely, as the
strata was horizontal, it cropt out also on the south-east side next
the plain of Celo-Syria.

Two or three hours brought us to the foot of Jebal Sun-neen, and up
near the foot of the snows. Here we selected a good spot, and again
pitched our tents; intending to employ the next day in our ascent
to the top and return to the same place. We found it much colder
than it was in the lower parts of the mountain. We really needed
fire; but it was with difficulty that wood enough could be procured
to make our tea, much more to make a fire to warm half-a-dozen
people in the open air. We had, however, expected this, and brought
clothing accordingly, so that we did not suffer much.

In the morning, we began the ascent; we rode nearly an hour, and
took a donkey still farther for the benefit of the ladies; but
then left all our animals, and betook ourselves in good earnest to
the matter of ascending the Mount. On the side which we ascended,
between where we encamped and the top, are two or three offsets,
then the mountain falls off and leaves a kind of level. These
general levels have small ridges and round hills on them, and many
deep valleys and sink-holes, or holes of that peculiar kind which
abound in districts where a horizontal limestone stratum lies on
the surface. In these deep sink-hole places, and in the valleys,
and on the sides of the ridges, the snow was accumulated in great
quantities, but it did not cover the whole surface of the mountain,
as I had supposed it might. But a small part of the mountain had
snow on it. It lay in patches, and possibly not over one-twentieth
part was covered with it. I saw no ice--all was snow. From the
action of the sun and wind, it was just hard enough to walk on with
safety. The foot would sink in it one, two, or three inches--seldom
more. I walked on it in my shoes without inconvenience.

We were three hours in reaching the top--we proceeded slowly, and
stopped frequently to allow the ladies rest. We found the summit
much like the offset, which I have just described. There was what
may be called a general level, of a mile or two across, with many
rises in it, and full of deep holes of various shapes, some nearly
round, others long and narrow. These were full of snow. It was
usually much melted at one side, and the largest masses were, as a
general thing, found lying on the west or south-west side of the
hollow. What appeared most singular, was the fact, that for the most
part, the outsides of this great cone appeared the highest--around
it were the highest knolls, while the inner parts were lower, and
its holes and sinks more deep. The rain and snow water does not seem
to flow over and down the outside of the cone, but sinks in it, and
finds its way out as it can.

The whole upper part of the Mount, from where we pitched our tents,
which was near the sandstone formation, is limestone with its
varieties. It lies horizontally, and is stratified with unusual
regularity. This can be seen with great distinctness on the west
side of the Mount, where the deep hollow, in which a branch of
the river Beyroot heads, terminates against the cone, and makes a
regular, steep, sloping descent of, I should think, from four to
six thousand feet. Near the top, on the west side, I saw a small
spot of fine white marble--much of the rock, indeed, approximates to
marble. High up, at the north-east corner, we found some limestone
breccia, and saw, also, in various places, much arragonite, which is
a peculiar and rare variety of crystallised limestone.

But what gave us most interest were the shells which we found at
many places as we ascended, and also on the top itself. We found
some very fine specimens of them--four or more varieties. I procured
several, nearly as large as a common conch shell; all of them were
petrified. At various places on the side, and also on the summit,
we saw rocks that appeared little else than a mass of shells. As
to when and how they got there, I have at present but little to
say. Of one thing, however, I am fully satisfied, that they do not
contradict the Mosaic account. It is possible that they may, with
other facts which are collecting, prove, finally, that in some
points we have put a wrong construction on the Mosaic account.
Thus it was when the newly received system of astronomy was first
brought forward. It was assailed with more zeal than knowledge, by a
certain class of religionists, who insisted that it was at variance
with the Bible, which said the sun rose and set; whereas, this new
system made the sun stand still and the earth turn round,--and not
only the anathemas of the church, but the fire and fagot were called
into requisition, to maintain the good old received opinion, that
the earth stood still for the quiet of man, and the sun, moon, and
stars, which had nothing else to do, went round and round to give
him light. It was, however, found out at last, that the truth in
astronomy was not at war with truth in revelation--that the earth
might turn round, and move at the same time in its orbit, without
infringing, in the least, against the truths of the Bible. Thus, I
doubt not, it will be found with the geological fossils, which are
now accumulating, and some of them are truly singular. They will be
found to coincide with revelation.

I do fear, indeed, that some weak heads will be injured by these
facts, and that some minds wishing to find occasion against
religion, will eagerly seize these facts, and take it for granted
that they are inconsistent with the Bible account, and will
throw off all regard for that most precious book. Such persons
ought to recollect that geology is a science that is yet in its
_infancy_. That on some of the most important questions that bear
on its relation to the Mosaic account, there is not only a want
of agreement among geologists, but much contrariety of opinion.
Farther, this eastern world, where the main examination ought to
be made, has been but little examined; and still, the Bible will
admit of any explanation, in agreement with these facts, on the same
principles on which explanations in common life are daily received.

The view from the top of Sun-neen was most splendid. We had a most
extensive view of the Bokar, as the Celo-Syria plain is now called.
The great range of the Anti-Lebanon stretched along the farther
side, running parallel to that of the Lebanon. Parts of the former
had snow on them, and especially a high point that lay a good deal
to the south. On the general range of the Anti-Lebanon, there was
less snow; and I should think it a good deal lower than the Lebanon.
It has the same naked and rough appearance, and I am told is even
more rough, more destitute of forests, and less occupied with
villages. To the south, we could see as far as Mount Hermon and the
mountains about the sea of Tiberias. To the north, the plain ran
out till it met the horizon. The whole plain of Celo-Syria appeared
to be a dead level. The mountains rise from it as if they rose out
of a sea. In this it reminded me of the plain of Ephesus, which
stretches up almost to Smyrna. Baalbec can be seen from Sun-neen,
but the state of the air was not favourable to a distant view on the
plain. North of the point of Sun-neen, on which we stood, the main
ridge of the Lebanon sinks a good deal, as it does on the south.
Beyond this low place, at a considerable distance, I should think
a day's travel, say fifteen or twenty miles, it throws up another
high point, or mass of mountains. On this last point, which may be
about as high as the Sun-neen, grow the famous cedars so much spoken
of. Our plan was to have extended our tour so as to visit them and
Baalbec, which stands nearly opposite them, on the other side of the
plain, but some engagements and matters of duty did not allow all
the company to proceed thus far.

Our descent from the top was much more easy and expeditious than
our ascent, owing in part to an experiment we made with complete
success. On the south side of the point a hollow ran up almost to
the top; on the west side of this hollow was a large field of snow,
which extended from near the top to the foot of what I have called
the cone, or down to the second general level. We made a trial of
how we could descend on the snow, and found that, by keeping near
the edge, and walking with care, sticking the heel with a little
force in it, we could get along with much more ease and expedition
than we could over the rough and exceedingly rocky ground. Our
descent to our horses was soon accomplished; and just as the sun
went down under the western wave, we arrived at our tents, a little
tired it is true, but greatly gratified in having reached the top
of that "goodly mountain and Lebanon," perhaps the most interesting
mountain in the world.

While we were on the Mount, the day, as it shone on us, was
perfectly clear; the general state of the air, when we were shaded
with an umbrella, or under the shade of a rock, was pleasant. The
direct force of the sun was, however, warm. We were above the
clouds, and had a most interesting view of their forming far, far
below us, and especially on the sea. Soon after mid-day they began
to form on the far distant horizon over the sea, and continued to
increase until a large part of it was covered; and about the time
we reached the foot of the cone, where we had left our horses, the
clouds exhibited a most brilliant spectacle. A small strip of the
sea, near the foot of the mountain, had no clouds on it. It lay
smooth, like a frozen lake. The remainder, in all directions as for
as the eye could reach, was covered with immense masses of clouds,
which appeared to us like hills of cotton or wool upon the waters.
It reminded me of some of those great plains of the valley of the
Mississippi, covered with its immense forests, as seen from some
high point of the Alleghany or Cumberland range, after the fall of a
heavy snow. The clouds appeared about as high above the water as the
western groves rise above the plain--the irregularity of hill and
dale, and the fleecy whiteness of the clouds, as we looked upon the
upper part, which was strongly illuminated by the sun, corresponded
well with groves loaded with the new-fallen snow in all its virgin
purity.

To make the scene still more interesting, a wind set in from the
sea, and drove the masses of clouds against the mountains. We saw
the plains covered and again laid bare, as masses of clouds, like
the irregular columns of an army, passed over it--drove against
the mountains--rose higher and higher up its sides--and at last
swept over us and by us in huge piles. It was not one large dense
cloud, but a multitude of clouds of various sizes, and at different
heights. The sun pouring its flood of light upon these masses, so
various in height and density and rapidity of motion, presented the
most brilliant and perpetually varying spectacle that I have ever
seen. We had all the variety of tints and colouring that light and
shade can make, and that ever-changing aspect which is presented by
the kaleidoscope. There was, however, no rain; for while we often
have clouds on these mountains, there has no rain fallen since I
reached Beyroot, which is now more than six weeks.

We spent the night at the foot of the snows, where the former night
was passed; and having packed our minerals, shells, and flowers,
which we had collected, set off for Bru-ma-nah. We took a more
direct road than the one by which we came, as we wished to see as
much of the mountain as possible. We passed along a great ridge
that ran from our tents, at the foot of the cone, with various
irregularities, on to Bru-ma-nah. We found it much as the ridge on
which the coal-pits of Corneil are situate. The upper part of it
much of the way is of the sandstone formation. On the higher part
of this is a stratum of very fine puddingstone. Almost everywhere,
in this sandstone formation, we find petrified wood, much iron ore,
iron stone, and at many places slate, and all the indications of
coal. There can be no doubt that coal exists extensively in this
formation; and, from the tour which we made, I should think that
from one-sixth to one-fourth of this ridge was of the sandstone
formation. It lies about midway up the mountain; has, generally
considered, a horizontal position; but is at many places most
singularly thrown out of its place. At the heads of hollows, and at
the points of ridges, and often in other places, the limestone seems
forced up, but retains its horizontal position: at other places, the
sandstone is suddenly cut off, and begins again at a great distance
above or below;--but my paper is full.



LETTER V.


  _Bru-ma-nah, Aug. 2, 1836._

Last Saturday, I went down to Beyroot, mainly to spend the Sabbath
with the small number of Franks that usually meet at the American
consul's for worship. I had been on the mountains about three
weeks, and found the general temperature pleasant. The thermometer
seldom rose to 75° Fahr. The direct action of the sun was, it is
true, considerable, but I seldom, except when travelling, went
out during the greatest heat of the day. I found the heat greater
at Beyroot; from five to eight, and at times ten or more degrees.
Still the thermometer does not give the whole difference. There is a
closeness--an oppressive something in the air in the town that makes
it more trying than the same degrees of heat would produce on the
mountains. There is also a very manifest difference in the heat, and
oppressive character of the air, in the town, and in what is called
the Gardens--the numerous dwellings that lie without the walls,
and are scattered for several miles round the city, mentioned in a
former letter.

I have repeatedly witnessed since I came to the mountains an
appearance in the setting sun which I never before saw, nor have I
ever seen it noticed in books. In this dry season of the year we
have but few clouds, and the sun usually clear; but in setting, it
very often assumes strange and singular appearances. They begin
about the time the lower part of the sun touches the line of the
horizon. The lower part, at times, appears to _flatten up_; the
upper, to _flatten down_; and at times, the sides _flatten in_--so
that the disk of the sun forms nearly a square; it seldom, however,
took this form. More frequently about the time that one-half of
the disk is sunk below the horizon, a portion of the upper part
of the remainder appears to separate from the body of the sun,
and often assumes the form of an inverted cone, or rather that of
a common washbowl, set on the sun, and at times separated from
it by a black mark, of, say an inch in diameter. This crown-like
appearance, at times, is distinctly visible after the disk of the
sun has disappeared; at other times the body of the sun appeared to
be surrounded with a groove and a band, giving it the appearance
of the capital of a pillar. I have seen it again and again, as it
sank under the line of the horizon, flatten down, and spread out
horizontally, until in truth it did not look wider than a large
walking staff, while it appeared nearly a yard in length--the
length of the strip of luminous matter appeared really longer than
the usual apparent width of the disk before it began to take the
new form. But the most singular fact of all remains to be told. We
have several times seen, for it is the most rare appearance, the
sun appear distinctly under the horizon, after the luminous aspect
was wholly gone. It appeared as a dark mass, nearly of the shape of
the sun, but much larger. It seemed under the water, and gradually
to sink deeper and deeper. This sinking of it below the line of
the horizon causes it to appear to approach nearer the spectator.
I saw it on one occasion most distinctly, when the distance of its
upper edge appeared a full yard below the line of the horizon. It
then gradually became fainter and fainter, until it disappeared.
I am not sure that I am philosopher enough to account for these
strange appearances. They do not appear every night; and seldom
for two nights together are the forms the same. The general cause,
I suppose, is the peculiar state of the body of air through which
the rays of light from the setting sun reach us on the mountain.
We are in a high, pure, and elastic atmosphere. At the foot of
the mountain, and the plains on to Beyroot, over which the rays
pass, the earth must be greatly heated, and sends up a heated and
rarefied body of air--then, farther on, is the ocean, which must
keep the stratum of air over it cooler. To this I may add, that we
see the sun set over Cyprus. This island lies at the very edge of
our horizon, as seen from Bru-ma-nah; so distant that it is only
at times that we can distinctly see it. Now Cyprus is an island of
considerable size, and not having much growth is greatly heated by
the action of the sun. This may, by the rarefied volume of air which
it presents to the rays of the sun, tend still farther to vary their
course. Thus passing two or three warm and rare, and as many cold
and dense strata, may be the cause of all the variety of phenomena
above described. I leave it however for others to solve the problem.

It will soon be two months since I reached Beyroot, and few things
have struck me more than the uniformity of the weather. There has
not been a drop of rain. There has been scarcely any weather that
we should call cloudy. True, some clouds do at times collect over
the sea, and at times they rest on the mountain, but they are clouds
without rain. They very seldom spread over the face of the heavens,
so as to withhold the light of the sun; they are mostly confined to
one part, and leave the remainder in its usual clearness. I have,
again and again, been reminded of the fact, that one day is almost
precisely like all the others. We have no opportunity to say "this
is a fine day,"--all are fine.

We may suppose that when there is for so long a period no rain,
and when the sun, almost without exception, pours on the earth its
full blaze of light and heat, the air would become very dry. It is
so; but not to an unpleasant degree--at least _I_ am not sensible
of any unpleasant effects from it. Plants and vegetation do, it is
true, feel it--they wither and droop; and those who wish to preserve
them in their freshness and beauty, must resort to the means of
watering them. But, as regards comfortable feeling from the air, I
have found few places that were to be preferred to Mount Lebanon.

The clearness of the air is a most striking characteristic of these
regions. It is most striking, and is manifested in many things. It
is seen in looking at the starry heavens. The stars are numerous,
and the face of the heavens has a clearness in it, that makes the
impression on the mind that we can see further into the deep and
pathless abyss by which our little earth is surrounded than we can
in other countries. It agrees in this with the Italian sky, but
is, I think, still more clear. This clearness of the air is also
manifest in looking at distant objects. They appear much nearer
than they really are. I am almost perpetually struck with this in
looking from Bru-ma-nah down to Beyroot, and the long line of coast
which lies to the north and south. When I stand on some one of
the points of the ridge that runs out towards Beyroot, as I often
do, especially in my evening walks, the town appears so near, and
the bay at such a short distance below me, that I can hardly get
clear of the impression that I could throw a finger-stone into the
bay. The ascent and descent, three or four times repeated, has,
however, given the matter-of-fact proof that it takes nearly four
hours of hard travel to pass the space that lies between Bru-ma-nah
and Beyroot. The air, it is true, is not always equally pure and
transparent; a dulness and obscurity, like that which is often
observable in other countries, at times exist here. The air here
is, I think, at least in the dry season, less liable to it; how
the rainy seasons may affect the air in all these respects, I am
not as yet prepared to say; as I have had no opportunity of making
observations.

But little dew falls at this place; and from all that I saw in
Beyroot, there is but little there, at least in the dry season; I
have not noticed it in the form of drops on the leaves, indeed I
have at this place hardly observed it in the form of dampness; a
slight degree of this is observable in the evening after sunset.
This is our usual hour for walking, and I have observed that our
clothes were a little damp on our return. I was struck, however,
with the fact, that the nights we were encamped at the foot of the
cone of Jebal Sun-neen, there was an abundance of dew. Our tents
were wet; and the grass and vegetation, and even dust of the roads,
bore witness to it. How it happened that there was so much of it
up there, and so little of it down here, I leave for the wise to
decide; possibly the cause may be in the neighbourhood of the
fact, that the heat here and at Beyroot is remarkably uniform. It
varies but few degrees in the twenty-four hours; at our place of
encampment, referred to, the variation was much greater; we had
great heat by day and almost frost at night.

The more usual and valuable produce of the mountains is the silk.
Much of their best ground is planted with the mulberry-tree, the
leaf of which is used for feeding the worms. Not much of the silk
is manufactured here; most of it is exported to Italy, France, and
England.

The principal grain grown here is the barley, and a kind of bearded
wheat that looks much like it. I have not, however, travelled enough
to make observation to much extent. They raise some tobacco--almost
every one here, as you no doubt have heard, smokes--the pipe is
everywhere one of the most common things seen; they have long
handles, usually made of the cherry-tree; the finer kind are nearly
as long as the owner is high, and are tipped with a mouth-piece of
_amber_. They often use a kind of pipe called the nargely, in which
the smoke is drawn through water. Much of their time is spent in
smoking and taking coffee.

I am told that in the plains of the Bokar' or Celo-Syria, a good
deal of Indian corn is grown. I have not seen any of it on the
mountains, nor did I notice it on the plains of Beyroot as I passed
and repassed. The mountains do not raise bread-stuff sufficient for
its own consumption; grain is brought from the plains. They appear
to me, indeed, to live on very little up here; and I have often,
while looking on their simple fare, thought of the poet's lines:

    "Man wants but little here below,
    Nor wants that little long."

Still a people may have too few wants, they may be too indifferent
as to comforts and conveniences; and the absence of these
excitements may lead to idleness and almost complete indifference
towards all things. If it be not good for man to be alone, it is
still worse for him to be idle; and he who in great kindness to man
gave him the woman to be with him, in the same spirit of love gave
him employment--to dress the garden and keep it. The devil, it is
said, finds employment for idle people; and, even if that were not
his peculiar business, the idleness of many must, I should think,
put a sore temptation in the devil's way, to give them something to
do. I have often heard the devil charged with tempting people, but I
am inclined to think, that the temptation is not all on one side; I
suspect that people often tempt the devil. Had our first mother Eve
been attending to her domestic matters as she ought; or, in company
with her goodman, been helping to take care of the garden, she
would probably have escaped the evil into which she fell.

But to return from this digression. The people of these mountains
are greatly given to idleness; it may result, in part, from the
kind of culture they pursue. The silkworm can employ but little of
their time, and much of the remainder is unemployed. It would be
better for them were they employed more constantly. The pasha, it
is true, gives many of them employment in connexion with working
the coal-mines, and taking coal to Beyroot; and, while there may be
hardship in the manner in which he presses them, with their mules
and donkeys, into the service, I am not sure that in a more enlarged
view of things it may not be to their advantage; were companies of
the idlers kept at work constantly in making roads on the mountains,
and keeping those made in good repair, the benefit to the whole
region would be great indeed. But all improvements travel very
slowly in these ends of the earth.

I have long since read of the big-tailed sheep, but do not recollect
seeing any until I reached this place. The sheep is about the usual
size. On the rump and around the root of the tail, there is a large
mass of soft loose flesh or fat, which appears to be but loosely
connected with the body, except as kept in connexion with it by the
skin. It hangs loose, and shakes about like the udder of a good
milch cow, and altogether has a very singular appearance. I have
not often, if at all, seen flocks of sheep on these mountains. The
goats are often seen in flocks with their keeper, but the sheep are
usually seen singly, or but two or three together, having a string
about their necks, by which they are fastened when at the house, and
led and managed when out at pasture. We may see them led about in
the gardens and vineyards, and out on the mountain side, where a
tuft of grass is to be found; a boy or girl is usually in attendance
upon each sheep. In the evening, I have often seen them bringing
the sheep to the springs and pools of water, and pour the water
plentifully over them, I suppose to cool them. The sheep appear to
take it very kindly, seemingly accustomed to it.

The goats are much used for their milk. The cow is indeed used, and
possibly its milk is considered the best, but the goat, as the more
thrifty animal, is most easily kept, and suits the spare vegetation
which is found on the mountains. They are seen in considerable
numbers, and some of them have uncommonly long ears, which are of a
speckled whitish colour, and hang down from eight to twelve inches.

The camel is much used here as a beast of burden. It is a tall,
raw-boned, long-legged, and long-necked animal, but of a patient,
quiet spirit. It shares with the donkey and mule the hard service
which the people of these lands exact of their cattle. I have been
surprised to see what masses of timber they carry down from these
mountains on the backs of camels--beams for houses, shipping, and
all sorts of things. I have seen a beam from fifteen to twenty feet
long, and from eight to ten, twelve, or fourteen inches in diameter,
laid on the back of a camel, one end projecting forward before the
head of the animal, and the other reaching far behind, and somehow
fastened with ropes to the huge pack-saddle which he carries. Thus
loaded he is made to pass over roads, which require some fortitude
for a man to ride, and pass up and down descents that are most
fearful for such loads: one driver attends each, who may at the more
dangerous passes take hold of the beam and aid in keeping it steady.
The poor animal usually reaches his place of destination in safety
with his lumber--I say usually, for at times, over-loaded or worn
down with the length of the way, or missing his step, he falls, and
is crushed to death by the merciless load upon his back.

Who has not heard of the scorpion? and yet who has seen one? It was
not until after I reached Beyroot that I saw one, and that occurred
in a way that took me a good deal by surprise. One evening during
our quarantine, the scorpion happening to be mentioned as a reptile
that abounded, I expressed a wish to see one. This was reported to
our guardians. The next morning, soon after I was out of bed, I was
called to the porch, and to my no small surprise, mixed with some
apprehension of danger, I saw one of the guardians having a handful
of them,--literally a handful of scorpions. He may have had from six
to ten of them. They were all small. They are a short reptile--these
were about the size of a common locust; the body short and flat,
with a tail rather longer than the body. The sting is in the tip of
the tail. They strike forward with the tail. They appear rather a
slow, dull animal, and do not appear eager to strike or do mischief.
When held in the hand, they cannot strike, and the pressure of the
hand appears to produce a dull, heavy disposition. The guardian
handled them as he pleased--he took hold of the lower part of the
tail, with a quick motion, and then held them close in his hand,
piled one on the other. They have a way of taking them, I am told,
by putting a stick to them that is covered with bees-wax. The
scorpion strikes his tail in it, it sticks fast, and he is taken.
Their sting produces pain, it is said, but is not often, if ever,
fatal. It is but seldom that persons are stung by them.

And who has not heard of the chameleon, that wonderful animal that
one traveller declared was blue, and another that it was black, and
its owner asserted that it was green, but which, when produced, was
of a different colour from any of those mentioned! The chameleon is
not the only thing which has been made more marvellous by report
than nature made it. It is a lizard, of a size rather larger than
those little four-legged, long-tailed animals, that in the spring
and summer are seen about old fences and trees, nearly the colour
of the moccason snake. The chameleon is, in its usual colour, not
unlike the above-mentioned lizard, rather lighter--more like the
rattlesnake as to colour. It is a perfectly harmless reptile, may
be handled at pleasure. It is rather slow in its motions, and when
you touch it, it will swell and blow at a great rate, but does
nothing else. As its passions are excited by handling, its colour
is in a slight degree changeable, and it may be still more so when
seen in different kinds of light. The change, however, has been
much magnified; and were it not that "as changeable as a chameleon"
has become a proverb, and every one expects something, hundreds of
people might see and handle it, and not observe any change in its
colour. They are often found about houses, and are said to be fond
of flies--what their art of catching them may be, I know not; their
motions appear too slow to make a living in that way.

I had heard, long before coming to Asia, fearful accounts of the
annoyance I must expect from fleas, bed-bugs, and other similar
sorts of gentry; I have as yet only come in contact with the fleas,
and an occasional musquito. But really the number and pertinacity
of the fleas will well make amends for the absence of the other
tribes of annoying insects. I know not to what it may be owing,
but the flea does seem to multiply in a way that is astonishing.
They abound almost everywhere, and it appears to be a matter of
impossibility to get wholly out of their reach. The evil may be
increased by the earthen floor, and the peculiar character of their
houses, and, above all, the unclean habits of the people; and as
all the Frank families have native servants, and are visited a good
deal by the natives, it is not easy for those families to keep
their houses free from the annoyance. I have heard, indeed, a very
significant saying, that the king of the fleas resides at Beyroot,
and his pasha at Jaffa. I suppose it signifies those are the
favourite places with these light-footed gentry.

The fruit season is now coming on, and we have some fine varieties
of fruit brought to market. The district of country a little on
this side of Jaffa, is the place most famed for the water-melon.
There are but few grown on these parts of the mountain. I have seen
but few vines, and these bore a small and inferior kind. But the
quantities that come from the vicinity of Jaffa are very great;
vessels arrive at Beyroot almost daily with them. They are sold for
a mere trifle. They are carried all through these mountains, and are
a very fine fruit of the kind.

I have never seen the plum any where to be compared with those here.
They grow, however, near Damascus. That place is famed for fruit of
various kinds, and great quantities of it are brought to Beyroot,
and other towns on the coast. At this time of the year, when the
fruit is ripe, it is a considerable business to carry fruit and
supply the market. The plum to which I refer is nearly as large as a
hen's egg, and has a fine rich pulp. It is of a deep red colour, and
does credit to the land where it grows.

The apricot abounds at Damascus; and they are brought in large
parcels for the supply of this market. It is a fine fruit. I have
not seen many growing on this part of the mountain, nor have I seen
the apple or the peach growing in very large quantities. The best
used here are brought from Damascus. I have not seen any apples to
be compared with our best; the apple season, however, is not yet
come.

The grape grows well, and there are some fine vineyards. The grape
that abounds most, as far as I have observed, is a large white
grape. The single grape is often nearly as large as a partridge's
egg. The branches contain a noble collection of these grapes, and
more than once the large size of the bunch has made me think of the
cluster which the spies took from Eshcol, as a sample of the fruit
of the land. Some wine is made on these mountains, and of a very
good kind, as is said, for I have not so far forgotten my temperance
habits as to use, unless very occasionally, and under peculiar
circumstances, the wines of any of the countries through which
I pass. The wines, I am told, are peculiarly free from alcohol,
and have, if any, but a very small portion of the intoxicating
principle. They are not so strong as the well-made cider of the
middle States.

These mountaineers have a peculiar way of baking bread. They dig
a hole in the ground, about the size of a large bottle--put a
thick coat of plaster around the side and on the bottom, and then
let it dry. It is very much in the shape of a large pot, a little
bulging in the middle. A fire is made in the bottom of it, of small
branches, and kept up until the sides are well heated; the flames
are then suffered to go down, leaving the mass of coals in the
bottom. They have the dough ready, and take a piece of it, about as
large as a biscuit, and laying it on a board, press it out as large
as a common-sized plate, and nearly as thin as the blade of a thick
knife. They place it on a round pillow or cushion, (it is so thin
it cannot be handled otherwise,) and strike it against the inside of
this potlike place. It sticks, and in about one minute is baked. It
is then taken off, and another put on. There are, usually, several
women engaged at it at the same time, and they put them on with
great quickness. You may see three or four of these wafer-like cakes
sticking round the tan-moor, as it is called, at the same time, and
changed for others every minute. They soon bake bread for a meal.



LETTER VI.


  _Beyroot, August 26th, 1836._

I have just returned from a tour to Damascus, Baalbec, and the
far-famed Cedars of Lebanon, and will attempt a brief account of
these places, and my adventures by the way.

I had the company of Mr. B----, Angelo to cook for us, and a
muleteer, who took care of our mules, and who ought to have been our
guide, but who, on trial, was found not to know the way himself--a
state of things not uncommon in this country--and did it not
extend to higher matters than to find the road from one place to
another, it would not be so bad; but from all I see and hear, it is
most dolefully the case in the great matter of finding the way to
everlasting life. Guides there are many in religion, but few, if
any, understand the way of salvation through our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ. It is, indeed, astonishing how far the great mass of
those who in these regions call themselves Christians, have sunk
in darkness and ignorance respecting the most plain and leading
principles of the word of God. The priests are "blind leaders of the
blind."

As we set out for Damascus, from Bru-ma-nah on the mountain, we
did not follow the usual road to Damascus from Beyroot, but took
a more direct route. We made for the lower part of Mount Lebanon,
between the Sun-neen and Jebal Knee-se. I had before passed over
part of this, on my tour to the Sun-neen, some account of which I
have already given you. Part of our way, however, before reaching
the top, was new, but did not differ much from what I had before
seen. We passed a considerable village, where the Jesuits are said
to have a school. It is in a lovely, romantic spot, and near a most
tremendous precipice.

The descent from the top to the plain is much greater than I
supposed, when on the top. It took us above two hours to reach
Zahle, which stands on the lower part of the mountain, and at some
distance above the level of the plain. The side of the Lebanon
next the plain is not quite as rough and rocky as the other; in
other respects it does not essentially differ. The cultivation may
possibly extend farther up--the rock more disintegrated, and the
strata not as distinctly marked,--the general course of the ridge
was more regular and uniform. The road, as we approached Zahle, was
better than any I have seen on the mountains--it passed through a
considerable extent of vineyards, and labour had been expended upon
it--it was very passable, a rare thing in these parts.

A little above Zahle, and in and near it, a number of fine springs
arose, and their effect on the vegetation was most striking; while
the whole face of the mountain presented a most dry and parched
aspect, with only here and there a bush to be seen, the heads of the
little hollows about Zahle--a small district near the town, and a
narrow slip along the waters, widening as it approached the plain,
were rich in verdure, and abounded with the Lombardy poplar, the
willow, the white walnut, and a variety of fruit-trees. You could
trace most clearly where there was water by the vegetation which
there covered the ground. Yea, you could point out most distinctly
where the water was carried along the hill sides, in trenches, by
the verdure which covered the whole district below, while all above
was almost destitute of vegetation. The rising of water above and
near the town, being very considerable, and being carried along the
hill sides, and extensively used in irrigation, a larger district
about this town was covered with trees, and bore more marks of
productiveness than any I have seen in these quarters. A little
below the town were some mills on this water-course, and many lovely
gardens lay on all sides. The town Zahle contains from eight hundred
to one thousand houses. They are crowded together, with narrow,
crooked streets; and, like all other towns in this land, it has
no claim to cleanliness. Judging from what I saw, the houses are
universally built of unburned brick, made with a good deal of _short
straw_ mixed with them, no doubt to prevent them from breaking to
pieces. The houses are of one story, have flat roofs, where people
are often seen walking or lounging, and on which various things are
deposited.

It being about sundown when we entered the town, we made some
inquiries for lodging. There are usually in the towns, and
occasionally on the roads, houses built for the accommodation
of travellers, called khans. They have rooms, but are entirely
unfurnished, and the traveller is expected to provide for himself.
They are beginning to keep, at some of them, the more necessary
articles of food for man and beast, which the traveller may obtain
at a reasonable price. Having, in some of my former tours, been
greatly annoyed with _fleas_, and knowing these khans are the
very _head-quarters_ of such gentry, we were rather on the watch,
and made inquiry before alighting, whether they had any fleas in
their establishment? They assured us that they had "a _plenty_!
_plenty!_" We declined stopping, and passed on amidst the laugh
of the bystanders. It began, however, to grow dark about the time
we got out of the town, and after passing down the stream, among
the gardens, for some time, and not finding a place that offered a
good encampment, we were constrained to put up at a house on the
road side, and sleep in a kind of open court. We found, to our
discomfort, that we had not much mended the matter. We were most
grievously beset with fleas, which were as greedy as if it was the
first Frank blood they had tasted, and feared it might be the last.

We found in the morning that we were in the immediate neighbourhood
of a considerable body of the pasha's troops. Their parade-ground
was over against us; arranged along one side I counted thirty-six
cannon drawn up, and as we passed, we saw a considerable number of
artillery-men, five or six in a company, manoeuvring, each under the
direction of an individual. Several of these groups had a _little
carriage_, not more than a foot long, a perfect toy, with a string
to it, and were drawing it about and manoeuvring it in place of the
cannon. It was laughable to see five or eight great awkward fellows
pulling about a little toy, like a waggon, which a baby could have
thrown about at pleasure. This is the Egyptian version of European
tactics.

There was near this place, which was on the edge of the plain, a
most noble threshing-floor. It was a large space of several acres,
and there may have been from a dozen to twenty floors, without
any partition between them. On some of them people were employed
in threshing grain, others separating the straw and chaff from the
wheat; on others lay great piles of grain, some clean, and others
mixed with the chaff and straw. They separate the wheat by throwing
it up and letting the wind blow the chaff away. Of course they must
wait for a wind. I saw no instrument to make wind. The threshing
instrument is a board, about three feet in width, and six or eight
feet in length; at the fore end it is turned up, a little like a
sleigh. The board is about three inches in thickness. On the under
side many holes are cut in it, from an inch and a half to two
inches, and in these are fastened pieces of stone, flint, or iron;
these project nearly an inch from the face of the board and serve as
teeth, to tear the heads of the grain in pieces. Oxen are fastened
to the front of these boards, and driven round the floor, drawing
this instrument after them. The driver of the oxen usually sits or
stands on the instrument. This is the common threshing-machine in
these countries. I see it everywhere--and I have seen no other. It
would seem that it is the same instrument that was used in the days
of the prophet, who speaks of a "new threshing instrument having
teeth." The oxen are usually without muzzles, and often, as they
pass round, take up a few straws and feed on them. "Thou shalt not
muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn." I do not recollect of
ever seeing the horse used on the floor--the oxen very often.

As we passed the threshing floor, in and around which were many
cattle, I could not but notice a fact of which I had often heard and
read, but had not before seen--the collecting the manure that fell
from the cattle and preparing it for fuel. A female was employed in
collecting it with her hands, working it into balls, and sticking
it in flat cakes against the walls of the houses to dry--when dry,
it was collected in piles and laid on the house-tops, or made in
little stacks in the yard. When well dried it burns very well, and
will make a fire sufficient to boil coffee. On some occasions,
during our tour, we were glad to get it, and found it did very well.
This throws light on a passage in Jeremiah, where he is directed
to prepare his food with fire made of human excrement--the prophet
entreated, and was allowed to take cows' dung. This is a common kind
of fuel in many parts of this country. The prophet was only directed
to do as his people generally did.

Our course took us directly across the celebrated plain of
Celo-Syria. It is nearly a dead level--we were about two hours and a
half in crossing it, which, at three miles an hour, the usual rate
of travelling on mules, will make it about eight miles wide. This
is less than I stated in a former letter. I mentioned then what a
gentleman who had crossed it gave as its supposed width. I now give
what _I_ found it to be. It may, however, vary in width at different
places, and no doubt does. There are very few trees on the plain.
Near the villages, and there are usually several in sight, some
trees may be seen, and at a few of the villages are considerable
groves of them. As regards the great body of the plain, not a tree
or a bush is to be seen--not a fence--not a hedge--not a house,
except at the few villages.

On the plain, where we crossed, there was a little water. The stream
which flowed in from Zahle is parted and carried into the plain,
and used in irrigation; and it would seem nearly if not wholly
exhausted in this way. Near the farther side of the plain, we
passed several channels that contained water, but the amount was
not great. The water had but a slow, dull current, and the ground
being soft, we had a little difficulty in crossing, as we feared
swamping. There appears to be a stream of water entering the plain
from the Anti-Lebanon, a few miles north-east of Zahle; for on that
side of the plain we found most water; and when we entered the plain
on our return from Damascus, which was half a day's journey to the
north-east, we saw scarcely any water, except this stream passing
in--south-west. The channel shows that more water flows in at times,
but it is never more than a small stream--never deserves the name of
a river.

Much of the plain appeared to have been cultivated with small grain.
It was now gathered about the threshing-floors, several of which
were seen in different directions. I saw also several lots of Indian
corn, and a field that looked almost precisely like what with us is
called broom-corn. It is, I believe, the millet, here called durah.
The corn was a most diminutive kind, and the same is the case with
all the corn I have seen in the East. It was beginning to tassel and
silk, and yet its general height was not above four feet; with us
such a field of corn would not be thought worth anything. It was, I
believe, of the usual size and promise.

We passed several fields of the castor-oil plant, and were informed,
on inquiry, that they extract the oil from it. It did not seem to
grow as well as I have seen it in other countries.

We saw several encampments of Bedouins on the plain. Their tents are
said to be made of goats' hair. They are black--"black as the tents
of Kedar," thought I. There were many flocks of sheep and goats
about their tents. The Bedouins look almost as black as their tents.
They are a dirty-looking set. We spoke to several of them, and
tried to get a drink of milk. They, however, were so indifferent and
slow, and showed so little inclination to serve us, that we passed
on. I noticed before one of their tents, a huge skin, suspended on
forks. It either had been taken off the animal nearly whole, or had
been sewed up. It was full of milk, which they were shaking, and
thus churning it, making butter, or something of that sort. I did
not much envy the eaters of it--but every man to his liking.

The whole plain lay open; and as far as we could see, without any
landmarks to point out the special property-rights, which particular
persons may have to parts of it. There are no fences, nor hedges,
nor even ditches, for the purpose of designating property. There
are, it is true, channels cut in different directions through the
plain for the purpose of irrigation; but only for that purpose. The
flocks that wander over the plain, are under the care of keepers;
whose business it is not to allow them to commit trespass on spots
under cultivation; except there, the flocks go pretty much where
they please, and eat whatever they can find; and really they appear
to have a poor chance to find much; the above spots excepted.

The Anti-Lebanon lies on the south-east side of this plain; and is
very much such a mountain as Lebanon. It is, perhaps, as a general
thing, not quite so high. Still, to the south of us it attains to
a great elevation, and its upper part in that direction has much
snow upon it. These two mountains, the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon,
are nearly of the same appearance; and are nearly parallel to each
other, having between them the plain, nearly level, of an average
width of from six to ten miles, in the part that I have seen. Our
road, which was but a path for mules and donkeys, led us directly
up the mountain, winding and crossing a hollow, that ran up to the
top. The ascent was steep and fatiguing, and took us about three
hours. There were a few thin bushes, and as we got up into the
mountain we found a good many oak-trees--a few of them of the size
of a small apple-tree, but most of them were only six or eight
feet high. As we approached the top, these were discontinued; and
over the whole of the upper part of the mountain, there was almost
a total want of vegetation. A few stunted thistles and bunches of
furze were almost the only vegetable growth to be seen.

On the top of the Anti-Lebanon, where we crossed, there was a
general level of four or five miles. Possibly this may not be a fair
sample of the width of the mountain, as we may have passed over
an unusually wide place. As far, however, as we could see, there
appeared to be a wider flat on the top than any I had seen on the
Lebanon. The rock, as far as I observed, was wholly limestone. It is
all of the secondary formation, and appears to be of a softer kind
than that which composes the great mass of the Lebanon. It is much
more affected by the action of the weather, and is greatly broken
into fine pieces: this is the case on the top; we often passed over
beds of fine broken stone almost like gravel. The stratum, from the
yielding character of the rock, was not so clearly to be traced as
on the Lebanon. At some places, however, it could be seen; and the
general position of the stratum approached the horizontal. There
were, however, many deviations from it: I noticed several small
locations which had the dip to a very considerable degree. This was
especially the case in some small elevations, or secondary hills,
next the plain.

We had a pretty long, and part of the way a rough, descent to
the narrow and beautiful valley of the Bareda. The rock, as we
descended, retained much of the character which it had on the
top. There was, in places, much rock on the surface; tremendous
precipices; piles of rock heaped on each other, as if mountains of
earth had been washed away and all the rock left.

In the plain, at the point where we reached it, is the town of
Zebdane. It is near the head of the plain, and is well watered by
the upper springs of the river Bareda, or Bariade, as it is at
times spelled on maps. The town has several hundred houses, mostly
inhabited by Mohammedans. The waters are here taken out of the bed
of the river, and spread over the plain. There is quite a grove
of trees in and near the village. The houses are not so crowded
together as we often find them in other villages; many of them have
gardens, which are filled with trees--the mulberry, poplar, willow,
hickory, apple, plum, and other fruit-trees. Much of the town is,
indeed, well furnished with shade; and is a most lovely spot, in the
midst of a dry, parched land.

After six hours' exposure to the burning sun, the cool shades
of Zebdane, its flowing waters and rich gardens had powerful
inducements to stop us. In truth, we needed both rest and
refreshment. We had set out early from Zahle, that we might cross
the plain, and ascend the mountain before the heat of the day set
in, intending to breakfast on or near the top of Anti-Lebanon; but
when we reached the summit we found no water, and our muleteers had
neglected to fill our leathern bags. There was no alternative but to
go on. The burning sun on the top, added to the fatigue, made us all
suffer for water; but none was found until we were close to Zebdane.
When about to begin our descent, however, we met several muleteers
with mules loaded with fruit, which they were carrying probably
to Beyroot or Tripoli: in the fruit season, much fruit is brought
from Damascus to Beyroot, Tripoli, and other places on the coast.
Supposing that the mules had fruit in their packs, I was casting in
my mind how we could induce them to let us have some, especially for
quenching our thirst, when the foremost muleteer, while yet eight or
ten yards from me, put his hand into his bosom, took out a handful
of apples, and, with a kind salutation, handed them to me. I know
not that the apples were better than usual, but I know that I have
seldom eaten apples with a finer relish; they were most refreshing.
Feeling much in need of our breakfast and rest, we passed through a
part of Zebdane, hoping that we could find a cool and comfortable
place for both these purposes. We wished, in short, to get into
some one of the gardens, and under its trees loaded with fruit, and
near the cool streams of water we saw flowing through them, take
our rest; but no one invited us in; and to one or two applications
we received a refusal. We stopped under a large tree in the street,
and were about spreading our carpet, when a very good-looking female
came out of a garden near us, and very kindly invited us in.

A stream of water ran through her garden; near it was a small fire,
and preparations for washing. She had been washing clothes. A young
female, whom I took to be her daughter, and a little boy, her son,
were with her. Although her clothes were rather soiled, they were
of a texture that indicated wealth: both she and her daughter wore
rich ornaments. The daughter had a clasp of silver on each arm, of
an inch and a half in width; and two of gold, about three quarters
of an inch wide; with rich ear-rings, &c. Their manners had the ease
and frankness of well-bred persons who have been much in company.
They pointed out to us a good place to spread our carpets, gathered
us some fruit, and sat down near us, and conversed pleasantly and
cheerfully. They spoke of our clothes in a complimentary manner;
said they would be very pretty, were it not that our pantaloons
were too tight. This last was a hit at me mainly, as my companion,
Mr. B., had on the _Persian_ pantaloons, which are of most ample
dimensions. It was said with great good-humour, and even a little
apparent blushing, by the good ladies. Mr. B., who acted as
interpreter, enjoyed the laugh at my expense not a little. I felt
half inclined to retaliate on them--that even tight pantaloons
were more modest than absolutely naked breasts. But Mr. B. was not
inclined to interpret it for me, and, on second thought, I let it
pass. Fashion is an odd thing! My pantaloons were of the ordinary
size--what, indeed, many would call large; yet they were not thought
modest by these good, oriental ladies, as showing too plainly the
shape of the lower parts of the body; while _they themselves_ had
their breasts almost wholly exposed! Such is the fashion of the
ladies here. Indeed, I have often been not a little provoked at the
exposure which females here make of the upper parts of their bodies:
they cover their faces, and expose their breasts. But thus it is
in the East, or in this part of it; and fashion has its influence
here as well as in the western world. If there be no disputing about
taste, there may be some little about fashion.

When our breakfast was ready, we had quite a company of people to
see us eat. We gave them but a poor sample of Frank manners, as
from necessity we had to eat _à-la-turque_, at least in part. They
were much interested with the looks of our loaf of white sugar, and
we had various applications for small pieces. But as it was a fast
with them--that is among the Greeks, and our visiters were mostly
of that church--they did not eat the sugar we gave them, but laid
it away until the fast should be over. The same took place with
some sweet-bread we gave them. They would not let the little boy I
mentioned eat what I gave him, but took it from him to keep until
the season of fasting was over. I doubt whether he will ever get all
of it.

The valley in which Zebdane is situate may be on an average from
three quarters to a mile wide; there are several other villages
in it; and it extends five or six miles in length. Its general
direction is from north-east to south-west, nearly parallel to the
plain of the Bokar. The parts of this plain that are irrigated by
the waters of the Bareda, and the several springs that rise along
the foot of the mountains, appear productive, and are covered with
vegetation, and a space for a mile below the town is covered with
gardens and trees of various kinds. The remainder has rather a
sterile and naked appearance. The mountain that lies south-east,
has especially the most utterly barren aspect of any district that
I have ever seen. Above the little green spots, that along its
foot mark the places where water rises, there is hardly a trace of
vegetation to be seen, all a naked, sun-burnt surface, desolation
could hardly be more desolate.

The gardens about Zebdane are almost universally inclosed with
well-made hedges. The thorn is much used for this purpose. They are
plaited together in such a way as to make a most ample defence. They
have gates, which have also a kind of fastening, and are thus made
very secure. They are the best hedges I have seen in the East. A
similar protection, I observed, was in some degree extended to the
fields of Indian corn, the castor oil plant, and other spots under
cultivation.

We had a fine sample of irrigation here. The corn fields are from
time to time covered with water. It is let in upon a field, and
runs until the ground is well saturated, then turned off to another
field, which, in its turn, gives place to another; and thus the
water is transferred from field to field, and garden to garden, to
the no small benefit of the trees, and vegetation of all kinds.
Nothing can thrive in these lands without being from time to time
thus watered. The righteous man is well compared to a "tree planted
by the rivers of waters." It is eastern imagery, to the life. About
4 P. M. we left the garden, and took leave of the good lady who had
received us with so much kindness. We made her a small present,
which she very thankfully received, and intimated that at our return
we might enjoy again the accommodation of her garden.

A little more than an hour brought us to the end of the plain, where
the Bareda turns short to the east, and passes by a narrow and deep
defile, through the mountain. The road follows the stream. The
whole mountain, as seen on both sides of the pass, is of a peculiar
character. The stratum of the rock is very irregular; at places it
has the dip, but with much irregularity. The rock is limestone,
of a very soft, yielding kind, and breaks to pieces readily from
the action of the atmosphere. Much of it is a very coarse kind of
breccia--appears to have been broken into small pieces, and again
combined with a soft cement. Some of the pieces seem to have been
subjected to the action of water, while in a separate state. But a
great deal of the mountain has all the appearance of an immense mass
of marl, and much of it is in a very soft state, so as to be easily
reduced to a fine white dust. In some places the road is worn or cut
ten, fifteen, or perhaps twenty feet, down through this marl-like
rock.

There are at some parts of the pass considerable precipices of rock
on one or both sides, and on the face of some of these rocks and at
a considerable height from the ground we saw the entrances of tombs.
It must have been difficult to cut such holes in the face of the
rock at such a height. Near the end of the pass we crossed a good
arched stone bridge, and soon found the valley beginning to open.
The character of the rock continued the same, and the whole face
of the country was peculiarly barren, except a narrow strip along
the river. The waters of the river, even in the mountains, were
taken out of its bed, wherever it could be done, and made to water
a little space on both sides, which space was more or less covered
with trees. We saw indeed in two places, channels cut across the
face of the rock above the road, which I am of opinion was for the
purpose of carrying the water thus high, that on clearing the pass,
it might be used for watering a wide space of country on the eastern
side. If this was the case, the neglect of modern times has let go
to ruin what may formerly have given fertility to a wide district
east of the mountain, now almost utterly barren. Many things have
fallen back greatly in this country. As the valley opened below the
pass, the water was taken out, and made to keep nearly a horizontal
course, along both sides of the channel, and used to water all the
district between it and the former bed, and on this district were
fields, corn, vines, fruit-trees, poplars, willows, and grass for
the flocks of sheep and goats, and other domestic animals.

We passed one or two small villages, and night began to set in.
After looking in vain for the cover of a good tree, in such a
situation as we wished, we spread our carpets on a little elevation
about fifty yards from a small village, and made our beds for the
night. A few of the villagers came to look at us; but they did not
seem to have as much curiosity or politeness as our good friends at
Zebdane. They were rather a shabby set.

About the time we had finished our supper and were going to bed,
some cause of dissatisfaction among the villagers, or a family
quarrel, took place; and for a short time there was a terrible
strife of tongues. It died away in part, and I hoped was about to
terminate; but was revived or continued mainly between one man and
woman, as the voices indicated; and such a scold I have seldom
heard. The woman appeared manifestly to have the advantage. Her
tongue was like a sharp sword. It must have been used before, or
it could not have been wielded with such terrible power on the
present occasion. I thought of the old saying, that "the tongue is
the only instrument that grows sharper and sharper by daily use."
The adversary, whether neighbour, or brother, or husband, I know
not, but suspect it was the latter, appeared to feel that he had a
losing case. He yielded, lowered his tone, let her do two-thirds,
three-fourths, and, towards the last, a still larger portion of the
talking. Such a storm could not last always, it gradually passed
away and the voices became silent. How many such storms daily take
place on earth! but not one in heaven, no, not one!

It was a Mohammedan village, and this probably a Mohammedan wife,
maintaining her rights against an unkind or petulant husband.
Verily, we of the western world are far from the truth in the
judgments we form about the domestic manners and intercourse of the
Mohammedans, and especially their mode of treating their wives. We
not only take it for granted that the Mohammedans believe their
women have no souls, (which is not true,) but we suppose they have
no rights, no privileges, and dare hardly look at their lords, much
less speak to them, under fear of losing their heads. Now, all this
is wide of the mark. The Mohammedan ladies have their rights, as
well as our own fair ones, and know how to stand up for them--and
the female tongue is fully as powerful an instrument in the East as
it is in the West. Judging from what I used to hear when a boy about
the Mohammedans, I should have expected to have seen this _fair
one_ put in a sack and thrown in the river, or, as water is rather
scarce here to be used for drowning _scolds_, I should at least have
expected to have seen her head cut off, and her tongue nailed up
in terror to others. But it was plain that the good lady was in no
fear of such treatment; and the good people of the village, instead
of coming to the relief of the man, were glad to keep out of harm's
way; and the ruler of the town, if it had any, knew better than
to intermeddle with other people's matters; and the man himself
received a lesson which I hope may do him more good than it did me.

"On that night could not the king sleep!" And so it was with me.
Whether it was owing to the train of thinking which the strife of
tongues occasioned; or whether that Angelo had made my tea too
strong, which he is almost sure to do, for I can't get the notion
out of his head that the stronger and the richer his dishes are,
so much the better; or whether other and unknown causes tended to
chase sleep from my eyes, I know not; but so it was, I could not
sleep. And really it was worth remaining awake to look on the face
of such a sky. We lay on the summit of a little hill; not a bush or
a green leaf near us. We had a fair horizon, and one of the clearest
skies that I ever saw. It seemed that I could see farther than usual
into the deep abyss, over which the stars are scattered in wild,
irregular, but beautiful confusion. I do not wonder that astronomy
began in the East, and, admitting the very strong and general
tendency of mankind to idolatry, I the less wonder that, in this
eastern world, with such heavens nightly spread over them, there
should have been so strong a tendency to the worship of the host of
heaven. It has much more show of reason than the worship of stocks
and stones, the work of men's hands.

When we arose in the morning, there was a scarcely perceivable
dampness on our bedding; but the dust in the road was not laid.
The case was, however, different on our return. We slept out near
Zebdane, and not far from a district irrigated by the waters of the
Bareda. Then our bedding was wet, and we all felt chilly. The dew
was most copious. This was no doubt owing to the low situation,
and its vicinity to a large district over which the water had been
thrown. It was also near the trees and gardens which for a mile or
two cover the plain.

We had about four hours' ride from our place of lodging to Damascus.
Our course was south-east, and, for the most part, we followed
the course of the Bareda. This stream runs in a channel depressed
below the general level of the country. The country indeed rises
into hills, and small mountains, all of which, without exception,
are wholly destitute of trees. Indeed, it is rare to see a bush on
them under which a lamb could be shaded. There are a few stunted
thistles, and furze, and an occasional tuft of grass. I have often
noticed the fact, that the thistles, a small stunted thorn, and the
furze, which has on it many prickles of a thorn-like character,
are more uniformly to be found than any other plants. "Thorns and
thistles shall it bring forth to thee." It is even so in these
eastern regions. They grow where nothing else will, but some places
are too bad for them.

The rock through this whole district is of a soft, friable nature.
Much of it has that puddingstone appearance, which I mentioned as
abounding in the mountain through which we had just passed. I was
inclined to think it that kind of limestone called aolite. Many
of the hills were so white, and washed so easily, that I doubted
whether they did not belong to the chalk formation. They reminded
me of the chalk cliffs of Dover, and the general appearance of the
chalk formation as seen near Dover.

When near the top of the last high range of hills, near Damascus, we
had, on looking back, the most striking view of a naked and barren
district that I ever saw. The whole range of country, up to the top
of the mountain through which we passed on leaving Zebdane, and
far to the north and south, was in full view; a range of fifteen
or twenty miles in diameter, perhaps much more; and, except the
little green strip that at some points could be seen along the river
Bareda, there appeared to be neither tree nor bush, nor any green
thing. I called Mr. B----'s attention to it, and asked him if he
could point out, with the exception just made, one green thing--tree
or bush. He could not. As the river runs in a deep channel, and the
trees along it are small, it was only at a few places that their
tops could be seen. A more dry, parched, desolate landscape I never
saw.

Our approach to Damascus was from the north-west. The general course
of the plain on which it stands is north-east and south-west. The
northern part, near Damascus, is bounded by a high, steep, and
precipitous mountain; the suburbs and gardens of the city extending
close to its foot. It was not until we had reached the top of this
range of mountains, from which the whole region we had passed over
for the last five or six hours rose to view, that we saw on the
other side, along the middle of a most noble plain, a wide district
covered with verdure, fields, gardens, and a forest of trees,
extending eastward towards the Bahr-el-Mrdj or Sea of Meadows, as
far as the eye could reach. In the midst of this, encircled with
gardens for miles around, rose the old, the famous city of Damascus,
with its many gilded domes glittering in the sun. The sight was
most delightful and refreshing; and the more so from the absolute
barrenness and desolation by which it was surrounded.

Damascus is a walled town; but on some sides the town has spread far
beyond the walls, and forms extensive suburbs. The north-west side,
through which we passed on entering the city, and in which most
of the Franks live, is thought to contain, if I recollect aright,
nearly twenty thousand people. This, however, is the most populous
part. The walls have once been of great strength, and were defended
on many parts, if not entirely around, by a deep foss and rows of
towers. They are now much out of repair. The gates are falling to
pieces, or approaching that state. The foss is much filled up at
many places, and the towers have lost their beauty and strength, and
possibly in great part their use--_sic transit gloria mundi_.

The streets are narrow, crooked, and miserably dirty. But little
effort is made to remove filth and produce cleanliness. In truth,
throughout this whole eastern world, the people appear to have very
low ideas of neatness and cleanliness. While the city abounds with
water, and a fountain of it is seen in most of the good houses, you
meet with filth everywhere, and are often most grievously annoyed
with the stench of dead animals in the roads and streets. Some of
the streets are paved, but in a very indifferent way, and from the
great accumulation of dust they are not in a comfortable condition
for passing over. Some allowances, however, must be made for this
abundance of dust in streets, roads, and open places, and even in
the houses. It is now nearly three months since I reached Beyroot,
and not one drop of rain has fallen--the sun has not, with the
exception of a few hours, been so covered with clouds as to be hid
from sight--most of the days it has, without ceasing, poured its
burning rays upon the earth. What marvel if the earth be _roasted_,
and except when water abounds, be converted into dust! The roads are
indeed dusty to a most uncomfortable degree. So are the streets--and
we need not be surprised if the dust should find its way into
courts, parlours, and even bed-rooms. One of the main streets,
called Straight, is shown as the one in which Paul was found by
Ananias. I did not find a full agreement about its name, some saying
it was so called, and others that this was its usual name. Different
names, it would seem, are given to different parts of it.

Most of the houses, when seen from the street, have an old and very
shabby appearance. Many of them are made up of patch-work--mud,
wood, and stone. The mud, however, as the cheapest article, is
most abundant. Occasionally, you may see the lower part of the
building of good hewn marble,--which soon gives place to a miserable
patch-work kind of half stucco and half mortar. The door-frames are
very often found of hewn stone, and sometimes arched, and this may
be the only stone that you see in the building.

The precise number of mosques in Damascus I did not, while with
those who could have informed me, think of asking. As I left the
city, however, and ascended the mountain, which gives such a fine
view of it, I made an attempt to count the minarets. I made about
thirty; and possibly this may be an approximation to the true number.

While under the guidance of the man who showed us the house of
Ananias, and the window through which Paul made his escape, we were
taken to see several other things, especially some graves, which
were not far from the gate. In one of the large vaults, which was
in part open, we could see the skeletons of various persons--their
winding-sheets in part rotted off--the flesh all gone, and the whole
exhibiting a spectacle most humbling to human nature. In health
man is the most beautiful of animals, and in corruption the most
loathsome. But death will lose its victory through Christ, to the
believer. We were also taken to the grave of the gate-keeper, who
ought to have known how Paul made his escape, but did not. While he
watched the gate, Paul, it would seem, by the help of some friends,
escaped by the window. The poor gate-keeper knew and of course could
tell nothing about the matter. But that very ignorance, as it was
with the soldiers who kept Peter, was brought in charge against him.
He ought to have known, and was put to death for not knowing. The
gate-keeper, however, has fared rather better than the soldiers.
Posterity has sainted him--has erected a neat tomb over him--put a
paling around, and a cover over it. It is considered as a sacred
place, and little offerings are deposited within the paling. I saw
some pieces of money that were placed on the tomb. I had often
heard, that with the papists, ignorance was the mother of devotion,
but here it was the cause of saintship. When will the measure of
folly, under the name of religion, have come to its full?

Bad as the falsely so-called Christian saints may be, they are not
so shameless as the living saints, which are at times seen--the
Mohammedan, men who have been to Mecca, and set themselves up to
be saints, are often seen here. I did not happen to see one at
Damascus, but saw one in Beyroot, who passed about the streets
and bazaars in a state of perfect nudity. With the most perfect
shamelessness, they will pass among females, and even enter the
houses and apartments of females, without so much as a fig leaf to
cover their nakedness. Their supposed holiness gives them great
consequence; and at times and places of peculiar sanctity, at
special processions and in the mosques, they put themselves forward
and take the most honoured place. Poor human nature! how low it can
and will come down, where grace does not prevent.

There are, just outside the walls of Damascus, some mills, that
looked better than any of the buildings of the sort I have seen in
the East. They stand on the main channel of the river, and avail
themselves of its waters to work their machinery. The bread of
Damascus is, for the East, good.

One of our longest walks was in the after part of the day, along the
river, and among the gardens and shady trees which line its borders:
I could not but notice how the people were walking, sitting, or
lying along the side of the stream, and how they appeared to enjoy
its refreshing coolness. They were "beside the still waters." Near
the eastern side of the city I was much interested in meeting with a
field of hemp. It was just beginning to blossom. It was the first,
and I may add, the only field of hemp I have seen in the East.

Most of the houses have balconies, or places projecting out on the
front, having windows at the three sides. They serve the double
purpose of giving access to the air, and enabling the people to
see what is going on in the streets. These are more or less common
as fixtures in houses, all through this eastern world. The greater
part of them have also courts that are open to the heavens; these
in several of the best houses that I have visited were paved with
marble, and had noble fountains of water in the centre. Some have
more than one fountain; and the house in which I lodged had one
perpetually flowing in the room in which I slept. There is water
enough to keep their houses and persons clean, would the people but
use it.

I was struck with the great contrast between the outside of the
houses and the appearance within. Without all looked old, rusty, and
ready to fall to pieces; but within there was often a richness and
beauty in the marble pavements, the gilded ceiling, and fanciful
carvings, that was striking. To what this may be owing I know not.
Possibly, in part to avoid the oppressive exactions which all
through these lands is apt to follow the track of wealth, or the
outward show of it.

Noticing that the roofs and upper parts of many houses were greatly
injured, and sadly in need of repairs, I inquired, and learned that
last winter was one of very great severity at Damascus,--that an
unusual quantity of snow fell, and by its weight did great injury to
the houses. Their mode of building is not adapted for durability.
Their mud walls do not well stand the rainy season, however they
may abide the dry. The wood they use for joists, and for supporting
their flat mud roofs, is in great part the Lombardy poplar and
willow, which is their most abundant growth, except perhaps the
mulberry. This wood they put in, full of sap, bark and all, and of
course in a few years it must rot, and fall out of its place. When
it is entirely defended from the air and moisture, it may last some
time, but when, as in most cases, it is almost entirely exposed to
both, no marvel if the house needs repairing nearly every year; and
this I am told is not uncommon.

The bazaars or streets, where the stores and shops are placed, are
generally covered over, so as to exclude the sun. The streets not
being more than ten or fifteen feet wide on an average, a roof is
thrown across, at ten, fifteen, or twenty feet above--not a very
close roof, but one that keeps out the sun, but lets the air have
more or less circulation. All through these countries there is a
great care to procure a shade from the scorching rays of the sun;
for this purpose the streets are made narrow, and in many places
are covered, so that those who pass may have shade. This narrowness
of the streets, and the covering of them, does, it is true, give a
closeness to them, and operates against a free circulation of the
air; but this is supposed to be compensated, in part at least, by
the protection they give from the direct action of the sun.

I was taken to the house, as was said, where Ananias dwelt. It is
a kind of cellar,--a poor, miserable place; and I am sure that so
good a man deserved a more comfortable residence. I doubt altogether
whether it was his house. But I did not judge it worth while
discussing the matter with the Catholic priests, who claim the
ownership of it, and show it. I also went to see the window through
which Paul is said to have been let down in a basket. It is over one
of the gates. I had as little faith in this as the other. There is
indeed, I think, strong evidence against it. I did not go out to the
spot at which Paul is said to have been converted. The day was hot,
the distance considerable, and nothing marked the place. There is a
thousand chances to one against it being the real place.

The population of Damascus is not certainly known. From all I
could learn from several resident Franks, it may be 125,000; and
in the one hundred and seventy-three villages which lie round
Damascus there may be an equal number. A gentleman who has paid
some attention to the matter, and has been some time a resident in
the country, supposes the population of all Syria to be about one
million and a half. The chief data used in forming the estimate is
the number of men, the heads of families, who pay the tax levied on
such. They are about 25,000 in Damascus, and may form one-fifth of
the population. This, at least, gives an approximation--the best
we have when no census is taken. The majority of the population
is Mohammedans, but the proportion I either did not get, or have
forgotten it. There are a few Jews, and some of all the various
sects of Christians found in these regions.

Damascus has long been considered by the Mohammedans as one of their
sacred cities; and it is not many years since when their bigotry
was so great that Christians had to use much caution to avoid its
outbreakings. There is a great change in this respect. Christians
may now go about with little danger. We rode repeatedly through the
crowded bazaars, and no one appeared to take the least offence; and
generally gave their salaam with indications of kindness. Still, it
will sometimes show itself. It is not long since that Mr. Calman, a
Jewish missionary, when engaged in selling the Scriptures, was taken
up by the bigoted Mohammedans, and for a time feared that he might
be put to trouble, but was released without much difficulty.

The main, if not the only river which waters the part of the plain
where Damascus stands, is the Bareda. It rises near Zebdane. We
followed its course, as I have before informed you, until it entered
the plain. There it is divided into three parts, which are led at
a distance from each other for the purpose of watering the plain.
From these channels a multitude of smaller ones are led in all
directions, so that every part of the plain within reach of the
water may, from time to time, receive its life-giving influence. The
main channel passes through or near the city, and its waters are
carried by pipes to every part of it.

To the south and south-east other streams are said to enter and flow
through the plain; but we did not visit those parts. They must be
small streams. Indeed the Bareda is a small stream. It would with us
be called a good mill stream. We would rather term it a creek than
a river. It is mostly confined in a channel of eight or ten yards
wide, and then may be waded without coming above the knee. Much of
the water of these rivers is exhausted in irrigation. They flow
east, and after rendering a noble plain very fertile and productive
for twenty or thirty miles, form a lake or marsh--they have no
outlet. I wished much to ride eastward through this plain and see
the country about the lake, but the time of the year and other
causes prevented.

It was the sickly season, and there was much sickness in Damascus.
Visiting the city at such a time was not classed with a high
degree of prudence and caution, while to have spent a week or so
in exploring the plain, and visiting the many villages along the
Bareda, would have been considered almost madness--a tempting
of Providence. I therefore spent but one night and two days in
Damascus, and then hurried back to the high ground on the great
mountain of Lebanon--not, however, without a lingering purpose that
when the heats of summer are passed, I may take Damascus in my route
again, and see more of its wide-spread plains, and thickly-planted
villages.

The whole country east of Damascus, on the Euphrates, is, I am
told, much like what I have seen in the part already passed over.
As a general thing, it is wholly destitute of trees and even
bushes--and during the summer there is but little verdure; much of
it is covered with sand. There are, however, spots where water is
found, and at all these vegetation is produced. Where these spots
are of any size there are villages, and man contrives to live. These
green spots are like small islands scattered over the face of the
ocean, and may be found all the way to the Euphrates, and down that
stream past Bagdad to the gulf.

The ruins of Palmyra lie two or three days' travel north-east of
Damascus. They have often been visited lately, and the danger is not
great. Still it is too great to be lightly hazarded. A party, of
whom a friend of mine was one, were robbed in an attempt to go there
about five months ago. A slight skirmish took place between them and
a large party of Arabs, in which they were overpowered and robbed;
some were wounded, but happily none killed. Indemnification has been
had from the tribe who robbed them.

An attempt is about being made to establish a regular communication
between Damascus and a point on the Euphrates, beyond Palmyra;
which, if successful, will throw much more light on the interior of
this region, and may make it an easy thing to visit that far-famed
river, and the many antiquities that abound on its banks.

Damascus is a famous rendezvous for caravans. The caravans for
Mecca, Bagdad, and various other places, either pass or start from
this place. Some had come in just before we were there, and others
were preparing for their departure. This gave some activity to the
business of the place. The shortness of my stay, for the reasons
above assigned, did not allow me to see much of them. I had not time
to go out to the edge of the desert, where they usually encamp,
and there to see the grotesque appearance, the odd mixture, and
pell-mell state of things produced by such assemblages of men of all
nations, and such herding together of man and beast.

Damascus, and the region about it, is somewhat celebrated for its
fruit of various kinds. The grapes were fine--the apricots good,
and abundant--the plums the largest and finest I ever saw, being
nearly as large as a hen's egg. I saw but few peaches, they are said
to be good--the figs were fine of course--the apples indifferent.
The white mulberry-tree is much cultivated in this section of the
country, not for its fruit, which is but little esteemed, but for
feeding the silk-worm. The silk forms a considerable branch of
the Damascus trade, and the manufacture of it carried on to some
extent. The black mulberry is found in considerable quantities, and
is cultivated for its delicious fruit. The white walnut is with
the natives a favourite tree. The nut is rich and of a pleasant
taste. The tree gives a fine shade, grows well near the water, and
is larger than most of the other trees. The sycamore is found here.
The plane-tree is also found, but not very common--this is often
called the sycamore with us. There is a very large one in Damascus
near one of the gates. We measured it--thirty-six feet around. The
karoob-tree is a variety of the locust. The fruit is the husks which
the Prodigal Son would have eaten--a bean-like pod with a sweetish
meat in it.



LETTER VII.


  _Beyroot, Sept. 5th, 1836._

We left Damascus by the same road by which we had entered it, and
continued on the same way as far as Zebdane. Having already made
some remarks on the characteristic features of this district, I will
say no more about it.

From Zebdane, we kept up the valley, which ran a north-east
direction. It becomes narrow very soon after leaving that place, the
ridges from the mountains on both sides close in and often almost
meet, leaving but a small portion of level ground. Passing the
sources of the streams, the quantity of water diminishes fast. The
trees almost cease except at occasional spots, where care has been
taken to plant them. The ground for about an hour's travel is rough;
the plain then opens again to a considerable extent, and is more or
less cultivated. There are a few houses; but this part is but poorly
supplied with water, and without that the regions must be barren and
desolate.

We soon found ourselves passing over the highest part of the plain,
and beginning to descend. In short, we found that this little plain
was at the separating point of the head waters of the Bareda which
flows to Damascus, and those of the El-Kanne, which flows into the
Bokar through the Anti-Lebanon east of Zahle. We soon came to the
head branches of this last stream, which is formed of a set of most
noble springs, rising in the middle of the plain. There is quite
a cluster of them rising near each other, and throwing off enough
water to turn a mill; fine, pure, cool water. As is usual, it is
carried in channels through different parts of the plain. There is a
little cluster of trees, and the whole district over which the water
can be thrown is cultivated, and rich in verdure. A small village
stands just below, and we found some females at the spring engaged
in washing. For a small present they allowed us the use of their
fire to prepare our food; and again a good deal of interest was
excited to see the Franks eat.

The mountains continued very bare of trees, and shrubbery of every
kind. In the few places where water rose, there were a few trees,
all else was a barren, sunburnt surface. After passing the village,
which was poor in its appearance, the plain became more barren and
rough, and the cultivated district more and more narrow. At the
end of half an hour it terminated at a rough, narrow pass, nearly
due west, and directly through the Anti-Lebanon. We followed the
waters through this pass. The sides were steep and high, and the
rock thrown about in wild confusion. The dip of the rock was very
variable at different places. Along the stream were a few trees, and
we saw several large flocks of sheep and goats, under the care of
shepherds and their dogs.

After following the pass for an hour and a half, it bore to
the south-west; we left it, crossed a pretty high ridge to the
north-west, and entered the Bokar. On reaching the top, the plain
opened to view, and we had been led to expect that we should find
Baalbec at the point where we entered the plain. But no Baalbec was
to be seen. We found, to our no little discomfort, that we had about
two hours' ride northward, along a dry plain, under a burning sun,
before we could reach this far-famed ruin.

We passed several most extensive threshing-floors. Their threshing
instruments and mode of cleaning the grain, were the same as has
been already described. I might add, that in bringing their grain
to the floor, and in carrying away the straw, they use mules and
donkeys, and at times the camel. I saw, in no instance, the use
of a wheel-carriage. The only wheeled-carriages that I have seen
in Syria were those for cannon at Zahle, and ten or fifteen carts
which I saw at one time passing a street in Damascus. These carts
were of a coarse, strong kind, belonging to the Pasha, and were then
employed in carrying materials for the castle which he was repairing.

Our road lay over the ridges, at the foot of the mountains, along
the eastern side of the plain. The soil over which we passed was
thin. There was much rock on the surface, and in many places there
were wide-spread masses of a very coarse puddingstone, that appeared
to have once formed a huge bed of water-worn rock, bowlders, and
pebbles, and owing to some cementing matter which had come over
it, had become a solid rock. As we approached Baalbec this rock
discontinued, and gave place to a very thick stratum of massy
limestone of a peculiar kind, which is mainly used in the walls of
Baalbec.

Baalbec stands near the foot of the Anti-Lebanon, a little above the
general level of the plain. The ridges of the mountain lower down
gradually, and spreading out, form a general level, which merges
insensibly into that of the plain. It is on this elevated level that
the ruins stand; about a mile from them, on the side of a hill,
is the quarry that has furnished the stone for these stupendous
buildings. A little to the east arises the finest set of springs
that I have seen in Syria. They boil up over a considerable surface,
and send off a stream of water sufficient to set in operation
various kinds of machinery, if applied to that purpose.

The ground on which the ruins stand is nearly a dead level; a large
district has been surrounded by walls, traces of them remain. The
space covered by the ruins of the temple, or set of temples, and
possibly theatre and other buildings, is about nine hundred feet
long, and six hundred broad. The area is not, however, a regular
parallelogram, there are off-sets at some of the towers--towers
having apparently been added when the place was fortified, and
converted into a fort. A foundation or platform of great thickness,
I should say not less than ten feet, seems to have been laid over
this large space, and upon this foundation the temples have been
reared.

The stones in this foundation and wall, as in the walls still
higher, are many of them of a most enormous size; at the west and
south-west corner especially, they are almost incredibly large.
Where all were so large, we did not think it worth while to measure
very many. In one row, and that one at some distance from the
ground, are three stones which we measured, and made them about
seventy feet long each, and about fifteen feet wide. The thickness
we could not certainly tell, but we inferred it to be about fourteen
feet. These stones are much of the same shape and appearance, they
are precisely like one which lies nearly cut out in the quarry,
which we were, from its position, enabled to measure accurately. It
was seventy feet six inches long, fourteen feet two inches thick,
and seventeen feet nine inches wide at one end, and thirteen feet
eight inches at the other. We were at once struck with its perfect
likeness to the three stones in the wall; all of them were wider
at one end than the other. I suppose that these four large stones,
the three in the wall and the one in the quarry, were originally
intended, either for obelisks, pillars, images, or some such
thing; that their being now in the wall, is owing to a subsequent
arrangement, when the place was converted into a fortress, and those
stupendous outside walls put up, which now fill us with wonder.

Under these three immense stones are seven others, which almost
equal those above them in width; their thickness also, judging from
what is seen at the corner of the building, does not much fall
short of a due proportion. In truth, they are upon a most gigantic
scale. This row extends along the south-west side nearly one hundred
yards, forming a most solid foundation, ten or twelve feet high,
which, however, on this side, is not built upon out to the edge,
the wall going up about twenty feet inward. The above-mentioned
are the largest stones I saw in these ruins; but many others are
enormous, and, as a general thing, they are very large. As a sample,
I measured one of a large row of stones at the south-east corner
of the most perfect building now standing, (it was a corner stone,
which enabled me to ascertain the thickness,) and found it to be
twenty-eight feet long, six feet six inches wide, and four feet
six inches thick. I was not at all certain that I might not, on
measuring, have found many still larger.

The most perfect temple, now standing, is on the south-east side
of the above wide foundation. It is one hundred and fifty-seven
feet long, seventy-eight wide, and the walls now may be sixty-six
feet high. We inferred its height from the length of one of the
fallen pillars, with a row of which it was, and still is in part,
surrounded. The pillar is forty-nine feet eight inches; the capital,
six feet two inches; the entablature and the pediment may be ten;
making--say sixty-six feet. These pillars formed a portico all round
it--a covered way; the pillars being connected with the temple by
enormously large stones resting one end on the pillars, and the
other on the walls. The lower faces of these stones were most richly
wrought with various devices. The pillars are six feet four inches
in diameter at the bottom, and five feet eight inches at the top;
most of them are in three pieces. The door of the temple is at the
east; the pillars there are fluted; the porch before the door was
wider than at the sides--a noble arch was sprung over it, and in
the centre, and on the lower face of what is called the keystone,
(a stone of most gigantic size,) was carved a majestic wide-spread
eagle. This stone has sunk out of its place, and threatens to fall
from the arch. A modern wall has been put up, about ten feet east of
the door, and at the end of the walls, no doubt for the purpose of
defence.

In the inside of the building, and half sunk in the walls, are
fluted pillars, and at the corners they are so cut as to appear
double, the piece being one. At about fifteen or twenty feet from
the west end, two noble fluted pillars have stood at some distance
from the sides, evidently making part of a separation of a more
sacred apartment. They are fallen, but enough remains to show
that the sanctum sanctorum stood there. There is no roof on this
building, and from the fact that there are no windows in it, and
other reasons, it may be doubted whether it ever had one: on this,
however, I hesitate to give an opinion.

The south-east row of pillars belonging to this temple range with
the wall that rose from the deep wide moat, by which the whole
mass of buildings was surrounded. Opposite this temple, on the
north-west side of the foundation, are the remains of a still larger
temple, or building of some kind. But a small part of it remains;
along the north-west wall is a row of pillars, or rather parts of
pillars, the spaces between which have been filled up with large
stones, forming thus a solid wall. Opposite this, and nearly half
way to the temple, on the other side of the foundation, stands a
row of pillars, now reduced to seven or eight, the remainder having
fallen. They are about the size of those described--possibly they
are larger. The foundation on which they stand must be eight or ten
feet higher than that of the temple above described. These pillars
have the capitals on, and are connected by their richly-carved and
magnificent masses of entablature. How they have survived those
convulsions which have prostrated their companions, I know not. The
ruins which lie about, the broken rows of pillars and walls, show
that this edifice has been of great extent. Its sides, I am inclined
to think, have not been solid walls, but composed of these rows of
columns, and most probably the whole building has been open to the
heavens.

There is near the temple I have first described, and but a few yards
from its north-east end, a large building with very high and strong
walls. It projects out a good deal into the ditch, and has some
loop-holes. It is, as the arabesque work about the door shows, an
Arabic or Mohammedan building. It is badly lighted; it was used as a
granary or magazine for the troops stationed here, and we were thus
prevented from examining it.

Around the outside of the whole of the above wide foundation, and
on the outer edge of it, a wall of most enormous stones is run up
to a very great height; much of it, it is true, is fallen, but it
was originally from forty to fifty feet high. At the corners were
towers, and in various places loop-holes; at the east end a most
stupendous archway ran far in, having its floor nearly on a level
with the ground without. Possibly there were two of them originally,
but one was partly closed, leaving a small entrance. Such great
changes have been made on these ruins, by the fitting them up for a
fort, that it is not easy to know what their original plan and uses
were. The whole is surrounded by a deep wide ditch, which could be
filled with water; it is now much filled up with rubbish.

A wall has originally extended from the south-east, and possibly
also from the north-east, across the narrow plain which lies between
the ruins and the hill to the east. This wall, much of which
remains, has been of great strength. On the side of the hill is a
very large pediment, and about it lie many pieces of a stupendous
column which once stood upon it. No mortar or cement was used in the
construction of these works. The rock has been cut so smooth, and
fitted so exactly, that it is impossible to insert the blade of a
penknife between them.

I had heard that there were large columns of Egyptian granite among
these ruins. I saw some fragments of small columns of that kind, but
the large columns were all of the rock which abounds in the quarry
near. There is, in an old mosque not far from these ruins, a number
of columns of Egyptian granite, but none of them of a very large
kind. Still they were large enough to start the inquiry how they
could have been brought from Egypt to this place--how could masses
of rock, three feet in diameter and ten or fifteen feet long, be
brought over Mount Lebanon, which is so steep and high that it is a
great labour for man unloaded to pass? That it is the true Egyptian
granite, all who know that rock will at once admit--no such rock is
found in Syria.

Within the wall, and among the rubbish, is a small village. The
houses are indifferent, and the population must be small. The
Christians live in one quarter, and the Mohammedans in another.

Rather to our surprise, on reaching Baalbec, we saw to the east of
the ruins a number of tents, and other appearances of an encampment.
We learned in due time that there was stationed here a body of four
or five hundred Egyptian troopers, and that they had made this
their head-quarters for several years past. They lodged in tents
separated a little from each other, so as to give room for fastening
their horses. The tents were pitched in rows and the horses arranged
with some regularity. All had a very pretty appearance.

I was interested in the contrivance for feeding their horses.
Wood is not to be had here; and it would be labour for a Turk
to make a trough for his horse out of stone. They have found a
softer material. They take earth, and making it into mortar, form
a pile of about three feet in diameter, and nearly the same in
height--the sides are then raised, leaving a place within like a
mortar, in which the horse's food is placed. There are rows of these
horse-troughs, as they may be called, all through the encampment,
and the horses regularly fastened to them. As we walked round the
ruins one morning to get an entire view, we passed near a tent,
before which, under the shade of a tree, sat several Turkish
officers. From their dress, and some badges of honour which one or
two of them had on their breasts, we took them for persons of some
distinction. They kindly called us to come to the tent. They had
two very good chairs, which they made us occupy, seating themselves
_à-la-turque_. They entered freely into conversation, and made us
take a cup of coffee, after which we pursued our walk.

We had intended to take up our quarters among the ruins, but finding
so many soldiers near, we did not deem it prudent. We therefore
applied to the Latin convent, but on pretence of being full they
did not admit us. An offer was made us of a room in a house near
the convent, but on examination it was so close, dark, and filthy,
that we preferred taking up our lodgings on the top of the house.
There we spread our carpets and spent two nights; we found it a
very pleasant place. It was cool and pleasant, and no dew fell worth
mentioning. The only inconvenience we experienced was, in dressing
we were exposed to the gaze of all those who felt a wish to see how
the Franks put on their clothes, shave their beards, and do those
other things that are usually done in one's chamber.

Our route from Baalbec was to the far-famed cedars. They grow on
the Lebanon, and on the side next the sea. Our road was directly
across the plain, as the cedars are nearly opposite Baalbec. It
took us about two hours and a half to cross the plain. This, at the
usual mode of counting, would make it nearly eight miles wide. We
found scarcely any water in the plain; there was indeed a small dry
channel, and not far from it a slight trace of water, which was led
along so as to water some districts; the quantity was small, and
must soon have been exhausted. The noble body of water which came
from the set of springs near Baalbec was separated near those ruins:
one part was carried to one side, and the remainder to the other;
a considerable district through which they flowed was rich with
verdure. A pretty line of trees marked for a mile or two the tract
of the plain through which the water passed, but at the end of a few
miles they appeared to be exhausted. As the trees and richness of
verdure ceased, the plain below assumed its dry and parched aspect.
In these sunny plains the exhaustion of water must be very great;
and I now the less marvel to find lakes which have no outlets, and
rivers which are lost in the sand. They become exhausted.

When we had nearly reached the foot of the Lebanon, we saw a large
solitary pillar standing in the plain. We saw no ruins near it.
We were told by a peasant that it was just like the pillars in
Baalbec, but what it was doing there alone he was unable to tell.

The ascent of Mount Lebanon was a most toilsome matter. We had to
cross over one of the highest points of the mountain. There is
another way which is more easy, but farther; we preferred crossing
the highest place, as we might not cross here again, and wished
to see the mountain in all its majesty. The first ridge which we
ascended had more natural growth on it than any district I have seen
in this country. It was pretty well covered with shrubs and low
trees--most of them oak. The tops of most of the large ones had been
cut off, I suppose for fuel. They appear to pursue a plan here, much
followed in some parts of France, Savoy, and Italy, of cutting off
the tops of the trees for fuel; and when the branches which shoot
out have grown to the thickness of a man's arm, they are again cut
off for the same purpose, and the same course still followed.

The rock on this ridge was wholly limestone. As we approached the
top of it, and near the foot of the main ridge, the rock was very
soft and much broken from the action of the air upon it. This
continued to be the character of the rock over most of the main
ridge. In some parts it was broken very fine and formed beds of
loose rock; in which our mules sunk as if it were a bed of sand.
A little up the side of the main ridge rose a beautiful spring of
clear water, which served to produce verdure over a small district
below. There were a few trees and shrubs scattered over the ridge
almost to its summit; but in these upper parts they were few and
small, and far between. I saw a few stunted cedars among them. As we
approached the top, we passed through several large banks of snow.
The face of the mountain was not generally covered with it, but it
lay in large masses or spots where, from some cause, the wind had
thrown much of it together. Streams of water flowed from them. When
on the top we had satisfactory evidence that we were on one of the
highest points of Lebanon. The ridge was narrow at this part of the
mountain; there was no snow on the very summit, nor was there much
on the north-west side--much less than on the south-east, and much
less on either than on the Sun-neen, when I was there five weeks
ago. The entire upper region was destitute of vegetation, not a
bush to be seen, and but a small sample even of the thistle, which
of all other plants appears the most tenacious of spreading itself
everywhere.

From this eminence we had a most extensive view to the west--the
long, irregular slope of the mountain to the sea--the narrow plain
along the coast--and the wide-spread Mediterranean, till where the
heavens appeared to come down and fence in the waters. But the
object which among the first was sought for, was the cedars--the
far-famed cedars of Lebanon! where could they be?

The Lebanon, at this place, makes on the side next the sea a
considerable bend, having the concave part next the sea. We stood
opposite the deep and wide hollow that comes up from Tripoli, and
down which flows a stream, the head springs of which rose far below
our feet. The mountain, both to our right and left, threw out high
and long ridges towards the sea. We had a steep descent before us
of, I should think, at least two thousand feet; on the sides of
which not a bush was to be seen. Then, there was a small level in
which several springs of water took their rise; and from the lower
side of this level another deep and rough hollow opened, with
stupendous precipices on its sides. Below this, and along the sides,
we saw trees and a considerable village. Near the middle of the
little plain, at the foot of the steep descent below us, we saw a
clump of trees, but they looked too few or too small for the cedars.
They resembled a small orchard of evergreens. We found, however,
on reaching the plain, that they were the cedars we sought. They
stand in irregular groups, spread over several little stony knolls,
and may possibly cover eight or ten acres of ground. They are not
what with us is called the cedar, but a variety of the pine. It is
a resinous tree bearing a cone. The wood is of a white pine-like
appearance. We spread our carpets, and spent the night under one of
the father-trees of this grove.

It is not easy to decide how many old trees there are; eight or
ten have a more venerable appearance than the remainder; still
others approach them so nearly in size and marks of age, that it is
difficult to say why one should be called old and the other young.
I once thought of counting the grove, but from the irregularity
of the ground, and the situation of the trees, this was no easy
matter--especially for a man who had crossed the Lebanon the same
day. I counted, however, a small section, and am disposed to think
that there may be from 300 to 500 trees that are more than a foot
in diameter--possibly 150 that may be above two feet--and about 50
or 60 that may be from three to four feet in diameter. A few we
measured; the largest was 39 feet in circumference--one 32--one
29--one 28, and one 23: these may serve as a sample. Most of the
large ones forked near the ground, and were rather assemblages of
trees from the same root than a single tree. Those of the third size
had some of them fine, straight bodies, and ran up to a considerable
height. We procured some specimens of the wood, and a sample of the
cones, and then bid adieu to this much-talked-of grove.

It is pretty certain that this grove did not furnish wood for
Solomon. It lies opposite Tripoli, which is two days north of
Beyroot, and Beyroot is north of Tyre and Sidon. It lies up far
from the sea, and has a piece of country between it and the sea, as
rough as can well be found anywhere. The grove does not appear to
be diminishing, but rather increasing. I saw no stumps of fallen
trees, and young ones are springing up. There is a kind of religious
reverence for these trees among the neighbouring villagers. They
have a singular appearance standing alone in the midst of a small
plain on which no other trees grow, with no other trees above them,
nor for a considerable space below. Another singular fact is, that
there is no water running among them. There is a stream on the
side of the plain, but it comes not near them. The ground appears
enriched with the leaves that fall from them, and looks precisely as
the soil usually does in a pine grove.

Leaving the cedars, we passed down the valley; a most rough and
steep descent. We passed a village well watered, surrounded with
mulberry, poplar, willow and fruit trees of various kinds. The state
of cultivation on both sides of the valley, for some distance down,
was much better than I have usually seen in these mountains. Several
villages were in sight.

I noticed that the females here had a new kind of horn. It was
only about six inches long, but much larger than those worn at
Beyroot and Bru-ma-nah. It was like the crown of a very small hat,
with the front part a little enlarged like the mouth of a bowl.
It is fastened on the top of the head, but a little back, and
has much ornament upon it. In our descent we passed a sandstone
formation; there were no pines upon it, as upon those formations
near Bru-ma-nah. Near the mouth of this hollow, the rock becomes
very irregular, and has the dip much more near the top. This is
especially the case with the secondary ridges and the irregular
hills which rise between the main ridge and the sea. There is a
plain of some extent between Tripoli, which stands on the sea-shore,
and the foot of the mountain, interspersed with vineyards, fields,
villages, and fine groves of olive. There is much rock on the
surface; their mode is to throw the rock out of the fields and
vineyards into the road, to the great annoyance of the traveller.

We passed a very high rock in the middle of the plain which had
a wide, high, flat face to the south--in that face I counted the
mouths of nearly thirty tombs. Most of them were from ten to twelve
feet high. There was a house on the top, said to be a convent.

We also passed an old city, which must once have been a place of
great strength. The walls are nearly perfect and very strong. There
are but few people in the city. It stands there almost alone.
Most of the houses within are gone, and cultivated spots occupy
their place. It is said to be the city of Gebal, Ez. xxvii. 9,
now called Jebail. The plain along the coast is rough--has a few
villages--several small rivers enter. On the banks of one, Nahr
El-Kelb, or Dog river, which has a good bridge over it, we saw some
figures cut on the face of the rock. They are very ancient, and it
is said that the Persian arrow-head may be seen. I did not stop to
examine them. They are too much defaced to be deciphered correctly.



LETTER VIII.


  _Beyroot, September 12, 1836._

We have had a very pleasant visit at this place from the American
squadron, consisting of the Constitution, the United States, and
the John Adams, under the command of Commodore Elliott. The general
regret was, that its stay was so short--less than one week. It is
seldom that vessels of war, except those of Mohammed Ali, visit
this place. The English, although they keep a large force in the
Mediterranean, have not sent one ship of war to this coast for
several years, and the last one sent was of a very small size. The
Delaware, under Commodore Patterson, was here two years ago, and
made a very good impression of American character and power. At
that time the stay was longer, and I was told by a gentleman of the
place, who had the best opportunity of knowing, that he supposed
about forty thousand persons visited the ship during Commodore
Patterson's visit. A very large number visited the vessels during
the few days that they remained here under Commodore Elliott.

I was on board the Constitution on the Sabbath, and present at
public worship. Several from Beyroot attended, and it was pleasing
to see full attendance of officers and men, and the perfect quiet
and respectful attention which the crew exhibited. The youngest
child of the American consul had not been baptized, and he expressed
a wish to have it baptized on board the Constitution, and by the
chaplain of that vessel. This was done at his request, and the child
named _Washington_; and thus, as was pleasantly remarked to him,
he has now a good _constitutional_ child. In the afternoon, the
Commodore and some of his officers attended worship on shore at the
consul's, where service is regularly performed, usually by one of
the American missionaries, or some other preacher of the gospel who
may be present.

The commanders and officers deserve great credit for the readiness
they manifest to satisfy the natural but almost troublesome
curiosity of the many who go off to see the vessels. It is really
no little trouble to be employed from morning to night, and that
from day to day, in receiving company after company--it may be
having three or four companies on board at the same time--taking
them through the ship, and showing and explaining to them whatever
excites their notice. It is not to be wondered at, that in the
public vessels of most of the European powers, this privilege is
allowed but to a few. The American commanders have, very wisely, I
think, adopted the plan of indulging and gratifying the curiosity of
the people, although at the expense of trouble to themselves. The
American flag is not much known as yet in these seas; the nation is
not much known.

Of the few Americans scattered around these shores, a considerable
portion are the missionaries and their helpers, who are labouring
to dispel the darkness that rests on these countries; to impart
correct knowledge of religion and morals; to break the chains
which gross superstition has here laid on the human mind, and to
promote all kinds of useful knowledge and improvement. Most of
these missionaries are regularly educated men, and all of them of
good repute as to morals and religion. From the peculiar state
of superstition and bigotry in these countries--from a watchful
jealousy of a corrupt and dominant priesthood, it must be expected
that a jealousy will be felt towards missionaries, and efforts made
to counteract their labours to do good. The occasional visits of
the American squadron to those quarters where these benevolent
men are labouring, the pleasant and profitable intercourse which
the officers may have with the missionaries, and those among whom
they labour, has a most kindly influence. So far as I have had an
opportunity of learning, and my opportunities have extended to most
of the mission stations, the visits of these public vessels have
been most grateful to the missionaries. The commandants, and many
of the officers, have manifested so much good will to missionaries
as individuals, and such interest in the success of their efforts
to improve the moral and religious condition of these countries, as
encouraged them in their work, and is not without its good effect on
those among whom they are labouring.



LETTER IX.


  _Beyroot, September 20, 1836._

Yesterday, Ibrahim Pasha reached this place in an Egyptian frigate
from Tripoli, on his way to the south. He landed about the middle of
the day, under a salute from the forts, and was escorted by a body
of troops to a large house outside the walls, and near the sands.
In the afternoon, the American consul, who was about to call on the
Pasha, as is usual with the consuls on such occasions, was so kind
as to call and take me with him. We found a company of soldiers
before the door, and a number of officers and dignitaries of various
kinds, in waiting. We were asked into a carpeted room, with a divan,
that is, a low seat covered with cushions, on all sides. The Pasha
was seated in one corner; several consuls with their suites were
in the act of leaving when we entered. He returned our salutations
with an inclination of the head, and a slight motion of his hand to
his breast, and pointed us to seats on the divan a few feet from
him--the consul on his right and myself on his left.

The Pasha is a short man, but heavily built, and I should judge from
his appearance that he has considerable muscular force. He has a
coarse, homely, round face, but none of its features can be called
striking. His skin is rather rough and coarse, and looks as if it
would bear washing more frequently than it receives it, and would
not be the worse if some soap were at times added to the water.
This was the case also with his hands, which looked as if they had
never known a glove. They were fleshy--the fingers short but thick,
and indicated a powerful grasp. He wore the Turkish dress, which,
as you know, consists of a long robe open in front, and also at the
sides from the knees down, showing the large loose trousers worn
under them. His outside garment was of a flesh-coloured silk; the
second, which showed itself at the breast, was striped silk. His
girdle was a variegated Cashmere shawl, forming a bandage round him
of a foot in width. This shawl was not of the finest kind. He had
a plain red fez on his head, with no other ornament upon it than
the usual blue tassel. He wore plain stockings and a pair of red
slippers. In truth, his whole dress was far inferior to that of a
number of persons who came in and paid their respects to him while
we were there. Most of them, however, wore the large Turkish cloak;
he was without any. Take him all in all, the man and the dress, and
I think that at least one half of those who came in while we were
there, were his equals, if not his superiors. He conversed freely,
laughed a good deal, and several times very heartily. I could not
understand enough of the conversation to know what things had the
power of pleasing and amusing him. At times, I thought a sour
and severe expression gathered on his countenance. He spoke with
interest of the American squadron, and the politeness of Commodore
Elliott in showing him everything about his vessel. He was evidently
struck with the style and equipment of our vessels. He mentioned
with much satisfaction some small present the commodore made him.
The visiters were announced by an officer in waiting, and approached
him usually one at a time. When they were Turks, and possibly the
case was the same with all but Franks, they kneeled on one or both
knees, making the Turkish salutation, and kissed his hand, which he
held out to them; then rose, repeating the application of the hand
to the forehead and breast, and retired to the part of the room or
divan to which he pointed them. The more respectable persons were
invited to be seated.

One of his objects in coming to Beyroot is, to visit the coal-mines
in this vicinity. He referred to this object, saying with a laugh
that he was going to Corneil to turn coal-merchant. He has for
some time been trying to make the coal-mines of advantage to his
close-run treasury; but he is a poor manager, and until he adopts a
better plan he is not likely to make a fortune at the coal-trade.
He has the mines worked mainly by mountaineers pressed into the
service, who are, at the end of a few weeks or months, changed
for others; and thus, as soon as they learn how to work, they are
changed for those again who must be taught. Ibrahim Pasha is,
however, a man of some force of character, and has a mind more
fit, it is said, for the department of a soldier than that of a
statesman. He has for many years led the armies of his father
Mohammed Ali, and, in many contested fields, he has won laurels
which do not fall on the head of every general. The regions of
Upper Egypt, the plains of Arabia, the land of Palestine, the
interior of Asia Minor, not to mention Greece and the Isles, have
felt the desolation caused by his troops. It is said, however, that
the father is the man who plans--that without him as the head, the
son will make but a poor business of it; and those who thus consider
the matter, infer, that when the father dies, the wide domain which
now submits to his sway will fall in pieces, and become the prey of
those who may have the power and skill to come in for the spoil.
I know not how much ground for these opinions may exist--but one
thing we know, that power acquired and perpetuated by crime, usually
terminates in the ruin of those who have wielded it.

With respect to his private character, I have not learned much;
but part of what I have learned is not much to his credit. It is
generally admitted that he is a very intemperate man, and often
under the influence of strong drink. The Turks, indeed, are, many
of them, fond of ardent spirits, and the law of Mohammed to the
contrary, will, notwithstanding, take strong drink when they can
get it. When among the ruins of Baalbec, a soldier came, and for
some time hung about us. We could not tell what the man wanted, at
length he asked for spirits. We had none, and told him so, asking
him if he was not ashamed to violate his religion in drinking what
it forbids? Oh, he said, he could not read,--he did not know what
might be in the Koran. I have at other times seen them drink, and do
it with a great apparent relish. From all I see, I am inclined to
the opinion that Mohammedanism is fast losing its hold on thousands
of its followers, all through these regions, and the same holds
good with that corrupt system of Christianity which prevails here.
There are an increasing number who are having their eyes opened to
see the grossness of its superstition--who see and understand more
and more the tricks of the priesthood; and most of them, having no
idea of pure, Bible, Protestant Christianity, are likely to plunge
into scepticism and downright infidelity. There is need of a tenfold
increase of active effort, to spread abroad among these communities
the pure word of truth--the knowledge of Christ--the healing,
purifying doctrines of the Gospel.

I have heard of several tricks of Ibrahim Pasha's, which show
something of the man. It is an object constantly kept in view with
him, to increase his army. This is done in great part by seizing
persons, mostly young men and boys, and making soldiers of them.
This is confined to the Mohammedans. A report got out, however,
that he intended to take a number of the Ansairi for soldiers. They
occupy a district of the mountains north of Tripoli, and onward to
Aleppo. The Ansairi took the alarm, and fled to their fastnesses and
strong places in the mountains. His troops, that were in fact sent
out as a press-gang to take them, returned with very few--it was a
failure. Then did the wily Ibrahim set his trap, and use these few
for the bait. He inquired who they were, and being answered that
they were Ansairi, he ordered them to be freed, saying that he did
not want such--he wanted none for his armies but good Mohammedans.
The Ansairi are a mongrel sort of Turks, who have a strange medley
of religious notions and practices, which are but partially known,
and not, as yet, satisfactorily classed--neither Christians,
Mohammedans, nor Pagans, but a little of all. The liberated Ansairi
were greatly pleased at their escape, reported it to their brethren,
who came down from their mountains, and were taken in great
numbers. The person who related the fact saw nearly a thousand of
them marched into Aleppo in chains, to be drilled and trained for
soldiers.

The most important religious sects in this region are the Greeks,
Maronites, Druses, and Mohammedans. The Greeks are divided into the
Greek and the Catholic Greek. The Greeks differ from the Catholic
or Roman church in several things. One of the chief points of
difference is about the procession of the Holy Spirit, which they
hold to be from the Son only, and not from the Father and Son, as
held by the Roman church, and in which the Protestant churches are
mostly agreed with the latter. The Greek church allows the free use
of the Scriptures; rejects images in worship; but are madly set on
the use of pictures. They reject the authority of the Pope.

The Pope and his missionaries have long made most strenuous efforts
to bring the Greek church to an agreement with him and a subjection
to his authority. They have for centuries employed missionaries and
agents of all sorts to accomplish this. Nor have these efforts been
wholly without effect. Throughout the East, where the Greek church
exists, there are a portion who have been prevailed on to admit the
authority of the Pope, and more or less modify their Greek notions
to a nearer conformity to the popish standard. These are called
Greek Catholics. They are pretty numerous in many places, and have a
good deal of influence all through these regions.

The Maronites take their name from an individual who somehow
contrived to be the head of a party, and to leave it his name as an
inheritance. They differ, I am told, but very little from the Roman
Catholics; hardly as much as the distinctive character of their name
would seem to indicate.

It is not yet fully decided what the Druses are. Some assert that
they are worshippers of the calf. They have a secret which is
imparted only to a part of their people. This part is what may be
called the enlightened--the initiated--the knowing--and they, like
the freemasons among us, are most careful not to divulge the secret.
They form a large part of the population of Mount Lebanon. They
appear to be a quiet and well-disposed people, but it is not easy to
find out what are their real religious principles and belief. They
are charged by some with modifying, or pretending to modify, their
opinions to suit those with whom they may be. With a Mohammedan
they are Mohammedans, and with a Christian they are almost, if not
altogether Christian. But in this they may plead the example of many
who have gone before them, and modelled their creed to suit the
circumstances of the times.

The Mohammedans are the followers of Mohammed, who lived in the
early part of the seventh century, and introduced a new religion.
His system borrows some things from Judaism, and some from
Christianity, but in many important matters differs from both. Nor
is it Paganism, having a most decided aversion to idolatry. It
would take more time than I can at present spare, to give a full
account of it. It may suffice to say, that Mohammed acknowledged the
truth of the Jewish religion--all the Jewish prophets he received
as prophets of the Lord.--He admitted that Jesus Christ was a
great prophet, yea, the greatest prophet that up to his time had
come into the world, and that the religion he taught was the true
religion. But he pretended that he himself was sent as the last and
greatest of all prophets, and authorized to make such changes in the
religion of the Jews and Christians as to justify its being called
a new religion--and that his system as set forth in the Koran is
now, since he came, the only true religion. He made circumcision a
rite in his system. They give much honour to the saints of the Old
Testament, the church and the apostles. Their worship is plain. They
are wholly opposed to the use of images or pictures. Their chief
day of worship is Friday. They pray much, have long fasts, allow a
plurality of wives; but in practice this is not as common as many
have supposed, and is confined to a comparatively small number.

One of those things that immediately strikes the notice of a
traveller in these regions, is the number of monasteries and
religious houses, and the peculiarity of their situation. There may
be eight or ten counted from Beyroot; and how many may be within
the range of twenty or thirty miles, I cannot well conjecture. From
the number I passed in going to the top of Lebanon, and returning
from the Cedars by Tripoli, I must suppose them to be from one
to two hundred. A friend of mine counted sixteen from a place
near Nahr-El-Kelb; and a native assured me that from the top of a
mountain near Nahr-El-Kelb, nearly one hundred could be seen. The
number of houses for men is much greater than those for women.
There must of course be a considerable number of monks, but it has
occurred to me that the actual number is not as great as the number
of houses would seem to indicate; many houses have but a scanty
number of inmates. To the inquiry, which I have often made, whether
the monastery system is not losing its hold on the public mind? it
has generally been answered, that no very perceptible change could
be noticed. I am still, however, of the opinion, that the system
is not as favourably received as it was in times past; and I shall
be greatly disappointed if it does not, and that before long,
appear that the system is wearing out. General developments have
been made, which show that these houses are seats of corruption
and abomination, and that the best interests of the church and of
society would be promoted by the system's coming to an end.

Beyroot has been the main seat of the Palestine mission. This has
been the usual residence of the missionaries, and here and in
the vicinity most of their labours have been expended. Good, no
doubt, has been accomplished. It has been, however, a hard soil to
cultivate. There are peculiar difficulties to be met with in the
character, habits, and especially the ignorance and deep-rooted
religious prejudices of the people. The Arabic language, which is
the one almost universally spoken here, is a language difficult
to acquire so as to use it freely in preaching. Of course, some
time must be lost before a missionary can so master the language
as to do much in clerical addresses to the people. A part of their
efforts have been directed to schools, and in this place have made
some progress. They had a number of schools, and were through them
operating well on the minds of the people. About three months ago,
at the same time that the movement was made against the missionaries
in Greece, Smyrna, and the adjacent parts, a similar movement was
made here, and the effect has been, the suspension of most of the
common schools. I have no doubt that is a part of a wide-spread
plan to counteract and break up, or render unavailing, if possible,
all missionary operations in and around the Mediterranean. I hope
it will fail, and I doubt not but that it will. It may, however,
make the missionary work more difficult, and, for a time, less
productive of its desired fruit. I have no doubt the hand of the
Roman Catholics is in the matter--for in all places and at all times
they have greatly withstood missionary efforts.

There is a mission press at this place. It has laboured under great
difficulties for the want of many things to make complete their
Arabic fonte, and from the impossibility of procuring them here, and
the delay in getting them from America or Europe. The distribution
of books is one of the ways of operating. Something has been done
and is still doing; but the watchful adversary is now opposing this
mode of working. Much suspicion is excited against their books, and
from time to time we hear of some being burned. In a late tour we
had some books with us, but found that in most of the villages the
people had been warned against receiving them. All these things are
to be expected. It is not to be supposed that the enemy will quietly
see the light of the gospel poured upon his dark empire of ignorance
and superstition. I should not wonder at an effort being made to add
more severe measures than burning books and withdrawing children
from school. Indeed, there was an effort made about three months
since, to drive the mission families from the mountains, where they
had gone to spend the sickly season, and were about opening schools
for the summer. The prince of the village, at the instigation, as
he admitted, of the Catholic priest, forbade his people to have any
intercourse with them, to buy or to sell to them, and threatened
to burn down the houses in which the missionaries might reside.
The American consul laid the case before the Emeer Busheer, the
head prince of the mountains, and claimed for them, as respectable,
well-conducted American citizens, who had for health gone to the
mountains for a few months, the right of protection usually enjoyed.
The Emeer sent an officer and inquired into the case--reversed the
orders of the local prince, and assured them of his protection.
It was a lesson which I hope the local authorities will not soon
forget. The prince who made the attempt to oppress and oppose
them had not long before become a Catholic. The Emeer Busheer who
protected them is not a Catholic; he was until recently considered
a Moslem, but now professes to be a Maronite Christian. Thus the
Lord can raise protectors and helpers from whom he pleases--make of
stones children to Abraham.

A few nights since we had our attention called to a very pretty
spectacle. As it began to grow dark, we observed bonfires lighted
in the neighbourhood, and other tokens of festivity. We went to the
terrace on the top of the house, which commanded a most extensive
view of Mount Lebanon, a view of nearly thirty miles. Along the
whole range we could see the bonfires glaring. They looked, on the
dark side of the mountain, like stars on the face of the deep blue
vault of heaven. I made several attempts to count them; but it was
much like counting the stars, which, when a boy, I often attempted
to do, but almost always abandoned, before I reached a hundred, from
a strange feeling of the difficulty of continuing the enumeration,
when the objects lay thus without order. These bonfires were of all
sizes, and were often marked by fitful blazes of light, as new fuel
was thrown on them. Others would glimmer and expire, while new ones
would burst forth, and soon attain to the first magnitude, and then
die away, or be subjects of those fitful flashes that indicated the
addition of fresh fuel.

On inquiry I learned that this was the feast of the Cross, and
that these illuminations and bonfires were in commemoration of the
finding of the true cross by the Empress Helena. It is said that
on her way to Jerusalem she gave orders that preparation should be
made that, in case she was successful in finding the cross, the
event might be made known by bonfires, and thus the intelligence
be communicated to Constantinople. Much of the religion of these
people consists in such things. Their fasts--their attending
mass--their worshipping and kissing the pictures--keeping the holy
days--and counting their beads, constitute the principal part of
their religion. As to the pure service of the heart--faith that
worketh by love--regeneration by the Spirit--a new moral nature,
effected through the word of truth under the agencies of the Holy
Spirit, with most if not all the other elements of real genuine
piety, they are almost wholly ignorant. It is, indeed, astonishing
that a people, who have the book of God in their hands, should so
long remain in utter darkness and ignorance of that spirituality
which beams forth from all parts of it. This whole region is yet
in the dark ages. Let any one who wishes to form a correct idea of
the state of things here, read a well-written account of the middle
ages--the preliminary dissertation to Robertson's History of Charles
the Fifth, and Hallam on the Middle Ages--and he will have before
him the leading features of the state of the church and society
now found here. The agreement will not, it is true, hold good in
all points, but in the main there is a strong family likeness.
May the Lord soon raise up reformers!--and may the truth soon go
forth as the light, and his revelation as a lamp that burneth! The
reformation in Europe was preceded by many things which betokened
the coming of day; and there are many things now which bespeak the
approach of a time of light, life, and salvation, for these regions
that have long lain waste. The last ten years have witnessed great
changes, and we hope the next ten will record still greater.

You have often heard of the Sherock, or Siroc, as it is often
spelled. The weather had become much cooler, but this strong south
wind has brought it back to its greatest summer heat. It does not
usually blow more than two or three days at a time; but we have had
it now for four or five days, and it still continues. Many persons
complain much of it--"feel it in every nerve." It does not affect
me, except as it makes the air warm and oppressive.

Last night, for some unknown cause, connected probably with the
Sherock, (which is made to bear the blame of all sorts of evils,
and ought in fairness get credit for some good,) we had the most
heavy dew at Beyroot that I have seen in Syria. This is the more
remarkable, as the dews have usually been very light. It fell
copiously soon after sunset, and this morning the earth looked as
if a little shower of rain had fallen. There was also this morning,
for the first time since I came to Beyroot, a dense fog--one of the
most dense I ever saw--this also is to be ascribed to the Sherock, I
suppose.

Yesterday I visited the ruins of Dair-El-Kollah, which lie near a
village called Bate-Meiry, about three hours' ride from Beyroot.
They are of the same style of building as those of Baalbec, but on
a much smaller scale. It has most likely been an old temple. The
stones are enormous, but not equal to the largest at Baalbec. Most
of the wall has been thrown down, but one or two of the lower rows
lie in their places. The stone is put together without cement, and
the face, like those of Baalbec, made so smooth, that you could
not put a knife in the crack. The pillars before the building were
large, but not equal to those of Baalbec. They were composed of
three pieces; the lower one, about twelve feet long, alone remains
standing. The rock is a coarse marble, and I saw a few fragments of
granite. These ruins are on the top of the secondary ridge, about
half way to the top of Mount Lebanon; a church now stands on part of
them.



LETTER X.


  _Jaffa, Sept. 30th, 1836._

I have at length set out to make a tour through Palestine, or at
least a part of it, and will send you some brief notices of what
may particularly engage my attention. The great heat which we felt
in this country, particularly on the plains, induced me to defer my
tour thus long, as I judged it not well to run unnecessary hazard
in my eagerness to see the chosen land, and to visit the places
referred to in the Holy Scriptures. The great heats of summer are
now past, showers of rain have already fallen, and the driving up of
clouds at one time from the north, and at another from the south,
betoken the approach of those copious showers, which the earth,
parched by a whole summer's sun, so much requires, and which man and
beast need to refresh their exhausted system.

We went on board a small vessel on the 28th, but the wind was so
light that we were only off the sands, and still in sight of Beyroot
the next morning. During the next day we had very little wind, and
made but slow progress. Towards night, however, a wind sprang up,
and we passed Sidon, but at too great a distance to have a good view
of it. I hope to obtain this on my return, as my plan is to return
by land, for the purpose of seeing as much as I can of the country.

The mountains appear to retain nearly the same height and appearance
as those near Beyroot. They seemed, however, to fall back from the
sea and leave a wider plain along the coast, and to the south they
appeared to decrease in height. Night came on, and shut out the
land from our observation. With the night, a fine wind arose, and
began to pass rapidly to the south. About midnight we passed Soor,
the ancient Tyre: we were thus unable to see it. It would have been
pleasant to have seen it from the sea, and to have been able to
make some observations on the plains and mountains, by which it is
surrounded on the land side. We passed Acre too early, and at too
great a distance to see it distinctly. It has a wide plain to the
east, and a little to the south-east the great plain of Esdralon
extends from the Mediterranean to the sea of Tiberias. Having a most
favourable wind, we passed on at a great rate, and just as the sun
rose we passed the north end of Mount Carmel. It is a mountain, or
hill as we should call it, a straight and regular ridge, eight or
ten miles long, running north and south; on the top and side next
us, almost wholly destitute of trees, and without cultivation. It
has very little rock on the surface except near the north end--much
less than Lebanon, and appears favourable for cultivation.

I should not have estimated Carmel to be more than eight hundred
or one thousand feet high. It is, however, usually said to be much
higher. This ridge is separated from the branches of the Lebanon by
a part of the plain of Esdralon. Indeed, Lebanon has come down from
the great loftiness which it has near Sidon, and has spread itself
over the country in small ridges. Carmel lies more west than the
Lebanon range. At its north end it forms an abrupt termination in a
bold promontory. On the top of this promontory, and near the end, is
a monastery belonging to the Latins. There are a few monks there,
how many I did not learn. It has an imposing appearance, but I could
see no other human habitation near it. There is a plain of varied
width between Carmel and the shore. It is almost wholly destitute
of trees, hardly a bush to be seen unless of a very small size. The
plain varies in width from one to two miles. Much of it, especially
near the shore, was covered with sand. I saw no human being, or
human habitation on it, except a few old ruins. A few miles south of
the monastery there were considerable ruins on a sandy point that
projects into the sea. It has, probably, been a fort.

At the distance of eight or nine miles from the promontory, the
ridge called Carmel suddenly sinks down, and gives place to a
wide-spread plain. Near the south end of the mountain, they point
out on the shore the site of the famous city Cesarea, which is often
mentioned in the New Testament--the place where Paul was detained a
prisoner many years, and made his admirable defence before Agrippa
and Festus. It was once a place of considerable importance, rose
suddenly to much celebrity, and almost as suddenly declined, and for
a long period has been in a state of utter desolation. I saw a few
pillars standing, and some other remains of departed greatness. The
plain which begins at the southern end of Carmel, is the celebrated
plain of Sharon.

We reached Jaffa about the middle of the afternoon, having had a
most expeditious sail from Sidon. The wind had served us a good
turn, in bringing us so soon to Jaffa, but we now experienced
another consequence not so pleasant; it still blew hard, and made
the sea so rough that we could not land. The harbour of Jaffa is not
good, or rather there is no harbour worth the name. We had to anchor
some miles out at sea, where there was a tremendous swell; there was
no help, we had to bear it as we could. We landed the next morning,
and were most kindly received by the American consul. He did all in
his power to render us comfortable.

Jaffa stands on a sandy point, which projects a little distance into
the sea. The ground at the point is more elevated than farther
back. It is a walled town, with a double wall and fosse in some
places, all, however, much out of repair. We saw but a few cannon
on the part of the wall which we examined, and those small and in
bad order. We passed a number of soldiers in our walks about the
town, and found a strong guard at the gate. Most of the houses
have a very old appearance, few of them are good; the streets are
narrow, crooked, and filthy, as in almost all the Turkish towns I
have visited. The houses are much crowded together, and cover a very
small space, considering their number. This is the case with most
of the Turkish towns in the East, especially their walled towns on
the coast. We visited the Latin and Greek convents, and were kindly
received, and had coffee and sweetmeats handed us. The bazaars and
shops appeared exceedingly poor, and to be scantily supplied with
articles of merchandise.

Jaffa is a place of interest, chiefly, as being the sea-port nearest
Jerusalem, and the landing-place of a large number of pilgrims that
annually resort, by thousands, to visit the holy places in and
about Jerusalem. It has also, in the noble plain of Sharon, a most
admirable back country. But what avails a country, however good,
if there be not people to cultivate it, and if the government be
so unwise and oppressive as to hold out no inducement for industry
among the people?

While looking at the city, we went without the walls as far as the
grave-yard. I had noticed on the shore, and in the street, great
quantities of a small but beautiful sea-shell, and at the grave-yard
I found them very abundant, and put to a singular use. They were
laid on the graves in great numbers, often forming quite a little
mound on the top of the grave, and in many cases, a newly-formed
stone, which is found at certain places on the shore, and which is
in great part made up of these shells, was set up at the head and
foot of the graves. It had a tasteful and pretty appearance.

The place was pointed out to us at a distance, where Bonaparte is
said to have shot several thousand prisoners. He has been much
blamed for it, and probably not without some cause. If, however, his
own account, as I have seen it given, be true, that they had before
been his prisoners, and had been set at large on parole, under
engagement not again to take up arms against him; that they had
broken parole and were again captured while fighting against him;
if this were the case, he is, according to the laws of war, less to
blame than many have supposed. Not that I would justify him, but bad
as he was, his opponents did not give him credit for the good he
did, and made the most of his bad actions. Had he lived until the
present time, on the throne of France, the state of Europe would
probably have been twenty if not forty years in advance of what it
now is, in knowledge and arts, in civil and religious liberty. Those
who have succeeded to the now divided power, which his powerful arm
wielded, have laboured and still labour to hold the people back--to
repress the spirit of enterprise and improvement, and especially
repress and root out the spirit of freedom.



LETTER XI.


_October 5th, 1836._

We left Jaffa in the afternoon for Rumla, which lies about half way
from Jaffa to the commencement of the hill country, on the road
to Jerusalem--leaving the gate of Jaffa, (and I may add, there is
only one gate on the land side,) we took a north-east direction.
The point of land on which Jaffa stands, a kind of sandy knoll,
is higher than the country back of it. We of course made a small
descent, and for a considerable distance passed through gardens,
enclosed lots and fields, many of them well filled with trees, as
fig, orange, lemon, pomegranate, palm. The Indian fig was much used
for forming enclosures, and generally planted on a ridge of sand.
It makes a very good fence, as the prickles with which it abounds
prevent man or beast from coming much in contact with it. Some of
these gardens had wells and water-wheels, many of which were at
work, mostly with oxen, raising water for the benefit of the trees
and vegetables. There is much sand on the district that borders the
coast, and in many places directly on the coast the sand has fairly
taken possession--nothing is seen but fields of white sand.

At the distance of half a mile from the shore, the ground is very
little higher, I should think, than the surface of the water; and a
number of things indicate that this low district was once a marsh,
or at least much subjected to water. And now, in the rainy season,
much water would collect on it were it not for its loose and sandy
character, through which the water easily runs. The abundance of
water, found at a very little distance below the surface, may arise
from the fact that it is but little below the level of the sea; and
the sandy character of the district allows the water to percolate
freely, and thus supply what is taken up by man and vegetables.

It may be nine or ten miles from Jaffa to Rumla. The road is good;
it is over a plain, and except a little waving of the surface,
forming slight elevations and depressions, such as we often find on
the sea-coasts, and on the flat districts which border large rivers,
one would say it was level. These elevations suggest the idea
that the water may have once covered this plain; and in retiring
gradually from it, left those graceful elevations and depressions
which give a beautiful variety to its surface. But a small part,
after passing the gardens, was cultivated. From time to time we
passed portions that had been sown with grain--none of it, after
leaving the gardens, was enclosed--all lay open. We passed several
places where there were a few trees; they formed, however, but
little green spots on the face of this wide-spread and noble plain.
The greater part was destitute of verdure; the burning heats of
summer having burned up the grass; the crops, except an occasional
cotton field, being all gathered in. I think I saw no Indian corn,
although I had seen it on the Bokar, but of a very diminutive kind.
The cotton fields were few and small, and held out the promise of
but a light crop.

The plain is highly fertile, and if under proper cultivation would
yield largely. The soil is rich, deep, and very free from rock, at
least sufficiently so for all purposes of cultivation. We do not,
indeed, often meet with a finer district of land; but it is thinly
inhabited.

Rumla is a town of considerable size, and has some pretty good
houses. It stands on a slight elevation, and commands a fine view of
the plain out of which it rises. It is surrounded with gardens, many
of which are protected by hedges of the Indian fig. There are some
olive groves about the town; other fruit-trees, and the palm, are
also to be seen. Around the present town are ruins, walls, cisterns,
and other indications that the town was once spread over a much
larger space than it now covers. It is supposed to be the ancient
Arimathea mentioned in the New Testament, John xix. 38.

The ancient Lydda lies within a short distance of Rumla, not above
three or four miles; but I had not time to visit it, as my company
were urgent to proceed. It is, I am told, a poor village, and has
nothing to give it interest, unless it be the fact that is mentioned
of it in Acts, ix. 32, 38.

I ought to have mentioned respecting Rumla, that there is near the
town a very remarkable tower, old, and of a singular structure,
with some large apartments under ground connected with it. At what
time it was built, by whom, and for what purpose, is not now known:
probably, however, as a place of defence, and when built, the town
extended to, if not beyond it. The history of many things in these
regions is lost--irrecoverably lost--until that great day shall come
when the whole history of man shall pass in review, and all shall be
judged according to their works.

The American squadron left Jaffa only the day before we reached that
place. The commodore and a party of officers visited Jerusalem. A
large party spent a night at Rumla with the American consular agent,
and had made him a present of a large and beautiful flag, with a
notice of its presentation written on its border. If what was told
me at Jaffa be true, that some of the officers, on their return from
Jerusalem, rode from Jerusalem to Jaffa in five or six hours, it was
a matter-of-fact proof that the distance is less than the old books
of travel have stated. Ten hours was named at Jaffa as the usual
time--that would make thirty miles, at the usual mode of counting
three miles to the hour: this is probably the real distance.

We spent a Sabbath at Rumla; but as there was no Protestant worship,
and I could not have received much if any benefit from attending a
service in an unknown tongue, I remained in my room all day, and
found, although thus alone, that the Sabbath of the Lord is a most
wise and gracious appointment of Heaven for the benefit of man. He
needs times which may call his thoughts from worldly things, and
consecrate them more especially to God, and the things that relate
to the welfare of the soul. I have, therefore, whenever I could, in
travelling, rested on the Sabbath day, and found it good so to do.
In almost every step I take in this country I find myself on ground
referred to in Scripture; and it is with no little interest I walk
over places where the events recorded in God's word took place. But
even in those scenes I find it good to observe the Sabbath of the
Lord. I do not even go out to look at these places on the Sabbath:
the other six days may suffice for that. The Lord's day is better
spent as a day of rest and devotion.

We left Rumla on Monday morning for Jerusalem. Our course was still
a little south of east. The general character and condition of
the plain was much as the part of it already described, with the
difference that there was much less sand. Indeed there was little,
if any, to be seen--the soil was a fine, rich, black mould. The
state of cultivation was rather better, but still only a small part
was under the care of man. The country began more regularly to
rise as we approached the hill country. The rise was however very
gradual. Irregular and rounded hills became more numerous, but none
of them were steep. A road could pass over them in any direction;
they were rather pleasant swells than hills. More stones and pebbles
were mixed up with the soil, but not in quantities that would impede
cultivation. In truth, this part of the plain, that is from Rumla to
the hills, forms one of the richest and most lovely districts that
I have seen. We were above three hours in going from Rumla to the
hills, which would make the distance from Jaffa about eighteen or
twenty miles. The road however does not cross the plain at right
angles, but declined considerably to the south.

We passed no village worth naming. We did, indeed, pass a few huts
at one or two places, but too few to deserve notice. We passed
several places that appeared to have once been occupied, and saw
several villages at a distance, but they appeared small. In short,
the plain--the noble and celebrated plain of Sharon, appears to be
almost deserted; and while it has a fertility and extent, were it
occupied and properly cultivated, sufficient to sustain a nation,
it is now roamed over by a few flocks--has small patches of it
cultivated, and here and there a small, poor village to sustain.
With regard to trees, &c. the eastern part of the plain was on a
par with the western. It was only on little spots, and at a great
distance from each other, that a few olive and other trees were to
be seen. They were mostly confined to the immediate vicinity of the
villages, or where villages have once stood.

While passing over the plain of Sharon, it would have been out of
all propriety not to have thought of the rose of Sharon and the lily
of the valley. I did think of them, and was on the watch for them;
and so eager was I to get one, that could I have met with any sort
of a flower that would in any fair way have admitted the name, I
would most willingly have reported it, _but not one could I find_.
I consoled myself, however, with the thought, that I only shared
the disappointment which other travellers had experienced. For what
traveller in these regions has not sought the rose of Sharon, and
the lily of the valley? And what one has been able to assure and
satisfy the public that he has found them?

As we approached the hills, the face of the plain became more
uneven; the points of the ridges ran out irregularly, and more
rocks began to appear on the surface. The line of hills is however
more regular than is usual, and the transition from the plain to
the hills is more gradual than is usually found on the borders of
large plains. We passed over a low, rocky point of a ridge, and
saw some ruins; and at one place the large hewn stones and broken
pillars indicated buildings of some consequence. The hills are
not continuous ridges, but knobs, not very high, nor very steep;
the top rounded over. Many of them are separated from each other
almost to the base; but a greater number join at one or more sides,
at various heights from their bases. Taking the hollows, and the
passages between the hills, (and in some places there are little
level spots,) as the level of the country, I should say that the
general level, as we pass east, rises; and the height of the hills
above this general level, continues about the same for a great part
of the way from the commencement of the hills to near Jerusalem.
This district is well called the "hill country of Judea." Nothing
could better express it. They are usually in books called mountains;
but their size, that is their height above the general level of the
country, hardly entitles them to that appellation. They are rather
hills than mountains.

As we rode among the hills, we began to see a few small shrubs and
bushes of oak. Most of them, however, were small; few as high as a
man on horseback. There were also, at some places in the hollows,
where, during the rains, water flows, some bushes, thistles, and
other kinds of vegetation, but small of size and few in number. As
we passed farther in among the hills, the vegetation increased,
both as to size and quantity; it however never amounted to much.
We saw, from time to time, some orchards of olives, and a few
scattering trees; as we approached the higher part of the hilly
district, we saw some hills that were to some extent covered with
the olives. Still but a small, a very small part of the country
was thus made to minister to the wants and comfort of man. As we
advanced, the rock became more abundant; it was all limestone, mixed
in some places with veins of flint; usually horizontal, and often
projecting out on the sides of the hills, and much stratified; and
the various strata being of different degrees of firmness, causing
them to have a singular appearance. The soft stratum had in many
places disintegrated, and formed a stratum of earth, which entirely
concealed the rock; while the hard stratum formed a kind of wall,
and in many places, from its regularity in thickness and direction
round the side of the hill, it had much the appearance of having
been the work of man. In some places again, where a hard stratum
lay directly over a soft one, the crumbling away of the soft one
formed a kind of natural cave under the hard one; places could be
seen where a man might find shelter from the rain under rocks thus
hollowed out by the wearing away of a soft rock, while its more
sturdy fellow above held on to its proper size and shape. A ride
of between two and three hours, from the time we entered the hill
country, brought us to the higher part of the district. Our road
still lay along what may be called a hollow, and on each side of us
the hills rose to a considerable size.

We passed on this high district one or two villages. In one of
them were some pretty good houses, and an old ruin, which, from
its size and form, seemed once to have been a building of some
importance. The country around this village was in a better state
of cultivation; more trees, figs, and vines, than I had seen since
leaving Rumla. From a part of this high ground we had a most
extensive and fine view of the seabord; the deep black sea, till
where it met the sky; the white sand-hills along the shore, and the
wide and long plain of Sharon, extending as far as the eye could
reach, to the north and south, and coming up to the hilly district,
on the top of which we stood. The view was interesting, and
especially so when we thought how often the pious Israelites, when
going up to the house of the Lord, must have stopped at this place,
and looked back on that rich and lovely part of their inheritance.
The "flocks of Sharon" was a term which then expressed much; but now
few flocks feed there, and those of an inferior kind of cattle.

After taking this, as I supposed, farewell-look at the plain of
Sharon, the sea-bord, and wide-spread ocean behind it, we set
forward, and thought we must soon reach a point from which we could
see Jerusalem. We found, however, that we had to descend a hollow,
wind along it for some distance, and then a long ascent to make, to
gain about the same level from which we had taken our farewell-look
at the vale and sea behind us. Above half an hour must have been
spent in doing this. This is said to be the valley of Elah, where
David slew the Philistine. The precise spot where the engagement
took place is not known. We now found ourselves on ground which was
nearly as high as any near us. We had passed to our right, at some
considerable distance, a cluster of buildings on the top of a hill,
called the tomb of the Maccabees. It looked like a fort, or place
of defence, and was, as I am told, not long since, the residence of
Aboo Goosh, who used to make free with the property of other people;
in other words, was a notorious robber. But Ibrahim Pasha has taught
such gentry a good lesson. He has nearly, if not wholly, put a stop
to such practices; he has taken the matter into his own hands. What
people have to spare, he himself takes, or has taken from them;
and, indeed, much more than they are willing to part with; but as
to every fellow who chooses taking for himself, as was the old way
of doing things, why that is not now permitted. The time was, when
a company could hardly have passed from Rumla to Jerusalem, as we
did, without having been relieved of some of their cash, and perhaps
clothes into the bargain.

We passed a district where an immense quantity of stone had been
quarried and removed; the refuse stone lay in piles, and the
excavations showed that large quantities had been procured. The face
of the high ridge, or kind of table land, over which we now passed,
was almost wholly destitute of vegetation. A few thistles and an
occasional small thorn-bush might be seen; but a more naked district
I had not seen in the holy land. Several miles to the right, I saw
a hill or hills pretty well covered with trees of some sort--olives
I thought from their looks; and at a greater distance on our left I
saw several patches of trees on the side of a high and long ridge,
and a small village or two near them; but more immediately about
me, and over the whole face of the ridge which I was passing, all
was naked--all was destitute of vegetation, except a small enclosed
spot. I was struck not only with the absence of vegetation, but
with the enormous quantity of rough rock that almost literally
covered the face of the ground. Much of it lay in irregular patches,
projecting from eighteen inches to five or six feet above the little
earth that could be seen. It really appeared as if the district
was _given up_ to be _occupied by rocks_, to the exclusion of all
other matter. We soon began a slight but gradual descent, and after
a little, some towers came into view. These were the parts of
Jerusalem first seen. Presently we saw the top of the walls--the
minarets, the domes, and the whole city.

Jerusalem stands on the east side of a high, _flattish_ ridge,
which runs nearly north and south. To the west of the city, and at
some distance above, towards the top of the ridge, a small hollow
begins, and running south-east, deepens rapidly, and forms the
southern boundary of the city. This is the channel of the rivulet
Gihon. In it are the pools, the upper and lower; but it is only in
wet weather that there is water in them. The lower part is called
the valley of the Son of Hinnom. The brook Kedron, or the valley in
which the water would run, if there were any water,--for you must
know except during the rains it is a dry channel, runs nearly north
and south, and has a deep channel, with high steep banks. The valley
or ravine of Gihon falls into that of the Kedron, nearly at right
angles, with a high point forming the angle between them. On this
point the city of Jerusalem stands. It fills, or did originally,
the space that lies between these two ravines, for some distance up
both of them. The ground on which the city stands has a considerable
declination to the east, and is on the side of a hill, on the lower
end of the ridge, when it terminates abruptly at a deep ravine,
both on the south and east. The site has other inequalities. At the
south-east corner, next the Gihon, was the highest point. That is
the hill of Zion. Part of it is now without the walls, and used as a
burying-ground. The missionaries have recently procured a small plot
on Mount Zion for a burying-place, to be appropriated to Protestants
who may die at Jerusalem. A little north of Mount Zion, and close on
the bank of the Kedron, is Mount Moriah, or an elevation so called.
On this the temple stood, and on the same site now stands the mosque
of St. Omar. This elevation was formerly separated from Mount Zion
by a considerable valley. It is now nearly filled up, at least
that part within the walls, and much so without; still it is very
perceptible without the walls, and especially at the pool of Siloam,
which lies at the junction of this ravine with the valley of the
Kedron. Mount Zion was once connected with Mount Moriah by a bridge
or elevated causeway; but the filling up of the ground within the
walls has covered it, or supplied its place.

There is a large space around the mosque of St. Omar which forms a
fine promenade, but Christians are not allowed to enter it. They are
not allowed to enter the mosque, or at least this is the general
understanding. In many cases, however, it has been entered lately;
a party of English had been all through it, under the special
protection of the governor, but a few days before my arrival. There
is little doubt that in a few years, unless some reaction takes
place, free admission will be allowed, and many other foolish and
unreasonable customs and prejudices of the Mohammedans will pass
away.

Jerusalem has a high, strong wall around it, and is occupied by a
large body of the Pasha's troops. There are at present but four
gates open and used, several having been walled up some time since.
The Jaffa gate, by which we entered; the Zion gate being east of the
Jaffa, and on Mount Zion; St. Stephen's gate, which opens next the
valley of Kedron and north of Mount Moriah; and the Damascus gate,
which lies on the north side of the city. The highest part of the
city is a little west of the Jaffa gate, at the point where the wall
leaves the top of the hill near Gihon, and runs north and north-east
toward the Kedron.



LETTER XII.


_Jerusalem,1836._

One of the first objects that we visited after our arrival was the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It so happened that the day after
our arrival was one of the many days, which for some reason I know
not what, is called a festa, and this church was opened. This was
what we desired, as it is not accessible at all times. This church
is said to be built over the place where our Lord was buried; and
it also includes the place where he was crucified--that is, it
includes that part of Calvary on which the crosses of our Lord and
the others who were crucified with him were fixed--and the garden
in which Joseph's tomb was placed. It ought, therefore, to have
been _without_ the city, as our Lord was crucified and interred
without the city. Heb. xiii. 12, and John xix. 41. The excuse for
its being in the city is, that the city does not now occupy the
same ground that it did at that time--its walls were farther west
and north--and the present walls take in what the old walls, when
those transactions took place, left out. It appears to me very
manifest, that the places now shown as the places of crucifixion and
interment, must have always been _within_ the city. A wall so run
as to leave it out, would be located in a way that no wise builder
would ever think of in running a wall to defend a city situated as
Jerusalem is. These places are not on a hill, but rather in a low
place or hollow, and the wall in passing to the east of it would
leave so much higher and better ground close to it on the west, and
would so straiten the space between it and the ground occupied by
the temple, and take so irregular and winding a route to enclose
sufficient ground to hold the city, that I must believe that a
wrong place has been fixed upon as the spot where those memorable
things transpired. It is, however, a matter of trifling importance;
we know they took place near Jerusalem. There is no virtue in the
spot where they took place more than in any other. But the poor,
blind, superstitious people believe, and are taught to believe, that
there is great, yea, saving virtue obtained in visiting these places.

The church of the Holy Sepulchre is a large, and in some respects a
good-looking building, especially the circular room with the large
dome over the holy sepulchre, as seen from the inside, for it is
surrounded with other buildings, and so connected with them without
that it makes but a feeble impression. It needs to be large, as it
contains a chapel for each of the Christian sects which prevail in
the East, as the Greeks, Latins, Armenians, Copts, Syrians.

We entered at the north side. There is a small open space before the
door, which once belonged to the church, but most of the pillars are
removed. The doors of the church are large, and there is usually
one or more Turks acting as door-keepers. As there are always
monks and priests in the church to take care of it, attend to the
lamps, perform the sacred offices, &c., there is a small opening
through the door, by means of which food and other necessaries are
passed to them at those times when the doors are shut. Some monks
and priests, it is said, spend weeks, and it may be months, in the
church, without once going out of it; they no doubt think this a
most meritorious act.

Immediately on passing the door of the church, we came to a large,
flat, marble stone, a little elevated from the floor, having small
marble pillars at the corners, and an ornamental covering above it.
This is called the "stone of unction." It is pretended that the body
of our Lord was laid on it while he was anointed, or rather when he
was taken from the cross, and rolled up in linen with the spices,
by Joseph and Nicodemus. East of the "stone of unction," and within
a few yards of it, there is an ascent of several steps, called
the ascent of Calvary; and on the top, which is called Calvary,
three holes were shown, said to be the holes of the three crosses,
on which our Lord and the two thieves were nailed. The middle
one stands rather in advance of the other two. Below this, in a
cave-like place under the spot where the crosses stood, is shown the
split in the rock caused by the earthquake, which took place at his
death. These places are, however, so fenced about with metal plates,
doors, bars of iron and wire network, that you can barely see and
touch them, and that with a poor light; all arranged to prevent too
close an examination--all adapted to increase the superstition and
blind credulity of the people.

The Empress Helena, Constantine's mother, was the great patron
of all the holy places, and built churches upon them. How she
ascertained for a certainty the precise spots is not so clear; but
that she selected certain spots and had churches erected on them is
admitted. So great an advocate for such matters, ought of right to
have some honour shown her. They have, therefore, east of Calvary,
and at a few yards' distance, prepared a chapel for her. It is
a low, damp place, quite under ground, and does not do her much
credit. It was down in this place, however, that she found the true
cross, it is said, and an odd thing is told about her identifying
it. Three crosses were found, and the question was, to which one
of the three was our Lord nailed, for it would have been a fatal
mistake to have selected for such deep veneration, amounting nearly
to worship, the one on which the thief was nailed, instead of the
one on which our Lord hung. Helena was not more zealous in hunting
for places and things, than fertile in expedients to identify them.
A child, either sick or dead, was brought and laid on the crosses,
and strange to tell! it was made well when it touched a certain one.
This was ample proof that it was the true cross.

Another thing was found in this place, now set apart as the chapel
of Helena. She found _Adam's skull_, which came out of the rent made
in the rock caused by the earthquake. How she identified it, the
account, as I received it, did not relate. No doubt she contrived
some way to do it. Many such things are gravely told to the poor
deluded pilgrims that resort here, and many believe them. And to
tell all such folly and nonsense, and to fill their minds with them,
is the business of the monks and priests, instead of teaching them
the great leading truths of the word of God, and urging the nature
and necessity of personal holiness and practical religion.

We returned from the chapel of Helena to the stone of unction. A
wall is run up between this and the main body of the church, forming
the place in which it lies into a kind of entry or antechamber.
Passing a few steps to the west, we turned short to the north,
and found ourselves in the body of the church, which is large and
nearly circular, with a large dome over it, and lighted chiefly from
above. In the middle of this large room stands a small building
called the holy sepulchre. It may be sixteen feet by ten, and ten
or twelve feet high. It is divided into two rooms. The first, which
is to the east, forms a kind of entry, and is entered at the east
side. In the middle of this first room is a place or seat, not
unlike a little table or stool. This stands on the place where the
stone lay, after the angel had rolled it from the door and sat on
it. There are twelve or fifteen lamps burning in this room; and
through the walls are several holes, out of which the light or holy
fire comes, while the bishop plays off that lying miracle to the
poor deluded pilgrims. This miracle is performed at Easter. The
second room is the sepulchre. On the north side of it lies a large
marble tombstone, about as high from the floor as a common tombstone
would be. The remainder of the room is not much larger or wider
than will allow two persons to pass each other with ease. In this
room are about forty lamps, which, with those in the outer rooms,
are the property of different leading sects, as the Greeks, Latins,
and Armenians. For much as they hate and quarrel with each other,
matters are so arranged that each shall have a chapel in the church
and lamps in the holy sepulchre.

East of the holy sepulchre and separated by a slight partition, is
the Greek chapel. This is the best chapel of the establishment--is
neatly fitted up, and has some pretty good paintings. In the middle
there is a kind of pillar, and on the top of that is marked the
_centre of the world_. How they found out the precise spot my guide
did not tell me, nor who was the happy finder. Possibly the good
Helena who found so many things, for she had a wonderful talent for
such matters.

To the north of the holy sepulchre lies the Latin chapel. It is
richly furnished, and possesses some antiques that are among the
curious, such as the sword and spurs of Godfrey of Bouillon. This
chapel has also a pretty good organ, and the organist was so polite
as to play us several tunes.

At the west end of the holy sepulchre, and in contact with it, is a
small chapel for the Copts. It is but a few feet square, and is like
a shed or tent-like place, put up against the end of the sepulchre.
This chapel stands, of course, within the large circular room in
the middle of which the holy sepulchre is placed. To the west, and
only separated by a slight wall, is a small chapel for the Syrian
Christians. It is a small dark place, seldom if ever used. Adjoining
it is the tomb of Nicodemus, a little dark hole quite in keeping
with his fear of the day when he came to Jesus by night; but as he
afterwards came out openly in favour of his lord, he deserved a
better tomb than they have allowed him.

To the south of the holy sepulchre, but raised so as to permit
the entrance to pass under it, is the chapel of the Armenians. It
does not equal that of the Greeks or Latins, but far exceeds the
Copts and Syrians'. Thus the large and nearly circular area with a
dome over it, in the middle of which the holy sepulchre is placed,
is surrounded with chapels, separated from it by single walls,
through which they are entered from the large area. All this mass
of building is called the church of the holy sepulchre. There are a
number of other places pointed out, in and about it, as places at
which some of the facts recorded are said to have taken place--as
where the centurion stood, who declared his belief that Jesus was
the Son of God. But I have said enough about these places. My memory
was so burdened with these things, it would not be strange if I
should have lost some on the way, and possibly I may have misplaced
some of them, not designedly however, in giving this brief detail.

There are nearly twenty convents in and about Jerusalem. The Greeks
have, if I recollect aright, thirteen. Most of them are, however,
very small. Their large one is directly adjoining the church of the
Holy Sepulchre; and the top of the church (not the dome) may be used
as a terrace for its inmates. From the top of the convent I passed
over most of the top of the church, or of the chapels contained
within its walls. This large monastery is able to receive and
entertain many pilgrims--this is one design of those establishments.
The Latins have a very large monastic establishment. It covers
several acres of ground; is so constructed as to be capable of
making a good defence; is a strong fort. It is a community of
itself, and has within it provision for carrying on all kinds of
work. It has smiths, carpenters, shoemakers, tailors, millers,
bakers, chandlers, and I know not how many other artisans within
it. The Armenians have a large establishment of a similar kind,
which is said to be equally capacious, and in good condition. While
these establishments no doubt are of use in the way of entertaining
pilgrims, they are most corrupting; as it is their interest to
promote superstition among the people. From their number, wealth,
and influence, they are able to effect almost any object they
please, and defeat any one that falls under their displeasure.
They will, humanly speaking, be one of the greatest obstacles to
all missionary efforts to spread the light of truth in Jerusalem,
and dispel those dark and foul superstitions that have long been
gathering over these, so called, holy places.

A few days after our arrival, we set out one morning to make a
tour of the city. We went out at the Jaffa gate, which is situate
at the south side of the southern corner, and near the edge of
the valley of Gihon. Up this ravine, a mile or more, is the upper
pool of the fuller's field, mentioned in 2 Kings, xviii. 17. It is
made by running a strong wall across the ravine, walling the sides
and covering them with a water-proof cement. There was no running
water in this ravine at present, nor is there often except in the
rainy season. A little east of the Jaffa gate is the lower pool. It
is made in the same way as the upper pool. The wall is used as a
bridge--the road passing the ravine on it. There is no water in this
pool.

The valley of the Gihon becomes deeper as it passes eastward to
where it meets the Kedron. Below the second pool it takes the name
of the Valley of the Son of Hinnom or Tophet. It was formerly used
for many unclean purposes--some of the most abhorrent kinds of
idolatrous worship was once practised here--the burning of children
to Moloch, Jer. vii. 31. The valley appears to have been much
contracted by the great quantity of rubbish of all kinds which has
been thrown into it from the city. A road from the Jaffa gate passes
down the valley, dividing at the lower pool. One part passes to the
south side, and winding along the top of the bank for some distance,
crosses the plain southward to Bethlehem. The other winds down the
valley until it reaches the bottom--then along the valley until it
meets the one from the valley of Kedron, following the course of the
united valleys towards the Dead Sea. On the south side of the valley
of Hinnom, and near its junction with Kedron, is the potter's field.
It is a small parcel of ground near the top of the bank with an old
ruined house on it. There was a small level spot thirty feet below
the top of the bank, at the bottom of a thick stratum of horizontal
rock. Walls have been made enclosing a part of this--the face of
the rock forming the south wall of the building. The roof, which
is flat, is on a level with the top of the bank; and in it are a
number of holes, through which they used to throw the dead bodies.
It is not used now as a place of interment, and is fast going to
ruin, part of the walls having fallen in. All along the south side
of the valley are to be seen old tombs cut in the rock--some are of
considerable size, having several rooms--some are so large as to be
used by mules, donkeys, and other animals, as places of refuge from
the noonday heat of the sun.

At the junction of the valley of Hinnom with that of the Kedron,
which is nearly at right angles--the Hinnom running nearly east and
the Kedron nearly west--there is a level space of several acres,
laid out in gardens, and well set with trees. These gardens and
trees continue up the valley of the Kedron, which is wider than that
of the Hinnom, for some distance; this rich and beautiful-looking
spot, watered by the fountain of Siloam, is called the _King's
Dale_. These valleys have all steep, high banks. To the east of
the Kedron lies Mount Olivet, which runs north and south, and is
separated from the hill on which the city stands only by the deep,
narrow valley of the Kedron.

Mount Olivet terminates abruptly, or rather a break is made through
it nearly in a line with the valley of Hinnom, bearing a little to
the south of east. At the mouth of this new valley, which lets off
the water (when there is any) to the eastward, is a small pool,
and adjoining it is a kind of resting or lounging-place, now much
neglected--and close by is the well of Nehemiah, which is very deep,
and we infer from indications about it, that formerly it was much
used; but it is now almost entirely neglected. This is supposed by
some to be the En-rogel in 2 Sam. xvii. 17. Down this valley there
are a number of gardens, and fig and olive trees.

Turning up the valley of the Kedron, we passed some pretty gardens
and lots of ground well set with the fig and other fruit trees. A
few hundred yards brought us to the pool of Siloam. It lies in the
mouth of that little ravine I mentioned as separating Mount Zion
from Mount Moriah, and is now much filled up within the walls,
which cross it at some distance from its mouth. It has, no doubt,
been much filled without the walls, still it is very manifest on
the outside, and near its mouth. There is quite a high bluff on the
Moriah side, near the pool. This valley was formerly called the
valley of the Cheesemongers. It was over this valley that Solomon
is said to have made that splendid ascent to the house of God from
Mount Zion, where his palace stood, that struck the Queen of Sheba
with so much astonishment. 1 Kings, x. 5. The pool of Siloam is
small, not more than twenty or twenty-five feet long, and ten or
twelve wide. It may be eight feet deep, with only eighteen or twenty
inches of water in it. It is fed by the fountain of Siloam, which
rises about three hundred yards farther up the valley, and is taken
under ground through the point of the hill which projects into the
valley from Mount Moriah, and comes out at this place. The water
passes through the pool, and is conveyed by a channel to the edge of
the valley of the Kedron, (for the pool is a little up the valley of
the Cheesemongers, say twenty-five or thirty yards,) then it passes
through a set of troughs, where the people come to obtain water for
themselves and their cattle.

A considerable part of Mount Zion, the part which forms the point of
the angle between the valley of Hinnom and that of Kedron, is not
now included in the city. The wall no doubt formerly ran down the
valley of the Gihon to the point keeping close on the edge of the
precipice, up the valley of the Kedron, crossing the valley of the
Cheesemongers at the mouth, and keeping on the precipice, passed
Mount Moriah. The remains of the basement of the wall that crossed
the mouth of the valley of the Cheesemongers may yet be seen, south
of the pool of Siloam, near the large trough into which the water
flows from that pool. The present wall of the city leaves the edge
of the bank of the valley a little east of the Jaffa gate, and
traversing for a little space the higher part of the hill of Zion,
but leaving a large part of it to the right, takes nearly a straight
course across the upper part of the valley of the Cheesemongers to
Mount Moriah, leaving out most of this valley, and also the angle
of Mount Moriah, which is between the valley of the Kedron and the
valley of the Cheesemongers. Much of this space is now made the
depository of rubbish and filth of all sorts. The whole face of
the hill, both on the Gihon and the Kedron side, is evidently much
enlarged, and made to project into the valley, from the quantity of
rubbish thrown over it. Once it must have been a high and almost, if
not altogether, a perpendicular bank, but now the rubbish has almost
wholly hidden the face of the rock, being visible only in one or two
spots; thus forming a steep but sloping bank of rich, soft earth.
Some parts of it are planted with trees, and portions are used for
cultivating vegetables of various kinds. The present walls were, if
I mistake not, built by Caliph Omar, the successor of the celebrated
Saladin, who warred so bravely against the Crusaders, and wrested
Jerusalem and most of their possessions in Palestine from them. We
saw in the lower part of the wall on Mount Moriah, many rocks of a
very large size; but none that equalled those at Baalbec. The style
of building in the walls at Jerusalem reminded me of those parts of
the walls of Baalbec of a more recent erection, especially that on
the east side and adjoining the great temple.

A few hundred yards north of the pool of Siloam, we came to the
fountain of Siloam. This is a small spring on the city side of the
valley, and nearly opposite the corner of the city wall, where it
meets the precipice, and includes the space occupied by the temple.
Milton therefore was nearly right when he spoke of

    "Siloah's stream, that flowed
    Fast by the oracle of God."

This fountain is in a place like a cave, artificial, however, as
all the appearances indicate. You descend eight or ten steps which
lead down into the side of Mount Moriah--there you find a stream
of indifferent water. The quantity of water is not large, and it
is said that it has more water in it one part of the day than in
the other, more, for example, in the morning than in the afternoon.
What is the cause of this is not certainly known. Possibly it may
be the syphon form of the passage through which the water flows.
There are many cases of syphon springs. It may, however, arise from
some connexion which this fountain has with the water, brought by an
aqueduct to the mosque of St. Omar, on Mount Moriah. The quantity
of water brought is too great to be all used in the service of the
mosque, and as none flows from the platform, it has most likely some
passage under ground, and may possibly find its way to the fountain
of Siloam. The depth of the fountain below the surface of the ground
does not allow the water to flow off. A passage is cut on a level
with the fountain, large enough to admit a man to walk erect for
some distance. It passes into the hill, and under that high point of
Mount Moriah which lies between the valley of the Kedron and that of
the Cheesemongers, and comes out at the pool of Siloam. When this
work was done is not known.

The part of Mount Olivet near and opposite Mount Moriah, is very
much covered with Jewish graves. It is the favourite Jewish place
of interment. The rock is horizontal, and in many spots next the
valley, much of the face of the rock is bare. Parts of the stratum
are sufficiently thick to allow tombs to be cut in the face of it,
and by hollowing the softer stratum, caves have been formed for
the deposite of the dead. There is at one place a little village
almost entirely made up of old tombs that have been altered more or
less. Near the fountain of Siloam, are several sepulchral monuments
of more distinction than the mixed multitude that cover the side
of the mountains. The most remarkable are, the tomb or pillar of
Absalom, as it is called in 2 Sam. xviii. 18, that of Zechariah, and
Jehoshaphat. The tomb of Absalom is in the form of a house about
twelve feet square, hewn out of a solid rock, except the top, which
has a round cover of stones, neatly put together, and rising like a
short cone. It is hollow, and appears originally to have had but one
small entrance, high up in front, which was probably stopped with a
stone made to fit it. Several large holes have been broken through
the sides. The side walls appear to have been from eighteen inches
to two feet thick, leaving within quite a neat little room. It was
probably designed as a place of interment for himself. He found
one, however, in a very different place,--in a pit, and, instead
of resting in the neat stone chamber he had prepared with so much
care, he had a great pile of stones thrown on him. We saw here a
striking sample of the Arab custom of throwing stones at the graves
of persons whom they abhor for their crimes. There are large piles
of stones in and about this monument, which persons in passing have
thrown at it, to express their hatred of Absalom for his unnatural
rebellion against his father. The stratum of rock at this place
is much more thick and compact than is usually met with in these
regions.

The tomb of Zechariah is much like that of Absalom, and stands
but a short distance south of it. The style of architecture is not
precisely the same--there is no door to it that I could find, and of
course could not ascertain whether it was hollow. There is behind
it, in the open space that has been cut between it and the rock from
which it is separated, a hole, which descends, but so winding that
it is soon lost. It was so filled up that we could not descend it.
It may have some connexion with the inside of this building, and
have been intended for a secure place of interment.

About half way between the pillar of Absalom and the tomb of
Zechariah, is the tomb of Jehoshaphat. The same compact rock is made
use of, but it is of a different order of building. In this case,
several large rooms are hewn out of rock connected with each other.
A large front door or opening separated by pillars, and enriched
with carved work, is cut in the face of the rock, eight or ten feet
from the ground. The way of access is through a small, low hole,
_at the outside_, near the tomb of Zechariah. After entering a few
feet the space becomes larger, soon you can walk erect. The passage
ascends a little, and opens into a fine large room, in the front
of which is the large door that I have described. This room is of
course well lighted, and would make no uncomfortable habitation.
From this front room, doors and passages lead to others that lie
farther in the hill, and of course are dark, except the little light
they may receive from the antechamber. I wonder that this place is
not occupied as a residence, as it must, I think, be much better
than any of the tombs a little to the south, that are thus occupied.

Three or four hundred yards north of Absalom's pillar we came to
the place pointed out as the "Garden of Gethsemane." It lies on
the Mount Olivet side of the valley, not far from the bottom.
There are four or five acres at this place, partly in the valley
and partly on the foot of Mount Olivet, that have been laid out in
gardens, and some of them are still cultivated. There are a number
of olive-trees, some of them old and large. They point to one of
the enclosures, as the Garden of Gethsemane, where our Lord was in
agony, and where Judas led the band who took him. As is customary,
the priest will tell you the precise spot where the disciples
slept--where our Lord withdrew--and where Judas betrayed him. That
somewhere here was the place where those transactions took place,
is not unlikely, but it is all idle folly to pretend to be able to
designate the precise spots.

A little north of this is a chapel under ground, said to be the
tomb of the Virgin Mary. It is near the valley, a little on the
Mount Olivet side. A small part of the top of the building is above
ground, but the great body is below. We descended a wide, noble
flight of steps for ten or fifteen feet, and then we had a great
display of lamps and other rich ornaments, with a large altar in
front. At our right was a recess or little room, shown as the tomb
of Mary; and about half way up the steps were recesses on both
sides, said to be tombs of--I forget whom--Anna, perhaps, and other
females mentioned in the Gospels. When this place was made, or by
whom, I am not able to say. It is, however, one of the best pieces
of under-ground building that I have seen, and is in good keeping.
But how all these good people were found, after centuries had passed
away, is not for me to tell.

The gate of St. Stephen is nearly opposite the tomb of Mary, and
a road leads up from near the tomb to the gate. About two-thirds
of the way from the gate to the bottom of the valley, they point
out the place where Stephen, the first martyr, was stoned. It is
rather singular that they have erected no monument over it. It is
designated by a ledge of rocks, which projects from the ground.

Mount Olivet is higher than most of the ground on which the city
stands--higher than Mount Moriah, and about as high as the ground
above the Jaffa gate on the top of the ridge. There are a few
olive-trees scattered over the mount, but not as many as I had
been led to suppose. There is a mosque near the top of it, nearly
opposite Mount Moriah, and what is singular, there is a small church
_in the inside of the mosque_. The mosque is not used at present,
and was probably a part of the church formerly. The church is said
to be built on the spot from which our Lord ascended; and they
gravely showed us what they said was his track, or the print of his
foot. We know, however, that the ascent was nearer Bethany, which
lies on the east side of the mount. Luke xxiv. 38.

While the Jews chose Mount Olivet as their burying-ground, the
Mohammedans love to inter their dead on Mount Moriah, outside the
wall, and as near as they can to the mosque of St. Omar. They extend
these interments beyond the gate of St. Stephen, as there is more
room outside the walls, north of this place, for this purpose. Thus
the Jews bury on Mount Olivet, the Mohammedans on Mount Moriah, and
north of it along the outside of the city walls, and the Christians
on Mount Zion. There may be other burying-grounds occupied by each
of these classes of persons; but these appear to be the ones most in
use at present.

The north and west sides are the most assailable parts of the city.
The wall there runs on ground nearly level; it is, however, high
and strong. The rock for making it appears to have been raised from
a space twenty or thirty feet outside the wall, and thus a pretty
deep ditch has been formed, which gives much strength to the wall as
a means of defence. There is north of the city an extensive grove of
olives, and a few other trees. It seems to me almost certain, that
the city must once have extended farther north and north-west. The
old ruins and cisterns indicate that buildings have extended in that
direction.

I had often heard of the Sepulchres of the Kings, and took this
occasion to visit them. They are about a mile north-west of the
city wall. Instead of being on the side of a hill as I expected, I
found them on a level part of the plain. That part of the plain,
as indeed is usual, is based on a horizontal stratum of rock. At
this place the rock is more firm and compact than usual. A space,
perhaps forty feet square, has been cut down fifteen or twenty feet,
perhaps originally twenty-five or thirty feet, and the whole of the
rock removed, leaving the sides regular and smooth, like the walls
of a house. Parallel to the south side, and at the distance of
eight or ten feet, a graduated road has been made fifteen or twenty
feet wide, on a moderate descent, which brings it down near the
south-east corner, to nearly the same level with the floor within. A
noble archway is hewn through this wall, wide enough to admit three
or four men abreast. The whole is evidently much filled up--enough
remains to show that it was well planned and well executed.

Within this house-like place that I have described, and at the
western side, about eight feet of the upper part is covered with
sculpture of various kinds, wrought on the face of the rock. It
is rich, and of admirable execution. The part under this is hewn
away, and a kind of portico made, twenty feet long, ten or twelve
feet wide, and twelve feet high. I give these as the probable
dimensions, as I did not measure them. At the south end of this
portico, the rubbish, which had accumulated several feet, has been
removed, and an opening was found cut through the solid rock. Only
so much of the rubbish was removed as would enable a person, by
creeping, to enter. After creeping a few feet, we entered a room of
considerable size, say twelve feet square. From this room doorways
opened to another room, and from this to others; most of them on the
same level, but some of the passages lead to rooms below, and, in
one place, the hollow sound which the floor gave clearly showed that
there were yet other excavations beneath. These rooms had niches all
around for receiving the dead.

Originally these doorways had stone doors, with stone hinges. The
place for hanging the doors was obvious, and we saw several of the
broken doors made of a single stone slab. In one of the inner rooms
we saw some richly carved covers of a sarcophagus; the sarcophagus
itself was gone. The door of this room was lying there nearly
entire; it was richly carved, and wrought in a kind of panel-work.
The stone hinges were like those wooden hinges which we often meet
with in cabins, stables, &c. On one side of the stone a piece is
left at both ends to project out a few inches; holes are cut in
the doorway of such a size as will receive these projections, the
upper one made deep, the door put in, and made to turn on these
points. These tombs, although called the Tombs of the Kings, are
not believed to have been the place where the kings of Judah were
interred. We are told that they were usually buried in the city of
David,--that is, on Mount Zion. 2 Chron. xxiv. 16. We know not why
they are so called; possibly because they are the most remarkable
sepulchres that are known in the vicinity.

Learning that at the distance of a mile or two to the north-west, on
the same plain, there was a remarkable set of sepulchres, called the
Sepulchre of the Judges, we concluded to visit them also. There are
extensive beds of rock in this part of the plain, and in many places
its upper surface is six, eight, and ten feet above the level of the
soil. The rock is softer than that at the sepulchre of the kings,
being of that soft, friable limestone, which, from the ease with
which it is worked, is so much used in building. I could see that in
all directions it had been quarried and removed.

Advantage was taken of a place where the rock rose eight or ten
feet above the ground. It was cut so as to make a plain, smooth
front. Then a little porch-like place is hewn out, not unlike that
described at the sepulchre of the kings, the rock being left above
for a cover. A door was then cut in, with some rich carving over it.
This led into a large room, around which were a number of niches for
depositing the dead. Doorways opened at the three sides to other
rooms, and around these were niches--from these again to others.
Passing down through a hole in the corner of the first large room,
we found that there was one under it of nearly the same size. It
was in a less finished state than any of the others. It is usually
said, that there are seventy or seventy-two of those niches for
corpses--the number of judges in the Jewish sanhedrim. We could not
make out that number. We found sixty-eight or sixty-nine, if my
memory be correct.

Many ruins are to be seen on this plain to the north and north-west
of the city. There are many olive-trees scattered over it; and
wherever the massy, compact limestone rises to a height and size
that will admit of it, you are almost sure to see tombs cut in it.

There are several pools in the city. About half way from the Jaffa
gate to the church of the Holy Sepulchre there is one of large
dimensions; it is surrounded by houses, and is, I think, called the
pool of Hezekiah.

An aqueduct can in part be traced from the upper Gihon to the city
in the direction of this pool, and possibly it may be the work of
Hezekiah, mentioned in 2 Chron. xxxii. 30. "He stopped the upper
water-course of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side
of the city of David."

The pool of Bethesda lies near the gate of St. Stephen, and almost
adjoining the large open square, on which the mosque of St. Omar now
stands. It is now dry, and has not the appearance of often having
water in it. It is a small place. Several arched places are shown at
one end, as a part of the five porches mentioned in the Gospel.

In truth, Jerusalem is badly, very badly supplied with water.
Most of the houses have cisterns for rain water, but there is but
little of good spring or running water. The fountain of Siloam,
which is small and not good, is the only spring I have seen in the
neighbourhood of Jerusalem. Water is brought in for the use of the
mosque of St. Omar in pipes from the pools of Solomon, not I think
for general use.

The streets of Jerusalem are narrow and filthy; the houses have an
old and weather-beaten appearance. There is one peculiarity about
them which is rather singular. I saw something of it at Jaffa and at
Rumla. The _dome roof_ is almost universal. To me it has a pretty
appearance, and is a much better defence against rain than the flat
roofs which are so universal at Beyroot, and all the towns and
villages in the northern part of Syria.

This mission find their chief employment in distributing books
and conversing with the people, and find a good deal to encourage
them in their work. There is an increasing disposition among the
Mohammedans to have intercourse with them, and to converse with them
on the subject of religion. This is a promising circumstance.



LETTER XIII.


  _Jerusalem, October 10th, 1836._

We left Jerusalem early on the morning of the 8th, for a visit to
Hebron. Being informed that there might be some danger of robbery or
evil treatment on the road, we applied to the governor for a guard,
and received an order to the commandant at the pools of Solomon, the
place where the dangerous district begins, for a guard.

We left the Jaffa gate, and crossing the valley of Gihon, passed
down a pretty plain to the south of Jerusalem towards Bethlehem.
This plain is very fertile, but does not appear to be under
cultivation to any great extent. On several parts of it we saw
orchards of olive and other trees. When near Bethlehem we took the
direct road to Hebron, intending to visit that place on our return.

In the vicinity of Bethlehem is the tomb of the beloved Rachel.
It is a high, oblong mass of masonry, of an old and venerable
appearance. A neat stone building with a dome has been erected over
it.

We saw an encampment of soldiers under the olive-trees to the west
of Bethlehem, and learned that Ibrahim Pasha had attempted to disarm
a powerful tribe of Arabs that reside near the Dead Sea; that they
had proved refractory, and that he had ordered a considerable force
to the neighbourhood, and directed some of the powerful tribes that
acknowledge his authority to aid in the work. There were in the
vicinity of Bethlehem several thousand men, and the disarming of the
tribe was going on.

The whole district about Bethlehem is exceedingly rocky; more so
than usual in this rocky country. This continued the case most of
the way to the pools. The country to our right, that is west of us,
rose higher, and on the side of the ridge were several villages;
most of them had pleasant groves of trees near them, and there were
extensive districts abounding with the olive, and plains finely
adapted for cultivation.

The pools of Solomon are situate about three miles from Bethlehem,
on the road to Hebron. They lie in a ravine that runs east from
a little plain surrounded on all other sides by moderately high
hills. A small spring rises in this plain, and the water from it was
probably made, formerly, to pass through the pools. At present, the
water from the spring, or from some of them,--for there are probably
more than one, although sealed up and conveyed away under ground in
such a way that the water can be seen in but one or two places,--is
conveyed in earthen pipes, set in rock, and under ground along the
side of the pools, until it passes them, and is then made to unite
with the old aqueduct that took the waters from the pools to the
city. Most probably the temple was supplied with waters in this way,
and that the pools were made for this purpose. The distance direct
is about nine miles, and must be increased by the windings necessary
to find a water level. Ibrahim Pasha, since he took possession of
this country, has had the aqueduct repaired. The pools are called
the Pools of Solomon, but it is not with certainty known that he
made them. They are in plan and structure much like the pools in
the valley of Gihon, called the upper and lower pool. They are three
in number, and lie one below another; each may be about six hundred
feet long, and three hundred broad. There is a large building
adjoining them, which may have been intended for a khan. It is now
occupied by the guard of soldiers that are usually stationed here.

The order for a guard was safe in our pockets, but on reaching the
place not a soldier was to be found--what were we to do? There were,
counting our servant and muleteer, and one or two persons who had
joined us on the way, as we supposed for the sake of enjoying our
protection, six or seven of us and two brace of pistols--we did not
therefore hesitate to push forward without a guard; and saw no cause
to regret it. The district we now entered was more rough, rocky,
and hilly, with less cultivation and more wood upon it, than any we
had yet seen. The trees were small, not much higher than a man's
head when mounted on a good horse. It looks much as if it had been
stripped of its trees and the sprouts allowed to grow unmolested
for about two years. Much of the fuel that is used in Jerusalem is
obtained from this district. We met many mules and donkeys loaded
with wood going to the city, and this, I may add, is the usual mode
of transporting wood through this country. Everything is packed on
animals. Wheel-carriages they have none. We also met a number of
_females_ with _large parcels_ of wood on their backs, making their
way towards the city. In some cases they must have to carry it from
six to ten miles. What a labour for females! It is now, as in the
days of old, the women and children sink under the wood. Lam. v. 13.

From many of the hills over which we passed, we had repeated views
of the Dead Sea lying in a long narrow strip from north to south.
For about two hours we passed through a district hilly and very
rocky, and mostly covered with bushes. In many places these were
so abundant as to justify the use of the word _thicket_. These are
the places which are considered the most dangerous, as the robbers
can conceal themselves, and thus with more ease perpetrate their
crimes and escape pursuit. This whole region has once been under
cultivation, and a portion of it is yet. That portion, however, is
small. On the sides of the hills were the remains of terrace-work,
and in many places old buildings and mounds of rock, which showed
the labour of man. We saw several villages in the distance, and
far to the east on a high hill, towns and other indications of
inhabitants. We passed one of the largest and best springs in
Palestine. It rises at the foot of one of the thickest and softest
strata of white limestone rock that I have seen. A number of tombs
were cut in the face of this rock, which may have been eight or ten
feet thick. On first seeing them I thought, from the soft character
of the rock, that they might lead to extensive excavations, but
on examination found this was not the case. We were now within an
hour or two of Hebron. The face of the country improved, more pains
were taken to collect the loose rock into piles or fences, and more
ground was under cultivation. Many villages were seen, at a distance
from our road.

When about three miles from Hebron we turned a little off our road
to the west, to look for an old ruin which was said to be worth
seeing. This led us on higher ground; and gave us a more extensive
view of the country; and I was not a little surprised and pleased
at having a fine view of the whole district to the west, embracing
a part of the hill country of Judea, the southern part of the plain
of Sharon, and the wide-spread Mediterranean sea beyond it. I was,
in fact, on the highest ridge of the hill country, which runs north
and south, and could see below me the secondary ridges and hills,
which extended about half-way to the sea, becoming lower and lower
as they approached the plain--then the plain beyond, and the white
sand-hills and banks along the shore. I fancied that I could see the
south-east corner of the sea near El-Arish, where it turns to the
west--possibly this was fancy. The view, however, was most extensive
and interesting, as I knew that my eyes were ranging over, not only
a large and rich portion of the inheritance of the tribe of Judah,
but also part of the land of the Philistines, those inveterate
and powerful enemies of the people of God. Oh! how often has the
district which I now beheld, witnessed the mustering, and marching,
and warfare of the Philistine against Israel, and the Israelite
against the Philistine.

We now entered a gently declining valley. The soil did not appear
better than usual, but much care and labour had been bestowed on it,
and evidences of this increased as we passed through to the south.
The stones were gathered off--good stone fences were made along
the road--the ground was well set with vines, and for miles we had
nothing on either side of the road but a succession of vineyards
loaded with the most delicious grapes. Surely, thought I, this
must be the valley of Eshcol. It was here the spies procured the
vine loaded with clusters, which they carried into the wilderness
to the astonishment of the whole camp. If my conjecture was not
entirely correct it was nearly so, if the Jews of Hebron are to be
believed, for this, if not the valley of Eshcol, terminates in that
valley about a mile from Hebron. This valley through which we passed
became wider and more rich in its fruits until it joined the other
valley, which comes in more from the west. This second valley is
the widest, has a considerable breadth of level, rich soil finely
cultivated, interspersed with trees, and covered with vineyards.
This is called Eshcol, as we learned from the Jews with whom we
lodged, and who took us out to see it. About a mile up this valley
is pointed out the tree under which they say Abraham received the
angels, Gen. xviii. 4-8. It is the largest tree in the vicinity, is
of the oak kind, which here grows low and sends out many branches,
and looks at a little distance not unlike a large apple-tree. If it
be the self-same tree under which Abraham entertained the angels, it
must have attained a good old age. I am, however, slow to believe
it, although assured of it by a descendant of the patriarch. It
may be a descendant of that tree thus honoured, either direct or
collateral, but that it should have lived until now, does not agree
with the great law of mortality which spares no living thing,
neither man nor beast, animal nor vegetable, since death entered
this world. These, however, are the plains of Mamre, and the good
old patriarch long sojourned, and somewhere on these plains his
tent was pitched, his altar raised, and his worship went up with
acceptance to the God who was "his shield and exceeding great
reward." How many generations have passed away since that time, and
yet his name is known, is dear to the people of these lands--seeing
the "memory of the righteous is blessed!" Abraham had his trials--he
was ordered from the land of his nativity, and, although Canaan
was promised him, he was made to live as a stranger in it, and at
the sufferance of others--while he saw the nations which possessed
it building cities, increasing their defences, and using means to
secure it as an inheritance for their children, he was not allowed
to secure a foot of it, except a burying-place for himself and
family; and although he was promised a numerous posterity, yet
he saw himself and wife getting old, passing the age in which men
become parents, and not one son born to them. Yet he believed and
loved and served God, and the event proved that not one word of
God's promise fell to the ground.

Following this united valley a little to the south-east, we came to
Hebron. The country about it is better cultivated than any district
I have seen. There are many enclosures and vineyards; olive groves
and fig-trees abound. As we drew near the town, we passed several
wells; these, we were told, were, one the well of Jacob, one of
Isaac, and one the well of Abraham; so each of the patriarchs has
one. It at least shows their regard for the memory of these good
men. Hebron stands in the valley; but at a place where the two
ridges, which bound it on either side, are not uniform, but rather
like separate hills placed near each other. While most of the town
stands in the valley, its edges rise in a small degree on four of
the hills by which it is surrounded, but in the greatest degree on
the hill to the south-east. The town has a very old appearance; the
streets are narrow and dirty, and to a great extent arched over,
especially the bazaars. Few of the houses look well; they are placed
uncomfortably close to each other, and are badly aired and lighted.
The bazaars appeared poorly supplied with goods and provisions;
and, on the whole, it was a poorer place than I was led to expect,
from the improved state of the country around it. Much the largest
part of the population is Mohammedan. There are few Christians in
Hebron; we were told, but one family, and that was the family of
the secretary of the governor. We had a letter to him, and expected
to find lodgings with him, but to our regret he was not at home.
While inquiring for him, the governor passed, and ascertaining that
we were travellers, and were recommended to his secretary, he sent
a soldier with us to introduce us to a respectable Jewish family,
who were ordered to take care of us. We were kindly received and
provided for. They showed us the synagogue, which was near our
lodgings. We found a school in operation in the synagogue; the
scholars were reading in the Hebrew Bible. They showed us a most
splendid roll of the law, which they had recently received. It was
fixed on two rollers, so as to roll off the one as it rolled on
to the other, leaving such a part exposed as might serve for the
lesson to be read. The whole put nicely in a case, and fastened with
clasps, and laid away in a closet not far from the reading-desk or
pulpit.

A few years ago, when Ibrahim Pasha's troops took Hebron, they
committed great outrages on the Jews, by plundering them of all they
could find. They broke into their synagogue, and opened all parts of
it in which they thought anything could be found, mutilated and tore
their roll of the law, and perpetrated many other enormities. Hebron
is esteemed by the Jews as a sacred city; and they think it a great
privilege to live here. They pretend that persons, when old, if they
come and live at Hebron, can renew their age. They need not go far
for materials to correct the opinion; for some of them had about
them ample proof that old age and all its infirmities come upon
people at Hebron as certainly and as fast as at other places.

The great mosque, which was probably once a Christian church, stands
over, as we were told, the cave of Machpelah. We were not allowed to
enter it. It is a very large building, and the lower part contains
stones of a very large size. It stands on the side of the hill, at
the south-east part of the city. The palace of the governor joins
it; and it is not improbable that the palace in which David reigned
for seven years was in that quarter. Near the mosque is a very large
cistern, which the Jew, who was our guide, pretended was Sarah's
bathing-house. It was, however, of much more modern formation; the
declaration of the Jew to the contrary notwithstanding.

At the south end of the town is a fine pool. This is the pool, as
is supposed, over which David hung the hands and feet of Rechab and
Baanah, the murderers of Ishbosheth. 2 Sam. iv. 12. It appears to
have been formerly fed by a stream through a small aqueduct, that
comes into it; but the stream is now dry, and the aqueduct out of
order. A short distance to the north of this pool, is another of a
smaller size; but the water in it does not appear as good, nor is it
as much used.

While rambling among the olive-trees that almost cover the hill to
the south-west of the town, we came to the ruins of an old building,
which must have been a place of some consequence formerly, but is
now wholly deserted. Our guide took us into it, and in one of the
rooms showed us a small hole in the wall, which he told us was the
tomb of Jesse, the father of David. The Jews, who were with us,
certainly showed much reverence for the place, pulling off their
shoes, and performing other acts of regard. Whether this be the
grave of Jesse none can tell, nor is it worth much inquiry. It is
not impossible that Jesse may have died at Hebron, notwithstanding
Bethlehem was his usual place of residence. When David came under
the jealousy of Saul, and was obliged to flee, his family fled
with him, and David had to provide for and protect his father and
mother. 1 Sam. xxii. 1-4. It is not unlikely that while he reigned
in Hebron, and the sons of Saul over the rest of Israel, his family
may have resided with him; Jesse, who was an old man when David was
anointed, may have finished his days while his son lived and reigned
at Hebron.

I could not but notice in passing, some piles of wood of a larger
kind than any I had seen in Palestine. It was pine, and cut into
pieces of four or five feet in length. Many pieces were from a foot
to eighteen inches in diameter, which, in this country, is large
growth. I noticed also over their shops, and at other places, pine
branches used as a protection from the sun. On inquiry I was told
that, a few hours to the south-west, there was much wood of that
kind. As the pine, in these countries at least, is seldom found
except in sandy districts, there must be a sandstone formation in
that quarter. Hebron, indeed, lies far south in Palestine, and on
the borders of the wilderness, and probably the limestone formation
terminates not far south of this, and gives place to the sandstone,
which accounts for the immense regions of sand which are met with
in that district. Had time allowed, I would gladly have made a tour
of a day or two to the south, and taken a glimpse of that waste,
howling wilderness in which Israel, for their rebellion, were made
so long to wander. The peculiar circumstances of my companion,
Mr. B----, whose aid I needed as interpreter, imposed on us the
necessity of limiting our time. There is a pretty good road from
Hebron to Gaza and El-Arish on to Egypt, which may be traversed on a
dromedary in four days.

We wished on our return from Hebron to take a route more to the
east, and pass Tekoah and the region of the Dead Sea. We learned,
however, that that district was now in a troubled state, as the
population on it were among those whom the Pasha was disarming,
and some of the more desperate were for keeping out of his reach,
and might, in their ill-humour, injure those who fell in with
them. As we had no guard, we thought it the part of prudence to
keep out of harm's way, and accordingly returned as far as the
pools of Solomon by the same route we had traversed in going to
Hebron. From the pools we went down the hollow in which they are
situate, and followed the course of the aqueduct. This led us over
a new district, and brought us to Bethlehem on the other side. The
district over which we passed was exceedingly rough and rocky. The
hollow, along the side of which we passed, became deep, rough, and
had very little level space at the bottom, and the sides of the
hills that bordered it really appeared given up to rocks and stones.
The little earth, however, that was to be seen, was fertile, for the
rock was a soft limestone, which always forms a good soil.

About half way from the pools to Bethlehem, we passed a place where
the valley spread out so as to leave, for a few hundred yards,
a strip of level land from twenty to fifty yards wide. This was
divided into lots, and walls made across it to prevent the washing
away of the earth. Trees and garden herbs were planted, and the
whole had a most pleasing appearance among the wilderness of rock by
which it is surrounded. On the adjoining hill were a few low huts,
some of them more in the ground than above it, where the owners of
this green spot dwell.

The hills in the immediate vicinity of Bethlehem were finely
terraced, and many olive and fig trees planted. I could not but
notice the number and beauty of the watch-houses or little towers,
which were placed in the vineyards--some of them were round and some
square--made of stone, from ten to fifteen or twenty feet high.
These serve as places from which a watch is kept on the vineyards
during the season of the grape. It is common to watch in this way
their gardens and fruit-trees, as otherwise they might be pillaged.
Reference is made to these towers in Scripture, "as a cottage in
a vineyard,"--"as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers," Isaiah i. 8;
"built a tower in it," (_the vineyard_,) Matt. xxi. 23. The ground
on which Bethlehem stands is rough and uneven. It is a poor-looking
place, and has but a small population. It was swarming with the
Pasha's troops when we were there, and that, as well as other
reasons, made our stay short.

The principal object of attraction here is the Church of the
Nativity. This is a large establishment, and includes in it both a
monastery and church. It properly belongs to the Latins, but is,
in part, a joint concern, as the Greeks have a chapel in it, and
probably some of the other Christian sects. They pretend to show you
the place where our Lord was born, and the manger in which he was
laid. The church is built over them. They may be said to be under
the level of the ground, and in a grotto, as almost all their holy
places are. You descend ten or twelve feet, and approach the place
of nativity through a narrow passage, which is paved, and the sides
faced with polished marble. The place itself is small, and used
somewhat as an altar,--a little recess in the wall. It is almost
filled with lamps, which are kept always burning. The manger is a
few yards to the right, on the other side of the passage. It is also
very richly ornamented, lined in part with silk, and illuminated
with many lamps. From these places a way leads into the Latin and
Greek chapels.

No sooner was our arrival announced than we were beset by a number
of persons with all sorts of trinkets for sale, crosses, large
pieces of mother-of-pearl, with the likeness of some holy person or
thing carved on it, beads, and snuff-boxes. They followed us into
the church, waylaid us in the passages, and beset us in the streets.
A great part of the population are engaged in manufacturing such
things, and they form the chief article of trade at this place. They
were really troublesome in their efforts to induce us to buy, and
they took care to ask a good price.

When about to start, some of our party were detained in the church
after I came out. I waited on my horse, and, as the day was hot, and
the sun beat down with great power, I spread my umbrella over me.
This excited the curiosity not only of the boys and common soldiers,
of whom the place was full, but of some of the inferior officers.
They gathered about me in crowds, and looked at the umbrella on all
sides--wished to understand the mechanism for raising and letting
it down--tried it, and held it over them. They examined my clothes,
especially my shoes, and on the whole, gave the Frank a pretty close
examination as to his exterior. They exhibited great good-nature in
doing it, and appeared much pleased with my willingness to gratify
their curiosity. After leaving the town, we passed many soldiers and
horsemen under the olive-trees which abound in the vicinity. One
of the horsemen joined us in the ride, and took a hat from Angelo,
which he put on his own head, and caught hold of the umbrella of
one of the company, and spread it over him, assuming in pleasantry
great dignity, to the no little amusement of his companions. I have
heard it said that the Turks seldom laugh, and I believe they do
laugh less than Franks; yet I have met with several samples of the
humorous and droll among them that was not a little amusing.

On our return to Jerusalem we learned that a French prince, one of
the sons of Louis Philippe, the present king, had just arrived,
escorted by the governor of Rumla. The governor of Jerusalem and a
number of important personages had gone out to meet and welcome him;
the Catholics were especially assiduous in their attentions--as the
French king, infidel as he is, is considered the protector of the
Catholic church in the eastern part of the Mediterranean. There has
also been a little excitement lately between the Catholics and the
Greeks, as the Catholics have attempted to take possession of some
holy places (they say, only get back) which the Greeks claim. The
Latins had contrived to get an order from Mohammed Ali, it was said,
in favour of their taking them; but the Greeks were not disposed to
yield willingly what they had long possessed and considered as of
right belonging to them. The presence of the son of Louis Philippe
at such a time was important.

The great quantity of rock on the surface, and the little earth
that is at times to be seen, must at first strike the observer as
a great objection to this country, and may lead to the inquiry,
how could such a rocky land be called "the land flowing with milk
and honey"--the glory of all lands? There are many districts that
are sadly encumbered with rock, yet the soil among these rocks is
of a very superior kind, and were the rock somewhat broken up, the
large pieces piled and the small mixed with the soil, it might be
made very productive. There is very striking proof of this in some
districts, as that about Hebron, which abounds with rock, and yet
is covered with the most productive vineyards. As to such a rocky
country being so spoken of in the days of the patriarchs, I suppose
that it was in truth, at that time, the finest of lands; that the
rock which now lies bare in so many places, was then all covered
with earth of the richest kind, which has gradually disappeared in
the wastings, and tillage, and pasturage, of four or five thousand
years. The more I see of Palestine, the more I am persuaded that it
was once one of the first countries in the world. The time was, I
doubt not, when all these rocks were covered with a fine vegetable
mould.



LETTER XIV.


  _Jerusalem, Oct. 13th_, 1836.

We have just returned from a visit to Jericho, the Jordan, and the
Dead Sea, and I now set myself to the work of giving you a short
account of these places. If you wish for a full and detailed account
of these celebrated places, I must send you to books and the makers
of them. My object is to give you such brief notices, as I have time
to commit to paper. The Rev. Mr. Lanneau of the Jerusalem mission
joined us, and made a very agreeable addition to our party; we took
also two soldiers as a guard, this district being notorious for
robbers.

We left Jerusalem by the gate of St. Stephen, passing between the
chapel of the Virgin Mary and the garden of Gethsemane. We crossed
Mount Olivet a little to the south of the church of the Ascension,
where there is a slight depression in the mount; the part south of
this is called the Mount of Corruption. On it Solomon built places
for his heathen wives, to practise the heathen rites. They point
out a place where they say he had a large establishment for these
"_strange women_." The Mount of Corruption! very well named, when
put to such uses; a very corrupt business it was--bad enough at
any place, but still worse at the holy city, and by the ruler of
the chosen people! Solomon was, no doubt, a very wise man in some
things, but he did not show it in his relation to females. In that
respect he behaved very foolishly. It is the dictate of wisdom for
a man to have one wife, it was thus intended by his Maker; and
he will be the happier and even the better man, all other things
being equal, for being thus connected. If he uses a little wisdom
in making his choice, and a little more in treating and taking
care of his wife, as every good man ought to do, he will find, nine
times out of ten, that his wife will be a great comfort and help to
him, and do him good all the days of his life. But what is to be
expected of the man who is so very foolish as to gather them about
him by the score, yea, the hundred? And then, what a selection from
all the idolatrous nations within his reach! I doubt not they were
a _bad set, a very bad set of women_; but what right had he to
expect a better from the quarter whence he obtained them? Had he
gone to some good old pious father of his own people, and married
his well-raised, virtuous, and pious daughter, and confined himself
to one wife as a wise man ought to do, and a good man would do, he
might have been happy in the married life. But behaving as he did,
there is no wonder that he was unhappy. It is not at all courteous
and gallant in him, in these circumstances, to show his spite in
making hard speeches about the ladies, as if there was no fault on
his own side.

Mount Olivet, where we crossed it, had a few trees on it, and a
portion was laid out in gardens and vineyards, but a great deal of
it evinced neglect. It has a wide, flat top, over which we passed
for some time, before we began our descent. We had a pretty good
view of the northern end of the Dead Sea, the valley of the Jordan,
and the mountains of Moab, which run north and south, not far east
of the Jordan and the Dead Sea. These mountains do not appear to be
very high; I should judge them to be about the height of the hills
to the west of Jerusalem. My attention was arrested by the apparent
straightness of the range, and the uniform height of the ridge. The
top of it, from the south to the north, as far as it could be seen
with distinctness, appeared almost perfectly level. It forms a most
beautiful eastern horizon to a person on the high grounds about
Jerusalem.

On the eastern side of Olivet, a little on the descent, is Bethany,
where Lazarus and his sisters lived. It is a low, miserable village,
containing only a few families, and most of these live in the lower
rooms and cellars of old buildings. Not one good house did I see in
the village. It is little else than a mass of ruins. An old ruin
is pointed out as the house of Martha. We were shown the grave of
Lazarus; it is an excavation in the rock, narrow at the mouth,
barely allowing a person to enter; we descended eight or ten steps,
and there found a small room, in which was a place that served for
an altar, on which service is at times performed. In one side of
this room is a small _hollow place_, rude enough certainly, in which
we were told the body of Lazarus was deposited. The whole concern is
certainly a very poor one, much less like a place of interment than
many we had seen, but may have been intended for that purpose.

Our course was now nearly due east. We had a very steep descent to
make on the eastern side of Olivet. We found some cultivated ground,
and a few olive and fig trees. Among the limestone on the surface
we saw many masses of silex, much of it of a variegated and fine
kind, which had the appearance of the coarser kinds of agate. We
passed from the Mount of Olives into a deep hollow, which runs east
towards the valley of the Jordan. Near the head of this hollow is a
spring of water, with a ruin in the vicinity, which appears to be a
great stopping-place for those who are passing to and from Jerusalem
and Jericho. We found there a company of Arabs and muleteers. Our
road led us down the valley. The hills on both sides were steep,
and the valley narrow. From this place there is a change in the
character of the rock, and a corresponding one in the character of
the soil and the aspect of the country. The rock becomes a friable
limestone of the softest kind. This continues most of the way to
the valley of the Jordan. It is easily disintegrated, and of course
but little of it appears on the surface. A fine-looking soil covers
the face of the country, the hills are rounded over, and but few
rocks are seen projecting out. Those veins of silex, which I have
mentioned, form an exception; and there are several of them, one
above another, at a greater or less distance. They vary from two
or three to twelve or eighteen inches in thickness; and, in some
places, form a kind of cord-like appearance round the hills. While,
however, the land looks more favourable for tillage, it does not
show the evidences of it--far otherwise--we saw less and less of
its surface under the care and cultivation of man, and fewer traces
of a resident population; no villages, no houses, no vineyards nor
olive trees, and but occasionally a spot that had been made to yield
grain. About half-way from Mount Olivet to the plain of Jordan, we
passed a district that exhibited rather a singular aspect. The rock
on both sides of the narrow valley down which we were passing, was
thrown much out of the horizontal position, which is the general
state of the rock in this district, and forced up in the middle,
a rod or two it may be, and made to have much the appearance of a
regularly-formed arch. It was manifest especially in the siliceous
stratum before-mentioned. In some places you might count many of
these arches along the side of the hill, on both sides of the
valley, and in part corresponding with each other. They had all the
appearance of having been formed by the action of some great force
from below, acting partially on small locations. I noticed the same,
but on a more extended scale, on the road by which I returned from
the Dead Sea, which lay considerably to the south of this. It was,
however, as far as I could judge, about the same distance from the
valley of the Jordan. It is, indeed, the same district, and may
possibly exhibit a similar appearance both north and south to a much
greater extent. It deserves an examination from some one who has
leisure and the desire to gain a perfect knowledge of the geology of
Palestine.

The west side of the valley of the Jordan is bounded by a very high
hill; it might well be called a mountain. It cannot be less than
from 500 to 800 feet high. The rock of these hills is limestone,
so very soft and white that I hesitated whether it did not more
properly belong to the chalk formation. As the valleys approach
this abrupt border of the plain, they cut deep into the earth, and
some of them form most tremendous chasms. They reminded me much of
the mouths of the streams in some parts of Kentucky, and on the
Kanhawa. They are all destitute of trees, and hardly a bush is to
be seen that would shade a goat. This nakedness of the banks and
precipices gives them a wild appearance. On the sides of these deep
chasms you occasionally see ledges of rock jutting out, and caves,
either natural or artificial, entering under them--a noble place
for thieves and robbers. The descent from the hills to the plain of
Jordan is abrupt and steep. To our left was a most tremendous gorge,
with a small flow of water in it. The face of the hill towards the
plain, was almost entirely destitute of vegetation, and deeply
furrowed, from the washing of its soft and yielding soil. Directly
before us, and a short distance from the foot of the hill, we saw
some ruins, and the remains of a wall which enclosed a considerable
district. Whether this was the remains of some old village or city,
we could not tell, as our road turned north of it, towards Jericho,
and we had not time to visit it and examine it more minutely. We
crossed the rivulet flowing out of the deep gorge to our left, as we
descended the hills; on its banks were some old ruins, and, to our
right, was a large and very high mound, which, from its regularity,
had the appearance of being artificial, and was much like some of
those large mounds that are seen in the valley of the Mississippi.

A few small trees adorned the banks of the rivulet within the gorge,
and marked its course through the plain. This noble, wide-spread
plain lay almost as much at waste, especially toward the hills, as
if there was no man to till the ground. It had the appearance of
having been fertile, and not wholly deprived of its fertility, but
as worn a good deal with former usage. There was, as is usual with
plains near water, a scattering of water-worn pebbles over it, but
not so many as to be at all in the way of tillage. As we entered
more on the plain, we passed some spots that bore marks of having
yielded grain not long since.

After travelling about three miles, we reached the village which is
called Jericho. Just before entering it, we crossed a small brook
which flows from the north-west, and has its rise in the fountain
pointed out as that which Elisha healed. 2 Kings, ii. 21. About this
brook, and spreading out over the plain, were a number of bushes,
mostly of the thorn kind, and not unlike what I have heard called
the white thorn in some parts of the United States. The largest of
them were about as high as a peach tree, but were rather a clump
of branches growing out of one root, than branches from the same
stem. They have many very sharp thorns on them. Some of them bore
an apple, of a whitish colour, larger than a grape. There was also
another bush with prickles on it, which grew from four to five feet
high. It bore a yellow fruit, about as large as the apricot, that
looked very rich and pretty, enticing the appetite, but the taste
was unpleasant and indescribably nauseous. When cut, they were soft
and watery.

The village called Jericho, may stand about mid-way from the hills
to the Jordan. It is one of the most miserable villages that I ever
saw. The houses are low, dirty, miserable places, hardly deserving
the name. Piles of rubbish, ashes, and filth, lie all about. There
is one building now occupied by the soldiers stationed there, that
has high and strong stone walls, but is much out of repair. The
village has, however, some gardens about it, and a number of fig and
other fruit trees. Of the many palms which may once have decorated
this city, but one remains. We encamped near the house used as a
fort by the troops, under some fine spreading fig trees. There were
some cattle in the village, but we were not able to procure any milk
that was fit to drink; a small vessel which they sent to us, being
so bad that we would not have it, but sent it back to the owner. We
have usually found it difficult to procure milk.

We set out in the morning to visit the fountain of Elisha before
we went down to the Jordan. It lies about three miles north-west
of Jericho. As our guide did not know the way, we tried to engage
a person from the village, and on inquiring for a boy, they told
us they had no boys; all their boys and young men were taken for
soldiers. They are all Mohammedans in this village; and it is only
Mohammedans, or Druses and Ansairi, who are next-door neighbours to
them, that the Pasha honours with a forcible incorporation into his
army--a happy deliverance for the Christian. After some inquiry,
a woman engaged to be our guide so far as to put us in the right
road. The spring is a fine large one, near a small hill, half a
mile in the plain. There were some appearances of ruins in the
piles of stone that lay about its head. The water is clear, but not
cold; there is a considerable spreading of the waters by means of
small channels, and also from the level character of the ground.
This district is for some extent covered with the thorn-bush I have
mentioned, together with some intermixture of other growth.

Mount Quarantania, which is one of the highest and roughest parts
of that range of hills that border on the plain, has a peculiarly
desolate appearance, and is full of holes and caves. This is the
mountain into which, as the monks tell us, our Lord was led, after
his baptism, to be tempted of the devil. Between its base and the
fountain are a number of old walls and buildings, which indicate
that a place of some consequence may once have been situate there.

The French prince whom I have mentioned before as on a visit to
Palestine, we learned, had spent the night at the fountain with his
retinue. He had come the day before from Bethlehem to the Dead Sea,
and from thence came up past Jericho to the fountain of Elisha, and
was off this morning for Jerusalem before we arrived. It would seem
that even to unbelievers this land has a most intense interest; and
well it may, for what land ever witnessed such wonders as have taken
place in Palestine?

We took a south-east direction across the plain, which differed
but little from the district we had already passed over, in the
sterility of its aspect. This appearance may in part have been
owing to the circumstances, that we were now at the close of the
summer, and these plains had been parched with a six months burning
sun, without the protection of a good covering of vegetable growth,
and not favoured with a shower of rain. This was enough to parch
the life out of almost anything. Parts of the plain had been under
tillage, and on some spots the stubble on the ground showed that a
crop of grain had been gathered, but the greater part lay untilled.
It no doubt serves, as much of the best lands of these regions
do, for pasturage--a matter, in the estimation of the people of
this country, equally, if not more important than land employed
in tillage. This is not the season for flocks to be seen on the
plains, as they are too much burned up; and I know not where they
can find districts at present that are not. At the distance of a
mile and a half from the Jordan we made a descent of eight or ten
feet. The descent was rather irregular, the edge of the strata much
washed, and there were many irregular parcels of earth along the
edge, that had resisted the wastings which had removed the strata to
this extent. The whole surface of this part of the plain was very
destitute of vegetation. At the distance of nearly three quarters of
a mile we made another descent, nearly as great as the former; the
edge of it had much the same washed and irregular appearance. The
land on which we now entered had many of these irregular mounds of
earth that I mentioned as lying along the water edge of the former
descent. It looked as if the whole plain had once been on a level
with the part above the first descent, and that a sweeping torrent,
extending out to where the first bank is, had passed over it, and
swept away about ten feet of earth, except a few hard spots near
the edge; then, that another torrent had come down, reaching out
only to the place where the second bank is, and within its range
had carried off about ten or twelve feet of earth, leaving a large
number of spots that resisted it; for the mounds between the first
and second banks nearly agreed in height with the plain above that
bank, while those below the second bank agreed in height with the
land between the first and second banks. In the space between the
second and third banks much of the ground looked as if it was often
covered with water, like the dried mud on which water has long
lain; this was not the general character of this district. There
were at places many small bushes, and on some parts of it a pretty
considerable crop of dry weeds. We made a third descent near the
stream, of about the same depth. On and near this last bank, down
to the water's edge, there were many bushes of various kinds; among
them considerable quantities of the willow, "the willow of the
water-courses."

The Jordan, where we visited it, may be twenty or twenty-five yards
wide. It is, however, very various in its width, but I should think
what I have given embraced its common width. It had a strong current
at this place, and was very muddy; whether this is its usual colour,
or was in consequence of a considerable fall of rain two days
before, I am unable to say. After amusing ourselves in the water for
some time, we thought it would not do to come away without crossing
it. We swam to the other side, and cut some rods from the willows,
on "the other side of Jordan." We could have waded across, if it had
not been for the rapidity of the current, which swept over a gravel
bar into a deep hole. Many lives, it is said, have been lost at this
place. We, however, swam over and returned in safety. I gathered
twelve stones from the Jordan, and cut half a dozen stems from the
willows that grew on its banks. We looked at the water, and the
banks again and again, as if we were fearful we might forget how
they looked; and at last, yet with reluctance, set off for the Dead
Sea.

We saw the Jordan at the place usually visited by the pilgrims,
three or four miles from its mouth. Its course makes it enter the
Dead Sea somewhat east of the middle of the plain. It may be that
some visitors follow the course of the stream, and see it at its
entrance; we, however, did not do this, but made for the Dead Sea,
at a point about midway from the entrance of the Jordan to the
western side of the plain. I may here remark that the valley of
the Jordan appears to be very uniform in its width. The ranges of
hills which border this valley or plain, run nearly parallel to each
other. The Dead Sea fills up this valley nearly from ridge to ridge,
leaving but a small border of land along its shores.

In going from the Jordan to the Dead Sea, for a considerable
space, not a blade of grass or vegetation was to be seen. It was
so soft and dusty, that the horses sank to their fetlocks; and in
some places it was rendered uneven by the irregular mounds--many
of which did not seem to know what vegetation is. Whether this
peculiar barrenness was owing to the unfavourable nature of the
soil I know not; possibly this may be the case. I did not see any
other indication of salt, which has been reported as found on the
surface of the ground, until very near the sea. Between this barren
district and the Dead Sea, there was an evident change in the aspect
of the ground--we found some dry grass and small bushes; and as we
came nearer the shore the bushes increased in size and number, and
some spots might be called thickets. We saw also a cane brake and a
variety of other growth. To my very agreeable surprise, I found the
shore fine, smooth, gravelly, and deepening very slowly, so that a
person might wade in for some distance. There was along the shore
drift-wood, most of it small, but still larger than any I had seen
on the Jordan. This would seem to indicate that somewhere on its
shores there is more timber than we found in the spot we visited.
The water was not only very salt but exceedingly bitter, as much so
as most travellers have stated. The great density of the water was
amply proved by its power to bear up the body. There is some truth
in the saying, that it requires an effort to keep the feet and legs
under, so as to use them with advantage in swimming. Some writers
have, however, stated the matter in rather too strong terms.

I could lie on my back in the water, with my head, hands, and feet,
all out at the same time, and remain thus as long as I pleased
without making any motion whatever; this I could not do in any other
water that I have been in. Still it is carrying the matter too far
and beyond the truth, when it is said to be so heavy, or so dead,
that it never rises in waves, but always lies smooth and unruffled,
let the wind blow as it will. The drift-wood thrown out is evidence
to the contrary. The shore exhibited proof that but a day or two
before the waves had run high; but the best proof of all was the
ocular and sensible one that they were then chasing each other out
on the shore, as they do in all other seas--true they did not run
high, but then there was not much wind to make them. The water was
so clear that the bottom could be seen with great distinctness. In
wading in there was, at some places, more softness at the bottom
than I was led to expect from the firm character of the shore. There
were, however, some spots on the shore where the soil gave way under
our feet, and exhibited a kind of quicksand, as I demonstrated by
getting into one of them over my shoes. Still the bank, the water,
and the bottom, so far as I saw and tried it, had much less of the
terrible, fearful, and unnatural, than I had expected. Instead
of that dark, gloomy, and turbid spread of water, that from my
childhood I had imagined, it struck me as a very pleasant lake.
It reminded me of the beautiful lake of Nice. As to the deep and
fearful gloom which many writers describe as hanging over it, I
must think that it is mainly found in their imaginations. It is not
wonderful that a place, which, for its great wickedness, was doomed
to such a fearful catastrophe as were the cities which stood on this
plain, should be long looked upon with fear and horror. It is a wise
provision of our nature that it should be so. It operates, and no
doubt is designed so to do, as a check to that fearful wickedness
that calls down such a doom. It is not an uncommon thing for people
to think that there is something fearful and gloomy in places where
they know awful crimes have been perpetrated, and on this principle,
perhaps, we may account for the fact that so many travellers
have dwelt on the deep gloom which hung over the water, and the
fearful desolation that reigned over the whole region. Now to me
it did not appear thus; the shore, the waters, and the lake, had
a natural and even a pleasing appearance--the more so as, from my
old habits of thinking, I expected something of the fearful, if not
terrible. The district was, it is true, rather destitute of trees
and vegetation; but not more so than many districts that I have
seen; not more so than the district from Mount Olivet to the plain
of Jordan, and a very large district near Damascus, which I noticed
in a former letter. There are more small trees, bushes, canes, and
other vegetable growth, for a quarter of a mile along the shore,
than there are on some districts north-west of Damascus, perhaps
ten miles square, leaving out the narrow slips of land irrigated by
the water of the Bareda. There is quite a cluster of small trees or
shrubs at a point on the edge of the water, where it is soft and
swampy. The question whether there are any living things in these
waters is one that I am not able to decide from my own observation.
I saw none.

There is a small island fifty or a hundred yards from the shore,
rising six or eight feet above the level of the water, and appears
to have some stones at the upper part of it. We thought we could
see most distinctly another island, far to the south. As similar
statements have often been made, and again contradicted, we looked
at it the more carefully; and our conclusion was, notwithstanding
all the declarations to the contrary, _it must be an island_, and
one of considerable size, unless connected with the other shore by
a very low neck of land, which the great distance prevented our
seeing: this time will show. It is a singular fact, that a piece of
water, which for ages has excited more intense interest than any
other in the world, should yet be so little known, and so few should
have been found who have made a serious attempt to explore it. There
has not, as far as I know, been but one boat on the waters of the
Dead Sea for ages, if from the days of Abraham; there may have been
in the days of the Jewish nation, but I have not seen it confirmed
by any writer. Last year an intelligent Irishman took a boat across
from Acre to the lake of Tiberias, and after amusing himself with
it on that lake, he passed down the Jordan to the Dead Sea, and
spent some days in exploring it. How far he went to the south, and
what discoveries he made, is not known. He had the misfortune to be
taken sick, owing in part, it was supposed, to his imprudence and
useless exposure. With much difficulty he got back to Jericho, and
was then carried to Jerusalem, where he died. He had taken but few
notes, which were unintelligible to all but himself. When inquired
of concerning his expedition on the Dead Sea, he declined answering
until he should recover, when he would tell them all about it. But
death closed up the communications for ever. The boat was taken
out and carried up to Jericho, as I have since learned. I did not
know it was there, or I should have ascertained its fitness for
another voyage. Were some one, acquainted with navigating a small
vessel, and capable of taking soundings and making a proper survey
of the lake, to spend a month or two in doing it, and to publish
a full account, with a correct map of the sea and the coast, he
would confer a very great favour on the Christian world. It would
be so easy of execution, and of so universal interest when done,
that I wonder that none of those men who long for public fame have
not before now thought of it. It would be a curious matter, were
some of the ruins of those ancient and devoted cities yet to be
seen. Several of the old authors have mentioned them as to be seen
in their day, and it is a current report among the natives that
they are now to be seen beneath the water. Travellers now begin to
pass to the eastern side of the Dead Sea, and visit Kerek at its
south-east corner, and Petra the capital of ancient Edom.

On our return we took a course much more to the south, than the road
by which we went down--having in view to visit and spend the night
at a celebrated monastery, the San-Saba, which lies south-east of
Jerusalem, and on the borders of the Engedi region. We therefore
ascended the hills near the north end of the Dead Sea. Several beds
of torrents lay in our route, which, although now dry, exhibited
evidence that they do at times carry much water into the Dead Sea.

We had a striking proof of how little the people here knew of the
country out of the common track. In ascending the hills, which
were high and steep, and of the same soft yielding character before
described, we had near us, on our right, a very deep gorge. It
struck me that this might be the Kedron; and on asking our guides
they at first hesitated, but after consultation, agreed that it was.
We, however, found to our satisfaction before we reached Jerusalem,
that this could not be the case, as we left this hollow far to our
right in passing over the hills; and still found that the Kedron was
on our left as we approached Jerusalem. I could not but often think
during the tour of the expression, "going up to Jerusalem," and
"going down to Jericho." It is down, down, all the way to Jericho;
and up, up, all the way to Jerusalem.

Having reached the top of the first steep ascent from the Dead Sea,
we entered on a more gradual one, which continued for several hours'
travel. Our course was south-west--the Dead Sea lay to our left,
and could be seen extending far to the south. The district we were
passing over, was almost wholly without trees. There was a little
grass, and some thistles, and an almost innumerable multitude of
snails about the roots of the weeds and small thorn bushes.

This district appeared to be used only for pasturage. We saw signs
of sheep and goats, and passed one or two wells, that had recently
been used for watering flocks. This whole district appeared
fertile. The rock was a very soft limestone; but I saw no signs of
cultivation, and not a village was to be seen.

Before we reached the monastery, the night came on--and our guides
became doubtful as to the way. We passed a grave-yard, but when the
people had lived, who had been interred, no one could tell. After
hunting our way for some time, we concluded that we must be wrong,
although our guide still insisted that we were going in the right
direction. We ought to have yielded to him. The majority, however,
were so confident that our course was wrong, that we turned back,
and took another road, which we had passed; after following this for
some time, we came to a full halt, as our muleteers affirmed that
it was not the right way. While we were debating the merits of the
case, the horse of one of our guard, who had alighted, got his foot
fastened in some part of his harness, and taking fright at it, made
a most ludicrous affray. The Turkish soldier, who was previously out
of humour with the guide, on account of his not knowing the way, now
lost all patience; and while his horse was like to break his neck in
floundering, he fell to beating the guide with the but-end of his
gun.

Our whole case was unpleasant. We were lost, and our guard was
likely, in his fury, to injure our guide. We loudly commanded the
peace, and after a little, things began to look better. The horse
broke the straps that had alarmed him. The soldier ceased beating
our guide, and a muleteer, who had gone out to explore the road,
returned with the assurance that he had found the right one, and
that we were not far from the monastery.

We again set out, and soon reached San-Saba; but there new trials
awaited us. It was now near midnight, and the gates were shut. We
knocked loud and long before any one took notice of us; at last a
small window, above one of the gates, was cautiously opened, and
inquiry made who we were and what we wanted.

It was too dark for them to see us distinctly; and in our eagerness
to get the gate opened, we all talked and urged our suit, each in
the language which he could best use--English, Italian, Turkish,
Arabic, and Greek, were all put in requisition. The good fathers
were evidently in doubt of us--who we could be, and wherefore come
at such an untimely hour! All our entreaties did not move a bar
of the gate. We pleaded, which was true, that we were suffering
for water. A small jar of water was let down by a rope. This was
soon emptied--it was let down a second and third time. This, in
some degree, satisfied our present wants; but our animals were not
supplied, except the horses of our guard, who poured water in their
red caps and gave it to them to drink. The jar was drawn up, and the
window shut, all our entreaties to the contrary notwithstanding.

We had no alternative but to wait until morning. We were hungry,
but our provisions were exhausted. We could not cook, for we had no
water. We felt a good deal of displeasure at the fathers who thus
refused us admittance. We lay down at the gate and waited for the
morning. About sunrise, after seeing that we were Franks, and but
few in number, they opened the gates and gave us admittance. The
superior apologised for their refusal to admit us in the night. He
said most of the monks were absent, it being the season for making
their wine--that there were but a few old men in the monastery--that
the district about them was in a disturbed state--and they did not
know who we were--they knew not but that it might be a stratagem of
some freebooters to get in and rob the monastery--that had we sent
them word from Jerusalem that we were coming, they would at once
have admitted us. I thought that there was much reason in what they
said; and this, together with the readiness with which they provided
us refreshments, and showed us all parts of their establishment,
made me cordially forgive their seeming rough treatment in refusing
to admit us before.

The monastery of San-Saba stands on a narrow, deep ravine. It takes
in part of the ridge on both sides, and has a very high and strong
wall, which crosses the ravine at two places, so as to include the
valley for a considerable distance. In the valley within the walls,
is a small spring, the only one that is near. On the hills are
towers connected with the walls. There are many buildings within,
and rooms sufficient to hold several thousand persons. There are
a number of chapels, several of which are richly furnished, and
they, as well as most of the Greek monasteries in Jerusalem, have
lately received rich presents from Russia. Above twenty boxes were
lately sent to the Greek church in these regions, filled with rich
chandeliers, censers, crosses, altar cloths, and priests' garments.
They showed us a chapel, in which was a pile of human skulls, said
to be of monks and martyrs. There was an altar before them, on which
religious service seemed to be at times performed.

Most of the chapels had many pictures in them. The Greeks make much
use of pictures in their worship. I was especially struck with a
picture of the Last Judgment. God was represented as an old man--a
fiery stream came out from before Him. The apostles were acting as
judges--the dead were rising, and a halo of glory was around the
head of the righteous--Peter was opening the gates of Heaven to
the righteous, and the fiery stream was beating on the wicked, and
forcing them into the mouth of a monstrous serpent.

There were many artificial caves in the sides of the ravine on which
San-Saba stands. These were formerly inhabited by monks, it is said,
but their number now not being great, they can find accommodation
within the building.

With the history of this monastery I have very little acquaintance.
It is an old institution, but still in good repair. The whole
district about San-Saba, and from that to the Dead Sea, and I
may add from that to near Jerusalem, is unusually destitute of
vegetation.

In several places the rock had the dip, and not unfrequently veins
of flint were seen in the limestone rock, and in many places the
rock was nearly as white and soft as chalk. The whole district from
the foot of Mount Olivet to the plains of Jordan, and from the end
of the Dead Sea to Jerusalem, past San-Saba, seems not to have
been cultivated, at least in modern times. The soil appears good,
but from some cause it lies neglected; while west and north of
Jerusalem, where the soil does not seem better, and where there is
much more rock on the surface, there are many villages, and much of
the ground is under tillage.

To the south of San-Saba, we saw the Frank mountain. It rises much
above the neighbouring hills--has a sugar-loaf appearance, and is
said to have many ruins on and about it. Still farther to the south,
lie Engedi and Maon, and a second Mount Carmel, the one referred to
in the life of David. 1 Sam. xxv. 2.



LETTER XV.


  _Nazareth, October 17, 1836._

We left Jerusalem, and passed northward; and having in view to visit
Nabloos, Samaria, Tiberias, Nazareth, and many other interesting
localities, on our return to Beyroot.

Our route led us near the tombs of the kings, and I could not but
notice the immense quantities of loose stones that lay over the
district west and north-west of Jerusalem--most of them are small.
They often form immense piles. What may have caused such banks of
them is not known. Possibly they indicate that buildings were once
spread over this district--or it maybe that much rock has been taken
from the upper stratum, and these piles are the refuse rock--or
it may be that in the many sieges which Jerusalem sustained, the
besieging armies may have collected them for embankments, or for the
purpose of defending their camps. To the north of Jerusalem there
are some fine orchards of olives. The country is rolling, but not
too much so for cultivation; and we passed a succession of small
plains, which were fertile and under tillage.

At the distance of about six miles, we passed Rama, the city of
Samuel the Prophet. It stood to our left, and on one of the highest
points of the hill country of Judea. It is now a poor Moslem
village, surrounded with groves of olives and other fruit trees: the
Mediterranean sea, and a long stretch of the plains of Sharon, may
be seen from Rama.

Near Rama, and north-west of it, stands Gibeon, the city of the
ancient Gibeonites, who made peace with Israel under Joshua, and
practised a deception on them. (Joshua ix.) It stands on the top
of a small sugar-loaf hill, and is capable of being made a strong
place. It is now a poor village--several other villages lay to our
left, the names of which I do not now recollect.

To our right we passed several villages, but most of them lay
at some little distance from the road--as Anathoth, the town
of Jeremiah, now a poor Mohammedan village--Geba, and Gibeah
of Saul--Michmash, where Jonathan defeated the garrison of the
Philistines--Rimmon, in which the Benjamites found refuge when
Gideon was destroyed. (Judges xx. 45.)

At the distance of ten or twelve miles from Jerusalem we came to
Beer, the town to which Jotham is supposed to have fled from his
brother Abimelech. In approaching it, we passed over a fine plain, a
part of which was under cultivation; near the town were orchards of
olive and other fruit trees.

We had intended to spend the night here, but we found several
thousand Turkish horsemen encamped on the plain near the town. They
were spread over the whole district adjoining the springs; and men,
horses, camels, and donkeys, mixed together in the most irregular
manner. Some of the officers and men had tents, but the majority
of the army either had none or did not think it necessary to pitch
them. The town, which is not large, was overrun with troops. We
thought it, on the whole, not best to lodge with such company, and
passed on to Ain-Brood. This led us past ancient Bethel,--there is
now a small village there, and many ruins that show that it has
once been a place of considerable size. It stands near the top of
the ridge, and commands a fine view of the adjacent country. It was
here that Abraham pitched his tent soon after entering the land of
Canaan--and from this place he was made to look north and south,
and east and west; and was assured that all the land he saw should
be given to him and his seed. (Gen. xii. 8, and xiii. 3-14.) And
here Jeroboam set up one of the golden calves, and induced Israel to
worship before it. (1 Kings, xii. 29.)

The precise situation of it, which lies a little to the east, is not
known. There are ruins in several places, but a doubt remains as to
which is the site of the city first taken by the Israelites on the
hill country.

The country about Bethel is slightly diversified with small plains
and ridges; it is fertile, and well adapted to tillage--olive
orchards, fruit trees, and vineyards are more numerous than in most
parts of Palestine--the country is, moreover, better watered than
the parts of the hill country that lie more to the south.

It became dark before we reached Ain-Brood (_Cold Spring_). The
village of that name stands a little off the road, on the top of a
hill. It is a small place, and has nothing that distinguishes it,
unless it be the excellent vineyards, and olive-orchards, and fruit
trees with which it is surrounded: to which may be added that a good
deal of labour has been expended in gathering off the stones, which
abound on the surface, and forming low walls around these vineyards.
In some places the rock had been broken up about as fine as would
suit for a Macadamized road, and earth mixed with it, and thus lots
are prepared that produce fine grapes and fruit trees.

As the night was clear, which is always the case in Palestine during
the summer, we did not take the trouble to hunt for lodgings; but
getting over one of these low stone fences with our horses, we
spread our carpets, and made our beds under a large fig-tree, and
there spent the night.

Knowing that the company of troops that we had left at Beer were
moving northward, we concluded we would make an early start, and try
and keep before them. In this, however, we were disappointed. We
had not gone many miles before we saw some horsemen not far behind.
We whipped up our animals, but it would not do; they gained on us
continually: and in a few hours we had them pouring by us in all the
confusion of the Turkish march. They, however, were perfectly civil,
and some of their officers entered pleasantly into conversation with
us.

They had been to the south of Bethlehem, disarming a tribe of Arabs
that frequented the country near the south end of the Dead Sea; and
having accomplished that service they were returning to the north,
where most of them lived.

They were much scattered, and altogether regardless of order on
their march; and it was several hours before they all passed us.
Between ten and twelve o'clock we descended a long steep hill into
a plain of some extent. Near the foot of the hill was a spring, and
when that came in view there was a kind of rush made for the water;
and it was a striking spectacle to see such a body of horsemen
pouring down the hill, each trying to be the first, or at least not
the last, to water his horse, and obtain a portion for himself.

We were willing to let the men of war be satisfied before we
approached. They then rode to a fine growth of olive-trees that
covered a part of the plain, and then separating themselves into
small companies, dismounted and placed themselves and horses in the
shade to pass the heat of the day.

We pursued our journey and passed several villages, and one or two
of a larger size than are usually met with. The country was more
hilly, and intersected with deeper valleys, than it had been near
Jerusalem; but on the whole it was fertile, and a considerable
portion set with vineyards and orchards, or bearing marks of
cultivation. Passing over a ridge from the plain in which we left
the troops, we entered a wide plain, which ran north and south.
The hills which bounded the plain on our left were of considerable
height, and had several villages on their sides. On the east side
of this plain, the hills were lower, and appeared to become still
more so as we proceeded north. After several hours' travel along
this plain, which was a fine one, and partly set with cotton, we
reached a place where a small plain came in from the west at right
angles. The hill on the north of this small plain is the Ebal, and
that on the south the Gerezim, of the Scriptures; and this is the
place which Moses pointed out as the place at which the Law was to
be read, while six tribes stood on the one side to say amen when the
blessings were read, and six on the other side to say amen when the
curses were read. (Deut. xxvii. 12-14.)

I do not understand it as meaning that all the people stood on
the top of the mountains; I suppose they were divided into two
parts--one part stood on one side of the priests, who probably
occupied the middle of the plain, and the other part on the other
side, and occupied the sides of the mountains as far as might be
necessary. The place is most admirably adapted for such a thing;
possibly a more suitable place could not be found. In this plain the
ancient Sychar or Shechem stood. It is now called Nabloos. It may
have 6,000 or 8,000 people; the most of them are Moslems.

At the mouth of the small plain is shown the piece of ground Jacob
bought when he came from Padanaram, and which he, at his death,
gave to his son Joseph; (Genesis xxxiii. 19; John iv. 5.) There are
some sepulchral monuments on it; and nearer the city they show what
is called Jacob's well. A little east of the town is a spring, the
waters of which flow eastward; and close to the town, on the west
side, is a fine spring, the waters of which flow west, and fall into
the Mediterranean. There are fine olive orchards, and other fruit
trees about the town, and some fine gardens, especially on the west
of the town.

I saw at the gate of Nabloos eight or ten lepers. They were covered
with spots that looked like raw flesh; had a most disgusting
appearance; they seemed to be shut out from the city, and were most
importunate as beggars. They were the only lepers that I recollect
to have seen in Palestine.

There are remains of an old Christian church here, which must have
been a most splendid building. The pillars, and other parts which
remain, have a richness of workmanship about them that excels
anything that I saw in Palestine. Not much of them, however,
remains. There are many indications about the town, and on the
mountains, that a large city once stood here.

Passing west along the narrow plain for a few miles, we then turned
due north, and at the distance of eight or ten miles, we came to the
site of ancient Samaria, the capital of the kingdom of Israel. The
country around it is rocky, but very fertile. The rock is the soft
limestone, which disintegrates so easily that very little is seen on
the surface. There are about it more extensive orchards of olive and
other fruit trees than are usually met with, and the whole aspect of
the country is fine.

Samaria stood on a low, broad, sugar-loaf hill. It seems to have
been terraced all round, and all the way to the top; but the
terraces were so wide as to admit a row or rows of houses, and
a street. These rose one above another, and, when filled with
houses, must have had a fine appearance. All are now gone but a few
ruins, piles of rock and rubbish, and a few pillars. This hill is
surrounded with a narrow plain, except at the east side, where a
low ridge connects it with some adjacent hills, which, at a little
distance, border this plain.

Samaria was the seat of great wickedness while the capital of the
kingdom of Israel, and now it lies desolate. It deserves notice,
that the capital of both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah stood on
the hill country, and distant about forty miles from each other, and
each of them about midway from the Mediterranean to the Jordan.
Jerusalem is on the highest ground, but Samaria on the most fertile.

North of Samaria, we passed over a high hill. There is more
brushwood on this hill than is usually met with, and among it some
small oaks. On the north of this hill, the country presented a
variegated, rolling surface, with more natural growth than usual,
and a number of small villages and ruins. Many of the small plains
were very fertile, and we saw some fields of cotton.

As it grew dark, we reached a fine spring of water, and about it
grew a good many fig and olive trees. We spread our mats and made
our beds under one of them, and there spent the night. A number of
other travellers encamped at the same place, and all slept under the
trees in the open air.

Next morning we pursued our route three or four hours northward,
to the plain of Esdralon; we passed over two or three plains of
considerable extent, separated by hilly districts. The plains
were very fertile, and on some of them cotton was growing. The
hills were low, and on some of them were small villages, and ruins
indicating that villages or towns had once stood there. In much of
this district the rock was of that soft kind which I have often
mentioned. Many of these hills exhibited remains of the ancient
terrace-work, and showed that, in days past, more labour was
expended on them, and much more of them were cultivated, than at
present.

We at length approached the great plain of Esdralon. A row of low
hills, with small spaces between them, separated a strip of the
plain to the south. This portion was especially rich; a good deal
of it had the appearance of having once been under water. It looked
like the bottom of a lake, from which the water had been removed.
It being the latter part of the long dry season, the ground was so
shaped in many places, that I really felt a fear that my animal
might step in some of the cracks and fall, or break a limb. The
soil, as seen in the edge of these cracks, seemed as rich as soil
could be.

We reached the edge of the great plain at a considerable town called
Jeneen. It stands on the point of a ridge, a little above the level
of the plain. The similarity of the name made me think it might be
the ancient Jesreel. Its distance from Carmel would agree with this
supposition, as Ahab passed from Carmel to Jesreel in a part of a
day, when Elisha ran before his chariot. (1 Kings, xviii. 40-46.)
There are ruins about the town which indicate that it may have been
larger in time past than it is now.

There is near this village a large garden spot, well inclosed, and
planted with various trees, which grow so thriftily as to show how
easy it would be, with proper care, to raise trees of various kinds,
in such quantities as greatly to contribute to the comfort and
advantage of the population of this country.

We passed from Jeneen north-east across the plain. But a small part
of it is cultivated--around its edge a few villages were to be seen,
with their vineyards, olive and other trees about them. We saw some
flocks and herds on the plain, but not in as great numbers as I had
been led to expect.

To our right the point of a ridge ran out considerably into the
plain. This is Mount Gilboa, on which Saul and his sons fell in
battle against the Philistines. Bethshan, the village to which the
Philistines fastened their bodies, lies a few miles north-east of
the end of this hill. The battle seems to have begun on the plain,
and when overcome, Israel fled to the hill, and then Saul and his
sons fell. I could not but notice, while looking on the mount from
the plain, how it accorded with the statement, that the chariots and
horsemen followed hard after Saul on Mount Gilboa. The ascent from
the plain is such that horsemen and chariots might pass up even to
the top of this hill.

The plain of Esdralon may be thirty-five or thirty-six miles by
forty. Our course led us to the east of a rough and very rocky
hill, that rises in the plain a little south-east of Mount Tabor.
As soon as we passed the south-east corner of this hill we entered
on a district that was evidently volcanic. The lava was very old,
and much disintegrated, so as to make a most excellent soil. This
continued all the way to the edge of the lake. We did, indeed, for a
short distance, as we passed close by the foot of Mount Tabor, get
off, for a short distance, the bed of lava. Mount Tabor did not to
me appear volcanic. I did not, however, ascend it. It was Saturday
afternoon, and wishing to reach Tiberias to spend the Sabbath, I
had not time to make the ascent. We, however, wound round nearly
one-third of the mountain at its very foot, and examined the stone
that cropt out, and the stone that had rolled down from its sides,
and saw no signs of its being volcanic. How the matter may appear on
its top I know not. There are ruins there, and as much lava lies on
the plain a little east of Tabor; and as it is used in the buildings
of several villages, the fact that some of it may be found on the
top of the Tabor would not prove that the mountain was volcanic.
It may have been taken up as building stone. Tabor is a sugar-loaf
hill, and rises to a considerable height. It is supposed that our
Lord was transfigured on this mountain.

A small branch of the Kishon rises north of the Tabor, flows east of
the mountain, washing its foot, and then runs south and west, and
falls into the Mediterranean Sea at the north end of Carmel. The
Kishon is at best a small stream; and the branch which we crossed at
the foot of the Tabor was about the size of a good spring.

Near Tabor we passed a small village called Nain, the place where
Christ brought to life the widow's son.

Leaving Mount Tabor, we passed over a high part of the plain,
covered with disintegrated lava. Part of this plain had been
cultivated. It is, perhaps, the most fertile district in Palestine.
In many places the weeds were nearly as high as a man's head, a
thing of rare occurrence in the East.

The descent to the lake from the level of the plain is very
considerable--I should think from five hundred to eight hundred
feet, opposite the town of Tiberias; at the southern end of the lake
of course it is much less, as the plain lies like an inclined plane
towards the south.

It was night before we reached the town; but we were readily
admitted by the guard of soldiers who kept the gates. We found
some difficulty in finding a place to lodge in. After employing
several persons to look for a place, and waiting some time, we were
conducted to the court of the Greek church, and told we might lodge
there. It might be called a church-yard. It was a space before the
church, inclosed with a wall, with a gate to it; but all open to
the travellers. It was in part at least paved with rock. We found
other travellers there, with their animals. As the air was mild, and
there was no danger of rain, the case was not as bad as some might
suppose. We had slept out every night since we left Jerusalem--and
in places not more comfortable than Tiberias. It did indeed appear
rather hard that in the heart of a walled and garrisoned town we
could not find a house to lodge in.

We found a great merry-making going on in the town. Nearly the whole
population were gathered before what we learned was the governor's
palace. On inquiry we were informed that the merry-making was
in honour of the circumcision of the governor's son. The Moslem
religion has borrowed the rite of circumcision from the Jews; and
they perform it on all their male children--at the age of thirteen,
if I remember right. They usually honour this occasion with some
festivities. They had various kinds of musical instruments--some
that were bad enough in all reason. They had dancing; and some,
especially the women, made a singular noise, somewhat like a short,
shrill whistle. I was especially struck with one thing which took
place. It was a procession of a considerable body of persons, who
bore torches. I was told that they were Jews, and did it in honour
of the occasion. It reminded me of the parable of the virgins who
took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. (Matt. xxv.)

In the morning of the Sabbath, before we had dressed and finished
our breakfast, the people began to come to church. Our situation
was even worse than it had been at Baalbec, where we had to make
our toilette on the house-top, in the face of all who chose to look
at us. Here we were, with men and women, and children, all crowding
about us, and looking and thinking more, I fear, about us than they
did about the church-service that was going on. We hurried and got
things put to rights as soon as we could, and deemed it proper to be
present at their service, although we could understand but little of
it. It consisted of a great variety of prayers, and crossings, and
bowing before the pictures and kissing them; and reading portions of
God's word.

There was a great want of reverence in the worshippers; and, for
the most part, the reading was so hurried and indistinct, that
not much of it could, I should think, be understood. The whole of
the service was not performed by the priest himself; from time to
time he called on some one to read portions of the service. At its
close, the priest and a number of his people remained for some
time, in part to look at us and talk to us. We asked him why he did
not preach to the people, and instruct them in religion? He seemed
surprised that we should think this necessary. We reminded him that
the apostles preached and taught the people; at this he shrugged up
his shoulders, and said somewhat significantly--"Oh! that was before
the church was regulated as it now is." This was getting out of the
difficulty with more tact than we had expected from him. It must
be a bad regulation, however, that sets aside the preaching of the
gospel!

As we were a good deal annoyed with the multitude of people that
came into the court to see us, and as our baggage was not altogether
safe unless we kept a watch over it, we requested the priest to
allow us to take up our quarters in the church; which he permitted,
on our engaging that we would take care that nothing was injured.

This church is said to be the house of Peter. It is an old building,
with an arched roof, but has no just claims to an origin so early as
the days of the apostles. There is, I think, another reason given
why it is called the house of Peter, that is, it stands on the place
where our Lord appeared to the disciples, and put the searching
question to Peter--"Lovest thou me?"

Among those travellers who spent the night in the court of the
church, was a sick man for whom we felt most deeply. He lived near
Constantinople, and had visited the Holy Land as a pilgrim. He had
left a family at home; was well dressed; rode a good horse, and
travelled with a company of the better sort of pilgrims. He had been
unwell for several days; but as his company could not or would not
stop, his great unwillingness to be left induced him to travel on,
when under a raging fever. On Sabbath morning he was utterly unable
to rise--and seldom have I seen a person that more needed medical
aid. We tried to do what we could for him; but I had not the medical
knowledge which his case called for. While I stood over him and
felt his pulse, he gazed on me with a brightening countenance; no
doubt in the hope that I might give him relief. He tried to make
me understand the nature and seat of his pain; but he spoke modern
Greek, and we had no one that could interpret; and, moreover, his
case was one that was utterly beyond my skill. Never did I feel
so deeply my need of medical knowledge; never did I feel more
deeply how impotent is man to save his fellow-man. When I turned
from him in despair of doing anything that would at all benefit
him, he seemed to read my feelings; and never did I see a deeper
disappointment than was expressed in his looks. It seemed to say,
You see I am dying, and yet you do not save me.

We gave him some simples, which might possibly afford momentary
relief. His company had left him. We prevailed on the Greek priest
to take him into his family, and had him conveyed there. What became
of him I know not. There was little prospect of his living.

The lake is a pretty sheet of clean, fresh water, about twelve miles
long and six miles broad, of an oval shape. The water deepens very
gradually on the western side where I visited it. I saw many small
fish in it; but saw no means for taking them. It is said, however,
that the Jews have a fishery at the southern part, and take a good
many. I saw but one boat on the lake. It would hold eight or ten
men--it lay off the town--but I saw no one in it during the time I
was there.

The banks of the lake were more precipitous on the eastern than on
the western side; and as it seems to have been on the eastern side
that our Lord healed the demoniac, and permitted the devils to enter
the swine, I could not but think that it did argue that the swine
were possessed, that the whole herd should leap from the top of such
a precipice into the sea.

The town of Tiberias stands on the western side, about mid-way
of the lake, and on the edge of the water; it is walled, and has
a small garrison in it. The population is but a few thousand,
possibly not above 3,000. Most of these are Moslems; there are a few
Christians of the Greek church, and a small number of Jews.

The whole district about the lake, as far as I saw it, is volcanic.
The walls of the town, and of most of the houses are built of lava,
and most of the rock that lies about the town, and the bottom of
the lake is lava. There is a mixture of limestone among it; for the
whole district is based on limestone. The volcanic district extends
north of the lake, and also far to the east of the Jordan, according
to my best information.

There were originally many towns about this lake--most of them
have disappeared; and the very sites of Chorasin, and Bethsaida,
and Capernaum, on which the Lord pronounced a woe, are not with
certainty known.

The Jordan rises some distance to the north-east of Tiberias, and
passes through another small lake called the waters of Merom. It
was by it that Joshua defeated the second confederacy of kings.
(Joshua ii. 5.) Passing through this lake, the Jordan enters the
lake of Tiberias at the north-east corner, and leaves it at the
south end, and passes through the plain of Jordan from sixty to
eighty miles, and falls into the Dead Sea. There is no outlet to
this sea. The waters are carried off, as is supposed, by evaporation.

There is a fine district of country, it is said, about the waters of
Merom, and formerly the towns of Cesarea and Philippi stood there.

North of lake Tiberias, and on the top of a high mountain in sight,
stands Safet, a town of considerable size. This is one of the sacred
cities of the Jews; and more Jews are found here than in any place
in Palestine. The whole district about it is volcanic, and has
been a good deal disturbed by earthquakes. On the western side of
the lake, and a mile or two south of the town, are some copious
springs of warm salt water. They are so hot as to require to be
tempered when used for bathing. There is a good bathing-house, and
a considerable resort here for that purpose. On the east side of
the lake, and a little from it, is another spring of warm water;
and, if I was rightly informed, there is another west of the lake,
and I think on some part of the hills near Mount Tabor. The whole
district is a good deal subject to earthquakes, and gives evidence
of internal fires.

The road from Tiberias to Nazareth runs nearly west; and the
distance maybe about twenty or twenty-five miles. At the distance
of six or eight miles, we passed a low hill to our right, with two
little elevations on it; this is called the Mount of Beatitudes.
It would afford a very good place to take a seat and address a
large assembly collected on the plain below. We cannot be certain,
however, as to the sermon on the mount having been preached here.

Our road passed north of Mount Tabor, and the range of hills
called the hills of Nazareth. The plain over which we passed was
fertile. It was uneven on its northern side, where the ridges of the
Anti-Lebanon shut it in. We passed several villages, both to our
right and left, but most of them were at a distance, and their names
did not accord with those of the Bible. But a small part of the
plain was cultivated. A few miles before reaching Nazareth, we came
to Cana of Galilee, the place where our Lord turned water into wine.
It is a small village, and has nothing that gives it much interest,
except the above fact.

At a large well below the town, we saw a fine sample of their mode
of drawing water, and pouring it into troughs, and allowing their
flocks and herds to come up in succession and drink. Thus the
shepherds were engaged as we passed the well. They allowed us to
ride up, and let our animals drink of the water which they had drawn.

Cana lies on the north side of the hills of Nazareth, and Nazareth
lies on the south side, a mile or two farther to the west. This
range of hills is not high, and Nazareth is built on the side of
it, and, in part, on a little level space that is somewhat elevated
above the small plain that spreads out before it. A ridge of the
hills runs to the south-east, so as nearly to shut out Nazareth from
a view of the great plain in which it stands.

Nazareth is one of the best built towns that I saw in Palestine. At
its east end, and on the edge of the little plain that lies before
it, is a spring or well; and here, it is said, the angel appeared to
Mary; and here she often came, accompanied by the infant Saviour, to
draw water for family use.

There is a church over the place that is shown as the house of
Mary, and adjoining it is a Latin convent. We lodged in this
convent, and were kindly entertained. There was a paper in our room,
stating that the convent was authorised and required by the Pope to
receive all persons who were devoutly visiting the holy places, and
entertain them three days; after which, it was expected, that such
persons would pass on their way. The church was the best we saw in
Palestine; the organ was good, and well played; and the religious
service was, on the whole, better conducted than any one I had seen
in Syria.

Near the middle of the church, a wide flight of stairs descends
for about twelve or fourteen feet; there stands an altar. Passing
a door, we entered a small room, in which is another altar. On
both of these, religious service appears at times to be performed.
Passing through another door, we were in a low cave, that has been
hewn out of the soft limestone rock. The wall on all sides is rough;
made so, perhaps, by the pilgrims breaking off pieces of the rock
to carry home as holy earth. This is shown as the room in which
Mary lived and raised the infant Saviour. It did not appear to me a
comfortable place for a residence; and I could not but think that
Joseph must have loved his wife, and prized the privilege of raising
the Messiah, to such a degree as to have induced him to provide for
them a more suitable place. The whole appearance of the place was,
in my view, against its being the true locality. We know they lived
at Nazareth, but as to the precise spot, the Bible is silent, and we
are left in doubt.

They show the synagogue in which our Lord read the law; and, a
little out of town, they show the precipice over which the enraged
people wished to cast him. The situation of the town on the hill,
and the height of the hill, agrees with the account recorded, but
which is the precise spot may not be perfectly certain. They show
also the shop in which Joseph followed his trade, with some other
things that need not be specified.



LETTER XVI.


  _Beyroot, Oct. 23d, 1836._

We left Nazareth by the same road that we entered it; but on
reaching the top of the ridge north of the town we took a north-west
direction into the plain which we had left, which is here broken
with hills, and can hardly be said to be continuous. Some of these
hills are very much covered with rocks. After a few miles we passed,
on the top of a hill on our left, the ruins of Sefora, which was
at one time a place of note. There is more natural growth on these
hills than on those more to the east. This district is stony; but
appears to have had more labour bestowed on it than most of those
that are better adapted for cultivation. The plain of Zebulun, a
little farther on, is separated from the great plain by some hills,
which are, however, not very high. It is a most lovely and fertile
district. On one side of it were many olive-trees, and a part of
it was cultivated with cotton. The cotton appeared to have had but
little labour bestowed on it, and promised a corresponding small
return, notwithstanding the fertility of the plain. Between this
place and the plain on the coast, and lying between Acre and the
hills, we crossed a considerable distance that was hilly; the hills
were not very high, but spread pretty generally over the face of
the country. Most of them have more or less rocks on the surface,
but, as a general thing, they are not so rocky as the country about
Jerusalem. From this low hilly district we entered the plain which
lies east of Acre, and spreads along the coast. This is a noble
plain of considerable extent, and is generally exceedingly fertile.
On entering this plain we saw Acre, nearly before us, on the shore
of the sea. A little to the right of the city, and out near the
middle of the plain, were some good-looking buildings with gardens
about them, and others partly finished. I have seldom seen a finer
set of orange and lemon trees. There is an aqueduct that brings
water from the hill, across the plains, to Acre. This water is used
for watering the gardens, which, we were given to understand, belong
to Ibrahim Pasha. At some distance to our left, we had the north
end of Mount Carmel in view, with the Latin monastery on the top
of it. Between us and that point was a fine spread of plain, which
might be called either the plain of Acre or the plain of Esdralon.
This plain, as I have before stated, crosses the whole district
from the lake of Tiberias and the Jordan to the Mediterranean. It
comes to the coast directly at the north end of Carmel, and there
the plain is a wide and noble one. The plain of Esdralon, on the
eastern side, is higher, except at the south-east corner near
Gilboa. It lies toward Safet, a high, rolling table land, most of
which is exceedingly rich. The Lebanon, or rather the Anti-Lebanon,
(for I think the Lebanon may be considered as terminating north of
the river Leantes, which comes out of the Bokar near Soor,) lowers
down at the high points near Safet, and spreads its still lowering
ridges towards the middle and western part of the plain, between the
lake Tiberias and the Mediterranean. There are various hills, rather
separated from each other, on the plain, which may be considered as
belonging to it,--the Tabor, the mount south of it, and the hills
near Nazareth; but the terminating ridges are more continuous, north
and north-west of Nazareth, and run down south, so as to narrow the
western side of the plain of Esdralon. I doubt not, indeed, that the
mountains which rise south of the plain, and cover the whole middle
district, from north of Sebaste to south of Hebron, forming the hill
country of Israel and Judah, may with propriety be considered as the
southern continuance of the great Lebanon chain. It is there lowered
down much, and is more spread out, and more like an elevated table
land, with many low hills covering its general surface.

It would have been highly satisfactory to me could I have proceeded
to the north of Safet, far enough at least to see the southern end
of the plain of the Bokar, and ascertain how the mountains, Lebanon
and Anti-Lebanon, dispose of themselves and their branches at that
place, and in their further progress south. I am inclined to think,
that our usual maps are not very accurate in their delineations of
this northern district.

Acre stands on a sandy point which projects out in the
Mediterranean. It is strongly fortified, having a most stupendous
wall, and a deep ditch. It is a place of great strength, and is
under the keeping of a considerable body of the Pasha's troops.
There was some shipping there, but not much. The city is much
crowded together; and to be comfortable ought to be spread over
twice or thrice as much ground--the streets narrow and filthy--the
bazaars poor, and badly supplied with goods. There is a large open
square within the city, which appeared appropriated for the use of
troops and cavalry. A new bazaar was pointed out, which was said to
have been put up by the present pasha. It was, compared with the
others, pretty good; but needed that comparison to make it pass
muster. Acre is interesting from its location on the coast--has a
fine back country, and, under a proper government, might become a
place of some importance. A great effort was made by the French,
under Buonaparte, to take this place. He attempted several times
to carry it by assault, and it was mainly owing to the efforts of
Sir Sidney Smith that he failed. The name of Smith is still held in
great respect by the natives of this region. They say of him, that
"his word was like the word of God--it never fell to the ground,"
that is, he always did what he said he would do. So true is it,
that while people tell falsehoods themselves--and the people of
this country have no little propensity that way--they still have a
regard for those who are known to adhere strictly to the truth. This
place was long held by the Crusaders, and was one of the last places
in Palestine that was wrested from them; and there may be, and no
doubt are, ruins in the town and vicinity that may be referred to
the period of their power. I had not time, however, to make much
research respecting them. The pasha has some public works going
on here. We saw a good deal of timber in an open square, but did
not learn the use it was intended for--probably for the building
of a vessel, from its size and appearance. We lodged in the Latin
convent, which is a place of some size, and would contain many
persons, though much out of repair. We found only two or three
monks, and a lay brother, who appeared to act as steward, servant,
factotum, &c.

From Acre we went along the coast, towards Soor, the ancient Tyre,
which lies about twenty-five miles to the north. The first part
of our route was over the noble plain by which Acre is bounded on
the west. It is, as to its general character, good; and ought, and
would, if properly cultivated, richly supply Acre with bread-stuff
and many other necessary articles. Much of it, however, lies in
a neglected state. In several places there are small districts,
that are more improved--a few garden spots that are beautiful, and
several elevations near Acre that have buildings or ruins on them,
and were, probably, in the days of warfare, places of much more
importance than they now are. About three hours' travel brought
us to the termination of this beautiful plain, and we began to
ascend a high promontory called Capo Blanco, or White Cliff, from
the whiteness of the rock of which it is composed. This is made
up of the softest limestone I have ever seen, interspersed with
nodules of flint. It was well for our nerves that a barrier had
been left between us and the precipice, for sometimes there was a
perpendicular descent from the road above, to the sea below, which
was dashing and foaming at its base. From this point, or ridge of
hills, we entered the plain of Soor. This plain is narrow at first,
but gradually spreads out, and presently has a wide extent, with
a gentle rising of its eastern side into hills, with mountains
towering beyond. The soil is rich and productive. There are some
villages, on the hills, but none of any size. We passed several
places near the shore where there had evidently once been villages;
in one or two of these there were remains of walls and other relics
of former habitations. As we approached Soor, the mountains and
hills fell back, making a kind of amphitheatre; rising more or less,
as it approached the mountains; but forming a rich and valuable back
country to this former mistress of the sea. Night came on before we
could reach Soor, and a small part of the district nearest the town,
was, of course, not subjected to that close inspection which, under
other circumstances, it would have received. We passed a fine flow
of water, on which there appeared to be mills or other buildings;
but it was too dark to allow us a clear view of what they were.
There are, it is said, several remains of ruins on the south of the
town, which the darkness prevented our seeing. As we approached the
town, there was a much wider border of sand along the coast.

Soor stands on the point of a projection that runs out, it may be,
a half or three quarters of a mile into the sea. Its outer part
is broader and less covered with sand than the neck of land that
joins it to the main land. About half way from the main land to the
extreme point, a wall crosses the isthmus, and through a single gate
in that wall, you enter the village which stands on the extreme
point. The site of old Tyre was, as we learn from history, on the
main land. When hard pressed, the inhabitants, availing themselves
of their shipping, moved their more valuable articles to this point,
which was then an island, and there built a town, and escaped the
capture which threatened them. This first capture of Tyre, and the
escape of the people with their riches to the island, is referred
to in Ezek. xxix. 18; where the army of Nebuchadnezzar is said "to
have served a hard service, and yet to have got no wages"--failed
to obtain the wealth of the captured city. The new city was also
taken in after-times by Alexander the Great; and his army had a hard
service. Being on an island, and having command of the sea through
their vessels, they braved the power of the Grecian king for a time.
But he resorted to a stratagem which was successful. He constructed
a wide causeway from the main land to the island, and thus made a
way for his soldiers, who soon took the city. For centuries past,
as all travellers during that period assure us, it has been almost
completely desolate. The old site on the main land is so now--not
one house, and scarcely a vestige remains to mark the spot. It is
scraped as a rock, and probably was thus treated by Alexander, to
get materials for the stupendous causeway he made. The city, on
what was once an island, was also almost wholly forsaken, as many
travellers assure us, and thus the prophecy has had its fulfilment.
There is, however, a new village growing up on its site. It has
much increased within a few years. There may be between one and two
hundred houses, the quarter part of them very miserable things, but
a few tolerably good for this region. The pasha has established some
factories here, and the place is evidently reviving. Three or four
of the European powers have consuls residing here, and the Americans
have a consular agent. The old harbour, which once contained the
first trading ships in the world, lies on the north side of the
town, and was once surrounded by a strong wall, some small fragments
of which still remain. The harbour is much filled up, so that only
vessels of small burden can come within it. It does not, indeed,
appear to have much trade of any kind. The water at the extreme
point of the island is very shallow--a considerable space barely
covered with water. There are some ruins on a part of this, and some
fallen pillars--whether it was once covered with houses, I am unable
to say. To the south, the water is deeper, but still so shallow as
to oblige vessels to lie off at a considerable distance from the
shore. The neck which joins the island to the main land is little
else than a bed of sand. The part next the village, and without the
wall I have mentioned, is full of old walls, mounds, cellars, and
all the indications of having once been covered with houses. There
are, indeed, one or two huge old buildings still standing on it.
The part of this neck adjoining the main land is so low as to have
considerable pools of water in it. We passed a number as we coasted
along the edge of the sand from the south, on approaching the
village. There is all the appearance that the water once came out to
the steep bank at the edge; but the passage between the island and
the main land being stopped, the sand, both to the north and south,
has been thrown up so as to form a wide, flat beach, extending out
near the island as far as what was formerly the east side of the
island. The whole space here shows great changes.

The most remarkable and interesting relic of antiquity which I saw
at Soor, was the remains of the church of Origen. It stands at the
south side of the village, and makes part of the wall at that place.
Much the larger part of it is fallen and removed. The remaining
fragments show that it has been of very great size. There are a few
small huts on the ground on which that part of the church that has
been removed stood. There is some richly-wrought stone in the walls
and about the stairs that run up at one part of the building. The
stone is the soft spongy limestone which abounds on this coast,
and I may add, through most of Palestine. It is a stone that works
easily, but wastes away under the action of water, and is especially
liable to be saturated with water, and to form damp walls. No part
of the ruins of this old and celebrated church more interested
me, than the stupendous granite pillars which were once connected
with it, but now lie on the ground, and some of them almost buried
in it, and by the ruins which covered this quarter. These pillars
were of the fine Egyptian granite, of great length and thickness.
They formed masses of stone of a most enormous weight. We seldom
saw pillars of a larger size. There must have been some regard
for Christianity at Tyre when its citizens erected this splendid
edifice. But oh! what changes have passed over these lands since
those days, when Origen ministered here, and raised his voice to the
thousands which this church was capable of holding. A deep darkness
now rests on all these regions--the Moslem rules, but his pride is
humbled--his strength broken--and he appears conscious that the
day of his glory is past, and not likely again to return! The few
Christians that are now found in these regions have lost the spirit
of Christianity. It is with them a body without a soul--a form, and
a greatly altered form, without the spirit and power which makes it
a transforming principle among mankind. But the darkness is passing
away--rays of light are breaking upon these regions--and we doubt
not the day is not far remote when the religion of Christ will, in
its enlightening and transforming power, revisit these regions, and
make them revive and flourish like the garden of the Lord.

From Soor we made our next stage to Saida, the ancient Sidon, which
is so often mentioned in connection with Tyre--"Tyre and Sidon." It
is a day's travel distant. We found the northern part of the plain
of Soor not much different from the southern, which we have already
described. In many places along this coast, there are old mounds
of rubbish, or piles of stones, that bespeak former buildings. On
the whole, ancient Tyre had a fertile district adjoining it, and
was, no doubt, more or less the seaport for the lower part of the
great valley of the Bokar, through the passage on the borders of
the river Leantes, which flows out of that valley and passes into
the sea a little north of Soor. The district of mountains that
border the plain must also have contributed its share to the market
of this port; for in these countries and among these nations, the
mountain districts are often better cultivated than the plain, and
are occupied by a more enterprising and efficient people. About
midway from Soor to Saida, a ridge of hills comes into the shore,
much like the one between Acre and Soor. The plain is superseded by
a rough and hilly district. It is, for a short distance, exceedingly
rough and rocky, and for a still greater space, the level along the
shore is narrow and much covered with sand. Gradually the plain
opens, and spreads out to a considerable extent, and becomes one
of the finest plains, when taken in connection with the low ridges
of hills that bound it, and from the rising ground towards the
mountains, that I have seen on the coast. The several ridges of low
hills that lie between the level space along the shore and the high
mountain range, are finely covered with a soft, rich soil; and have
scattered over them more trees than we usually see on this part of
the coast. The plain about Soor was rather barren of trees--this was
one of its greatest defects--that of Saida is much better furnished.
We passed several streams of water and some small villages, on
the low hills to our right. The mulberry-tree, which we had but
seldom seen to the south, here made its appearance. We passed some
considerable districts covered with them. This shows the limits of
the silk-making district. The culture of the mulberry, and raising
the silkworm, is a main business all through these mountains about
Beyroot; how far north it may extend, I am not able to say; but we
had ample proof in our tour that it is not much, if at all attended
to in the land of Palestine, properly so called.

Back of Saida, among the low hills that border the foot of the
Lebanon range, Lady Hester Stanhope has her residence. She was
engaged to be married to Sir John Moore, who fell near Corunna,
in the Peninsular war, in the contest which the English had with
the French. That Lady Hester Stanhope felt the affliction most
deeply, may well be supposed; other matters tending to alienate
her affections from England, she came to the East, and has for
many years made her home in the mountains near Saida. She has
gained the affections of the native population, and has had great
influence over them formerly; her power is now on the wane. She is
occasionally visited by foreigners, but does not see all who would
call on her, as some of them have made statements about her that
gave her displeasure.

Saida, like most of the towns on this coast, stands on a sandy point
that projects out a short distance into the sea. It is surrounded
with gardens, and has more fruit trees about it, and a greater
extent of groves, than any of the towns on the coast south of this,
that I have visited. The plain about it appears peculiarly adapted
to fruits. The town is walled, and has a garrison of soldiers. The
houses are old, as you may suppose; the streets narrow, crooked,
and dark, from the fact that many of them are, in many places,
arched over; so much so, that you are nearly one half of your time
passing under arches, which shut out all the light but that which
comes in from the end of these narrow, crooked streets. I have often
mentioned narrow, crooked streets, and once more repeat it, with
the addition of _dark_. The bazaars and markets are much as those
at Soor and Acre, poor, and badly supplied. On the whole, while the
outside of the town had a most lovely appearance, the inside was
the reverse. The harbour appeared mean, and not such as would give
any recommendation to the place. The distance from Saida to Beyroot
is between twenty and twenty-five miles. For some miles north of
Saida, the road is much covered with sand, and the whole district,
until near Beyroot, resembles that already described, some parts
rocky, and others good, and well adapted to tillage. A few small
villages are scattered along the coast. As we approached Beyroot, we
took a road through the olive-grove, and not by the sands. This gave
me a more perfect knowledge of the extent of the plain, south-east
of Beyroot, and of the large orchards that lie in that quarter,
covering miles, and bordering the lower part of the hills. The plain
is more fertile, and more thickly settled, than I had at first
supposed.

We found our friends at Beyroot well,--the mission families had
returned from their summer residence on the mountains, and were
engaged in carrying on their various operations in and about
Beyroot. At first view it appears a rather untoward circumstance
that they have to resort to the mountains during a part of each
summer. It must, no doubt, in some degree interrupt the thread of
their operations; but the climate makes it necessary, especially
until they are well acclimated. The evil, however, is not so great
as might be expected. The mountains are full of villages; indeed,
the mountains of Lebanon are the most populous districts in these
countries. The missionaries take their station in some of these
villages, and when their number will admit they occupy two or more.
There they usually open schools, mix with the people, distribute
the Scriptures and other books, talk and preach, as the nature of
the case will admit. Thus village after village becomes personally
acquainted with the missionaries, and persons are brought within
the hearing of the truth who might never be reached by the sound of
the gospel were the missionaries always to remain in Beyroot. Thus
what in one respect may seem an evil and a drawback to their work,
in another is beneficial, and contributes to the furtherance of the
gospel.

I have much reason to bless God for his kind care over me during
the tour I have now finished, and hope that I shall be led by it
more and more to realise that it is only His hand that keepeth me,
and maketh me to go out and come in in safety.



LETTER XVII.


  _Beyroot, December 18, 1836._

I think I have mentioned in several of my letters, that the mulberry
tree is much cultivated in this region, principally for the raising
of the silk-worm. At times vegetables are raised on the same lot,
but generally nothing else is allowed to grow among them, and the
weeds are carefully removed. The trees are planted in rows, and the
plough is passed among them several times in the year. I now find
that the tree serves another purpose, and one of some importance,
though secondary to the making of silk. They gather the leaves from
the trees in the fall and beginning of winter, to feed their sheep
and cows. The first crop of leaves is eaten by the silk-worms; by
the time the worms begin to spin their silken shrouds, the trees are
nearly bare; the branches are then all cut close to the body of the
tree, and used for fuel. In a few days new branches shoot out, which
are soon covered with leaves. They gather the leaves with their
hands, put them in baskets, and give them to their sheep and cows.
They appear, indeed, to be the chief food of these animals for many
months in the autumn and beginning of winter. The entire absence of
rain during the long hot summer burns up what grass may have been
on the ground in the spring and early part of the summer, but the
mulberry trees, which have much care taken of them, and watered,
when it can be done, by a channel from a stream, or by the hand,
retain their greenness, and serve the important purpose of food for
the cattle. So far as I have observed, they were always fed with
the green leaves, at least I have not seen any dried and preserved
in that state, excepting the fibres of the new leaves, that the
silk-worm rejects, which are carefully collected and preserved
for the animals. The mildness of the climate causes the leaf to
retain its freshness much longer than it would in the northern and
middle parts of the United States. We have entered on the month of
December, and yet the leaf of the mulberry is as green and fresh
as it was in midsummer; true, most of the trees near us are nearly
bare, not, however, by the fall of the leaf, but by their having
been gathered for the animals. The horses, mules, and donkeys,
are fed with barley and straw, which is cut fine by their mode of
threshing out the grain. For a few weeks in the spring of the year
they are kept on the green barley. I have generally seen the camel
fed on weeds, which are gathered for that purpose.

I mentioned that some rain fell, about the time I set out on my
tour to Jerusalem. The showers were light, and but few of them.
Small showers fell from time to time during the month that I was
travelling, but not in such quantities as to give us much annoyance.
This was a matter greatly to our comfort, as we had to sleep nearly
every night out under the canopy of heaven, and as we wished to
travel without much incumbrance, we did not carry a tent with
us. During the month of November there was a great increase of
clouds and cloudy weather, but not much rain. There were, however,
occasional showers, and some of them fell in snow on the upper parts
of Mount Lebanon. It was not until the first part of the present
month that it began to rain in good earnest, and for some days
it has rained as if the "windows of heaven" were opened; great
quantities of water have fallen, and the earth, thirsty from the
long, dry summer, seems to drink it in as if it would never say--It
is enough. Still, I have not yet seen a long, cloudy period, as we
often have in the United States, of many days and weeks, in which
the sun is seldom seen. Not a day has past in which it has not
contrived to find some opening in the clouds through which to show
itself. Indeed, the rain generally comes in showers; large masses of
black clouds are driven over us, often with strong winds accompanied
with thunder and lightning, and pour down water as if from buckets;
then there is an intermission, and possibly the sun shines forth,
and then comes another cloud loaded with water, which it pours out
and passes away. Thus, "the clouds return after the rain." For
a day or two the rains have ceased, and the weather is fine, a
little colder and more chilly, as might be expected from the great
fall of water, but not to the degree that I expected. The higher
parts of Mount Lebanon are covered with snow. They have a singular
appearance, two or three thousand feet of the top, especially the
highest peak, called the Sunneen, is covered with snow, while the
lower parts are bare. Snow may be found at all times on some of
these high points, from whence it is brought down during the summer
in considerable quantities, for the use of those who will pay the
pretty good, though not unreasonable price, that is asked for it.
The rains have caused the grass to spring forth, and whole districts
that were before dry dust, or stubble, are now fresh with verdure.
The face of the land looks like spring, so wonderfully does the rain
operate to give beauty and fertility to the earth. The heat without
the water will not do it, nor the water without some degree of heat;
but when both are united, they make vegetation spring forth, and
give food for man and beast.

The troops which marched from this place to the Houran, a few months
since, have returned. It is now said they were sent there to aid
in killing the young locusts, which had appeared in great numbers,
and threatened to destroy the crops. Last year the troops were thus
employed towards Aleppo, and with great advantage to the country. It
is, however, a new kind of warfare for a regular army to be engaged
in.

It would be inexcusable in me to omit mentioning honey, an article
still to be obtained in abundance, and which deserves notice for its
delicious flavour. Bees are kept in various parts of the country.
Milk can generally be obtained without much difficulty, although it
may be said of it, as of honey, that the land does not literally
"flow" with it. The Arabs, I think, do not often use milk in a fresh
state: they convert it into an article called lebban, not unlike
bonny-clabber, and eat it with rice, bread, &c. Some cheese is
made, but of an inferior kind; it is generally white, and made in
small pieces. A considerable quantity is imported from Cyprus. The
process of churning in skins I have before alluded to; most of the
butter thus produced is boiled, and thereby converted into more of
an oily substance. It is much used in cooking, but the Arabs do not
spread it upon their bread, as is our custom. In the spring, the
produce of the churn can be procured in Jerusalem and its vicinity
without having been boiled; this, by picking out the hairs, washing
thoroughly, and salting, can be made very palatable.

The Irish potato, as it is usually called, is grown about Tripoli,
and succeeds well. It is of a good size, dry, and of a good flavour.
The sweet potato is not known in this country; this is much to be
regretted, as there is reason to believe that the soil and climate
would suit it, and it would be a most valuable addition to the
vegetables already cultivated. I hope that some one will make an
effort to introduce it. The principal vegetables are the cabbage,
cauliflower, onion, cucumber, lettuce, and radish, which are all of
an excellent quality; the coosa, a small kind of squash; beans of
an inferior kind; bammey, a mucilaginous pod, which, when cooked
with butter and the juice of a lemon or pomegranate, forms a very
pleasant article; addice, a kind of bean much used in a dried state;
turnips of a diminutive size and an inferior quality; bateinjan, a
kind of egg-plant much esteemed by the natives; beets of a superior
kind, and tomatoes of a rich and fine flavour. The first notice
that I ever met with of the sugar-cane was in the account of the
crusaders, who found it on this coast, and it is _here yet_. Below
Sidon, there are places where it is cultivated, but not for making
sugar. When ripe, it is cut and brought from time to time into the
towns, and sold in the stalk. The people buy it and chew the stalk;
children especially are fond of it. Boat-loads of it are brought
up to Beyroot, and sold in the market. Much of the sugar used here
comes from France, and is the fine loaf-sugar made from the beet,
and is sold cheap; brown sugar, the product of the West Indies, may
be occasionally procured. The flour which is used here comes in part
from Damascus, but more from the plain that lies between the Lebanon
and Anti-Lebanon. Some of the wheat is grown on the mountains, and a
good deal comes from about Acre, and from some other quarters. Much
of the flour, however, is ground in the neighbourhood, and the bran
separated from the flour with a common sieve. I know not that there
is such a thing as a bolting-cloth in the whole country. Meal made
of Indian corn is usually found in the market at Beyroot, and is
called smeed. It is much used in the Frank families, not, however,
in the form of bread, but in that of hasty-pudding, here called
smeed. Very good French flour may at times be had, and sometimes
wheat is brought from Constantinople, raised probably about the
Black Sea. Rice forms a considerable article of diet, and is brought
from Egypt.

The principal meat used is mutton, which is certainly the best
I have ever eaten. The beef is poor, and is not much prized by
the natives; and pork is an abomination to most of the people in
this land. I have seen a few swine, but am told they are kept by
foreigners. The chickens are mostly small, and not much encumbered
with fat. Geese and turkeys are exceedingly rare. Great quantities
of sparrows are found in the towns, and they sometimes visit the
houses, and build about them to such a degree as to become an
annoyance. The singing of birds is not often heard in Palestine;
there are a few species of birds with a gaudy plumage, but
their notes are not melodious. The sweet, plaintive note of the
nightingale is sometimes heard, but oftener the harsh cawing of the
crow. But few wild animals are now found in the country, excepting
the jackals, immense numbers of which are found in this vicinity.
They are gregarious, and a most noisy animal. They are like a small
dog, with short, upright ears, and a short tail; all that I have
seen were of a light-brown colour. We often hear them in the gardens
and near our houses.

The natives have a taste for flowers; the females cultivate a
variety in pots, and are fond of ornamenting their turbans with
them. They are generally decked with a profusion of them on their
bridal days. They also place them about and upon the dead bodies
of their friends, as mementos of affection. It is a common saying,
that, in making their visits, they never go empty-handed. At such
times, it is not uncommon for them to take from their pockets, an
appendage with which each person seems to be furnished, either
an orange, a sweet lemon, a few nuts, a piece of sugar-cane, or
something of the kind, and present the person visited. At other
times, they will bring you a beautiful nosegay of rosebuds,
carnation pinks, geraniums, jessamines, &c., which they arrange and
tie together very tastefully. A rich profusion of wild flowers are
found in the spring.

It is amusing to one not accustomed to the sight, to observe how
partial the people are to a sitting posture. You may see the
blacksmith sitting and hammering his iron; the carpenter sitting
and hewing his wood, or planing his plank; the merchant sitting
and selling his goods; and the women sitting and washing their
clothes,--not sitting on chairs, or on benches, but _á-la-turque_,
with their feet folded under them.

Having remained in Palestine as long, and even longer than I
originally intended, I was about preparing to leave this place for
Egypt, when Mr. W. M. Thomson, one of the missionaries, called on
me as a committee, in behalf of the station. He informed me that
he had held a consultation with Mr. Hebard about carrying on the
mission work, and had come to the conclusion that part of it must
be suspended for the present, unless I remained to assist them.
They had little expectation that Mr. Bird, then in America, from
the peculiar circumstances of his family, would be able to return;
that Mr. Smith, then in Smyrna, would probably visit the United
States before his return to Beyroot, and could not be expected back
under a year or two; that he himself had just begun to preach in
Arabic, and that the labour of preparing for it, superintending the
press, with other necessary calls, gave him full employment; that
Mr. Hebard had the High School to superintend, and wished much to
give a course of lectures on natural science, which the opposition
now made to the school made it very important he should do; but that
he could not do this, and keep up the English preaching, which many
circumstances rendered it important should not be suspended; and
in this state of things, they laid the case before me, to see if I
would not remain and assist them. I considered the case as a strong
one; and after looking at the whole matter, I have concluded that I
will remain for a time. I may, therefore, write you again from this
place.



LETTER XVIII.


  _Beyroot, May 29th, 1837._

On the first day of the new year, (the orientals follow the old
style, which is twelve days later,) about four o'clock P.M., while
we were assembled at the Mission-house, and engaged in celebrating
the Lord's Supper, there was a very severe earthquake; at first a
sudden shock, then a momentary pause, then a rocking motion, so
that the arms of nearly every person were involuntarily extended
to preserve their balance. It was preceded by a dull murmuring
sound. The sound and motion seemed to proceed from the north. There
had been for several days a haziness of the atmosphere which is
unusual; no rain had fallen since the first of December, and the
ground had become dry for this season of the year. The haziness
increased considerably about the time of the first shock, and part
of the sky was covered with a fleecy cloud, in some places of a
dark appearance. This was very unusual in the region. There were
several slight shocks during the night. It did not do much injury in
Beyroot, excepting cracking some of the houses; but Safet, Tiberias,
and many other villages were almost entirely destroyed, and many
lives lost. A meeting of the Franks was held, to see what could
be done for these suffering villages; a collection was made, and
Messrs. Thomson and Calman appointed as a committee to visit and aid
them. I would gladly have accompanied them, and made observations
for myself, but the circumstances of the mission rendered it
inexpedient for Mr. T. and myself to be absent at the same time.
Slight shocks of earthquakes were frequent for ten or twelve days,
and the people were much alarmed. Many have feared to sleep in their
houses. A Jew at Damascus prophesied that the whole coast from
Sidon to Antioch would be destroyed. The governor, believing, very
properly, that he was an impostor, had him confined, and threatened
to punish him if his predictions were not fulfilled. Most of the
Jews left their houses, and encamped without the city.

The attention of the English government has, for several years
past, been much turned to the opening and maintaining a passage
from some port in Syria, through the valley of the Euphrates to the
East Indies. Two steam-boats, the _Euphrates_ and _Tigris_, were
taken across from the Mediterranean Sea, near Scanderoon, to the
Euphrates, at Beer. They were carried in pieces on camels, and put
together at Beer, and the expedition, under the command of Colonel
Chesney, proceeded, on their exploring tour down the river. The
_Tigris_, which was the smaller boat, was lost in a tornado; the
_Euphrates_ continued on her route, and the river was explored.
The matter did not succeed quite as well as some of its more
ardent advocates expected, but well enough to prove that it was
practicable. Large quantities of bitumen are found in that region,
and the experiment was tried of substituting this for coal, as there
is not much wood in the vicinity. It would not answer; it melted
too rapidly. A person is now engaged in examining whether coal may
not exist there. In the meantime Mr. Farren, the Consul-General
at Damascus, using the great influence he has gained over some of
the Arabs, opened a direct communication with Bagdad through the
wilderness. He made use of dromedaries, and the mail passed in six
or eight days. Since Mr. Farren's recal, the post is continued under
the present consul. There is thus a regular communication from
Beyroot to India, viâ Damascus and Bagdad. In a few years, I doubt
not that steamboats will run regularly on the Euphrates, and that a
great travelling route will thus cross the most interesting part of
the great valley of the Euphrates, the ancient seat of early cities,
kingdoms, and civilisation. This will, as it may be hoped, prepare
the way for the spread of the gospel in the interior of Asia.

I have attended, by special request, an Arab wedding, the parties
being members of the Greek church. The men and women were in
separate apartments. In both rooms there was music from a rude drum,
and the women kept up a singular hallooing, or kind of shrill cry.
I was taken into the female apartment, and introduced to the bride.
She was much adorned with gold and gold foil, her face and hands
painted in the most fantastic manner; she kept her eyes closed, or
nearly so, which she must do for several days. They made her put on
cob-cobs, a kind of sandal nearly a foot high, and dance before us,
or rather walk very slowly backwards and forwards, keeping time
with the music; her hands were held up by an attendant, to be seen
and admired. They then took her into another room to eat, after
which the marriage ceremony commenced. The priest read the marriage
service, during which he put a ring on the finger of each, with
many crossings, and touching the head and breast, and afterwards he
changed the rings; he then put a chaplet made of an olive branch
with its leaves on the head of each, and after a similar crossing
and touching the head and breast, the chaplets were changed; he
then took a cup of wine, and made them both drink of it: this, with
the priest's blessing, closed the marriage. The bride was then made
to follow her husband to the place where the horses were fastened.
Her attendants led her, and her walk was as slow as you can well
conceive,--a step, then a pause, then a very slow moving of the
foot forward; she must show great reluctance, and be forced after
her "well beloved." He seemed to give himself no trouble about her,
but mounted his horse, and waited with his back towards her, until
the signal should be given for starting. At last, by half carrying
and half pushing her, the bride reached the horse brought to take
her to her new home, and was mounted astride, as is the custom for
females to ride here. The signal was given, and the bridegroom moved
forward, accompanied by most of the male guests, while the females
surrounded the bride, some on animals, others on foot. The music and
screaming were kept up, and "the friend of the bridegroom" danced
and played all sorts of odd tricks before him. It was his business
to make sport for them. A pomegranate was given to the bride, which
she breaks as she enters her husband's door, thus showing that she
promises to be an obedient and dutiful wife. About dark, a few
weeks ago, we were somewhat startled by a discharge of artillery
from the castles about the town, one of which stands very near
us. We were, however, soon told that it was meant to signify the
commencement of the fast of the Rammedan, a fast of the Mohammedans.
During the continuance of this fast they are not to eat, drink, or
smoke, from sunrise to sunset. They may, however, eat and drink
during the night, and they make amends for their abstinence during
the day. Many of them turn day into night, night into day, eating
at sundown, midnight, and just before sunrise, and after making it
a time of great revelry and wickedness. This fast is a moveable
one, and passes round to all seasons of the year. When it falls in
midsummer it must be a sore trial to abstain from water in these
thirsty countries; they have, however, various ways of getting round
the law of the fast, and in some degree modifying the deprivations
it would cost them. All the systems of religion in the eastern
world lay much stress on fasting, and with many it is carried to an
idolatrous extent. They make a saviour of them. That this should be
the case with systems that do not take God's Word for the rule of
their faith and practice, would not surprise us; but that those who
call themselves _Christians_, and profess to found their faith on
God's Word, and appeal to it as their rule, should do so, may well
grieve us. It is true, that while the Bible is in a general way
acknowledged as the Word of God, they do not appeal to it, but to
the authority of the church; they have left the word of God,--have
rendered it void, that they may "follow their own devices,"--that
they may "keep their own traditions." The fasts of the Christian
sects are rather a distinction of meats, an abstinence from animal
food, than fasts properly so called. The Greeks, in accordance with
all the Oriental churches, observe Wednesday and Friday of each
week. The Papists, Friday and Saturday. In addition to these weekly
fasts, they have others of many days in succession. During one of
forty days' continuance, they are not allowed to eat until after
twelve o'clock at noon. It is astonishing with what rigidity even
small children observe these seasons.

A few days since, some dervishes, or Mohammedan priests, who have
been on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, returned. They came back as holy
men, and great crowds went out to see their wonders. I was assured
by several persons who witnessed its performance, that boys threw
themselves on the ground, in a row as close together as they could
lie, with their faces to the earth, making a row of forty or fifty
yards, and one of the priests paced his horse over them, the horse
literally stepping on their backs. The boys jumped up very briskly,
though some of them showed what they were unwilling to acknowledge,
that they were slightly hurt. The fact may seem strange, but
Christians have tried the experiment, and succeeded as well as the
Moslems. Some of the priests thrust spears and swords through their
cheeks--a most unnatural thing. The people consider such things in
the light of a miracle.

I had a very pleasant interview not long since with Dr. Wilson, of
Scotland, who has just returned from a tour through Palestine, and
who went south as far as Petra. At Hebron he made a special contract
with a Sheik, who for about one hundred and fifty dollars took him
and his party to Petra and back, and left his own brother as a
hostage with the governor, until they returned. Petra is in a very
rough district. The El-Ghor is a wide valley, but much more elevated
than I had supposed, much more so than the Dead Sea, possibly
a thousand feet at the highest part. It is very destitute of
vegetation, and this is especially the case with the country about
Mount Hor, and Petra. There is a district more to the south that is
more fertile, and has a good many inhabitants on it. The antiquities
at Petra are most wonderful; a town hewn out in a sandstone rock,
only one house of any size built above ground, and that a church.
This building has been slightly injured by the late earthquake.
There are most extensive excavations--a considerable town under
ground; the tomb of Aaron on Mount Hor is an excavation. The mount
is a round sugar-loaf hill, with a small level on the top.

We have had fearful accounts of the prevalence of cholera at
Jerusalem, Aleppo, Malta, and some other places; much fear is felt
that it will visit us; may the Lord preserve us from its ravages!

A few days ago, a moolah, a Mohammedan priest, died at this place.
He was one of those who last spring made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem,
and on his return rode over the boys in the plain outside the town.
After his death, the other priests pretended that his body would
fly off to heaven, if they did not prevent it. They, therefore, had
ropes tied to his body, and fastened them to other things, that the
body might not get away. They held on to the ropes as they took the
body to the grave-yard. On their way the bearers stopped several
times, and would pull this way and that way, as if some invisible
power would not let them go forward, and the pretence was, that the
dead man was not willing to go that way, or to be buried. They at
length, however, got him to the grave, put him in, and made great
lamentation over him. This is a sample of the tricks they play to
delude the people.

I spent an hour on the 17th of last month, very pleasantly, with
Lord Lindsay, who has travelled extensively in these countries.
From Egypt he passed Mount Sinai and the Elanetic Gulf--visited
Petra, Bosrah, Gerash, and most of Palestine and Palmyra. He says
there are many ruins about Bosrah; a Roman road thirty feet wide
runs from that place towards Bagdad. It is in a good state of
preservation, but not used. Lord Lindsay had the affliction to lose
a brother, who travelled with him; if I mistake not, he died from
what is called a stroke of the sun. Means were used to preserve the
body, and he took the corpse with him in the same vessel to England.



LETTER XIX.


  _Beyroot, October 14th, 1838._

Yesterday I returned with my family from the mountains, where we
had been to recruit from the effects of the warm weather. For you
must know, that after knocking about in a very extempore way for
some time, I concluded it was better to go into partnership, and
accordingly we commenced house-keeping for ourselves, early in March
last. In doing this, I showed all my partiality for my own country,
by passing by all the dark-eyed beauties of the East, and selecting
one of the daughters of my own people.

Bhamdoon, the village at which we spent the summer, stands high on
the mountains; only on one occasion before had any Franks lived
among them. About two-thirds of the people belong to the Greek
church. The remainder are Maronites. We found the people friendly,
but the Maronites were less disposed to have intercourse with us
than the Greeks. We distributed a number of books in that and the
adjacent villages, and almost every night some of the people came in
to hear the Scriptures read, and to be present at evening prayers.
This was usually followed by conversation, which often lasted an
hour or two. Sometimes the number was so great, as to fill the room.
Hykel, my teacher, was almost always present, and took part in the
conversation; not unfrequently curious and puzzling questions were
asked, as what that light was, which is spoken of as separated from
the darkness, in the first of Genesis; and how the day and night
were measured before the sun was made? They often showed a good deal
of intelligence. To vary the exercises, I sometimes gave them tracts
to read, and generally very good attention was paid to the reading
of them.

The old priest of the village was blind, and there was a monk
assisting him, who was better informed than any of that order that
I have met with. He visited us frequently, and read portions of
the New Testament with us, and commented on them. He often gave
exhortations, or preached to the people. He, as well as the people,
seemed to consider this as a matter that did him some credit. My
knowledge of the language was not sufficient to enable me fully to
understand all he said, but from what I could understand, I thought
he was fond of giving curious and far-fetched interpretations.
Both he and the people seemed to rest on the outward form of
religion, and to be strangers to its inward and spiritual power.
The Greek church stood near our house, and we often saw travellers
in passing the church ride up to it, touch it with their hand, put
that to their heads, cross themselves, and then pass on. The same
was done by the villagers, and they would often kiss the stones a
number of times. I witnessed a rite in this church that was new
to me. I had been informed by one of the leading men, that our
friend, the monk, would preach the next morning. I considered the
information as a kind of invitation to attend, which I did. His
sermon, as far as I could understand it, was not very instructive,
but rather of the spiritualizing kind. It was, however, delivered
with earnestness, and listened to with attention by a full house.
At its close, prayers were read, and some bread produced and broken
into very small pieces, and handed to the people in a plate. It was
sought for with great eagerness, and many of the little boys were
particularly pressing to receive it. I supposed at first that it was
the Lord's Supper, but was told afterwards that it was not, but a
representation of the body of the Virgin Mary.

I made a second very pleasant trip to Baalbec with Mrs. P. and
our two little girls. We had many opportunities of distributing
books and tracts along the road. In most instances, as soon as it
was known that we had books, our tent was surrounded by persons
importuning for them. As soon as one was supplied, he would withdraw
to a little distance, and set himself to reading in good earnest.
The success of some encouraged others, and each had some particular
reason to urge, why he should be supplied before the others. We were
absent five days, and on our return, were welcomed with great joy by
our good friends in the village.

Bhamdoon is surrounded with vineyards. The vines are, for the most
part, allowed to lie on the ground. In a few places peculiarly
situated, they are trained on supports, which raise them several
feet above it. The grapes are of various kinds, most of them
white and large. We are supplied with them most generously and
munificently by the people. There are several houses that seem to be
common property, where they express the juice of the grape. They
have, along one side of the house, a row of large vats, into which
the grapes are thrown; and beside these, stone troughs, into which
the juice flows. Men get in the vats, and tread the grapes with
their feet. It is hard work, and their clothes are often stained
with the grape. The figures found in Scripture, taken from this, are
true to the life. "I have trod the wine-press alone;" "I will stain
all my raiment;" "The wine-press was trodden without the city." The
juice that was extracted when I visited the press, was not made
into wine, but into what is called dibbs. It resembles molasses.
They take the juice from the troughs, put it into large boilers,
and reduce it to one-half, possibly one-third of the original
quantity. It is then removed to large earthen jars, and subjected to
a process, not unlike churning, which is repeated for a few days,
until it thickens. When properly churned, or beaten, but little
separation of the particles takes place. It forms a very pleasant
article for table use, and is decidedly preferable to molasses.

We witnessed the process of making raisins. The grapes are collected
and dipped in a weak ley, with which a small quantity of olive-oil
has been mixed. They are then spread out on the ground, and several
times a day this mixture is sprinkled over them. This is continued,
for six, eight, or ten days, according to the dryness of the
atmosphere, until the raisins are cured. They are then taken up, and
while warm from the sun, put into jars and pressed down hard, and
thus preserved for use or sale. There is, however, but little wine,
raisins, or dibbs exported. Most that is made is kept for family use.

The salutations of these people are very similar to those of
ancient times. In passing persons at work, as in cultivating
their vineyards, or thrashing out grain, the usual form is
"_Salam-a-laykoom_," Peace be unto you; and the answer is,
"_A-laykoom-issalum_," Upon you be peace. On entering a house, it
is Peace be upon you, or "_Olloh makoom_," God be with you. In
giving orders to servants, or requesting favours of friends, the
answer generally given is, "_A-lah-rass-ee_," On my head be it. The
women, in taking a quantity of flour from their store for a batch
of bread, will precede it with a "_Bismillee_," In the name of God.
As a general thing the Arabs may be said to be a polite people.
The morning and evening salutations are always passed among the
inmates of the same house; they will seldom pass you in the road
without some kind word. When lights are brought, the servants will
say, "Good evening to you," and the company will say the same to
one another. They have a great variety of salutations, forms of
expression, and compliments suited to all the various circumstances
of life, and these are familiar to all; to the youngest and the
poorest, as well as to the prince.

Several bands of gipsies at different times visited our village.
They came in companies of from ten to thirty, men, women,
and children, mostly mounted on donkeys. They encamped in a
thrashing-floor near by, which gave us an opportunity to observe
their motions and learn their habits. They carry with them a few
utensils for cooking, and a few articles with which they cover
themselves at night. They will occasionally put up a rude tent to
shelter them from the sun. Some of them manufacture a few things,
which they dispose of in their rambles. Attached to each company
are two or three who play on musical instruments, and amuse the
people with their feats of jugglery. They have a language of their
own, with which they converse among themselves, but are familiar
with Arabic. They are great beggars, and notorious thieves. The
people are careful to secure their chickens and donkeys when the
gipsies are in the neighbourhood. They do not remain long at one
place,--here to-day and gone to-morrow. They stroll over the
mountains in the summer, but remove farther south in winter.

April 18, 1838.--On the first Sabbath of the present year, a Druse
family was baptised by the missionaries at this place. They had for
two years been attentive to the instructions of the missionaries,
and both the parents gave evidence of piety. They, with their six
children, were baptized at the mission-house at the close of the
Arabic service. It was an interesting occasion, and excited a good
deal of interest among those who are in the habit of attending the
Arabic preaching. There are several other Druses, who are constant
in their attendance at the Sabbath school and Arabic preaching, and
profess a great desire to become Christians.

You are, no doubt, familiar with the account of Asaad Shidiak. I
have learned several things about him lately, which to me, at least,
had a considerable degree of painful interest. I have seen several
persons who, as they declare, saw him during his imprisonment, and
one who saw him after his death. He was of the Maronite church, and
from his intercourse with the missionaries he came to understand the
corruption of his church, and the nature of true spiritual religion.
This brought on him the displeasure of the dignitaries of that
church. He was a man of learning and talents, and, with the truth on
his side, he was too much in argument for any of them. After various
attempts to bring him back to their corrupt system in vain, he was
seized and imprisoned, and subjected to much cruel treatment. He
held fast to the truth which he had learned. His faith was built on
the Bible. One of the individuals from whom I gained information
about him said, he had a long conversation with him while in prison.
He was shut up in a small room only a few feet square, the door
walled up so as to leave but a small opening, like a window. He was
loaded with chains, and his food handed to him through this small
opening. He assured this person that his religious faith rested
alone on the Bible.

His confinement was so close that it had become, with people
generally, a matter of doubt whether he was dead or alive. Thus
it had been for some time before the Egyptian government took
possession of this country. Some of the Franks felt an intense
interest in his fate. Immediately after the fall of Acre, which
event secured to the Egyptian government the control of this part of
Syria, an English merchant of this place by the name of Todd, waited
on the Pasha, and made known the case of the imprisoned Asaad, and
asked and obtained authority to examine the convent where he was
confined, and have him set at liberty if he were alive.

Todd visited the convent, and made some search, but Asaad was not
found. He was informed that he was dead, and was shown what was
said to be his grave; this confirmed the opinion that he was dead.
This movement on the part of Todd was well meant; it may, however,
be doubted, whether it was well managed. The news got out that he
was about to visit the convent, and search for Asaad. It was known
on the mountains before he reached Cannobeen. It is now declared,
and pretty generally believed on the mountains, as I am told, that
Todd was over-reached in the matter, that Asaad was then alive, but
concealed when the examination was made. Todd spent but a few hours
in the convent, and that at night, and left the place with the full
impression that Asaad was dead.

After this, it is said that the high ecclesiastics, fearing that
the matter might be divulged that he was still living, had him
destroyed. A sheik, who lives near the place, and who has since had
a quarrel with the patriarch, has declared lately that Asaad was
destroyed not long after the search by Todd, and that he saw the
dead body before it was interred. How much truth there may be in
this I know not; for truth is a thing that does not abound among
this people. From the fact, however, that a wide-spread opinion on
the mountains places his death subsequent to the search by Todd, and
ascribes it to violence, there is much reason to believe that it is
correct.

His case has evidently made a great impression on the people of
the mountains. When I went to Bhamdoon, I was almost immediately
inquired of for the little book that told about Asaad Shidiak. I
sent to Beyroot, and procured some copies of a small Arabic tract,
written by Asaad himself, giving a short account of his change of
views, and discussions with the priests, up to near the time of his
imprisonment. These were sought for with more eagerness than almost
any book I had. The solicitations for it came principally from the
Maronites. It is, however, proscribed by their church; still I found
that some of them would read it. A good-looking young man, who was
evidently a pretty good scholar, would come to my room and read the
book by the hour. He would not take it away for fear of the priest.
And this reminds me of a case that was rather amusing, that took
place not long before we went to the mountains. Some of the Maronite
princes were down from the mountains, and one of them procured the
tract containing the account of Asaad Shidiak, and a priest saw
him reading it. This being strictly forbidden, the prince had a
penance assigned him, as did also the servants who were within
hearing at the time the book was read. He was directed to fast so
long; make so many prostrations; and pay such a sum of money. The
prince replied:--as to fasting, it made him sick, and he could not
do it; and as to the prostrations, they gave him the back-ache, and
he could not perform them; that the priest might, if he chose, make
the attendants do it--and there was some money, throwing down a part
of what was called for, which they might do what they pleased with.
There are a good many indications that the power of the priesthood
over the people is beginning to give way. The time, I hope, is near,
when more of the people will dare to think for themselves, and
follow the dictates of an enlightened conscience.

A few months ago, a heavy conscription, as it may be called, was
raised over the most, if not the whole of Syria; and out of it
has arisen the present war in the Houran. This is the name now
used to designate an extensive district east of the Jordan. It
embraces the country occupied by the tribes that lived east of that
river--Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh; the country of
Bashan, Moab, and a district to the east, that is not much known
to Europeans. It is said to be a high country, and abounding with
remains of cities. The Egyptian government extends over this, but
how far to the east I do not know.

In raising soldiers, the Pasha sent a body of troops out among
these towns and villages, to take such as were fit for soldiers.
The people, who have much of the Arab character, did not like this,
rose on the soldiers, and destroyed several hundred of them. The
Pasha then sent a considerable body of troops to destroy the towns
and chastise the people. The people left their towns as the soldiers
approached, and joined the Arabs of the desert. They were joined
by many from other parts of the country, and in all made a pretty
imposing force. Taking advantage of the rough and mountainous
districts, they did not allow the troops of the Pasha to bring them
to a fair fight; and attacking his army in a situation that gave
them the advantage, they have twice beaten his army; and on the last
occasion, with a great loss to the Pasha, both of men and munitions
of war. The army of the Pasha had to retreat towards Damascus.
There is much discontent with the Pasha; and it need not cause much
surprise if other movements of a rebellious character should follow
the affair of the Houran, especially if it be not soon put down.
Some slight indications of the kind have appeared at Damascus; but
several, suspected of causing it, had their heads taken off with
little ceremony, and the matter seems to be stopped. Should the
Pasha subdue the Houran, it will produce a safer state of things
to the east of the Jordan than what has heretofore existed, and
throw open a vast region that must have peculiar interest to the
traveller, from the multitude of ruins that exist there, as well as
the connexion which it has with many of the events of ancient and
sacred history.

On the evening of the first of April, we witnessed a most wonderful
flight of locusts. They came like a dark cloud, filling the air for
a long distance. The greater part of them were above the tops of
the houses; but many flew lower, and passed through the tops of the
mulberry trees. There had been a strong south-east wind for about
twelve hours. They came from the east, and must, of course, have
crossed the Lebanon. Their course was west; but as they approached
the sea, I thought they varied, and passed more south-west, as if
not willing to go out of sight of land. For about half an hour the
air was full of them; afterwards their number decreased, but it
was a long time before the last straggler had passed. About three
days afterwards, we had them again from the south-west; the wind had
changed, and now came from that quarter. They now seemed disposed
to stop: the gardens and sands were full of them. They did not seem
to eat anything, but were employed in depositing their eggs, which
they place in the sands or earth. An acquaintance of mine, who has
just returned from Tripoli, states, that all the way from Ji-bail to
the river Beyroot, a distance of nearly twenty miles, the locusts
are thrown out on the shore in such numbers as to lie from eighteen
inches to two feet deep--they have been drowned in the sea. The old
locusts do not do much injury; it is the young ones, which will
come out in a month or six weeks after the eggs are deposited in
the sands, that eat so voraciously, and destroy all before them. I
understand the Emeer has issued an order for each person to collect
about a quart of their eggs, as a means of destroying them, and thus
preventing the destruction which the young locusts would make.



LETTER XX.


  _Jaffa, May 21st, 1838._

Having concluded to return during the ensuing summer to the United
States, and made my arrangements accordingly, I took passage from
Beyroot to this city, in a Greek vessel, April 20th. The families
of Rev. Messrs. Thomson and Hebard had preceded us, to attend the
annual meeting of the mission, which was to be held at Jerusalem.
It was not without feelings of sorrow that I left Beyroot. For
about two years I had considered it my home, and excepting while
making tours, which I occasionally did, I had remained there and on
the adjacent mountains. I had preached a good deal to the English
congregation at Beyroot, and aided, in all the ways I could, the
mission work. I had become acquainted with many of the natives,
more particularly with those who maintained a friendly intercourse
with the mission. I had enjoyed the acquaintance and friendship
of the consuls and English residents, and could not bid them a
final farewell without strong emotion. But circumstances made it
indispensable, and we parted, expecting to see each other no more.

We reached this place on the 22d, after a moderately short but
rough passage. To our great discomfort, we found that the plague
had broken out a few days before; the city was shut up, and we were
not allowed to enter. At first we were not permitted to land; but
after some entreaty we were permitted to land at the Lazaret, under
the watch of the health officers, who took us and our baggage into
that building. There were some cases of plague in the Lazaret, and
it was the last place we wished to be in; and, moreover, our room
had literally nothing in it. I wished to send word to the American
consul, whose hospitality we had more than once experienced; hoping
that he would be able to place us in a more comfortable situation,
and was told that he was at his country-house, about two miles from
town, and that we might go there if we chose; but that we must walk,
as all the animals had been used by the pilgrims, who were returning
in great numbers from Jerusalem, and might be infected. After a
most laborious walk through the sand, with our children--two of
whom we were obliged to carry--we reached the house of the consul,
but he was not there; his family being still in town and his house
shut up. It was too late to return to the Lazaret; and there was no
alternative, but to lodge, without bed or supper, on the floor of an
unfinished room that was designed for a kitchen.

In the morning, the consul came out with his family, and our
situation was made more comfortable. Through his aid we had our
baggage landed and conveyed to a place of safety, excepting what
we wished to take with us; and having procured animals, we set off
for Rumla about sunset, which we reached about ten in the night.
For once we resolved to make trial of the camel, and we all rode on
them; but before we arrived at Rumla, we were satisfied that the
horse, the mule, and the donkey, are each and all to be preferred
to the camel, as a riding animal. The motion of the camel is a long
swinging motion, with rather a sudden stop at each step; for a
little while it is pleasant, but soon becomes tiresome and at last
painful.

We were on our way at an early hour on the morning of the 25th,
and reached Jerusalem about five in the afternoon, where we were
kindly entertained by Mr. and Mrs. Nicolayson. We found the friends
well. The sessions of the missionary meeting were drawing to a
close. Professor Robinson, and the Rev. Messrs. Smith and Adger, had
arrived some days before from Egypt, _via_ Suez and Sinai.

One object I had in view in revisiting Jerusalem and its vicinity
before I returned to the United States, was to correct, as far
as I might be able, any errors that might exist in my former
descriptions, and supply any defects which a second visit might
suggest. I have not seen much that deserves special notice in the
way of correction or addition.

It struck me at the time that I visited the plain of Jordan and the
Dead Sea, that the descent from Jerusalem to them was greater than
that from Jerusalem to the Mediterranean. It is now a pretty well
ascertained fact that the Dead Sea is lower than the Mediterranean;
and as the water of the latter sea is above thirty feet lower than
the Red Sea, it must follow that the Jordan never flowed through the
El Ghor into the Elanetic Gulf. Count Barteau, who has just returned
from a visit to Petra Acaba, and an examination of the district
between the south end of the Dead Sea and Acaba, states that a high
district crosses the El Ghor, and causes the water to run north and
south from it. Dr. Wilson and Lord Lindsay gave me substantially the
same information. From some experiments it is estimated that the
level of the Dead Sea is several hundred feet lower than those of
the Mediterranean. If a passage then were made connecting the Red
with the Dead Sea, the waters would flow into it, so as to cover all
the plain of the Jordan, and even raise the level of the waters of
Lake Tiberias. The question will naturally be asked, where did the
waters of the Jordan flow to, before the destruction of the cities
of the plain? what outlet did they find? The more common opinion
heretofore has been, that before the overthrow of those cities there
was no lake on the south end of the plain of Jordan. The Bible does
not, however, say so, but rather intimates the reverse. The Salt
Sea is mentioned before the account of the overthrow of Sodom and
Gomorrah. It seems to me most likely that there was a lake at the
south end of the plain, and that those cities were situate near its
borders; their destruction was followed by the enlargement of the
lake, and the ruin of some part of the plain on which they stood. It
is indeed an almost universal opinion among the Arabs, that some of
the ruins of these cities may yet be seen. Costigen found ruins, as
his servant declared, which he took for the ruins of those cities;
and Count Barteau states, that he saw at the south end of the lake
old cisterns, and other things that indicated the former existence
of towns. There is now not much doubt that we shall in due time have
the facts so examined into and certified, as to add another proof to
the many which have lately been given, of the verity and accuracy of
the Scriptural account of things.

While at Jerusalem, I had occasion to visit Jaffa. I rode down past
Rumla, and reached Jaffa in about ten hours. My horse was not a
good one; the day was warm, and I did not ride fast. I infer, from
the time spent on the road, that the distance must be at least
thirty-five miles, and possibly forty.

I returned by a road which separates from that of Rumla, a few miles
from Jaffa, and passes over the plain farther to the north. It led
us past several villages on the plain, among which was Lydd, the
ancient Lydda, where Peter healed Eneas. It is a small village, but
contains some better buildings than we usually meet with in such
small towns. It is surrounded by extensive gardens and orchards of
fruit-trees; and on the east side of the village is a good well,
much resorted to for water. The plain of Sharon on this road was
very fertile, and more of it had been cultivated than is usual. The
harvest was going on, and men, women, and children, were out in the
fields: some reaping with the common reap-hook--some pulling up the
grain with their hands--some binding up the grain in bundles--some
carrying it on their shoulders, or on donkeys, or mules, or camels,
to the thrashing-floor--and some thrashing out the grain by driving
the cattle over it. They use a thrashing instrument not unlike
a harrow. In its under side they have pieces of stone or iron
fastened which serve as teeth. These instruments are dragged by the
oxen over the grain, and thus separate it from the straw.

After leaving the plain, our road followed a ridge for a
considerable distance; a little west of the highest ground we passed
two ruined villages at some distance from each other, that were
called Beth-horon. They are, I doubt not, the upper and the nether
Beth-horon. This opinion is, I think, confirmed by the account given
of the defeat of the kings that were confederated against Gibeon.
It is said that Israel "chased them along the way that goeth up to
Beth-horon; and it came to pass that as they were in the going down
to Beth-horon, that the Lord threw down on them great hailstones
from heaven." Josh. x. 11, 12. Beth-horon lies on the west side of
the ridge, and Gibeon lies on the east side, and at the distance of
several miles from the top. The flight began from Gibeon, and was
first up to the top of the ridge on the road towards Beth-horon; and
from the top of the ridge it was down to Beth-horon, and on this
last part of the way, that the hailstones fell on them. Until I saw
the ground, I never understood the "_up_" and "_down_," as used
in the record of this flight and pursuit. Near Gibeon I saw some
sandstone, singularly mixed up with the limestone. It lay about in
large masses, but I saw no continuous rock of it. The ancient Gibeon
is now a small-village, inhabited by a few Mohammedan families. It
stands on the summit of a round hill, and from the steepness of its
sides is capable of being made very strong. There are various old
ruins and some arches of great size running into the sides of the
hill, forming rooms, in which various labours are now carried on. A
little out of town is a spring in a cave, and below it, on the side
of the hill, the remains of an old pool, which is probably the one
beside which Abner and Joab, with their men, sat down before the
battle in which Asahel fell.

The plague made its appearance in Jerusalem shortly after our
arrival. We did not pay much attention to it, excepting that we
were more careful in passing about the city not to come in contact
with the people. The monks from some of the religious houses left
the city, and took refuge in other places. We found the monks at
Bethlehem keeping quarantine, and there was plague in some of the
convents in the country.

A health officer from Jaffa visited the city on the 16th, and
declared his intention to shut up the gates and prevent egress or
ingress, until the plague abated. He gave us permission to leave,
provided we would do it early the next day. Having no wish to be
shut up even in Jerusalem, for a month or two, we made all possible
haste to get ready to leave town the next morning. We found some
difficulty in procuring animals, but at last succeeded, and bidding
farewell to all our kind friends, and the missionary brethren
resident there, we left the city and bent our course to Rumla. Our
animals proved miserable creatures, and one of our muleteers gave
us the slip and returned, leaving us to make our journey as best
we could. We had been informed at Jerusalem that we would not be
permitted to enter Rumla; but supposed that we should arrive in
season to consult with the consular agent, and obtain lodging in
the old tower, or some place in the vicinity. Our mules were so
intolerably bad, however, that it was dark when we approached Rumla.
To our frequent inquiries of the muleteer, as to where he was taking
us, we received the reply, "to the water," and supposing that we
would halt at some watering place near the town, we allowed him to
proceed. Finding from the length of the way that we must be taking
the road to Jaffa, we insisted on coming to an understanding of the
matter. He had no idea of stopping, but intended to land us safe
at Jaffa that night; after a great deal of noise on both sides we
prevailed on him to halt. He took us under an olive-tree near by,
saying, what he supposed was true, that if he took us to the town
they would cut his head off. Angelo set off immediately, to see if
he could gain admittance within the town. The children, worn out
with the fatigue of the journey, had lost all patience, and were
crying for their suppers. I seated them on the ground and began to
search about in the dark for the remains of our luncheon, which
there was much reason to fear the muleteer and his boy had eaten.
Presently Mrs. P. began to shake with an ague fit, and called out
to me that she should die with the cold if relief was not soon
obtained. I had procured some wine at Jerusalem, which I was taking
home as a sample of the wines of Palestine; and thinking this was
a time, if ever, when its use would be justifiable, I succeeded in
disengaging a bottle from our baggage and administered a quantity
of it to those "who were ready to perish." Drawing a small carpet
from the saddle of the mule on which I rode, I covered up my little
family, and with no enviable feelings waited the result. It was not
long before the well-known voice of Angelo hallooing in the distance
broke upon my ear. He came with one of the consul's sons, who
welcomed us to his father's house, assuring us there was no obstacle
in the way of our admittance. Thus our difficulties were removed,
and we were most hospitably lodged for the night. The next day we
arrived at the country-seat of our very kind consul at this place,
who has furnished us with a room, and is assiduous in his attentions
to promote our comfort and happiness.



LETTER XXI.


  _Alexandria, June 21st, 1838._

We left Jaffa on May the 24th for this place. It was not without
trouble and delay that we were able to obtain a passage. On our
arrival at Jaffa, in April, we found many vessels there. They were,
we were told, waiting for pilgrims, who were at that time returning
from Jerusalem, where many attend during the great feasts. They were
at that time coming down in crowds, and going off to the vessels:
but before our return from Jerusalem, in May, they were gone, and
hardly a vessel remained at Jaffa. Possibly the fear of the plague,
which prevailed at Jaffa, had driven some away, and at the same
time prevented others from coming. Our wish was to take passage to
Damietta, and ascend the Damietta branch of the Nile to Grand Cairo,
and come down the Rosetta branch to Alexandria. We found a vessel
that was willing to take us to Damietta, but before we had completed
our bargain, the Russian consul, whose family had lost many members
by the plague, made, in his great eagerness to get away, so large an
offer, as induced the captain to change his course, and immediately
sail with the consul for Smyrna. As we passed Damietta, about a week
afterwards, we spoke the same vessel, and learned that, soon after
sailing, the consul took the plague and died, and the vessel put in
at Damietta. The consul fled from Jaffa, but not from the plague
or death--both met him on the way--how little do we foresee what a
day may bring forth! After some delay a vessel came from Beyroot,
which offered to take us to this place, but asked about four times
the usual price--there was no help--no other suitable vessel
offered--and the captain said, which was true, that he would have to
perform a long quarantine. A letter came to the consul, from several
other travellers, to engage them a vessel, as they would be at Jaffa
in a few days; and it was agreed that I should pay one-half of the
required sum, and those travellers the other, and the engagement was
closed.

Through the kind attention of our consul, who spared no pains to
promote our comfort, our arrangements were made, our baggage put on
board, and our provisions and stores laid in. The plague added much
to the trouble of doing this. On going on board we found it was a
Turkish vessel, and a Turkish crew. The captain seemed to be much
of a gentleman for a Turk. He was polite, silent, and would sit
all day smoking his pipe, and watching the working of his vessel.
The crew also were sober, silent, and appeared to move about as if
they had no care but to mind their own business. We had stipulated
to have the sole use of the cabin, provided we should prefer it.
On examining the premises, however, we decided on taking up our
quarters on the deck, as plainly the cleanest and most comfortable
place. The captain readily yielded to our wishes, and fitted up the
long boat, which was on the deck, spreading a sail over it, and
making quite a tent--in this we took up our abode.

When the travellers referred to came on board, we recognised them
as a party we had met a few miles this side of Jerusalem. They had
come from Egypt to Palestine through the wilderness, and were on
their way to Jerusalem as we left it. Their cavalcade had attracted
our attention, being all mounted on camels; and what looked rather
oddly, two were on the same camel, in what are called baskets,
sitting back to back--one facing to the right and the other to the
left. The party consisted of two German officers, who belonged to
King Otho's army in Greece--a Frenchman and a Swiss. The fact that
we had no common language prevented our having as much intercourse
with them as we should otherwise have had. They also took up their
quarters on deck, the captain having put up an awning. As there
was no danger of rain, the deck was decidedly the most comfortable
place. While we could not fully understand the subject of their
discourse, we were not a little amused during our voyage with the
long and almost continual debates of our fellow-voyagers. It was
all in great good-humour, but a set of more everlasting talkers and
disputants I have seldom met with.

There were several others on board, who came in without paying
their part of the expense. This is almost always the case when
a Frank charters a vessel. I have heard of a captain, who had
especially engaged not to take any one on board except the Franks
who had chartered his vessel, stowing away privately in the hold
nearly a dozen who were never to be seen on deck. The captain of
course gets a fee from such--it is so much clear gain. He first
asks and gets a full price for his whole vessel, and then stows
away as many persons and things as he can, on such terms as may
be offered. We had a Greek sea captain as a passenger--he was one
of the most silent Greeks I recollect to have met with, for, as a
general thing, they are a talking, noisy people. He hardly ever
spoke a word, and had little intercourse with any one except a
Greek servant. There was another, "old Dominico," as we called him,
who, oddly enough, passed himself off as one of my party, and not
only went rent free, but ate of my bread. On reaching our consul's
from Jerusalem, we saw there a middle-aged man, who had much the
appearance of a domestic, but in a Frank dress. He seemed to turn
his hand to anything--at times he was in the garden directing the
water to the trees and plants--then again he was going with a mule
or donkey and bringing home loads of grass for the animals--at one
time called here and another there. On first seeing him, it struck
me he might be a Scotchman--but he knew no English--I then thought
he must be an Italian--he proved to be a Genoese. He had been at
Jerusalem, and was living on the consul until he could get a passage
from Jaffa--and the consul, very properly, to keep him from rusting
through mere idleness, was employing him in all sorts of ways, as
occasions offered. When on the point of starting, the consul, who
was probably willing to get clear of him, requested that Dominico
might so far be considered, as belonging to my party as to secure
him a free passage; and, according to his own rule for managing such
cases, advised that I should keep the old man in employ as far as I
had anything that he could do. Of course I assented. After getting
all on board, and under sail, and the time for eating had come,
Angelo reported old Dominico as minus all sorts of provisions for
the voyage. I was fairly in for it. He belonged to my party, and
must not be allowed to suffer. This however was an appendix to the
matter that I had not looked for; and in laying in stores, for each
party found themselves, (old Dominico excepted,) I had not counted
him--and no small eater was he. Angelo was directed to give the old
man his rations from my stores, and advised that he should give him
something to do--make him cut the wood, kindle the fire, watch the
coffee--do anything that would keep his hand in: for I hold that
perfect idleness is not good for man or beast. And finding that the
old man had a pretty good knack for pleasing children, many an hour
were they permitted to while away with him, to his own as well as
their amusement.

The Moslems are in their way a religious people. They are regular
in saying their prayers at the prescribed times. They usually pray,
wherever they may happen to be, when the proper time arrives.
They do not retire to a secret place, but spread a small mat, and
kneel and prostrate themselves on it--touch the ground with their
forehead, facing towards Mecca, and repeating at the same time, in
a low and almost unintelligible voice, their forms of prayer. The
fore-part of the deck was the place at which they performed their
devotions.

Our winds being light, we did not lose sight of Palestine for nearly
twenty-four hours after we embarked. We had a pretty good view of
the south part of the plain of Sharon and of the hill country that
rose behind it. Several villages were seen, surrounded with their
olive-trees, vineyards, and gardens. The land at last disappeared,
and nothing but water was seen on all sides. Our course brought us
within sight of Egypt, east of Damietta. The coast was low, and
seemed to be a bed of sand. To the south-east we saw some large
buildings that appeared to rise out of the water. We learned that
they were forts at the mouth of some inlet. As we passed to the
west, our course brought us nearer the shore, and gave us a better
view of it. The water had a greenish colour, and such a current set
to the east, that during a calm that took place we had to cast out
an anchor to prevent our being swept far to the east.

In passing Damietta, we saw several vessels lying off. The shallows
and bars at the mouth of the river are such as to prevent vessels
from entering, and cause much trouble and delay in loading and
unloading at that place. Large lighters are used in passing produce
and merchandise to and from the shore. We could not see much of
the town. It lies a little back, and the sand hills near the coast
tended to prevent a good view of it. From all I could learn, it is
a small place, and much on the decline. There are some strong forts
at the mouth of the river, and so placed as to command the entrance.
The implements of war are everywhere to be met with in the dominions
of Mohammed Ali.

Groves of date-trees began to be seen on the coast. This is the
tree of Egypt, and is everywhere in Egypt to be met with in greater
numbers than any other tree. It has a singular appearance, and
not unlike a spread umbrella. The stem is long, and of the same
thickness, and has no branches until you reach the top,--then a
large cluster of branches, which bend out and hang down their tops,
so as to look much like the top of an open umbrella. They often
are found together in groves or orchards, and make a very fine
appearance.

Along the coast, and near the water, are many sand-hills. They
almost line the coast--are of various shapes and sizes. Most of
them are composed of white, fine sand, and are utterly destitute
of vegetation. In a few places I could see some small bushes about
the base of some of them; and through the openings between the
sand-hills we could see groves of palms in the interior. In a few
places we saw villages; for the most part they appeared small. Some
of them had minarets, which indicated Moslem places of worship; and
in several places we saw the top of minarets where we could see
neither the village nor the mosque to which they belonged.

The minaret, I may here remark, is to the mosques what a steeple is
to the church. Instead of a bell to call to worship, the moolah
(the Mohammedan priest) mounts the minaret, proclaims the hour,
and calls his people to prayer. The minaret rises higher above
the mosque than the steeple usually does above the church. It is
always white, and has a stairway up in the inside, by which the
moolah ascends to the place from which he proclaims the hour and
its accompanying duty. Near the top is a door through which he
comes out. A little platform runs all round the minaret, fenced in
with a low railing. There is a cover over the top, which protects
them in time of rain. If I may compare a small thing with a great,
I would say that a minaret is much like a tall candlestick, with a
long spermaceti candle in it, and an extinguisher on the top of the
candle. They have a very pretty and tasteful appearance.

The whole coast from east of Damietta to the west of Rosetta, bends
like a bow, the convex part being next the Mediterranean. It is
caused, no doubt, in part at least, by the immense deposits which
the Nile makes of the mud, with which its waters are loaded. There
are, however, some very deep bays on the coast, as the bay of
Aboukir.

The coast about Rosetta did not differ much from that about
Damietta. The mouth of the river is obstructed with bars, which is
much in the way of its commerce. The town lies back, so that we had
not a good view of it, at the distance at which we passed. There
were once, I am told, many good houses here; the trade was much
concentrated here; but since the canal has been made from Atpi to
Alexandria, the trade has taken that direction, and Alexandria has
been built up at the expense of Rosetta. All along this coast the
current seemed to set eastward.

We reached Alexandria on the first of June. It stands on a point of
land that projects considerably into the sea, and has a part that
turns west like the upper part of a capital T. On this west point
stands a palace of the pasha, to which he resorts in summer. There
are two harbours, one on the east and the other on the west side of
the town; and in each harbour is a Lazaret.

We had hoped, that as we had kept quarantine at Jaffa--as our vessel
had little intercourse with the shore, having come from Beyroot,
and as the health-officer promised he would state this on our
papers, that we would have but little, if any, assigned us here.
But we found that all availed not. We had twenty-one days assigned
us, and all our entreaties availed not to lessen the number. The
Turks, for the most part, take things patiently, and in few things
is it more wise to imitate them than in this. We had our place
assigned us in the Lazaret of the eastern harbour, and early the
next morning the captain had us and all our baggage conveyed there.
Our fellow-passengers were all assigned to the same place, while
the captain and his crew were allowed to perform their quarantine
on board their vessel--one soldier being put with them to see that
none left the vessel, and none entered it; while another soldier was
assigned to us to have a similar watch over all our doings.

On reaching the Lazaret, we were a good deal disconcerted at finding
that all men, women, and children, masters and servants, were to be
put in one and the same room. Who ever heard the like! I protested
against it, but of what use to protest! We were told the rooms were
scarce, and that this was their mode, to put all who had come in the
same vessel in the same room. The room was large--about sixty by
twenty. Several years' experience had satisfied me that there was
more trouble than profit in trying to get Turks and Arabs to think
and reason as we do. I therefore set myself to make the best of the
case, and set off to examine the premises. At and about the door of
the room--for we were not in the open court before it--I met several
of our voyagers, who, with much earnestness, urged me not to go in.
Angelo, who had just come out, earnestly advised me not to enter,
and let me know that the place was literally overrun with fleas. I
found them there in great numbers truly. But after having it swept
again and again, and using other means to destroy them, we took
possession. I had a strong cord stretched across, so as to cut off
about one-third, and made a room about twenty feet square. On this
cord we hung sheets, and blankets, and bed-spreads, and thus made a
private and comfortable chamber. We procured a frame-work of palm
wood that was a very good substitute for bedsteads--and some other
articles of the first necessity, and did very well; for our room, as
we found it, had not an article in it.

Our fellow-voyagers took possession of the other part of the room,
and renewed their discussions and debates, which for a little had
been suspended.

The Lazaret has a set of large rooms, formed into squares, and
surrounded with high walls. Attached to each room is a court, rather
larger than the room, and open to the heavens. There is a tank of
water in this court, and at one side, what is called a parletorio--a
place with a kind of wood grating, through which they may see and
converse with friends who call on them. Those in quarantine have,
during the day, free use of the court attached to their rooms, but
at night they are locked up in their rooms, their guardian with
them, and the key taken to the room of the head of the quarantine.

There is a kind of market in the Lazaret, or rather a shop is kept
there, at which most of the common necessaries may be had, and at
about a fair price. I engaged a man to send us bread and milk daily,
and was well supplied. Angelo as usual cooked for us and had the
general management of our table, and continued to have it nearly as
well furnished as when we were at Beyroot, and at about the same
expense.

We were a few times allowed to walk out as far as the sea-side,
but not without our guard. Nor were we allowed to go more than a
few rods from the walls. We much wished to take some walks in the
vicinity, but this was not allowed. There was, however, nothing rude
in their mode of denial.

The Lazaret is a new building, and not yet finished, and the work
is still in progress. It is made of a soft limestone, which is
brought in vessels and landed near the building. I observed that
females were almost wholly employed in unloading the stone from
these vessels, and the attendance on the workmen was chiefly, if
not wholly, done by females. There were small companies of girls,
from twelve to sixteen years of age, who carried stones and mortar.
They usually went together, and sung and kept a kind of time. Their
singing was in a kind of response to each other, and was evidently,
in part at least, extempore; as they often alluded to what they saw,
and to what was taking place about them. It reminded me of what is
called the corn-song, as sung by the slaves in the southern States.
They seemed cheerful, and are said to receive some wages for their
service.

Soon after we were in the Lazaret, Mr. Gliddon, U. S. consul, called
on us, and kindly tendered his aid in any way that might add to our
comfort while thus shut up in the Lazaret. To be twenty-one days
shut up in a room was tiresome, but not so much so to us as might
be expected. We had books--we read and wrote, and through the
kindness of our consul and others we received files of papers, which
let us know what was going on in that much-loved land, from which we
had been so long absent, and to think now we were about to return.

Alexandria stands on the site of the old town of that name. The
point of land which I have before mentioned, is pretty much covered
with houses. The houses of the older part of the town are very
inferior, but many of the buildings lately put up are in European
style, and very good, and some splendid buildings. These stand, at
least most of them, near the eastern harbour, and on a long street
that runs south-east across the town. Many of these new and elegant
houses are occupied by Europeans, of whom there are a considerable
number in Alexandria. There are many Frank shops, and stores, and
artists; and almost all kinds of European articles and goods may
here be obtained.

A little to the east of the Frank quarter, as it may be called,
stands Cleopatra's Needle. It is a granite obelisk--near it lies
another on the ground. There is a large space on the south-east
side of the city, that is not built on. It is a bed of ruins. In
many places excavations have been made, and curious antiques found.
The city is surrounded by a high and strong wall, with a deep
fosse on the outside. The gates are always guarded with soldiers.
The Navy-yard and Custom-house are on the western harbour; and in
that harbour ride some noble vessels, and others are being built.
The pasha and the sultan seem running a race in ship-building, and
certainly each has done a good deal within a few years past. A
little south of the town, and on a small elevation, stands Pompey's
Pillar. It has so often been described that I may well pass it
over, with the remark, that it is a large and beautiful shaft of
solid rock.

Alexandria has been much revived of late, and is now the chief
seaport of Egypt. Having selected it as the place for his navy-yard,
and through the canal of Mahmudieh opened a direct communication
between Alexandria and the Nile at Atpi, the trade has almost all
centred at Alexandria, to the ruin of Rosetta. The population of
Alexandria may be from 30 to 40,000.

The district about Alexandria has, with few exceptions, a dry and
burnt-up appearance. In a few places the date and the acacia trees
are seen, but a large part of the surface has almost nothing on it.

The pasha has shown a commendable degree of zeal for introducing
the arts and improvements of Europe into his dominions. He has
manufactories, and artists, and schools, at Alexandria and other
places. His leading object in the whole seems to be, to promote and
confirm his own power over the people that he now governs. He has
intelligence enough to see that arts and improvements have given
a decided advantage to those who possess them, and for the sake
of those advantages he desires to be possessed of them. This has
led him to employ many European artists and masters--has induced
him to send a number of youth to Europe to be educated there, and
instructed in the various departments of useful knowledge.



LETTER XXII.


  _Cairo, June 29th, 1838._

Wishing to make our tour up the Nile as soon as we were relieved
from quarantine, we had in part made our arrangements when that
took place. On the 21st, we were called down to be inspected
by the man of medical science, and were declared free from all
suspicious symptoms, and entitled to mingle with the good people of
the country, and travel where we pleased. It was farcical enough
to see the man stand at the distance of ten or fifteen feet, and
inspect our tongues, and make us move our arms, and then gravely
decide that we were free from infection. Our keepers, who, on the
whole, had been kind and attentive, but careful not to touch us,
now approached and gave us a cordial shake of the hand, and their
congratulations on our restoration to freedom. Each had to pay a
small rent for the room. We had also several small fees to pay--as
the board of our guardian. Through the aid of our consul a boat had
been engaged, and some other preparations made for our trip up the
Nile: deeming it best, after so long a delay, to lose no time in
making our visit to this place. We found the boat in readiness, with
such stores as were necessary; and the American flag floated in the
air at the mast-head. This was to make known to all whom it might
concern, that the boat was mine _pro tem._, and not to be searched
or molested while under my protection. We were soon in readiness to
leave. Several persons, however, whose animals we had used in riding
from the Lazaret to the boat, and some who had brought us various
articles, were to be paid. As I knew not what the usual prices
were, I requested a Janissary to give each what was right. He soon
settled the matter, and paid them about one-third of what they
demanded of me. Thus, almost perpetually, these people try to extort
from travellers more than is due, and especially if the traveller be
a stranger among them.

Alexandria does not stand on the Nile, but near thirty miles west of
the Rosetta branch of that river. A canal (the Mahmudieh) connects
the town on the western harbour with the river, not at its mouth,
but at Atfi. This place may be nearly sixty miles from Alexandria,
but not so far from the mouth of the river. This canal is the work
of the Pasha. Owing to the bars and shallows at the mouth of the
river, much difficulty was found in loading and unloading vessels;
and the trade of Egypt, which was carried on mainly through that
branch, was much impeded. Possibly a wish to build up Alexandria,
which was the best harbour for his navy, may have had its influence.
The Pasha resolved to open a canal from some point of the Rosetta
branch to Alexandria. Atfi was fixed on as the point. The course of
the canal marked out, and multitudes of people from all the adjacent
towns and villages, marched down to different parts of the line and
set to work. The greater part had nothing to work with but their
hands; but the soil was soft and no stone in it. In a few months
the work was done, but it is said, many lives were lost through the
hardships to which the people were subjected. Sail-boats are used
on the canal; but as the wind is not always fair, they at times use
the tow-line, but men, and not animals, pull it. The boats that are
on the canal do not pass into the river, nor those of the river into
the canal. There must of course be another boat taken at Atfi, and
the baggage changed from one to the other. This consumes time and
is attended with some expense.

The country through which the canal passes is nearly a dead level,
and, in some places, I should think, lower than the level of the
river. The banks of the canal were from eight to twelve feet above
the water. They were too high to allow us to have a good view of the
country over them. At some places, however, they were lower, and at
others, by stopping the boat, and ascending the bank, we had fine
views of the rich meadows of Egypt. For many miles after leaving
Alexandria, we passed a succession of houses and gardens, along the
canal, that had a very pleasant appearance. Several of them were
fitted up in Frank style, with glass windows, and other fixtures
indicating European society. They may have been occupied, possibly
owned, by Europeans. Connected with several of these houses, were
extensive gardens, and in a good state of keeping. In addition to
the palm tree, which is the tree of Egypt, there were several other
kinds along the canal, as the acacia. It is low, and not unlike the
olive in its shape and size, but its bark and leaf approach more to
the locust. It is pretty as a shady and ornamental tree, but I know
not its other uses.

There are, all along the canal, water-wheels at work, raising water
for irrigating the adjacent gardens and fields. The mode of making
them is simple: a channel is cut into the bank, so deep that the
water will flow into it; a wheel is made to turn in this cut, being
suspended over it; a rope, with a set of jars, passes over this
wheel, and is turned by it. This is long enough to allow the jars
to pass through the water and come up full, and, in turning, the
water is poured into a cistern, and thence conveyed by small troughs
to the place where it is needed. The wheels are usually worked
by oxen. The number of wheels is very great, and most of them are
constantly in motion through the day.

We passed some villages near the canal, but none of much size. There
were some of a larger size at a distance, as we concluded, from
the minarets which we could see. In several places we saw water
at a distance that looked like a lake. In passing up the canal,
and the same was true after we entered the river, I could not but
notice how the people and the animals loved to be in the water. The
children and youth were seen in it, and the cattle seemed to have
a passion, not only for wading in the water, but for lying down in
it, so as often to cover their whole bodies, except a small part of
their heads. This may, in part, have been to keep off the flies,
but mainly, I judge, to enjoy the coolness which the water imparted
to them. I never before understood the force of the expression in
Pharaoh's dream, where it is said, he "saw seven kine coming up out
of the river." It is true to the life. They lie in the water until
satisfied, then come up and feed on the low grounds or meadows near
it.

We had often heard dismal accounts of the annoyances met with in the
boats of the Nile; we were now to have a proof of them. On entering
our boat we observed that it had recently been painted, and hoped
that this betokened a deliverance from those gentry that so annoy
Frank travellers. But in this we were mistaken. No sooner were our
lights put out, than they came upon us from their hiding-places
in such numbers, as to make it one of the most trying nights we
had ever passed. And especially did they assail our children. And
whether it was that they liked their young blood better, or that
the children, in their sound sleep, made less resistance, I know
not, but so it was, that in the morning their faces were disfigured
with bites, and their eyes so swollen that they could hardly see.
Fortunately, we were not doomed to spend another night in this
boat. We reached Atpi during the following day, in time to transfer
ourselves and baggage to a river boat, which was about leaving for
Cairo. This boat was happily less infested with the gentry above
referred to, and we made out pretty well as to sleeping.

Atpi is a small village at the place where the canal leaves the
river. It has grown up since the canal was made. There are some
stores and shops, and a number of persons who attend to the produce
and goods that pass and repass from the canal to the river. We here
procured a boat, and made other necessary arrangements. In all these
boats we had to provide for ourselves, from the beds we slept on to
the fuel with which we cooked our food. As necessary articles are
not to be had at all places, and especially as the boat may not stop
when you find yourself minus in some needful article, the only sure
way is to keep a good stock on hand. We had our flag, as before,
flying at the mast-head, and could not but feel a little national
pride at the notice which it attracted.

Near Atpi, on the eastern side of the river, is a considerable
town, with some pretty good buildings, and among them some occupied
as factories. There was also a large building on the western
side, where the red fez, now so much used throughout Turkey, are
made. These manufactories are, we were told, public property. The
government monopolizes all things in this land. The policy may
well be questioned. Possibly in no other way could they be so soon
introduced.

The average height of the banks of the Nile may be from twelve
to sixteen feet. Fields of corn and sugar-cane were seen on the
banks, but not in as great numbers as I had expected. This in part,
however, was accounted for by the fact, that the time of the rise
was at hand, and their crops were gathered off.

The productiveness of Egypt depends on the annual overflowing of the
Nile. The Nile is the river, and the only river of Egypt; and beside
it, it is said, there is not a brook, not a spring, of running water
in Egypt. There are wells; for by digging down to nearly the level
of the water in the Nile, water may be obtained at any place. There
is no rain in Egypt. Near the sea coast, as at Alexandria, light
showers may fall, but up in the country there are none. There may be
cloudy weather during the winter, but no rain. Once every year the
Nile rises so as to cover the greater part of the country. It begins
in the latter part of June, and gradually continues for nearly two
months, then gradually falls to its usual volume of water. The
rise has now begun, but it is perceivable only to those who are
acquainted with the river. The cause of this rise is supposed to be
the great rains, and possibly melting of snows, in the high country
in which its main stream rises; but the matter is not certain. As
the Nile falls, the grain is sown on the wet ground, and produces
most abundantly.

There are many canals, from four to six and eight feet deep, and
wide enough to convey a considerable body of water. These pass off
from the river, and from these, smaller channels pass in various
directions, so as to divide much of the surface into lots or small
fields. These were much more observable at some places than at
others. The design of these channels, probably, was to bring the
water more generally over the ground than it would otherwise come;
or when the Nile did not rise high enough to cover the field, the
water, by means of these small canals, would pass in so many
directions through the district, as, by percolation, to moisten the
ground more generally than it otherwise would do.

There were along the river a great many water-melons, cucumbers, and
other vegetables. It reminded me of the complaint of Israel, in the
wilderness, that they were deprived of the melons and cucumbers of
Egypt. Num. xi. 5.

The Nile winds a good deal. It has many of those long sweeps that
characterise the Ohio and Mississippi; and as the whole country is
alluvial, the water at those turns washes away the banks against
which it strikes, while, on the opposite side of the river, a shoal
or a sand bank is formed. In these places, and they increased as we
ascended, considerable districts lay along the edge of the water,
and only a few feet above it, and on them the vegetables above
named, with many others, were raised in great numbers. There was
usually a small place in these garden spots built to protect a
person from the rain, whose office it is to prevent pillage, and
sell the vegetables to boat-men and passengers; for almost all the
travelling from Alexandria to Cairo is done in boats on the Nile.
It reminded me of the "cottage in a vineyard,"--"a lodge in a
garden of cucumbers." A little more than half-way, from Alexandria
to Cairo, on the western side of the river, we saw the end of a
new and much larger canal, now being made in a more direct course
to Alexandria. It will probably intersect the Mahmudieh canal, at
some point south of Alexandria. The southern end is near where the
sands have almost covered the district west of the Nile. Whether
it will pass into the sandy district, and thus reclaim some of it,
and prevent the farther encroachments of the sand, I know not.
There is no doubt that tillage extended much farther to the west,
in some places, formerly, than at present. The canals and means
of irrigation have been neglected, and the sands have spread over
considerable districts; some of these might no doubt be reclaimed,
were a proper mode followed with respect to them. This will hardly
be done at present, as there are large parts of Egypt now irrigated,
that lie neglected; the population, with their idle habits, are not
sufficient to cultivate the whole. For a considerable distance on
the west of the river the sands from the desert covered the banks,
and ran down to the edge of the water; it was a very white, fine
sand, and easily moved by the wind.

A little below the junction of the Rosetta and Damietta branches of
the Nile, which takes place twelve or fifteen miles below Cairo,
the Pasha has begun a great work for the more perfect irrigation of
the Delta, or the district between the rivers which is thus called.
The plan is to make a strong dam across both branches of the Nile,
and throw the water into a new channel, the bed of which shall be
much more elevated, and thus bring the waters nearer the level of
the country, and of course greatly facilitate the irrigation of the
land at all seasons. The greater part of the most valuable land
of Egypt lies between the rivers. This part is called the Delta
from its likeness to the Greek letter of that name, which is of a
triangular form. A district of land on both sides of the triangle
was cultivated and productive as far as the waters of the Nile could
be made to reach it; but beyond that, the long burning suns scorch
up vegetation, and convert all into a waste of barren sand. At some
distance in the interior, both to the east and west, water is found,
and there vegetation exists, but these places are not in the valley
of the Nile.

Most of the villages we passed were poor and small; the houses for
the most part made of mud or unburnt brick; sometimes the brick had
straw in it. We saw several places where they had establishments
for hatching eggs. This practice has long prevailed in Egypt. They
spread the eggs in layers on the floor; and have a way of subjecting
them to such a degree and uniformity of heat as perfects the process
of incubation. Their fowls seemed to me to be inferior both as to
size and flavour.

The Nile seemed to me to be about as large as the Ohio at
Cincinnati. It was, however, at its lowest state when I saw it. The
rise began while I was at Cairo, but at first it is so slow, that
a person not acquainted with the river would probably not observe
it for several days. Our boat, which was not as large as a common
steam-boat, grounded several times in ascending the river. The
boatmen would readily get out in the water and push her off. This
was easily done, as there were no rocks in the river, but mud and
sand banks. The boatmen are a shameless set and were often, and
especially when in the water, in a state of perfect nudity, and this
was the common condition of the multitudes which we saw bathing in
the river.

We had a daily wind up the river, which at times blew pretty strong.
It usually began soon after sunrise, and increased as the day
advanced. Towards night it began to abate, and nearly ceased soon
after sundown. The causes which give it this regularity we leave to
be explained by those wise men in philosophy who feel bound to give
reasons for all the phenomena of nature. During one or two months in
the year it is said to change its direction, and blow the other way.

I had several times in the south-west a fine view of the whirlwinds
of the desert; several of them could often be seen at the same
time. A thick column of dust and sand seemed to run up to the
clouds, and then gradually disappear; at times they would pass with
considerable rapidity; and while thus in quick motion, had a pretty,
but rather singular appearance. While considerably below Grand
Cairo, we had a view of the pyramids. Their tapering points ran high
in the air, and broke the smooth outline of our southern horizon.

Grand Cairo stands on the western bank of the Nile, and at the
distance of above a mile from the river. One of its large suburbs,
called Bulack, is on the river, and may be considered its port.
There the boats lie, and there much of the business of the town
is transacted. For several miles before we reached Cairo, we were
passing gardens and country-houses, some of which are of a superior
kind. Cairo is rather an assemblage of towns than one great and
continuous city; its parts lie contiguous to each other, as chance
and caprice may have decided. Close to the south-east side of it a
range of hills rises, the first and almost the only hills that we
saw in Egypt--those back of the pyramids of Gheza excepted--on a
part of these hills the citadel is situate, which commands the city,
and is a place of considerable strength.

Between the town and the river there lies a large open
space--immense piles of rubbish disfigured some parts of it. The
Pasha is making improvements here that will add much to the beauty
of this open space--he is levelling it, and with the rubbish
filling up low places, and making wide, elevated roads across it
in various directions, and having it planted with trees. A large
canal crossed this place; many people were employed in cleaning it
out, and putting it in order to receive the waters from the Nile.
There is also within the city, and before the palace, an open space
of considerable size, which has lately had much labour bestowed
on it. Elevated roads or causeways are made round it and through
it, and their edges set with trees, which give the whole a pretty
appearance. The water from the Nile, when at its height, is let into
this square; but the elevated parts are designed to be above the
waters, and afford pleasant walks for the idlers and loungers, which
are found even in Egypt.

The pyramids, so much talked of, lie near Grand Cairo, and it would
have argued a great want of curiosity not to have visited them when
so near. A few days ago, we made a visit to those of Gheza, which
lie on the west side of the Nile, and in full view of the city. We
set off about six in the morning, and rode up the river to the upper
part of old Cairo; this took us about an hour. We then crossed the
Nile in boats, to a small old village called Gheza, which gives its
name to this cluster of pyramids. We then had the wide river bottom
of the Nile to cross; this took us about two hours. The river being
low, there was no water in the several deep and wide canals that
pass through this river bottom, and we were able to cross them. This
shortened our ride much. We passed several remains of villages on
this plain. As we drew near the last village, which seemed little
better than a pile of ruins, several Bedouin Arabs came out, with
nothing but a long shirt on, and ran as hard as they could until
they met us, and urged us to employ them as our guides. It now
appeared, that it was a race among themselves, on the plan that
those who first reached us, were considered as having the right to
be employed as a guide and get the pay. As we had a cawass with us,
whom we brought from Cairo to manage all such matters, and among
other things to save us from the annoyance which these Bedouins at
times give travellers, we left it for him to make such a bargain
with them as he thought best. He engaged one or two, and let the
remainder know that we did not need their aid. We saw, at a distance
on our right, a line of arches on the plain, and a bridge-like place
over them, the uses of which we could not ascertain.

The pyramids stand on the first rise after leaving the river flats.
The ridge of that place may be from one hundred and fifty to two
hundred feet. The ground on which the large one stands (the Cheops)
is nearly level. The pyramid is square, and stands to the four
cardinal points. Each side, its base is said to be seven hundred
feet, while its height is only six hundred. It seems to be a solid
mass of rock, excepting the small rooms which I shall presently
mention. The plan on which it is built is singular. A large platform
is laid down, seven hundred feet square--this is the first row;
the stone is nearly three feet in thickness. A second row is laid
on of a similar size. This row is not laid out to the edge of the
other, but falls back all round about eighteen inches. The third
and fourth and following rows are laid in the same manner--forming
stairs. There are about two hundred rows of stones, which average
nearly three feet in thickness, and terminate in a small flat at
the top of about thirty feet square. The ascent is usually made at
the north-east corner. About half-way up there is a small room,
which seems designed as a resting place. There have evidently been
some stones thrown from the top, a part of one row being left, and
possibly one stone of a second row at the south-east corner. It
took me not quite half an hour to ascend; this included the several
stops in order to rest. From the top I had a most splendid view,
as to space--Grand Cairo and all the villages and gardens about
it; the valley of the Nile far to the north; the several groups
of pyramids, and the palm trees that lay to the south, and in the
region of ancient Memphis. The descent required about as much time,
but was attended with less difficulty than the ascent. The whole,
with the time spent on the top, occupied about an hour, and did not
seem to have half the peril or labour that some have represented.
The entrance to the interior is on the north side. We went to the
mouth and examined it, but, on the whole, concluded we would not go
in; the descent is long, and nothing to be seen within, but one or
two empty rooms. While the rocks of which the pyramids are built,
are limestone of the secondary formation, as is manifest from the
shells in it, the passage is lined with polished Egyptian granite;
the same is said to be the case with the rooms. The entrance of the
passage may be fifty feet above the ground, but it descends as one
enters.

A little to the south-west is a second pyramid, nearly as large
as that of Cheops. It is sharp at the top, and cannot, with ease,
be ascended. To the south is a small one. There were in all
directions tombs, many of them of most enormous size. The pyramids
are in the midst of a large grave-yard. We went up the hill to the
north-west some distance, and visited several rooms that were full
of hieroglyphics. Passing round the southern side of the pyramids,
we examined several places where excavations had recently been
made. Some old monuments, that had been covered with sand, were
laid bare; and, from the bottom of some deep well-like places,
several most beautiful sarcophagi had been raised--two of black
porphyry, beautifully polished, and covered with hieroglyphics, lay
on the ground; others had probably been removed. We then visited
the Sphynx, and took our lunch under the shade of its head. It has
a lion's body, in a couching posture, with the head and face of a
Nubian female, and is of most enormous dimensions. The head about
ten feet in diameter. The height from the ground, and the length
of the body, in proportion. It is hewn out of a rock, which is
the soft limestone, and has much disintegrated; the features are
much injured. The back is almost wholly covered with sand, which
has blown in from the desert. As we crossed the low grounds to the
river, on our return, we had a fine specimen of that wonderful
phenomenon called the mirage. From some cause, the air near the
ground assumes the appearance of water; the similarity is such, that
persons are often deceived, and are confident that it is water,
when seen at a little distance. We had crossed the plain about
nine or ten o'clock A.M., and there was no appearance of water;
but now, between one and two P.M., there were many places, at some
distance, that had the precise appearance of water. In some cases,
the spots that had this appearance were but a few inches, or one or
two feet in width, and looked precisely like puddles of water after
a rain: at other places whole acres seemed covered with water, and
on several occasions, it was round the roots of trees; which seemed
growing out of it. I had, on one or two occasions, seen the same as
I came up the Nile. At a considerable village on the western side
of the river, just below where the sands come in so near the river,
our boat stopped, and while the captain and part of the crew went
into the village, I ascended the bank, and walked to a place at a
little distance that was more elevated than the other parts of the
plain. It gave me a fine view of the face of the country; but I was
surprised to see, towards the north-west, an extensive portion,
as far as the eye could reach, that appeared a lake of water. In
several places there were clusters of palms growing out of it. I had
not seen on any map a lake marked in that place, nor had I heard of
any such thing. I wondered if it could be the mirage; the appearance
was so perfectly like water, that it was hard to believe it could
be anything else. On returning to the bank, I inquired of some one
if it was water that I had seen, and was assured that there was no
water in that direction, but that it was a curious appearance in
the air. I will leave it to the philosopher to explain this matter.
The ruins of what is said to be ancient Heliopolis lie but a short
distance from Cairo; we did not, however, visit them; the remains
above ground are so few, as hardly to repay the trouble of a ride to
them. The sandy deserts are to the east and south of Cairo, and the
whole way from that city to Suez on the Red Sea, a distance of about
sixty miles, is a cheerless waste of barren sand. The remains of an
old canal can be traced, it is said, most of the way from the Nile,
a little south of Cairo, to Suez, and it is supposed that it might
be reopened. Much has lately been said about the Pasha's making a
railroad from Cairo to that point, and I was assured some materials
for that purpose were brought from England; but nothing as yet has
been done, and probably years will pass before the plan is carried
into effect.

We had several pleasant interviews with the mission families at
Cairo; less, however, than we had hoped, and would have had, but
for the sickness of some of their number. They are mostly Germans,
in the employ of the Church Missionary Society. Their attention is
principally, but not exclusively, directed to the Christian sects
in the country. Miss H. has lately, at the special invitation of
the Pasha, opened a school in the harem, and is giving instruction
to the females of the Pasha's family. Thus far it has been well
received; what may be its result, time alone will show. About the
time we reached Cairo, several of the missionaries of the Church
Missionary Society, who had for some years been labouring in
Abyssinia, returned from that country. Some difficulty had arisen,
growing out of the intrigues of persons unfriendly to them, which
made it advisable for them, for a time at least, to leave that
country. It was hoped that before long they would be able to return
and resume their labours.

The Pasha has a number of schools at this place, and various
manufactories and establishments, which no doubt are doing good.
Whether the good will equal what has been expected from them, may
be doubted. His improvements and innovations are certainly tending
to produce changes in the Moslem manners, habits, and modes of
thinking, which will in part remove the obstacles in the way of
introducing the gospel among them; "but he meaneth not so, neither
does his heart think so." While the great body of the Egyptians
are Moslems, there are a number of the Christian sects to be found
here--as the Armenians, Greeks, Copts, Latins, and perhaps some
others. The state of all these sects is much like what it is through
the East--the life and power of the gospel is not known. The Church
Missionary Society have for many years maintained a mission at
Grand Cairo; they have distributed the Scriptures and other books,
published at their mission press at Malta--conducted schools--talked
and preached to the people. Their success has been but moderate. At
present, their schools are in a pretty prosperous condition, and
their field of usefulness seems more encouraging.

Grand Cairo is much the largest town in Egypt, but its precise
population is not known. A fire broke out in the Frank quarter, (the
place where most of the Franks live,) a few days before we arrived,
and destroyed several hundred houses and much property.

The Copts have a curious custom about making their Patriarch. He is
always taken from a particular monastic establishment. When chosen,
he refuses to serve, and they literally beat him until he gives his
consent. The Abyssinians receive their Patriarch from Egypt; and
after having been chosen, and even gone into Abyssinia, he will
refuse to serve, and deny that he is the person sent to be their
Patriarch, until they give him a sound drubbing, when he will agree
to receive the office. There is a strange mixture of childish folly
and weakness in such a practice.

I was much struck with the immense numbers of water-carriers,
employed in bringing water from the Nile; some to deal out to
individuals by the cupful, some to sell to families by the load, and
others to water the streets before the houses of their employers.
There were hundreds, and possibly thousands, thus employed. The
common goat-skins, taken off nearly whole, and sewed up, excepting
a small place, was the usual vessel. This they generally carried
on their backs, but some used donkeys, and others had camels, with
enormous leather bags, made much like saddle-bags, that would carry
a barrel or more of water.

The range of the thermometer at Alexandria was from 74° to 76°.
There was great uniformity, except when a sherack prevailed, which
raised it several degrees. We had one while in the lazaretta,
which covered us with dust, and increased the heat six or eight
degrees; it did not last long. As we ascended the river, there was
a considerable rise of the thermometer; and at this place it stands
from 92° to 94°; and it is not so warm now, I am told, as is usual
at this season.



LETTER XXIII.


  _Alexandria, July 14._

A little before we left Cairo on our return, I had a disagreement
with the captain in whose boat I had gone up from Atfi. On reaching
Cairo, I was induced, in part owing to the fire which was raging
in the Frank quarter of the town, to think I had better not take
rooms in that quarter, as otherwise I might probably have done.
The captain, who had been wishing to engage to take me back to
Atfi, expressed his willingness that I should remain in his boat,
retain the use of his cabin, and he would take me back for what he
received for bringing me up; and engaged to be ready to start back
at the time I named. When the time drew near at which we were to
set off, I found that he was not likely to be ready to go, as he
had not discharged the loading which he brought up. It came also to
my knowledge, through Angelo, that he intended to make a special
charge for the use of the cabin, which I fully understood was a part
of the accommodation he was to find me. On inquiry, I found that
thus it was; and the prospect was that I would be detained, as well
as greatly overcharged. I told him, as we had misunderstood each
other, we must have a new bargain. I would agree to the bargain as
I understood it; but not as he now explained it. He declared he
would not agree to it but as he understood it. I let him know I
would leave his boat, paying him for the time I had used the cabin.
On inquiry I found another boat was about to start at the time that
I had fixed on, and made my arrangements to leave him. This took
place near night, and the captain changed his tone, and declared I
should not leave his boat. He would not allow his men to hand my
baggage; forbade the men of the other boat that was hard by to set
foot on his deck. The English consul was fully engaged with taking
care of the effects of the Franks who had been burned out; and,
moreover, night came on, and we had no way to get word to him. I
threatened the captain with a complaint through the consul; but he
let me know he cared not for the consul. Poor Angelo was in a great
fright. He always had a fear of the Turks, and now all his fears
came over him. I did not myself feel altogether comfortable. There
I was with my wife and three little children, in the cabin of a
boat, the captain and crew of which were Turks, and had not only
abused me, but positively refused to let me leave it. I had but
one servant, and he was much frightened. There was no alternative;
we had to stay and did stay that night, and that without any
molestation. At the dawn of day, the crew were at work unloading,
and getting ready to set off. I had no intention, however, of
remaining in the power of a captain who had shown me so little
respect. I found means to get word to a cawass of the consul's,
who was often employed near where our boat lay; and through his
interference had my baggage landed per force, paid the captain
what the cawass said was right, and went on board the other boat
with my family. When the captain found that leave him I would, he,
Turk-like, submitted to it with more quietness than I had expected.
We were all glad to get out of the boat, after the dispute, and none
of us more so than Angelo, who did not seem to think his head was
safe on his shoulders, until he was safely on board another boat.

The vessel in which we took passage to Atfi had two giraffes on
board, destined for the United States. We did not see them until
we went on board the boat. They are a mild and inoffensive animal,
and feed on dates, bread, and hay. They were under the special care
of a mustapha or janissary of the U. S. Consul, who had engaged to
accompany them to the United States. He had with him two Arabs, for
the twofold purpose of waiting on himself, and taking care of the
giraffes.

The wind up the river was so strong, that we found it much more
difficult to get down than we had found it to ascend; and but for
the energetic character of Mustapha, who had special orders to be
in Alexandria by such a day, we would, in all probability, have
had a long passage. He hurried, and scolded, and used his cowskin
freely on the crew, hardly sparing the captain, with whom he had
some terrible quarrels. The wind was much against us, and we had a
few days that were most oppressively hot. At times we were obliged
to lie by, and the wind covered us with dust and sand. We at last
reached this place, but it took us nearly half as long again as it
did to go up. We did not get back, however, without experiencing
some of the evils of travelling in Egypt. The hot winds and dust met
with on our return, had given sore eyes to all our children. Some
of them could hardly see; and Angelo, who had been our factotum in
all our travels, was entirely laid up with the same complaint; and
under this affliction his heart began to fail him as to the long
voyage on which we were about to enter; and he fairly intimated
that he felt like changing his purpose, and remaining in the East.
He had lived with me above two years. In all my journeys, and
travels, and residences, Angelo never left me. He knew enough of
English to understand the directions I gave him, and enough of
Arabic to have intercourse with the people. I always found him
honest, and faithful, and attentive to my wants and interest. I
tried again and again to teach him to read, but it really seemed
that his talents did not lie that way; after going over the same
lesson twenty times, he still could not make it out; and without
losing his book, he gradually fell into the way of not using it. He
was raised a Catholic, as most of the Maltese are, but had fallen
out with his priest before he left Smyrna, and seemed not inclined
to have much to do with his church. He generally attended family
worship, and either the English or Arabic preaching, but showed a
disposition to let little things keep him away. On the whole, he had
less religious feeling than his advantages ought to have produced.
He always showed much attachment to our children, was a good nurse,
and the children loved him. From the early part of our acquaintance,
he declared his wish to accompany me home; and up to the day of our
reaching Alexandria, I did not doubt that he would do so. I did not
indeed see how we could do without him. But now his heart seemed to
fail him; his eyes were grievously sore--and, possibly, as the time
drew near, he may have had an increase of fears as to how he could
live, where no one could understand his language. I am not sure,
indeed, that a more special cause existed. He had manifested much
kindness of feeling for a young female servant that had spent some
time in our family before we left Beyroot. I could not but think
that the thoughts of having so many thousand miles between them, had
an influence which he did not own, and possibly hardly admitted to
his own mind. However that may be, he expressed a desire to remain,
and we were able to make such arrangements as allowed of it. He
continued his attention to the last day we stayed, and carried with
him our best wishes and prayers, that he prove as good a servant of
Jesus Christ as he has been to us; and meet us again, where all is
love, and purity, and peace.


THE END.


Bradbury and Evans, Printers, Whitefriars

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

Small capital text has been replaced with all capitals.

Apparent minor typographical errors have been corrected without note.
Irregularities and inconsistencies in the text have been retained
as printed.

The cover for the eBook version of this book was created by the
transcriber and is placed in the public domain.





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