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Title: Letters from the Holy Land
Author: Butler, Elizabeth
Language: English
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                      LETTERS FROM THE HOLY LAND


            64 & 66 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK




[Illustration: THE START


                             LETTERS FROM

                             THE HOLY LAND


                           ELIZABETH BUTLER


                       [Illustration: colophon]


                        ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK


                         _Published March 1903
                         Reprinted July 1906_

                             TO MY MOTHER
                          CHRISTIANA THOMPSON


These letters, written to my mother, and published chiefly at her
request, can lay no claim to literary worth; their only possible value
lies in their being descriptive of impressions received on the spot of
that Land which stands alone in its character upon the map of the world.
But the reader will more easily excuse the shortcomings of my pen than,
I hope, he will ever do those of my pencil!

I will make no apologies for the sketches, save to remind the reader
that most of them had to be done in haste. They are necessarily
considerably reduced in size in the reproduction, so as to suit them to
the book form.

It was a happy circumstance for me that my husband's appointment to the
Command at Alexandria should have enabled us to realize this journey. A
four-weeks' leave just allowed of our accomplishing the whole tour. The
wider round that includes Damascus and Palmyra would, of course,
necessitate a much more extended holiday.

The time of year chosen by my husband for our visit was one in which no
religious festivals were being celebrated, so that we should be spared
the sight of that distressing warring of creeds that one regrets at
Jerusalem more than anywhere else. Also the spring season is the
healthiest and most agreeable, and we timed our journey so as to begin
and end it with the moon which beautified all our nights.

We are chiefly indebted to Mr. Aquilina, the very capable and courteous
agent for Messrs. Cook and Son at Alexandria, for the perfect way in
which the machinery of the expedition was managed for us. Without such
good transport and camps one does not travel as smoothly as we did. To
the Archbishop of Alexandria we owe a debt of gratitude for his kind
offices in helping to render our way so pleasant.


_Christmas Day, 1902_.


1. Frontispiece

                                                             FACING PAGE

2. Jaffa                                                               8

3. The "Cenaculum." Site of the House of the Last Supper              26

4. In the Garden of Gethsemane. Noonday. Looking towards
   Valley of Jehoshaphat                                              30

5. Bethany                                                            32

6. "Ain Kareem," reputed birthplace of John the Baptist,
   from roof of Convent of the Visitation                             36

7. Solomon's Pools, near Jerusalem, looking towards Dead Sea          38

8. Bethlehem from the Sheepfold, Field of Boaz                        42

9. The Plain of the Jordan, looking from "New Jericho"
   towards Mount Pisgah                                               48

10. The Plain of Esdraelon, from foot of Tabor, with
    the village of Naim in distance                                   60

11. Our First Sight of Lake Galilee                                   62

12. Galilee, looking towards Hermon                                   64

13. Galilee, looking from near the mouth of the Jordan towards
    the "Mount of Beatitudes" and Tabor                               66

14. Nazareth at Sunrise                                               68

15. St. Jean d'Acre                                                   72

16. Ruins of the Crusaders' Banqueting Hall, Athleet                  78

_The illustrations in this volume have been engraved and printed by the
                  Carl Hentschel Colourtype Process_


IN THE ADRIATIC, _28th February 189-_.

My....--I am out on the dark waters of the Adriatic. It is late, and the
people on board are little by little subsiding into their cabins, and I
shall write you my first letter _en route_ for the Holy Land.

If all is well I shall join W. at Alexandria, and we shall have our
long-looked-forward-to expedition from thence. Venice has given me a
memorable "send-off," looking her loveliest this radiant day of spring,
and were I not going where I am going my thoughts would linger
regretfully amongst those lagoons already left so far behind. I watched
to the very last the lovely city gradually fading from view in a faint
rosy flush, backed by a blue-grey mist, and as we stood out to sea all
land had sunk away and the sun set in a crimson cloud, sending a column
of gold down to us on the perfectly unruffled waters. Later on the moon,
high overhead, shining through the mist, made the sea look like blue
air, and quite undistinguishable from the sky. The horizon being lost we
seemed to be floating through space, and the only solid things to be
seen were the moon and our fellow planets and the stars, so that I felt
as though I had passed out of this world altogether. Indeed one does
leave the ordinary world when shaping one's course for Palestine!

PORT SAID, _Sunday, 5th April 189-_.

My....--We are moored at Port Said on board the large Messageries
steamer, having left Alexandria at 5.30 P.M. yesterday on our way to
Jaffa. What a hideous place is this! And this is the Venice that modern
commerce has conjured up out of the sea. Truly typical! As I look at the
deep ranks of steamers lining the Canal mouth, begrimed with coal-dust
and besmirched with brown smoke, I might be at the Liverpool Docks, so
much is the light of this Land of Light obscured by their fumes. On the
banks are dumped down quantities of tin houses with cast-iron supports
to their verandahs. When my mind reverts to the merchant city of the
Adriatic and compares it with this flower of modern commerce I don't
feel impressed with, or in the least thankful for, our modern
"Progress." Last night, when we arrived, a barge of Acheron came
alongside full of negroes in sooty robes, one gnawing a raw beef bone by
the light of the torch in the bows. They were coming to coal us. And,
being coaled, we shall draw light out of darkness, loveliness out of
hideousness, and this evening we shall be taking our course to the
Long-promised Land!

Where shall I finish this? Is it possible that my life-long wish is now
so soon to be accomplished?

No two people, I suppose, receive the same impression of the Holy Land.
None of the books I have read tally as to the feelings it awakens in
travellers. How will it be with me?

_6th April_.

At sunrise this morning the throbbing of the screw suddenly ceased, and
as I went to the port-hole of our cabin I beheld the lovely coast of the
Land of Christ, about a mile distant, with the exquisite town of Jaffa,
typically Eastern, grouped on a rock by the sea, and appearing above
huge, heaving waves, whose grey-blue tones were mixed with rosy
reflections from the clouds. Here was no modern harbour with piers and
jetties, no modern warehouses, none of the characteristics of a seaport
of our time. Jaffa is much as it must have looked to the Crusaders; and
we approached it, after leaving the steamer, much as pilgrims must have
done in the Middle Ages. The Messageries ship could approach no nearer
on account of the rocks, and we had to be rowed ashore in open
boats--very large, stout craft, fit to resist the tremendous waves that
thunder against the rocky ramparts of Jaffa. How often I have imagined
this landing, and have gone through it in delicious anticipation!

Everything was made as pleasant as possible to us, Mr. ---- coming on
board to direct the proceedings, and a Franciscan monk also boarding the
steamer with greetings from Jerusalem, at the request of the Archbishop
of Alexandria.

As our boat was the last to leave the steamer I had time to watch the
disconcerting process of trans-shipping the other tourists who all went
off in the first boats, and nothing I have ever seen of the sort could
compare with what I beheld during those breathless moments. The effect
produced by brawny Syrian boatmen tussling with elderly British and
American females in sun-helmets and blue spectacles, and at the right
moment, when the steamer heaved to starboard and met the boat rising on
the crest of a particular wave, pushing them by the shoulders from
above, and pulling them into the boat from below, was a thing to
remember. (To go down the ladder was quite impossible, so violent was
the bumping of boat against ship.) To miss the right moment was to have
to wait till the steamer which then rolled to port, and the boat which
then sank into the trough of the sea, met again with the next lurch. The
poor tourists said nothing; they hadn't time given them for the feeblest
protest, but they looked quite dazed when stuck down in their seats.
Thanks to our kind friends we had a boat to ourselves and we were not
worked off so expeditiously, being thus able to submit with something
more approaching grace. We had a large crew of rowers, and being only
ourselves, the monk, and Mr. ----, we went light. Three or four times the
helmsman had to be extra vigilant as a huge roller, which hid everything
behind it, came racing in our wake, and lifting us as though we were so
much seaweed, carried us forward with dizzy swiftness. Woe betide that
boat which such a wave should strike broadside on! At each crisis the
"stroke oar" sang out a warning, and redoubled his work, the
perspiration coursing down his face. The whole crew sang an answer to
his wild signal in a barbaric minor. Nothing could be more invigorating
than this experience; one moment when hoisted on the crest of a wave one
saw Jaffa, the Plain of Sharon, and the hills of Judea ahead, and astern
the Messageries steamer and small craft riding at anchor, and the next
moment nothing between one and the sky but jagged and curling crests of
wild billows! On landing at the rocks we were hoisted up slippery steps
in more iron grips. On such occasions it is useless to hesitate--indeed
they don't let you--and as you don't know what is best for you, you had
much better at once surrender your individuality and become a passive
piece of goods if you don't want a broken limb.

We immediately found ourselves in such a picturesque crowd as even my
Egypt-saturated eyes took new delight in, and we passed through the
Custom-house with the agent obligingly clearing all before us, and got
into a little carriage after climbing on foot the steep part of the
town. What a town! No description I have yet read does full justice to
its tumble-down picturesqueness. Those black archways like caverns,
those crooked streets filled with people, camels, and donkeys--all this
to me is fascinating. I am too hurried to pause here long enough to try
and define the difference between life here and life in Egypt. There is
not here the barbarism of the latter's picturesqueness, and one feels
here more the beauty of the true East. I don't see the abject squalor of
Egypt, and the people's dresses are more varied. All this stone masonry
is very acceptable after the brick and mud of Egyptian hovels. Here is
the essence of Asia--there, of Africa. I am afraid these remarks are
crude, but I think the definition is a just one.

As we drove to the little German inn in the outskirts of the town, we
noticed the air getting richer with the scent of orange-flowers, and
soon we passed into the region of the orange-orchards. The trees were
creamy white with dense blossom, and the ripe fruit was dotted about in
the masses of white. The honey they gave us at breakfast was from these
orange-flowers. Here our dragoman, Isaac, met us. I made my first
sketch--the first, I trust, of a series I marked down before leaving
Alexandria. It was of Jaffa, seen over the orange-trees from the inn
garden, and charming it was to sit there in the cool shade, with birds
singing overhead as never one hears them in Egypt. Fragments of
classical pillars stood about and served as seats under the chequered
shade of flowering fruit-trees along the garden paths. The Mediterranean
appeared to my right, and overhead sailed great pearly clouds in the
vibrating blue of the fresh spring sky. I must say I felt very happy at
the reality of my presence on the soil of Palestine!

[Illustration: JAFFA

THE upper part of the town is seen over the tops of orange orchards.
Time, morning.]

At 2 P.M. we started in a carriage like our dear old friend, the
"Vetturino," for Ramleh, our halting-place for the night. How can I put
before you the scenes of loveliness we passed through? The country was a
vast plain of rolling wheat, bordered in the blue distance with the
tender hills of Judea. This land of the Philistines far surpassed my
expectations in its extent, its grand sweep of line, its breadth of
colour and light and shade. It was some time before we came out on the
Plain of Sharon, and we drove first a long way between orange-orchards
bordered along the road by gigantic hedges of prickly pear. Our
Vetturino was drawn by three horses abreast, all with bells, and it was
exhilarating to set out at a fast trot along the easy road in company
with other jingling and whip-cracking vehicles, and escorted by horsemen
in brilliant Syrian costumes dashing along on their little Arabs, and
carrying their long ornamental guns slung across their backs. I had just
one horrible glimpse (of which I said nothing, as of some guilty thing),
just as we started, of a railway engine under some palm-trees. It is
waiting there the completion of the line to Jerusalem to puff and
whistle its beauty-marring career to the Holy City. I am thankful my
good luck has brought me here just in time to escape the sight of a
railway and its attendant eyesores in this sacred land. Why rush through
this little country, every yard of which is precious? An express train
could run in two hours "from Dan to Beersheba"--and what then?

Before emerging on the Plain we passed a white mosque-like building
placed between two cypresses by the roadside, which is supposed to stand
on the site of the place where Peter raised Dorcas to life. Be that as
it may, the white dome and the black-green cypresses are charming. The
soil of the country, now being ploughed in all directions between the
green wheat-fields, is of a rich golden colour, like that I noticed with
such pleasure around Sienna, and makes a pleasing harmony with the vivid
green. The dear olive-tree, beloved of my childhood, is here in its very
home. I hailed its pinky-grey foliage and its hoary old gnarled trunk.
And now for those wildflowers that all travellers who are so well
advised as to come here in spring have told us of. Well may they speak
of them with rapture! As we proceeded they increased in variety, and so
abundant were they that they made tracts and wide regions of colour over
the land. Come here in spring, O traveller! and not in the arid, dusty,
burnt-up autumn. On entering the Plain of Sharon we saw to our left the
town of Lydda, with St. George's Church gleaming in the sunshine. Never
have I seen, even in Ireland, fresher effects of cloud shadow and
sunlight over rolling spaces of waving green corn, and even the sky was
typically West of Ireland. Yet lo! in the foreground strings of camels,
mules, and wild Bedouins and caracoling Bashi-Bazouks! The ploughing was
done by tiny oxen, two abreast, and sometimes a tall camel stalked as
leader. On arriving at Ramleh we walked to the great tower, some
distance out of the town, from the top of which I had my long-looked-for
view of the whole of Philistia--northward to Carmel, westward to the
sea, eastward to the mountains of Judah. As the sun sank the tints
deepened on that lovely plain, and nothing on earth could be more
beautiful than that immense view. I made a hasty water-colour sketch up
there, but what can one do in a few minutes with such a scene? A sad
spectacle awaited us as we reached the German inn. As we walked I had
become absorbed in the contemplation of the limpid sky, where the last
lark was carolling to the sinking sun, and of the mountains whose rosy
flush was fading into the cool greys that already veiled the plain, when
my eyes sinking lower, I beheld in the cold grey of the narrow street,
ranged along a stone wall, a row of lepers waiting for alms. Life has no
sadder detail than the leper. As I approached them with a coin the
nearest of these poor creatures put out a fingerless palm on which I
placed the money, and having only hollow sockets in the place of eyes it
handed it to its neighbour, who, being also eyeless, passed it on to one
in whose fleshless face there lingered the remnant of an eye. This one's
hand lifted the coin to its fragment of eye to see its value, and
deposited it in the recesses of its fluttering rags that only half
veiled the decaying body. A low wail passed along the line, and bony
arms were stretched out in gratitude. And then we go to our _table
d'hôte_ and comfortable beds, and they--where do they sleep? Do they lie
down on those bare bones?

Jerusalem, _7th April 189-_.

My....--We left Ramleh early this brisk, fresh morning, the air full of
scent from the wildflowers. Frère Benoît, the Flemish Franciscan who met
us on board the steamer, came with us, and an English lady who had all
but broken down the day before through the jolting of a shandrydan that
had been palmed off on her and her husband at Jaffa. So with the friar
and Mrs. G---- inside, W. on the box, and Mr. G---- following in the
aforesaid shandrydan with Isaac, we set off in the usual whip-cracking,
shouting, and prancing manner for


The first point of interest I was looking for was Ajalon. As we dipped
down from one of the hills traversed by the road in steep zigzags it
unfolded its fresh loveliness on our left, but we could not see the
actual site of Joshua's battle, as it was too deep in the folds of the
hills. This view was, perhaps, the loveliest of all, and nothing could
be fresher than those cornfields and rich spaces of ploughed earth in
the light that streamed down from so pure a sky. Now and then a single
horseman with the well-known long gun inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and
with his Arab all over tassels, dashed past us, doing "fantasia" to
impress us strangers. The proceeding was never without success as far as
I was concerned.

At 9.30 we left the plain and at once entered the hills of Judea, which
are much more uniformly stony than one would suppose them to be from a
distance. We soon stopped at a wayside khan, about half-a-dozen
Vetturinos being assembled in the yard, and all the horses were rested.
We then began the ascent of the dear Hill Country, fragrant with
memories of Mary on her journey made in haste from Nazareth. I did not
expect such a long and high ascent, having failed to realise from
description the immense altitude of the height of land that holds
Jerusalem. "Things seen are mightier than things heard." The wildflowers
increased in beauty and variety, chief, I think, amongst them being the
crimson anemones with black centre which tossed their gay heads
everywhere in the mountain breeze. Olives and stones, stones and olives
on all sides. Here and there a carob tree or a clump of tamarisk at a
tomb. As we crested the first pass and looked back we saw the plains of
Philistia, with Ramleh white in the sunshine and the sea beyond shining
in a long flash of silver. Before us to the right soon loomed against
the clouds the great tombs of the Maccabees, and away to our left on a
high cone appeared, remote and awful, the "Tomb of Samuel," a dominating
feature over all the land.

As we descended on the other side of the pass we came in sight of Ain
Kareem, the reputed birthplace of John the Baptist, on the side of a
high hill. The words of the Magnificat sounded in one's mind's ear. It
is a grand situation and most striking as seen from the road. At the
bottom of the valley formed by the hill we were descending and the hill
of Ain Kareem runs the dry bed of the brook from which David chose his
smooth stone for Goliath. W. went down and selected just such a smooth
white stone as a memento. At the bottom of the valley we halted at a
Russian khan and I took a little sketch of a bit of hillside and a
pear-tree in blossom. You must have seen this land with "second sight,"
for you have always seen a flowering fruit-tree in your mental pictures
of it at Eastertide and Lady Day. Palestine is essentially the land of
little fruit-trees.

On leaving the Russian khan, where we beheld chromo-lithographs of the
late and the present Czars on the walls, and were interested in the high
Muscovite boots of our host, we had another great ascent, and soon after
reaching the top my feelings became more and more focussed on the
look-out ahead. I saw signs that we were approaching Jerusalem. There
were more people on the road, and a detachment of the Salvation Army was
marching along with a strangely incongruous appearance. Yet only
incongruous on account of the dress, for, morally, those earnest souls
are amongst the fittest to be here. I stood up in the carriage, but W.
from the box saw first. He raised his hat, and a second after I had the
indescribable sensation of seeing the top of the Mount of Olives, and
then the Walls of Zion! It was about three o'clock.

We left the carriage outside the Jaffa Gate, for no wheeled vehicle can
traverse the streets of Jerusalem, and we passed in on foot.

We had first to go to the hotel, of course, a very clean little place
facing the Tower of David. Thence we soon set out to begin our wonderful

I had what I can only describe as a qualm when we reached, in but a few
hundred steps, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was all too easy and
too quick. You can imagine the sense of reluctance to enter there
without more recollection. I had a feeling of regret that we had not
waited till the morrow, and I would warn others not to go on the day of
arrival. We reached the Church through stone lanes of indescribable
picturesqueness, teeming with the life of the East, and there I saw the
Jerusalem Jews I had so often read of--extraordinary figures in long
coats and round hats, a ringlet falling in front of each ear, while the
rest of the head is shaved. They looked white and unhealthy, many of
them red-eyed and all more or less bent, even the youths. No greater
contrast could be seen than between those poor creatures and the Arabs
who jostle them in these crowded alleys, and who are such upstanding
athletic men, with clear brown skins, clean-cut features, and heads
turbaned majestically. They stride along with a spring in every step.
There are Greeks here, and Russians in crowds, and Kurds, Armenians,
and Kopts--in fact samples of all the dwellers of the Near East, wearing
their national dresses; and through this fascinating assemblage of types
and costumes, most distracting to my thoughts, we threaded our way
to-day, ascending and descending the lanes and bazaars, up and down wide
shallow steps, till we came in front of the rich portal of the Church of
churches. With our eyes dazzled with all that colour, and with the
sudden brilliance of the sunshine which flooded the open space in front
of the façade, we passed in! Do not imagine that the church stands
imposingly on an eminence, and that its proportions can strike the
beholder. You go downhill to it from the street, and it is crowded on
all sides but the front by other buildings. But its gloomy antiquity and
formlessness are the very things that strike one with convincing force,
for one sees at once that the church is there for the sake of the sites
it encloses, and that, therefore, it cannot have any architectural
symmetry or plan whatever, and its enormous extent is necessitated by
its enclosing the chapels over Calvary and the Holy Sepulchre and many
others besides, which the Empress Helena erected over each sacred spot
whose identity she ascertained with so much diligence. It is very
natural to wish that Calvary was in the open air,--lonely, under the sky
that saw Christ suffer on the Cross. But already, in the year 326, St.
Helena found the place of execution buried under mounds of rubbish
purposely thrown upon it; and where would any trace of it be to-day had
she not enclosed it--what with man's destroying acts and the violence of
the storms that have beaten against this rock for nineteen centuries and
more? It was, to begin with, but a small eminence close outside the
walls. On entering the church you discern in the depths of the gloom of
the tortuous interior the rough steep steps cut in the rock that lead to
Calvary, on your right hand. On climbing to the top, groping in the
twilight, you find yourself in a chapel lined with plates of gold and
hung with votive lamps. The sacred floor, which is the very top of
Calvary, is entirely cased in gold, and under the Greek altar is shown
the socket of the Cross, a hole in the rock. Our altar stands to the
proper left of the Greek, which has the post of honour. Descending from
Calvary there is a long stretch of twilight church to traverse before we
come to the sepulchre. Again I had not realised, from the books I have
read, the great distance that separates the two, and, indeed, many
writers in their scepticism have done their best to belittle the whole
thing. I confess that before to-day I was much under the influence of
these writers, but I have now seen for myself, a privilege I am deeply
thankful for. It was an overwhelming sensation to find the spaces that
separate the sites so much vaster than I had expected, and to have, at
every step, the conviction driven home that after all the modern
wrangling and disputing the old tradition stands immovable. It certainly
would be hard to believe that when St. Helena came here the dwellers of
Jerusalem should have lost all knowledge of where their "Tower-hill"
stood in the course of three centuries. She was commissioned, as you
know, by her son the Emperor Constantine, that ardent convert to
Christianity, to seek and secure with the utmost perseverance and care
all the holy sites, and to her untiring labours we owe their
identification to this day. The great central dome of the church rises
above the chapel of the Holy Sepulchre, which chapel stands in the vast
central space, a casket enclosing the rock hollowed out into Our Lord's
Tomb and its ante-chamber. You enter this ante-chamber and, stooping
down, you pass on your hands and knees into the sepulchre itself. On
your right is the little low, rough-hewn tomb, covered with a slab of
stone worn into hollows by the lips of countless pilgrims throughout the
long ages of our era. A monk keeps watch there, and beside him there is
only space enough for one person at a time. I have made many attempts to
tell you my thoughts and feelings during those bewildering moments of my
first visit, but I find it is impossible, and you can understand why.

JERUSALEM, _8th April 189-_.

My....--To-day was exquisitely bright and full of heart-stirring sights
to us. Those who have not been here can scarcely, I think, realise the
sensation of living in daily intimacy with the scenes of Our Lord's
Passion. Think of lying down at night under the shadow of the Cross.
To-day we first visited the Wailing Place of the Jews. Strange and
pathetic sight, these weird men and women and children weeping and
moaning, with their faces against the gigantic stones of the wall that
forms the only remaining portion of the foundation of their vanished
Temple, praying Jehovah for its restoration to Israel; and over their
heads rises in its strong beauty the Moslem Mosque of Omar, standing in
the place of the "Holy of Holies," the varnished tiles of its dome
ablaze with green and blue in the resplendent sun! Jews below, Moslems
above, yet to the Christian, Christ everywhere!

Then we followed the "Via Dolorosa," which winds through the dense town,
starting from the Turkish barracks on the site of Pilate's house. Of
course, I need not say that the surface of Jerusalem being sixty to
eighty feet higher than it was in Our Lord's time, the real Via Dolorosa
is buried far below, but the general direction may be the true one.
Strange to see the Stations of the Cross appearing at intervals on the
walls of alleys crowded with Jews and Mahometans. There are no evidences
of Turkish intolerance in Palestine that I can see! The last stations
are, of course, in the great Church. We followed the walls from Mount
Moriah to Zion and round by Accra to the Damascus Gate, outside which
stands General Gordon's "Skull Hill," which he so tenaciously clung to
as the real Calvary (on account of its resemblance to a gigantic skull),
together with the sepulchre in a garden at the foot of the mound, which
he held was that of Joseph of Arimathea. As far as my eye can tell, the
distance between "Skull Hill" and this sepulchre is much the same as
between Calvary and the sepulchre that tradition hallows. I send you a
sketch that I made on the spot of Gordon's "sepulchre," to show you the
universal plan of these burial-places. You will see three tombs (their
lids are gone) in the inner chamber. At the Holy Sepulchre only Our
Lord's is preserved, tallying with the one I have marked with a cross;
the other two have been cut away.


I made a very hurried sketch of Jerusalem, with the Mount of Olives and
a glimpse of the mountains of Moab, from the hotel roof. Had I been
perched a little higher I could have shown the head of the Dead Sea. We
visited the Mosque of Omar, one of the great sights of the world. The
immense plateau on which the Temple stood is partly occupied by this,
the second oldest of mosques, and by great open spaces planted with
gigantic and ancient cypresses and by a smaller mosque. The whole group
is surpassingly beautiful, but what thoughts rush into one's mind in
this place! A vision of Herod's Temple fills the whole space for a few
moments with its white and golden splendour, its forest of shining
pinnacles flashing in the sun, and its tiers of pillared courts
culminating in the Holy of Holies. And then the reality lies before us
again--great empty spaces and two pagan mosques. From thence we went out
by St. Stephen's Gate, and looked down on Gethsemane on the opposite
side of the Valley of Jehoshaphat. Very dusty and stony looked that part
of the Mount of Olives, and the excavations for the building of numerous
churches by various sects have greatly spoilt its repose and beauty and
disturbed its seclusion. But one must not complain. All Christians
naturally long to have a place of worship there.

I cannot describe to you the charm of life here. All one's time is
filled to overflowing with what I may call the "holy fascination" of the
place, and though all this continual walking and standing about may be
somewhat fatiguing in a physical sense, the mind never is weary and the
fatigue is pleasant. At night, sound sleep, born of profound contentment
at the day's doings, so full of keen interest without excitement, renews
one's vitality for the succeeding day's enjoyment.

_9th April 189-._

This has been a day of clear loveliness, much hotter and altogether
exquisite. In the morning we first went to the "Cenaculum," the rambling
building erected over the site of the house of the Last Supper, which
St. Helena found and enclosed in a chapel, and also including the
undoubted Tomb of David, jealously guarded from us by the Mahometans.
The Cenaculum stands out lonely and impressive, looking towards the
mountains of Moab and the dim regions to the south of the Dead Sea. I
will show you a sunset sketch of this.

I was not pleased to feel hurried through those rooms and narrow
passages and stairs by the guide in a rather nervous manner, when I
perceived that the reason was the unfriendly looks of the Mahometans who
moved about us, and who evidently resent the presence of Christians so
near the royal tomb. I was too much distracted to realise where I was,
and indeed, not till we get away from the noise and bustle of town life
into the solitudes shall we be able to fix our thoughts as we would

From the Cenaculum we walked half-way down to the valley through which
the brook Cedron flows, and by very much the same path that Our Lord
must have followed to go to Gethsemane after the Last Supper. Down to
our right was the desolate Gehenna--the Pit of Tophet--now only
inhabited by lepers, and a ghastly hollow it looked. Beyond rose that
hill where once sat Moloch of the red-hot hands, and deep down on the
declivity between us and these landmarks of terror lay the Potter's
Field. When looking from some commanding height


THE mass of buildings shown includes, in the centre of the block, the
remains of the Chapel built by the Empress Helena over the site of the
house of the Last Supper. The Tomb of David at the left-hand extremity
is surmounted by a dome. Time, sunset.]

over the city and its surroundings the mind staggers at the thought of
the appalling catastrophes that have burst upon this narrow area--the
human agony that has been concentrated here through so many ages, of
which we read in the Old Testament and in the writings of the early
historians of our era. Twenty-five fierce sieges has this mountain
fastness endured. No other city ever went through such sufferings. If we
could really concentrate our thoughts upon the events that have passed
upon this ground which, from such a standpoint as ours of this morning,
the sight can compass in one sweep of vision, it would be too painful to
be endured. Perhaps if I could see the place on some bleak twilight or
in a sounding thunderstorm I might dimly appreciate the long agony of
Jerusalem, but to-day the April air was full of scents of flowers and
aromatic shrubs, and the bees were humming; there were little
butterflies amongst the anemones, and the lark was in full song. The
very spirit of the Gospel peace seemed to float in the gentle air of
spring. I was glad I could not concentrate my thoughts on the gloomy
side of that wondrous prospect.

From the cave whither St. Peter crept away to weep after the denial of
Our Lord is certainly the finest view of the site of the Temple to be
obtained anywhere. This cave is some distance down the path from the
Cenaculum and the house of Caiaphas, which latter we had also visited,
now a beautiful chapel.

In the afternoon we had our first ride, and went by the old stony track
so often trodden by the Saviour to Bethany. Never shall I forget the
view of the Dead Sea, Jordan, and mountains of Moab which burst upon us
as we crested the summit of the Mount of Olives and passed by the
traditional site of the Ascension. The ride down to Bethany, on the
reverse slope of the Mount, was enchanting, and how solemn all was to
us--the deep black "tomb of Lazarus," the site of the house (now a
ruined chapel) where Jesus so often stayed. We returned by the lower, or
new, road from Jericho, and had at sunset that grand view of Jerusalem
from the lower slopes of Olivet which has so often been painted. We
reserved Gethsemane for another time, but visited the ancient Church of
the Assumption on our way home.

JERUSALEM, _10th April_.

My....--We spent the whole morning in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,
I remaining alone for an hour after W. left to write letters at the
hotel. There was hardly another soul in that vast building, except a few
priests and the monk who keeps watch over the Tomb. I find I can write
least about this, the climax of what makes Palestine the Holy Land.

At two o'clock I went to Gethsemane, escorted by Isaac, where I sketched
till six. I would have preferred a moonlight sketch of that garden, but
I had to be content with a very hot daylight one. It was blissful
sitting there undisturbed under the old olives whose trunks are as hard
as stone, and I pleased myself with the idea that they might be
offshoots of offshoots of the trees that shaded Our Lord. When Titus had
all the trees around Jerusalem cut down, some saplings may have been
overlooked! My protecting dragoman was somewhere out of sight, and the
Franciscan monks who own this most sacred "God's Acre" were
unobtrusively tending the flowers somewhere about. Insects hummed amid
the flowers, all the little _burrings_ of a hot day were in the air, it
was a place of profound peace. As I returned, towards sunset, and
climbed the steep sides of the Valley of Jehoshaphat up to St. Stephen's
Gate--the shortest way to the City--I looked back towards the scene of
my happy labours, and a sight lay there below me which impressed me, I
am sure, for life. The western sides of the abyss which I was climbing
were already in the shades of night, for twilight hardly exists here,
but the opposite slopes received the red sunset light in its fullest
force, and in that scarlet gleam shone out in intense relief thousands
upon thousands of flat tombstones that cover the bones of countless Jews
who have, at their devout request, been buried there to await, on the
spot, the Last Judgment which they and we and the Mahometans all believe
will take place in that valley. Had I more time I would much like to
make a study of this truly awful place in that last ray of the vanishing
sun, for nothing could be more impressive and more touching, but
higher-standing subjects claim all the time I can spare. My intention is
to use all my sketching moments for scenes connected with Our Lord's
revealed life. I resolutely deny


PART of the Garden in foreground under old olive-trees and cypresses.
Stations of the Cross along path inside boundary wall. Walls of
Jerusalem and top of Mosque of Omar in background. Time, early

myself the indulgence of elaborately sketching the people and animals
that seem to call out to the artist at every turn, though I have
outlined some in my note-book. Anywhere else our fellow-travellers at
the hotel would be too tempting in my lighter moments, so comical they
look in their sun-proof costumes. Why such preparations against the
April sun? But one is too "detached" here to be much distracted by their
unspeakable outlines. And, talking of distractions, I really do not find
the drawbacks of Jerusalem, which so many travellers give prominence to
in accounts of their experiences, so very bad. Indeed our life here is
without a single drawback, to my thinking.

_Saturday, 11th April 189-._

The heat is greatly increasing. At 1.30 we drove to Bethlehem with our
friend, Frère Benoît. The hill country we passed through was very stony
and rocky, and only cultivated here and there. Again olives and stones,
stones and olives everywhere. The inhabitants are a splendid race, the
men athletic, the women graceful, though their faces are sadly
disfigured by tattooing. We were on the look-out for the little city of
David long before it appeared, and very beautiful it looked as we beheld
it from a high hill, crowning a slightly lower one amid a billowing sea
of other hill-tops. It has a majestic appearance on its rocky throne,
and its large, massive conventual buildings add greatly to its
stateliness. We passed that pathetic monument, Rachel's Tomb, at the
cross roads, our road leading to the left, and the other diving down to
the right towards Hebron. We ascended Bethlehem's hill and were soon in
its steep, narrow, slippery stone lanes, utterly unfitted for a
carriage. We drove at once to the Franciscan Convent and then to the
Church built over the site of the Nativity, and had the happiness of
kneeling at the sacred spot where the manger stood, which is shown in
the rocky vaults below, and marked with a white star inlaid in the
floor. The cave was rich and lovely with votive lamps and gold and
silver gifts. Little by little the dislike I had to the too precise
localisation of the events we love most in the Bible is disappearing.
Speaking for myself, I find that, on the spot, the mind demands it. But
I know that many people regret it. I only wish that, in their separate
and individual ways, all

[Illustration: BETHANY

The locality of the Tomb of Lazarus is marked by a little domed tower to
the extreme right of the town. Ruins of chapel built over site of house
of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary are in centre of village. The road to
Jerusalem of Our Lord's time passes over the brow of the hill to the
right. Mid-day.]

who come here may feel the happiness that I do.

In a very dark niche in the rocks close to where the white star shone
out in the floor I perceived the figure of a Turkish sentry,
breech-loading rifle and all, standing on his little wooden stool,
motionless. Well, do you know, though my eyes saw him my mind was not
thereby disturbed any more than it was by the Turkish guard at the door
of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I could not bring my thoughts down
to that figure and the reason of its being there.

We visited St. Jerome's Cave, close by, where he worked, near the scene
of his Redeemer's birth, giving to the world the translation into the
Vulgate of the Holy Scriptures. Then we walked down to the field of
Boaz, full of waving green wheat, in the midst of which stands the
sheepfold surrounded by a stone wall. You must imagine the shepherds
looking _up_ to Bethlehem from there on that Christmas eve. The little
city is seen from the sheepfold high up against the sky to the west
about two miles off. I had only time for a pencil outline of this view,
hoping to colour it on a future occasion. All the country round was
very pastoral, and just such a one as one would expect. Wildflowers in
great quantities, and larks--little tame things with crests on their
heads--enjoying the sun and the breeze, quite unmolested; lovely sweeps
of corn in the valleys, olive-clad or quite grassless hills bounding the
horizon all round--can you see it? How many figures of Our Lady we saw
about the fields and lanes with babes in their arms! Surely the old
masters got their facts about the drapery of their Madonnas from here,
where all the women wear blue and red robes, exactly as the Italian
painters have them.

_Sunday, 12th April._

We went to seven o'clock mass at the Latin Altar on Calvary. We were in
a dense knot of people, who were kneeling on the floor in that dark,
low-roofed chapel, lit by the soft light of lamps hanging before each
shrine. How often we say in our prayers, "Here, at the foot of Thy
Cross." We were literally there. After breakfast with the prior at the
Casa Nova Monastery, which used to be the hostelry for travellers before
the hotel was in existence, we drove with Frère Benoît to the reputed
birthplace of John the Baptist, Ain Kareem in the Judean Hills. I
believe there is considerable doubt as to this site, but there is the
possibility. It was a very poetical landscape that we passed through,
and there were many flowering apricot, pear, and almond trees as we
neared St. Elizabeth's mountain home. We first visited the site of the
Baptist's birth high up in the north end of the village, now covered by
a church, and then we crossed over to the south side of the valley to
St. Elizabeth's country house, also now a chapel, where her cousin
visited her. There is a deep well of most cool crystal water at the side
of the altar in this "Chapel of the Visitation," which belongs to the
Spanish monks. From the roof of the convent over this chapel I made a
sketch of the little town on its hillside planted with cypress trees.
The heat here in this enclosed valley was very great.

_Monday, 13th April._

We were up at five for our drive to Hebron. I longed to see this most
ancient city and that mosque which, without any doubt whatever, covers
the "double Cave of Machpelah" which Abraham bought for his own and his
descendants' burying-place. "There," said Jacob when dying, "they
buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah
his wife; and there I buried Leah," and there also they buried Jacob.
Think of it! If we could look into those tombs and see the very bones of
Abraham and Isaac and the mummy of Jacob, for the Bible tells us he was
embalmed according to the manner of the Egyptians. Altogether, though,
our visit to Hebron has rather given me the horrors. Near Rachel's tomb
we left the Bethlehem road and dived down to the "Vale of Hebron," the
heat increasing greatly as we descended. We halted for the mid-day
refection (how more than usually horrid the word "lunch" sounds here!)
and rested in the "shadow of a rock in a thirsty land," where tradition
says Philip met the Eunuch journeying from far-off Meroe on the Upper
Nile. It was a wilderness of stones, where the big lizards of Palestine
were in strong force, panting over the top of every rock, their black
heads and goggle eyes upturned to the burning sky in a very comical way.
Close to Hebron is a nice cool German hostelry, where we rested before
descending to the gloomiest town I have ever seen in the East, with


Church built over supposed site of Zacharias' and Elizabeth's house to
right of town, high up, where St. John was born. Roof of chapel built
over site of their country house, where Mary visited her cousin, in

some of its bazaars like tunnels, into which scarcely any light could
enter. Here in the gloom we met insolent-looking Moslems and spectral
Jews, their strongly-contrasted figures and faces appearing for a moment
in the twilight as they passed us. And outside it was blinding noontide
sunlight. We went all round the huge mosque that guards the precious
tombs of the patriarchs, but had we attempted to enter we should have
had a bad quarter of an hour from the Mahometans. These sons of the
Bondwoman would stone any son of the Free who would attempt an entry.
There is a little black hole in the wall, which I am sure does not
pierce it through, which we are told we can look through and see the
tombs from outside, but I saw nothing in the hole but the beady eye of a
lizard. We do not feel as though we would care to revisit Hebron.

We drove back to the German khan which was full of exhausted Americans
who had also returned from the oven of Hebron. Most of them had been
trying to combine botany with Biblical research, and near many of the
figures that lay prone on the divans I saw Bibles and limp flora on the

Towards evening we drove from this place of rest a long way back on the
road to Jerusalem, but not far short of Bethlehem we came in sight of
our camp! How charming and inspiriting that sight was--three snowy tents
pitched by the Pools of Solomon under the walls of a Crusader Castle,
with some fifteen saddle and baggage animals picketed close by, and the
dear old Union Jack flying from the central tent! I was delighted at the
fact that our camp life was to begin that night. Everything struck us as
in excellent order, our horses, saddles and bridles, the tents, the
servants and all. Those Pools of Solomon are three immense reservoirs of
water which the Wise King made to supply the Temple at Jerusalem.
Myriads of frogs were enlivening the evening air with their
multitudinous croakings which increased to deafening proportions as
night closed in. I took a hasty sketch. Much hyssop grows here,
"Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo et mundabor."

_14th April._

I was greatly pleased with my first night under canvas. To have grass
and stones and little aromatic herbs for a bedroom carpet was a


Shows the central one of three reservoirs which are built one below the
other on a slope inclining towards valley of the Dead Sea.

Measurements of Solomon's Pools:--Upper one, 380 ft. by 236 ft., 25 ft.
deep; middle one, 423 ft. by 250 ft., 39 ft. deep; lower one, 582 ft. by
207 ft., 50 ft. deep.]

new and delightful sensation to me. We started this morning at sunrise,
my sketching things handily strapped to my saddle by W.'s directions, in
a flat straw _aumonière_. Isaac had swathed his tarboush in a
magnificent "cufia," and our retinue wore the baggy garb of Syria. W.
rode a steel-grey Arab, I a silver-grey, Isaac a roan-grey, and the man,
whom we call the "flying column," because he is to accompany us with the
lunch bags, while the heavy column with baggage, tents, etc., goes on
ahead by short-cuts, rode a chestnut. We passed through Bethlehem and
down to the Field of the Shepherds, where I completed, as well as I
could in the heat and glare, my sketch begun the other day. A group of
some twenty Russian pilgrims arrived as we did, and we saw them in the
grotto of the sheepfold, each holding a lighted taper and responding to
the chant of their old priest, who had a head which would do admirably
for a picture of Abraham. These poor men were in fur coats and high
clumsy boots, and one told us he had come from Tobolsk, and had been two
years on that tramp. He assured us he could manage his return journey in
no time, only ten months or so. Their devotion was profound, as it
always is, and was utterly un-self-conscious. I think we English are too
apt to suppose that because devotion is demonstrative it is not deep.
Great pedestrians as we are, how many Englishmen would walk for two
years to visit this sheepfold? That two years' test borne by the Russian
peasant must have gone very deep.

I remember reading with much approval, when a child, with a child's
narrow-mindedness, Miss Martineau's shocked description of the
demonstrative piety of a noble Russian lady on Calvary, who repeatedly
laid her head in the hole where the Cross had been, weeping and praying
and behaving altogether in a most un-English manner. The memory of that
passage came back to me to-day as I saw these rough peasants, so
supremely unconscious of our presence, throwing themselves heart and
soul into their adoration of God, and I thought of Mary Magdalene and
_her_ prostrations and tears.

After the service for the Russian pilgrims "father Abraham" fell asleep
under an olive-tree, with his hoary head on a stone which he had
cushioned with dock leaves, and the younger priest who had taken part in
the service went back to his ploughing, which he had left on the
approach of the pilgrims. They both had their Fellaheen clothes under
their cassocks, and they wore the tall Greek sacerdotal cap. They were
natives of Bethlehem. "Abraham" blessed our meal, but refused to partake
of it, except the fruit, as this is the Greek Lent. We had a long talk
with him through Isaac, and a lively theological argument, which had the
usual success of such undertakings, enhanced by its filtration through a
Mahometan interpreter converted to Protestantism by the American Baptist
Mission at Jaffa. That old patriarch was a magnificent study as he sat,
pointing heavenwards under the olive-trees and discoursing of his Faith,
with Bethlehem rising in the distance behind his most venerable head. He
made some coffee for us, a return civility for the fruit, and as we rode
off many were the parting salutations between us and the group of people
who had been the audience of our theological arguments, made
unintelligible by Isaac. Among the crowd was an ex-Papal Zouave who
turned out to have been orderly to a friend of ours in the old days at

We rode along a track in the field of Boaz, now knee-deep in corn, a
cavalry soldier, who had been sent to escort us through the "dangerous"
region, leading the way. His escorting seems to consist of periodical
"fantasia" manoeuvres, when he shakes his horse out at full gallop,
picking a flower in mid-career and circling back to present it to me,--a
picturesque proceeding in that floating caftan and white and brown
striped burnous. I am pleased to see this figure in our foreground
caracoling, curveting, and careering. He is in such pleasing harmony
with his native landscape. He and Isaac are all over pistols and weapons
of various sorts, but W. says that the necessity for arms in Palestine
is now a thing of the past, and only a bogey.

Our course lay south-east, as we wished to visit the far-famed Greek
monastery of Mar Saba on our way to our camp. Formerly there was great
danger and difficulty in going to this extraordinary place, owing to the
fierce robber Bedouins that haunted these regions, and in many accounts
of Palestine travel I have read of the disappointment of the writers at
the impossibility of making this visit. It is an awe-inspiring place.


The town is shown on a hill. The Convent of the Nativity stands to the
extreme left. Field of Boaz with green wheat in middle distance,
enclosure of sheepfold in foreground.]

monks have even denied themselves that great earthly consolation of
natural beauty which our monasteries, as a rule, are so well situated to
enjoy. On the edge of an abyss of rock, through which the now dry Cedron
once rushed to the Dead Sea, and facing the opposite rock pierced with
the caves of former hermits, it is so placed as to have not one
beautiful thing within sight, and as little of even the light of the sky
above to give a ray of cheerfulness. We saw pigeons and paddy birds
arriving in flocks to the rock ledges, and had glimpses of furtive furry
things coming round corners. We marvelled at the presence of the paddy
birds so far from water till we were told the pleasing fact that all
these wild things since time immemorial have been in the habit of
congregating here to the sound of the bugle, to be fed by those Greek
monks. They were waiting for their dinner-bell!

I soon had enough of Mar Saba, but W. thought a month there with two
camel-loads of books would be very pleasant. We espied our camp after
leaving this dread place a long way below us in a hot hole, amongst most
desolate mountains, whose cinder-coloured sides neither distance nor
atmosphere could turn purple, and some of these were pale yellow,
spotted at the top and half-way down with black shrubs, conveying an
irresistible impression of mountains covered with titanic leopard-skins.
The deadness of the Dead Sea was beginning to be felt.

A great wind arose in the night, and had not W. seen himself to the tent
ropes and pegs our tent would certainly have been blown down, and we
should have been smothered in a mass of flapping canvas. As it was, the
tent shook and heaved at its moorings and cracked like pistol-shots,
some of the furniture coming down with a crash. All night the
pistol-shots, the flappings, and the creakings went on, so that I was
rather disconcerted at losing my night's rest, for the morrow was, as W.
said, to be my "test day." If I stood it well--it being the hardest we
should have--I would do the journey.

_Wednesday, 15th April 189-._

We were off at sunrise on a tremendous ride, down to the Dead Sea, up
the Jordan and round to Jericho--about eight hours in the saddle,
exclusive of dismounted halts. We were very fortunate, for the wind
which had so troubled our slumbers kept away the heat, which in these
regions is most trying. We descended to 1300 feet below the level of the
Mediterranean, and not a tree was to be seen till we gained the green
banks of Jordan, where we made our halt after half an hour's rest on the
beach of the Dead Sea. All my expectations of the desolation of "Lake
Asphaltites" were fulfilled, but the bitter burning of its salt far
surpassed what I expected. I could realise how Lot's wife, lingering in
her flight from the doomed Sodom to look back till the fringe of the
destruction that engulfed the Cities of the Plain covered her, remained
stiffened into the semblance of a pillar of salt ("statue" of salt in
our version) when my hand in drying, after I had but dipped it into the
crystal-clear water that now fills the hollow delved by the swirl of the
great cataclysm, was stiff and white with the plaster-like brine. The
wan look of the blue shrubs that grow here was like something in a
dream, and the air was full of huge locusts, brilliant yellow, tossed by
a high hot wind. The earth was cracked by the heat into deep chasms, and
the treeless mountains round the sea were lost at its farther end in a
mist of hot air. There was great beauty with this desolation, but the
mind felt oppressed as well as the body. The blue of the sea was
exquisitely delicate, and gave no idea in its soft beauty of the fierce
bitterness of its waters. I felt deep emotion on sighting Jordan's
swift-rolling stream--a touching and unspeakably dear river--but
beautiful only for its holiness, for the water is thick with grey mud,
and the banks are tangled with the shaggy _débris_ that the over-hanging
trees have caught as the winter flood brought them swirling down. The
heat there was great, and the flies made it absolutely impossible to
take a sketch of the place tradition says saw the baptism of Our Lord. I
was much disappointed, for the flies fairly drove us away, and in the
burning heat we turned our horses' heads towards Jericho, unable to bear
these tormentors any longer. We were to camp at "new Jericho"--a huddled
group of mud-pie houses situated in a garden of lovely trees and shrubs
and flowers, which, owing to the abundance of water flowing through this
region, grow in tropical luxuriance. In the far western distance, above
all the mountain-tops intervening, we kept the Mount of Olives in view,
with that tall landmark on the top, the tower of the Russian "Church of
the Ascension," and only lost it as we neared our camping-place. Before
us, to our right, a beautiful mountain of more stately lines than those
of the weird crags around it rose solemnly against the west--it was the
Mountain of Temptation, where Our Lord was tempted after His forty days'
fast. Immediately on reaching our camp I made a sketch of the plain,
looking towards Mount Pisgah in the land of Moab to the east. I was just
in time to save the sunset. Would that we could include Pisgah in our
pilgrimage, and receive on our retinæ the same image of the Promised
Land that Moses received on his!

In spite of the baying of dogs, the braying of donkeys, and other camp
noises sleep came swiftly and soundly that night.

_Thursday, 16th April._

We set out at six for Jerusalem, the sun rising over the mountains of
Moab. We passed over the site of "old Jericho," and saw what a
magnificent site they chose for it, backed by mountains in a majestic
semicircle, and looking on the Plain of the Jordan.

The Bible speaks of a "rose plant in Jericho" as of something
superlatively lovely amongst roses, and one may ask why particularly in
Jericho? Here one can answer the question, for one sees how richly the
flowers grow in this land of many streams, which is all the more
conspicuous for its exuberance as contrasted with the aridity of the
surrounding regions. I can best describe the fascinating quality of our
journey by saying that it is like riding through the Bible. At every
turn some text in the Old or New Testament which alludes to the natural
features of the land, springs before one's mind illumined with a light
it could not have before. I know many devout Christians shrink from a
visit to the Holy Places for fear of--what? Do not fear! The reality
simply intensifies, gives substance and colour to, the ineffable poetry
of the Bible. It is simply rapture to see at last the originals of our
childhood's imaginings, and, believe me, the reality becomes more
precious in one's memory even than the cherished illusion. Our ride
through this land of little brooks, running clear over pebbly beds under
cool foliage, was


Wild vegetation in the plain. Mountains of Moab in distance. The slight
eminence in their straight sky-line to extreme left is Mount Pisgah.

refreshing after my "test ride" of yesterday in the dry glare. We soon
left this zone of verdure, however, and began the ascent to Jerusalem
through that gloomy pass which Our Lord chose for the parable of the
Good Samaritan. They are making a road here, but, being as yet
bridgeless at the ravines, it is not open to carriages. Our
halting-place was Bethany,--most lowly hamlet--and I made a sketch of it
at our mid-day halt. We then proceeded to our camping-ground, which W.
had selected outside the north wall of Jerusalem, and in skirting the
base of Olivet we had again that great view of the city that artists
love (and I must say have often exaggerated as regards the height of its
rocky pedestal). For the first time there was a "hitch" in the
arrangements for the camp. On reaching the north wall no camp was there,
and we rode in and out of olive-woods and ugly new roads and dusty
building _débris_ in search of it, Isaac _appearing_, at least, to be
quite at sea. At last, after sending him _ventre-à-terre_ successively
in several directions, we saw him returning and calling out that he had
found it. To our horror we found the people in charge of the baggage had
selected the only really hideous and repulsive spot in all Jerusalem,
of all places, the Jewish extra-mural colony! There were our white tents
pitched down in a hollow full of the back-door refuse from the houses of
this unsavoury population, surrounded by youths and bedraggled women who
might have just come out of Houndsditch to look on at the preparations
of the camp. The idea of a night on this ground was impossible. On
catching sight of this state of things W. pushed forward at a gallop at
the whole assemblage of servants, muleteers and cook, and the whole
amalgamated crowd, and with an unmistakable twirl of his stick told them
to "be out of that"; and the muleteers, servants, and cook fell on their
knees and with joined hands called out "Pardon! pardon!" In the
twinkling of an eye tents were struck and reloaded, dinner preparations
bundled away and an instant movement made to the place behind the north
wall on Mount Moriah, which W. had fixed upon in the morning. He
suspects that he was disobeyed on account of the ease with which the
servants knew they would obtain drink from the Jews.

Certainly our final encampment was enchanting, overlooking Gethsemane
deep down to the east, with the battlemented walls of Jerusalem before
us to the south, and tall pines waving above our tents. The moon was now
waxing bright, and never can I forget that evening, as by its light I
looked upon these things.

What a change in the temperature here! It is quite cold. My kit is
proving well devised for this country. You must be prepared for these
very marked changes of temperature in a land which rises so high and
sinks to such abnormal depths below the level of the sea in such a small

I shall post this in Jerusalem, for to-morrow we set out on a journey
during which no post-offices will be found for many days.

_Friday, 17th April._

My....--I continue my letter in diary form from notes taken on the march.
This morning we left rather late, as the weather was so cool, and after
making some purchases in Jerusalem we set out with our faces due north
on our long ride into Galilee. It was again an eight-hours-in-the-saddle
day, but over such rolling stones that our horses seemed to me to be
going at about three miles an hour. It was a relief at the almost
impassable places to dismount and lead one's horse. As W. said, these
paths of Palestine seem to have been rather worn by the people's feet
than made by their hands. These bare hills of Benjamin were weary and
sad, but what a thrilling view was our last one of Jerusalem from a high
point overlooking the ocean of mountains that bore afar off the island
of the Holy City and its domes. Good-bye, Jerusalem! good-bye, Olivet!
We sat many minutes on our horses looking back at that centre of the
world, and then resuming our way a turn in the rocky track shut out the
Holy City from thenceforth. We overtook a large wedding party, the men
armed with long flintlocks, and the women wearing brilliant dresses. We
all moved forward together as far as Bethel. How powerfully this
assemblage of men and women and children journeying northward from
Jerusalem represented that large company in which were Mary and Joseph,
who came along this way, a day's journey, to the evening halting-place
at Beeroth, and found there that the little Jesus was missing. As I was
thinking over this and watching the people, we passed a little goatherd
who had evidently been out on the hills many days "on duty." His mother,
who was amongst the wedding party, catching sight of her son--about
twelve years old--snatched a moment to leave the line of march and ran
up to him and kissed him and wept over him, then returning hurried
forward to rejoin her companions. That meeting of mother and son, the
bending form of the woman in her red and blue drapery, which concealed
at that moment the rich dress worn underneath, the little goatherd held
close in her arms, formed a group that startled me, with my mind engaged
as it was. On reaching the village the men all let off their guns and
were met by the people who had remained at home. We made our halt at
Bethel. What a place of hard, gritty, arid desolation! Beth-el, "the
House of God." From this great height Lot looked down on the plain of
Sodom, then the acme of fertile beauty, where now lowers the Dead Sea!
There are now only the dry bones of Bethel left. The goats eat up every
green sprout that appears above ground. I could not sketch such blinding
nothingness at our halt there. Towards evening the land grew more
beautiful as we journeyed on, but so much struggling over boulders and
jagged rock ledges made me very glad indeed to perceive the daily signal
that we were nearing our camp. That signal is the dashing forward of
Isaac at full gallop and the pushing forward of the "flying column" (the
man on the chestnut horse with the bags), whose place is at other times
in the rear. The staff in camp being warned by these cavaliers of our
approach tea is got ready, and very welcome it is on our arrival. W. was
on ahead as we scrambled up a higher hill than ever, and when I saw him
wave his helmet to cheer me on for a final spurt I knew rest was close
at hand. Our camp looked very lovely just at sunset on a plateau
overlooking the hills and valleys of green Samaria and the far-off
mountain-tops of Galilee! The moon shone brightly and the air felt quite
frosty as we went to rest. I always take a little meditative walk before
going to bed, a sweet ten minutes each evening. The hurried start in the
morning and the rough riding all day leave one little time for quiet
thought, and at our mid-day halts, when circumstances permit, I sketch
with concentrated intensity against time.

_Saturday, 18th April._

To-day was breezy and the country less stony. Waving corn as in
Philistia refreshes the eye. We are now in the goodly land of Ephraim,
which deepens in richness as we advance. We passed through Shiloh, where
the Ark of the Covenant rested so long, and the little Samuel heard the
call of God. The place is marked by some old ruins--Roman or Crusader?
and a forlorn dead tree lies athwart them. A glorious cultivated plain
opened out before we reached our halting-place, Jacob's Well. How I had
longed to see this well, where Our Lord conversed with the Samaritan
woman. But I was disappointed at being unable to make the sketch of it I
hoped for so much. The well is about five feet below the surface of a
mass of ruins. An early Christian chapel once enclosed it, but this has
fallen in and all but buried the well. But you can imagine one's
feelings as one rests one's hand on its edge and realises that Our
Saviour sat there as He spoke to the woman who had come to draw water.
You remember that it was at this well that He told His disciples to look
up at the fields "already white unto harvest." There they are, those
fields, filling the valley of Sychar. But you cannot see them from the
well now, in the pit enclosed by ruins, nor the town to which the
disciples went "to buy meats," nor even the two great mountains of Ebal
and Gerizim that rise so high quite close by.

This well is like the Cave of Machpelah,--accepted by all as authentic
beyond question.

I cantered my horse all the way up to our camp, high up in an olive-wood
on the other side of the town, for I must say I was longing to get the
ride over and have a good rest. But Society duties awaited me! The
ministers of various denominations came to call on us, and when later on
the Catholic priest (an Italian) honoured us with a visit I was called
upon to take over Isaac's duties as interpreter.

We went, W. and I, for a pleasant stroll towards sundown, and had a
perfectly exquisite view of Nablous, the ancient Shechem, lying between
those two mountains whose names rang so sonorously to us all in
childhood--the terrible Ebal and the smiling Gerizim. A most perfect,
typical Eastern town, this, embowered in orange and pomegranate
trees--the home of the nightingale, whose music blends with that of the
multitudinous cascades echoing from the over-hanging cliffs. A Turkish
sentry came and lit his fire close to our tents, and was suffered to
mount his quite unnecessary guard over us all night, with an eye to
backsheesh at sunrise.

_Sunday, 19th April._

The Day of Rest. No travel to-day. Exquisite Nablous, what a Paradise to
rest in! But all was not perfection. We went to Church too early, by
mistake, and had to wait an hour before Mass began, passing the time in
French small-talk (indeed reduced to a minimum of smallness on my part,
for it dwindled away almost to nothing) with the courteous ecclesiastics
and the nuns in the garden of the little presbytery. As I was fasting I
was not fortified against the subsequent performance on the harmonium
during Mass, by a Syrian. On nearing our tent, cheered by the prospect
of breakfast, I had another set-back by Isaac's announcing the imminent
arrival of what sounded like "the Rev. Vulture," the Lutheran minister.
Had that individual really been on the swoop I must have fled, but
happily that morning call never took place. It is all very well to
laugh, but I felt "in the Pit of Tophet." I have spent the rest of the
day in sleep, and in writing to you, and in fascinating strolls through
the town with W., and in returning calls. I am nicely burnt by the sun
and wind, for nothing could induce me to let a veil blur or dim one
single glimpse of the Holy Land.

_Monday, 20th April._

Glorious breezy weather with flying cloud shadows. Again eight hours in
the saddle, but the Sunday rest has made me quite fresh again. We passed
to-day through the hill country of Manasseh. After riding a mile or two
out of Nablous our "flying column" came running up on foot to the
dragoman in front to ask what was to be done with a poor little stowaway
who had begged him to let him ride the baggage horse to escape from his
unhappy home. "His mother was dead and his stepmother beat him." He
looked so piteous perched up on the bags, but, of course, we could not
kidnap him, and after receiving some money he was put gently down on the
roadside. As we rode on we got a last sight of him on the green bank
swaying to and fro in his desolate grief, his gown making a little pink
dot in the vast landscape. Our mid-day halt was at a fountain in a fig
country, and there we talked to the women and girls who were filling
their pitchers. One showed me by signs how the figs were a failure this
year, the young figs all falling off their stalks before ripening. Her
patient acceptance of the inevitable reminded me of the Italian peasants
and their "_Pazienza, è la volontà di Dio!_"

Then we deflected to the left on our journey to visit Sebaste, where St.
John is supposed to have been beheaded, and with great probability. The
Crusaders built a magnificent Church to his memory there, the ruins of
which are very grand. We rode to the site of the gates of the city,
along a path lined with classic pillars, and at the end of this avenue
we saw the sea, and where Cæsarea, the harbour of Sebaste, once stood.
Our camp that evening was at Ain Jenin, an ideal Eastern town. I was not
prepared for anything so beautiful as it looked in the evening light,
when we emerged in sight of it from a defile between hills. We were well
in the Plain of Jezreel, and lo! Hermon at last! In the light of the
after-glow we beheld his hoary head from our tents, to the north. Tender
moonlight succeeded the after-glow. All the mosques and minarets were
lighted up with delicate golden lamps at sunset (for it is Ramadan), as
at Jerusalem and Nablous. This place is full of pomegranate trees, with
their scarlet blossoms, and of flowering tamarisk.

_Tuesday, 21st April._

Off at sunrise, the larks singing over the face of the land. We had a
glorious ride through the Plain of Jezreel or Esdraelon, often coming
upon the brook Kishon and its little trickling tributaries in their
multitudinous windings, and fording the same. What a vast space is here,
how Biblical in its majesty, and how troubled too with recollections of
battle from remotest ages of Israelitish history down to Napoleon's
time. Deflecting to the right we climbed up to Naim for our halt,
memorable for the raising of the widow's son. There was an immense view
from this little bunch of mud houses towards Tabor and Galilee, with a
foreground of purple iris. Then descending again into the plain we rode
to the foot of Mount Tabor, where, in an olive-wood, and on ploughed
land, our camp was pitched. How refreshing it is never to be told we are
trespassing in this country.


Plain full of green wheat. Mountain to left is "Little Hermon," on which
the village of Naim stands. Towards sunset.]

On arriving I chose to remain and make a sunset sketch of distant Naim
on its hill, whilst W. rode up to the top of Tabor.

_Wednesday, 22nd April._

Off again at sunrise over the saddle of Mount Tabor. Very rough riding
through dells of oak, where the honeysuckle hung in masses and scented
the air. Tabor itself is scarcely beautiful in outline, and like the
magnified mounds that the old masters intended for mountains. In their
pictures of the Transfiguration their Tabors are very like the original.
This was our most glorious day's journey, for it took us to the shores
of the Lake of Galilee. Hermon in distant Lebanon was visible ahead of
us throughout. We rode up to near the top of the "Mount of Beatitudes,"
and then on foot reached the very top, and had our first view of the
Sacred Sea from that immense height. Here Christ preached the Sermon on
the Mount, and down there, intensely blue, lay that dear lake whose
shores were so often trodden by His feet. Hermon rose above the majestic
landscape, and a warm, palpitating light vibrated over all. In a scrap
of shade from a rock we made our halt, and I had an hour and a half for
a sketch. Then we rode down to Tiberias, descending into a furnace,
though when once on the shore the breeze was sweet off the water.
Tiberias is a dreadful little town, and we were glad to thread its
alleys as quickly as possible. Our camp was on a pebbly strand about
half a mile south of this, the only, town on these shores that once held
such brilliant cities. I made an evening sketch, and before retiring for
the night we strolled a long time by those sacred waters in the light of
the full moon. The waves were strong, and sounded loud in that great
stillness. At such times as this the sense of Our Lord's Presence is
almost more than one's mortal heart can hold.

We picked up hundreds of shells, which will make appropriate rosaries,
mounted in silver, the cross made out of olive wood which I have brought
from Gethsemane. I will send you one.

_Thursday, 23rd April._

We went by boat three hours' row to near the mouth of the Jordan, at the
north end of the lake, where the grassy slopes are supposed to


The snowy mountain is Mount Hermon. Northern edge of the lake shown.
Tall fennel plants amongst rocks in foreground. Early afternoon.]

be the scene of the miracle of the Loaves and Fishes. It is very
difficult to describe to you my enchantment at seeing one after another
these places I have longed to see from early childhood, when our beloved
father used to read us the Bible every Sunday. The lake was pale and
calm, delicately tinted, and there was a heat-haze over everything in
the early part of the day. We disembarked under some thorny acacias
which gave a deep shade, and I had the delight of making a sketch there
of the coast, looking westward, whilst W. went on by boat to the Jordan.
Rosy oleanders fringe the water as far as the eye can reach; the "Mount
of Beatitudes" and top of Tabor are in the distance, and the site of
Capernaum in the middle distance. God has trodden these scenes with
human feet; the feeling of sketching them is scarcely to be put before
you in words.

The boatmen were very angry at being kept, whilst I finished the sketch,
from returning at the right time, for they told us that if the west wind
sprang up we should never be able to get home that night. Surely enough
we were only able to get as far as Capernaum with hard pulling against
a strong west wind, which suddenly changed the whole face of the lake.

Its pale blue was now dirty green and the choppy waves lashed with foam,
and so wild did the waves become that the progress of the boat was
almost impossible. These sudden and violent gusts that come through the
gullies between the mountains are dreaded by the fishermen of to-day as
they were in Peter's time. Fortunately W. had in the morning ordered
that our horses should be sent round to meet us here in case the wind
arose, and we gladly got on them at this point, having an enchanting
ride back and being able at many places to canter our horses. We heard
afterwards that the boatmen did not get in till one in the morning. At
Capernaum are seen some rich Roman ruins lying tumbled about as though
by an earthquake. We rode through the supposed site of Bethsaida, and
passed through a portion of the old Roman roadway for chariots, cut
through the rock. No accumulation of earth has buried the original
surface as elsewhere, so that this lane, with its polished floor of
rock, must have undoubtedly been trodden by Our Lord as He passed from
city to city. Here are the remains


Mount Hermon snow-capped in distance. Town of Tiberias on shore in
middle distance to left.]

of a Roman aqueduct, in one place pouring a huge volume of clearest
water over a ledge where, no doubt, in the city's time, a fountain
stood. Now the flood from the northern hills disperses itself in
abundant streams that rush through dense herbage to the lake. We counted
six of these little rivers on our way to Magdala, the birthplace of the
Magdalen. We looked down from our mountain lanes to the milk-white
strands of the little inlets that border the northern end of Gennesaret,
and I wondered at which of them the various episodes of the Gospel took
place--Our Lord preaching from the ship pushed out a little way to be
free from the jostling crowd on shore--the embarkation for the
miraculous draught of fishes----. Besides oleanders the pomegranates
grow all along this shore in dense masses half embedded in teeming

Magdala is a tiny mud hamlet with a single palm. There are splendid
fig-trees here. Herds of oxen and goats and flocks of sheep browse
knee-deep in the rich grass.

Our dragoman took us this time through the whole length of the town of
Tiberias. It happened to be a great Jewish festival, and the men had
all freshly oiled and curled their side locks, which dangled from under
immense round fur caps, and the women wore artificial flowers in their
hair and were clothed in velvets of splendid hue. It was strange to see
them thus attired, coming upon them so suddenly when entering the town
from the wilderness. The lanes were stifling and unwholesome, the
children pale and sickly, and all had that same blighted look I noticed
at Jerusalem. None of them were tanned, but remained white under such a
sun! It was a relief to come out at the other end and canter back along
the margin of the "Sea" to our camp, for that ride through Tiberias had
oppressed and saddened me.

_Friday, 24th April._

An early start as the sun rose over those dark cliffs of the country of
the Gadarenes down which the possessed swine careered to the abyss.
Good-bye, blessed Sea of Galilee! We had our last look from the immense
height near the "Mount of Beatitudes," and thence we turned south-west
on our way to Nazareth over the hills of Zebulon.

Young shepherds were piping on little fifes on the hills. The country
became uninteresting


OLEANDERS in flower skirting shore in foreground. Top of Mount Tabor
showing over nearer mountains in distance.]

(comparatively!) after we left the immediate surroundings of the lake
till we came to Cana of Galilee, where we halted, and where I made my
only "failure" sketch.

It was a dear, holy, lovable landscape, but hillocky and green and
impossible in that flat noontide light. At Cana is the fountain from
which undoubtedly was drawn the water for the marriage feast, since
there is absolutely no other spring in the place. It was a long journey
to Nazareth. That holy town is very lovely, and so much superior in its
buildings to the others--quite well-to-do and exquisitely situated on
the slope of a cypress-topped hill, in terraces, like a tiny Genoa. Here
culminated my disappointment in the faces of the women of Palestine, for
the tattooing is simply outrageous, worse than anywhere else in the
East. How can they be beautiful with blue lips and the mouth surrounded
with blue trees, animals and birds? This spoilt my pleasure in coming
upon the "Fountain of the Virgin," where these maids and matrons were
filling their pitchers amid a great chattering, at the entrance to the
town. We walked, after arriving, to the Church of the Annunciation.
There, in the "Holy House" (the front of which is at Loretto), far
below the present surface of the earth, on the very spot where the angel
saluted Mary, one can say the Angelus. This is the portion of the house
which (as is the custom here) is excavated out of the rock; the fronts
only are of masonry. We visited the "Mensa Christi," which interested us
but little, as it savours too much of the "pious fraud," and then the
site of Joseph's workshop.

We were disappointed in the position of our camp, as other travellers
had forestalled us in getting better places, and the best of all was
bespoken for the great French pilgrimage expected on the morrow.

On this account we settled not to tarry at Nazareth and to send the
heavy column back to Jerusalem in the morning. We are only one day's
journey from Caïfa, our place of embarkation. As I was looking at the
town from our tent door at the time of the Angelus, the bells of the
Church over Mary's house suddenly rang out a carillon, and the tune was
that very one we used to hear when A. and I were five and six years old
on our dear Genoese Riviera! I had not heard that tune since those days.
Later on I watched the full


THE church with spire to the left stands over the site of Joseph's
workshop, and near Mary's house.]

moon rising over those mountain outlines which Our Lord looked on every
day of His hidden life at Nazareth, and then turned and saw the town
white in the moonbeams on its dark hillside.

_Saturday, 25th April._

We started later than usual, as W. had to close accounts with the "heavy
column" and send a telegram to Alexandria to warn them of our impending
return. There was a heavy dew. I made a sunrise sketch of the town. A
glorious ride we had to Carmel, steeped in the poetry of the Old
Testament. Carmel is one mass of oak-trees. There we met the vast host
of the French pilgrims coming from Caïfa and beginning their experiences
of Palestine. We met amicably at the shady halting-place and exchanged a
few words of _camaraderie_, and we watched them depart towards Nazareth,
each company headed by a banner. On our way to Caïfa we crossed the
Kishon again, now near its mouth, flowing through a lovely plain,
bordered, near the sandhills that skirt the sea, with date-palms. Over
the hills to our right towered Lebanon against the blue. As we came in
sight of the bay the town of St. Jean d'Acre looked beautiful on the
opposite side, and Caïfa appeared a bright little town at the foot of
Carmel. There we put up at the German inn, and I parted with my dear
little horse "Shiloh," and W. with his nimble "Kishon," our good little
steeds that brought us so well through the Holy Land.

_Sunday, 26th April._

A great rest and much letter-writing. The congregation at Mass was
large, for there is a considerable Christian colony here. We shall make
this our headquarters till Friday, when we must leave for Egypt.

CAÏFA, _Monday, 27th April 189-_.

My....--We had a very enjoyable expedition to Acre, driving the whole
way there and back _in the sea_. Where the waves break the sand is hard,
whereas higher up the beach no wheeled vehicle could get through in the
soft sand. We were often covered with spray, and the lean horses
splashed along knee-deep in the surf. At the ferry across the Kishon,
where it flows into the sea, our horses were unharnessed and swam
alongside our punt, together with a string of camels that looked very
comical swimming. The shivering horses were reharnessed on the farther
shore, and away we went tearing through the waves. The poor beasts
seemed to enjoy their oats at the end, if enjoyment is possible to such
wretched, ill-treated creatures. I made a sketch as well as I could with
the sun in my eyes from our shandrydan, about a quarter of a mile
outside the one gate of Acre, on the white sandy strand, whilst W. went
exploring all over the town. The military authorities molested us not at
all, and the commandant only asked W. for backsheesh, although I was
conspicuously sketching the fortifications and W. was scanning
everything in a place so saturated with Napoleonic reminiscences. The
same amphibious drive in the gloaming back to Caïfa.

_Tuesday, 28th April 189-._

To-day we drove to remote Athlit, a long way down the coast to the
south, and spent quiet hours amid the Gothic Crusader ruins on the
wave-lashed rocks beyond Carmel. Acre and Athlit steep one's mind in
Crusader sentiment, which feels almost modern after so long a sojourn in
the regions of the Bible. The majestic fragments of Northern Gothic we
saw to-day seem strange to the eye in this Oriental land, but to the
intellect they are full of touching meaning, for this was the point of
departure for most of the Crusaders. Baffled, haggard, heart-broken,
they took ship again from here.

Wednesday we spent in visiting the Carmelite Monastery, a perfect place
to stay at instead of the rather dubious German inn. It is a
fortress-like building commanding a sweeping view of the sea, south and
west and north, and of the grand landscape eastward and south again. The
whitewashed rooms are filled with the reflection from the light off the
water and the land. The Abbot and monks, in the well-known white cloak
and brown habit, are, as everywhere, kindly and hospitable, and glad to
see you. What a place for study and for painting; what a place for a
Retreat, where everything reminds you of Religion and not one single
mundane, worrying, or ugly object comes within your ken! By "ugly" I
always mean some modern eyesore; it is not a word applicable to the poor
and the diseased who humbly mount the steep path for the daily alms and
food the monastery has ready for them.

[Illustration: ST. JEAN D'ACRE

THE roadstead is seen to the left. A sandy shore. City surrounded by
walls and fortifications.]

Somewhere amongst this series of oak-clad hills that forms Mount
Carmel, Elijah built his altar to the True God, whereon the
burnt-offering was consumed by fire from heaven in sight of the prophets
of Baal. "Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the holocaust,
and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that
was in the trench," III Kings xviii. 38. This was the scene of that
mighty episode which is one of the most salient and impressive in one's
memory of the Old Testament, and look! down below rushes that same
Kishon on whose banks Elijah, after the great drama on the mountain,
slew the prophets of Baal in sight of all the children of Israel. A
thrill runs through one when recalling such scenes as one stands on the
very spot where they took place.

After seeing specimens of the ancient tombs in this country one can
fully understand the words of St. Luke and St. John alluding to the new
sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathea "wherein no man had yet been laid."
These tombs contain triple receptacles for the dead, as I showed you in
the sketch plan at Jerusalem, and some I believe have more than three.
Had the sepulchre at the foot of Calvary contained but one, the words of
the Evangelists would be puzzling. This is an instance of the
illumination that dispels certain obscurities in one's mind as one
journeys across the theatre of Bible history.

It seems a strange paradox, but it is a very weighty fact, that the
possession of the Holy Land by the conservative Turk preserves all such
tokens of the past for the elucidation of the Christian's Bible. Were
this land in possession of a "Christian" Power, I fear that the service
of Mammon would soon necessitate the obliteration of these tokens so
precious to our Faith. Railways, factories, mines and new towns "run" by
greedy syndicates, would very soon make an end of them all. There was a
Christian proposal a little while ago, I believe, to flood the whole of
Palestine for commercial purposes. My ideal would be (oh, vain dream!)
that some great confederation of earnest people whose God is not the
Dollar, belonging to the various European Powers and America, should
purchase the little Holy Land as a possession "for ever" for
Christendom--_real_ Christendom.

To-day, Thursday, we saw the "School of the Prophets," a curious and
awesome cavern in the side of the mountain. These have been quiet days,
wherein I have been able to write much and assimilate the events of our
glorious journey.

Looking back along these days of travel, many flitting thoughts that
came and went as we journeyed on, return to one's mind in the stillness
of repose. One of the facts that have struck us most in this ancient
land which is yet so fresh--so fresh in its surprises and in its
stirrings of the heart--is the fact that no book of human authorship
dealing with the subject is readable on the spot. You may take with you
Dean Stanley, Dr. Thomson (_The Land and the Book_), Miss Martineau, or
any of the delightful works on Palestine that have fascinated you in
times gone by: you will open them once but not again. _The Bible is the
only book you can read here!_ All the others are inadequate: no man can
measure himself with the Infinite. (Such books as Père Didon's sublime
_Jésus Christ_ or Father Gallwey's _Watches of the Passion_ I do not
consider as being of human authorship, because they are illustrative
accompaniments of the Scriptures.)

The feeling I have when on the point of leaving the Holy Land is one
difficult to describe worthily. We seem to have been allowed a glimpse
into the other world through this sacred portal. To have stood on the
summit of Olivet whence Our Redeemer ascended into heaven in the form He
reigns in now at the right hand of the Father, is as though one had
touched heaven itself. And then the force with which one realises
certain episodes of His revealed life on earth makes one see the
Incarnation so vividly that the human mind bends beneath the might of
the revelation.

When I saw our boatmen the other day on Galilee pulling with all their
might, but in vain, against the sudden west wind, so peculiar to that
particular lake, I saw before me the fishermen of Peter's type, dressed
in the same loose garments, going through the same dangerous work that
he and his fellows had to face habitually. How easy it was, with that
living illustration before me, to see the struggling boat's crew on the
night that Jesus, remaining to pray alone on the mountain on the eastern
shore, sent them forward to Capernaum without Him, and how easy to see
them trying to make their way as described in Matthew xiv. 24. "But the
boat in the midst of the sea was tossed with the waves: for the wind was
contrary." And then the divine Figure following them, moving over those
tossing waves, can be imagined, approaching, full of calm reassurance,
to still their fears at His apparition--"It is I, be not afraid." The
direction in which the boat was steered, the mountain whence the divine
Figure came forward and overtook the boat--all now appears to the mind's
eye in powerful vividness, in the setting of land and water that one has

Again, the poor demoniacs that lived in the tombs that are cut out of
the sides of those same mountains "over against Galilee" (there are
outcast maniacs like them to-day in the deserts, if not "possessed" as
these men were),--I fancy I can see the look of the wild animal in their
faces as they met our Lord, and hear the quick, wild cry of one of them:
"What have I to do with thee, Jesus, Son of the most high God?"--and the
hoarse answer to Christ's question, "My name is Legion!" I have before
me the recollection of a strange creature I saw running out of a
sepulchral chamber in a ruined temple on the Upper Nile, like the
incarnation of Satan in some of the Old Masters' pictures: the head
bald, and of the same cinder-coloured hue as the evil face, with its
large pointed ears, and the muscular body. I do not mean that the
possessed man of the Gospel might have been like this dweller in tombs,
but one sees strange beings in the deserts whose shelters are the
resting-places of the dead.

I continue to be haunted by the feeling that the sight of the Holy
Places is too easily and too unceremoniously obtained nowadays. I hope
we do not feel less devoutly with regard to them than in the "Ages of
Faith," and that it is only our modern way to take these things as we
do. Do you remember how history tells us that Richard Coeur de Lion,
after his defeat by the Saracens some distance short of Jerusalem,
falling back towards the coast, baffled in his heroic efforts to redeem
the Holy Sepulchre from the Infidel, refused to look on the city which
came in sight in the rear of his line of march as he and his knights
crested a high hill near Emmaus? He would not look; he had failed; his
eyes were too unworthy to rest upon the City of the Lord. And to-day,
with the Infidel still in possession, the Christian tourist, nothing
doubting, takes a good look through his binocular on sighting the same
Jerusalem. I remember hearing that as some friends of ours, forming part
of a mixed company,


The springs of the Gothic arches can be traced on the high brick wall.
The hills to the right form the lower western slopes of Mount Carmel,
covered with oak woods.]

came in sight of the city, one of their number dropped on his knees in
as unobtrusive a manner as was possible under the circumstances. "I did
not know your brother was a _fanatic_," whispered an American to his

As regards certain details of life in this country that so much
embarrass and disappoint some travellers, do not imagine that I
affectedly ignore their existence; but I do feel grateful that in my
view of the whole scene they have everywhere kept their proper place. I
know how disappointed some people are on their account, and I should be
sorry if I was thought intolerant in my self-satisfaction at being so

One lady, in a little book I once read, describing her journey, takes
for her text: "He is not here, but is risen." In bitter chagrin she
acknowledges the fact that nowhere in Jerusalem could she see Our Lord
through her surroundings. I asked a friend once if she would like to see
the Holy Land: "Certainly not!" she exclaimed; "I have read Mark Twain's
book." I inquired of an English traveller at Jaffa the other day, who
was on his way home, how the Holy Places had impressed him. His answers
were dispirited: the dirt, the flies, etc., etc., had annoyed him. His
ears were still ringing with the ubiquitous "Baksheesh!"; the lepers had
spoilt some of the best views--and so on. How much better it would have
been for him not to come here, like the Mark Twain lady, and to have
preserved his Oxford impressions of the Bible uncontaminated!

In Our Lord's time, although the cities were splendid, the poor and the
diseased were just as much _en évidence_ as now, and where He was His
poor clustered thickest. Yet who thinks of the merely squalid details of
those crowds when reading the Gospel narrative? Why, then, dwell on them
so much here to-day as we follow His footsteps on the very soil He trod?
I must say any danger of distractions I may have felt has not come from
what I have seen of the _native_ element here. Not long ago a party of
Christian (?) European trippers (I will not define their nationality)
reaching the Jews' Wailing Place at Jerusalem, charged with their
donkeys all along the line of those preoccupied figures standing praying
with their faces buried in their Testaments or pressed against the
stones of the great wall, and knocked them over.

But "Many men many minds," and as no country stirs the sincere heart as
this one does, one must accept each thoughtful traveller's account of
his experiences as being genuinely felt.

I would warn intending tourists who are earnest and sensitive about this
sacred land against forming large parties for the journey. Amongst the
group of fellow-travellers there is sure to be at least one discordant
unit. Facetious remarks, ignorant questions, thoughtless exclamations,
are harder to bear here than elsewhere. Of course, if the party forms a
religious pilgrimage these warnings do not apply; but even a pilgrimage
in company has drawbacks, if the time is limited, and many inevitable
distractions. Select as few companions as is practicable--one only, if
possible, entirely one with you in faith and feeling. Also, any one in
delicate health should not attempt the entire journey. I have seen more
than one sad procession of returning tourists escorting a litter
containing some poor collapsed lady, depending on the fore-and-aft mules
that carried her for a smooth transit back to Jerusalem and the carriage
road. Woe betide her if either of the beasts came down or even

When I wrote to you from Jerusalem I told you how convincing one feels
the traditional sites of Calvary and the Holy Sepulchre to be in spite
of modern scepticism. But more modern still is the verification of their
authenticity. It has lately been proved, by that "research" which we
seem to require nowadays, that they stand _outside_ the line of the city
walls of our Lord's time. The great stumbling-block to those who could
not accept the word of Tradition consisted in the idea that those sites
had always been within the city as now, for it is known that the Jewish
law forbade places of execution and of burial within the walls. To show
you how the shape of Jerusalem, marked out by its fortifications, has
changed during its long history, I may mention that, whereas the house
of the Last Supper stood within the lines in Our Lord's time, it stands
far outside the walls of to-day.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now the last sunset we shall see from the Land of Promise is
steeping Lebanon in rose and violet, and the slender shadows of the
palms are lengthening across the sandy spaces of the plain. The sea has
not a sail upon it, and the sky not even a cloud "the size of a man's
hand," such as Elijah's servant saw from the top of this Carmel which
overshadows us.

Undisturbed by wind or cloud, the mind can dwell upon thoughts which the
approaching hour of leave-taking renders more poignant.

       *       *       *       *       *

The afterglow is now kindling its fires, and transfiguring a scene one
had thought could not be rendered more beautiful. Of all the splendours
of Nature the afterglow is the most surprising. I think in the East it
comes more swiftly after sunset than in Italy, and it is more
astonishing in its display of light. I have often, in Egypt, tried to
paint it, but it is no easy matter, for, although the light seems so
powerful it is really too low to allow one to see one's work. The sky
becomes a low-toned grey-green-blue ... what shall I call it?--a tone of
the greatest subtlety, against which the illuminated objects on the
earth shine with the colours of flame rather than of the sun. There
follows this last effort of the dying day what I may call the last
sigh,--a few moments of delicate greys of infinite tenderness, and then
night,--absolute night. They are ringing the Angelus up at the
Carmelite Monastery on the wooded heights. Those monks live a lonely
life on the mountain whence their Order takes its name. The author of
_The Land and the Book_ speaks of this lonely monastery with its monks
"chanting Latin to nobody." Only to the great God Who chose this little
country wherein to testify His love for man; Who has trodden with weary
feet those hills we have traversed in the journey that ends to-day!

_Friday, 1st May._

At 1.30 this morning we left these blessed shores, deeply grateful for
the privilege of treading the soil of Palestine which had been accorded
us. We put off in boats for the Austrian Lloyd steamer lying in the
offing by the light of a waning moon. By 8 A.M. we anchored off Jaffa,
where we lay all day, and at sunset stood out to sea, soon losing sight
of the Holy Land in the shades of night.

 _The letterpress has been printed by Messrs. R. & R. Clark,
                    Limited, Edinburgh._

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