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Title: Haifa - or Life in modern Palestine
Author: Oliphant, Laurence
Language: English
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                                 HAIFA
                        LIFE IN MODERN PALESTINE

                                   BY

                           LAURENCE OLIPHANT

            AUTHOR OF ‘THE LAND OF GILEAD,’ ‘ALTIORA PETO,’
                           ‘PICCADILLY,’ ETC.

                             SECOND EDITION

                       WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS

                          EDINBURGH AND LONDON

                              MDCCCLXXXVII



                                PREFACE.


The expectations which have been excited in the minds of men by the
prophecies contained in Scripture, and the hopes which have been roused
by them, have ever invested Palestine with an exceptional interest to
Biblical students; while its sacred conditions, historical associations,
and existing remains prove an attraction to crowds of pilgrims and
tourists, who annually flock to the Holy Land. As, however, the
impressions of a resident and those of a visitor are apt to differ
widely in regard to the conditions which actually exist there, and the
former has opportunities of researches denied to the latter, I have
ventured to think that a series of letters originally addressed to the
New York ‘Sun,’ and extending over a period of three years passed in the
country, might not be without interest to the general reader. Many of
these will be found to deal chiefly with archæological subjects, which
must, indeed, form the main subject of attraction to any one living in
the country, and conversant with its history.

A flood of light has been thrown of recent years upon its topography,
its ancient sites, and the extensive ruins which still exist to testify
to its once teeming population, by the prolonged and valuable researches
of the “Palestine Exploration Fund” of London.

As, however, these are embodied in volumes so expensive that they are
beyond the reach of the general public, and are too technical in their
character to suit the taste of the ordinary reader, I have in many
instances endeavoured to popularise them, availing myself extensively of
the information contained in them and in Captain Conder's excellent
‘Tent Work in Palestine,’ and quoting freely such passages as tended to
the elucidation of the subject under consideration, more especially with
regard to recent discovery at Jerusalem; but which, as I was grubbing
about, I have not been able to define as exactly as I should have liked
to do had all the publications been beside me at the moment.

The experience and investigation of the last three years, however, have
only served to convince me that the field of research is far from being
exhausted, and that, should the day ever come when excavation on a large
scale is possible, the Holy Land will yield treasures of infinite
interest and value, alike to the archæologist and the historian.

  HAIFA, 1886.



                              CONTENTS.


                                                                     PAGE
   INTRODUCTION                                                      vii
   A VISIT TO EPHESUS                                                1
   THE RUINS OF ATHLIT                                               6
   A JEWISH COLONY IN ITS INFANCY                                    11
   THE TEMPLE SOCIETY                                                17
   THE TEMPLE COLONIES IN PALESTINE                                  22
   EXPLORING MOUNT CARMEL                                            27
   THE VALLEY OF THE MARTYRS                                         33
   THE ROCK-HEWN CEMETERY OF SHEIK ABREIK                            38
   EASTER AMONG THE MELCHITES                                        43
   THE JEWISH QUESTION IN PALESTINE                                  48
   “HOLY PLACES” IN GALILEE                                          53
   PROGRESS IN PALESTINE                                             59
   THE FIRST PALESTINE RAILWAY                                       63
   SAFED                                                             68
   MEIRON                                                            72
   THE FEAST OF ST. ELIAS                                            77
   A SUMMER CAMP ON CARMEL                                           82
   THE DRUSES OF MOUNT CARMEL                                        87
   EXPLORATION ON CARMEL                                             93
   A PLACE FAMOUS IN HISTORY                                         98
   THE BABS AND THEIR PROPHET                                        103
   AN ANCIENT JEWISH COMMUNITY                                       108
   DOMESTIC LIFE AMONG THE SYRIANS                                   114
   FISHING ON LAKE TIBERIAS                                          119
   A VISIT TO THE SULPHUR SPRINGS OF AMATHA                          125
   EXPLORATION OF THE VALLEY OF THE YARMUK                           130
   EXPLORATION ON THE YARMUK                                         135
   A DRUSE RELIGIOUS FESTIVAL                                        139
   THE GREAT FESTIVAL OF THE DRUSES                                  145
   HATTIN AND IRBID                                                  152
   THE JEWISH FEAST OF THE BURNING AT TIBERIAS                       157
   HOUSE-BUILDING ON CARMEL                                          162
   DOMESTIC LIFE AMONG THE DRUSES                                    168
   CIRCASSIAN HIGHWAYMEN.—A DRUSE FESTIVAL AT ELIJAH'S ALTAR         173
   ARMAGEDDON.—THE BOSNIAN COLONY AT CÆSAREA                         178
   CÆSAREA                                                           186
   VILLAGE FEUDS                                                     192
   THE ARISTOCRACY OF MOUNT CARMEL                                   198
   THE JORDAN VALLEY CANAL                                           204
   LOCAL POLITICS AND PROGRESS                                       208
   THE IDENTIFICATION OF ANCIENT SITES                               213
   THE SEA OF GALILEE IN THE TIME OF CHRIST                          218
   THE SCENE OF THE MIRACLE OF THE FIVE LOAVES AND TWO SMALL FISHES  223
   CAPERNAUM AND CHORAZIN                                            228
   DISCOVERY OF AN ANCIENT SYNAGOGUE                                 233
   CHARACTERISTICS OF THE RUINS OF SYNAGOGUES                        239
   A NIGHT ADVENTURE NEAR THE LAKE OF TIBERIAS                       244
   KHISFIN                                                           250
   FURTHER EXPLORATION AND DISCOVERY                                 256
   THE PLACE WHERE THE SAVIOUR SENT THE EVIL SPIRITS INTO THE HERD
       OF SWINE                                                      262
   THE ROCK TOMBS OF PALESTINE                                       268
   GENERAL GORDON'S LAST VISIT TO HAIFA                              274
   THE CONVENT OF CARMEL _versus_ THE TOWN OF HAIFA                  281
   PROGRESS EVEN IN PALESTINE                                        285
   THE RECENT DISCOVERY OF GEZER                                     290
   TRADITIONAL SITES AT JERUSALEM                                    296
   TRADITIONAL SITES AT JERUSALEM.—_Continued_                       303
   PROGRESS IN JERUSALEM                                             309
   THE THREE JERICHOS                                                319
   MODERN LIFE IN PALESTINE                                          325
   RAMBLES IN PALESTINE                                              332
   EXPLORATIONS IN PALESTINE                                         339
   SACRED SAMARITAN RECORDS                                          345
   THE TEN LOST TRIBES                                               352
   RESEARCHES IN SAMARIA                                             358
   A DRUSE FATHER'S VENGEANCE                                        364



                            INTRODUCTION.


THE chapters which compose this volume originally formed a series of
letters, all of which passed through my hands. I prepared them for their
first appearance in print, and corrected the proofs afterwards. Finally,
it was at my suggestion and advice that they were gathered together in a
book.

The deep interest which the land of Palestine possesses for every
thoughtful mind makes us all greedy for fresh and truthful information,
alike concerning its present condition and the discoveries which new
researches add to our knowledge of the past. From this point of view,
many of the pages which follow are of exceeding importance. Every
Christian will read with deep attention the author's description of the
present state of places connected with momentous events of New-Testament
history; and when, as in the present instance, the traveller and
investigator is one whose judgment and whose accuracy may be entirely
relied upon, the value of the report surpasses every careless estimate.

It is with this feeling that I have urged my friend to complete his work
for publication, and with this feeling I earnestly commend it to the
reader. Nor is its interest confined to historical and Biblical
questions alone; the ethnologist examining the races of modern Syria,
and the philosopher contemplating the marvellous processes of Asiatic
transformation, will also find here material which will repay their most
careful study.

                                                        C. A. DANA.

    NEW YORK, November, 1886.



                               HAIFA.

                             ----------


                          A VISIT TO EPHESUS.

Smyrna, Nov. 4, 1882.—There are two ways of doing Ephesus: you may
either go there and, like the Apostle, “fight with beasts,” in the shape
of donkeys and donkey boys, or you may wear yourself to death under the
blazing sun, alternately scrambling over its rocks, and sinking ankle
deep in the mire of its marshes. In old days it was an easy two days'
ride from Smyrna to Ephesus, the distance being about fifty miles, but
the Smyrna and Aiden Railway speeds you to the ruins in about two hours
now, first through the romantic little gorge from whose rocky ledge
rises the hill crowned by the ruined castle which overlooks the town,
past a modern and an ancient aqueduct, the latter moss-grown and
picturesque, with its double sets of arches rising one above the other;
through orange and pomegranate groves, and vineyards yellow and
languishing at this season of the year from the drought; across fertile
plains from which the cereals and corn crops have been removed, and
where flocks of sheep and goats are scattered on distant hill slopes, or
follow in long lines the striking figures of the shepherds in their
broad-shouldered felt coats; past the black tents of the Yourouks, a
nomadic tribe of Turcomans, whose kindred extend from here to the great
wall of China, and who vary their pastoral operations from one end of
Asia to the other with predatory raids upon unsuspecting travellers; and
so on into a wilder country, where the mountains close in upon us, and
the Western tourist begins to realize that he is really in Asia, as
groups of grunting camels, collected at the little railway stations, and
their wild-looking owners, tell of journeys into the far interior, and
excite a longing in his Cockney breast to emancipate himself from the
guidance of Cook, and plunge into the remote recesses of Asia Minor or
Kurdistan.

As we approach Ephesus the country again becomes more fertile, and
groves of fig-trees, surpassing all preconceived notions of the size
ordinarily attained by these trees, reveal one of the principal sources
of supply of those “fine fresh figs” which find their way in such
abundance to American railway cars. As the modern Ephesus is a miserable
little village, containing only a few huts and a very limited supply of
donkeys, the wary traveller will see that his are sent on from Smyrna
beforehand, and will probably find some consolation for the absence of
any competent guide or decent accommodation, or appliances for seeing
the ruins, in the evidence which this fact affords of the comparative
rareness of tourist visitors.

So far from being assailed by shouts for backsheesh, or bombarded by
sellers of sham antiques, or struggled for by rival guides, one is left
entirely to one's own devices on that desolate little platform. There is
an apology for a hotel, it is true, where cold potted meats are to be
obtained, and, by dint of much searching, a guide, himself an antique,
turns up, but we are very sceptical of his competency. A row of columns
still standing, which once supported an aqueduct, and the crumbling
ruins of a castle on a conical little hill immediately behind the
railway station, suggest the mistaken idea that these are the ruins of
Ephesus. They are very decent ruins, as ruins go, but the castle is a
comparatively modern Seljük stronghold, and there is nothing certain
about the antiquity of the aqueduct. In exploring the castle we find
that the blocks of stone of old Ephesus have been built into its walls,
and that a still more ancient gateway, dating from the early period of
the Byzantine Empire, is also largely composed of these antique
fragments, upon which inscriptions are to be deciphered, proving that
they formed part of a Greek temple. So, in the old mosque of Sultan
Selim, which is at the base of the hill, we find that the magnificent
monolith columns of a still more ancient edifice have been used in the
construction of what must in its day have been a fine specimen of
Saracenic architecture; but we have not yet reached the site of ancient
Ephesus. As we stand on the steps of the old mosque we look over a level
and marshy plain, about a mile broad, which extends to the foot of two
rocky hills, each about two hundred feet high, and divided from each
other by what appears to be a chasm. Behind these is a higher ridge,
backed by the mountain chain. It is on these two rocky eminences, and on
their farther slopes, now hidden from view, that the ancient Ephesus
stood; but the problem which has for many years vexed antiquarians is
the site, until recently undiscovered, of what gave the town its chief
notoriety.

The temple of the great goddess Diana, about a quarter of the way across
the plain, was a wide, low mound, and here it is that the recent
excavations of Mr. Wood have laid bare one of the most interesting
archæological discoveries of modern times. We eagerly tramp across the
mud and over the corn-stalks of this year's crop to the débris, and,
climbing up it, look down upon a vast depressed area, filled with
fragments of magnificent marble columns, and with carved blocks on which
are inscriptions so fresh that they seem to have been engraved
yesterday, all jumbled together in a hopeless confusion, but from amid
which Mr. Wood, who has had a force of three hundred men excavating here
for the three previous years, has unearthed many valuable memorials. At
the time of our visit the work was suspended and Mr. Wood was away, nor
was it possible to obtain from the utterly dilapidated old Arab who
called himself a guide, any coherent account of the last results, beyond
the fact that a ship had come to take them away.

I made out one inscription, which was apparently a votive tablet to the
daughter of the Emperor Aurelius Antoninus, but in most cases, though
the engraving, as far as it went, was clear, the fragments were too
small to contain more than a few words. In places the marble pavement of
the temple was clearly defined, and its size was well worthy the fame
which ranked it among the seven wonders of the world. From here a long,
muddy trudge took us to the base of the hill, or mount, called Pion, on
the flank of which is the cave of the Seven Sleepers, and attached to it
is the well-known legend of the seven young men who went to sleep here,
and awoke, after two hundred years, to find matters so changed that they
were overcome by the shock. When I surmounted the hill and looked down
upon the Stadium, the Agora, the Odeon, and other ruins, I was conscious
of two predominating sentiments. One was surprise and the other
disappointment; surprise, that one of the most populous and celebrated
cities in the world should have arisen on such a site; and
disappointment, that so little of its magnificence remained.

From an architectural point of view there is absolutely nothing left
worth looking at. Lines of broken stone mark the limits of the principal
buildings. The Stadium, which accommodated 76,000 persons, and one of
the theatres, which accommodated over 56,000, are almost shapeless
mounds. The whole scene is one of most complete desolation, and we are
driven to our imagination to realize what Ephesus once must have been.
In the case of Palmyra and Baalbec no such effort is necessary; enough
is left for us to repeople without difficulty those splendid solitudes;
but in Ephesus all is savage and dreary in the extreme; deep fissures
run into the rock, which must have formed nearly the centre of the town;
huge boulders of natural stone suggest the wild character of some
portion of the city in its palmiest days. It is difficult to conceive to
what use the citizens devoted this Mount Pion, with its crags and
caverns and fissures. The lines of the old port are clearly defined by
the limits of a marsh, from which a sluggish stream, formerly a canal,
runs to the sea, about three miles distant, not far from the debouchure
of the Meander. No doubt the mass of the city surrounded the port, but
there is a marvellous lack of débris in this direction. Between the
Temple of Diana and the foot of Mount Pion there is not a stone, so that
the probability is that the temple was situated amid groves of trees. On
the hill there are stones, or, rather, rocks, enough, but they are of
huge size, and for the most part natural. Of actual city comparatively
few remains still exist. No doubt its columns and monuments and slabs
have supplied materials for the ornamentation and construction of many
cities, and the convenience of getting to it by sea has materially aided
the spoilers. Still, the site of ancient Ephesus affords abundant
material for conjecture, and the more one studies the local topography
the more difficult is it to picture to one's self what the ancient city
was like.

From historical association it must ever remain one of the most
interesting spots in the East, while, even from a purely picturesque
point of view, the wild and rugged grandeur of the scenery amid which it
is situated cannot fail to stamp it upon the memory. As I believe it is
intended to continue excavations, we may hope for still further results,
and there can be no doubt that, when once the obstacles which are now
thrown in the way by the present government, to all scientific or
antiquarian research in Turkey, are removed by the political changes new
pending in the East, a rich field of exploration will be opened, not at
Ephesus alone, but throughout the little-known ruined cities of Asia
Minor.


                          THE RUINS OF ATHLIT.

Haifa, Nov. 27, 1882.—The more you examine the countries most frequented
by tourists, the more you are perplexed to comprehend the reasons which
decide them to confine themselves to certain specified routes, arranged
apparently by guides and dragomans, with a view of concealing from them
the principal objects of interest. There is certainly not one tourist in
a hundred who visits the Holy Land who has ever heard of Athlit, much
less been there, and yet I know of few finer ruins to the west of the
Jordan. To the east the magnificent remains of Jerash, Amman, and
Arak-el Emir are incomparably more interesting, and these, of course,
are also almost ignored by tourists; but that may be accounted for by
the fact that special permission from the government is required to
visit them, while an impression still exists that the journey is
attended with some risk. Practically this is not the case. It takes a
long time to remove an impression of this kind, and it is the interest
of a large class of persons who live on blackmail to keep it up. But in
the case of Athlit there is no such drawback. Probably the neglect with
which it is treated is due largely to the fact that no scriptural
association attaches to the locality, and people would rather go to
Nazareth than examine the majestic remains of Roman civilization, or the
ruder superstructures of crusading warfare.

The easiest way to reach Athlit is to go to it from Carmel. As the
monastery there is a most modern structure, about fifty years old,
tourists often get as far as that, because the guide takes them there;
but they know nothing of the mysteries of this sacred mountain, second
only to Sinai, in the estimation of the modern Jew, in the sanctity of
its reputation, and they turn back when, by riding a few miles down the
coast, they would follow a route full of interest. The road traverses a
plain about two miles in width. On the left, the rugged limestone slopes
of the mountain are perforated with caves—in the earliest ages of
Christianity the resorts of hermits, from whom the order of the
Carmelites subsequently arose. Here tradition still points out the spot
where the crusading king, St. Louis of France, was shipwrecked; and in a
gorge of the mountains may still be seen the foundations of the first
monastery, near a copious spring of clearest water, where the pious
monarch was entertained by the first monks, whom, out of gratitude, he
enabled subsequently to establish themselves upon the site occupied by
the present monastery, and to found an order which has since become
celebrated. Along this line of coast there is an uninterrupted stretch
of sandy beach, upon which the full force of the Mediterranean breaks in
long lines of rollers, and which would afford an interesting field of
study to the conchologist. Among the most curious shells are the _Murex
brandaris_ and the _Murex trunculus_, the prickly shells of the fish
which in ancient times yielded the far-famed Tyrian purple. The
Phoenicians obtained the precious dye from a vessel in the throat of the
fish.

Instead of following closely the line of coast, I kept near the base of
the Carmel range, reaching in about two hours from Carmel the village of
El Tireh, where the mosque is part of an old Benedictine monastery, the
massive walls of which have been utilized for religious purposes by the
Moslems. Their worship has had little effect upon the inhabitants, who
are the most notorious thieves and turbulent rogues in the whole country
side. They are rich enough to indulge their taste for violence with
comparative impunity, as they can always square it with the authorities.
Their village is surrounded with a grove of thirty thousand olive-trees
and the rich plain, extending to the sea, is nearly all owned by them.
Indeed, their evil reputation keeps other would-be proprietors at a
distance. Here the plain begins to slope backward from the sea, so as to
prevent the water from the mountains from finding a natural outlet, and
in summer the country becomes miasmatic and feverish.

From El Tireh, where the inhabitants treated me with great civility, I
crossed the plain, and in an hour more reached an insignificant ruin
called El Dustrey, a corruption of the crusading name “_Les Destroits_,”
or “The Straights,” so called from a gorge in the limestone ridge, which
here separates the plain from the sea. This very remarkable formation
extends for many miles down the coast. It is a rugged ridge, varying
from twenty to fifty feet in height, and completely cutting off the sea
beach from the fertile plain behind. Here and there it is split by
fissures, through which the winter torrents find their way to the sea.
Skirting this ridge, we suddenly come upon an artificial cutting, just
wide enough to allow the passage of a chariot. At the entrance, holes
were cut into the rock on both sides, evidently used in ancient times
for closing and barring a passage-way. The cutting through the rock was
from six to eight feet deep and from sixty to eighty yards in length.
The deep ruts of the chariot-wheels were distinctly visible. Here and
there on the sides steps had been cut leading to the ridge, which had
been fortified.

Passing through this cutting, we debouch upon a sandy plain and a reedy
marsh, in which my companion had the year before killed a wild boar; and
here we were in the presence of a majestic ruin. Immediately facing us
was a fragment of wall, eighty feet high, sixteen feet thick, and
thirty-five yards long. It towers to a height of one hundred and twenty
feet above the sea, and is a conspicuous landmark. It has been partially
stripped of the external layer of carved stone blocks, and has furnished
a quarry to the inhabitants for some centuries. The wall had evidently
once continued across the base of the promontory upon which the ancient
fortress and town were built. Passing up a rocky passage and under an
archway of comparatively modern date, and which could still be closed by
means of massive wooden doors, we enter the _enceinte_, and discover
that the whole promontory is underlaid with huge vaults. It became also
evident that the immense fragment I have described was the outer wall of
a large building, for on the inside were three ribbed, pointed arches,
supported on corbels, representing on the left a bearded head, on the
right a head shaven on the crown, with curling hair on the sides; in the
centre a cantilever, with three lilies in low relief. As the roof had
fallen in, the spring of the arches alone remained. The whole was
constructed of blocks of stone about three feet long, two feet high, and
two feet wide. The promontory upon which all this solid masonry had been
erected was washed on three sides by the sea. It rose above it
precipitously to a height of about fifty feet. The area was occupied by
a miserable population of possibly a hundred squalid, half-clad Arabs,
whose huts were built among the ruins, thus preventing any effectual
examination of them. It would be difficult to conceive a greater
contrast than is presented by these wretched fellahin and their
burrowing habitations with the splendour of the edifices and the
opulence which must have characterized the former inhabitants. Here and
there we see a fragment of a granite column, while, when we reach the
brink of the cliff which forms the sea-face of the promontory, we are
again surprised at the stupendous scale of these ancient works, and of
the sea-wall built out upon a ledge of rocks, exposed to the full fury
of the waves, and still standing to a height of forty or fifty feet.

To the right of the promontory, a wall, the base of which is washed by
the waves, is perforated by three arches. It presents a most picturesque
appearance. The southern face is, however, the most perfect. Here there
were evidently two tiers of walls, one upon the sea-level and one upon
the face of the cliff. Descending into the space between these I
perceived an opening in the side of the rock, and found myself in a
vaulted chamber, which was sufficiently lighted by apertures in the rock
for me to measure it roughly. I estimated the length at a hundred and
twenty feet, the breadth at thirty-six, and the height at thirty. It so
happened that on the occasion of my visit it was blowing half a gale of
wind from the seaward. The breakers were rolling in upon the reefs at
the base of the promontory, throwing their spray high up on the ruined
walls, and producing an effect which, with the grandeur of the
surroundings, was indescribably impressive. This chamber was the
handsomest of a series of vaults, several others of which I have
explored under the guidance of the sheik, by means of candles and
torches. They are altogether six in number, running round a rectangle
measuring about five hundred feet by three hundred. They are of
different sizes, varying from fifty to three hundred feet in length,
from thirty to fifty in breadth, and from twenty-five to thirty in
height.

The name of the town which stood here in ancient times has never been
discovered. This is the more singular as it must evidently have been a
place of considerable importance in the time of the Romans, more
probably as a fortress than as a place of commerce. Its natural
advantages for defence suggest themselves at once. It is important in
the history of the crusades as being the last spot held in Palestine by
the crusaders, who evacuated it in 1291. It was then destroyed by the
Sultan Melik el Ashraf, so that the most modern parts of the ruins are
only six hundred years old. But the crusaders must have entered into
possession of what was then an ancient fortress in a high state of
preservation. When they took it, it became celebrated as Castellum
Peregrinorum, or the Castle of the Pilgrims. It is also spoken of in the
crusading records as Petra Incisa, from the fact that it was entered
through the cutting in the rock which I have described. In 1218 the
Knights Templars restored the castle, and constituted it the chief seat
of their order. They found “a number of strange, unknown coins.” That it
was a place of great strength may be inferred from the fact that it was
chosen by such good judges as the Knights Templars as their chief
stronghold; that it was successfully besieged by one of the sultans of
Egypt, and that it was finally abandoned only because every other
crusading possession in Palestine had succumbed.


                    A JEWISH COLONY IN ITS INFANCY.

Haifa, Dec. 10.—About sixteen miles to the south of the projecting point
of Carmel, upon which the celebrated monastery is perched above the sea,
there lies a tract of land which has suddenly acquired an interest owing
to the fact of its having been purchased by the Central Jewish
Colonization Society of Roumania, with a view of placing upon it
emigrants of the Hebrew persuasion who have been compelled to quit the
country of their adoption in consequence of the legal disabilities to
which they are subjected in it, and who have determined upon making a
_bona fide_ attempt to change the habits of their lives and engage in
agricultural pursuits. I was invited by the local agent in charge of
this enterprise to accompany him on a visit to the new property, whither
he was bound with a view of making arrangements for housing and placing
upon it the first settlers. Traversing the northern portion of the
fertile plain of Sharon, which extends from Jaffa to Carmel, we enter by
a gorge into the lower spurs of the Carmel range, which is distant at
this point about three miles from the seacoast, and, winding up a steep
path, find ourselves upon a fertile plateau about four hundred feet
above the level of the sea. Here over a thousand acres of pasture and
arable land have been purchased, on which a small hamlet of half a dozen
native houses and a storehouse belonging to the late proprietor compose
the existing accommodation. This hamlet is at present occupied by the
fellahin who worked the land for its former owner, and it is proposed to
retain their services as laborers and copartners in the cultivation of
the soil until the new-comers shall have become sufficiently
indoctrinated in the art of agriculture to be able to do for themselves.

The experiment of associating Jews and Moslem fellahin in field labor
will be an interesting one to watch, and the preliminary discussions on
the subject were more picturesque than satisfactory. The meeting took
place in the storehouse, where Jews and Arabs squatted promiscuously
amid the heaps of grain, and chaffered over the terms of their mutual
copartnership. It would be difficult to imagine anything more utterly
incongruous than the spectacle thus presented—the stalwart fellahin,
with their wild, shaggy, black beards, the brass hilts of their pistols
projecting from their waistbands, their tasselled kufeihahs drawn
tightly over their heads and girdled with coarse black cords, their
loose, flowing abbas, and sturdy bare legs and feet; and the ringleted,
effeminate-looking Jews, in caftans reaching almost to their ankles, as
oily as their red or sandy locks, or the expression of their
countenances—the former inured to hard labor on the burning hillsides of
Palestine, the latter fresh from the Ghetto of some Roumanian town,
unaccustomed to any other description of exercise than that of their
wits, but already quite convinced that they knew more about agriculture
than the people of the country, full of suspicion of all advice tendered
to them, and animated by a pleasing self-confidence which I fear the
first practical experience will rudely belie. In strange contrast with
these Roumanian Jews was the Arab Jew who acted as interpreter—a stout,
handsome man, in Oriental garb, as unlike his European coreligionists as
the fellahin themselves. My friend and myself, in the ordinary costume
of the British or American tourist, completed the party.

The discussion was protracted beyond midnight—the native peasants
screaming in Arabic, the Roumanian Israelites endeavoring to outtalk
them in German jargon, the interpreter vainly trying to make himself
heard, everybody at cross-purposes because no one was patient enough to
listen till another had finished, or modest enough to wish to hear
anybody speak but himself. Tired out, I curled myself on an Arab
coverlet, which seemed principally stuffed with fleas, but sought repose
in vain. At last a final rupture was arrived at, and the fellahin left
us, quivering with indignation at the terms proposed by the new-comers.
Sleep brought better counsel to both sides, and an arrangement was
finally arrived at next morning which I am afraid has only to be put
into operation to fail signally. There is nothing more simple than
farming in co-operation with the fellahin of Palestine if you go the
right way to work about it, and nothing more hopeless if attempted upon
a system to which they are unaccustomed. Probably, after a considerable
loss of time, money, and especially of temper, a more practical _modus
operandi_ will be arrived at. I am bound to say that I did not discover
any aversion on the part of the Moslem fellahin to the proprietorship by
Israelites of their land, on religious grounds. The only difficulty lay
in the division of labor and of profit, where the owners of the land
were entirely ignorant of agriculture, and therefore dependent on the
co-operation of the peasants, on terms to be decided between them.

I eagerly welcomed the first streaks of dawn to get out of the close
atmosphere in which three had been sleeping besides myself, and watch
the sun rise over the eastern mountains of Palestine. Ascending to the
top of the hill in rear of the hamlet, I enjoyed a magnificent view. To
the south the eye followed the coast-line to a point where the ruins of
Cæsarea, plainly visible through a glass, bounded the prospect. From the
plain of Sharon, behind it, the hills rose in swelling undulations,
unusually well-wooded for Palestine, to a height of about two thousand
feet, the smoke of numerous villages mingling with the morning haze. In
the extreme distance to the northeast might be discerned the lofty
summits of Hermon, and in the middle distance the rounded top of Tabor;
while northward, in immediate proximity, was the range of Carmel, with
the Mediterranean bounding the western horizon. While exploring the
newly purchased tract and examining its agricultural capabilities, I
came upon what were evidently the traces—they could hardly be called the
ruins—of an ancient town. They were on a rocky hillside, not far from
the hamlet. My attention was first attracted by what had evidently been
an old Roman road, the worn ruts of the chariot-wheels being plainly
visible in the rock. Farther on were the marks of ancient quarrying, the
spaces in the rock, about two feet square, showing where massive blocks
had been hewn. The former owners of the property, observing the interest
with which I examined these traces, took me to a spot where the natives,
in quarrying, had unearthed a piece of wall composed of stone blocks of
the same size, neatly fitted, and approached by steps carved in the
rock. In close proximity to this was a monument, the meaning of which I
was for some time at a loss to conjecture. It consisted of three sides
of a square excavation hewn out of the solid rock of the hillside,
uncovered, and the depth of which it was difficult to determine, on
account of the débris which had accumulated. Upon the faces of the
chamber thus formed, rows of small niches had been carved, each niche
about a foot high, six inches wide, and six inches deep. The niches were
about two inches apart, and on one face I counted six rows or tiers of
eighteen niches each. The other sides were not so perfect, and the rock
had broken away in places. I finally decided that the whole had probably
in ancient times been a vault appropriated to the reception of cinerary
urns, but the matter is one which I must leave to some more experienced
antiquarian than I am to determine definitely. It is not to be wondered
at that this obscure and partially concealed ruin should have escaped
the notice of the Palestine Exploration Survey.

One of the fellahin now told us of a marvel in the neighbourhood. It was
a hole in the rock, to which, by applying one's ear, one could hear the
roar of a mighty river. Attracted by the prospect of so singular a
phenomenon, we scrambled through the prickly underwood with which the
hillsides are thickly covered, and finally emerged upon a small valley,
at the head of which was an open grassy space, and near it a table of
flat limestone rock. In the centre of it was an oblong hole, about two
inches by three, the sides of which had been worn smooth by the curious
or superstitious, who had probably visited the spot for ages. First, the
Arab stretched himself at full length, and laid his ear upon the
aperture. I followed suit, and became conscious not only of a strong
draught rushing upward from subterranean depths, but of a distant
roaring sound, as of a remote Niagara. For a moment I was puzzled, and
the Arab was triumphant, for I had treated his rushing subterranean
river with a contemptuous scepticism; yet here were undeniably the
sounds of roaring water. Had it been a distant gurgle or trickle it
would have been explicable, but it was manifestly impossible that any
river could exist large enough to produce the sounds I heard. Though the
day was perfectly still, the draught upward was strong enough to blow
away the corner of a handkerchief held over the mouth of the hole. At
last I solved the problem to my own satisfaction. By ascending the hill
on the right the roar of “the loud-voiced neighbouring ocean,” distant
between two and three miles, was distinctly audible. It had been blowing
the day before, and the rollers were breaking upon the long line of
coast. I now conjectured that the crack in the rock must extend to some
cavern on the seashore, and form a sort of whispering-gallery,
conducting the sound of the breakers with great distinctness to the top
of the hills, but blending them so much that it seemed at first a
continuous rushing noise. This was an explanation contrary to all
tradition, and it was received by the Arab with incredulity.

We now descended once more to the plains, and, crossing them, reached
the village of Tantura, where we arrived about midday, passing first,
however, the ruined fortress of Muzraá, a massive block of masonry about
fifty yards square, the walls of which are standing to a height of about
ten feet; then turning aside to the old Roman bridge, which spans in a
single high arch the artificial cutting through the limestone rocks by
which the ancients facilitated the egress of a winter-torrent to the
sea. The inhabitants of Tantura have the reputation of being very bad
people, and three years ago I saw a party of French tourists at
Jerusalem who had been attacked and robbed by them. We were, however,
entertained with the greatest hospitality, having a levée of the sheik
and village notables, and with difficulty escaping from a banquet which
they were preparing for us. They live in a miserable collection of
hovels amid the almost defaced ruins of the old town, traces of which,
however, are abundant in the neighbourhood. A lofty fragment of wall on
a projecting promontory half a mile to the north of the town is all that
remains of what must have been a castle of grand dimensions. A chain of
small, rocky islets, a few hundred yards from the shore, forms a sort of
natural breakwater, and at very little expense Tantura could be
converted into a good port. As it is, when the weather is smooth, native
craft run in here, and when once at their anchorage can defy any gale.
Tantura, or Dor, was one of the towns assigned to the half tribe of
Manasseh, but we read that they failed to expel the Canaanites from it,
though when Israel “became strong they put them to tribute, but did not
utterly drive them out.”

In the time of the Romans Dor was a mercantile town of some importance,
and, though in the wars of the Diadochi it was besieged and partly
destroyed, the Roman general Gabinius restored the town and harbor, and
its architectural beauty was such that we read that even in the time of
St. Jerome its ruins were still an object of admiration. Unfortunately,
since the Turkish occupation, all these coast cities have been used as
quarries for the construction of mosques and fortifications. The marble
and granite pillars and columns, and the carved blocks of stone which
formed the outside casings of the walls, have been carried away, leaving
nothing but the mere skeletons of ruins as forlorn and desolate as the
peasantry who find shelter beneath them.


                          THE TEMPLE SOCIETY.

Haifa, Dec. 25.—There are probably not many of your readers who have
ever heard of “The Temple Society,” and yet it is a religious body
numbering over 5000 members, of whom more than 300 are in America, 1000
in Palestine, and the remainder scattered over Europe, principally in
Germany, Russia, and Switzerland.

The founder of the sect, if sect it can be called, is a certain Prof.
Christophe Hoffman of Würtemberg, who, after studying at the University
of Tübingen about thirty-five years ago, became a minister of the
Lutheran Church and the principal of the College of Crischona, not far
from Basle, in Switzerland. Here he became known as entertaining certain
theological opinions which soon acquired some notoriety, as they
consisted mainly of a criticism on the action of the Church with
reference to the rationalistic opinions then becoming prevalent in
Germany, and which found their culminating expression in the writings of
the late Dr. Strauss. Mr. Hoffman, who was an ardent opponent of the
modern and sceptical tendency of German thought, attributed its growing
influence to the feeble opposition offered to it by the Church, and
maintained that its impotency to arrest the evil arose from the
inconsistent practice of its members with the moral teaching which they
professed. Under the influence of this conviction he abandoned his
charge at Crischona, and with his brothers-in-law founded a college at
“Salon,” not far from Stuttgart, and commenced an agitation in favour of
church reform, both in written publications and by his personal
influence. He was shortly after elected to the Diet at Frankfort, where
he presented a petition signed by 12,000 persons in favour of reform of
the Lutheran Church.

His Biblical studies at this time, especially of the book of
Revelations, led him to the conclusion that the period of the second
advent of the Messiah was approaching, but that Christ could only be
received by a Church which had attempted to embody his moral teaching in
daily life; in fact, that he could only recognize those as his own at
his second coming who had succeeded in practically applying the ethical
code which he had taught when he came first; and he reproached the
Church with failing to inaugurate a social reconstruction which should
render possible a Christ life in the true acceptation of the term. A
doctrine based on Scripture, and directed against the ecclesiastical
system to which he belonged, naturally brought him into direct collision
with it; and as an interpretation of the New Testament which strikes at
the root of all compromise between profession and practice must ever be
an inconvenient doctrine to churches which are based upon such
compromise, Mr. Hoffman was summarily expelled, carrying with him,
however, a large body of followers.

He now, with a few friends, established a sort of colony in Würtemberg,
where an effort was made to put into daily practice these high
aspirations, and the number of adherents throughout Europe and in
America grew as his views began to be more widely promulgated and
understood. In 1867 the more prominent members of the society held a
meeting, at which it was decided that as the second advent of the
Messiah was expected to occur in Palestine, the Holy Land was the
fitting place for the establishment of the central point of the Church
which was preparing itself to receive him; that there should be laid the
corner-stone of the new spiritual temple which gave the name of the
society; and that it was the first duty of those who were waiting for
his coming to restore the land to which so many Biblical promises
especially attached. While they considered that the new kingdom which
was to own Christ as its king was to embrace all those who were prepared
to receive him, in all lands and from among all races, yet the spiritual
throne would be erected in Palestine, and its material restoration must
be a necessary preliminary to its final and ultimate redemption. It was
therefore decided that while the great majority of the members of the
society should remain in Europe to witness for the truth, and to
contribute to the support of the attempt to be made in the Holy Land, a
certain number should proceed thither to establish themselves in trade
and agriculture, and endeavour by the example of honest industry to
elevate the native population and redeem the land from its present waste
and desolate condition.

In 1868 Mr. Hoffman, Mr. Hartegg, and some others went to Constantinople
with a view of obtaining a firman from the Porte, but, failing in this,
they proceeded in the following year to Palestine, where, attracted by
the great advantages of soil, climate, and position offered by the lands
at the foot of Mount Carmel, in the neighbourhood of Haifa, they fixed
upon that locality as the initial point of the enterprise. Hither
shortly flocked agriculturists and handicraftsmen representing all the
important industries, and they proceeded to lay out their village and
build their houses on the slope between the foot of the mount and the
sea, about a mile to the westward of the native town; but they soon
found that it was impossible to do this without meeting with the most
strenuous opposition on the part of the native government, and incurring
the covert hostility of the monks who have for seven hundred years
enjoyed a spiritual monopoly of Mount Carmel. As the colonists were
almost without exception men of very moderate means, and believed in the
responsibilities of individual ownership, and not in any communistic
system, they soon found themselves engaged in a severe and unequal
struggle.

Ignorant of the language, the country, the methods of agriculture, the
manners and customs of the inhabitants, who regarded them askance, and
unused to the climate, their faith and powers of endurance were taxed to
the utmost. Not only did they persevere with the most unflinching
resolution at Haifa, but extended their operations to Jaffa, where at
that time a colony of American Adventists, whom some of your readers may
remember, and who had emigrated there about twenty years ago, was in
process of dissolution. Purchasing the remains of their settlement, a
new group of the Temple Society established themselves there. Since then
two more colonies have been formed, one at Sarona, about an hour distant
from Jaffa, and one in the immediate neighbourhood of Jerusalem, where
the leader, Mr. Hoffman, at present resides.

The united population of these four colonies amounts to about one
thousand souls, besides which a few families are also established at
Beyrout and Nazareth. But the largest settlement is at Haifa, where the
society numbers over three hundred. These now, after fourteen years of
vicissitudes, appear to be entering upon a period of comparative
prosperity. They have not long since completed a twelve years' struggle
with the government for the legalization of the titles to their land,
which the authorities endeavoured to prevent by throwing every possible
obstacle in the way; and while the question was pending they were
compelled to pay their taxes through the nominal native owners, who
assessed the lands at four times their actual value, putting the balance
into their own pockets. All these difficulties have, however, at last
been surmounted. They now hold their seven hundred acres of fine arable
and vine land free of all encumbrance, and their well-cultivated fields,
trim gardens, and substantial white stone mansions form a most agreeable
and unexpected picture of civilization upon this semi-barbarous coast.

Meanwhile, the influence of three hundred industrious, simple, honest
farmers and artificers has already made its mark upon the surrounding
Arab population, who have adopted their improved methods of agriculture,
and whose own industries have received a stimulus which bids fair to
make Haifa one of the most prosperous towns on the coast. Already, since
the advent of the Germans, the native population has largely increased.
New stone houses have sprung up in all directions, and many are in
course of construction. The value of land has increased threefold, and
the statistics of the port show a large increase in the exports and
imports. Perhaps the most remarkable innovation is the introduction of
wheeled vehicles. Fifteen years ago a cart had never been seen by the
inhabitants of Haifa. Omnibuses, owned and driven by natives, now run
four or five times a day between Haifa and Acre, the capital of the
province, distant about ten miles. It is true that the road is the
smooth sea beach, and that its excellence varies according to the state
of the tide, but in this country carts come before roads, and
fortunately its topographical features have been favourable to the
employment of wheeled vehicles. On one side of Carmel, extending
southward, is the plain of Sharon, and over this one may drive to Jaffa
without the necessity of road-making, so level and free from natural
obstacle is it. On the other we may cross with equal ease the plain of
Esdraelon to the Sea of Tiberias—the experiment having been made
recently—and a road has been constructed to Nazareth, distant about
twenty-two miles. This involved an expenditure on the part of the
colonists of about one thousand dollars. It is used largely by the
Arabs, who have contributed nothing towards it; but the effect on their
minds, as they drive over it in their own carts, and remember that they
owe both cart and road to the colonists, whom at first they mistrusted
and disliked, is a sound moral investment, and bears its fruit in many
ways.

Fifteen years ago no one could venture outside the town gates to the
westward after nightfall, for fear of being waylaid and robbed by the
lawless inhabitants of Tireh—a village noted for its bad character,
about seven miles distant—who used to come marauding up to the outskirts
of Haifa. Now one can ride and walk with safety in all directions and at
all hours. The Germans have most of them learned to talk Arabic, and
many an Arab that one meets salutes you with a _guten morgen_ or _guten
abend_, though that is probably the limit of their linguistic
accomplishments; but they respect and like the colonists, and a good
deal of land is now cultivated on shares by Germans and Arabs, who seem
to arrange their business and agricultural operations to their mutual
satisfaction and in perfect harmony. When we remember that the Carmelite
monks have held the mountain for seven hundred years, and compare their
influence over the native population with that which these honest
Germans have acquired by simple example during less than fifteen, we
have a striking illustration of the superiority of practice to
preaching, for it should be remarked that any attempt at proselytism is
entirely foreign to their principles. Their whole effort has been to
commend their Christianity by scrupulous honesty in their dealings, by
the harmony and simplicity of their conduct, and by the active industry
of their lives.


                   THE TEMPLE COLONIES IN PALESTINE.

Haifa, Jan. 20, 1883.—In a former letter I gave you a sketch of the
origin of the Temple Society and of the religious motives which have led
to the establishment of four agricultural colonies in the Holy Land by
emigrants from Germany, America, Russia, and Switzerland. As I have
taken up my winter residence in the principal one of these, situated
beneath the shadow of Mount Carmel, some description of the place and
its resources may not be without interest for your readers. I know of no
locality in the East which offers greater attractions of position,
climate, and association than this spot. Thanks to the efforts of the
colonists, it has become an oasis of civilization in the wilderness of
Oriental barbarism, where the invalid in search of health, or the
tourist on the lookout for a comfortable resting-place on his travels,
will find good accommodation, and all the necessaries, if not the
luxuries, of civilized life.

Throughout the whole length of the coast of Palestine from Tyre to Gaza,
only one deep indentation occurs. This is where it sweeps in a curve
around the old fortress of St. Jean d'Acre, and terminates in the
projecting precipice upon whose ledge the monastery of Carmel is
situated. The bay thus formed is nine miles across from Acre to Carmel,
and about four miles broad. It is bordered the whole distance by a
smooth, hard beach, at the southeastern and most sheltered extremity of
which is situated the town of Haifa, a modern native town, squeezed in
between an overhanging bluff, on which are the ruins of an old castle,
and the sea. It owes its origin to the arbitrary act of a pacha who,
about a century ago, had rendered himself quasi-independent of the
Porte, and established the seat of his government at Acre. The
population of old Haifa, situated near the point, having rebelled
against him, he punished them by razing it to the ground, and
transported the inhabitants to the edge of the bay under the rock, on
which he put a castle, while he surrounded them with a wall, thus
keeping them prisoners. When he died, his successor was suppressed, the
garrison of the castle was removed, and the wall was allowed to fall
into disrepair. The inhabitants, who thus were restored to liberty,
accustomed to their new location, began to cultivate the surrounding
land and to increase in wealth and prosperity. Their gardens spread to
the eastward, where the brook Kishon, winding through a fertile plain,
struggles to debouch into the sea, but only succeeds at certain seasons,
owing to the huge sand-bars which form at its month. These dam it back
into small lakes, which are surrounded by date-groves, thus forming a
most agreeable feature in the scenery. Behind the plain rises the low,
wooded range which is traversed by the road leading to Nazareth.

Though Haifa is comparatively modern, there are some traces of old ruins
in the town, the walls of an old crusading castle, one or two caverns,
which bear marks of having been inhabited in the rocks immediately
behind them, and the crumbling remains of an archway, dating, probably,
from a period anterior to the crusades. Prior to the arrival of the
colonists of the Temple Society, Haifa was as dirty as most Arab
villages. It is now well paved throughout. The houses, all constructed
of white limestone, quarries of which abound in the immediate vicinity,
give it a clean and substantial appearance, and contain a bustling and
thriving population of about six thousand inhabitants. Under the high
cactus hedges at its eastern gateway are usually to be seen, squatting
amid sacks of grain, hundreds of camels, which, attended by wild-looking
Arabs, have arrived with their loads of cereals from the Hauran, on the
other side of the Jordan; for Haifa is gradually becoming one of the
great grain-exporting ports of the country, and one or two steamers are
generally to be seen loading in the harbour.

Leaving the town by the western gateway, we ride for about a mile
parallel to the seashore between high cactus hedges, and suddenly find
ourselves apparently transported into the heart of Europe. Running
straight back from the beach for about half a mile, and sloping upward
for about a hundred feet in that distance, to the base of the rocky
sides of Carmel, runs the village street. On each side of it is a
path-way, with a double row of shade-trees, and behind them a series of
white stone houses, of one and two stories, generally with tiled roofs,
each surrounded with its garden, and each with a text in German engraved
over the doorway. There is another, smaller, parallel street. The whole
settlement contains about sixty houses and three hundred inhabitants.
The English, American, and German vice-consuls are all colonists. There
is a skilled physician, an architect, and engineer in the colony, an
excellent hotel, a school, and meeting-house. The German government
subscribes two thirds and the colonists one third of the funds required
for the school. Some of the colonists are in business, and have stores
in Haifa. There is also a good store in the colony, where all the most
important trades are represented. There is one wind grist, and one steam
mill, the latter in process of erection. There is a manufactory of
olive-oil soap, the export of which to America is yearly increasing, and
now amounts to 50,000 pounds, and which may be purchased in New York by
such of your readers as have a fancy to wash their hands with soap
direct from the Holy Land, made from the oil of the olives of Carmel, at
F. B. Nichols's, 62 William Street. There is also a factory for the
manufacture of articles from olive wood.

Where Carmel rises abruptly from the upper end of the street, its rocky
sides have been terraced to the summit, and about a hundred acres are
devoted to the cultivation of the vine. Unfortunately, the varieties
which have been imported from Germany all suffer severely from mildew. I
have therefore sent to the United States for Concords and some of the
hardier American varieties. Along the lower slopes are thick groves of
olives. Scarped along the rugged mountain-side leads the road to the
monastery, distant about a mile and a half. Situated about five hundred
feet above the sea, it forms a conspicuous object in the landscape as
seen from the colony.

The views from the house in which I am living are a never-ending source
of delight. To the east I look over the native town and harbour, with
the date-groves and the plain of the Kishon beyond, backed by the wooded
range which separates it from the plain of Esdraelon. To the northeast
the eye rests on the picturesque outline of the mountains of northern
Palestine, with the rounded top of Jebel Jernink rising to a height of
4000 feet in the middle distance, and snow-clad Hermon towering behind
to a height of 9000 feet. Immediately to the north, across the blue
waters of the bay, the white walls and minarets of Acre rise from the
margin of the sea, and beyond it the coastline, terminating in the white
projecting cliff known as “The Ladder of Tyre.” To the northwestward we
look across a plain about a mile wide, containing the colony lands, and
beyond is the sea horizon, till we turn sufficiently to meet Carmel
bluff and monastery. Behind us the mountain rises precipitously,
throwing us at this time of the year into shade by three in the
afternoon. But even on New-Year's Day we do not grudge the early absence
of the sun, for as I write the thermometer is standing at 66° in the
shade. It is not, however, the features of the scenery which constitute
its chief beauty, but the wonderful variations of light and shade, and
the atmospheric effects peculiar to the climate, which invest it with a
special charm. On the plain to the west of the colony, which is bounded
on two sides by the sea, on one by the mountain, and on one by the
colony, are the traces of the old town of Haifa, mentioned in the
Talmud, but not in the Bible, which was besieged and taken by storm by
Tancred, the crusader, in 1100, with a massive ruin of sea-wall and
other remains, from which I have already dug out fragments of glass and
pottery. Behind are the almost obliterated remains of an old fort, with
here and there a piece of limestone cropping up, bearing the marks of
man's handiwork.

Everywhere in Palestine we come upon the evidences of its antiquity.
This plain, now made to yield of its abundance under the skilful labour
of the German colonists, is no exception, for in the time of the Romans
it was the site of the city of Sycaminum, and in the groovings of rocks
upon which the sea now breaks we see the traces of what were its baths;
in the mounds we find fragments of old masonry and cement; in the
depressions we see signs of wells, and in the rock cuttings of tombs.
Only the other day I found, while digging in the garden for the prosaic
purpose of planting cabbages, a fragment of polished agate which
probably formed a part of the tessellated pavement of some Roman villa.

So the process of decay and reconstruction goes on, and man is ever
trying to rear something new on the ruins of the old. Let us hope that
the sixty or seventy substantial houses of the new colony are but the
outward and visible signs of that moral edifice which these good people
have come to Palestine to erect, and that from the ruins of a crumbling
ecclesiasticism they may build a temple worthy the worship of the
future.


                        EXPLORING MOUNT CARMEL.

Haifa, Feb. 7.—It was my fate as a child to live in a country-house in
Scotland, of which one half was some centuries old, with stone walls
several feet thick, and circular stone steps leading up into a
mysterious tower, which was supposed to be haunted, and in which it was
rumoured that a secret chamber existed, built in the wall, and I
remember perfectly that certain places seemed to sound hollow to blows
of a crowbar, which as I got older, I used to apply to suspected
localities. It is more years than I care to think of since those days,
but I can trace a resemblance to that childish feeling in the sensations
by which I am animated when I wander over the gloomiest recesses of
Carmel alone in search of caverns.

It is called in some ancient Jewish record “the mountain of the thousand
caves,” and has been inhabited from time immemorial by hermits and
religious devotees. Independently of the Biblical record, we have
historical traces of its holy character. According to the most ancient
Persian traditions, sacred fire burned at the extreme western point of
Carmel. Suetonius speaks of the oracles of the god of Carmel, and
Alexander the Great repeats the saying. The Syrian city, Ecbatana,
alluded to by Pliny, was situated on this mountain. Pythagoras lived
here in retreat for some time because it had a reputation for superior
sanctity, but Strabo mentions the caves as being haunts of pirates. They
were doubtless used as places of refuge for bad characters, as well as
of seclusion for pious ones. Others were used for tombs, others for
crusaders' sentry-boxes, and now they are the retreat of flocks and
herds, and in some instances storehouses for grain.

Those, however, thus utilized are comparatively few in number; I believe
many to be unknown even to the natives, while others are invested by
them with a mysterious character, and their dimensions are probably
exaggerated. I have received accounts of some, which I hope to visit,
which are said to extend beyond any known exploration, of others which
bear traces of carving and inscriptions, but nothing can be more
uncertain or unsatisfactory than native accounts upon all matters where
definite information is required. I have tried exploring with guides and
exploring alone, and have been almost as successful one way as the
other.

One of my first visits was to a ruin which I had observed crowning a
summit of the range, but which was only visible from certain points, so
shut in was it by the intervening mountain-tops. I started on horseback,
determined to find my way alone, and struck into a valley where the
narrow path followed a ledge of limestone rock, often not more than two
feet wide. I soon found myself diving into a sombre gorge, the
precipitous sides of which rose abruptly from the bed of the winter
torrent. As I proceeded it became more and more uncanny; the path was so
narrow I could no longer venture to risk my horse's footing, as a slip
would have involved a fall of at least two hundred feet. My ruin
disappeared, and my gorge seemed to trend away from it, the sun sank
behind the range, and the deep gloom of the solitary valley, hemmed in
on all sides by terraces of limestone, with here and there a fissure
indicating some cavernous recess, was becoming depressing.

I tried to turn, but the ledge was too narrow, so I was obliged to creep
cautiously on in the wrong direction. I began now rather to fear lest I
should meet some one, not merely because passing would have been
impossible, but because the spot was eminently well calculated for an
act of violence, and, while I always go about unarmed, I find that my
neighbours seldom go out riding alone without carrying revolvers. The
aspect of a wild-looking Arab, with a gun slung behind him, suddenly
turning a corner and coming straight towards me, was, under these
circumstances, not reassuring. Fortunately, at the moment I saw him I
had reached a spot where a huge rock had been displaced, and had left a
vacant space large enough to enable me to turn comfortably, and I
retraced my steps, amply repaid for my failure in not reaching the ruin,
by the solemn grandeur of the part of the mountain into which I had been
penetrating, and by finding my Arab, when he overtook me, to be a
communicative and harmless individual, who was on his way home from a
cave in which he stored his grain, and which he assured me I should have
reached if I had continued a few hundred yards farther. Beyond this, he
said, the path led nowhere.

My next attempt was made with a friend who knew the way, and who led me
along a corresponding ledge upon the opposite side of the valley, into a
side gorge, which we followed past a wall of rock, in which were two or
three small caverns, which I entered, the largest not more than twelve
or fourteen feet square, and showing no signs of having been inhabited.
A huge rock detached from the mountain-side, and hollowed into a sort of
gallery, is so celebrated among the natives that it has a name of its
own. Just behind it we turned to scramble almost straight up the
mountain-side, covered with a scrub composed of camelthorn, odoriferous
thyme, sage, marjoram, and arbutus, and then found we were at the foot
of seven clearly defined terraces, completely encircling the rounded
hill, upon the top of which stood the crumbling walls of an old fort,
and which formed portions of its defences. On one of these stood a
shepherd's hut, and inside the enclosure made of bushes was the entrance
to a cavern, about thirty yards long, four feet high, and twenty or
thirty feet across. In it, when they were not out feeding, the shepherd
kept his flock of long-eared goats.

Ascending to the ruin, I found it to consist of the remains of what had
evidently been a fort, the walls of which, enclosing a space of about
sixty yards long by forty broad, were standing to a height of eight or
ten feet, and were composed of blocks of limestone. At one angle a
portion of the fortress had at a later period been converted into a
church, the apse, with its arches, being in a tolerable state of
preservation. The name of this ruin is Rushmea, and according to the
most reliable sources of information to which I have had access, it was
used by Saladin to watch the progress of the siege of Acre when that
place was held by the crusaders. Prior to the crusades and the formation
of the order of the Carmelite monks, the mountain was inhabited by
anchorites, some of whom claimed to have inherited the sacred character
of Elijah and Elisha. For some time seven of them seem to have divided
the claim between them, and one of them is reported to have lived in a
cave at Rushmea, which is said to contain carving and inscriptions. It
was for this cave I was especially in search; but though I have visited
the locality three times in all, twice with guides, and have found some
seven or eight caves, one of which had a carved limestone entrance, none
of them seemed of sufficient importance to answer the traditional
description. A magnificent view is obtained from the ruin over the Bay
of Acre, with the town in the distance and the plain of Kishon beneath,
and plainly visible the famous well for the possession of which Saladin
and Richard Cœur de Lion fought. I have visited this celebrated source,
with its massive masonry and crumbling cistern, in the centre of which
there is now a flourishing fig-tree. During the siege which Haifa then
withstood, the town was completely destroyed, so that the crusading army
had to remain in tents, and here it was that the lion-hearted king
caught that severe fever which gave rise to reports of his death, and
which resulted in his remaining for four weeks at Haifa to recover his
health. That plain is as unhealthy now as it was then, and the
date-groves, which are its most striking feature, must have existed
then, for they are mentioned in the records of the year 1230, when King
Amalrich II. died of a surfeit of sea-fish, for which the place is
celebrated.

To return to Rushmea. The whole hill-top is covered with the traces of
remains far anterior to the ruins of crusading times. Everywhere we come
upon the solid limestone foundations of what must have been large
buildings; there are flights of steps hewn in the rock, large square
cuttings from which blocks have been taken, places where circular holes
have been drilled, grooves, niches, and excavations. On a plateau about
a hundred yards to the west is a series of massive stone arches in a
very fair state of preservation. I found the elevation of Rushmea, by my
aneroid, to be as nearly as possible seven hundred feet above the sea.
In a valley behind it, and a hundred feet below it, are a dozen
olive-trees of immense age, and near them a celebrated spring, called
the Well of Elisha. It is not above twelve feet deep, and, on descending
into it, I found that it was in fact not a spring, but a subterranean
stream which enters a receptacle formed for it in the rock, from a cave
at the side, and from which it disappears again. Instead of returning
from Rushmea by the way I had come, I pushed up to the head of the
valley in which the spring is situated. On two of the hills which rise
from it I found terraces and the foundations of stone edifices. Indeed,
wherever one wanders in Carmel, one is apt to stumble upon these
substantial records of its bygone history. As the mountain is about
thirteen miles long and nine miles wide at its southeastern extremity,
and as every valley and hillside and plateau has at one time or other
been inhabited, and as many of these remain still to be explored for the
first time, there is abundant field for investigation, and it is
impossible to take a ride or a scramble in any direction without coming
upon some object of interest. Nor is it possible to lose one's way when
alone, except to a limited extent, for the nearest hill-top, if you can
get to it, is sure to let you know where you are.

Thus leaving Rushmea without a guide, and soon without a path, I pushed
through the scrub, now dismounting and driving my horse before me, now
forcing him, much to his discomfort, through the prickly bushes. Even at
this time of year the hills are bright with scarlet anemones, and the
delicate pink or white cyclamen, and fragrant with aromatic odours as we
crush through the shrubs. Suddenly I came upon the foundations of a
wall, which I followed for about a hundred yards, and which was about
four feet in thickness. Near it, half hidden by the bushes, was a
circular block of limestone about five feet high and the same in
diameter, in the centre of which had been drilled a hole. It looked like
the section of some gigantic column such as we see in some of the
temples of Upper Egypt; but it stood alone, and I fail to imagine its
design. Possibly it may have been used for sacrificial purposes. Shortly
after I found myself on a high, level plateau, where the soil was so
excellent, and the rocks had so far disappeared, that it would do
admirably for farming purposes. It seemed to extend over some hundreds
of acres. Formerly, the whole of these fertile tracts of Carmel were
covered with magnificent forests—even in the memory of man—but of late
years the demand for charcoal has so much increased that the mountain
has been almost completely denuded of trees, and although a strict order
has been issued by the government against the felling of timber, it
still continues, and, thanks to the system of backsheesh, the export of
charcoal from Haifa last year exceeded that of any previous year.
Keeping westward by my compass I soon after struck a path, and finally
dropped down upon the German colony near Haifa, after a day's ramble
through the most delightful scenery, every step of which was replete
with historical association and antiquarian interest.


                       THE VALLEY OF THE MARTYRS.

Haifa, Feb. 12.—A more thorough examination of the rocky hillsides of
the Carmel promontory in the vicinity of the celebrated monastery than I
have been hitherto able to give it, has revealed many spots of interest,
and one in particular, which seems to have escaped the observation of
the Palestine Exploration Fund Survey. About two miles and a half from
Haifa the road to Jaffa passes between a projecting spur of the range
and a mound about a hundred feet high, which formed the centre of the
ancient city of Sycaminum, and which probably conceals some interesting
remains, which I hope some day to be able to unearth.

It projects out into the sea, and on the flat rocks at its base, over
which the waves break in stormy weather, there is a large circular bath
excavated by the Romans, about twenty feet in circumference, with a
channel cut through the rock, which admits the rising tide. All round
this mound are fragments of columns, carved capitals, and blocks of
polished marble, some of the lightest of which I have carried away; but
it is upon the unknown contents of the mound itself that my imagination
is prone to speculate. On the left of the road are caverns and rock-cut
tombs, some containing the remains of loculi; and the surface of the
smooth limestone rock leaves traces of ancient steps, and cuttings,
showing that in old times the hand of man had been actively employed
upon it. I had often examined these, and thought I had reached their
limit, when, pushing my exploration farther up the steep hillside a few
days ago, through the low brush by which it is covered, I unexpectedly
came upon a plateau eight or ten acres in area, and about two hundred
feet above the level of the sea, covered with the débris of ancient
ruins. It was evidently the upper part of the old city of Sycaminum, and
commanded a magnificent view of the coast-line southward, and of what
was formerly the lower town, which has heretofore been supposed to be
all that there was of the city.

This upper town, from its cool and delightful position, was probably the
residence of the wealthier inhabitants; here, too, were fragments of
marble columns and carved capitals, and conspicuous among them two
gigantic old olive millstones, one about eight feet in diameter and two
feet thick, and the other of less diameter, but of more than three feet
in thickness. There were, moreover, many rock tombs with loculi, the
foundations of ancient walls of immense thickness, and here and there
fragments of the wall itself standing, in one place to a height of about
five feet. But the most interesting find was a triangular piece of
marble, on which was an inscription in a character which may possibly be
ancient Syriac. It is certainly not Greek, Roman, or Hebrew, though at
the first glance I thought it was the former. Unfortunately, the stone
has been cut since the inscription was engraved, and there are only a
few letters of each word, one below the other, but it was evidently
originally a long one, consisting of many lines. I also discovered here
a cistern, with four circular apertures; causing myself to be lowered
into it, I found it to be seventy feet long, supported by four pillars
hewn from the living rock, lined with cement, and twenty feet high, from
the débris with which it was partially choked. Altogether the place is
well worth a fuller and more careful investigation, which I hope to give
it.

About an hour's ride further south is an interesting spot called the
Valley of the Martyrs, which, though rarely visited, is well worth an
excursion, not merely on account of its peculiar geological features and
its great scenic attractions, but from the historical associations which
attach to it. It was towards the close of the twelfth century that
Father Brocard was elected vicar-general of the order “of the Blessed
Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel,” whose sanctuary had been long established
upon the mountain, though the members of the order had their homes in
its numerous caverns, resorting to the shrine only for purposes of
worship, while they lived as scattered ascetics in the surrounding
valleys. Father Brocard conceived the idea of collecting them in a
monastery, and placing them under certain fixed regulations, which have
ever since been the rules of the order, and which were sanctioned in
A.D. 1207 by Saint Albert, Patriarch at Jerusalem, Pope's Legate, and
then resident at Acre.

It was in this gorge, which subsequently became known as the Valley of
the Martyrs, that Father Brocard decided to build the first monastery,
attracted thither, probably, by its beauty of situation and the
copiousness of its springs, one of which is called after Elijah, as
tradition has it that the inhabitants in his time complained of a lack
of water, and he touched the rock and caused the present stream to gush
forth. It wells up from under the limestone rock, and flows through a
channel cut for it, for a few yards, into a basin hollowed out of the
solid rock, about twelve feet square and six feet deep; from here it
flows down the narrow gorge, and speedily expends itself in fertilizing
some small gardens of figs, oranges, and pomegranates, which are wedged
in between the rocky hillsides, and are tended by one or two poor
families who live in caves. These gardens are now claimed by the present
monastery, but there seems much doubt as to the validity of their title.

It is safer to dismount after passing this spring, as we now have to
cross the smooth surface of the limestone rock as we follow the steep
path that leads up to the ruin of the old monastery, the position of
which is indicated by the remains of an enormous wall which nearly
reaches across the gorge, looking from below like some huge dam, and
which must have concealed the monastery itself from public gaze, except
from the hills above. We are now struck by the extraordinary
petrifactions over which we are passing. The path is worn deep by
centuries into the soft limestone, in the sides of which appear layers
of petrified twigs and branches of the bushes of a bygone period. They
are perfectly white, except where fractures exhibit the black flint
core; but in some instances the form of the branch is perfect with all
its twigs. Passing under the projecting buttress of the dam-like wall,
we suddenly open on a terrace covered with vines and fruit-trees on one
side, and find ourselves at the mouth of a large cave on the other.
Entering this, if we are willing to brave the fleas—for, as it is
generally inhabited by an Arab family, they abound—we find that we are
in a spacious apartment supported by a column of solid rock, while all
around are mangers for horses, cut out of the stone. Of these we count
fourteen, which will give some idea of the size of the cave. Probably in
crusading times it was a cavalry outpost, affording, from its strong
natural position and proximity to the plain of Sharon, a splendid point
of vantage from which to pounce upon an unsuspecting enemy.

Ascending from the cave by some steps to the terrace, we come
unexpectedly upon a delicious spring overshadowed by spreading
fig-trees, which fills with crystal water a basin that has been hollowed
out of the overhanging rock; from this it trickles into another
stone-cut reservoir, from whence it is led by a stone channel, hollowed
by the monks, to the monastery itself, one small room of which is still
standing. The rock rises perpendicularly behind, and is scooped here and
there into recesses, which were formerly, doubtless, the cells of monks,
while the cool shade of spreading fruit-trees, the beauty of the view,
the presence of running water, and the ever-blowing southwest wind, of
which they got the full benefit, must have modified to a considerable
extent the austerities of their existence.

There came a day, however, when their peaceful solitude was rudely
disturbed. In 1238 the Saracens came upon them unexpectedly, and
massacred them all, not leaving one to tell the bloody tale. There seems
to be no record of the actual number who fell victims upon this
occasion, but they must have been very numerous, as the Monastery of St.
Brocard had become a refuge for monks from all parts of Palestine, who
fled hither to escape the persecution to which they were being subjected
in other parts of the country. Not content with putting them to death,
the Saracens dragged their bodies down to the Spring of Elijah, and
flung them into the square reservoir there, which I have already
described. According to the pious chronicler of this tragic event, the
spring immediately refused to flow, and when the Christians of Acre,
hearing the news, came to bury their coreligionists, they found it dry.
When they had completed their melancholy task, they prayed that the
water might commence to run once more, which it immediately did, and has
never ceased since.

The result of this tragedy was the practical expulsion of the order of
the Carmelites from Palestine. The Monastery of St. Brocard, after its
short-lived existence, fell into ruins, and more than four hundred years
elapsed before the order once more secured a footing on Mount Carmel,
and built a monastery upon it at the end of the promontory, which served
as a hospital for the French soldiers during Napoleon's occupation of
this part of the country. His hurried evacuation of Palestine involved
the destruction of the monastery and the massacre of all the wounded, to
whose memory a monument has since been erected in the garden attached to
the present edifice. But there can be no doubt that both for
picturesqueness and historical association the old ruin of the Monastery
of Saint Brocard, which altogether escapes the attention of the tourist
and the pilgrim, is far more interesting than the modern monastery,
which is not fifty years old, and which is about two miles distant from
this old site.

On the top of the hill above the ruins of the Monastery of St. Brocard
is a plateau, called the Garden of Elijah, or the field of melons, which
is abundantly strewn with geodes, or fragments of calcareous stone,
having all the shape and appearance in many cases of petrified fruit,
the crystallization of the centres when they are split open having
confirmed this idea, thus doubtless giving rise to the legend that
Elijah on one occasion, passing through the gardens which were once
situated here, asked the proprietor for some fruit. He replied, not
wishing to comply with the request, that they were stones, on which the
prophet, apparently in a fit of temper, said, “Well, stones let them
remain,” and stones they have remained ever since. I found some curious
specimens so like small melons that one can well understand how this
fable may have originated among an ignorant population.


                THE ROCK-HEWN CEMETERY OF SHEIK ABREIK.

Nazareth, Feb. 18.—There is a low range of hills, about five hundred
feet above the sea-level, half-way between Haifa and Nazareth. It is
beautifully timbered with oak-trees, and cut up into the most charming
valleys. Running almost due north and south, it divides the plain of
Esdraelon from that of Acre. Its southern extremity, terminating
abruptly, forms a small gorge with the Carmel range, through which the
Kishon forces its way to the sea. It was during a heavy rain-storm a
week ago that I approached the ford of this river from Haifa. It was not
without trepidation, for the stream had been so swollen by recent rains
that communication with the interior had been interrupted. It was
doubtful whether the passage of this river, which almost dries up in
summer, would not involve a ducking. I therefore prudently requested my
companion to precede me into the yellow, swirling stream, and although
the water came up to our saddle-bags, the horses managed to get across
without losing their footing. Then we galloped into the oak-woods. The
sun broke out from behind the clouds, and we determined to prosecute our
search for certain caves, of the existence of which we had heard, and
which, owing to the state of the weather, we had almost decided to
abandon.

Leaving the high-road to Nazareth to the right, we followed a path for
about half an hour which took us to the village of Sheik Abreik. It was
a miserable collection of mud hovels, in the muddiest of which dwelt the
sheik. After much palaver and promises of abundant backsheesh we got him
to admit the existence of the caverns of which we were in search, and
persuaded him to be our guide to them. The first was called by the Arabs
“The Cave of Hell.” Its entrance seemed to justify the ill-omened
appellation. It was a steep, sloping tunnel into the bowels of the
earth, just large enough to admit the passage of a man's body. To slide
into this feet foremost after a heavy rain involved a coating of mud
from top to toe. After going down a few yards we found a chamber in
which we could stand erect. Here we lighted our candle and looked about
us. We found that it was the first of a series of similar chambers
opening one into another. Each contained loculi, hewn out of the solid
rock. The entrances to these chambers were arched. The pilasters on each
side of the entrance were in some cases ornamented with rude sculptures
and decorated with designs in a yellow pigment. These were in the form
of curves, scrolls, and circles, and were carried over the roof. Each
chamber was about ten feet long by six feet wide, and on an average
contained three tombs or loculi, one across the chamber, facing the
entrance, and one on each side. There do not seem ever to have been lids
to these stone receptacles for the corpses.

The bodies were embalmed, wrapped in cloths, as we read in Scriptural
accounts of burials, notably in that of our Saviour. “Each in his narrow
cell forever laid,” they remained undisturbed until rude hands, ages
afterwards, “rolled away the stone from the mouth of the cave” and
rifled the contents.

Some of the entrances to the chambers had been completely filled up. In
such cases the partition wall of rock had been broken through. Some of
the chambers were larger than others, and there were two tiers of
loculi. In order to get from one chamber to another it was often
necessary to drag yourself along at full length upon the ground. In one
case the roof had been broken through into a chamber above, and this
probably led to more.

I had not time fully to explore this most curious and interesting spot.
Examinations of this sort in the middle of a long day's ride are very
fatiguing. The effort of scrambling about on all fours, or after the
fashion of the serpent, is very great, and makes you very dirty. In the
absence of a string you are haunted by the idea of not being able to
find your way back, to say nothing of the chance of sticking in one of
these narrow passages. Altogether, I entered about fifteen different
chambers, and doubtless the others did not differ in any important
particulars. I am afraid, however, that I was not the first to discover
them, but that this honour rests with Captain Conder, Royal Engineers,
of the Palestine Exploration Fund. The sheik told us he had once before
guided a foreigner to this locality, and on the next cave we visited we
found the letters R. E. scratched in red paint on the rock, which under
these circumstances can only mean Royal Engineers.

The next cave was a much more comfortable one to examine, though not
nearly so interesting. You could walk about it comfortably, but there
was no ornamentation. The chambers were larger, but there were only five
or six of them. The stone coffins had, in many instances, been
completely destroyed, but the massive stone columns, or rather blocks,
of living rock which supported the roof were finer than those in the
“Cave of Hell.” Perhaps it owed its more dilapidated condition to the
largeness of its entry, and its proximity to another huge cave which had
evidently in crusading times been converted into a Christian place of
worship. According to a rough measurement obtained by pacing it, the
nave was seventy feet by thirty, the apse eighteen by twenty-one, and
two apse-shaped transepts about twenty by eighteen; but these were very
much filled with rubbish. The height of the cave was about thirty feet.
The whole formed a subterranean church, which, in its perfect condition,
when entered from the hillside, must have presented a very imposing
appearance. On the slope of the hill, not far from this cave, was the
carved pedestal of a granite column, and near it a handsome stone
sarcophagus.

Instead of going back to the Nazareth road after finishing our
examination of this interesting spot, we made for a hill on the summit
of which we saw some large blocks of stone betokening ruins. Here we
came upon a native excavation, evidently very recent. Indeed, we heard
later that it had only been abandoned the week before. The natives
occasionally find an unopened tomb, and dig into it for treasure. It was
useless to attempt to disabuse their minds of the idea that we were
treasure-hunters. On asking them what they had found, they said, some
red glass bottles, which they had broken to discover what they
contained. They had also found three jars, one containing ashes, one
earth, and one was empty. These they had also smashed. It was enough to
make one's mouth water to hear of the destruction of these curiosities
so very recently. I implored them if they found any more not to break
them, but to bring them to me. They laughed, and promised to do so,
saying, at the same time, “They are so very old that they are not worth
anything.” This cave was evidently an important one, but the natives,
finding nothing but the glass and the jars, had blocked up the entrance
again, and I had to put off the examination of it to some future time.
On the top of the hill there were several sarcophagi, some coffins hewn
out of the living rock on the surface, with the stone lid at the side.
At one place I saw a huge stone lid about eight feet long, two feet six
inches broad at its base, and the same in height, but coming up to a
ridge, which was evidently still covering the mortal remains which had
originally been placed beneath it. The position of this I have also
marked, and propose, at some future time, to remove it by gunpowder and
see what is below.

Had it not been necessary to push on in order to reach Nazareth before
night, I would have lingered longer at these ruins, which are called
Zebda by the natives. They are worthy of a full examination. The whole
rocky summit of the hill is evidently honeycombed with cave tombs, many
of which had not yet been opened. One of these, some miles farther on
towards Nazareth, especially attracted my attention. A huge circular
stone about two feet in diameter had been rolled into the carved stone
entrance to the cave, and become tightly wedged. All the efforts of the
natives to remove it, and the marks of such efforts were visible, had
evidently been unavailing. It needed a very small charge of dynamite to
remove the obstacle which had so successfully resisted the barbarian
ingenuity of ages. This I had arranged to do, but on the day fixed for
the purpose persistent rain disappointed me. However, it is a treat in
store.

The first entrance into one of these old Jewish tomb-caverns will be an
exciting episode, but there is an amount of suspicion and jealousy on
the part of the natives which will render prudence and circumspection
necessary if any attempt of this sort is to be carried out with success.

The whole plain of Esdraelon, on the verge of which this ruin is
situated, as well as part of the hills behind, is now all owned by one
rich firm of Syrian bankers, who draw an annual income of about $200,000
a year from it. They own practically about five thousand human beings as
well, who form the population of thirty villages, which are in their
hands. I found no more potent talisman in inducing the natives to comply
with my request; than to mention the name of “Sursuk,” and imply that I
had the honour of his acquaintance. No despot exercises a more
autocratic power over the liberties or the lives of his subjects than
does this millionaire landed proprietor, who continues annually to add
to his territory till the whole of Galilee seems in danger of falling
into his hands. This part of the country, however, is at present
beginning to attract the attention of foreigners, and it is to be hoped
that before long he may find rivals in the field who will do more to
improve the condition of the peasantry, and introduce methods of
agriculture which may make them more independent of the money-lenders
who now make their profit by sucking their very life-blood.


                      EASTER AMONG THE MELCHITES.

Haifa, April 2.—The population of Haifa, which amounts to about six
thousand souls, consists, so far as religious distinctions are
concerned, of Moslems, Roman Catholics—here called “Latins”—orthodox
Greeks, and Greek Catholics, or Melchites. Of these the latter are the
most numerous. This town may be considered the stronghold of the
Melchite schismatics. They are more influential here than in any other
town in Syria. They compose two thirds of its entire population.
Originally orthodox Greek, they owe their origin to the missionary
efforts of Romish priests and Jesuits during the last two centuries. As
the object has been to gain partisans, more pains have been taken to
obtain nominal submission to the authority of the pope than any real
change of doctrine or ritual. To this day, Lazarists, Franciscans,
Carmelites, and Jesuits are active in their efforts to make proselytes
to this sect from the orthodox Greek Church. They allow them to retain
their independence of Rome in many particulars. Thus it is governed by a
patriarch at Damascus who owes allegiance to the pope. Mass is
celebrated in Arabic, they administer the sacrament in both kinds, they
retain their Oriental calendar, and their priests may be married men,
though they may not marry after ordination. They differ from the
orthodox Greek Church in this, that they take the Romanist view of the
procession of the Holy Spirit. They believe in Purgatory, they eat fish
in Lent, and acknowledge the papal supremacy. Otherwise they have made
no change in passing from one jurisdiction to the other. As perverts
they are naturally intensely hated by the orthodox Greeks, and when
disturbances take place between Moslems and Christians, the Greek
orthodox are generally to be found siding with the Moslems against Roman
Catholics and Melchites.

To this sect belong some of the wealthiest and most aristocratic
families in Syria. As the ordinary traveller is not often brought into
contact with them, I was not sorry for the opportunity which my
residence furnished me of witnessing their Easter observances. At
midnight on the Saturday preceding Easter Sunday the festival is
announced by a great consumption of gunpowder. An uproar which would do
credit to a prolonged skirmish lasts till the early mass. The Melchite
church is the largest and most imposing in Haifa. It is enclosed in a
courtyard, round one side of which runs a balcony. At an early hour on
Sunday morning the whole population turns out in its grandest attire.
The men wear short embroidered jackets, with long sleeves slashed to the
elbow, waistcoats of brilliant colours and innumerable buttons,
bright-coloured sashes, and baggy trousers. The women are in flowing
white robes, which, drawn over their heads, are held under their chins,
only partially concealing their gay head-dresses sparkling with coins,
and their low-cut vests, gaudy with gold or silver embroidery. The
children are especially subjects of decoration in costume, and strut
about in the brightest of garments, plentifully ornamented with gold
lace and flowers.

The narrow street leading to the church is tolerably crowded as we force
our way along until we suddenly meet a loud-voiced procession, the
priests, accompanied by choristers, keeping up a discordant nasal chant
as they march round the church with the image of the Saviour on a
crucifix, with red and green banners, and with swinging censers,
followed by a miscellaneous crowd, all carrying tapers. This occurs
three times. Afterwards the church square fills with a noisy crowd of
men. The windows and housetops which command a view of it are filled
with female spectators, who are not allowed to mingle freely with the
men. On the stairs leading to the housetops are clustered the tawdrily
dressed little girls, upon whom no such restriction is imposed, and
then, if I may be pardoned the expression, the religious fun may be said
to begin. It consists in letting off squibs, crackers, pistols, and guns
till the spectator is almost deafened. The men form themselves in a
circle so large that it fills the whole courtyard, each man throwing his
arms right and left round his neighbour's neck, and, lifting up his
voice in a discordant scream, which is supposed to have some musical
connection with the screams of all his neighbours. It is a dull dance,
although noisy. Everybody makes ungainly steps in time, yelling and
leering at each other in an idiotic manner, and letting off their guns
when impelled to do so by excitement. As far as I could make out, their
songs were rather of an amorous than a religious character.

When this entertainment came to an end a seedy-looking character entered
the arena with an open Bible in his hand. He proceeded up the stairs to
the open balcony, whither he was followed by the armed crowd who had
been dancing. These ranged themselves right and left beside him, and he
commenced in Arabic to read in a loud voice a chapter from the Gospel of
St. John. When he had read a certain number of verses he paused, and
about a hundred guns went off in a sort of _feu de joie_. Then he read
on, while his audience loaded their guns. Then he paused again. They
fired again, and so on all through the chapter, thus emphasizing as it
were the most striking passages by periodical explosions of gunpowder.
When this was over the church bell rang, and some priests with round,
high-crowned hats and locks flowing over their shoulders made their
appearance. I was told by a Melchite friend that there was no use in
going to church now, as everybody intended to go and get drunk and pay
visits, and indulge in more dancing of a less restrained character, but
that there would be a better mass on the following day, because the
French consul was going to attend in full uniform, and everybody would
be there.

This Easter festival lasts three days. The merriment increases and
culminates on the last day, at the expiration of which everybody has
given proof of his religious devotion by arriving at a blind state of
intoxication. When in this sanctified condition disturbances not
unfrequently occur between these Christian worshippers and the Moslems,
in whose mind Christian religious ceremonial is inseparably connected
with drunken riots and wild orgies. The Caimakam or Turkish governor of
the town, fearing that the strict observance of Easter according to
their custom on the part of the Melchites might lead to these results,
issued an order that on Easter Monday and the day following no firing
was to be allowed, but the Melchites replied to the police officer
charged with enforcing this order, that they had no intention of obeying
it. A serious difficulty might have occurred were it not for the
intervention of the English and French vice-consuls, who gave the
Melchites to understand that the Turkish authority must be respected. It
was a curious illustration of the state of Turkish administration here
that a Turkish governor should have to appeal to foreign consuls in
order to secure compliance on the part of Turkish subjects with his own
orders. When I attended mass on the following day there was no firing.
With the exception of the French consul, my friends, and myself, the
whole congregation stood. Three priests officiated at an altar unusually
tawdry, and a group of men and boys kept up a stentorian nasal chant
from first to last. They were accompanied by an orchestra of two men,
each of whom had a pair of common steel table knives, with which they
kept up a most ear-splitting clatter on the rim of a copper bowl, that
might on ordinary occasions have been used for salad. The
incense-swingers puffed fumes of incense into the faces of the French
consul and myself as being honoured guests, and a priest brought him an
open Bible to kiss, but abstained from offering it to me—on religious
grounds best known to himself. Then he painted a good many people with
holy water, using a piece of cotton put on the end of a wire. Then there
was the usual procession and elevation of the Host, and the more devout
members prostrated themselves and kissed the flagstones of the church.
The sacrament was administered, the bread and wine being mixed together
in a silver cup, which was held over an embroidered napkin stretched
between two boys, so that none of the contents fell to the ground as the
priest put the teaspoonful into the mouths of those who knelt before
him. The women did not seem to need it, as they were all bottled up in a
gallery, and could only see or be seen through a lattice-work.

The service came to an end, and the people divided to allow the French
consul, who, with his cocked hat and gold lace, had been the figurehead
of the ceremony, to march out in state. These French consuls are all
very pious men in Syria. The French government, which has been ejecting
monks and nuns and closing religious establishments, and making laws
against religious instruction in France, is very particular about the
religious principles of their representatives in Syria; as a member of
the French government recently remarked, “Religion is only useful as an
article of export.” Thus, the French consul-general at Beyrout goes to
mass on Easter Sunday with the Roman Catholics. On Easter Monday he
attends mass with the Maronites, and on Tuesday he worships with the
Melchites, thus dividing his favours equally, and patronizing with great
impartiality any heresies he may happen to come across.

As the correct thing among the Melchites after being at church is to go
and “have something to drink,” I followed the usual custom and paid a
visit to my Melchite friend's family. The ladies of his establishment,
in gorgeous attire, pressed beer and wine and raki, and sweetmeats and
cakes and coffee, upon our enfeebled digestion. We smoked narghilès, and
enlightened our minds upon Melchite manners and customs. As I passed
through the outskirts of the town on my return home, I came upon the
male Melchite population indulging in their circular dance and their
discordant chants. They continued on the following day, stimulated by a
plentiful indulgence in intoxicating liquors, thus to glorify God, and
to celebrate the resurrection of the Saviour among men.


                   THE JEWISH QUESTION IN PALESTINE.

Haifa, April 17.—The exceptional interest which, in the minds of many
people, attaches to the Jewish question in Palestine must be my excuse
for now alluding to it. Although, in consequence of the strenuous
opposition of the Turkish government, the tide of emigration into the
country has been checked, the desire of the Russian and Roumanian Jews
to escape from the persecution to which they are subjected in Europe to
the Holy Land has in no degree diminished. On the contrary, colonization
societies continue to be formed and funds collected both in Russia and
Roumania, and the English government has lately remonstrated with the
Porte on the breach of treaty which the prohibition of Jews to settle in
Palestine involves, with what success remains to be seen. The diplomatic
action of the present government of England is by no means of a robust
kind. Curiously enough, the Russian policy on this interesting question
appears to be undergoing a change. The Russian government seems disposed
to espouse in Turkey the cause of the race which it oppresses so
unmercifully at home. M. de Nelidoff, the Russian Minister at
Constantinople, has lately addressed a note to the Porte, in which he
complains that the imperial authorities at Jaffa place every possible
obstacle in the way of Jewish pilgrims from Russia who wish to disembark
there in order to proceed to Jerusalem. The Porte has replied that no
restriction whatever has been placed upon pilgrimages to the Holy City,
and that the Jews, like everybody else, are free to go there. The Porte,
however, draws attention to the imperial decree, recently published,
which strictly prohibits the provincial authorities from allowing Jews,
under any condition whatsoever, to settle in Palestine, and states that
should any Jews, in spite of such express prohibition, seek to establish
themselves there, the law of exclusion would be rigorously enforced. But
all foreigners, of any nationality whatsoever, have a treaty right to
settle in Palestine. The proof of which is that American and German
colonists have established themselves here; that a society has been
formed in Petersburg for promoting colonization in Palestine by Russian
Christian subjects. A Jew, therefore, who is a Russian subject has
manifestly as good a right to buy a piece of land in the country and
settle upon it as a Christian. At this moment the Russian Consul-General
at Beyrout is warmly espousing the cause of a Russian Jew colonist, who
forms one of a colony of twenty-five Russian and Roumanian Jew families
who have bought land and settled not far from the Lake of Tiberias. A
Moslem youth wishing to examine his revolver, which the Jew refused to
allow him to do, the weapon accidentally went off in the struggle, and
mortally wounded the Moslem. The whole Mussulman village was up in arms,
and it was only by the exercise of much tact on the part of the native
Arab Jews that a general massacre was averted. The young Jew was thrown
into prison, although it was recognized as an accident, and has been
confined in a filthy cell for more than four months. His case was warmly
taken up by the Russian authorities, and the plea of the Porte is that
he had already signed a paper declaring himself an Ottoman subject. The
Russian officials reply to this that he has since travelled under his
Russian passport, has been recognized as a Russian subject by the
authorities, and that the Arabic paper he signed was erroneously
represented to him as being only a permission from the local authority
to buy land and build a house. There the matter stands at present, and a
warm correspondence is taking place on the subject. It is significant as
showing the attitude which the Russians are assuming in the matter. The
Russian vice-consul here not long since brought some Russian immigrant
Jews on shore in spite of the remonstrances of the local authorities. It
is evident that if the Russian government adopts the policy of
encouraging Jewish immigration into Palestine, and of protecting the
immigrants when here, they will have obtained an excellent excuse for
political interference in the country. This was always the danger, and
might have been avoided by a more enlightened and far-sighted policy on
the part of the Porte. Had the Turkish government encouraged Jewish
immigration on the condition of every immigrant becoming a Turkish
subject, they would have added to the population by an industrious class
of people, who would speedily have increased its material prosperity,
while the government might have so controlled and regulated the
immigration and the colonization that there would have been nothing to
fear from it. By adopting this policy they would avoid possible
complications with foreign powers, while they would at the same time
gain the sympathy of the most enlightened among them, by affording to a
suffering and persecuted race an asylum where their presence would not
only be harmless, but in the highest degree advantageous to the Turkish
province they had chosen for their home. Of late the prospects of both
the Jewish agricultural colonies which have been established in Galilee
have improved. The assiduity and perseverance with which, in spite of
their inexperience, of the obstacles thrown in their way, and of the
hardships inseparable from settlement in a new country, they have
laboured on the soil, the progress they have made, and their prospects
for the future, all go to show that under favourable auspices colonies
of this nature cannot but succeed; and this belief has taken too firm a
hold on the Jewish mind both in Russia and Roumania for it to be lightly
abandoned. At present the pressure on the part of the Roumanian Jews to
emigrate hither is greater than in Russia, where there has been a lull
in the persecution; but unfortunately the Roumanian government has no
diplomatic agents in these parts, and is indifferent to the fate of the
Jews who leave their country. In former times the British government had
a habit of taking waifs and strays of this description under its
protection. Thus, nearly the whole Jewish community at Tiberias were
originally Russian refugees who emigrated to Palestine thirty years ago,
and applied for British protection, a privilege which Lord Palmerston
promptly granted them, and to this day they travel with British
passports, and pay five shillings a year to renew their registration,
which secures them the protection of the British consul. If any
government were philanthropic enough to adopt a similar plan now, there
would be no difficulty in these poor Roumanians entering the country and
settling here; but it is a course which naturally involves
responsibilities, and opens a door to possible complications, and in
these practical days people's sufferings, unless something is to be made
out of them, do not furnish a sufficient justification to compensate for
the amount of trouble which they might involve. Meantime the
agricultural enterprise of the Jews in Palestine has to contend not
merely with local opposition, but with the unaccountable indifference
with which their efforts in this direction are regarded, with a few
brilliant exceptions, by their Western coreligionists. At present the
seven or eight colonies which exist are all composed of Russian or
Roumanian refugees, but the best material for farmers is to be found
among those Jews who have been bred and born in the country, who are
already Turkish subjects, who speak the language, and are familiar with
all the local conditions, and who are now mendicants, subsisting on that
most pernicious institution, the Haluka, which, while it is a tax upon
the whole Jewish nation outside of Palestine, is a fruitful source of
pillage, contention, and sloth, among its recipients at Jerusalem and
Safed. Out of some seven thousand Jews resident at the latter place,
many are willing to give up all claim to the Haluka, and establish
themselves as agriculturists, if they could be assisted in the first
instance with the necessary capital. With some of these the experiment
has been tried on a small scale, and they have proved more successful
farmers in every way than the foreign immigrants, while, as they are
natives of the country and subjects of the government, the latter does
not interfere with their operations, as in the case of the foreigners.
Under these circumstances, it is a thousand pities that Western Jews do
not come to their assistance. They would confer thereby a twofold
benefit upon their race. They would assist the industry and enterprise
of their coreligionists, while they would undermine that system of
religious mendicancy which is a disgrace to any religion, and they would
deprive thereby their adversaries of the right to say, as they do now,
that the success which attends missionary efforts at proselytism is due
chiefly to the fact that Jews abroad are indifferent to the best
interests of such of their race as have chosen for their home the land
of their ancestors.


                       “HOLY PLACES” IN GALILEE.

Nazareth, May 1.—Talking the other day to a Franciscan monk on the
prospects of his religion and of the propaganda for the faith which his
order is making in these parts, he informed me that much depended upon
the restoration of “holy places,” with a view to increasing their
importance and popularity, for practically the most effective agent for
the conversion of infidels is hard cash, and the increase of expenditure
means the increase of converts. Of course he did not put it in this
undisguised language, but it is distinctly a great pecuniary advantage
to a native village that it should become a centre of religious
attraction to pilgrims and tourists, and that money should be spent in
building churches and monasteries, and otherwise civilizing remote and
outlying localities where the inhabitants would remain paupers but for
the sanctity of the spot upon which they are fortunate enough to live.
Indeed, the latter are acute enough to understand that they can
frequently make a good thing of it by the exploitation of the rivalries
of opposing creeds, and they cleverly change from one to the other, when
they perceive that it would be to their advantage to do so. Thus, not
long ago, no fewer than a hundred and twenty of the inhabitants of the
village of Kefr Kenna, situated only a few miles from this place, who
belonged to the orthodox Greek Church, became Roman Catholics, and as a
reward for this proof of their spiritual intelligence a Franciscan
monastery is now in process of construction. The small village is
deriving no little profit in consequence, to say nothing of the fact
that it will draw pilgrims to visit the historic locality now that they
will be received there by the holy fathers. For both the Greek and the
Catholic churches have hitherto assumed the truth of a tradition to the
effect that Kefr Kenna was the village in which the miracle took place
of the conversion of water into wine—that it is none other, indeed, than
the Cana of Galilee—and they show you the house where the marriage took
place, and the stone water-pots, to prove it. The fact that it is a
matter of great doubt whether it be Cana of Galilee at all, does not
affect the question where religious faith is concerned, but it seems a
pity that the inhabitants of Kâna el Jelil, commonly called Khurbet
Kâna, should not be put up to the fact that they are possibly the
possessors of the site of the veritable Cana, and may have got a “holy
place” worth thousands of dollars to them if turned to proper account.

I will not trouble my readers with quotations from Scewelf (A.D. 1102),
from Marinus Sanutus in the fourteenth century, from Andrichomius, and
from De Vogue and Dr. Robinson in later times, to prove that this may be
so. The fact that it is admitted by many modern geographers would be
enough for the inhabitants of Khurbet Kâna or for the Greek Church, if
they wished to revenge themselves upon their Catholic rivals. These
latter have made another still more happy hit quite lately at Sefurieh,
the ancient Sepphoris, distant about three miles from Khurbet Kâna, in
reviving there an almost forgotten “holy place.” The merit of its
discovery seems to rest with Saint Helena, who made a pilgrimage to
Palestine in the fourth century, and to whose ardent piety, vivid
imagination, and energetic exertions are due most of these traditional
spots connected with the life of Christ which attract pilgrims to the
Holy Land. On what authority she decided that a certain house in
Sepphoris—called in those days Diocæsarea—had been the abode of Joachim
and Anna, the parents of the Virgin, we are not told, nor how, upon
descending into details, she was further enabled to identify the exact
spot upon which the Virgin received the salutation of the angel; suffice
it to say that the proofs were so convincing to her devout and august
mind that she stamped it with her sanction, and a cathedral was
afterwards erected upon it. In the course of centuries this edifice
crumbled away, the site, curiously enough, became the manure and rubbish
heap of the village, and under the mound thus formed was buried nearly
all that remained of this ancient cathedral. Only the high arch of the
middle aisle and the lower ones of the side aisles still testified to
the modern tourist the ancient proportions of the edifice.

Within the last two years, however, it has occurred to the Franciscans
to make excavations here, with the view of restoring the ancient
cathedral and of renewing its fame as a holy place, for, to all good
Catholics, it must ever be a matter of the deepest interest to see where
the angel saluted the Virgin, and where her parents lived, and to press
their lips to the ancient stones thus hallowed. Moreover, an influx of
pilgrims to this point will have a threefold effect. It will bring money
to the Franciscan treasury; it will probably be the means of converting
the resident local population, who have been fanatic Moslems, but who, I
was assured by my ecclesiastical informant, had benefited so much by the
money already spent, that they were only deterred by fear, and by its
not being quite enough, from declaring their conversion to Christianity
to-morrow; and, thirdly, it would give the French government another
holy place to protect. For it is by the manufacture and protection of
holy places that republican France extends and consolidates her
influence in these parts.

It was with a view of seeing what had been done that I determined to
ride over to Sefurieh and from there take a line of my own through the
woods to the Bay of Acre, instead of returning to the coast by the
regular road across the plain of Esdraelon. Passing Cana and the
Christian village of Reineh, where there is an old well with a
sculptured sarcophagus, we leave to our right a Moslem “holy place,”
called Mashad, where there is a conspicuous wely, or Moslem shrine. This
spot Moslem as well as Christian tradition declares to be the tomb of
Jonah. This tradition is based on the fact that the prophet is said in
the Bible to be of Gath-Hepher—and this site is pretty well identified
with that of the modern Mashad. There can be little doubt that these
Moslem welies are the modern representatives of those “high places”
which the ancient Jews were so constantly punished for erecting. They
seem, indeed, to differ in no very marked degree from the “holy places”
of the present day.

In an hour more we are galloping up the grassy slope on the side of
which are the mud hovels of the modern population, whose conversion is
so imminent, and the summit of which is crowned with the picturesque
ruins of a crusading castle, reared upon foundations which are evidently
of a far anterior date. This building is about fifty feet square, and
from the top, which we reach by a dilapidated stair, we have a
magnificent view of the surrounding country, the Buttauf, formerly the
plain of Zebulon, at our feet—at this time of year a sheet of water—with
the high range of the Jebel Safed behind, and bounding the horizon
westward the sea-line of the Bay of Acre, with the wooded hills, through
which lies my proposed route, intervening. On the side of the hill near
the village is the church in process of restoration, and in the
courtyard which has been recently built in front of it, where the
rubbish mound lately stood, are no less than a dozen syenite columns,
some standing to a height of twelve or fifteen feet, some prostrate,
while their capitals and entablatures are strewn around. A small chapel
has been fitted up in one of the side aisles, where a priest from
Nazareth comes every Sunday to perform mass to the Arab and his wife who
are left in charge during the week, and who at present form the whole
congregation. The priest told me that many more handsome columns were in
a subterranean part of the church which had recently been discovered,
but which I could not visit, on account of débris. He also pointed out
the fact that the pillars which supported the arches were divided into
five sections, so built that they might actually enclose the ancient
walls of the house of Joachim and Anna.

What renders this excavation interesting is, that as Sepphoris was, at
the time of Christ, the principal Roman city and fortress of Galilee,
some relics of a date anterior to that of the church itself may very
likely be discovered. The former importance of the town may be fairly
estimated by the extent of its ancient rock cemetery, which lies about a
mile to the eastward, and which I visited. Here abound caves with loculi
for the dead, sarcophagi, either cut into the living rock, with their
stone lids still upon them, or else detached and strewn like huge
water-troughs over the rocky area, immense cisterns, and rock-cut steps,
and a quarter of a mile distant is a wonderful work of Roman engineering
skill in the shape of an aqueduct many miles long, which supplied the
citadel with water, which it is supposed continues to Sheik Abreik, a
distance of ten miles, and which here tunnels through the hill for a
quarter of a mile. The roof has in places fallen in, and exposes to view
the canal itself, which is about twenty feet deep, with sides
beautifully cemented. This subterranean aqueduct has only been recently
discovered by the Palestine Exploration Fund Survey, and is quite
unknown to tourists, though the whole place is well worth visiting.

Leaving it with regret, for it required a longer examination than I was
able to give it, I struck off past the lovely springs of Sefurieh, where
a copious stream gushes out full-blown from its source, to fertilize a
valley rich with olive and fig gardens—a spot celebrated in crusading
annals as the scene of many skirmishes, in some of which Richard Cœur de
Lion distinguished himself so much that his name is still handed down in
tradition among the natives. Crossing wooded hills, we find that every
step opens new surprises upon us of scenery and of discovery, for these
wild forest recesses have never been thoroughly explored. First we came
upon a group of prostrate columns on which we found inscriptions, so
worn, however, that we were unable to decipher them, but the native who
was with us told us that the clump of old trees which overhung them bore
the name of “Trees of the Bridegroom,” suggestive of Baal-worship and a
holy place of antiquity. Then we examined two hill-tops covered with
cave tombs, and strewn with massive and overgrown remains hitherto
undiscovered. One of these was called Jissy and the other Hamitz. The
largest of the caves contained three chambers with loculi. The entrances
were carved. Not far from them I found another group of columns, and on
them managed to trace the letters IMP. AVR., evidently standing for
Imperator Aurelian, which would make them date from the third century
after Christ. So, winding through rocky, wooded dells, we reached
Bethlehem of Galilee, the modern Beit Lahm, where there were the remains
of an ancient subterranean aqueduct or sarcophagus and the fragment of a
column, and on through more glassy glades, finding our way by instinct,
for we were without a guide; but we had a better chance of stumbling
upon undiscovered ruins this way, and whatever path we followed was sure
in the end to lead us somewhere; moreover, the view guided us from the
hill-tops, and our compass when we were in the valleys. I quite
regretted when at last we suddenly emerged from these old oak
woods—alas! so rapidly being destroyed by the charcoal burners—and found
ourselves on the edge of a hill overlooking the plain of the Kishon,
across which a rapid ride of three hours brought us to our journey's
end, and completed one of the most delightful rides it has ever been my
fortune to make in this country.


                         PROGRESS IN PALESTINE.

Haifa, May 16.—Considering the number of tourists, both American and
English, who annually visit the Holy Land, I have been much struck with
the erroneous impression which still continues to prevail in regard to
its availability as a field of colonization, and as an opening for
foreign enterprise and capital.

For some time past a discussion has been taking place in the Jewish
papers on both sides of the Atlantic, in which the merits of Palestine
from this point of view have been canvassed, and I can only account for
the extraordinary inaccuracies which have characterized the arguments of
the disputants, by the supposition that they have derived their
information from sources which, owing to the changes which have taken
place in the country during the last few years, may now be considered
obsolete.

Readers will be surprised to learn that almost every acre of the plain
of Esdraelon is at this moment in the highest state of cultivation; that
it is perfectly safe to ride across it unarmed in any direction, as I
can testify; that, so far from plundering and despoiling villages, the
few Bedouins, whose “black tabernacles” are now confined to the southern
margin of the plain, have, in their turn, become the plundered and
despoiled, for they are all reduced to the position of being subject to
inexorable landlords, who charge them exorbitantly for the land which
they occupy, and for which they pay in hard cash, under penalty of
instant ejection, which is ruthlessly enforced, so that the inhabitants
of the villages, with which the plain is now dotted, live in perfect
security, though more than twenty years have elapsed since it was
predicted that “in ten years more there will not be an inhabited village
in Esdraelon.” It looks to-day like a huge green lake of waving wheat,
with its village-crowned mounds rising from it like islands; and it
presents one of the most striking pictures of luxuriant fertility which
it is possible to conceive.

When, therefore, I read the other day, as an argument why colonies
should not be established in this part of Galilee, a description of the
dangers which would attend any such experiment, I was amazed at the
temerity of the assertion. But as so much attention is just now devoted
to the consideration of the agricultural capabilities of Palestine, I
think it only right that the delusions which evidently continue to exist
on the subject should be dissipated with as little delay as possible.
The fact is, that nearly the whole plain of Esdraelon is divided between
two great proprietors, the Sultan himself, who has recently acquired a
great part of the eastern portion of it, and the Sursocks, the richest
bankers in Syria, who are resident in Beyrout, and who own nearly all
the villages extending from the foot of the Nazareth hills to the sea.
Some idea of the amount of the grain which is annually grown on their
portion of the plain of Esdraelon alone may be gathered from the fact
that Mr. Sursock himself told me a few weeks ago that the cost of
transporting his last year's crop to Haifa and Acre amounted to $50,000.
This was said as illustrating the necessity of a railway across the
plain, with a view of cheapening the cost of transport, as, owing to the
Sultan having property here, it has become desirable in his majesty's
interest. A concession has recently been granted to these Beyrout
capitalists for the purpose of constructing a line which shall connect
the Bay of Acre and the two ports upon it with the great grain-growing
province to the east of the Jordan, called the Hauran, from which region
thousands of camels loaded with cereals come annually to Acre and Haifa.

As I write the engineers are starting to commence the surveys of this
line, which will run right through to the centre of the plain of
Esdraelon, and open up a great extent of new country lying in the hills
behind it, which will now find an easier access to the sea, while the
whole of Galilee will benefit from so important a means of
communication. Indeed, it is a remarkable fact that while every province
in Turkey has been steadily retrograding during the last few years,
Palestine alone has been rapidly developing in agricultural and material
prosperity. In Haifa and its neighbourhood land has risen threefold in
value during the last five years, while the export and import trade has
increased with a remarkable rapidity, and the population has doubled
within ten years. Indeed, the population of the whole of Palestine shows
an increase during that period, more particularly owing to immigration
within the last year or two. The consequence is that although, so far as
security for life and property is concerned, there is still much to be
desired, great progress has been made, and with a more energetic
government the country might be rendered as safe as any in the world.

As it is, the Bedouins are being gradually pushed east of the Jordan,
and it is now becoming more and more rare for an Arab encampment to be
seen in the neighbourhood of the more settled and prosperous part of the
country. There are, of course, villages where the inhabitants have a bad
reputation, and, as a rule in the establishment of new colonies,
proximity to these should be avoided; but fertile lands, near peaceable
villages, removed from all risk of Arab incursion, and which can be
purchased at a low price, abound; and I know of no more profitable
investment of money, were the government favorable to it, whether by Jew
or Gentile, than is furnished by a judiciously selected tract of this
description. In proof of which may be cited the extraordinary wealth
which has been accumulated by the Sursocks alone, who now own thousands
of acres of the finest land in Palestine, and who purchase numerous new
villages every year.

At the same time it must be admitted that, practically, the purchase of
land in this country is attended with many difficulties. It is either
held by villages in a communal manner, or in very small patches, many of
which have several owners. In the first case the whole village, with its
lands, must be purchased, an operation involving many official
formalities, or the co-proprietors of the small patches have to agree
upon the amount of the purchase-money, and then to show a clear title
and the payment of all arrears of taxes. As a rule the purchase of any
considerable extent of land involves negotiations extending over several
months, and strangers unused to the ways of the country and the methods
by which official routine may be expedited and obstacles removed are apt
to meet with many disappointments. On the other hand, owing to official
corruption, immense tracts of land fit for cultivation, but which are
unoccupied owing to the sparseness of the population generally, may,
through favouritism and backsheesh, be obtained at an almost nominal
price.

The same erroneous impression prevails in regard to the barrenness of
the country, as in regard to its insecurity. Few travellers see more
than the beaten routes, where the hills happen to be unusually stony and
barren; but the extent of the population which once inhabited the
country furnishes the best evidence of what it is capable of supporting,
and its capacities in this respect have been most forcibly dwelt upon by
the officers engaged in the survey of the country for the Palestine
Exploration Fund, who have enjoyed unequalled opportunities of judging
upon the question. The fact that the resident Jewish agricultural
population of Galilee alone amounts to over a thousand souls, is
probably one which will astonish Western Jews more than any one else;
but I have verified it by actually visiting myself the localities in
which they are engaged in their farming operations, and am not giving
the number without having arrived at it upon sure data.

There are three prejudices which have operated against the colonization
of Palestine by Jews, and which are all absolutely unsound, and these
are, first, that the Jew cannot become an agriculturist; secondly, that
the country is barren, and, thirdly, that it is unsafe. The real
obstacle in the way to Palestine colonization does not lie in any of
these directions, but in the fact that the government is most
determinedly opposed to it.


                      THE FIRST PALESTINE RAILWAY.

Haifa, June 13.—When Thackeray foretold that the day would come when the
scream of the locomotive would awake the echoes in the Holy Land, and
the voice of the conductor be heard shouting, “Ease her, stop her! Any
passengers for Joppa?” he probably did so very much in the spirit in
which Macaulay prophesied the New-Zealander sitting on the ruins of
London Bridge, as an event in the dim future, and as a part of some
distant impending social revolution; but the realization of the
prediction is becoming imminent. The preliminary survey has just been
completed as far as the Jordan, of the Hamidié, or Acre and Damascus
Railway, which bids fair to be the first Palestine railway.

It is called the Hamidié line because it is named after his present
majesty the Sultan Abdul Hamid, and probably one reason why the firman
has been granted so easily lies in the fact that it passes through a
great extent of property which he has recently acquired to the east of
the plain of Esdraelon. The concession is held by ten or twelve
gentlemen, some of whom are Moslems and some Christians, but all are
Ottoman subjects resident in Syria. Among the most influential are the
Messrs. Sursock, bankers, who own the greater part of the plain of
Esdraelon, and who have therefore a large interest in the success of the
line. From which it will appear that this is no speculation of Western
promoters or financiers, but a real, bona-fide enterprise, and one which
is likely to become a large source of profit to the holders of the
concession and to the shareholders, for it will tap one of the richest
grain-producing districts in the East.

I have myself ridden over the line for the first twenty miles, and have
just seen the surveying party, who have returned well satisfied with the
facilities which it offers from an engineering point of view. Starting
from Acre, it will follow the curve of the bay for ten miles in a
southerly direction at a distance of about two miles from the beach.
Crossing the Kishon by a sixty-foot bridge, it will turn east at the
junction of a short branch line, two miles long, at Haifa. Hugging the
foot of the Carmel range, so as to avoid the Kishon marshes, it will
pass through the gorge which separates that mountain from the lower
ranges of the Galilee hills, and debouch into the plain of Esdraelon.
This plain it will traverse in its entire length. The station for
Nazareth will be distant about twelve miles from that town; there may,
however, be a short branch to the foot of the hills.

So far there has only been a rise from the sea-level in twenty miles of
two hundred and ten feet, so that the grade is imperceptible. It now
crosses the watershed, and commences to descend across the plain of
Jezreel to the valley of the Jordan. Here the Wady Jalud offers an easy
incline as far as Beisan, the ancient Bethshean, and every mile of the
country it has traversed so far is private property, and fairly
cultivated. At Beisan it enters upon a region which has, partly owing to
malaria and partly to its insecurity, been abandoned to the Arabs, but
it is the tract of all others which the passage of a railway is likely
to transfigure, for the abundance of the water, which is now allowed to
stagnate in marshes, and which causes its unhealthiness, is destined to
attract attention to its great fertility and natural advantages, which
would, with proper drainage, render it the most profitable region in
Palestine. Owing to the elevation of the springs, which send their
copious streams across the site of Beisan, the rich plain which descends
to the Jordan, five hundred feet below, can be abundantly irrigated. “In
fact,” says Dr. Thomson, describing this place in his “Land and the
Book,” “few spots on earth, and none in this country, possess greater
agricultural and manufacturing advantages than this valley, and yet it
is utterly desolate.”

It needs only a more satisfactory administration on the part of the
government, and the connection of this district with the sea by rail, to
make Beisan an important commercial and manufacturing centre. All kinds
of machinery might be driven at small expense by its abounding brooks,
and then the lovely valley of Jezreel above it, irrigated by the Jalud,
and the Ghor Beisan below, watered in every part by many fertilizing
streams, are capable of sustaining a little nation in and of themselves.
There is a little bit of engineering required to carry the line down to
the valley of the Jordan, here eight hundred feet below the level of the
sea, which it then follows north as far as the Djisr el-Medjamieh. Near
this ancient Roman bridge of three arches, which is used to this day by
the caravans of camels which bring the produce of the Hauran to the
coast, the new railway bridge will cross the Jordan, probably the only
one in the world which will have for its neighbour an actual bridge in
use which was built by the Romans, thus, in this now semi-barbarous
country, bringing into close contact an ancient and a modern
civilization. After crossing the Jordan, the line will still follow the
banks of that river to its junction with the Yarmuk, which it will also
cross, and then traverse a fertile plain of rich alluvium, about five
miles long by four wide, to the base of the ridge which overlooks the
eastern margin of the Sea of Tiberias.

This is the extent to which the survey has been completed. It is not
decided whether to rise from the valley by the shoulder of the ridge
which overlooks the Yarmuk, or to follow the east shore of the Lake of
Tiberias to the Wady Semakh, which offers great advantages for a grade
by which to ascend nearly three thousand feet in about fifteen miles.
This is the toughest bit of engineering on the line, and is in close
proximity to the steep place down which the swine possessed by devils
are said to have rushed into the sea. Once on the plateau it will
traverse the magnificent pasture-lands of Jaulan, across which I rode
four years ago in the spring, when the numerous streams by which it was
watered were flowing copiously, and the tall, waving grass reached
nearly up to my horse's belly.

This rich tract was the one on which it is probable that Job pastured
his flocks and herds—at least, all the local tradition points to this.
It was well populated until comparatively recent times, but the
sedentary inhabitants, the ruins of whose villages dot the country, were
driven out by the Arabs, who now pasture vast herds of cattle upon it,
and droves of horses which are fattened here after their journey from
Mesopotamia previous to being exported to Egypt. The course of the line
across this region has not been definitely fixed, but it will probably
take as southern a direction as possible, so as to tap the grain-growing
country of the Hauran. There may possibly be a short branch to Mezrib,
which is the principal grain emporium, and one of the most important
halting-places on the great pilgrimage road from Damascus to Mecca. It
is calculated that the transport of grain alone from this region to the
coast will suffice to pay a large dividend upon the capital required for
the construction of the road, which will be about one hundred and thirty
miles in length. I do not remember the number of tons annually conveyed
on the backs of camels to Acre and Haifa, but I have seen thousands of
these ungainly animals collected at the gates of both those towns during
the season, and the amount must be something enormous. This does not
include the whole of the Damascus trade, which now finds its way by the
French carriage road across the Lebanon to Beyrout, and which will all
be diverted to the railway, or the produce of the rich country it
traverses between the sea-coast and the Jordan.

The grantees have also secured the right to put steam-tugs upon the Lake
of Tiberias, and under the influence of this new means of transportation
the desolate shores will undergo transformation. The great plain of
Genesareth, across which I rode a month ago, is now a waste of the most
luxuriant wild vegetation, watered by three fine streams, besides being
well supplied with springs. It was celebrated of old for the amount and
variety of its produce, and I have no doubt is again destined to be so.
The plains in which Bethsaida and Capernaum stood formerly are all
covered with heavy vegetation which conceals the extensive ruins of the
cities which once adorned them; and there is a fine back country within
easy reach of the lake which will send its produce to it as soon as
means of transportation are provided. At present there are only half a
dozen sailing-boats on the lake, rather a contrast from the time when
Josephus collected no fewer than two hundred and thirty war-ships with
which to attack Tiberius in the war against the Romans; and the fish
with which it abounded in the days of the miraculous draught are more
miraculously numerous than ever, for fishing as an industry has almost
ceased to exist, and the finny tribe are left undisturbed. There are
some celebrated sulphur baths also on the shores of the lake and within
two miles of the town, which are visited annually by thousands of
patients. I was there during the bathing season, and found them camped
in tents on the margin of the lake, or sweltering in the fetid
atmosphere of the one large bathing-room, in which a crowd of naked and
more or less cutaneous patients were disporting themselves.

The surveying party tell me that they received the greatest kindness and
hospitality from the Arabs in the Jordan valley, who were of a sedentary
tribe, and cultivated the land, and who looked forward with pleasure to
the advent of a railway, and to the chances of employment which it
afforded them. Indeed, both natives and foreigners are not a little
excited at the prospect which is now being opened to them, and which
promises to be the dawn of a new era of prosperity for the country.

NOTE.—Since the above was written, the concession has lapsed in
consequence of difficulties which arose at the last moment in the
formation of the company for carrying out the enterprise; but it is
again in process of renewal, and I have little doubt but that it will be
ultimately accomplished.


                                 SAFED.

Haifa, July 10.—Next to Jerusalem, the city most highly venerated by the
Jews in Palestine is Safed. I had occasion to visit it a few weeks ago
on my way to a colony of Russian and Roumanian Jews which has been
established in the neighbourhood. Perched on the summit of a mountain
nearly three thousand feet high, it is one of the most picturesquely
situated towns in the country; and there is a tradition to the effect
that it was alluded to by Christ as “the city that is set on a hill, and
cannot be hid,” when he preached the Sermon on the Mount, the mount
being supposed to be one of the Horns of Hattin, a remarkably shaped
hill.

The whole of this district is indeed full of romantic scenery. It is a
country of wild gorges and huge precipices, which escape the attention
of the traveller following the beaten routes, and to most of them
associations are attached, investing them with an interest beyond that
of a mere scenic character. There is, for instance, the Wady Hammam,
where the bluffs are about twelve hundred feet high, perforated with
caves, communicating with each other by passages concealed in the rock,
once the abode of bands of robbers who lived like eagles in their
eyries. Looking up at these holes in the cliff some seven or eight
hundred feet above me, I tried to picture the terrible battle which was
once fought in mid-air between the denizens of these caves and the
soldiers whom Herod let down the face of the cliff in baskets to attack
them. The desperate nature of the struggle, as the soldiers strove to
make good their foothold on the edge of the caves, and the frenzy with
which the robbers, who had no loophole of escape, must have defended
themselves as they endeavoured to hurl their assailants from their
baskets, suggested a scene which was quite in keeping with the gloomy
character of the surroundings. Some of the more accessible of these
caves have been occupied at a later period by hermits, and they may have
been utilized for military purposes at the time of the crusades, but
they have never been thoroughly explored.

Just before reaching Safed there is a rock called Akhbera, which rises
five hundred feet sheer up from the path, and is also full of similar
caves. Josephus mentions having fortified it. However prepossessing
Safed may look from a distance, it does not bear a close acquaintance.
Down the centre of every street runs an open sewer, which renders it the
most odoriferous and pestiferous place that it has ever been my fate to
sleep in. The aspect of the population is in keeping with the general
smell. One seems transported into the ghetto of some Roumanian or
Russian town, with a few Eastern disagreeables added. The population
here have not adopted the Oriental costume as they have at Tiberias, but
wear the high hats, greasy gabardines, and ear-curls of the Jews of
Europe. Instead of Arabic, one hears nothing in the streets but
“jargon,” as the dialect used by the Jews in eastern Europe is called.
The total population of _Ashkenazim_, or German Jews, who are hived in
this unenviable locality, is between five and six thousand; besides
these there are about twelve hundred _Sephardim_, or Spanish Jews, who
wear Oriental costumes, and in the other quarter of the town from six to
seven thousand Moslems, making the total number of inhabitants about
fourteen thousand.

As there is nothing approaching to a hotel or boarding-house in the
place, I was of course dependent on the native hospitality for board and
lodging, and thus able to acquire an insight into the mode of life of
rather a curious section of the human family. The majority of the Jews
here are supported by a charitable fund called the Haluka, which is
subscribed to by pious Jews all over the world as a sacred duty, for the
purpose of providing support to those of their coreligionists who come
here or to Jerusalem to pass the last years of their lives in devotional
exercises, and to die on the sacred soil. The practical result of this
system is to maintain in idleness and mendicancy a set of useless
bigots, who combine superstitious observance with immoral practice, and
who, as a rule, are opposed to every project which has for its object
the real progress of the Jewish nation. Hence they regard with alarm the
establishment of agricultural colonies, or the inauguration of an era of
any kind of labour by Jews in Palestine. They are bitterly hostile to
schools in which any secular teaching is carried on, and agree with
those Western Jews who consider that any scheme for developing the
material resources of Palestine by means of Jewish industry is fantastic
and visionary. It is due to the Jewish population of Safed to say that
this spirit does not prevail among the younger members of it. There are
about a hundred young Safed Jews who actually work as day-labourers on
the farms of Moslems and Christians, and I was informed by one of the
most liberal of the rabbis, the only one, in fact, who was inclined to
promote Jewish agriculture, that about two hundred families in Safed
were desirous of being established on farms, while several had owned
land and cultivated it, and only abandoned it at last for want of
protection against the extortionate demands of Turkish tax-gatherers. It
is true that most of the Jews at Safed are under the protection of some
European power, but until lately no power has taken sufficient interest
in the race to raise a Jewish question with the Turkish government. Now
that important political interests are to be subserved by doing so, and
the destiny of Palestine is likely to become a crucial point in the
Eastern question, both Russia and France are seizing every excuse for
interference and complaint, and the questions which are constantly
arising in regard to their Jewish _protégés_, both in Tiberias and
Safed, are likely to furnish them with the pretexts they desire.

When I was in Safed, Russia was actively espousing the cause of a young
Jew who had accidentally shot a Moslem, and over whom the Turkish
government claimed jurisdiction, on the ground that, though a Russian,
he had repudiated his allegiance to Russia. As the youth was not of age
at the time, the Russian government still claimed the right to protect
him in Turkey, though it had not exercised this right in Russia itself,
from which country he had been compelled to flee for his life. As I rode
through the village where the accident had taken place, in company with
some Jews, we were pelted by the Moslem population, and, although the
release of the boy is now certain, he will probably be compelled to
leave the country, unless the relatives of the deceased Moslem can be
pacified with the blood-money that has been offered them.

Jauna, which was the name of the village to which I was bound, was
situated about three miles from Safed, in a gorge, from which, as we
descended it, a magnificent view was obtained over the Jordan valley,
with the Lake of Tiberias lying three thousand feet below us on the
right, and the waters of Merom, or the Lake of Huleh, on the left. The
intervening plain was a rich expanse of country, only waiting
development. The new colony had been established about eight months, the
land having been purchased from the Moslem villagers, of whom twenty
families remained, who lived on terms of perfect amity with the Jews.
These consisted of twenty-three Roumanian and four Russian families,
numbering in all one hundred and forty souls. The greater number were
hard at work on their potato-patches when I arrived, and I was pleased
to find evidences of thrift and industry. A row of sixteen neat little
houses had been built, and more were in process of erection. Altogether
this is the most hopeful attempt at a colony which I have seen in
Palestine. The colonists own about a thousand acres of excellent land,
which they were able to purchase at from three to four dollars an acre.
The Russians are establishing themselves about half a mile from the
Roumanians, as Jews of different nationalities easily get on well
together. They call the colony Rosch Pina, or “Head of the Corner,” the
word occurring in the verse, “The stone which the builders rejected, the
same is become the head of the corner.”


                                MEIRON.

Haifa, July 20.—One of the most interesting and little-known spots in
Palestine is the famous shrine of Jewish pilgrimage called Meiron.
Hither, in the latter part of the month of May, Hebrews resort in vast
numbers from all parts, especially of the East, and as many as two
thousand are often encamped there at a time. It is situated in a wild
part of the mountains of central Galilee, on the edge of the most
fertile plateau in the whole district, where the villages are surrounded
by the most luxuriant gardens and groves, and the peasantry are in a
more prosperous condition than I have seen elsewhere. Meiron itself is a
wonderfully romantic spot; perched at an elevation of twenty five
hundred feet above the sea, upon the northeastern flank of a high spur
of the Jebel Jermuk range, it commands a magnificent view of the
surrounding country, with the town of Safed, towering on its
mountain-top, distant about five miles. A clear, brawling stream tumbles
in a series of small cascades down the narrow gorge, which expands just
here sufficiently to allow of some orchards of apricots, figs, and
pomegranates; and near a spreading weeping-willow there is a picturesque
old flour-mill, which turns to advantage so unusual a supply of
water-power. A hundred yards or so above it is the spot sacred to Jewish
devotees. A large, oblong courtyard, around which runs a broad stone
balcony, upon which open chambers crowned with domes, marks the site of
the burial-places of some of the most celebrated rabbis of Jewish
history, and forms a sort of caravansary for the pilgrims. It was not
the moment of the pilgrimage at the time of my visit, and I had a choice
of chambers. Two of these had been fitted up most comfortably for my
benefit, with beds and tables, by the Safed Jews who accompanied me, and
who did the honours of the place. It was no doubt the sacredness of the
tombs at Meiron which was the cause of Safed being constituted a Jewish
colony and a holy city. Here are situated the tombs of the Rabbi
Jochanan Sandelar, of the celebrated Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai, the
reputed author of the book of the Sohar, and the Father of the
Cabalists. Here repose the remains of his son, the Rabbi Eleazer; but
more celebrated than all are the sepulchres of the great saints and
doctors, Shammai and Hillel. The thirty-six pupils of the latter were
buried with him. He founded a school of morals immediately prior to the
birth of Christ; and, indeed, it is maintained by Jews that all the
ethics of Christianity are to be found in the teaching of Hillel, to
which Christ simply gave a more forcible expression than it had hitherto
received.

Of all the tombs that of Hillel is the most remarkable. It is a huge
cavern on the steep hillside, situated about half-way between the
Courtyard of Shrines above, and the stream below. We first enter a
chamber with loculi hewn out of the solid rock on each side. Passing
through a doorway cut in the rock, we enter a chamber eighteen feet by
twenty-five, with seven loculi in recess on the right, and the same
number on the left, while facing us is a recess eighteen feet deep and
seven wide, containing four sarcophagi hewn out of the rock. On each
side of this recess is a smaller one, each containing four loculi. Most
of them are covered by stone lids with raised corners, making in all
thirty-six rock tombs in this one cave. The rocks all around are much
cut in places into steps, cisterns, and olive-presses. There are also
three dolmens on the north side of Meiron; they are not far apart, and
are quite distinct, though of small dimensions; there are no traces or
marks of any kind on the stones. In the shrine above these are chambers
which are pointed out as traditional tombs. Near one of these was the
synagogue, in which, when I visited it, there were an old man and his
son engaged in their devotions. The old man had never left the room day
or night for seven years, having lived the whole of that time on one
meal a day of bread and water, while he slept on a mat on the stones. He
had thus become invested with the odour of sanctity in the eyes of my
Jewish companions. His son, a boy of fifteen, was rapidly praying
himself into the state of imbecility at which his venerable parent, by
dint of swaying his body to and fro, and his unceasing chanting, had
already arrived. He reminded me of the Buddhist hermits whom I have seen
in China on their way to Nirvana, and was a sight more painful than
edifying. At the corners of the courtyard are stone erections like
fonts, and some of these are also near the rock tombs; these, when the
Jewish festival of “the burning” takes place, are filled with oil, which
is set on fire, and rich Jews, desirous of showing their devotion, offer
to the flames the most costly articles in their possession. The richest
shawls, scarfs, handkerchiefs, and the rarest books are dipped in oil
and consumed, and when any article of special value is burned, the
spectators, who are already intoxicated with wine and excitement, burst
forth with frantic plaudits of delight. Such was the account given to me
by eye-witnesses, but possibly next year I may be able to give you a
description of this unique and little-known festival from personal
observation.

About fifty yards higher up the hill is one of the most interesting
Jewish ruins existing in Palestine. It is the remains of a synagogue,
which, according to Jewish tradition, dates from fifty years after the
destruction of Jerusalem.

It was about this time, or a little later, that the Jews presented the
extraordinary spectacle of two regular and organized communities, one
under a sort of spiritual head, the Patriarch of Tiberias, comprehending
all of Israelitish descent who inhabited the Roman Empire; the other
under the Prince of the Captivity, to whom all the Eastern Jews paid
their allegiance. The Romans recognized the Patriarchship of Tiberias,
granted it special privileges, and the Jewish colony round Tiberias
under its auspices became very powerful. Schools of Talmudic learning
were established, and the most celebrated rabbis wrote, and, in fact,
stamped with their learning the Judaism which has felt their influence
to the present day. Then it was that Meiron became their place of
burial, and that the largest and most ancient synagogue of which we have
any traces was built at Meiron. The site of the synagogue was chosen on
the eastern side of a rocky mound, and the western side and floor were
excavated out of the solid rock. The whole of the area is ninety feet by
fifty. Pieces of columns are lying about, with pedestals and capitals,
but many of the finest fragments have rolled down the eastern slope. The
edifice fronted the south, and here the façade remains, with a fine
portal of large hewn blocks of stone, and a side door. Some of the
stones are four and a half feet long by two and a half thick. The portal
is ten and a half feet high by five and a half wide. Its side-posts are
each of a single stone elaborately sculptured. The sculptured lintel
projects somewhat above the side-posts, but I could see nothing of the
Hebrew inscription which some of the old writers mention as being over
the door. The centre stone was shaken out of its place by the earthquake
of 1837. Altogether, the situation and general aspect of this singular
ruin, projecting as it does out of the overhanging solid rock, is full
of picturesque as well as of historical interest. Meiron is probably
mentioned by Josephus as Meroth, a place fortified by him in Upper
Galilee. Dr. Thomson identifies it with the Meroz, so bitterly cursed by
Deborah because the inhabitants would not join the expedition of Barak.
And, in confirmation of this, there is a fountain near Meiron called to
this day by the Jews Deborah's fountain, but the Sephardim rabbi, who
was my guide, philosopher, and friend at Meiron, identified it with
Shimrom-Meron, whose king was one of the thirty-one mentioned in the
Book of Joshua as having been smitten by him on entering Canaan.

A great part of the village belonged to the rabbi, and, with a view of
encouraging agriculture among his coreligionists, he had put six Jewish
families from Morocco on the land, who were accustomed to farming, and
were doing well. Besides these there were twelve Moslem families, which
completed the population of the village. I was much struck by the
good-feeling which existed between them and the Jews, the sheik whom I
visited speaking in the highest terms of the latter, as being
hard-working and excellent agriculturists. Indeed, in walking over the
village lands, those which were cultivated by Jewish labour compared
favourably with the crops of the Fellahin. Altogether, I was so much
attracted by Meiron and its neighbourhood, which is full of interesting
remains that have not yet been thoroughly examined, from an antiquarian
point of view, that I propose paying it another visit.

Behind Meiron rises Jebel Jermuk, the highest mountain in western
Palestine. I scrambled up it one day, finding myself as I did so in the
midst of the wildest scenery to the west of the Jordan. Here villages
were few and far between. Nothing was to be seen but rocky gorges and
wild hillsides, trackless, excepting where the goats follow each other
in search of herbage, but with a grand and savage beauty which it is
difficult to reconcile with the idea that they ever supported a large
population. Probably, even in the most flourishing days of Palestine,
these highlands were always its wildest parts, and there are
comparatively few ancient sites or traces of ruins in the remote
recesses of these mountains. Jebel Jermuk rears its rounded summit to a
height of four thousand feet above the sea-level, and about three
hundred feet below the top are the ruins of a village which was
abandoned about twenty years ago by twelve Jewish families, which formed
its entire population, and who were all cultivators of the soil and
owners of flocks and herds. In those days it was the highest inhabited
spot in Palestine, and it is wonderful to think its pure mountain air
should not have protected the inhabitants against cholera, which was
then decimating the country. So far from such being the case, nearly the
whole male population was carried off, and the village was abandoned,
and finally became the property of a Druse village about three miles
distant. The stone walls of the houses are still standing, and there is
a well of delicious water, shaded by trees, making the spot altogether a
desirable retreat from the summer heats and a healthy locality for a
colony, if it were not so inaccessible. These mountains are not
frequented by Bedouin Arabs, and need nothing but roads and cultivation
to make many now barren spots fertile and profitable. The more one
travels over the less-frequented parts of the country, the more one is
struck with the extent of its undeveloped resources and with the
possible future which is in store for it.


                        THE FEAST OF ST. ELIAS.

Haifa, July 31.—The greatest religions festival of the year in these
parts takes place on the 20th of July at the Monastery of Mount Carmel,
and is called the Feast of St. Elias. It does not rank in the Roman
Catholic Church generally as one of the highest importance, but among
the Maronites, Melchites, and the Latin Oriental Church, as well as
among the Carmelites themselves, it is par excellence the great annual
ecclesiastical event. From all parts of Palestine worshippers of all
ranks flock to the sacred grotto, and on the evening before the saint's
day as many as five or six thousand souls are often assembled on the
rugged promontory and in the enclosures surrounding the monastery.
Hither I repaired about six o'clock on the evening of the 19th, and
sipped coffee, smoked cigarettes, and chatted with the reverend fathers,
while I looked out of the iron-barred windows on the multitude
assembling beneath them. It was composed for the most part of vendors of
fruit, sweetmeats, and refreshments of all sorts, who were establishing
their stalls for the night in sheltered nooks, for the feast begins at
midnight, and is carried on till nine o'clock next day, being, in fact,
a species of religious orgy, which appears to have great fascination for
the native Christian mind. It must be admitted that devotions which
consist chiefly in dancing and drinking, with an occasional free fight,
all through the small hours of the morning, are religious exercises of a
kind not unlikely to attract the country people, who go in for a sort of
holy spree on a scale of large proportions. This year, however, a
general panic which pervaded the country in consequence of the cholera
in Egypt reduced the numbers materially, especially of the Fellahin,
among whom all kinds of absurd rumours were prevalent that the disease
had spread to Haifa, and that the monastery itself was in quarantine.
After watching the picturesque arrivals for some time, I declined an
invitation to spend the night in the monastery, and determined to return
next morning at five o'clock, when I was assured that the fun would be
fast and furious.

As I approached at that hour my expectations were excited by the reports
of the discharge of pistols and guns, and the sounds of the discordant
chorus-chanting which forms the usual accompaniment to the native
dances. Passing under the archway and entering the large courtyard of
the monastery, I found it nearly full of excited groups in large
circles, their arms clasped around each other's necks, swaying their
bodies to and fro, and keeping time with their feet to their songs,
while they occasionally waved their arms aloft and fired in the air.
This is the regular Syrian dance of the towns, and it is sufficiently
monotonous. The Fellahin, however, have a far more picturesque
performance, in which the girls, in bright-coloured garments, join,
dancing singly, or in twos and threes. Of these, unfortunately, there
were very few. No doubt it was in consequence of the small attendance
that there had not been so much drinking as usual, and I only saw one
man captured by half a dozen Turkish soldiers, who must have a curious
idea of Christian devotions, for an improper use of his fist.

About this time the guest-chambers and corridors of the monastery—where
families of the better class who had come from Acre, Tyre, Nazareth,
Jaffa, and other towns had passed the night, in the lodging provided for
them—began to disgorge, and the variety of costume displayed by the
shouting, singing, and dancing multitude formed a scene sufficiently
picturesque and animated. Sometimes processions are formed, where
offerings are made to the miracle-working statue of Notre Dame de Mont
Carmel, in return for a child that has been prayed for, or a sick person
who has been healed, but on this occasion her protection did not seem to
have been invoked, or, at all events, there was no public display of
gratitude. There is a large terrace in front of the monastery, and here
a dozen horsemen or so were throwing the djerrid and exhibiting their
equestrian skill, much to the detriment of the unfortunate animals they
bestrode, whose flanks were bleeding profusely from the pointed angles
of the iron stirrups which serve as spurs, and from the cruel bits by
which, when going at full speed, they were jerked back upon their
haunches.

While all this was going on outside, mass was being performed in the
church for those who wished to vary the entertainment. This is a
spacious, vaulted building in the form of a Greek cross, with a
fine-toned organ in one transept, and a statue of the miraculous Lady of
Mount Carmel, between four Corinthian columns, seated on a sort of
throne in a richly decorated dress of white satin, in the other. Both
the Virgin and the Infant in her arms had golden crowns on their heads,
the result of a miracle, for when the Frère Jean Baptiste undertook the
reconstruction of the monastery fifty years ago, he intrusted the
carving of the statue to Caraventa, a sculptor of Genoa, and, not having
money enough to buy her a crown suitable to her position, procured her
one of silver, and one of copper gilt for the Child, saying as he did
so, “You will know how to procure yourself a better one;” and this she
achieved shortly after at Naples, where a rich nobleman presented her
with two in return for a miraculous cure of which he was the subject.
There is a book sold in the monastery containing a list of the miracles
that have been performed by this statue, which was gazed upon with the
greatest awe and veneration by the country people. They prostrate
themselves before her, touching the ground with their foreheads, and
offering up their supplications after a fashion that would shock an
enlightened Buddhist by the superstition and credulity thus suggested.
On each side of the figure are two altars, one dedicated to St. Jean
Baptiste, and the other to St. Simon Stock, an Englishman, who was made
Prior-General of the Order of Carmelites in 1245, and who in his day did
more than any other to increase their renown. On the right of this is
the statue of Elijah slaying a prophet of Baal, which was sculptured at
Barcelona by Dom Amédéo. The prophet has got his false rival on the
ground between his feet, and, with uplifted sword, is in the act of
cutting his head off. He is hung round with votive offerings, and
worshippers crowd around to touch some part of the statue, and then kiss
the finger that has touched it. On a table in front a monk was selling
engravings to the worshippers. I bought one of these, representing
Elijah sending Elisha to look for the sign of rain. In the distance is
the small cloud, no bigger than a man's hand, and emerging from it is
the figure of the Virgin and Child, for the Roman Catholic tradition has
it that in this cloud was revealed to the prophet the dogma of the
immaculate conception, in which he was a firm believer from that time
forward.

Descending a few rock-cut steps close to this image, we find ourselves
in the cave of Elijah, a small grotto about ten feet by fifteen, at one
end of which is an altar, which the devotees firmly believe is the
actual rock that he used as his bed. Here a priest was performing mass.
The body of the church was full of devotees, for the most part women in
white burnooses, who squatted on the ground, and seemed principally
engaged in suckling their babies.

The monastery derives a considerable revenue from these celebrations, as
in good seasons votive offerings to a large value are brought; but the
chief source of its wealth is derived from the sale of indulgences, or
at least what virtually amounts to this. By these means it exercises a
very powerful moral as well as financial influence all through the
country, and as the Christian population, which is subject to it, is
very large in proportion to the Moslem in the neighbourhood, and as it
is under the exclusive protectorate of France, this influence partakes
also of a very distinct political character. In fact, the Christians of
the whole of this district enjoy a far more efficient protection against
the oppression of the Turkish government than do the Moslems themselves.

The monastery is a modern building, and if it only had a tall chimney
instead of a cupola it would look more like a manufactory than a
religious edifice. The top of the cupola is five hundred and fifty feet
above the level of the sea, which is immediately beneath, and commands a
magnificent view. When Napoleon besieged Acre in 1799, and was compelled
to raise the siege and retreat, the Turks fell upon the wounded French
soldiers who were left in hospital here and massacred them to a man. The
convent was, of course, deserted, and soon after fell into ruin. For
twenty-seven years this much venerated spot was abandoned, but the order
to which it had given its name never ceased to agitate for the
restoration of its sanctuary, and the work of reconstruction was finally
undertaken in 1826, by Jean Baptiste, and completed in 1853. So the
present building is only thirty years old. In front of the main terrace
is a flower-garden and some trellised vines, in the centre of which is a
pyramid surmounted by a cross, with an inscription to the effect that it
commemorates the resting-place of the bones of the French soldiers. It
was not till five years after their massacre that Father Jules du St.
Sauveur ventured back to the mountain, where he found these melancholy
traces of the tragedy scattered among the ruins, and, collecting them,
hid them in a cave until, under more auspicious circumstances, they
could receive a Christian burial. There can be no doubt that the order
is now increasing in wealth and influence, and expectation runs high
that the day is not far distant when northern Palestine will become a
French province, and when its prosperity will be still further secured.


                        A SUMMER CAMP ON CARMEL.

Esfia, Aug. 20.—The fact that the cholera was raging in Egypt, that in
the ordinary course of events it was certain to visit Syria, that even
if it did not, the months of July, August, and September are
disagreeably hot at Haifa, determined me to make the experiment of
camping out on the highest point of Carmel, and I am at this moment
sitting under a Bedouin tent, arranged after a fashion of my own, at an
altitude of eighteen hundred feet above the level of the sea, upon which
I look down in two opposite directions.

On the northwest, distant six miles, curves the Bay of Acre, with the
town itself glistening white in the distance; and on the southwest,
distant seven miles, the Mediterranean breaks upon the beach that bounds
the plain of Sharon, and with a good glass I can make out the outlines
of the ruins of the old port of Cæsarea. Southward are the confused
hills known as the mountains of Samaria; beyond them, in the blue haze,
I can indistinctly see the highlands of Gilead; while nearer still,
Mount Gilboa, Mount Tabor, the Nazareth range, with a house or two of
that town visible, and Mount Hermon, rising behind the high ranges of
northern Galilee, are all comprised in a prospect unrivalled in its
panoramic extent and in the interest attached to the localities upon
which the eye rests in every direction. I was some time picking out just
the spot on which to camp, so many advantageous sites suggested
themselves, but the paramount necessity of being near a village for
security and supplies, and, above all, near a good spring, decided me in
favour of my present location; and as the conditions under which I have
brought a large party up to the top of this somewhat inaccessible
mountain and planted them upon it are novel, I venture to think that an
account of our experience may prove interesting.

In the first place, the village itself was out of the question, partly
because Arab houses, as a rule, do not consist of more than one room,
and even when one has turned out their human inhabitants, it still
remains tenanted by so many others of a carnivorous character, though
minute in size, that existence becomes a burden; and partly because they
are pervaded with a singular odour of burnt manure, which the natives
use as fuel for the ovens in which they bake their bread, and which is
too pungent to be agreeable to unsophisticated nostrils. After inhaling
it for a month I have got rather to like it than otherwise. As I
suspected that such might be the case, and believed that a successful
was might be waged against the insects, I decided on hiring one of these
rooms as a guest-chamber and a place of resort from the midday sun, in
case the camp did not prove a sufficient protection. This room was
nothing more nor less than a vault like a cellar, with stone walls and a
stone roof, supported by cross arches, about twenty feet by thirty; and
I may here mention that the precaution turned out wise, for we got
fairly rid of the fleas, and the temperature in the middle of the day,
when we usually repair to it for our siesta, has never been over 80°.
But how to make a camp which should accommodate three ladies and four
gentlemen was a serious question. We had one European tent capable of
holding two people, and a smaller one for a bachelor of modest
requirements in the way of standing-room, and these we supplemented with
a tent which we hired of some neighbouring Bedouins, which was thirty
feet long, but which, when pitched according to their fashion, was an
impossible habitation for civilized beings, as it had no walls. Indeed,
the whole breadth of the black camel's-hair cloth of which it was
composed was only ten feet. We therefore decided on using it merely as a
roof, and sent down to Haifa for a camel load of light lumber in order
to make a frame on which to stretch it. We also got up two dozen cheap
mats, six feet square, at twenty-five cents apiece. With these we made
front and back walls and partitions for sleeping cribs. Finally our
erection, on which we proudly hoisted the national flag, was thirty-four
feet long, ten feet wide, seven feet high in front and five feet in
rear. These mats can be triced up in front and rear in the daytime so as
to allow a free circulation of air. On the roof, in order to keep the
sun from heating too fiercely upon us, we spread branches of the odorous
bay-tree, with which the scrubby woods of the mountain abound, and of
these same branches we erected a kitchen, and stable for the horse and
three donkeys which composed our establishment. The thermometer usually
fell to 70° at night, and there were heavy morning dews and fogs.

It was no slight task selecting the furniture, bedding,
cooking-utensils, and comestibles for a party of seven, and it took
eight camels, besides sundry donkeys, to carry all our necessaries. In
order to understand the nature of the path over which we had to travel,
the reader must get rid of the popular notion conveyed by the word
“Mount,” which is usually applied to Carmel, that it is a solitary hill.
So far from such being the case, it is a mountainous district about
fourteen miles long and twelve wide at its base. It culminates in a
promontory, which projects into the sea at its apex, but we are
established ten miles from Haifa, the path ascending abruptly from that
town, and following for nearly three hours' travel the backbone of the
ridge, disclosing views of wondrous beauty down gorges on the right and
left. It is “a rocky road to travel” for a delicate lady, involving
steep, precipitous ascents, for which sure-footed donkeys are best; but
we were obliged to resort to a chair and a litter, each carried by four
bearers, who, as they stumbled and clambered up the narrow path, seemed
bent upon capsizing their human burdens. Now, however, that we have
safely endured the perils of the way, we are amply repaid for them.

The nights and mornings are of ideal beauty. The effects of sunrise and
sunset, ever varying, over the vast landscape that stretches around and
beneath us, are a constant source of wonder and delight. From the
vine-covered terrace on which our camp is situated we look down a wild,
rocky, precipitous gorge eighteen hundred feet upon the plain of the
Kishon, scarce a mile distant, so steep is it. To the right this gorge
widens into an amphitheatre, and the hillsides, sloping more gently, are
terraced with vines, figs, and pomegranates, and at its head is the
copious spring which supplies us with water, to which one of our donkeys
makes several pilgrimages a day with a large earthen jar slung in a
straw cradle on each side. Here, morning and evening, files of Druse
women resort, and stand and gossip round the cistern into which the
water gushes from the rock, their bright-coloured dresses forming a
charming contrast with the dark-green foliage of the gardens and
orchards that are irrigated in the immediate vicinity. Besides about
five hundred Druses there are fifty Christians in the village, who do
not harmonize with the Druses very well, and there is a hot rivalry for
our favour, so that we have to exercise a considerable amount of
diplomacy to keep on good terms with all.

We have hired the vault from a Christian, and his family next door
consists of his stepmother and four half-sisters, strapping,
good-looking wenches, who are not yet married, for lack of the necessary
dowers. With them is staying a cousin from Acre, one of the most
beautiful women I have ever seen, quite Caucasian in type and
complexion, which is white and transparent as that of any Western
beauty. We have great difficulty in keeping this bevy of damsels out of
our room, as Arabs have no idea of privacy, and they imagine that
politeness consists in squatting round in a circle and asking silly
questions. Excepting for the practice it gives one in Arabic, and for a
certain insight which one thus gains into the manners and customs of the
natives, these visits would be intolerable, and, indeed, we have found
it necessary to take stringent measures to limit them. It is more
interesting to go and sit in the cool veranda outside of the little
Druse place of worship, and talk to the bright young man who is passing
most of his time in studying the abstruse metaphysical system of his
religion, and who is far more intelligent than the Syrian Catholic
priest, who also comes and sits and smokes with us with the view of
obtaining, which he has not yet succeeded in doing, some knowledge of
our own religious belief. Now and then an episode occurs illustrating
the conditions of native existence in these parts. One day I found the
village excited at an outrage which a native mounted policeman had
perpetrated. On learning that he had assaulted not merely one of the
villagers, but my own servant, who had refused him access to our vault,
I inflicted a little corporal punishment upon him, when his officer and
the village notables interfered, and interceded in his behalf. I asked
the latter why they were not glad to see a man punished who, like the
rest of his class, was forever persecuting them; they said that when I
was gone he would come back and take his revenge upon them. I finally
made the man apologize to the Druse he had assaulted, and to my servant,
all which he did very humbly, fearing that unless he did so I should
insist upon his receiving a still severer punishment from the Caimacan,
or local governor, at Haifa. The villagers were very grateful to see one
of this arrogant and overbearing class humbled, but they say that unless
one can stay and protect them their last state will be worse than their
first.


                      THE DRUSES OF MOUNT CARMEL.

In Camp, Mount Carmel, Sept. 10.—It is not generally known that the
Druse nation extends as far south as Carmel. The most southern village
occupied by them in Syria is at Dalieh, about two miles from my present
camp; their most northern home is at Aleppo. When, nine hundred years
ago, Duruzi, the teacher from whom they take their name, came from Egypt
to spread his new teaching, it was accepted by a tribe of people who
lived in the neighbourhood of Aleppo, whither they had originally
migrated from the province of Yemen, in Arabia. Adopting the new and
mysterious faith, which, while it is a most interesting metaphysical and
theological study, is too recondite to enter upon here, the body of the
tribe migrated south, took possession of the valleys of the southern
Lebanon, and made their headquarters at the foot of Mount Hermon.
Spreading east from there, they crossed the tract known in ancient times
as Iturea, and found a natural fortress in the volcanic region anciently
called Trachonitis, the Biblical Argob, and in the mountains now called
the Jebel Druse. Here they increased and multiplied, and in the early
part of the seventeenth century produced that most remarkable warrior
Fakr-Eddin, the only man of note of whom the Druses can boast. He
conquered Beyrout and the southern coast towns, extending his sway as
far south as Carmel, and as far east as Tiberias; and under his auspices
the mountains of Galilee and Carmel became settled by Druses.

It is, therefore, not much more than two hundred and fifty years since
the Druses first came to Carmel, and it is probable that when they did
so they found the mountain wholly unoccupied, excepting by a few
Christian hermits and devotees who lived in its caves—for the Carmelite
monks had been driven away and their monastery destroyed three hundred
years before; and, indeed, it was only at the time of the Druse
occupation that the first attempt was made to restore it. For the two
centuries during which the crusaders held the Holy Land prior to the end
of the thirteenth century, Carmel was occupied by them, and the remains
of their military posts are still to be found on many of the summits of
the mountain; indeed, many of the old stones of which the village of
Esfia is built, near which my camp is situated, bear their devices
carved on them. Before the time of the crusaders there may have been
Moslem villages on Carmel, but its glory departed when Palestine was
conquered by the Saracens in the seventh century, and the last remains
of Roman civilization, the traces of which still cover the mountain,
were destroyed.

About the time of Christ, and for four or five centuries afterwards, it
must have been in its full loveliness, its hillsides terraced with
vineyards or clothed with magnificent forests, and its summits crowned
with towns adorned with the grace and beauty of the architecture of the
period. The discoveries I have made in proof of this I will postpone to
another letter, as my intention now is to describe the present
population by which the mountain is inhabited.

It is a curious fact that to this day there are no Moslems on Carmel
proper. There are five or six Moslem villages at its base, on the
various sides of the triangle which comprises the district, and they
have lands running up into the mountain; but the actual population
consists of two Druse villages, numbering together about eight hundred
souls, and about fifty Christians, besides the twenty-five monks who
inhabit the monastery. The mountain is nevertheless capable of
containing a population of many thousands, as it evidently did in old
times, and is a much larger district than is popularly supposed.

The eastern side, from the apex of the triangle, is thirteen miles in
length, the western twelve, and the base nine, giving a total
circumference to this highland region of thirty—four miles. The tract
comprised in this area is beautifully diversified by wild gorges, grassy
valleys, level or undulating plateaus covered with underwood, and rocky
summits; and the scenery in places is as romantic as can well be
imagined. The two Druse villages of Esfia and Dalieh are situated two
miles apart, about three quarters of the way down the triangle from its
apex (the projecting promontory on which the monastery is built), and
occupy the most fertile part of the mountain.

When the Druses first settled here they founded no fewer than eight
villages, but when, forty years ago, this country was conquered by Egypt
and governed by Ibrahim Pacha, his rule was distasteful to the majority
of Druses, and the inhabitants of six villages abandoned them, and
migrated to the Jebel Druse. All these villages occupied the sites of
ancient Roman towns, and were constructed of the ancient stones. In the
course of my rambles I have visited them all. Of the two villages which
remained, one, Dalieh, was occupied by some families which had migrated
direct from Aleppo; the other, Esfia, is peopled by Druses from the
Lebanon. There is a marked difference between the two, and the people of
Dalieh are far superior to those of Esfia.

I went over there the other day, and spent the day and night as the
guest of the sheik—or, I should rather say, of the sheiks, for there are
two—one is the temporal and the other the spiritual head of the
village—and I divided my attentions and my meals equally between them.
They are very reluctant to talk about their religion, always turning the
subject when any attempt is made to induce them to converse about it;
but there is one question which they always ask, and that is whether
there are any Druses in England. As it is an accepted fact among them
that there are, any denial of it is considered a discreet reticence, and
rather a proof than otherwise that one is somewhat of a Druse one's
self. They also believe that the majority of Chinamen are, unconsciously
to themselves, Druses; and they are firmly convinced that the world is
drawing to a close, and that the appearance of Hakim, a divine
incarnation, which was prophesied to take place nine hundred years after
his last manifestation and translation, is now imminent, as the time is
just about expiring.

The Druses are a sober, fairly honest, and industrious people, and have
their own notions of morality, to which they rigidly adhere. They have
only one wife, but they have great facilities of divorce. An amusing
illustration of this came under my immediate notice while I was the
sheik's guest. His son, a fine young man, had been my guide among some
neighbouring ruins the day before. I had also made the acquaintance of
the wife of the latter, a remarkably pretty woman, with a baby. Indeed,
I was much struck with the beauty of the type of all the Dalieh women.
Suddenly a tremendous uproar took place in the village. My host rushed
out to restore order. While I looked down on the scene from an upper
window, I saw his son, bareheaded, brandishing a huge stone in the air,
and vehemently gesticulating, apparently in reply to a bevy of women who
were screaming at him at the top of their voices. Indeed, all the women
in the place seemed to have conspired to drive him to frenzy by their
abuse. When the sheik appeared in the midst of them order was somewhat
restored, for, to my surprise, he seemed to take part with the women,
and dealt his son one or two sound blows. Then there was some
palavering, and during the whole time I saw the wife of the enraged
young man looking calmly on as a spectator. She had put her child in its
cradle and was rocking it. Two or three old women were crying and still
vociferating. Presently I saw a man come and lift the cradle with the
baby, and the mother rose and followed him. They went into a
neighbouring house, and were followed by the sheik and as many as could
crowd in. Then ensued a long pause, until the sheik reappeared, with a
document which he had been writing, in his hand, and the village
population gathered around. At this time I could not see his son
anywhere, but the wife was among the audience. When he had finished
reading, the audience broke up and the sheik returned to me. When I
asked what had been the matter, he replied, “Oh, foolish people
quarrelling.” So I applied elsewhere for information, and was told that
for some time past the sheik's son had been tired of his wife and in
love with another woman, and had been seeking a cause of quarrel. He had
apparently found it in some dispute he had just been having with his
wife, and had uttered in his rage the formula of divorce, by which he
dismissed her and sent her back to her family. Hence the feminine
outbreak against him. The sheik had disapproved his son's conduct, as
the wife was his own niece, and, therefore, her husband's first cousin,
and he considered it a family disgrace; but, after what had happened,
patching up the matter had become impossible, and he had nothing for it
but, according to Druse law, to pronounce the divorce. I must say that
the entire indifference manifested by the wife, when she followed her
baby's cradle away from her husband's house, deprived her of the
sympathy I should otherwise have felt.

From what I have been able to gather, the Druse women, if they are
pretty, are a heartless lot. Another characteristic incident was a
procession of Esfia Druses to the cave of Elijah, below the monastery,
in fulfilment of a vow, when a child was dedicated to a religious life,
and a goat was sacrificed to God, as in the times of old. After being
sacrificed, it was nevertheless eaten, which seems somewhat to deprive
the performance of its merit, as the share of the Deity was the bones.
There was a great clanging of discordant instruments and loud singing as
they came back, some of the men caracoling around on horseback, and
others, with arms clasped, dancing in a measured step, followed by a
group of dancing women, in dark-blue garments, with gaudy borders and
fringes and sashes, and flowing white head-dresses bound with
bright-coloured scarfs. They formed a most picturesque tableau, chanting
their way to their home on this wild mountain hill-top.

One day a magnificent figure of a man, armed with sword and pistol,
suddenly entered my tent. I asked him where he had come from. He said
from the Jebel Druse, and, seeing a foreign tent, he had turned in to
see who I was. So we exchanged confidences. He was, in fact, an outlaw.
He had been fighting against the government, and was wandering from one
Druse village to another, not daring to go back to his own, which was in
the Lebanon. He said that at this moment the Druses of the Jebel Druse
were in full revolt against the Turkish government; that no Druse dare
show himself in Damascus, and no Turk dare show himself in the Jebel
Druse. They had defied the Governor-General, who knew that it would be
useless in their wild mountains to attempt to conquer them. He offered
to take me to the Jebel Druse, if I would avoid all places where there
were any Turks. He had a profound contempt for his coreligionists of
Dalieh and Esfia. “I am ashamed of such Druses,” he said. “Why, I saw a
Moslem insult one, the other day, and, instead of killing him, he walked
away. Why don't they leave a place where they dare not punish insult,
and come to the mountain?” I have rarely seen a finer specimen of
humanity than this man was, and, with all the defiant recklessness and
daring of his expression, there was the charm of entire frankness and
good-nature combined with it.

Besides the two villages on Carmel, there are fourteen Druse villages,
nearly all within sight of it, on the southern slopes of the mountains
of Galilee. It is not improbable that, unable to support the military
conscription and taxation which presses upon them, the inhabitants may,
before long, abandon their present homes, and go to swell the numbers of
their brethren in the Jebel Druse. The whole population of the Druse
nation is about 120,000; they can put into the field 25,000 men of the
best fighting material in Turkey; they are slowly migrating to the Jebel
Druse, where about two thirds of the nation have already asserted their
semi-independence.


                         EXPLORATION ON CARMEL.

Haifa, Sept. 24.—During the two months that I have been camped on the
highest summit of Mount Carmel, I have visited no fewer than twenty
ruins of ancient towns and villages. Of these I have discovered six
which were heretofore unknown, the others having been found ten years
ago by the officers of the Royal Engineers sent out to survey Palestine
by the Society for Palestine Exploration.

Prior to that time, this historic locality was a _terra incognita_. The
tourists who visited the mountain, like the pilgrims who journeyed
thither for devotional reasons, satisfied themselves with a short stay
at the convent, and even then did not understand that they were only on
one mountain spur of a highland region thirty-five miles in
circumference, where almost every hilltop was crowned with a ruin, and
every gorge might open up new and unexpected beauties of scenery.

It is only after so exhaustive an examination as I have just
accomplished that any idea can be formed of the extent of the population
by which Carmel was once inhabited, of the high state of civilization
which must have prevailed here, and of the extent to which its lovely
hills and valleys were cultivated. These ruins bear a great resemblance
to each other; and although none of them covers a very great extent of
ground, they were built of most solid materials, and, to judge by some
of the architectural remains, and the elaborate carvings and devices,
they must have contained some handsome buildings.

The houses were built of blocks of drafted stone, usually four feet long
by two and a half high, and two thick. The door-jambs and lintels, which
in some instances are still in situ, were often seven or eight feet long
by two feet six by two feet. In these were holes or sockets, in which
the pivots worked. Some of the lintels over the doors were ornamented
with devices; these were usually hexagons and circles, in the centre of
which were ovals or other ornamental scrolls. Sometimes there was a bird
or an animal, such as an eagle or a leopard, or seven-branched
candlesticks, or raised bosses or crosses; here and there was a cornice
with a florid carving, evidently of the Roman period, with fragments of
columns or capitals. But some of these ruins have been inhabited by
later inhabitants, who used the old stones for their modern
constructions, and too often chipped off the carving. Indeed, they are
the ready-made quarries of the country people of the present day, who
come and carry off the stones to build their houses.

A notable and melancholy instance of this has occurred in the case of a
place called Khurbet Semmaka. This was the most interesting ruin in
Carmel, and was discovered ten years ago by the officers of the
Palestine Exploration Survey. Here they found the portal of what once
had been an ancient Jewish synagogue still standing, its door-jambs and
lintels elaborately carved; part of the walls and fragments of the
columns which formed an enclosing colonnade were in position, and formed
the subject of much speculation, as it was the only specimen of Jewish
architecture in this part of the country, and presented some features
which were different from anything hitherto discovered; and it was
therefore suggested that the building must have been built at a
different period from any of those the remains of which still exist.
Judge of my disappointment on visiting this spot to find that, with the
exception of three feet of one door-jamb, all had disappeared; there was
scarcely a stone left. The inhabitants of a Moslem village about two
miles distant had within the last decade made a clean sweep of all these
most interesting remains. Fortunately they still exist in the Palestine
Society's Memoirs in the shape of most elaborate drawings and
measurements, which were made by the Survey and have since been
published.

Apart from the actual stones themselves and the carvings which are to be
found upon them, the objects of interest which mainly characterize all
these Carmel ruins are ancient olive-mills and wine-presses, often in a
very perfect state of preservation, tombs and cisterns. First, in regard
to the olive-mills. I found more than a dozen of these. On two occasions
they were hewn out of the living rock. The lower stone, which was
circular, had usually a diameter of eight feet, with a raised rim
outside nine or ten inches high, and a raised socket in the centre, in
which was a hole a foot square, where the upright was fitted to hold the
lateral beam which worked the upper stone. This was usually five feet in
diameter and eighteen inches thick, and had a hole pierced through the
centre. Through this the long beam was passed, to which, as it extended
far beyond the circumference of the lower stone, the horse was attached
which worked the mill, the upper stone travelling on its broad edge
around the lower stone, over the olives. From the lower stone a gutter
was carved into the vat, also hewn out of the living rock, into which
trickled the oil. I often found near these mills huge limestone rollers
about three feet in diameter and seven feet long. On the sides of these
were four vertical lines of sunk grooves, four or five grooves in each
line. Taking 2.7 as the specific gravity of the stone, they must have
weighed about two tons each. What their functions were, or whether they
had anything to do with the olive-crushing process, I am at a loss to
conjecture. The wine-presses were nothing more than huge vats, also hewn
out of the living rock, sometimes above ground, in the shape of
sarcophagi, sometimes pits eight or nine feet square and the same in
depth.

The limestone hillsides in the neighbourhood of these ruins were almost
invariably honeycombed with cave tombs, whose doorways were often rudely
ornamented with devices, and in one instance I found an inscription in
Greek characters so much defaced that I could not decipher it. They
usually consisted of only one chamber, eight or ten feet square, but
were sometimes larger, and contained either kokim or loculi under
arcosolia, sometimes both. The kokim are tunnel-shaped excavations,
usually seven feet long, two feet six wide, and the same in height—in
other words, just large enough to contain a corpse. The loculus is an
oblong tomb, with sides about two feet high, also large enough
conveniently to contain a body. It is cut out of the living rock, as
well as the arch which overspans it. Sometimes there is a large, arched
recess opening out of the central chamber, containing several loculi. On
more than one occasion I found a circular stone like a millstone in a
groove in the doorway, which only required to be rolled a couple of feet
to close the tomb completely, but the tombs are generally closed by an
oblong stone slab, not unfrequently ornamented with devices. I also
found several sarcophagi.

The cisterns are of two kinds, bell-mouthed and of demijohn shape, or
open rock-hewn reservoirs or tanks. At one ruin I found an extensive
system of these latter. There were no fewer than six, of which the
largest was forty feet square, all close together, divided only by
narrow ledges of the solid rock out of which they had been hewn. They
were from fifteen to twenty feet to the soil at the bottom, now
overgrown with shrubs, so that in reality they are probably much deeper.
In some cases stone steps lead to the bottom, and on the sides were deep
niches from which evidently sprang arches to form the roof, for there
can be little doubt that the most of them were originally covered. From
the great number and extent of these cisterns it is manifest that the
inhabitants were, in some instances, entirely dependent upon them for
their water supply.

At the southeastern extremity of the mountain is the spot known as “the
place of burning,” or sacrifice, because tradition assigns it as the
locality where Elijah had his controversy with the prophets of Baal, and
in commemoration thereof the Carmelite monks are at this moment building
a church there, and using, by the way, some of the carved stones of a
neighbouring ruin, regardless of all antiquarian considerations. I feel,
therefore, a malignant satisfaction in the conviction at which I have
arrived that they are building their church on a spot which is
indisputably not the place on which the altar of Elijah was erected, if
we are to believe the Biblical record, for it is in full view of the
Mediterranean, and it would have been quite unnecessary for Elijah to
tell his servant to “go up and look toward the sea,” for there is no
higher point to go up to, and he could see the sea himself. But about a
mile from this spot there stands, curiously enough, a pile of stones in
a locality which would exactly fulfil the required conditions. I came
upon it unexpectedly, almost concealed in a thicket of underwood. The
stones are placed one upon the other without cement, and average
eighteen inches square and eight or nine thick, forming a rude altar
about twelve feet long and four high. The breadth varies, as they have
been broken away, but there is a large artificial slab, six feet square,
lying at the base. Though I do not for a moment mean to imply that this
was the original altar, the unusual shape and position of this pile
suggests that it may have been the result of some sacred tradition
connected with the Biblical event, or it may be the remains of an
ancient vineyard watch-tower. From it the ground swells back and upward
in every direction, so that a vast host might have been assembled around
and witnessed whatever was going forward, which would have been
impossible at the traditional locality. A ten minutes' walk would have
taken Elijah's servant to a neighbouring summit which commanded a full
view of the sea, and the twelve barrels of water required to drench the
altar could have been obtained from some rock-hewn tanks in the
immediate vicinity, while the path that passes the pile leads straight
down to the hill on the bank of the Kishon, where tradition has it that
the priests were massacred. Moreover, it was in the centre of the most
populous part of the mountain. Within a radius of two miles and a half
from this pile of stones there are no fewer than twelve ruins of ancient
towns and villages on the various hill-tops and mountain-spurs which
surround it.

No fact could give a better idea than this of the populous character of
Carmel in the days of the prophet. Not very far from this I discovered,
half-way down the steep flank of the mountain, a fortress of a most
ancient race, the stones which were piled one above another three high
to form the rampart being immense natural unhewn boulders weighing from
two to three tons each. I am not aware of anything of the kind having
yet been found in Palestine, and as carrying one back to a period
probably anterior to Jewish occupation, I regard it as the most
interesting discovery I have made on Carmel.


                       A PLACE FAMOUS IN HISTORY.

St. Jean d'Acre, Oct. 14.—Of all the towns on the Syrian coast, from
Antioch to Gaza, none has had a more eventful history than Acre, or one
which more directly affected the fortunes of the rest of the country at
large. Napoleon I. called it the key of Palestine, and it is doubtless
owing to its important strategical position that it has undergone so
many vicissitudes, and been the scene of so many sanguinary battles.
There is, indeed, probably no similar area on the face of the globe on
which so much blood has been shed.

I was at some trouble the other day to add up the list of sieges it has
undergone, and the total was fifteen, not counting doubtful ones in the
earliest history of the country, when it was invaded and conquered by
the ancient Egyptians; but beginning with the siege of Acre by
Shalmaneser, 721 B.C., when the fortress belonged to the Tyrians, and
ending with its bombardment, in A.D. 1840, by the English Admiral Sir
Charles Napier, the list is one which suggests a record of blood
unparalleled in history. Its worst time was undoubtedly during the two
hundred years when it was taken and retaken several times by Crusaders
and Saracens successively. On one of these occasions when, after a two
years' siege, the town fell into the hands of the Saracens, sixty
thousand Christians are said to have fallen by the sword. The place is
still shown, at the northeast salient of the outer wall, where stood the
English tower, which was guarded by the troops of Richard Cœur de Lion.

The town now contains only about nine thousand inhabitants, cooped up by
the fortifications in the very limited area of about fifty acres; and it
is more picturesque than agreeable to live in. There is no more
characteristic bazaar in the East than that of Acre, with its motley
crowd of wild Bedouins from the desert, Persian devotees gathering
around a Persian holy man who has taken up his residence here, Turkish
soldiers who form its garrison, Druses, with their white turbans and
striped abeihs, or overcoats, Metawalis, who are wild and gipsy-looking
Moslem schismatics, Syrian Christians, and Moslem peasantry; add to
these veiled women, long strings of camels, with an occasional
foreigner, or sailor from a merchant-ship in the harbour, and you get a
population as varied as any town in the country can show. Acre,
therefore, is a most interesting place to spend a day in, apart from any
antiquarian attraction it may possess, or monuments of more modern
architecture which are worthy of attention.

There are few finer mosques in Syria than that of Jezzar Pacha, which
stands within a large rectangular area, where there are vaulted
galleries, supported by ancient columns ornamented by capitals brought
from the ruins of Tyre and Cæsarea. Along these galleries have been
built cells, destined for the people employed at the mosque, or the
pilgrims who came to visit it. They surround a magnificent court, under
which are cisterns, and upon which are palms, cypress, and other trees.
Among them are white marble tombs, notably those of Jezzar and Suleiman
Pacha. The town contains three other mosques, the columns in which and
the pavement have certainly belonged to more ancient buildings. There
are four Christian churches in the city, which belong to the Roman
Catholics, the Schismatic Greeks, the Maronites, and the United Greeks
respectively. Under the house of the Sisters of Nazareth and the
neighbouring houses extend vast vaulted cellars which are now divided by
walls of separation, and belong to different proprietors; they are
doubtless of crusading origin. Deep cisterns also date from that period.
Of the same date also are certain remains of walls and vaults near the
convent, which are the ruins of a church almost completely destroyed.
The most remarkable khan is near the port, called the Khan el Aurid on
account of its columns, the galleries surrounding it being built on
pillars of gray or red granite, covered by capitals of different orders,
brought from more ancient monuments.

The citadel, as may be imagined, has often been destroyed and rebuilt.
On one side is the military hospital, the lower part of which belongs
entirely to crusaders' work, and consists of large subterranean
magazines. In the middle is a great court, shaded by fig, palm, and
other trees, under which are vaulted galleries and cisterns. Under the
ramparts also extend immense ogival vaults, many of which belong to the
time of the crusades. These have furnished magazines for later defenders
of the fortress, and, during the bombardment by the English in 1840, the
principal one exploded, with a loss to the defenders of 1600 men, 30
camels, 50 asses, besides horses, cows, and a great store of arms. Some
of the guns lying about the ramparts are of old French manufacture, with
the dates 1785, '86, '87. They are those which were sent by sea, for the
use of Napoleon, but were captured by Sir Sydney Smith, and brought here
to serve for the defence of the city. About half a mile from the city
walls is an artificial hill or tumulus, called Napoleon's Hill, from the
fact that he used it as his headquarters during one of the sieges of
Acre. It was occupied for the same purpose six hundred years before by
Richard Cœur de Lion.

In ancient times Acre was the most populous and flourishing port on the
sea-coast after the decline of Tyre and Sidon, and contained an immense
population; the town must have extended over the plain to the east of
the city, which is still rich in ancient débris, fragments of pottery,
and marble carvings. A great part of the modern fortification has been
built from the ruins of Athlit, which I have described in a former
letter, and which, before it was thus despoiled at the beginning of this
century, must have been an ancient crusading fortress in almost perfect
condition. When one thinks how lately it has been destroyed, one is all
the more inclined to regret the disappearance of a monument which would
have been the most interesting relic of its kind in existence. Acre
possesses little Biblical interest. It is only mentioned once in the Old
Testament, where it is alluded to as being a town from which the tribe
of Asher, in whose territory it was situated, did not succeed in driving
the Canaanites, but seemed to have lived with them in it upon friendly
terms; and once in the New Testament, where, under the name of
Ptolemais, it was visited by Paul on his way from Greece to Jerusalem.

There are many old people now in Acre who tell thrilling stories of the
episodes which occurred here during the years when it was occupied by
the Egyptians, between 1830 and 1840, and when it became necessary not
merely to conciliate the conquerors, but to play a double game of
keeping on good terms with the Turks, to whom it was ultimately, and, as
it now turns out, foolishly, restored by the British; but none so
thrilling as those which they have heard from their fathers, of the
incidents which marked the reigns of Jezzar and Abdullah Pacha,
especially the former. The following story was told me by the son of the
man who was the confidential secretary of this fiend in human shape, who
gloried in the name of “The Butcher.” In youth he sold himself to a
slave-merchant in Constantinople, and, being purchased by Ali Bey of
Egypt, he rose from the humble station of a mameluke to be Governor of
Cairo. In 1773 he was placed by the Emir of the Druses in command at
Beyrout. There his first act was to seize 50,000 piastres, the property
of the emir, and the second to declare that he acknowledged no superior
but the sultan. The emir, by the aid of a Russian fleet, drove Jezzar
from Beyrout, but he was soon after made Pacha of Acre and Sidon. Under
his vigorous rule the pachalik extended from Baalbec on the north to
Jerusalem on the south. My informant told me that he was not originally
a cruel man, but that one day he was playing with a little daughter who
pulled his beard. “This is very wrong,” he said; “how did you learn to
play with men's beards?” “Oh,” she replied, “I always play with the
beards of the mamelukes when they visit the ladies of the harem in your
absence.” This excited a fit of frenzied jealousy. Taking an escort, he
announced that he was going on an official visit to a distant part of
his pachalik. When he was a stage out of Acre, he told his escort to
remain where they were, disguised himself, and returned rapidly and
secretly to his harem. Here he found all his favourite wives disporting
themselves with his mamelukes or military body-guard. Instantly he drew
his cimeter and fell, not upon the men, but upon the women. Fifteen of
these he is said to have killed with his own hand, and then, growing
tired of the effort, he called in some soldiers to complete the
massacre, not leaving one alive. My informant did not remember the total
number slain. The mamelukes rushed to the great magazines, and swore
they would blow themselves up and the whole town if a hair of their
heads was touched. They were allowed, therefore, to saddle their horses
and ride of in peace; but from that day the whole character of Jezzar
Pacha was changed, and he made it a rule never to allow a week to pass
without executions. His Jew banker was a handsome man. One day Jezzar
complimented him on his looks, and then, calling a servant, ordered him
to put out one of the Jew's eyes. Some time after Jezzar observed that
the banker had arranged his turban so as almost to hide the lost eye,
and he then, without a moment's hesitation, had his nose cut off. The
poor Jew finally lost his head. The family of this man are still among
the chief bankers of Damascus.

This butcher also employed his own leisure moments in unexpectedly
drawing his sword and cutting off the ears and noses of his favourites
and the people about him, and sometimes their heads, with his own hand.
This was the man whom Napoleon besieged in Acre, and with whom British
troops were unfortunately compelled to ally themselves to prevent the
fortress from falling into French hands. My informant told me that
during the latter years of Jezzar Pacha's life his character again
changed for the better, and he gradually gave up his cruel practices. In
fact, he described his cruelty as a monomania produced by a fit of
jealousy, which it took him some years to get over.


                      THE BABS AND THEIR PROPHET.

Haifa, Nov. 7.—The Nahr N'aman, called by the ancients the river Belus,
rises in a large marsh at the base of a mound in the plain of Acre
called the Tell Kurdany, and, after a short course of four miles, fed by
the swampy ground through which it passes, it attains considerable
dimensions. Before falling into the sea it winds through an extensive
date-grove, and then, twisting its way between banks of fine sand, falls
into the ocean scarcely two miles from the walls of Acre. Pliny tells us
that glass was first made by the ancients from the sands of this river,
and the numerous specimens of old glass which I found in grubbing bear
testimony to the extensive usage of this material in the neighbourhood.
The beach at its mouth was also celebrated as a locality where the
shells which yielded the Tyrian purple were to be found in great
abundance, and I have succeeded in extracting the dye from some of those
I have collected here. It was also renowned for a colossal statue of
Memnon, which, according to Pliny, was upon its banks, but the site of
this has not been accurately identified. The only point of attraction
now upon its waters is a garden belonging to an eminent Persian, whose
residence at Acre is invested with such peculiar interest that I made an
expedition to his pleasure-ground on the chance of discovering something
more in regard to him than it was possible to do at Haifa.

Turning sharply to the right before reaching Acre, and passing beneath
the mound upon which Napoleon planted his batteries in 1799, we enter a
grove of date-trees by a road bordered with high cactus hedges, and
finally reach a causeway which traverses a small lake formed by the
waters of the Belus, and which, crossing one arm of the river, lands us
upon an island which it encircles. This island, which is about two
hundred yards long by scarcely a hundred wide, is all laid out in
flower-beds and planted with ornamental shrubs and with fruit-trees.
Coming upon it suddenly it is like a scene in fairy land. In the centre
is a plashing fountain from which the water is conveyed to all parts of
the garden. The flower-beds are all bordered with neat edges of
stone-work, and are sunk below the irrigating channels. Over a marble
bed the waters from the fountain come rippling down in a broad stream to
a bower of bliss, where two immense and venerable mulberry-trees cast an
impenetrable shade over a platform with seats along the entire length of
one side, protected by a balustrade projecting over the waters of the
Belus, which here runs in a clear stream, fourteen or fifteen feet wide
and two or three deep, over a pebbly bottom, where fish of considerable
size, and evidently preserved, are darting fearlessly about, or coming
up to the steps to be fed. The stream is fringed with weeping willows,
and the spot, with its wealth of water, its thick shade, and air
fragrant with jasmine and orange blossoms, forms an ideal retreat from
the heats of summer. The sights and sounds are all suggestive of languor
and _dolce far niente_, of that peculiar condition known to Orientals as
_kief_, when the senses are lulled by the sounds of murmuring water, the
odours of fragrant plants, the flickering shadows of foliage, or the
gorgeous tints of flowers and the fumes of the narghileh.

The gardener, a sedate Persian in a tall cap, who kept the place in
scrupulous order, gave us a dignified welcome. His master, he said,
would not come till the afternoon, and if we disappeared before his
arrival we were welcome to spread our luncheon on his table under the
mulberry-trees, and sit round it on his chairs; nay, further, he even
extended his hospitality to providing us with hot water.

Thus it was that we took possession of Abbas Effendi's garden before I
had the honour of making that gentleman's acquaintance, an act of no
little audacity, when I inform you that he claims to be the eldest son
of the last incarnation of the Deity. As his father is alive and
resident at Acre—if one may venture to talk of such a being as resident
anywhere—my anxiety to see the son was only exceeded by my curiosity to
investigate the father. But this, as I shall presently explain, seems a
hope that is not likely to be realized. Meantime I shall proceed to give
you, so far as I have been able to learn, an account of who Abbas
Effendi's father is, and all that I know about him, premising always
that I only do so subject to any modification which further
investigation may suggest.

It is now forty-eight years since a young man of three-and-twenty
appeared at the shrine of Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet, who was
made a martyr at Kerbela. He was said to have been born at Shiraz, the
son of a merchant there, and his name was Ali Mohammed. It is supposed
that he derived his religious opinions from a certain Indian Mussulman,
called Achsai, who instituted a system of reform, and made many
disciples. Whether this is so or not, the young Persian soon acquired a
pre-eminent reputation for sanctity, and the boldness and enthusiasm of
his preaching and the revolutionary sentiments he uttered attracted many
to his teaching. So far as I have been able to judge, he preached a pure
morality of the loftiest character, denouncing the abuses of existing
Islam as Christ did the Judaism of his day, and fearlessly incurring the
hostility of Persian Phariseeism. A member himself of the Shiite sect of
Moslems, he sought to reform it, as being the state religion of Persia,
and finally went so far as to proclaim himself at Kufa the _bab_, or
door, through which alone man could approach God. At the same time he
announced that he was the Mahdi, or last Imaum, who was descended from
Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet, and whom the Shiites believe to have
been an incarnation of the Deity. Mahdi is supposed by all Persian
Moslems not to have died, but to be awaiting in concealment the coming
of the last day.

As may be imagined, the sudden appearance after so many centuries of a
reformer who claimed to be none other than the long-expected divine
manifestation, created no little consternation throughout Persia, more
especially as, according to tradition, the time had arrived when such a
manifestation was to be looked for, and men's minds were prepared for
the event. The Persian enthusiast, as soon as his preaching became
popular and his pretensions vast, roused the most violent hostility, and
he was executed at Tabriz in 1849, after a brief career of fourteen
years, at the early age of thirty-seven. The tragic circumstances
attending his death enhanced his glory, for he was repeatedly offered
his life if he would consent to abate his claims, or even leave the
country. He preferred, however, a martyr's crown, and was executed in
the presence of a vast multitude, leaving behind him a numerous and
fanatic sect, who have since then been known as the Babs, and whose
belief in the founder subsequent persecutions on the part of the
government have only served to confirm.

The Bab before his execution gave it to be understood that though he was
apparently about to die, he, or rather the divine incarnation of which
he was the subject, would shortly reappear in the person of his
successor, whom, I believe, he named secretly. I do not exactly know
when the present claimant first made known his pretensions to be that
successor, but, at all events, he was universally acknowledged by the
Bab sect, now numbering some hundreds of thousands, and became so
formidable a personage, being a man of high lineage—indeed, it is
whispered that he is a relative of the Shah himself—that he was made
prisoner by the government and sent into exile. The Sultan of Turkey
kindly undertook to provide for his incarceration, and for some years he
was a state prisoner at Adrianople. Finally he was transported from that
place to Acre, on giving his parole to remain quietly there and not
return to Persia, and here he has been living ever since, an object of
adoration to his countrymen, who flock hither to visit him, who load him
with gifts, and over two hundred of whom remain here as a sort of
permanent body-guard.

He is visible only to women or men of the poorest class, and obstinately
refuses to let his face be seen by any man above the rank of a fellah or
peasant. Indeed, his own disciples who visit him are only allowed a
glimpse of his august back, and in retiring from that they have to back
out with their faces towards it. I have seen a lady who has been
honoured with an interview, during which he said nothing beyond giving
her his blessing, and after about three minutes motioned to her to
retire. She describes him as a man of probably about seventy years of
age, but much younger-looking, as he dyes both his hair and his beard
black, but of a very mild and benevolent cast of countenance. He lives
at a villa in the plain, about two miles beyond Acre, which he has
rented from a Syrian gentleman of my acquaintance, who tells me that
once or twice he has seen him walking in his garden, but that he always
turns away so that his face shall not be seen. Indeed, the most profound
secrecy is maintained in regard to him and the religious tenets of his
sect.

Not long ago, however, public curiosity was gratified, for one of his
Persian followers stabbed another for having been unworthy of some
religious trust, and the great man himself was summoned as a witness.

“Will you tell the court who and what you are?” was the first question
put.

“I will begin,” he replied, “by telling you who I am not. I am not a
camel driver”—this was an allusion to the Prophet Mohammed—“nor am I the
son of a carpenter”—this in allusion to Christ. “This is as much as I
can tell you to-day. If you will now let me retire, I will tell you
to-morrow who I am.”

Upon this promise he was let go; but the morrow never came. With an
enormous bribe he had in the interval purchased an exemption from all
further attendance at court.

That his wealth is fabulous may be gathered from the fact that not long
since a Persian emir or prince, possessing large estates, came and
offered them all, if in return he would only allow him to fill his
water-jars. The offer was considered worthy of acceptance, and the emir
is at this moment a gardener in the grounds which I saw over the wall of
my friend's villa. This is only one instance of the devotion with which
he is regarded, and of the honours which are paid to him: indeed, when
we remember that he is believed to possess the attributes of Deity, this
is not to be wondered at. Meantime his disciples are patiently waiting
for his turn to come, which will be on the last day, when his divine
character will be recognized by unbelievers.


                      AN ANCIENT JEWISH COMMUNITY.

Haifa, Nov. 25.—In one of the most remote and secluded valleys in the
mountains of northern Galilee lies a village, the small population of
which possesses an interest altogether unique. As I looked down upon it
from the precipitous and dangerous path by means of which I was skirting
the flank of the mountain, I thought I had rarely seen a spot of such
ideal beauty. It was an oasis, not actually in a desert—for the rocky
mountain ranges were covered with wild herbage—but in a savage
wilderness of desolation, in the midst of which the village nestled in a
forest of orange, almond, fig, and pomegranate trees, the tiny rills of
water by which they were irrigated glistening like silver threads in the
sunlight, and the yellow crops beyond contrasting with the dull green of
the hill verdure, long deprived of water, and the gray rocks which
reared their craggy pinnacles above it.

The name of this village was Bukeia. I had heard vaguely of the
existence of a spot in Galilee where a community of Jews lived who
claimed to be the descendants of families who had tilled the land in
this same locality prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the
subsequent dispersion of the race; as it had never been suspected that
any remnant of the nation had clung to the soil of their fathers from
time immemorial, and as it is certain that this is the only remnant that
has, I took some trouble to ascertain the name of the village, and felt
that it was worth a pilgrimage to visit it. Although hitherto unknown to
Europeans and tourists, it has been for many years a spot much
frequented by the Jews of Safed and Tiberias, and this summer
especially, when the cholera panic prevailed in the country, there was a
perfect rush of the wealthier Jews and rabbis of those towns to its pure
air and bracing climate. In a small way it is a sort of Jewish
sanatorium.

But the village does not consist altogether of Jews. In fact, they form
the minority of the population, which is composed of eighty Druse, forty
Greek-Christian, and twenty Jewish families, the latter numbering about
one hundred and twenty souls in all. Refusing the invitation of the
Druse and Christian sheiks to accept their hospitality, I listened
rather to the solicitations of the elderly Hebrew who eagerly placed his
house at my disposal, and was the patriarch of his coreligionists, his
local title being, like those of the heads of the other communities,
that of sheik. His house was a stone erection with a court-yard, and
contained a single large room, which, as is common in Arab houses,
afforded eating and sleeping accommodation for the whole family. On this
occasion it soon became crowded to excess.

First appeared the Druse sheik, with white turban, and composed and
dignified bearing. Then the sheik of the Christians, a man in no way to
be distinguished from the ordinary type of native fellahin; then the
Greek priest, in his high, round-topped black hat and long black coat,
reaching nearly to his feet; then the Jewish rabbi, who officiates at
the synagogue, in flowing Eastern robe; then some village notables of
all three religions, who all squatted on mats, forming a semicircle, of
which my friends and I were the centre, and which involved a large
demand upon our host for coffee, for on these occasions it is a great
breach of politeness not to furnish all the uninvited guests who flock
in to see distinguished strangers with that invariable beverage. When
one or two Moslems, who were temporary visitors to the village, dropped
in from curiosity, I could not fail to be struck with the singular
ethnological and theological compound by which I was surrounded. Here,
in these Christian and Moslem peasants, were the descendants of those
ancient Canaanites whom the conquering Jews failed to drive out of the
country during the entire period of their occupation of it, though they
doubtless served their conquerors as hewers of wood and drawers of
water, and as farm-servants generally; for the result of the most recent
and exhaustive research proves, I think, incontestably that the fellahin
of Palestine, taken as a whole, are the modern representatives of those
old tribes which the Israelites found settled in the country, such as
the Canaanites, Hivites, Jebusites, Amorites, Philistines, Edomites. In
what proportion these various tribes are now represented, whether they
were preceded by a still older autochthonous population, namely, the
Anakim, Horites, and so forth, are questions which have so far been
beyond the reach of scientific research. But though this race, or rather
conglomeration of races, which may be designated for want of a better by
the vague title of pre-Israelite, still survives beneath the Mohammedan
or Christian exterior, it has not remained uninfluenced during the lapse
of centuries by the many events and circumstances that have happened in
Palestine.

Each successive change in the social and political condition of the
country has more or less affected it in various ways, and we must not be
surprised when studying the fellahin at finding Jewish, Hellenic,
Rabbinic, Christian, and Mussulman reminiscences mingled pell-mell, and
in the quaintest combinations, with traits which may bring us back to
the most remote and obscure periods of pre-Israelite existence. Indeed,
for anything one could say to the contrary, the Christian fellahin of
this village, though they had resisted the proselytizing efforts of the
Saracen conquest in the sixth century, may, before they were converted
to Christianity, have worshipped the gods of the Græco-Roman period;
before that they may have been Jews, for there can be little question
that the aboriginal population, to some extent, adopted the Jewish faith
after the conquest, and before that were worshippers of the
Syro-Phœnician deities, Baal and Ashtaroth. They may in those old times,
when Jewish power was supreme, have been in this very village the
servants of the ancestors of these very Jews who now share its land with
them, as they had, according to their traditions, done from the most
ancient period; and this means, in a country where genealogies are
preserved for centuries upon centuries, a very long time ago. I have a
friend at Haifa who says he can trace his ancestry back to the crusades,
when his family was resident at the old town of the same name; and, as a
grotesque illustration of their pretensions, a story is told of a
Bedouin sheik who, being asked whether he was descended from Abraham,
said that he could trace further back, and that, in fact, Abraham was
not a sheik of a very good family.

The only really modern intruders in the group by which I was surrounded
were the Druses, who only settled in the village about three hundred
years ago, and whose origin prior to nine hundred years ago, when we
know that they were settled at Aleppo, is rather obscure; but it is
generally believed that they were originally a tribe inhabiting the
province of Yemen. Here, too, in this small group of Arabic-speaking
people, were represented four of the most widely divergent religions.
There were the two Moslems, whose ancestors, probably, prior to the
conquest of Palestine by the Saracens, had been Christians, but had then
adopted the faith of the Prophet. There was the priest of the Greek
Church, still clinging to the dogmas which he inherited from the first
Christians—the descendant, possibly, of one who had actually listened to
the words of Christ and his disciples, in the country which their
posterity has never left. And indeed it is a curious reflection in
looking at these fellahin to think that they may be the direct
descendants of some of those thousands who were influenced at the time
by the teaching which has since swayed the moral sentiment of civilized
humanity. Then there were the Jews—the only group of Jews existing in
the world whose ancestors have clung to the soil ever since that
Teacher's tragic death, and whose fathers may have shared in the general
hostility to him at the time—representing still the faith which was the
repository of the highest moral teaching prior to Christianity, prior to
Mohammedanism. Lastly, there were the Druses, in whose esoteric religion
is to be found the most extraordinary confusion of metaphysical notions,
gnostic and pagan, the outcome of a mystical interweaving of ideas
derived from the most divergent faiths, with a Magian or Zoroastrian
basis, upon which Hindoo and Buddhist, Jewish and Platonic, Christian
and Moslem dogmas have been successively grafted, forming a system so
recondite and abstruse that only the initiated can comprehend it, if
indeed they can.

Such were the mixed religious and race conditions by which I was
surrounded, and I was much struck by the apparent tolerance and
amiability with which all the members of these different religions
regarded each other. The Jewish rabbi told me privately that he much
preferred Druses to Christians; but he lived on good terms with all. And
when I went to see the synagogue the Greek priest strolled round with
me, and the rabbi returned the compliment by accompanying us when I went
to visit the little Greek church. Meantime, the Hebrew sheik had
summoned all the Jewish population, and they came trooping in to perform
the usual Eastern salutation of kissing the hand. Old men and maidens,
young men and married women and children, I saw them all, nor, so far as
dress and facial type were concerned, was it possible to distinguish
them from the fellahin of the country generally. These twenty families
seemed all to have descended from one stock, they all had the same name,
Cohen, and they have never intermarried either with the people of the
country or even with other Jews. I afterwards had some conversation with
the Christian and Druse sheiks in regard to them. They said that
formerly more of the village lands belonged to them, but owing to the
wars, pestilences, and other misfortunes which had overtaken the country
at various times, their property had become diminished; indeed, there
can be little doubt that the Druses themselves, when Fakr Eddin
conquered this part of the country, appropriated some of it; so that
now, so far as their worldly circumstances go, the Jews are badly off.
Nevertheless they do not complain, and are skilful, hard-working, and
persevering agriculturists, to my mind more deserving of sympathy than
many of their coreligionists who have come to settle in the country as
colonists, depending more upon the assistance which they derive from
without than upon their own efforts. The experience and example of their
coreligionists at Bukeia would make the neighbourhood of that place a
desirable locality for a colony.

From Bukeia I followed a northwesterly direction, by a most picturesque
mountain path, and in a few hours reached the romantically situated town
of Tershiha, where I was most hospitably entertained by the Cadi, a
dignified Arab gentleman of a true old Oriental type which is now
becoming rare. This place contains about two thousand inhabitants. They
are nearly all the adherents of a certain sheik, Ali el-Mograbi, a
Moslem reformer, who emigrated to this place from the north of Africa
many years ago, and whose preaching has been attended with remarkable
success. As his fame grew he moved to Acre, where he exercises an
extraordinary influence. The tenets of the sect of which he is the head
are kept a profound secret, though there is nothing to distinguish the
worship of the initiated from that of any ordinary sect of howling
dervishes, to the outside observer, except the sparing use of the name
of Mohammed. It is said, however, that their views are latitudinarian,
and, that, so far from being exclusive or fanatic, are rather in the
sense of extreme toleration for other religions. Whatever be the nature
of their heterodoxy, it is not now interfered with. Indeed, it is hinted
that the sheik counts among his followers some of the most highly placed
officials in the empire, and there can be little doubt that his
doctrines are spreading rapidly among Moslems, while even Christians
have joined the society. A large new mosque is now in progress of
erection at Haifa. The sheik himself, whose acquaintance I made
subsequently, is now a very old man, regarded with the most extreme
veneration by his followers, and the results of his teaching prove that
he must be endowed with gifts of a very high order.


                    DOMESTIC LIFE AMONG THE SYRIANS.

Haifa, March 1, 1884.—The ordinary tourists in Palestine who write books
of their experience have so little opportunity of knowing the conditions
which surround the daily life of a resident in a small country town,
that a few details of domestic existence here, as contrasted with those
of more civilized countries, may not be uninteresting. As a general
rule, the foreigner who comes to a native town to settle down as a
permanent inhabitant finds himself compelled more or less to adopt the
manners and customs of the richer class of Syrians, which gives him an
opportunity of becoming acquainted with their home life. Some of these
are wealthy merchants or large landed proprietors, with incomes varying
from $5000 to $15,000, though a man whose yearly revenue reached the
latter amount, of which he would not spend half, would be considered a
millionaire, and few small towns can boast of so great a capitalist. As,
owing to the march of civilization, the richer classes have of late
years taken to travel and the study of languages, persons occupying this
position generally speak either French or Italian, have visited Paris,
Constantinople, or Alexandria, and have a thin varnish of European
civilization overlaying their native barbarism.

The rich families of the Syrian aristocracy are almost invariably
Christians, but they have only recently shaken off the manners of their
Mohammedan neighbours and conquerors. The women associate far more
freely than they used to do with the men. They now no longer cover their
faces, and although they still wear the “fustan,” or white
winding-sheet, which serves as cloak and head-dress in one, it nearly
always conceals a dress of European make, while, instead of bare feet
thrust into slippers, they have Paris bottines and stockings. The men of
this class also dress in European garments, wearing, however, the red
fez cap.

The domestic arrangements of a family of this description are by no
means so refined in character as the external aspect of the house and
its proprietor, when he is taking his exercise on a gorgeously
caparisoned Arab horse, would suggest. If we are on sufficiently
intimate terms with him to stay as a guest in his house, we find that
his pretty wife, with her Paris dress and dainty chaussure, walks about
in the privacy of the domestic home with bare, or at best stockinged,
feet, thrust into high wooden pattens, with which she clatters over the
handsome marble hall that forms the central chamber of the house,
slipping out her feet and leaving the pattens at the door of any of the
rooms she may be about to enter. She wears a loose morning-wrapper,
which she is not particular about buttoning, but in this respect she is
outdone by sundry dishevelled maid-servants, who also clatter about the
house in pattens and in light garments that seem to require very little
fastening in front. As for the husband, who, when he called upon you,
might have come off the boulevards of Paris, barring always the red cap,
he has now reverted absolutely into the Oriental. He wears a long white
and not unbecoming garment that reaches from his throat to his heels,
and his feet are thrust into red slippers. As he sips his matutinal cup
of coffee and smokes his first narghileh of the day, there is nothing
about him to remind you that he knows a word of any other language than
Arabic, or has ever worn any other costume than that of his Eastern
ancestors. He is sitting in his own little den, with his feet tucked
under him on the divan which runs around the room, and with his wife in
close proximity, her feet tucked under her, and also smoking a narghileh
and sipping coffee.

Yet, if you call upon this worthy couple as a distinguished foreigner,
in the afternoon, accompanied by your wife, and are not on intimate
terms, you are received in a room which they never enter, except upon
such state occasions, by the same gentleman, in a perfectly fitting
black frock-coat and trousers, varnished boots, and a white waistcoat,
and by the same lady, in a dress which has been made in Paris.

The furniture consists of massive tables with marble tops, and handsome
arm-chairs and couches covered with costly satins. The walls are
resplendent with gilt mirrors and with heavy hanging curtains. The
floors are covered with rich carpets. There is a three-hundred-dollar
piano, on which the lady never plays; and there are pictures, of which
the frames are more artistic than the subjects—the whole having the air
of a show repository of some sort. Indeed, if your host is at all taken
by surprise, the first thing he does is to open all the shutters, as,
except upon such occasions, the apartment is one of silent and absolute
gloom. He has a guest-chamber, also furnished after a civilized style,
in which he puts you, if you are going to stay with him, and he has so
far adopted civilized habits that he sleeps on a bed himself, and not on
mats on the floor, like his forefathers. His dinner is served on a
table, which is spread as he has seen it spread in the houses of
foreigners, but he retains the native cooking, the huge pillaw of rice,
the chicken stew with rich and greasy gravy, the lamb stuffed with
pistachio nuts, the leben or sour milk, the indescribable sweet dishes,
crisp, sticky, and nutty, the delicious preserves of citrons, dates, and
figs, the flat bread and the goat cheese, and the wine of the country.

Altogether, he gives you plenty to eat, drink, and smoke, but his
conversational powers and ideas are limited, which is not to be wondered
at, considering that there is not a book in the house. He tells you that
the house cost him $9000, which does not seem likely to be an
exaggeration when we look at the handsome marble floors and staircase,
massive arches, and the extent of ground which is covered by spacious
halls and ample courts.

The kitchen and offices, if you have the curiosity to look into them,
are filthy in the extreme, and the process of cooking the dinner,
performed by a slovenly female, had better not be too closely examined.
His domestic establishment probably consists of four women and two or
three men who look after the stables, in which are three or four
handsome horses, and a garden requiring constant attention. He has no
wheeled vehicle, for there are no roads. The women rarely take any other
exercise than that of waddling on gossiping visits to each other, when
their conversation turns entirely on domestic subjects, on the marital
traits of their respective husbands, on congratulations on the arrival
of children, if they are boys, and condolences if they are girls, and on
hopeful speculation and encouragement if there are none at all; for of
all misfortunes which can befall a Syrian lady, to be childless is the
greatest. If there are grown-up daughters they are carefully protected
from intimacy with young men, and marriages are arranged by the parents.
The chances of making a good match depend more on the amount of the
marriage-settlement than on their looks. If the family happens to be a
large one it is not uncommon to see a young lady who has been brought up
in what, in Syria, is considered luxury, married to some poor and
distant connection, whose family live in the humblest manner. In such a
case the contrast is greater than can be imagined in our country. She is
transferred from the palatial residence I have described to a
one-storied house which probably does not consist of more than two
rooms, and where her husband's family live in the old style. Here she is
received, perhaps, by his mother and sister, with whom she is to live;
who wear the pure native costume; who have never had a shoe or stocking
on in their lives; who sleep on mats on the floor, for there are no
bedsteads; who partake of their meals squatting on their heels, for
there are no chairs or tables; and who eat with their fingers, for there
are no knives and forks.

If the newly married couple do not occupy the same room with the rest of
the family, they share the other one with the domestic animals. These
probably consist of a horse, a cow, and a donkey. For the sake of
security they are stabled in the room of the master of the house. Their
manger is on a level with the floor on which he and his bride sleep. I
have before now shared such a room with a young married couple—she, the
daughter of a wealthy man who lived in civilized style—and all night I
have been disturbed by the crunching of the animals feeding within a few
feet of where I was lying; with their constant rising up and lying down;
with the movements of my host and hostess, who would get up constantly
in the night, sometimes to feed the animals, which were required for
work before sunrise, sometimes to replenish the charcoal fire, sometimes
to attend to the baby, or to open the door and hold a whispered
conference with some nocturnal visitor. As there is no undressing on
going to bed, among these people, and as they indulge in long snoozes
during the day, the night does not seem to be so especially devoted to
sleep as with us. They appear to think that, as going to bed simply
consists in lying down on the floor in your clothes, one part of the
twenty-four hours will do as well for sleep as another, and their nights
are restless accordingly. As a general rule, for persons who have not
been long enough in the country to get used to insects, the nights are
made restless from other causes.

It is curious, in the case of such a marriage as I have described, to
see the change which takes place when the young wife leaves the retired
village to which she has been banished, owing to the impoverished
circumstances of her husband, to pay a visit to her own family. I
scarcely recognize her when I meet her again. When last I saw her in her
humble home her costume consisted of a thin sort of chemisette, a pair
of full, baggy trousers fastened at the knee, leaving the legs and feet
bare, and over these a skirt, and we were dipping our fingers amicably
into the same dish of rice. Now I would walk down Broadway with her on
my arm, and be rather proud of her fashionable “get up” than otherwise;
and she handles her knife and fork with far greater dexterity than I did
my fingers.

The wave of civilization is, however, rapidly encroaching upon these
humbler classes. It is only natural that a girl brought up in this way
should endeavour to introduce innovations into her husband's home.
Within the last few years there has been a marked change in this
respect, particularly in a town like Haifa, where the Christian
population largely predominates. A veiled face is rarely to be seen,
while women, even of the poorer classes, are introducing the fashion of
wearing gowns, adding a table and a few chairs to their domestic
furniture, and have even gone the length of sleeping on bedsteads,
though I have not yet pried sufficiently into nocturnal mysteries to
know whether, when they go to bed, they have progressed in civilization
so far as to undress.


                       FISHING ON LAKE TIBERIAS.

Haifa, April 2.—I have just returned from a trip into the interior,
during which I have been exploring some new and interesting country.
Instead of following the usual road to the eastward by way of the valley
of Esdraelon, I struck in a northeasterly direction across the fertile
plain of Acre, fording the Kishon at the point of its debouchure into
the sea, where, after the winter rains, we are generally obliged to swim
the horses, while we cross ourselves in a ferry-boat. In two hours from
this point we strike the first low range of the Galilee hills, at a
depression from which, in the times of the crusaders, the armies of
Saladin used to issue forth to give them battle. Indeed, the whole
ground over which we ride has been from time immemorial the scene of
bloody warfare, and it is not impossible, considering how events are
shaping themselves in the East, that it may become so again. Rising
gently, by grassy vales carpeted with wild flowers, to a height of about
five hundred feet, we shortly reach the picturesquely situated town of
Shefr Amr, dominated by the extensive walls of its ruined castle.

This has been a place of considerable importance ever since, shortly
after the destruction of Jerusalem, it was the seat of the Jewish
sanhedrim. It was then called Shefaram, and is probably identical with
the Kefraim which Eusebius says was six miles north of Legio, and with
Hapraim, which we read in the Bible was assigned to the tribe of
Issachar. Since then its name has been changed to Shefr Amr, or “the
healing of Omar,” from a tradition that Daher el-Amr, a prince who
governed this country about a hundred and sixty years ago, recovered
here from a severe illness. The fortress is said to have been built by
his son Othman in 1761, and it does not appear to be older, though
probably it occupies the site of a much more ancient castle. It covers a
very extensive area of ground, with crenellated battlements, and
contains stalls for four hundred horses. It is now partly ruined, but a
portion of it is still sufficiently well preserved to be the residence
of the Mudir, or local governor.

I scrambled by a most dilapidated stone stair to the top of the walls,
and had a magnificent view over the surrounding country. The position is
so commanding that I could well understand why Saladin chose it as a
point from which he could harass the Franks who were besieging Acre,
which town was plainly visible in the distance. I was informed that the
whole of this extensive fortress was offered by the government for sale
for $1500. The stones alone would be worth more than this amount, if it
were not for the cost of transport, to say nothing of the area of land
which they cover. But, as a matter of speculation, Barnum's
pink-and-white elephant would be about as convenient a possession for a
private individual. It is no wonder that it has been for some time in
the market, or that the town itself, when capital is so scarce, should
be a sleepy looking, stagnant place. Still, it is better built than the
average; the houses are generally constructed of stone—many of them are
of two stories—there is a fair bazaar, and a population of about two
thousand five hundred inhabitants, of which fifteen hundred are Greek
Christians, three hundred Moslems, six hundred Druses, and the remainder
Jews. Some thirty families of Morocco Jews settled here as
agriculturists about the year 1850, but after struggling against
extortion for twenty years they had to give it up, and the colony is now
extinct, the Jews now here being natives of the country. The Druse
population is also rapidly diminishing from the same cause; a slow but
steady migration takes place annually to the Druse mountains to the east
of the Hauran, where they are practically independent of government
control; there are also a few Protestants here, with a schoolhouse,
besides a convent and church of the Roman Catholic nuns (Dames de
Nazareth), built in 1866, with a girls' school.

The only other interesting building at Shefr Amr is the Greek church,
which has been rebuilt on old foundations. The remains were evidently
Byzantine work, dating probably from the fifth or sixth century. Many
interesting tombs are to be found both north and south of the town. The
most noteworthy has a handsome façade, covered with a design of a vine
with grapes in bold relief, and with small figures of birds introduced.
Each vine-plant grows out of a pot. On each side of the door is an
effaced Greek inscription, with rosettes in lozenges below and birds
above. Here, also, are fragments of Greek inscriptions, and on the left
side-wall of the vestibule is a bas-relief of a lion and a small animal,
perhaps a cub; on the right a lion, a cub, and a bird. The drawing is
very primitive, and has a Byzantine appearance. Inside this tomb, which
contains three loculi, there are mouldings round the principal arch,
with tracery of vines and carvings of birds. These tombs are interesting
because both the inscriptions and ornamentation belong to the Byzantine
period, thus proving that the mode of sepulture practised by the Jews
from the most remote date was continued by the Christians up to the
fifth or sixth century after Christ.

Our way from Shefr Amr led through the beautiful oak woods which belong
to that town, but which seem doomed to destruction, for I observed that
many of the handsomest trees were girdled near the base, while numerous
stumps bore testimony to this lamentable work of denudation. In a
country where wood is becoming so rare it was heartbreaking to ride
through this beautiful, park-like scenery and witness the work of
destruction going on in spite of the government prohibition against
felling timber. Emerging from these grassy glades we descend into the
magnificent plain of the Buttauf, now a sheet of emerald green, as the
young crops extend before us as far as the eye can reach. Traversing
this fertile country one is more and more impressed with the
incorrectness of the judgment of the ordinary tourist, who, confining
himself to the route prescribed by Cook, is taken through the barren
hills of Judea, and to one or two holy places in Galilee, and then goes
home and talks about the waste and desolation of Palestine. The trite
saying recurred to my mind as I looked on this wealth of grain: “I pity
the man who can go from Dan to Beersheba and say that all is barren;”
or, as my travelling-companion, who was an American, more forcibly put
it: “If ever I meet a tourist who tells me that Palestine is barren,
I'll lick him.”

But we were not on the tourist track, and it was not till we reached
Tiberias that we found specimens, and they were too discreet; in their
remarks to give my friend an opportunity of expressing his views in the
manner contemplated. Here we took a boat and crossed the lake. I wanted
to investigate the present fishing capabilities of these waters, but I
soon found that I had not the appropriate tackle. The natives either
fish with circular hand-nets, which they throw with great dexterity, or
with long hand-lines, which they bait with small dead fish and haul in,
thus trawling in a rough way. They have no idea of fishing with a rod,
and mine came to grief, so that I had no opportunity of casting a fly,
but I think it not unlikely, from the way I saw the fish jumping towards
evening, that they would rise to it. The natives catch their bait by
poisoning the water with pinches of a powder which they throw in near
the margin. In a few moments the minnows and small fish are to be seen
swimming lazily along the surface, completely stupefied, and one has
only to put one's hand in and take them out. The fish we caught were
principally of the bass or perch species, averaging half a pound or more
each. One of the boatmen caught a dozen with two or three casts of the
hand-net, but it was useless to try with a rod without proper tackle. I
am convinced that a spinning artificial minnow, or a copper spoon, would
be very killing; so, of course, would be trawling live bait, but the
natives know only their own primitive style of fishing, and the idea of
a rod and line, even with the common angle-worm at one end and a fool at
the other, was entirely new to them. Indeed, scarcely any fish are taken
from the lake. There are only four boats on it, but these are used more
for transport than fishing purposes, and the population is so sparse on
the shores that there is no demand. We were assured by our boatmen,
however, that they occasionally took fish over five feet in length, and
I have seen enough of what may be done to decide me to go there again
some day properly provided, instead of relying on native appliances.

The spot at which we were moored on the eastern shore of the lake was
immediately under a precipitous conical-shaped hill, which rose abruptly
to a height of twelve hundred feet from the waters. Its summit was
crowned with the ruins of the ancient city of Gamala. The modern name
for it is Kalat el-Hosn, but it owes its ancient appellation to its
shape, which is exactly that of a camel's hump. It is interesting as
having been a purely Jewish fortification, the last that was sacked by
Vespasian and Titus before the siege of Jerusalem, and it has remained
to this day exactly as they left it. Josephus gives a very graphic
account of the siege, which took place in the last days of September,
sixty-nine years after the birth of Christ. Owing to the precipices by
which it was surrounded it was supposed to be impregnable, and when, at
last, after a twenty-nine days' siege, it was found not to be so, the
whole population who had survived its horrors, consisting of five
thousand men, women, and children, flung themselves into the yawning
gulf below the ramparts, thus perishing by their own act. Of the entire
population only two women escaped alive.

When we compare the fighting of those days with the siege of Paris, for
instance, where the population surrendered because there was a little
too much sawdust in the bread, the results of modern as contrasted with
ancient civilization suggest some curious reflections. That the
civilization of those days was of a high order is attested by the
magnificent remains which still exist in Gamala. Here are to be found,
strewn over the ground, some thirty huge granite columns, which must
have been transported from Egypt to this giddy height by engineering
contrivances which would puzzle the science of these days, and
Corinthian capitals neatly cut in hard, black basalt, and sarcophagi and
other monuments, all evidencing a high state of art.

These ruins have hitherto been only superficially examined, and there
can be no doubt that the investigations of the Palestine Exploration
Fund, when the society is permitted by the Turkish government to
prosecute their researches to the east of the Jordan, will bring many
interesting treasures to light. I only regretted that I had no time to
give to these ruins, as my objective point lay farther to the south and
east.


               A VISIT TO THE SULPHUR SPRINGS OF AMATHA.

Haifa, April 15.—At the spot where the Jordan issues from Lake Tiberias
there are two large mounds, a fragment of sea-wall, and a causeway on
arches which projects into the river, dividing it from the waters of the
lake, and suggesting that it may possibly, in ancient times, have formed
the approach to a bridge. There is no bridge there now. The river swirls
round the arches, which are choked with ruins and reeds, and in a broad,
swift stream winds its way to the Dead Sea. Here, in old time, stood the
Roman city of Tarichæa, built on the site of a Phœnician fortress of
still older date. Nothing remains but heaps of rubbish covered with
broken pottery, and fragments of sculpture; but it offers, probably, a
rich field for future excavation. The modern name Kerak signifies in
Syriac “fortress,” and its natural position was remarkably strong, as
the Jordan, after leaving the lake, takes a sharp bend to the westward
and flows almost parallel with it, thus leaving an intervening peninsula
on which the town was situated. It was defended on the westward by a
broad ditch, traces of which still remain, connecting the Jordan with
the lake, thus making the peninsula an island approached only by a
causeway.

Josephus mentions Tarichæa as having been an important military post in
the wars of his time. When I visited it the lake was unusually high, and
the Jordan was unfordable, so we were obliged to ferry over, swimming
our horses and mules a distance of seventy or eighty yards across the
rapid current. Then we mounted, and galloped in a southeasterly
direction, over a fertile plain, waving at this season of the year with
luxuriant crops. I was so much struck with the fertility and
agricultural capacity of this region that I made inquiry as to its
ownership, and found that it had been presented by a former sultan to
one of the principal Bedouin sheiks of this Eastern country, and that he
was exempt from all taxation. His lands extend to the foothills, where
the Yarmuk issues from the mountains of Gilead and Jaulan, which we were
now approaching. We had ascended these but a little way when a scene
burst upon us which surprised and delighted us by its wild and
unexpected grandeur. The Yarmuk here enters the plain of the Jordan on
its way to join that river, with a volume of water fully equal to the
latter, pouring its swollen torrent between two perfectly perpendicular
precipices of basalt, which are about two hundred yards apart, and look
like some majestic gateway expressly designed by nature to afford the
river a fitting outlet to the plain after its wild course through the
mountains.

On each side of these cliffs the country swells back abruptly to a
height of seventeen hundred feet above the stream. At their base, here
and there, the limestone or basalt rock, for the two formations are
curiously intermixed, crops out sharply, forming terraces with
precipitous sides. The more distant summits are fringed with oak
forests. The general effect of the landscape, as you first burst upon it
after leaving the Jordan valley, is in the highest degree impressive.
The path, gradually ascending, winds along the edge of cliffs, rising to
a sheer height of three hundred feet from the torrent which foams
beneath. We are so close to their margin on the right that it makes us
giddy to look down, while on the left hand grassy slopes, covered with
wild flowers, rise to the base of other cliffs above us. For an hour we
wind along these dizzy ledges. In one place I observed a hundred feet of
limestone superimposed upon two hundred of basalt, the whole forming a
black-and-white precipice very remarkable to look upon. In fact, my
further investigations of this valley of the Yarmuk, some portion of
which, I believe, we were the first to explore, have convinced me that
it affords finer scenery than is to be found in any other part of
Palestine. It is astonishing that it should have remained until now
almost entirely unknown. Where the valley opened a little we saw beneath
us a small plain, almost encircled by the river, and on it about twenty
Bedouin tents. Our unexpected and novel appearance on the cliff above
evidently caused some little stir and amazement, but they were too far
below us to communicate with, so we pushed on to a point where the path
suddenly plunged down by a series of steps between walls of black
basalt, making a very steep descent for loaded mules, and one not
altogether pleasant for mounted men. It had the advantage of bringing us
soon to the bottom, however, but not before my eyes were gladdened by
the sight of one of the objects for which I had undertaken the trip.

At my feet, and separated from the river by a narrow strip of land
covered with bushes, was a long pool of bluish-gray water, in marked
contrast with the yellow stream. Above it floated a very light mist, or,
rather, haze. Following with the eye a little stream of the same
coloured water which entered it, past a primitive mill, I saw that it
debouched from another pond similar in colour, and evidently its source,
and to this our path was conducting us. It was the first of the hot
sulphur springs of Amatha, celebrated by Eusebius as being much
frequented in the time of the Romans, and famous for their healing
qualities. We soon reached its margin, and, dismounting, tethered our
horses under the shade of a large tree, and stretched ourselves for a
rest after our ride, preparatory to a slight repast and a more minute
investigation of the springs and the ruins by which they are surrounded.
Our nostrils were regaled by a strong odour of rotten eggs, which left
no doubt in our minds as to the quality of the water in the immediate
neighborhood. We were here at a depression of five hundred and fifty
feet below the surface of the sea, but the climate, which must be
intolerably hot in summer, was at this time of year delightful. We were
soon sufficiently rested to scramble down to the pool, only a few yards
below us, which was about fifty yards long by thirty broad, and
apparently five or six feet deep. The temperature was 98°, and the taste
of the water very strongly sulphurous. Then we ascended a mound behind,
covered with ruins, consisting principally of fragments of columns,
carved stone seats, and drafted blocks which had been used for building
purposes. Immediately behind this mound was an extensive ruin,
consisting of three arches in a fair state of preservation. Two of the
arches were fifteen or twenty feet high, and enclosed a semicircular
space or hall for bathers. On the other side was a vaulted building
which partly enclosed what is at this day the only frequented spring.
This is a circular pool. Part of the old masonry which enclosed it still
remains. The pool is about twenty-five feet wide, with a temperature so
high that I found it impossible to keep my hand in it. To my great
astonishment, and to theirs also when they saw me suddenly appear, four
or five Arabs were bathing in it. How their bodies could support the
heat was to me a mystery. They did not support it long. They were no
sooner in than out, their bodies looking as much like lobsters as the
complexion of their skins would permit. They laughed, and invited me to
join them. One or two were stretched full length on the identical stone
slabs under the building on which, doubtless, two thousand years ago,
the bathers of that date used to repose after having been half boiled
alive.

This spring must be of immense volume, to judge by the size of the
torrent which gushed from it, and which was crossed on stepping-stones,
flowing away in what would be considered a good-sized trout stream, to
mingle its waters with the Yarmuk after a course of a few hundred yards.
We determined, when our tents arrived, to pitch them near this spring,
on the brink of another stream which flowed in from the eastward, and
which, though slightly sulphurous, was drinkable. Indeed, we did not
object to taking a moderate amount of this wholesome medicament into our
organisms. We found another strong spring, not quite so hot as the one
in use, a little above our tents, so that there is no lack of water.
Indeed, I doubt whether sulphur springs of so much volume exist anywhere
else in the world. Not far from this, with its back to another mound,
were the ruins of an old Roman theatre, some of the rows of seats still
clearly discernible.

These springs are situated on a plain about a mile long and half a mile
broad, semicircular in shape, the chord of the arc consisting of a line
of basalt precipices, from which it slopes gradually to the river, which
forms the bow. It is watered by a good fresh-water spring, which rushes
from the base of the cliffs. The hot sulphur stream which issues from
the pool we first visited turns a mill and then flows into the long,
oblong pond I first saw from above. Here, after the exertions of the
day, I determined to bathe. I never enjoyed a swim more than the one in
this soft sulphur water, with a temperature of 95°. The pool was about
one hundred yards long and ten wide, and out of my depth nearly
throughout its length. The rocks, upon which I could sit comfortably up
to my neck, where the stream entered the pool were covered with a heavy
white deposit. The sensation afterwards was one of delicious languor;
but my full enjoyment of the bath was a little marred by the fact that I
had to walk a quarter of a mile back to the tents afterwards. I had a
long talk on my way, to the miller, the solitary resident of this lonely
but enchanting spot, and tried to induce him to desert the mill, of
which he was the guardian, and act as my guide up the river on the
following day; but he was either too conscientious, too lazy, or too
ignorant—I suspect the latter, as I found by experience that all the
information he gave me of a topographical nature was utterly erroneous.
It was, therefore, with a pleasing sense of anticipation that we retired
to rest, determined to trust to our own geographical instincts alone for
our proposed exploration.


                EXPLORATION OF THE VALLEY OF THE YARMUK.

Haifa, April 30.—In my last letter I described the little-known hot
sulphur springs of Amatha, with their extensive ruins, which indicate
the celebrity they must have acquired in the days of the Romans. As the
river Yarmuk above this point had, so far as I know, never been
explored, I determined to push up the gorges through which it cleaves
its way from the highlands of the Hauran to the valley of the Jordan.

Some years ago I had crossed it about thirty miles higher up, where it
flows across a plateau at an elevation of 1800 feet above the sea. I was
now standing on its margin, 550 feet below the sea. In the course of
this thirty miles, therefore, it has a fall of 2350 feet. In other
words, it was a fair presumption that there was a waterfall somewhere
between those two points which had never been visited. The inquiries
which I made from the natives on the point were unsatisfactory in their
result. They seemed unable to discriminate between a rapid and a
waterfall, and although they told me of many places where the water
rushed with great violence, they seemed to know of none where it was
precipitous. Upon one point they were, unfortunately, all agreed, which
was that there was no path up the river-side, and that it would be found
impossible at this time of year, when the stream was flooded, to force a
way up. However, we determined to try. We thought we should be more free
in our movements if we were unhampered by a guide, and directed only by
our topographical instincts.

We therefore left our tents standing, as a sort of home on which to
retreat in case of need, and struck across the small plain upon which
the springs are situated, to a ford, which four days previously had been
impracticable, but which we were assured we might now risk with safety.
The stream was here a hundred yards broad, full of large rocks, and with
a swift, turbid current that was by no means reassuring. The water came
high up on our saddle-flaps, but we reached the other bank without
mishap, and found ourselves skirting a dense thicket of tropical
underwood, above which a grove of at least three hundred date-trees
reared their tufted crests. It was a spot unlike any other to be found
in Palestine, for, although the heat in the valley of the Jordan, owing
to its depression below the sea, is as great as this, and at its
southern extremity greater, nowhere throughout its length is to be found
a spot where the vegetation is so dense and luxuriant. Here were wild
orange, lemon, fig, almond, and mulberry trees, oleanders growing to a
gigantic size, besides butm, sidr, carob, and other trees peculiar to
the country, and thickets of cane twenty feet high, forming a splendid
cover for the wild boars with which we were assured this jungle abounds.

The Arabs come here at certain seasons to gather the dates, weave mats
from the reeds, and harvest the crops of the slopes behind, which were
now all waving with young grain. During that time they live in mud
hovels, partly excavated in the ground, which were now deserted. There
was only one inhabitant, and he ran a small mill, picturesquely situated
under some date-trees, which was turned by a stream of hot sulphur water
issuing from a copious spring, with a temperature of 112°. The Yarmuk,
which flows beneath a cliff of black basalt three hundred feet high,
half encircles this unique spot, and I regretted that I had not time to
explore it thoroughly; but the jungle was so impenetrable that it was
impossible to make any impression upon it without an axe, and then it
would have been a work of time.

We now followed a track which approached the river bank. The hills,
fortunately, on our side sloped back gradually. Midway up the sheer face
of the cliff opposite we saw here and there caves, which, from their
regular shape, appear at one time to have been inhabited, but if so, the
only approach could have been from above, by baskets lowered to the
mouths, similar to the method used by the robbers who inhabited the Wady
Hamam, behind the plain of Gennesareth, in days of old. Now, instead of
robbers in baskets, we saw immense eagles sailing in front of the cliff,
in the crevices of which they had placed their nests. Crossing a spur
which jutted into the river from the mountains on our right, and which
prevented our following it closely, we obtained a splendid view of its
course for some miles. To our left were basalt and limestone cliffs, and
above them steep, sloping grass lands, now carpeted with wild flowers.
Above them again were more crags and cliffs, and then the rim which
marked the edge of the plateau, fifteen hundred feet above us. To the
right the hills sloped back more slowly, cleft here and there by wild,
rocky valleys, while their summits were fringed with oak forests. Here
and there the river foamed between precipices on both sides, and we
began to perceive that the task of exploration was by no means easy. But
it was perhaps all the more interesting. We made our horses scramble
where only goats had been before, now along the base of the cliff over
huge boulders, now half-way up its precipitous side, when prudence
suggested that horse and rider should separate, and each be responsible
for his own life and limbs. Now we forced our way through tangled
thickets of flowering shrubs that clung to the rocky sides where they
were less steep, and now, utterly baffled, diverging from the river and
toiling up a steep grassy slope, only to slip and scramble down it again
on the other side so as to regain the margin of the stream.

Our progress was necessarily slow, not only owing to the natural
obstacles we encountered, but to the fact that we were mapping the
country as we advanced; but the scenery by which we were surrounded was
too romantic to be hurried over, and too interesting, from its novelty,
not to be carefully noted. At last we reached a point where there had
been a land-slide, leaving bare one precipice a thousand feet high,
while it formed another above the stream, which it had displaced.
Nothing remained for it but to attempt another ford, and try our luck on
the opposite bank. This, to the amazement of some Bedouins, who watched
us from it and waved us back, we succeeded in accomplishing, not without
a narrow escape on the part of one of our party who, boldly leading the
way, got entangled among the rocks and eddies. We were cordially
welcomed by an Arab sheik, as we scrambled like half-drowned rats up the
bank. He invited us to his tents, which were pitched a few hundred yards
back from the stream, on a small plain. Here mats were spread for us,
coffee roasted, pounded, and prepared, and, the young men gathering
around, we proceeded, under the influence of an abundant distribution of
cigarettes on my part, to exchange ideas. They told us they belonged to
a village two and a half hours distant, and were therefore not nomads.
They came hither at this season of the year to pasture their herds and
look after their crops. I hardly like to report the conversation of
these poor people as they came to confide their grievances to us,
without our in any way inviting their confidence. Suffice it to say that
the recent measure of the government by which it has been decided to
substitute for the dime, which has heretofore been the share of the
government in the entire produce of every village, an assessment based
on the highest five years' average, has produced the greatest discontent
among the rural population, whose poverty and distress, already extreme,
owing to the extortion of the tax-gatherers even under the old system,
and the withdrawal of the bone and sinew of the country by conscription,
especially during the recent Russo-Turkish war, will thus be
intensified. In fact, these poor people were driven to such desperation
that they were most unreserved in their language, and although they are
the most long-suffering and much-enduring of races, there is a point
where the crushed worm will turn. However great the financial exigencies
of the empire may be, they would better be met by a thorough
reorganization and reform in the whole system of tax-collecting, than in
adding to the burdens of the people, which are already greater than they
can bear.

Our hosts assured us that we should find any further attempt to ascend
the river impracticable, and that there was a place where the water fell
for a considerable height, but we could only reach it by making a
circuit, which would take a day. However, we determined to judge for
ourselves, and succeeded in getting about a mile farther, when we found
the river shut in by precipices on both sides. It was impossible to
descend to it from the brow of the cliff on which we stood, much less to
ford it afterwards, or to scramble up the precipice on the other side.
There was nothing for it but to make an ascent of at least fifteen
hundred feet, either to the high plateau of Jaulan, on the right, or to
recross the river where we had already forded it, and scramble up the
steep, wooded hillsides of Ajlun until we could find a path leading in
the desired direction. This latter course we determined to adopt; so we
returned to the Arabs tents, crossed the river more successfully than
before, warned by our previous experience, and braced ourselves for a
twelve-hundred-feet climb up the best track we could find, under the
guidance of one of our recent Arab acquaintances. I had been on the
lookout all through the day for ruins, and I was now cheered by the
intelligence that I should find some on the summit of the hill we were
climbing. Such proved to be the case. The situation, at an elevation by
my aneroid of about eleven hundred feet above the sea, would indicate
that in old time it was a fortress. It was supplied with water by
cisterns, the remains of which still exist, some of them
demijohn-shaped, and one about ten feet square and twenty feet to the
bottom, which, however, was much filled up. There were many piles of
huge blocks of drafted stone, but I did not observe any columns or
carving, and I think the remains date from a period anterior to the
Roman occupation. The modern name of the place is Tel el-Hösn, but its
existence has heretofore been unknown, except to the Arabs of the
neighborhood, and its discovery was some compensation to me for the
effort I had made to reach it.


                       EXPLORATION ON THE YARMUK.

Haifa, May 15.—From the ancient fortress of El-Hösn we crossed a spur to
a high projecting point, from which we could look down a sheer precipice
one thousand feet high, which had been formed by a land-slip, to the bed
of the river. Forcing their way impetuously through a gorge opposite,
the tributary waters of the Rukkad mingled their clear stream with the
turbid Yarmuk, after a rapid course from their source in the highlands
of Jaulan, from which elevated plateau they are precipitated in a
magnificent waterfall eight hundred feet high. All this scenery is as
yet absolutely unknown and unexplored, this fall having only recently
been discovered, by my travelling companion on this occasion. I
regretted being unable to visit it, but we were limited for time, and
although it was only hidden from view by a projecting spur of the
valley, so broken up is this country by precipitous ravines and gorges,
that it would have taken us a day's hard riding to reach it.

It was with regret that we found ourselves compelled to leave the
elevated position on which we now stood, and which commanded an
extensive view, limited in the extreme east by the lofty mountains of
the Jebel Druze; and, steering our way by compass, struck a
southeasterly direction, over a park-like, undulating country, covered
with oak forest, with occasional patches of cultivation. This part of
the country to the east of the Jordan, which is called the Keferat, is
thinly inhabited, the villages being very small, squalid, and far apart,
but it is a country all waiting to yield of its abundance to some future
race who may turn its magnificent resources to good account. In many
places the trees were festooned with vines, the grapes of this district
being celebrated, but the population pay little heed to their
cultivation, for it is impossible to protect them from robbers. The
Bedouins consider the sedentary inhabitants as lawful spoil, and raid
over these lands at will, practically almost unchecked by the
authorities, whose administrative hold on the country is of the
slenderest description. It is, in fact, chiefly exercised at those times
when it is necessary to send the mounted police into the villages to
collect the taxes, and they clear up all that the Bedouins may have
left, so that these poor people are engaged in a perpetual struggle to
keep body and soul together, and although they are surrounded by a
fertile country which, if it were properly cultivated, would make them
wealthy, they only cultivate enough for their barest necessities, and
have not the heart to attempt to accumulate wealth which they would not
be permitted to keep. Situated at an elevation of about eighteen hundred
feet above the sea, these high, wooded, fertile table-lands form a
district which, should this country ever come to be occupied under more
favourable conditions than now exist, will certainly be among the first
to attract an agricultural population. The wild, rocky gorges by which
it is intersected render the task of exploration, without a guide, one
attended with some uncertainty. We take our bearings by compass, gallop
under the vine-trellised trees, over green, level slopes, or along
inviting glades, till we are suddenly brought up by a precipice down
which it is impossible to scramble, which opens unexpectedly in a gulf
at our feet. The spot we are making for is not half a mile distant, but
we have to follow the edge of the gorge in the opposite direction. Then
we come upon another at right angles, which forces us to double back
still farther; so at last we wind round the head, first of one ravine
and then of another, till we find two hours have elapsed since we were
driven back on our tracks; the half-mile has now extended over five or
six, the sun is declining with a rapidity which seems accelerated
because the daylight has become so precious to us that we cannot bear to
anticipate the prospect of its vanishing. At last we reach the head of
the valley which has baffled us so long, and are compensated by
discovering a ruin. Here are sarcophagi, rock tombs and cisterns, and
carved fragments. Fortunately we come across a peasant, the only one we
have seen since leaving the river, and he tells us that its name is
Haleebna. We write it down and take its bearings as well as we can, for
it is unknown heretofore, but the day is too far spent for us to linger
for minute examination. The peasant tells us that the best thing we can
do, if we would get back to our tents, is to go down the valley we had
intended to cross. We follow his advice and have no reason to regret it.
It is a _Viâ Mala_ of grandeur and beauty, though on a small scale. We
pass between curved limestone cliffs, the fissures in which are filled
with underwood, the shrubs cling to the rocks, from which at one place
gushes a copious stream of water, by the side of which we hurry with it
down the valley, till we get back to the Yarmuk once more, and, wearied
and exhausted, reach our tents in the gathering darkness. Here we find a
picturesque-looking Kurd waiting to receive us; he is an old soldier,
and shows us the scars of five wounds—not all, however, received in
military service, but for the most part in Arab skirmishes. He is the
agent of the government in these parts, and also of the native
capitalist who is the practical owner of the land, which is cultivated
by an Arab tribe whose tents are pitched near us; they are heavily
indebted to the capitalist aforesaid, who allows them enough of the
crops to keep them from starving and takes all the rest himself. And our
Kurdish visitor is his collector of revenue. He seems to have some
difficulty in protecting his employer's interests, and tells us
triumphantly that only a few nights before he has shot an Arab whom he
caught plundering. He says that during the bathing season as many as a
hundred tents may be seen pitched round the sulphur springs of Amatha,
and that their fame is so great that they are visited by invalids from
Aleppo and Damascus. The fact, however, that Tiberias, which is five
hours distant, is the nearest place in which supplies of any sort can be
procured, and that the only accommodation to be obtained is the
patient's own tent, must operate as a serious obstacle to the use of
these springs, about whose curative value, however, there can be no
doubt.

Our way from Amatha lay back across the Jordan valley, which at this
season of the year is a sheet of waving grain, cultivated by a branch of
the Beni Sukkr Arabs, whose large encampment, with the handsome tent of
the sheik in the centre, we pass without stopping, for we are in full
pursuit at the moment of five gazelles, which scamper across country,
giving us a good run, in which we should have certainly overtaken them
had we not been checked by a ravine. We cross the Yarmuk at a point near
its junction with the Jordan, and where it carries a volume of water
certainly equal to that stream. The Jordan here falls in a fine rapid of
about thirty feet in a distance of less than a hundred yards, and would
furnish splendid water-power for mills in a part of the country which is
much in want of them. The ancient Jisr el-Medjamieh spans the stream at
this point, guarded by a government toll-house. Crossing it, we
determined to try a short-cut up the little-known Wady Bireh, which is
watered by a clear, purling brook, which, if it were utilized, would
make this valley one of the most fertile and attractive in this part of
the country. After following its winding course for some miles, we found
it finally narrowing into a crooked gorge, the sides of which approach
so closely as scarcely to admit the passage of a loaded camel between
the overhanging rocks. Indeed, when we afterwards described our route to
the natives they said it was never used by them. However, it gave us an
opportunity of seeing some most romantic scenery, and by shortening the
way enabled us to reach Nazareth, jaded and worn out, it is true, the
same night.


                      A DRUSE RELIGIOUS FESTIVAL.

Haifa, May 27.—Travellers who have gone from Nazareth to Tiberias must
be familiar with the singular outline of a mountain which they perceive
to the left of the road, with its two rocky crests separated from each
other by a hog's back about a quarter of a mile long, and called the
Horns of Hattin. The summit of the higher peak, one thousand feet above
the sea, and about three hundred feet above the plain across which they
are riding, forms a conspicuous object in a landscape which, at this
point, is one of singular interest and beauty. Rising like a gigantic
natural pulpit, tradition has since declared it to be the Mount of the
Beatitudes, and asserts that it was from this picturesque elevation that
Christ delivered that sermon which has exercised so vast an influence on
mankind ever since.

Whether this be so or not, it is certain that the plain on which the
audience was supposed to have gathered which listened to it, was the
scene, about eleven hundred and fifty-seven years afterwards, of the
most memorable conflict in which the Crusaders ever engaged, for it was
the one which lost them Palestine, and which resulted in the triumph of
Saladin, the Saracen, and the slaughter or capture of the most powerful
and celebrated of the Crusading chiefs. At the extremity of the plain,
and immediately beneath one of the horns of the mountain, there is a
precipitous gorge, down which some of the hardly pressed Crusaders
vainly attempted flight, the horses and their riders, heavily panoplied
with armour, only escaping the spear of the Arab to meet an even more
terrible fate, as they hurled themselves headlong down the rocky
precipice. As, dismounting from my active steed, I allowed him to pick
his own way down this dangerous defile, I looked with interest at the
scene of the disaster, and listened to the story of my guide, who
narrated how, only twenty years ago, a fight had taken place here
between a celebrated Bedouin chief and a Kurdish tribe, in which the
latter were signally defeated on the old Crusading battle-ground, and,
seeking safety, like the Christian warriors, in the direction of this
treacherous gorge, left sixty dead men and horses at the bottom.

These traditions and associations served to enhance the novelty and
picturesqueness of the view before me as I entered the gorge, for it was
now the scene of a great gathering of the sheiks and chiefs of the Druse
nation, who come here annually on a pilgrimage to the shrine of one of
their most celebrated saints, at which I was fortunate enough to be
allowed to assist, a privilege which, so far as I am aware, had not
before been granted to a foreigner. The building which forms this sacred
resort has been erected by the Druses over the tomb of a certain holy
man called Schaib, but exactly who Schaib was my utmost endeavours
failed to discover. The Moslems say that he is Jethro, the father-in-law
of Moses; but when I asked the Druses whether Moses had married Schaib's
daughter, they denied it. Then a Jew of the country, familiar with the
Druses, suggested that Schaib was Balaam, but they refused altogether to
admit that an ass had ever spoken to their holy man. He had crossed the
Red Sea with Moses, they said, and after Moses' death had been ordered
by God to bury him, and had done so, and had fought against a mighty
king and prevailed against him, and had himself been buried here, and he
was the Father of all Prophets and the elect of God, and there were none
greater or more sacred than he. I thought possibly he might be Joshua,
but him they knew by his own name, so I have given up the personality of
Schaib as an insoluble mystery. He is one of those Druse characters whom
their tradition has interwoven with Biblical history, but the tomb which
they thus honour is undoubtedly considered by Moslems to be the tomb of
Jethro, who is known among them as Schaib; and the Rabbi Bar Simeon,
writing in 1210 A.D., mentions the tomb of Jethro as being at Hattin.
Considering that Jethro lived in Midian, on the shores of the Red Sea,
it seems rather unlikely that he should be buried here. However, that is
a detail. The fact remains that the spot is one of great sanctity, but
is infinitely more venerated by the Druses than by the Moslems. Indeed,
I met a Moslem who laughed at the Druses' superstitions in regard to it,
and who was as much surprised and puzzled as I was when he heard them
deny that Moses was the son-in-law of the buried saint.

The building which the Druses have erected over the old, dilapidated
Moslem shrine, which still stands here, has already cost more than
$5000, all subscribed by the Druses among themselves, and it is not yet
completed. It consists of a courtyard, one side of which is formed by
the solid rock, while the other contains chambers. The roof forms a
terrace, and above it, also partly faced by rock, is a large upper
chamber surmounted by a dome. The scene as we approached was very
striking. The Druse sheiks, desirous of doing honour to their guest,
formed in two lines to receive me, while guns were fired off and songs
of welcome were sung. The white building, with its terraces crowded by
men and women in bright-coloured garments, harmonized well with the
romantic character of the scenery, and formed a picture calculated to
impress the imagination.

I was ushered by my hosts into an anteroom, after exchanging cordial
greetings with those I knew, and being introduced to those who were
still strangers to me; and then we all squatted on carpets, thus
occupying all the four sides of the room, which assumed the appearance
of a sort of council-chamber. As, with the exception of the Japanese,
the Druses are the politest and most courteous people I have ever met, a
great part of our time is taken up in salutations and compliments. First
we press our hands to our hearts and lips and foreheads, with great
effusion. No sooner are we seated than we repeat this process as if we
had not done it just before. Then, in flowery language, we ask each
other repeatedly after our respective healths, and are profuse in our
thanks to God that we are well, that they are well, that our families
are well, and that we are permitted to enjoy the great privilege of
meeting one another. Then coffee is brought in, and after drinking it we
go through the same process of saluting each other all around. Then I
request permission to light a cigarette, which is necessary, as the
Druses never indulge in tobacco; indeed, the more rigid eschew coffee.

As I look around at the twenty or thirty sheiks, solemnly seated with
their backs to the wall, I am much struck with the dignity of their
bearing, the intelligence of their countenances, and their superior
physique generally. As a rule, there is a religious and a secular sheik
to each village, so that about half my entertainers exercise spiritual
functions, and half temporal. There was nothing, however, in their dress
to distinguish them. They all wore white turbans, black or striped
_abbas_, or wide-sleeved cloaks reaching to the knee, beneath which was
the usual flowing garment of the Oriental, and their feet were bare.
Many of the Druses, both men and women, have brown hair and blue eyes,
and complexions as light as our own, and some of both sexes are
singularly handsome.

As all the sheiks had not yet assembled, we had not been long in
conclave—indeed, had hardly exhausted our stock of compliments—before
the singing of men and the firing of guns announced a distinguished
arrival. Then we all went out to meet him, and I was interested in
watching the method of greeting. I soon perceived that the forms of
etiquette are most rigidly adhered to among them. When two of equal rank
meet they clasp hands, and there appears a slight struggle—as they both
bow their heads and lift their clasped hands towards their lips—as to
who shall kiss the back of the other's hand first. This involves rather
a curious twisting movement of the hands and heads, which produces a
somewhat comical effect. Let any of my readers make the experiment, and,
grasping each other's hands, try and kiss the respective backs of each
without unclasping them, and the effort as to which shall succeed first
makes quite a little game. My servant, who is a Moslem from Egypt,
declared that they each kissed their own hands, and the argument waxed
so hot between us that we had to refer the matter to a Druse to know
which was right, so difficult was it to perceive exactly what really
happened. If one felt himself inferior in rank to the other, he always
succeeded in kissing the other's hand first, and snatching his own away
before the other had time to kiss it. But if the difference in rank was
still more marked, the superior made no pretence of wanting to kiss the
inferior's hand after his own had been kissed.

Next came a great struggle as to who should take the lowest place. The
place of honour was a particular corner, which, had I been better versed
in their etiquette, I should have insisted on declining; but I
innocently accepted it, and then the invariable struggle came as to who
should be forced to sit next to me. I observed that in most instances
the refusals were of that formal kind which young ladies indulge in when
they have made up their minds to sing, but decline to do so until after
they have been sufficiently pressed. I suppose there were envyings,
jealousies, pride, and other base passions among my hosts as among other
men, but if so they certainly concealed their failings with marvellous
skill. One could not but be struck with the air of genuine harmony and
affectionate cordiality which seemed to prevail among them.

The respect they showed to the head sheik of all, and the warm terms in
which they spoke of him to me in private, could not but have been
sincere, and, indeed, he seemed to deserve it. Though only a young man
of about thirty-five, he inherited his honours, coming as he did of one
of the most honourable Druse families; yet his distinguishing
characteristic was a marked humility and consideration for others. His
wife was certainly the most charming and lady-like person I have yet
seen among Druse women. She was not more than three or four and twenty,
with a fair complexion, magnificent eyes, and an elegant figure, a grace
natural to her characterizing all her movements. Indeed, had she been
dressed in the latest Parisian fashion, she would have been a strikingly
attractive person in any society, nor would it have been possible by her
features or complexion to distinguish her from any pretty American
woman. As it was, her dress was exceedingly becoming. On her head was a
long white veil; a loose, tunic-shaped jacket, with full sleeves,
covered an embroidered sort of chemisette, and her short, flowing skirts
partially concealed full trousers, tight around the ankle. On her wrists
were a pair of heavy gold bracelets, and she was the only woman of the
party who indulged in the luxury of shoes and stockings. The shoes,
however, were always slipped off before entering a room.

The Druse women of Galilee do not, like those of the Lebanon, cover
their faces; and, indeed, they are allowed a freedom which contrasts
strongly with the position of their Moslem sisters. This wife of the
head sheik enjoyed a privilege denied to any of the other women who had
accompanied their lords to the shrine, for she frequently sat in the
men's council, taking part in the conversation, though modestly, and
with great reserve. In talking to me, which she did freely, I found that
she was bright and intelligent, and full of inquiries as to the manners
and customs of the females of civilization, in regard to whom she had an
intense curiosity. I do not know, however, whether, if it had been fully
gratified, it would have tended very much to her moral and intellectual
improvement. She had brought her baby with her, and was generally
surrounded by some of the more prominent of the other ladies, who,
however, treated her with a marked deference. I watched her mode of
greeting the different ladies as they arrived, with even more interest
than I had that of the men. We read in the Bible of people falling upon
each other's necks; this was exactly what the Druse women did, and very
prettily and gracefully they did it, while they recognized the men by a
distant, modest, and deferential salutation.


                   THE GREAT FESTIVAL OF THE DRUSES.

Haifa, May 30.—Towards evening of the day on which I arrived at the
great Druse shrine of Neby Schaib, near Hattin, most of the sheiks who
were expected had arrived, with their retinues. It might have been a
feudal gathering of olden time; the noisy welcome of the chiefs, the
clansmen singing war-songs and firing guns, the women following on
donkeys, all combined to make a scene which carried one back to the
Middle Ages, and I never wearied looking at it.

My tent was pitched on the lowest terrace of the sacred building, for it
is not allowed to the unbeliever to pass the night within those holy
precincts. Indeed, it was an unprecedented privilege to be permitted
even to camp on the terrace, where there was only just room for my tent,
nor should I have been allowed to edge in so close to the mysteries of
Druse worship had there been five square yards of level ground within a
quarter of a mile. But the precipitous rocks frowned above us all
around, and the comparatively open space below was crowded with camels,
horses, and donkeys, compelled to chum together, whether they liked it
or not, and where the incessant din added to the general uproar of the
place. The constant and stentorian braying of donkeys, varied
occasionally by a horse fight, mingled with the barking of dogs, the
shrill scream of welcome or ululation of women, the loud singing and
clapping of hands of the dancing circles, and the firing of guns, all
augured badly for a night's rest.

However, there was no thought of going to bed yet; great piles of rice
on which whole sheep had been skilfully dissected were now borne in on
round platters, each carried by two men. There must have been from three
to four hundred people now collected at the shrine, and the feeding of
such a multitude was no joke. Of these nearly half were women, all in
gala dress, the favourite colours being blue, green, and red. I don't
know that I ever remember in the same number to have seen a larger
proportion of pretty women.

When I went up-stairs to the large vault which contains the tomb of the
prophet I came upon them unexpectedly, all seated on the floor around
the circular mats of parti-coloured straw which they use as tablecloths.
The room, which was seventy feet long by forty wide, was crowded with
this laughing, chattering, feeding, feminine multitude, with their
glorious eyes, white, regular teeth, bewitching smiles, and delicate
fingers plunged up to the knuckles into huge piles of greasy rice. Their
invitation that I should come and take pot-luck with them produced a
mixed sentiment in my breast. However, it was only said as a joke, for
even had I desired I should not have been allowed to accept it. The
entertainment was exclusively feminine, and I was surprised at so little
reverence being shown to the venerated shrine by the close proximity of
all this festivity.

Taking off our shoes and picking our way between these festive groups,
we reached, at the other end of the hall, the tomb of the prophet,
enclosed in a wooden screen hung with red cloth, while over the tomb
itself was spread a sort of green silk pall, embroidered with gold
stars. Some of the Druse sheiks who accompanied me reverently pressed
their lips to this. They then pointed out a square block of limestone,
in the centre of which was a piece of alabaster containing the imprint
of a human foot of natural size. The toes are defined with more
clearness than is usual in sacred footprints of this nature, and the
Druses stooped and kissed the impression, assuring me that, if I would
do so, I should feel that the rock exuded moisture, and that its
peculiarity was that it was never dry. I was constrained out of
politeness to appear to accede to their wishes, though I refrained from
testing the condition of the stone with my lips, as I felt suspicious,
considering how many lips had preceded mine, that any little dampness I
might discover might be easily accounted for otherwise than
supernaturally.

The question of footprints in the rock suggests some interesting
considerations. There are one or two others in different parts of
Palestine, as in the mosque at Hebron, built over the Cave of Macpelah,
and as they are artificial, it is probable that they are coronation
stones. We know by tradition that in ancient times a custom of this sort
existed in the British Isles, where footprints in rock exist, and there
are Scriptural allusions which give colour to a similar hypothesis in
Palestine. The pillar alluded to in the crowning of kings was probably
nothing more nor less than a coronation stone; and the habit which
existed in some countries of making the king stand with his foot in the
impression of a print in the stone, as a sign that he would walk in the
footsteps of his predecessor, may account for their occurrence in
Palestine. Thus we read that Abimelech “was made king by the oak of the
pillar that was in Shechem;” when Joash was anointed king by Jehoida,
“he stood by the pillar as the manner was,” and the same king “stood by
a pillar to make a covenant, and all the people stood to the covenant.”
The place of the footprint at Neby Schaib, in its elevated position
above the copious fountain which gushes from the base of the opposite
cliff, and the remarkable cropping up of the alabaster through the rock,
rendered it just such a spot as would be likely to be chosen for such a
purpose, and I think we may fairly hazard the conjecture that the
footprint at the Neby Schaib marks the coronation stone of the rulers in
this part of the country in early Jewish, or perhaps even more ancient,
times. It is far otherwise with the footprint of Buddha on Adam's Peak
in Ceylon, and with that of Christ on the Mount of Olives, both of which
I have seen, and both of which are natural, and bear only a fancied
resemblance to the human foot, that of Buddha being a depression in the
rock about five feet long. In the case of the print under consideration,
there was a split in the rock across the centre, which the Druses
accounted for by saying that when the prophet stepped here he split the
rock.

Meanwhile the women, having finished their repast, now prepared for a
dance on the terrace. The music consisted of singing, with a
hand-clapping accompaniment, executed principally by the spectators,
while the dancers formed in a circle, holding each other by the
waistband, and rhythmically swaying to and fro, as from time to time
they changed the character and the measure of their step. All their
movements were decorous, if not all actually graceful. Sometimes one
would separate herself from the ring, and, advancing to the centre,
perform a _pas seul_, while the others danced around her, she the while
flinging her hands aloft, waving in each a light muslin veil, and making
it float above her head, while she kept time with her feet. But among
the Druses, as among most Orientals, the hands play as prominent a part
in their terpsichorean exercises as their feet. The eminently good looks
of the dancers were set off by their becoming costumes. These consisted
of outer cloaks of a rich colour, linen or woollen, open all down the
front so as to display the whole underdress, with light sleeves cut
above the elbow, the whole trimmed either with wide bands of reddish
satin or with a rich cross-stitch embroidery of silk. The unsightliness
of the baggy trousers of dark blue is lost under the long,
semi-transparent chemise, which falls over them as a white tunic,
generally striped with thicker white, and tastefully embroidered with
silk around the neck. The white sleeves of the chemise, widely pointed,
and which flow about the forearm after escaping from the short cloak
sleeve, form a simple but very graceful feature of this costume, whether
they float freely or are twisted, for convenience in work, about the
elbow. Scarfs of various bright colours are wound below the waist, and
the cloak is usually caught together below the bosom by a cord or
button, giving that double girdle often presented in ancient classical
costume. The simple long, white cloth, with the centre of one edge drawn
low upon the forehead, its two ends hanging down the back almost to the
heels, bound fast by a wide fillet of brilliant colour tied around the
head, completes very attractively, with its ancient Egyptian appearance,
this simple but highly characteristic dress, which is enhanced by
necklaces and bangles, according to the rank and position of the wearer.

Our attention was now distracted by some rival performances of the male
part of the community in the courtyard below. Here the singing and
clapping of hands were louder and more vehement, and time was given by
one gentleman who played a pipe and another who was a sort of
bandmaster, and directed the changes of time and step. Here the central
figure who danced in the circle, instead of waving veils or
handkerchiefs, flourished a sword with great grace and dexterity,
slashing it about in excellent time to the music, and within an inch
sometimes of the noses, sometimes of the legs, of the performers. The
dancers worked themselves up at last to a high pitch of excitement and
perspiration, new ones perpetually dashing into the ring and taking the
places of those who were exhausted.

At last the gayeties were put an end to by the sheiks, who took no part
in them themselves, but looked on with solemn dignity. The “okâl,” or
initiated in the holy mysteries, despise all such frivolities, which are
reserved for women and the uninitiated. Most of these had been sitting
in a circle in a quiet part of the terrace by themselves, discussing
either religion or the political questions affecting the interests of
their nation, most probably the latter; but the hour had now arrived
when the serious business of the night was to begin and festivity was to
cease. The uproar died away, the elders wished us good-night, and
silently trooped up the stone stairs to the great hall, whence issued
the younger part of the female community, and I retired to the door of
my tent to sit in the bright moonlight and contemplate the strange
surroundings of my night quarters.

Soon there broke upon the stillness of the night the measured cadence of
a sacred chant. Now it swelled, as numerous voices, male and female,
took up the chorus; now it died away to a single voice. Never before,
probably, had stranger been able to listen so closely to the prayers and
invocations which characterize the mysterious and occult worship of the
Druses. One thing surprised me, which I think is not generally known,
and this is that women undoubtedly take part in some of their forms of
worship, not, however, in all, for on the following night they were
excluded, and the service was conducted by males alone. At last I went
to bed, but not to sleep; the noises of the animals, to which I was in
close proximity, for a long time banished repose, and when at last it
came fitfully, I heard ever and anon the rhythm of the sacred chant.
Throughout two entire nights, to my certain knowledge, did these Druses
pray and sing, though, as I fell asleep on each occasion towards
morning, I cannot precisely say at what hour their service was
concluded.

There can be no doubt that, while these gatherings are essentially
religious in their character, they are largely used for political
purposes. In this respect a wonderful organization exists among the
Druses. Although the nation may be said to be divided into three
sections, of which one—by far the largest—occupies the mountains of the
Hauran, known as the Jebel Druse, another the mountains of the Lebanon,
and the third and smallest the hills of northern Galilee, they keep up a
close contact with each other, and meetings such as these afford
opportunities for them to hold counsel in regard to the political
fortunes and condition of the nation. The Druses of the Jebel Druse, who
form two thirds of the nation, have only this year made peace with the
Turkish government, with whom they were at war last year, The
impracticable nature of the country, combined with their own bravery,
enables them to maintain a sort of quasi independence. They are free
from the conscription, have a governor, or Caimakam, chosen from among
themselves, and their taxes are little more than nominal. The Druses of
the Lebanon come under the special statute relating to the government of
that province, and as this is subject to the supervision of the six
European treaty powers, their position is secured, and they have no
cause of grievance, though they are in close contact with their
neighbours, the Maronites, with whom they live on terms of considerable
tension. The Druses of Galilee differ in position from the other two
sections of the nation, in that they enjoy no privileges of any kind,
but are, on the contrary, less fortunately placed in their relations to
the government than either Moslems or Christians, the former being
naturally, to a certain extent, favored by their government, and the
latter being always able, in case of a grievance, to appeal to some
Christian European power. These Druses are, however, absolutely without
protection of any kind, and have many grievances unredressed, and many
acts of hostility on the part of the peasantry of other religions, among
whom they live, to struggle against. The only consolation they enjoy is
the support and comfort they derive from the close tribal family
connection which they keep up with the other two more fortunate branches
of the nation. It is easy to perceive, therefore, why they should attach
great value to these religious gatherings, and utilize them for secular
purposes. There can be no doubt that the character of their religion,
with the secrecy which surrounds it, enables them to organize in a
special manner, and that the theocratic element which enters into their
political constitution gives them a cohesion, a unity, and a power for
combined action which the Christian sects, with their jealousies,
bigotry, and internal dissensions, do not enjoy.


                           HATTIN AND IRBID.

Haifa, June 22.—While my two days' experiences at the Neby Schaib,
described in my last two letters, were in the highest degree novel and
picturesque, and enabled me to obtain an unusual insight into the
manners and customs and religious observances of the Druse nation, my
stay at this celebrated shrine of their pilgrimage was by no means
destitute of archæological interest. The village of Hattin, which is in
the immediate neighbourhood of the tomb of the prophet, forms the centre
of many sacred and historical associations, while it is in itself a
place of unusual beauty of situation.

In the overhanging rocks on the other side of the gorge, immediately
opposite my tent, were several sepulchral chambers, all traditional
burying-places of persons more or less historical. Some of these I
examined. The largest was one entered by a doorway, which had recently
been inhabited, for the framework of a wooden door to it still remained.
It was supposed to be the burial-place of one of Jethro's daughters. We
are told by Josephus that his family followed the Israelites out of
Midian. Its last occupant was an Indian hermit, who had lived here in
solitude for three years, when, getting tired of his seclusion, he had
gone to Tiberias about a year ago, married there, and immediately
disappeared with his wife, no one knew whither.

About a hundred yards from the Neby there issues from the mouth of the
gorge a copious spring which, in fact, forms the source of a brook, that
ultimately finds its way into the Sea of Galilee. It commences its
beneficent course, however, by fertilizing a large area immediately
surrounding the village, where flourishing gardens of oranges, lemons,
figs, apricots, pomegranates, and other fruit-trees impart an air of
luxuriant fertility to the landscape not common in these parts. Among
these gardens is one which was purchased a few years ago by Sir Moses
Montefiore, and presented by him to the Jews of Tiberias. Here I went,
at the invitation of the overseer, and, seated on mats under the
spreading arms of a fig-tree, I listened, while I sipped his coffee, to
his tale of woe: how last year he had resisted what he considered an
exorbitant charge for taxes, how his garden had in consequence been
invaded and despoiled by the tax-gatherers; how, being a
British-protected subject, and the garden being the property of British
subjects, he had appealed to the British consul for redress; how he had
spent £50 in the effort to obtain it, and had found British protection
not only a broken, but an expensive reed to trust to; and how he was
driven, by the refusal of the British government to protect its
subjects, to try and protect himself by the plentiful expenditure of
backsheesh. I explained to him that it was not the habit of the British
government to protect its subjects, but rather to abandon them, even
though they might be of exalted rank, and their lives might be at stake;
and then I went in search of ruins.

I found some immediately adjoining the garden. What had evidently once
formed part of an old Byzantine church was here turned into a mosque;
and upon one of the stones was a curious Cufic inscription. In some of
the other gardens were traces of foundations, indicating that in old
times Hattin must have been the site of a considerable town. It is about
two miles from the ruins of Irbid (which is no doubt the Arbela of
Josephus), and is probably the Caphar Hittia of the Talmud, but I find
no mention of the Hattin ruins in the memoirs of the Palestine
Exploration Fund, nor of the Cufic inscription which I found. The way to
Irbid lies across the plain, on which a collection of seven basalt
stones in a ring are called the “Hajaret en Nusara,” or “stones of the
Christians,” because tradition has it that it was here that Christ
performed the miracle of the seven loaves and two fishes.

The plain was now waving with grain, nor would it be possible to imagine
a more fertile or luxuriant upland. On its margin, where it breaks off
abruptly into the marvellous gorge of El-Hamam, with its precipitous
sides rising twelve hundred feet sheer up from the little stream which
trickles at their base, are the ruins of Irbid, interesting as
containing the remains of the oldest Jewish synagogue probably to be
found in Palestine.

The steep hillside which slopes down to the edge of the cliff is very
rocky, and numerous sarcophagi are carved on the surfaces of the natural
slabs. The largest measure from six feet to six feet five inches long,
and one foot ten inches deep, being round at the head and square at the
foot, which is slightly deeper. There was a ledge cut round to receive
the stone cover, and a channel made to keep the surface water from
running in. They were of all sizes, some, evidently, for small children
and babies. But the most remarkable tomb was one which opened out of a
deep, rock-cut chamber, which appeared to have been in connection with a
wine-press. The antechamber formed a sunk court, about twenty feet by
ten, and contained a sarcophagus. It opened into a tomb containing six
loculi. My guide was the Jew who had entertained me in the garden, and
who was well versed in local traditions.

He informed me that here were supposed to be buried four of the sons of
Jacob, he did not know which, and Jochabed and Dinah. He also pointed
out to me the tomb of the Rabbi Nitai, who was supposed to have built
the synagogue I had been examining, and who was a native of the place,
and lived about two hundred years B.C.; also a mound of stones covering
apparently a rock tomb, which he declared was the burial-place of Seth,
the son of Adam; but, although from much habit I am accustomed to
swallow a fair amount of traditional information, I was unable to push
my credulity thus far. It is described, however, by the Rabbi Gerson,
A.D. 1561, as being in a cave with a spring to which a flight of steps
led down. The tombs of Zerah and Zephaniah were also pointed out.
Indeed, there are few places in Palestine where in the same limited area
such a number of distinguished personages of sacred history are buried
as in the neighbourhood of Arbela, or Irbid. I do not now include the
tombs of the numerous rabbis whom the Jews hold sacred. If it has a
character for sanctity, it must at one time have had a reputation for
strength. From its position it must always have been a military
stronghold. Josephus tells us, in his “Life,” that when he was Governor
of Galilee he fortified it, and laid up stores of grain here; and it is
without doubt the Casale Ardelle of the Teutonic knights (1250 A.D.),
the _d_ being an error for _b_, as it is mentioned in connection with
Tiberias and Beisan, both places not very distant.

The only Biblical reference to this place is that made by Hosea, when he
says, “Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people; all thy
fortresses shall be spoiled, as Shahnan spoiled Beth-Arbel in the day of
battle.” As we stand here we can almost look into the caverns with which
the face of the opposite cliff is perforated, while the one on the edge
of which we stand is literally honeycombed with these subterranean
abodes. They are of immense extent, and are placed over each other in
different stories; some are walled up, leaving doors and windows. Some
idea of the extent of this singular natural fastness may be formed from
the fact that it is capable of containing six thousand men. The caves
communicate with each other by subterranean galleries. These are the
fortified caverns mentioned by Josephus in connection with Arbela.
Bachides, the general of Demetrius, the third King of Syria, when he
invaded Palestine, encamped at Arbela and subdued those who had taken
refuge in the caves. This event is narrated in Maccabees, where the
caves are called “stories.” It was here, also, that Herod the Great had
his famous fight with the robbers who had made their dens in the caves,
letting down his soldiers in baskets, and fighting them in mid-air.

I was determined to push my explorations to the summits of the rocky
crests which frowned above, and are called the Horns of Hattin.
Scrambling up the steep, rocky hillsides, we found ourselves at last
obliged to leave our horses and make our way on foot over the huge
blocks of basalt which are thickly strewn around these singular peaks.
On reaching the top we found that they had been artificially
superimposed one on the top of another, so as to form a rocky rampart of
immense solidity. Both crests had, at some period of remote antiquity,
been thus fortified. Beneath one of them were the foundations and ruins
of an ancient town which the inhabitants call “Medinet el-Inweileb,” or
“the ruins of the long tower.” At the southeast of the hill is an oblong
cavern cut in the rock and eased with cement, which may formerly have
been a cistern; and not far from it are the foundations of a building
which the natives say was a Christian church before the conquest of the
country by the Mohammedans, who subsequently converted it into a mosque.
Nothing could be more striking than the view from the summit of the
highest horn. Immediately beneath us, some six or seven hundred feet
below, I looked down into the gloomy gorge, with the white walls of the
Neby Schaib contrasting with the black basalt rocks, its terraces
covered with groups of brightly costumed Druses, their songs as they
danced in circles reaching us on the still air of evening, and beyond,
the modern village of Hattin, surrounded by orange-groves and
fruit-gardens of the most brilliant green. Stretching away on all other
sides were vast uplands of waving grain, till they either sunk away into
valleys or terminated at the base of hills which rose abruptly above
them. To the northeast the precipitous sides of the Wady Hamam,
honeycombed with caves, formed a vista through which appeared in the
distance a green strip of the plain of Genesareth; beyond it the waters
of the Sea of Galilee, seventeen hundred feet below us, gleamed in the
setting sun. From its eastern margin rose the steep cliffs above which
is the vast plateau of Jaulan, once the grazing lands of the flocks and
herds of Job, while a line of conical volcanic peaks, backed by
snow-clad Hermon, closed the prospect.


              THE JEWISH FEAST OF THE BURNING AT TIBERIAS.

Haifa, July 8.—In the early days of May there is annually celebrated at
Tiberias a festival in honour of the Rabbi Mâir, at the large shrine
built above his tomb, within a few hundred yards from the sulphur baths.
Thither, having terminated my visit to the Druses, I determined to
repair to witness the nocturnal ceremonies.

I was escorted to the extremity of the village of Hattin by a band of
young Druses, firing guns and singing complimentary odes, who thus
sought to speed with honour the parting guest, and soon found myself
crossing the plain and entering upon the steep descent that leads to the
shores of the lake. It was a soft, balmy evening, about sunset, when I
reached Tiberias, and found the whole population in movement.

The distance from the town to the tomb of the rabbi is about a mile and
a half along the lake shore, and the road was crowded with merry groups
of Jewish men, women, and children in gala dress, all flocking to the
place of meeting. The two or three boats of which the lake can boast
were even put into requisition, and were slowly drifting down, their
large sails hardly filled with the gentle breeze, and packed to
overflowing with women and children. Tiberias contains between three and
four thousand Jews, and certainly more than half that number must have
turned out, to say nothing of those attracted from Jerusalem, Safed, and
other places. As those who inhabit Tiberias are nearly all Sephardim, or
Spanish Jews, the men wear the Oriental dress, while the women indulge
in a costume in which the Western fashions seem grafted on those of the
East. The visitors, who were for the most part Ashkenazim, or German
Jews, could easily be distinguished, as they always appear in the
clothes to which they are accustomed in eastern Europe. It must be
confessed that the flowing robe of Asia is preferable to the long coat
or gabardine of Russia and Roumania.

The men usually walked, but a favourite method of locomotion among the
women was donkeyback, and very comical they looked, sitting astride very
wide pads, with their skirts well up to their knees, and their necks and
wrists and foreheads bedizened with ornaments, while their wigs were
often a perfect garden of flowers. However pretty some of the faces of
the younger members of the female community might be—and they could not
compare for good looks with the Druse girls—nothing can compensate for
the abominable practice which prevails among them of shaving their heads
and wearing wigs of black hair, which come low down upon the forehead,
and the falseness of which no attempt is made to disguise.

It occurred to me upon this occasion, as I contrasted their chevelure
with that of the Druses, to speculate on the custom of Druse
hairdressing, which is nothing more nor less than that square cutting
across the forehead of locks drawn over it which has been so much in
vogue in England and America for the last fifteen years, popularly
called “banging,” and which was supposed at first to be copied from the
well-known picture of Raphael as a child. I have since inquired of some
fashionable young Syrian ladies, and the younger ones assured me at
first that the Druses must have copied this from the Parisian fashions
lately introduced at Beyrout—an obvious impossibility. On applying to
older ladies, however, they confirm the curious fact that this banging
has always been a custom with the Druse people. The fine ladies of the
present generation have little guessed whom they were imitating in
setting saucers upon their own heads and those of their little ones, and
snipping their hair around them just above their eyes. Nothing could
exceed in vulgarity the tinsel ornamentation of the Jewish head-dresses,
and, to increase the effect, various pigments were apparently used by
many of the ladies to improve their complexions.

As this festival takes place in the height of the bathing season, the
shore of the lake at this point presented an appearance of unwonted
animation. There were some thirty or forty tents pitched round the
bath-house, which an enterprising Syrian has leased this year from the
government, and whitewashed; he even went so far as to offer to build a
carriage-road at his own expense for the mile and a half which it is
distant from the town, so as to accommodate patients who had no tents of
their own; but this was the thin edge of a wedge of civilization at
which the authorities took alarm, and he was sternly forbidden to spend
any of his own money for the public convenience in the manner proposed.
The result is that the bathers are all obliged to live in tents or mat
huts, which are unbearably hot during the day, or ride from the town and
back again for every bath.

Patients from all the neighbouring parts of Syria now mingled with the
Jewish crowd, and streamed up the short ascent which leads to the tomb,
the terrace of which was already thronged. Passing through an archway, I
entered a courtyard where the usual circular dance was in progress, the
performers being exclusively male. The bedizened females sat in groups,
feasting on good things they had brought with them, and smoking
narghiles. Their small children were tricked out gaudily, and by the
light of numerous flaring lamps the general effect was quaint and gay
enough.

Ascending from this scene of revelry up a massive stone stair, I entered
a chamber where the tomb of the rabbi was surrounded by a wooden
enclosure, inside of which were sundry rabbis and their neophytes
praying, with the swaying motion of the body peculiar to that act of
worship, the whole brilliantly lighted with lamps. There was in the
centre of this chamber, which was crowded, an immense chandelier, of
which only a few lamps were lighted, and beyond it I was ushered by a
Jew, who volunteered to be my guide, into another room, stifling hot, in
which sat the chief rabbi himself. Here a man was perpetually shouting
in a stentorian voice something which I failed to understand. The chief
rabbi, however, to whom I was introduced, explained to me that he was at
that moment selling by auction the privilege of lighting the bonfires
which were soon to blaze in honour of the deceased rabbi and Simon Ben
Jochai, who, however, seems to be buried elsewhere. This privilege was
put up at two napoleons each, and the first finally went for three, a
fact which the rabbi announced to the audience in a sonorous Hebrew
chant. Then the other lighting privilege was bought for a little less,
the money, according to my informant, being given to the poor. After
that a dozen more sales were made, simply for lamplighting, the amounts
bid averaging half a napoleon.

Then a sort of procession was formed, and the crowd surged out down the
steps to the courtyard, in the centre of which were two columns, each
surmounted by a sort of large saucer. The excitement now became great,
the dancing stopped, and men and women joined in noisy acclamations. A
man bearing aloft an iron cradle full of flaming rags, which had been
lighted by the highest bidder, placed them in the saucer at the top of
the column and poured a bottle of kerosene oil upon it. People now came
forward with offerings to be burned. These consisted, for the most part,
so far as I could judge, of old handkerchiefs and scarfs. The theory is
that they should be articles of value, covered with gold and silver
embroidery, and that, after they have been committed to the flames, the
residue of gold and silver which remains should be scraped up and given
to the poor; but I doubt whether the residue of the rags which I saw
would amount in value to ten cents. Then the second bonfire was lighted,
and as both piles blazed up and shed their lurid glow over the eager
faces of swarthy men, with their long ear-curls, and bedizened women,
the scene was in the highest degree novel and picturesque. The
proceedings were not, however, characterized by the gravity and harmony
befitting the occasion.

As I looked down upon the crowd from the steps upon which I was
standing, I observed suddenly a violent commotion, which soon culminated
in blows and sharp cries, and the crowd began to surge violently to and
fro. I failed to discover the cause of the disturbance, but it was
speedily interrupted by a strong body of Turkish police, who rushed in
brandishing their muskets and laying about them with the butt ends. The
riot speedily subsided under this opportune display of energy, and the
ringleaders were hustled off with commendable promptness.

Meantime a somewhat similar ceremony was taking place in the adjoining
courtyard, where some wicker lamps were being lighted. The pilgrims who
filled this court were Ashkenazim, and in their more European clothes
they were by no means so picturesque a crowd. It is a singular fact that
the Sephardim should be confined to one court and the Ashkenazim to
another. There is, indeed, very little sympathy between the two great
branches of the Jewish race in Palestine. They live for the most part in
different cities, and have but little intercourse with each other. Thus,
nearly all the Jews in Tiberias are Sephardim, while those at Safed are
Ashkenazim.

The ceremonies which I have just described are a mild edition of what
was to take place on a far larger and more important scale at Meron a
week later, but as these latter differ in no important respect from
those which I witnessed, I did not think it worth while to stay for
them. Jews come from great distances to take part in the burnings at
Meron, where a great number of bonfires are made in honour of the
numerous celebrated rabbis who are buried in the neighbourhood; and here
I was assured that articles of great value are consumed, and the
festivities are of a much more noisy character, and last through the
whole night instead of winding up before midnight, as was the case at
Tiberias. I did not even prolong my stay till this hour, satisfied with
having assisted at ceremonies which prove that the Jewish in not exempt
from that tendency which characterizes all other religions, of pandering
to the grosser tastes of the masses.


                       HOUSE-BUILDING ON CARMEL.

Daliet-el-Carmel, July 12.—Those readers who may have read my letters
from Palestine, may remember that last year I took refuge from the
summer heats at the village of Esfia, on the highest point of Mount
Carmel, where I established a temporary camp. The disadvantage of living
under canvas is that, though it may secure you cool nights, it affords
but insufficient shelter from the noonday sun. I therefore determined to
build myself something more substantial. My experiences of
house-building on Carmel have been both characteristic and instructive.

When I announced my intention to the villagers of Esfia, they professed
the greatest enthusiasm, and the owners of the land which I had chosen
for a site expressed their desire to make me a present of it, so anxious
did they pretend to be that I should settle among them. I absolutely
refused, however, to receive anything as a gift, and told them to name
their price. This they modestly put at $650. As the most trustworthy
estimate I could obtain put its value at $50, I said I would reconsider
my original decision and accept it as a gift. This seemed to afford them
intense amusement. Offers of this sort were merely complimentary, they
said, and meant nothing. I replied that the joke of offering me the land
for nothing was only equalled by their asking me twelve times its value,
which I should also consider meant nothing. They came down at a bound to
$250, provided I would pay the costs of the transfer. This I found to
mean procuring them a valid title to the land, which they admitted they
had not got, and which it would cost $50, expended in bribes to the
government, to obtain. I suggested that I might in that case expend the
$50 in procuring a valid title from the government in my own name, and
pay them nothing, seeing that, though theoretically, they were not
practically, the owners of the land. This, though it might possibly have
been accomplished, would have placed me in open warfare with the
village. Rather than live there under such conditions, I declined to
have anything more to do with people who had shown such dishonest and
grasping propensities. I will say, however, that these were confined
exclusively to the Christian section of the population, who claimed the
ownership of the site, and that the Druses held themselves aloof and
repudiated all participation in the negotiations, expressing great
indignation at the conduct of the Christians, and offering me sites
elsewhere.

I was too disgusted with these latter, however, to be tempted to live
near them, and was casting about in despair for an alternative, when one
day I received a visit from the Druse sheik of Dalieh, the only other
village on Carmel, and distant about thirteen miles from Haifa, who
arrived in great distress to tell me that his only son had just been
drawn as a conscript for the army, and that the whole family, including
his son's wife, whom I had remarked on the occasion of a former visit as
one of the most beautiful girls I have ever seen, were thrown into the
greatest grief, as they were unable to pay the $250 which was required
to buy a substitute. I rode up to the village to inquire into the
matter, and, in return for the required sum, which I paid, received a
vineyard and garden of fruit-trees, with a good title, and a site far
surpassing in loveliness of situation that which I had failed to secure
at Esfia. The whole village turned out _en masse_ to express their
gratitude and make professions of service. As the village is exclusively
Druse, and does not contain a single Christian inhabitant, I felt that
these were to be relied upon; nor, so far, has this confidence turned
out misplaced. The sheik to whom I had thus been able opportunely to
render assistance, was the spiritual head of the village. Its temporal
affairs are managed by another sheik. The site for my house was only
divided by a terrace from the little Druse place of worship, where,
however, the services are conducted under the strictest secrecy. The
whole hillside here is terraced with vines, pomegranates, and
wide-spreading fig-trees, at an altitude of thirteen hundred feet above
the sea, which is distant as the crow flies about five miles. It
commands a magnificent view of it and of the picturesque ruin of Athlit
on its projecting promontory, while a smiling valley, the sloping hills
of which are partially cultivated and partially covered with copse-wood,
winds down to a wild gorge between whose precipitous cliffs one enters
the plain of Sharon.

The difficulty in placing the house was to do so without having to cut
down any of the fig-trees that formed a sort of bower in which we had to
nestle, and which secures us abundant thick shade. No sooner did we
begin to excavate for the foundations than we came upon huge, massive
cut blocks of stone, which evidenced the existence of some previous
building of great antiquity. Soon there turned up a beautifully carved
cornice, then a coin of one of the Constantines of the period of the
Byzantine Empire, then about a dozen iron rings about two and a half
inches in diameter, attached to iron staples, and a quantity of nails
about four inches long, all heavily encrusted with rust. These were dug
up about two feet beneath the surface. Then came handles of jars and
fragments of pottery, some pieces of old glass, one apparently the stem
of a vase, and quantities of tesseræ, showing the existence of a
tessellated pavement somewhere beneath. I was sorely tempted to diverge
from building into excavating, but I should have destroyed my site,
indefinitely postponed the erection of the house when time was of the
utmost value, and forfeited my contract with the builder. So I have had
to do the barbarous thing of building on the top of what may be a most
interesting ruin, and of actually using the old foundations and some of
the stone which composed this house of the ancients.

The most of the stones of which the house is built come, however, from
the ruins of Dubil, the extensive remains of which are about a mile
distant. Here is the finest collection of rock-cut tombs on Carmel;
while the number and size of the cisterns, the huge circular stones of
the old olive-presses, the basins carved in the solid rock as wine vats,
the fragments of columns, and the area over which the solid foundations
of the former town extend, prove that it contained, in the most ancient
times, a larger population than any other spot on the mountain. I am
able to say this with the more confidence as I have visited over twenty
other sites of ancient towns on Carmel. From this almost inexhaustible
quarry of old dwellings is my new one mainly constructed, and thus do I
live and move and have my being amid the relics of a most remote past.

One of the most puzzling of these is an immense roller, which I came
upon in making a terrace for the veranda, from which it now projects as
a conspicuous ornament. It is eight feet long, but one end has been a
good deal broken, and it may have been longer. It tapers very slightly
at both extremities, and is nine feet in circumference around the
centre, the ends being about two feet six in diameter. It has four
parallel lines of slots a little over two feet apart, each slot about
eight inches long and three deep, and two wide at the top. There are
four of these slots in each line, and they are about eight inches apart.
The whole mass weighs probably from three to four tons. We had quite a
force of men to move it into its present position. I leave it to the
wise in such matters to conjecture what its possible use may have been.
I have seen others scattered about in some of the ruins on the mountain,
generally near olive-presses. I think they had some reference to the
crushing apparatus.

But by far the most important find—and this was not made until after the
house was finished and we were clearing up the débris—was an ancient
cistern; and, as luck would have it, it was just in the position in
which I would have put a cistern had this not appeared ready to hand,
thus saving me an expenditure of about $200. The aperture, cut in the
solid rock, is two feet three inches square. It is then hollowed,
demijohn shape, out of the rock to a depth of fourteen feet, with an
average breadth at the bottom of twelve feet. In the bottom is a
circular hole five feet in diameter by three deep. This is evidently for
cleaning out the cistern, and is a good idea, which I should suggest be
adopted by us moderns. It is plain that if, instead of having a flat
bottom to a cistern, you have a hole in the bottom into which you can
sweep all the dirt, the process of cleaning is simplified. It took four
men several days to clean out this old cistern. It contained a great
quantity of fine mould, some broken earthenware jars, a good many large
stones, and a rather good fragment of a glass cup. The old cement is
still visible, about half an inch thick.

Besides the cistern, I have found a cave, formerly a tomb, close to the
house, which I shall use as a cellar, and store away my wine in the
stone coffins, or loculi, in which the bones of some ancient characters
have reposed. From all which it will appear that house-building in
Palestine, if it is attended with the inconveniences arising from the
backward state of civilization, may nevertheless possess a charm of its
own.

If some of our appliances are rough-and-ready, they often possess the
merit of cheapness. Plastering, for instance, is an expensive luxury;
but the natives have a way of plastering the walls which is nearly as
good, and by no means costly. This is entirely done by the women, who
come and sift soil, which they mix with cut straw and water, and knead
into a paste. When they have plastered the walls and floor with this,
they make another with a peculiar, fine white clay, which they dig from
certain places in the hillsides, and, mixing this also with finely
chopped straw, lay it on as an outer covering. It makes a very pale
yellow coating for the walls, which is by no means unsightly. It is not
so good, however, for the floors, as it is said to give a better harbour
for fleas than another and more expensive cement which is made with
lime, and is called barbarica. This is better also for the flat roofs,
as it is more impervious to water in the rainy season.

These roofs enable us to double our accommodations in a most economical
fashion. For instance, we have a guest coming, and if the house is full,
we build him a leaf hut on the roof at the extravagant rate of 75 cents.
These charming little leaf huts, which can be made most snug and
comfortable when lined with mats, can be multiplied at will over the
whole roof, and the occupants have a cooler time and a more extensive
view than the dwellers in the stone chambers beneath. As, however, in
these climates air and room add materially to comfort, our principal
living-room is thirty feet by twenty, and fifteen feet high, though I
have not aspired to anything but a summer cottage, and the whole cost
has not exceeded $800.

In the eyes of the natives, this modest erection has seemed something
palatial. The people of Esfia have come over, green with envy of their
Dalieh rivals, and bitterly reproaching themselves with the
short-sighted cupidity which has deprived them of the prestige which now
attaches to Dalieh, and filled with regret at the loss of the money
which would otherwise have been spent among them, while to the Dalieh
villagers it is a source of pride and delight. Whenever any Druse sheik
comes from a neighbouring village, he is at once brought to see the
sight. The consequence is that I have no lack of visitors, and,
foreseeing this, took care to have a special apartment called a “liwan,”
exclusively devoted to their reception. They are thus barricaded from
the rest of the house. Otherwise, with the prying curiosity which
characterizes the race, privacy would be impossible. As it is, from
morning to night there is always a group round the kitchen, much to the
detriment of culinary operations and the annoyance of the servants
engaged in them. Still, in order to keep on good terms, we have to make
concessions, to waste time over much drinking of coffee out of minute
cups, to hear their gossip on local politics, and, what is still more
difficult, to try and give them some larger ideas than the very narrow
ones which they have acquired upon these wild hillsides.

Altogether, although their defects are of a somewhat trying kind, and
their essential insincerity makes them arrant humbugs, they are rather
pleasant humbugs, and, provided they do not test one's affection by too
many invitations to dinner, which involves squatting on your heels and
eating with your fingers, the Druses are, taking them altogether, by far
the most agreeable class of people to live among in Palestine.


                    DOMESTIC LIFE AMONG THE DRUSES.

Daliet-el-Carmel, Aug. 1.—A residence in a Druse village upon the
familiar terms which I have now established with the inhabitants of this
one, opens up a phase of existence so utterly foreign to all Western
notions of domestic life, and involves experiences so novel and
characteristic, that I am constantly receiving illustrations of the
truth of the saying that one half of the world has no idea how the other
half lives.

Early the other morning, for instance, my native servant appeared in a
state of no little excitement to tell me that there had been a row in
the night in the village, from which my house is distant only a few
hundred yards, and that a young man was being killed. This was modified
a few minutes after by the arrival of some weeping females, who said
that if the young man could not find a place of refuge somewhere he
would be killed; and, as if to emphasize this statement, no great
interval elapsed before, on going out into the kitchen, I found the
young man in question clinging to the legs of the kitchen table as
though they were the horns of the altar. He was a not very
prepossessing-looking young man of two or three and twenty, and on my
appearance he abandoned the legs of the table and rushed at my hand,
which he seized and kissed effusively. It is astonishing how
affectionate a man can become under the influence of panic. I told him
to go back to the table-legs and hold on there, and consider himself
perfectly safe. I felt I could say this with a feeling of proud
satisfaction, for had I not the British government at my back, and is
not the British government celebrated for the chivalrous promptitude
with which it rushes to the rescue of those in bodily peril?

Meantime I sent for the spiritual sheik of the village, as the secular
one, who is the real supreme authority in such matters, happened to be
absent. Now, so far as I have been able to ascertain, the whole village,
consisting of some five hundred souls, is related to the two sheiks, for
the population has gone on marrying and intermarrying till the
relationships are unfathomable. The young man in question was the
youngest of four brothers, and he had one sister who had married the
spiritual sheik's son. His mother, after having this numerous family,
had married the secular sheik, who had himself had two sons by a former
wife and who has one daughter by his present one. You will observe that
the affair was already becoming mixed, and a strong suspicion was
gradually stealing over me that there was a woman at the bottom of it.
Such, indeed, proved to be the case; in fact, there turned out to be
two.

Now it happened, and this is not peculiar to the domestic relations of
the Druses, that the secular sheik's sons by his first wife were very
jealous of the children of their stepmother, and hated that elderly lady
herself with the cordial hatred not unknown to stepchildren. They had
contrived so to embitter the family circle, that the secular sheik,
partly for the sake of peace, and partly, as I afterwards discovered,
for another reason, had banished her for two years past from the marital
roof; indeed, it had often been a matter of surprise to me when calling
on this sheik, or dining with him, that I was always waited on by his
daughter and not by his wife.

Now the mystery was solved; but the sheik did not extend this
inhospitality to his stepsons, and the young man now holding on to the
kitchen table was especially favoured, and, although not an inmate of
his stepfather's house, made himself too much at home there to suit his
half-brothers. They determined, therefore, to drive him forth. Now, the
sheik had another brother, who had a wife much younger than himself, and
who, it was whispered, was much admired by the obnoxious young man. And
it being the end of Ramadan, and the village being in a state of
nocturnal festivity, people were in a mood for mischief all around, and,
rightly or wrongly, the young man being found in the sheik's brother's
house in the middle of the night, fell under grave suspicion, and a
tremendous tumult took place, in the course of which the sheik's son
belaboured his stepmother, being assisted thereto by his uncle; and here
I may incidentally remark that Druse men appear to think nothing of
beating their friends' wives, whose husbands seem to think it quite
natural they should do so. Perhaps it saves them the trouble; anyhow, on
this occasion the women gave vent to their tongues, and the men
retaliated with blows. Of course, the women took the part of the gay but
indiscreet youth, who declared that he was in search of a missing cow,
though it was suggested with some force that to go and look for her on
the roof of the sheik's brother's house after midnight showed an
unpardonable ignorance of the usual haunts of cows. The whole of the
secular sheik's first family, therefore, and their relations to the
fifth degree, who form the majority of the male population, refusing to
admit any such excuse, and considering the young man's guilt proved,
vowed to have his life, death being the not uncommon penalty among them
for a crime of this sort; but the whole of the spiritual sheik's family,
which seems to me to consist principally of all the women in the
village, accepted the young man's version of the affair, and maintained
his innocence; and, with that knowledge of human nature which
characterizes the sex, they instinctively turned to me as their natural
ally, and hence I was saddled with the protection of this
too-susceptible and much-menaced youth.

The position was delicate, for though I am not insensible to the
advantage of possessing the suffrages of the female part of the
community, I desired also to stand well with the males, and I felt that
to interpose between them and the object of their vengeance was likely
to prejudice me in their eyes. At the same time one could not turn a
youth out of one's kitchen to go like a sheep to the slaughter, even
though he may have been an erring lamb. Moreover, when I came to hear
the spiritual sheik's version of the story, though it was undoubtedly
one-sided, the question of guilt did not appear to be satisfactorily
established. So I sent for the injured husband, and the sheik's son, who
had beaten his stepmother, to hear their version of the matter, but they
refused to answer my summons.

Under these circumstances I determined to wait for the return of the
secular sheik, which took place the same evening. After sympathizing
with him on the distracted condition of his household, I asked him if he
could suggest the best course of action for me to pursue, as it was
evidently impossible for me to board and lodge his stepson for an
indefinite time on the kitchen table. This, he admitted, was an undue
tax on my hospitality. I asked him if he could not exercise sufficient
authority over the members of his own family to protect the life of his
stepson. This, he said, he could do while he remained in the village,
but as he was constantly being called away on business, he could not
answer for what might happen in his absence.

I then asked whether it might not be best to send the young man away
from the village until the storm had blown over. I had suggested this to
the spiritual sheik, but he said that in that case the youth's mother
would follow him; and, as I remarked to the secular sheik, I was loath
to propose this to him, as it would separate him from his wife. The
sheik, with apparent distress, observed that his wife did not see much
of him. I asked whether I could not be the means of healing this breach,
and whether he would allow me to send for his wife; this he at once
assented to, but the old lady refused to come. This refusal on her part
seemed to afford the sheik immense relief, seeing which, I remarked,
“Perhaps, if your wife did go away with your stepson, you would not mind
it very much.” “No,” he said, “I should not mind it very much.”

I have since discovered that he is very anxious to get rid of her, in
order to marry some one else. So I packed the young man off to a
Christian of my acquaintance at Esfia, two miles off, thinking his
mother would follow him; but not a bit. She has now taken up her abode
with the spiritual sheik, and I am at this moment employing her to make
a mud floor under a fig-tree, on which I intend to put beehives. I rode
over a few days ago to Esfia, and found the young man comfortably
installed with his Christian host, who, with true Arab hospitality,
charges him nothing for his entertainment, but who will probably be
indemnified for it by a present from the spiritual sheik. Meantime,
influences are at work to prepare the way for his safe return, and I
trust that I have so managed these delicate negotiations as to secure me
the good-will of both factions, though I am afraid that the breach
between them will never be healed until the secular sheik divorces his
present wife and takes a fresh departure by uniting himself to the lady
of his affections.


       CIRCASSIAN HIGHWAYMEN.—A DRUSE FESTIVAL AT ELIJAH'S ALTAR.

Daliet-el-Carmel, Aug. 15.—About this time last year, when I was at
Esfia, we were suddenly disturbed by the intelligence that a German
teamster, whom I have been in the habit of employing, had been attacked
in the night at the bridge over the Kishon, distant about three miles
from my camp, while on his way from Haifa to Nazareth, by four
Circassians, who, suddenly surrounding him, pointed their guns at his
head, thus preventing him from using his revolver, which they stole from
him, at the same time cutting the traces of his team and carrying off a
valuable pair of horses, leaving the poor man helpless with his wagon at
about one o'clock in the morning, far from any help, but thankful to
have escaped with his life.

The whole machinery of the local police was put in motion, and the
authorities professed to take up the matter in earnest. Some of the
German colonists scoured the country in pursuit of the robbers, who
appear to have fled to some Circassian colonies which were established
about five years ago on the plains of Iturea, near the foot of Hermon,
beyond the Jordan, and there all trace of them was lost. They had got
among friends, who covered their tracks, and the horses were never
recovered.^[1]

Since this time the colonists, who are constantly travelling in their
wagons between Haifa and Nazareth, and in the hottest weather generally
make the journey by night, always go two or three together, and had not
been molested until a few nights ago, when two of them started for
Nazareth, one of them the victim of last year. His companion, who had
left Haifa a little before him, expecting to be shortly overtaken, was
jogging along at about 8 P.M., and was not above four miles distant from
Haifa, when a Circassian rode past him, wishing him good-evening. The
German returned the salute, but his suspicions were roused by the man's
manner, and he got his revolver ready. Almost immediately after he heard
a whistle, the man who had passed him turned sharply back, and two
others sprang upon him from an ambush, where they had been concealed, by
the roadside. One of them seized his horses' heads, while the others
began cutting the traces. The teamster instantly jumped from the box,
and, unwilling to shoot before it was absolutely necessary, closed with
one of the robbers, striking at him with the butt of his pistol. He was,
however, nearly overpowered, and had just time, as he saw his adversary
draw a knife, to send a bullet through him. At this moment he received a
severe blow on the back from one of the other men, who rushed to the
assistance of his comrade, but the German, who was an old soldier and
had been through the Franco-German campaign, was a quick shot, and
knocked this man over with a second barrel. At this moment a fourth
Circassian appeared upon the scene. Fortunately, the attacking party
were only armed with knives. The two remaining Circassians now, seeing
that two of their number had been disposed of, began to draw off their
bodies, it being a first principle of their warfare to carry away their
dead. This gave the German, who was scarcely able to raise himself from
the ground, a chance to fire two more shots, but, as it seemed at the
time, without effect, and the two Circassians, throwing the bodies of
their companions over their horses, made off.

By this time the other German teamster, who had been a quarter of a mile
behind, but had pushed on on hearing the shots, came up and helped his
wounded friend. He, however, was able to continue his journey to
Nazareth, and in a few days recovered from the effects of his bruises.
Meantime information has been received from a peasant where the
Circassians passed the night, that one of them had been killed on the
spot, that another died of his wound shortly after he was brought to his
cottage, and that the third had a ball through his leg, but that his
wound had not been sufficiently serious to prevent his continuing his
journey the following night with the corpses of his companions. One
would think, under these circumstances, that if the authorities chose
there could be no great difficulty in tracing the miscreants; but no
steps whatever have been taken in the matter, which is, perhaps, the
best solution of it, for whenever a foreigner is unhappily obliged to
kill a native in self-defence in this country the chance is that he has
to stand his trial on a counter charge of murder. Now, thanks to the
precautions taken by the Circassians, and the apathy of the government,
there is no proof of any one having been killed, and the Circassians
have received a much severer punishment than any that would have been
inflicted upon them for horse-stealing by the authorities, and they are
likely to be careful how they meddle again with the Germans.

Opinions are divided as to whether they will seek their revenge or not.
The Germans still continue to team by night to Nazareth, but they go in
parties of never less than three wagons together, and well armed. Had
the robbers been Bedouins or native Arabs, this encounter would mean a
blood feud, and sooner or later revenge would be taken; but I once spent
some weeks with the Circassians in their own country, and I do not think
that they have the same custom of vendetta. Indeed, notwithstanding the
fact that they are a most lawless and thieving set as colonists, I found
them a very safe and pleasant people to travel among in their own
mountains, where they have their code of honour and hospitality, and I
have spent a day with them in one of their colonies beyond Jordan, and
received nothing but civility. It would, however, be better to keep them
in those wild and half-savage regions than bring them within range of
the temptations which civilization offers to them.

I have just seen a man who has been paying them a visit at the old city
of Jerash, which, with the exception of Palmyra, is the most perfect
Greco-Roman ruin which exists to the east of Baalbec. My informant tells
me that in the course of their excavations for stone for their
habitations they are making great discoveries. They have unearthed a
heretofore undiscovered and unsuspected temple, with a subterranean
conduit of flowing water, and many fragments of statues and coins. One
large jar of gold coins, worth $50 each, was an immense prize, which
they only succeeded in keeping by paying a bribe to the government
official of $2500. My informant saw one of these coins, but, as he was a
native, and ignorant of such matters, his description was too vague to
convey any definite idea of their date. I should feel much tempted to
pay these ruins, which I have already examined once, another visit, but
of late years the government throws so many obstacles in the way of
travellers to the east of the Jordan that such a journey now may expose
one to annoyances.

Meantime, there are many objects of interest in this immediate
neighbourhood; within a distance of three miles I have found the
extensive remains of what have been undoubtedly iron and copper mines.
The former ore was present in large quantities, and the day may come
when this discovery may prove of considerable value to this part of the
country, though it would be useless, under existing conditions, to take
any steps towards its exploration now. It is probable that the old iron
rings which I found in digging the foundations of my house were made
from this ore.

I have also found a curious square structure, fourteen feet in height,
twelve feet square, composed of stones averaging three feet by two, by
about one in thickness, all carefully squared, and laid one upon another
without cement, the whole forming a perfectly solid erection of great
antiquity. It may possibly have been a vineyard watch-tower. It is on
the way from here to the “Place of Burning,” or Elijah's sacrifice, and
is the second I have found in that neighbourhood, the other being
considerably smaller. I came upon it accidentally on the occasion of a
Druse picnic to which I was invited, and which took place at the “Place
of Burning,” in celebration of the last day of the feast of Ramadan,
which the Druses seem to observe as well as the Moslems, though on a
different day.

The female population of the village, in their gayest dresses, had
preceded us on donkeys. I accompanied the sheik, who had drawn up on a
little plain outside the town about a dozen horsemen as an escort, and
thus, after a little of the usual imitation of the equestrian game of
the djerrid, at which, in default of the real thing, the horsemen
delight to exercise their horses by a mock encounter, we formed in a
sort of procession, the young men of the village on foot, armed with
great clubs, chanting songs of love and war, as they marched in front.
There were from two to three hundred persons collected on the flat space
in front of the church which the Carmelite monks have recently erected
on the supposed site of Elijah's altar. And here the usual
dancing-circles were formed, and the fun of the day commenced. But it
was melancholy fun. How could it be otherwise, when the young men and
women are not allowed to dance together, scarcely even to speak to one
another? It was quite pitiful to see half a dozen of the prettiest girls
that could be found in Syria sitting under the shade of a tree,
gossiping, and looking at half a dozen fine, stalwart, handsome young
fellows prancing about on their horses, or singing and dancing, without
there being the ghost of a chance of a flirtation. The girls cooked
together and ate together and danced together and sang together, and the
young men amused themselves apart as best they could. As the delights of
flirting are unknown to them, I suppose they did not miss them; but as I
looked at the young people of both sexes thus divided, I wondered what
would be the result of a similar experiment if it were tried at an
American picnic.

It was a curious sight to see a bevy of at least fifty women and girls
rush into the Carmelite chapel, which during the week is left in charge
of a Druse, who on this occasion did the honours of it to his
coreligionists, who scampered all over the premises, gazing wonderingly
at the altar ornaments, and forming large dancing-circles on the flat
roof. I could not exactly find out why the Druses chose the place of
Elijah's sacrifice as the scene of their festivity, but there is no
doubt that the traditions of a special sanctity are attached to it in
their religion as well as in that of the Roman Catholics, and that the
slaughter of the eight hundred false prophets by the holy man whose
prayers for rain were heard on this spot, and upon whom the divine
vengeance was invoked, appeals to a sentiment which is common to the
Christian, the Moslem, and the Druse religions.

[1] A year later the thieves were found, and the Circassian colony to
which they belonged was compelled by the government to refund the
Germans the value of the horses.


               ARMAGEDDON.—THE BOSNIAN COLONY AT CÆSAREA.

Daliet-el-Carmel, Sept. 11.—There is no fact at first more puzzling to
the traveller in Palestine than the contrast between the misery and
poverty of the fellahin and the extent and fertility of land owned by
each village. This is, however, the inevitable result of the various
fiscal devices to which the government has been compelled to resort, in
order to provide a revenue which shall meet the needs of its internal
administration, and the claims of its foreign bondholders. These press
more severely on the peasant class than on any other in the community,
and as the financial necessities of the empire increase, new methods are
being constantly devised to meet them. Thus the latest arrangement
requires the taxes to be paid in money instead of in kind, as
heretofore, the amount being assessed on an average of the crops
extending over a period of five years. This has produced the greatest
consternation among the peasantry throughout the country, who find
themselves quite unable to meet this new demand, and who are compelled,
in consequence, to resort to extortionate money-lenders, who charge from
thirty to forty per cent. for their advances, thus ruining the fellahin,
whose villages are all destined by this process to fall into the hands
of these grasping usurers, while the peasants remain upon them as serfs,
merely receiving so much of the crop as will keep them from starving.
Thus it happened that, in the belief that I had more bowels of
compassion than their own countrymen, I was applied to by the villagers
in all directions; among others, by those who owned the lands of Lejjun,
or the biblical Megiddo. This is generally supposed to be identical with
Armageddon, and the notion of becoming the proprietor of a battle-field
which possesses such interesting historical associations in the past, to
say nothing of the future, which may be mythical or not, according to
theological fancy, induced me to pay a visit to that celebrated
locality. Its position was as tempting as its sentimental considerations
were remarkable. Here, jutting out into the plain of Esdrælon, of which
it commands an extensive view, stands the Tell et Mutsellim, or
governor's hill, upon which the traces of what may have been a palace
are distinctly visible. Right opposite to us across the plain, about
twelve miles distant, the houses of Nazareth gleam upon the lofty
hillside; to the right are Tabor, Little Hermon, and Mount Gilboa, with
the mountains of Gilead in the rear. Beneath, circling round the base of
the mound, are “the waters of Megiddo,” a copious stream, turning two
water-mills and irrigating an extensive tract of plain. Behind us is an
undulating plateau covered with the ruins of the ancient city. Here are
fragments of columns, carved capitals and cornices, and I found some
subterranean chambers into which I crawled, and which, as they connected
with the stream by stone conduits, I assume must, in old times, have
been baths. The peasants have found antiques of various kinds, and I was
shown the hand and forearm of a female figure, life-size, and
beautifully carved in marble, which they had dug up. There is no saying
what treasures the fortunate proprietor of this place may not unearth,
and with the wealth of water at his command, of which but little
advantage is now taken, he might have extensive gardens and orange
groves. From this point a great military road passed, in the most
ancient times, connecting Galilee with the coast road. Along it, before
the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites, Thothmes, the King of Egypt,
led his invading hosts into Syria. Here, by “the waters of Megiddo,” was
fought the great battle between Barak and Sisera, when the stars in
their courses fought against Sisera; and on the same ground, six
centuries later, the hosts of Pharaoh Necho met the army of Josiah, King
of Judah, and vanquished it, while the king himself, being “sore
wounded” as he rode in his chariot, was carried away to Jerusalem to
die.

On making inquiries of a practical kind in regard to the present
financial position of this property and its peasant owners, I began to
suspect that any foreigner who desired to become its possessor would
find himself involved in a struggle of a different kind from that of
which in past times it has been the scene, and one more consonant with
the spirit of the age in which we live. The invasion of Palestine of
late years by foreigners of all religions and nationalities, the
constant influx of Jews, and the increasing attention which the Holy
Land is concentrating upon itself, has so far alarmed the Porte that
foreigners are practically prohibited from purchasing any more land in
the country; and the peasantry of the villages who applied to me for
assistance were informed that, even if I were prepared to lend them
money, they were not to be allowed to borrow. I was thus relieved of the
great annoyance of having constantly to refuse applications, which,
under any circumstances, I could not have satisfied.

From Megiddo I followed the historical highway through the mountain,
which, in the days of Christ, when Cæsarea was rising into its grandeur,
must have been one of the most frequented routes in the country. The
road led through charmingly diversified scenery. I turned off from it to
ascend to the town of Umm-el-Fahm, an important place, containing about
two thousand inhabitants, situated on copse-clothed hills, at an
elevation of fifteen hundred feet above the level of the sea, and
commanding extensive views. Here I was the guest of a local millionaire,
noted for his penurious habits and his grasping nature. His ragged
appearance and humble establishment did not belie his reputation. I had,
however, no reason to complain, for, if the accommodation was rough, his
intentions were certainly hospitable.

The romantic valleys by which the village is surrounded are thickly
planted with olive groves, which contain over a hundred thousand trees,
and are a great source of revenue. While, when they are too far from the
village for the protection of any crop, the hillsides and summits are
clothed with a dense undergrowth of scrub oak, terebinth, and other
shrubs, which are only prevented from becoming forest trees by the
charcoal-burners; but their quick growth testifies to the richness of
the soil. To the north the range extends for fifteen miles, to the base
of Carmel. The woodland disappears, and is succeeded by rolling chalk
downs, affording magnificent pasturage and good arable land, for it is
well watered, and from its temperate and healthy climate is called the
“breezy land.”

The villages here are small, few, and far between, and there is room for
a large population; but the most tempting land of all is the tract
between Umm-el-Fahm and the sea, where the oak-trees which are scattered
over the pastures and cornfields attain a large growth, and the country
presents the appearance of an immense park. From an artistic point of
view the woods and the farm lands are so combined as to form the most
perfectly diversified scenery, just where the rolling hills slope gently
down into the plain of Sharon. It was across this country that our road
lay to Cæsarea, which was our objective point, first, through the thick
copse of the upper valleys, and so out upon the park-like uplands, where
the whole population was out in the fields gathering the crops, which
strings of camels were conveying to the village threshing-floors. Here
and there was a money-lender from Acre or Beyrout, squatting under an
umbrella, to see that the peasantry did not rob him of his share. This
is a busy time with these gentry, who are the bloodsuckers of the
fellahin, to whom they advance money at exorbitant rates of interest,
while the latter, in revenge, resort to every conceivable device to
conceal from them the real extent of the crop, and to make the
proportion coming to them as small as possible.

At one village called Arareh I found three old Roman arches, a fine
fragment of a column, and some rock-cut tombs, which seem hitherto to
have escaped observation. The remains indicate that it must have been a
place of considerable importance, but I have not yet been able to
identify it. The plain of Sharon, where we struck it, is being by
degrees brought into cultivation, partly by colonists, Circassian and
Bosnian, and partly by native capitalists. The peasantry themselves are
rapidly losing all proprietorship in the soil, unable to contend against
the exactions of the government tax-gatherer, on the one hand, and of
the usurious money-lender, on the other; but while they are yearly
becoming more impoverished and dependent, the wealth of the country is
steadily increasing, and its development must follow as a matter of
course, though, in accordance with the tendencies of modern
civilization, it will be at the expense of the masses.

I went to lunch with the largest of these local magnates. He was a Turk,
and spoke Turkish in preference to Arabic. He had, as may be supposed,
little sympathy with the Arab peasantry, who were practically his serfs,
and their condition was by no means improved by their lands having
fallen into his hands. On the other hand, they never would have
introduced the civilized iron ploughs with which he was bringing land
into cultivation. His farm-house was a large, straggling, isolated
building, which stood on a hillock in the plain, with extensive
outhouses and dependencies, not unlike the residence of a Southern
planter, while, curiously enough, a large proportion of his farm hands
consisted of African negroes located in a village hard by—but he had
none of the lavish hospitality which characterized the landed
proprietors of the South.

A ride of an hour over a part of the plain which, from the peculiar
quality of its soil, is exclusively devoted to the growth of
water-melons, hitherto the sole export of the little haven of Cæsarea,
brought me to that spot. Although the remains of the old port have been
used as a harbour for coasting craft, these ruins have not been
inhabited since they were evacuated by the crusaders at the end of the
thirteenth century. Indeed, there is a curious prediction connected with
them, to the effect that the rebuilding of a town here would immediately
precede a great disaster to Islam. It has been in consequence of this,
as I have understood, that while villages have sprung up on all the
other crusading ruins on the coast, this one alone has remained
untenanted. However this may be, the spell is broken now, for about six
months ago the first instalment of a band of refugees from Bosnia and
Herzegovina arrived here, having been allotted this ruin and the lands
surrounding it by the government, as the nucleus of a new colony.

Apart from the great interest which these extensive ruins must ever have
from an antiquarian point of view, I was anxious to visit Cæsarea to
judge for myself of the prospects of this embryo colony, and make
personal acquaintance with this new and interesting class of immigrants.
Moreover, as the new town is to be built upon the ruins of the old, it
was evident that I should never have another chance of seeing what these
were like. They have already during the last twenty years served as a
quarry from whence the magnificent building-stones, cut originally by
Herod the Great when he built the town, have been transported in
thousands of boat-loads to Acre and Jaffa. The ruins have therefore lost
much of the pristine grandeur which is described in the records of
travellers in the early part of the present century. In a few years more
they will probably have disappeared altogether. The subterranean
treasures, whatever they may be, will, however, remain untouched, and
the Schliemann of a future age will find here the traces of five
successive epochs of civilization. On the top he will find the ruins of
the stone houses of the Bosnians and Herzegovinians, now in process of
erection; below them the foundations of the great Crusading fortress,
and below them again the remains of the first Mohammedan period; beneath
them, traces of the Byzantine period, and, at the bottom, the
tessellated pavements, the fragments of carved marble, the statuary, and
the coins of the Roman period.

Meantime it is a singular fact that the strip of coast from Haifa to
Cæsarea seems to have become a centre of influx of colonists and
strangers of the most diverse races. The new immigrants to Cæsarea are
Slavs. Some of them speak a little Turkish. Arabic is an unknown tongue
to them, which they are learning. Their own language is a Slav dialect.
When the troubles in the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina first broke
out, which led to the Russo-Turkish war, a howl of indignation went up
from the philanthropists on both sides of the Atlantic, but especially
from the Radical party in England, against the Turkish government, for
its persecution of the Slav population of the Danubian provinces. Nor do
I think that the general public have yet realized the fact that of these
Slavs more than half were Moslem, and that the Turkish government was
not persecuting them more than it was persecuting any other of its
subjects, but that the persecutors of the Slav peasantry, who were
Christian, were the Slav aristocracy, who were Moslem. It was, in fact,
not a question of an oppressed nationality, but a strictly agrarian
question between people of the same race. When it was settled by handing
over the provinces to Austria, the Slav-Moslem aristocracy, finding
themselves in their turn persecuted by their former peasants and the
Christian power which protected them, migrated to the more congenial
rule of the sultan. So the curious spectacle is presented of a Slav
population migrating from Austrian rule to Asia, in order to be under a
Moslem government.

Close beside the new Bosnian colony there are planted in the plain of
Sharon two or three colonies of Circassians. These are the people who
committed the Bulgarian atrocities. The irony of fate has now placed
them within three or four miles of colonists belonging to the very race
they massacred. They, too, fleeing from government by Christians, have
sought refuge under the sheltering wing of the sultan, where, I regret
to say, as I described in a former letter, they still indulge in their
predatory propensities. In immediate proximity to them are the black
tents of a tribe of Turcomans. They belong to the old Seljuk stock, and
the cradle of their tribe gave birth to the present rulers of the
Turkish Empire. They have been here for about three hundred years, and
have forgotten the Turkish language, but a few months ago a new
migration arrived from the mountains of Mesopotamia. These nomads spoke
nothing but Turkish, and hoped to find a warm welcome from their old
tribesmen on the plain of Sharon. In this they were disappointed, and
they have now, to my disgust, pitched their tents on some of the spurs
of Carmel, where their great hairy camels and their own baggy breeches
contrast curiously with the camels and costumes of the Bedouins with
whom we are familiar.

Besides the Slavs, the Circassians, and the Turcomans, we have the
Jewish colony of Zimmarin, distant about ten miles from Cæsarea; the
German colony at Haifa, and the Druse villages on Carmel, making, with
the Bedouins, the negroes, and the native fellahin, no fewer than nine
different races engaged in the cultivation of the soil in this
neighbourhood.


                                CÆSAREA.

Daliet-el-Carmel, Oct. 2.—The habit of tourists of visiting only those
spots in Palestine called holy places, or to which some striking
Biblical association is attached, causes them to neglect ruins of the
highest historical interest, and which are often as well worth seeing
from a picturesque as from an archæological point of view. They make an
effort to go to Nazareth, which differs in no respect from an ordinary
Syrian town, and which does not boast a single object of antiquarian
interest, while they omit from their programme, because it is not
included in the books, a ruin like Cæsarea, a city unsurpassed for
grandeur and magnificence by anything in Palestine when Herod raised it
to the dignity of a metropolis, and the scene of many important events,
both Biblical and historical. Here Peter baptized the first Gentile
convert to Christianity; here Philip lived with his four daughters,
engaged in missionary work; here Paul preached before Felix, and “almost
persuaded” Agrippa to become a Christian. It was in the theatre, the
remains of which are still to be seen, that Herod made his oration to
the multitude when “the angel of the Lord smote him, and he was eaten of
worms and gave up the ghost.” It was in the streets of Cæsarea that, on
the occasion of a quarrel between the Greek and Jewish population,
twenty thousand Jews were massacred. Here the celebrated historians
Eusebius and Procopius were born, and here was found, when the city was
taken by the crusaders, the hexagonal vase of green crystal which was
supposed to contain the Holy Grail.

The old Roman wall can be traced for a mile and a half, enclosing an
area strewn with the remains of a theatre, hippodrome, temple,
aqueducts, and mole; while a second line of fortification, still in
admirable preservation, and over half a mile in extent, marks the
_enceinte_ of the old Crusading fortress, with its castle and donjon
keep, its cathedral, its Northern church, and harbour. This tendency on
the part of travellers is the more to be regretted as the opportunity of
examining these extensive ruins is now about to pass away, never again
to return.

The Slav colonists, whose immigration I described in my last letter, are
laying out broad streets right across the most interesting ruins, using
the old foundations, appropriating the beautiful masonry, the white
stones which formed the temple built by Herod, and the brown limestone
blocks of the cathedral of the crusaders, quarrying into ancient
buildings beneath the surface of the ground, levelling down the ruins at
one place, levelling them up in another, and so utterly transforming the
whole picturesque area that it will soon be no longer recognizable.
Within five months over twenty good stone houses have been built, some
of three stories high, others with vaults for merchandise and storing
grain; in some cases the old Crusading vaults, evidently used for the
same purpose, have been made available. The dwellings are being built on
the plan which renders the towns of the Moslem Slavs of European Turkey
so dull and uninteresting; they are all enclosed with courtyards, the
high stone walls of which jealously guard the harems of the proprietors.
In this respect these western Mohammedans are far more particular than
the Arabs, who allow their women comparative freedom; but during the
period of my stay in Cæsarea I did not see one of the female colonists.

Their male belongings, however, were most hospitable, especially when
they found that I knew their country and was familiar with Mostar and
Cognitza, in the neighbourhood of which towns had been their former
homes. They were the landed aristocracy of their own country, and have,
therefore, brought a considerable amount of wealth with them. A large
tract of the most fertile land of the plain of Sharon has been donated
to them by the Turkish government, and there can be no doubt that the
country will gain by their settlement in it. In manners and costume they
form a marked contrast to the natives, who are evidently much impressed
by their wealth and dignity.

The lower or peasant class of Bosnia and Herzegovina were not obliged,
when the country was conquered by the Moslems, to change their religion,
and they have continued Christians; while the descendants of their
masters, who remained the proprietors of the soil, became bigoted
Mussulmans. The consequence has been that now that the country has been
handed over to the Austrians, the Christian peasantry have naturally
found protection from the authorities against the oppression of their
former masters, who, unable to endure the humiliation of seeing the
tables turned, and their old servants enabled to defy them with
impunity, have sold all their possessions and migrated to the dominions
of the sultan, rather than endure the indignities to which they declare
they were exposed from their new Christian rulers and their old
Christian serfs—very much on the same principle that the Southern States
became intolerable to some of the landed proprietors after the
emancipation of their slaves. Whether they will agree with their
Circassian neighbours remains yet to be seen. They form the _avant
garde_ of a much larger migration which is to follow as soon as
arrangements can be made to receive them. One of the leading men, who
has opened a store, assigned me an unfinished house as a lodging, and
said that he intended to enlarge it into a hotel for travellers.

It is worthy of the notice of intending travellers in Palestine next
season that they can now drive the whole way, if they wish, in wagons
belonging to the German colonists, from Jerusalem to Nazareth, in four
easy days, instead of having to ride, and camp in tents as heretofore.
There are excellent hotels at Jaffa. The next stopping-place would, now
that accommodation is promised there, be Cæsarea, the next day to Haifa,
where the hotel is being enlarged and put on a thoroughly comfortable
and European basis, and the next day to Nazareth, where good quarters
can be obtained at the convent, but where, if this route comes to be
adopted, a hotel will doubtless shortly be built. As soon as travellers
give up their present expensive habit of travelling through Palestine
with tents, the hotel accommodation will be increased, and the existing
carriage roads, as well as the vehicles which traverse them, be
improved. The government has recently determined to construct a carriage
road along the coast from Acre to Beyrout and Tripoli, which, if it is
carried out, will alter all the existing conditions of travel.

The most striking features of the ruins of Cæsarea are the Crusading
castle and the old Roman mole. The former is built upon a long, narrow
reef or breakwater, partly artificial, which runs out into the sea for
one hundred and sixty yards, forming the southern side of the harbour,
while the northern side is formed by a sort of mole or jetty more than
two hundred feet long, which is composed of some sixty or seventy
prostrate columns lying side by side in the water like rows of stranded
logs. They are from five to twenty feet in length, and average about
eighteen inches in diameter. I never in my life before saw such an array
of granite pillars so closely piled together or used for such a purpose.
Indeed, to judge by those which remain, Cæsarea must have been a city of
columns. The crusaders used them to thorough-bind their walls, from
which the butts project like rows of cannon from the side of a
man-of-war. They must have built many hundreds of old Roman columns thus
into their fortification.

The Crusading wall enclosing the town rises from a moat which is about
forty feet wide, but, being much filled in with rubbish, is not more
than five or six feet deep. The wall itself is about nine feet thick,
with buttresses at intervals which are from thirty to fifty feet long
and project from twenty to twenty-six feet; but it is especially in the
castle and donjon, which is built out into the sea on the projecting
reef, that the columns are used as thorough-bonds. Some of these are of
red granite, others of gray. The Bosnian colonists are perching a _café_
on the ruins of the old donjon, immediately above two magnificent
prostrate columns of red granite, nine feet long and four in diameter. I
observed here also a finely polished block of red granite over six feet
square and three feet six inches thick. There is also a curious double
tessellated pavement, evidently of two periods, as the upper tesseræ are
at least six inches above the lower ones. I am afraid, as the masons are
working immediately above them, they will soon disappear, as will also a
beautiful carved capital in white marble. I scrambled up to the top of
this picturesque ruin, where the rib of the groined roof of the upper
chamber still remains supported on a corbel in the form of a human head,
and looked out of the pointed, arched window sheer down seventy feet on
the sea, beating against the base of the sea wall. The mouth of the
small artificial harbour is about two hundred yards across, but the
latter is too much exposed and too small ever to be of much value.

Among the Roman remains, the hippodrome, the theatre, and the aqueduct
are the most interesting. The first is a sunken level space about three
hundred yards long by one hundred wide, surrounded by a mound, and in
the middle are three truncated blocks of red granite, which, when
standing on each other, must have formed a conical pillar about nine
feet high and seven feet diameter at the base. There is also another
fine block of red granite nearly forty feet long and four feet in
diameter, which has been broken. The theatre is a semicircular building
of masonry in an immense artificial mound, surrounded by a trench near
the sea. It is mentioned by Josephus as capable of containing a large
number of persons. Indeed, the account by this historian of the building
of this city by Herod the Great, which I have just been reading, is most
interesting. It occupied twelve years, and was finished thirteen years
before Christ. He says that the stones of which the sea wall was built
were fifty feet in length, eighteen in breadth, and nine in depth.

For nearly six hundred years it was a Christian city and the seat of an
archbishop, then for five hundred years it fell under Moslem rule, and
an Arab traveller in A.D. 1035 describes it as “an agreeable city,
irrigated with running water and planted with date palms and oranges,
surrounded by a strong wall pierced by an iron gate, and containing a
fine mosque.” Then for one hundred and fifty years it remained a
Crusading stronghold, while its final and complete destruction by the
Sultan Bibars took place in 1265 A.D., since which time it has remained
a howling wilderness. I have dwelt somewhat fully on the present aspect
of the ruins, as the transformation they are undergoing will soon be
complete.

From Cæsarea I followed the coast northward with the high-level
aqueduct, which in places is still in tolerably good preservation, on my
right. This aqueduct was the chief source of the water supply for the
inhabitants. It was eight miles long, and at one point tunnels the rock
for a quarter of a mile, thirty feet below its surface. There was also a
low-level aqueduct, three miles long, which drew its water supply from
the Crocodile River. At some seasons this is a dangerous stream to ford,
though I experienced no difficulty. That it is not misnamed I possess
indisputable proof, for a few weeks ago an Arab acquaintance presented
me with a piece of crocodile skin about a foot square, cut from the hide
of a crocodile which he himself helped to kill in this river. Passing
Tantura, which also contains some Crusading ruins and rock-cut tombs, I
reached the Jewish colony of Zimmarin, which I had not visited for
eighteen months, and where I was pleased to find the colony in a
thriving condition, the colonists hopeful, industrious, and contented,
the crops promising fairly, and their progress only checked by the
refusal of the government to allow them to build permanent dwellings, a
difficulty which it is hoped may be overcome by a judicious display of
firmness and patience.


                             VILLAGE FEUDS.

Daliet-el-Carmel, Oct. 15.—In order to really understand this country,
to become acquainted with the inner life of its inhabitants, to
familiarize one's self with their manners and customs, their
necessities, and their aspirations, such as they are, and to arrive at a
true estimate of the national character, it is needful to remove one's
self from any centre of so-called civilization, however crude, and to
live among them, as I have been doing for the last three months and a
half, not as a stranger, but as a villager owning property, identified
with their local interests, and with a will to afford them such
practical counsel and aid as may lie in one's power. People wonder what
I can find to do in a remote Druse village in the back parts of Carmel;
but in practice the days are not long enough to deal with the varied
interests that crowd into them.

Scarcely a day passes that visitors do not arrive from some of the
surrounding villages—sheiks of high or low degree, as the case may
be—generally with polite invitations that I should return their visits,
which I know from experience means a financial proposition of some sort
in reserve, for all the villages are more or less embarrassed in their
pecuniary circumstances, and have been so victimized by the native
money-lenders of Haifa that they eagerly turn towards any one who they
think possesses bowels of compassion.

The return visits which these invitations involve are often highly
characteristic in their attendant circumstances, and in the varied
incidents which accompany them; and, besides, they give one an
opportunity of becoming minutely acquainted with the neighbourhood, and
afford one an insight into the motives by which Oriental human nature is
actuated. There is, for instance, a village about four miles from here,
so beautifully situated among its olive groves, as seen from a distance,
that I had long intended paying it a visit, and wondered why its sheik
had never come to make my acquaintance. The mystery was explained one
day by an old woman whose extreme poverty had induced me to employ her
as a water-carrier. On asking how she had become so destitute, she said
that she was a widow, and that her only son and support had been waylaid
and murdered some months previously by some of the young men of the
village in question. All her efforts to obtain justice had been
unavailing, and since then the two villages had not been on visiting
terms.

As none of the inhabitants of Dalieh would accompany me, I found my own
way one day to the village, to try and discover the rights of the story.
I was received with great politeness by a tall, gentlemanlike man, whom
I supposed to be the sheik, but who turned out to be the very individual
who had been accused of the murder. Soon the sheik and a number of
village notables arrived, and, seated around the neatly-matted
guest-chamber, we exchanged compliments and discussed the topics of the
day. These all turn upon the payment of the new government taxes; and
the price of wheat this year has been so low that the unhappy peasantry
are driven to their wits' end, and finally to usurious money-lenders, to
obtain the necessary cash. In this emergency I am appealed to in every
direction for assistance, and I was well aware that our interview on
this occasion would not terminate without the usual demand.

When it came, I saw my chance for alluding to the delicate subject of
the murder, and the objections I entertained to lending money to people
who were in the habit of murdering their neighbours. They admitted the
murder, which had been attended with robbery, but my host denied that he
had been in any way implicated, though he had unjustly suffered several
months' imprisonment on suspicion, and had only been finally released on
payment of a heavy sum as backsheesh. It seems that the evidence as to
who the culprit really was rested on the dying deposition of the victim,
who had been attacked by four men, all of whom he named on his deathbed.
On the other hand, my host had succeeded in proving an alibi. The real
culprit had, he said, escaped, and had never ventured back to the
village.

Under these circumstances I refused any loan of money, unless the
notables of the village would come to Dalieh, tender their humble
apologies, offer a money indemnity to the mother of the murdered man,
and effect a complete reconciliation. This, according to Arab custom, is
a solemn ceremony, which must be performed in the presence of the
notables of neighbouring villages; but it yet remained to be seen
whether the indemnity question could be arranged at Dalieh, as the man
who said he had been unjustly accused declared that he had already
suffered so much, in person and in purse, that he was indisposed to do
much in that line. The poor widow, in spite of her destitution, was
still more intractable; she thirsted for vengeance, for which she said
no money could compensate. However, I have hopes of bringing them both
to reason, and so healing the feud which extends to all the population
of both villages. Meantime the loan stands in abeyance.

There would, indeed, be a good opening for a professional peacemaker in
these villages, where feuds are bitter and prevalent, not merely between
different villages, but between rival sheiks in the same locality. There
are almost always two, and sometimes three, of these in each village who
are not on speaking terms, and who each have their partisans, so that
the opposing factions keep themselves entirely aloof from each other.
More than once I have had occasion to call on the same day on two rival
sheiks. In that case one escorts me until he sees his enemy in the
distance. He then takes leave of me, and I stand still until the other
comes up to take me in charge. These sheiks, I am sorry to say, often
combine with the money-lenders against the interests of their own
fellow-villagers. The mode by which a money-lender obtains possession of
a village is simple; he goes to the sheik, and says: “You and your
village are unable to meet the government demands; if you will persuade
your village to borrow from me at forty per cent., I will give you so
much commission, and if at the end of three years you can manage
irretrievably to ruin your villagers, so that I can come down upon them
and obtain possession of the village in satisfaction of my debt for half
its value, your profit shall be so much, and you shall retain such a
share of the village lands.” As the sheiks wield an unbounded influence
over their own faction, this would be an easy operation were it not for
the rival sheik, who is in negotiation with a rival money-lender. When
two money-lenders take to fighting over a village there is some chance
for the villagers, and from this point of view the feuds of their sheiks
are not an unmixed evil.

Where a sheik is supreme, as at Dalieh, he has practically the fortunes
of the villagers in his hands, and he must be watched to see that he
uses his influence and authority justly. The only man in a position to
watch him is the person upon whom he depends for assistance to meet the
government demands. If this individual happens to be content with a
moderate rate of interest, and to have no ulterior designs upon the
village itself, it is evident that he may have it in his power to do a
great deal of good. The villagers are quite astonished if one comes to
them and says, “I do not want your village, I only want your good-will.
I desire to help you out of your financial scrape, and I am willing to
lend you money at the legal rate of interest if you will furnish me with
the necessary security.” Any one saying this finds at once that he has
arrayed against him the money-lenders, who take three times the legal
rate of interest; the government officials, who go shares with the
money-lenders; and, in many instances, the village sheiks themselves,
who, of course, find their interest lies rather with these two classes
than with the unhappy villagers. These latter, accustomed to be
plundered all around, naturally do not know whom to trust, and are apt
to look with suspicion on a new proposal, however favourable and
disinterested it may seem. The obstacles, therefore, to the working-out
of improved conditions by any single man, even in the case of one
village, seem almost insuperable, and can only be overcome by much
personal intercourse with the villagers themselves.

The Druses are sensitive to kindness, and grateful for it, and as there
are generally some sick in the village, and quack doctoring, provided
one treads cautiously, is better than none, we do a good deal of
empirical practice, and our efforts have met with such success that we
are obtaining a somewhat alarming reputation. Of course, we come across
difficult cases, as, for instance, the sheik's daughter. She is rather a
nice-looking girl of eighteen, with a crick in her neck and an asthmatic
affection. On asking how long she had been ill, we were informed that
her mother, on the occasion of her birth, was so angry at finding the
child was a girl and not a boy, that she threw her out of the window,
and she had never been well since. Cases of this sort we don't attempt
to grapple with, but I have ceased to wonder at the sheik having taken a
dislike to the old lady. Indeed, my own feelings towards her have
entirely changed since hearing of this episode, and, although it
happened eighteen years ago, I treat her with comparative coolness.

Why the sheik hesitates so long about divorcing her I fail to
understand, more especially as he is anxious to marry a young and
handsome girl. I have discovered, by the way, that divorced people are
never allowed to meet again, even in the street, after the separation
has finally taken place. I saw a young friend of mine, in a fit of
passion, divorce his wife last year. She was young and pretty. He
married again, but has already repented, and wants to divorce his
present and remarry his first wife, whom he has never seen since; but
Druse law is inexorable on this point. There was a meeting of elders on
the subject, but they decided that it was impossible. So now, when this
rash young man sees the former partner of his life at the other end of
the street, he is obliged hurriedly to turn around and walk the other
way, with a sadly beating heart and repentant spirit.

Some weeks ago we opened a boys' school at Dalieh, where English and
Arabic were taught. In a few days we had an average attendance of over
fifty children, while we received applications from more than twenty
girls, which we were making arrangements to satisfy, as the desire which
the parents manifested to have their children educated was so strong
that we felt it should be encouraged in every possible way. One day,
however, a summons arrived for the sheik to appear before the
authorities, when he was informed that a fine of $250 would be levied on
every child who ventured to go to school; a threat which, to my great
regret, most effectually extinguished that humble institution.


                    THE ARISTOCRACY OF MOUNT CARMEL.

Daliet-el-Carmel, Oct. 30.—I have been making acquaintance with some of
my neighbours, and will take you with me to call upon what in England
would be called the leading members of the county aristocracy. They are
the blue blood of this region of country, the families which in the
early part of the present century exercised power of life and death, and
supreme control, over the inhabitants for many miles around; who thought
nothing of calling out their retainers and resisting the constituted
authority, whether it was that exercised by the various pachas of Acre,
who, though nominally Turkish governors, were themselves
quasi-independent, or the more iron rule of the Egyptian conqueror,
Ibrahim Pacha, to which, however, they were eventually forced to
succumb.

One of these families lives at a village about two hours' ride from
here. In response to a letter couched in the most flowery Oriental
hyperbole, in which my rank is exalted, my virtues are exaggerated, and
the beneficent warmth which my presence is supposed to radiate is dwelt
upon, I determine to shed it upon the writer of the letter; in other
words, to pay him a visit in the gardens to which he has invited me. Our
way lies down a wild, romantic gorge which leads to a valley situated
among the lower spurs of Carmel, beyond the confines of the mountain
proper, where the country is broken up by volcanic action into chasms
and precipices, well adapted for defensive purposes, and admirably
calculated to be the stronghold of a not over-scrupulous tribal chief.
The village itself is situated upon a high conical mound, rising some
three hundred feet above the plain; and towering above the surrounding
houses is the high, two-storied, half-castellated mansion. It is not
thither that I am at present bound, but to a narrow valley about a mile
distant from it, which is wedged in between frowning precipices, and is
a bright green strip, in delightful contrast to the gray, overhanging
crags, for it is a dense mass of orange, lemon, fig, pomegranate, olive,
quince, and other fruit-trees, the result of a crystal fountain which
gushes from the rock and fertilizes this fairy-like scene.

These are the summer gardens of my host, and from them, as he sees me
approach, he issues, with several of his retainers, and leads me to an
arbour of overhanging trees, whose dense foliage forms an impenetrable
shade against the noonday sun. Here carpets have been spread, cushions
arranged, narghiles and coffee have been prepared, and the circle is
formed and the compliments interchanged which are the invariable prelude
to an Eastern entertainment. Soon appear, on prancing horses, a
picturesque group of men in white flowing _abbayes_, or transparent
summer robes, which flutter gracefully in the wind. They are richly
embroidered, and the horses are gayly comparisoned; these are the
brothers, nephews, and other members of my host's family. One of them is
a holy man, who has studied theology in the celebrated seat of Moslem
learning, the College of El-Ahzar, in Cairo, and he is much respected
and looked up to in consequence.

Knowing that I cannot introduce a more grateful topic, and anxious to
stave off as long as possible the financial one, which I suspect is in
the background, I ask the dignified group of narghile smokers by which I
am surrounded to tell me something of their family history. About four
hundred years ago, they say, their ancestors came from the Hedjaz, being
a branch of the tribe of Beni Ab Arabs, whose home were the deserts near
Mecca, and who were closely related to the family of Mohammed. It is
this ancestral connection with the Prophet which has always given the
family the great prestige and consideration which it has enjoyed. In
those days they came into the country as conquerors, and, settling
themselves in their present village, soon reduced the surrounding
district to subjection, and continued to rule it, nominally subject to
the Pacha of Acre, but really independently, until the invasion of
Palestine by Ibrahim Pacha, when, after a sturdy resistance, they were
overcome, and the grandfather of my host was executed and the greater
part of their lands taken from them. From that time the fortunes of the
family began to decline. On the restoration of the country to the
sultan, by means of the intervention of England, they derived no
benefit. The Turkish government took care not to re-establish an
influence which in former times had proved so formidable, and, indeed,
one of my hosts had spent two years in prison. Some say it was because
he had manifested a spirit of too great independence, but others allege
that it was for the more prosaic reason of an inability or refusal to
pay his debts.

At all events, when the money-lending question came up, not then, but on
the occasion of a return visit which they afterwards paid me, I was
assured by those who ought to know that my picturesque, hospitable,
dignified, and aristocratic hosts were—well, I won't exactly repeat what
it was said they were, but they were not just the kind of people that
one would select to lend money to. This grieved me exceedingly, not
because I wanted to lend them any, but because they were such gentlemen;
in fact, I have been there since, and been very royally entertained in
the old castle—where the guests' room is gorgeously furnished, for this
part of the world—in order to make my peace for not lending them money;
for it is considered an insult, after you have been a man's guest and he
asks you to accommodate him financially, if you refuse—which is
perplexing when he has no satisfactory security to offer. Now, I want to
keep on good terms with this powerful and fascinating and somewhat
scampish family without losing my money to them, and the problem I am
engaged in solving is how to do it. I have a horrible suspicion that it
will yet be solved rather to their satisfaction than to mine.

Under these circumstances, paying aristocratic visits does not seem
likely to be an altogether profitable occupation; but they are not
always attended with embarrassments of this nature. I have other
aristocratic friends, who live about five hours distant from here. They
are also originally from the Hedjaz; they also claim kinship with the
Prophet, and they also once ruled a large tract of country. In fact, the
two families divided the whole of this country between them, and their
history has been almost identical.

My visit to this family was in some respects highly characteristic. My
way led across the Ruhah, or “Breezy-land,” across open, rolling downs,
fairly watered, and covered with the remains of what was once a
magnificent oak forest. The trees are now dotted singly over it, in
park-like fashion. The village itself was beautifully situated at an
elevation of about seven hundred feet above the sea, on the side of a
thickly wooded mountain, twelve hundred feet high. On this occasion my
host, who came out to meet me, led me to an elevated platform in front
of the village mosque, an unusually imposing edifice. Here, under the
shade of a spreading mulberry-tree, were collected seven brothers, who
represented the family, and about fifty other members of it. They were
in the act of prayer when I arrived—indeed, they are renowned for their
piety. Along the front of the terrace was a row of water-bottles for
ablutions, behind them mats on which the praying was going forward, and
behind the worshippers a confused mass of slippers. When they had done
praying, they all got into their slippers. It was a marvel to me how
each knew his own.

They led me to what I supposed was a place of honour, where soft
coverlets had been spread near the door of the mosque. We formed the
usual squatting circle, and were sipping coffee, when suddenly every one
started to his feet; a dark, active little man seemed to dart into the
midst of us. Everybody struggled frantically to kiss his hand, and he
passed through us like a flash to the other end of the platform,
followed by a tall negro, whose hand everybody, including my
aristocratic host, seemed also anxious to kiss. I had not recovered from
my astonishment at this proceeding, when I received a message from the
new-comer to take a place by his side. I now found that he was on the
seat of honour, and it became a question, until I knew who he was,
whether I should admit his right to invite me to it, thus acknowledging
his superiority in rank—etiquette in these matters being a point which
has to be attended to in the East, however absurd it may seem among
ourselves. I therefore for the moment ignored his invitation, and asked
my host, in an off-hand way, who he was. He informed me that he was a
mollah, held in the highest consideration for his learning and piety all
through the country, upon which he, in fact, levied a sort of religious
tax; that he was here on a visit, and that in his own home he was in the
habit of entertaining two hundred guests a night, no one being refused
hospitality. His father was a dervish, celebrated for his miraculous
powers, and the mantle thereof had fallen upon the negro, who had been
his servant, and who also was much venerated, because it was his habit
to go to sleep in the mosque, and be spirited away, no one knew whither,
in the night; in fact, he could become invisible almost at will.

Under these circumstances, and seeing that I should seriously embarrass
my host if I stood any longer on my dignity, I determined to waive it,
and joined the saint. He received me with supercilious condescension,
and we exchanged compliments till dinner was announced, when my host
asked whether I wished to dine alone or with the world at large. As the
saint had been too patronizing to be strictly polite, I thought I would
assert my right to be exclusive, and said I would dine alone, on which
he, with a polite sneer, remarked that it would be better so, as he had
an objection to eating with any one who drank wine, to which I retorted
that I had an equal objection to dining with those who ate with their
fingers. From this it will appear that my relations with the holy man
were getting somewhat strained.

I was, therefore, supplied with a pyramid of rice and six or seven
elaborately cooked dishes all to myself, and squatted on one mat, while
a few yards off the saint, my host, and all his brothers squatted on
another. When they had finished their repast their places were occupied
by others, and I counted altogether more than fifty persons feeding on
the mosque terrace at my host's expense. Dinner over, they all trooped
in to pray, and I listened to the monotonous chanting of the Koran till
it was time to go to bed. My host offered me a mat in the mosque, where
I should have a chance of seeing the miraculous disappearance of the
negro; but as I had no faith in this, and a great deal in the snoring by
which I should be disturbed, I slept in a room apart, as exclusively as
I had dined.

I was surprised next morning to observe a total change in the saint's
demeanour. All the supercilious pride of the previous evening had
vanished, and we soon became most amiable to each other. That he was a
fanatic hater of the Giaour I felt no doubt, but for some reason he had
deemed it politic to adopt an entirely altered demeanour. It was another
illustration of the somewhat painful lesson which one has to learn in
one's intercourse with Orientals. They must never be allowed to
outswagger you.


                        THE JORDAN VALLEY CANAL.

Haifa, Nov. 10.—In one of my former letters I described the nature of
the concession which had been obtained by some capitalists at Beyrout
for the construction of a railway from Haifa to Damascus, and of the
survey of the line, which had already been completed half-way to the
latter city. The matter has been the subject of a good deal of financial
intrigue, and the capital which was sought for in London has not been
forthcoming in consequence. A new element of uncertainty has just been
imported into the project by the agitation created by the proposal to
connect the Red Sea with the Mediterranean by means of a ship canal,
which, commencing at Haifa, should be cut through the plain of Esdraelon
to the valley of the Jordan, letting the waters of the Mediterranean
into the Ghor, as that valley is called, and connecting the lower end of
the Dead Sea with the Red Sea by a canal which should debouch at Akaba.

This project originated principally among British shipowners and
capitalists, who have hoped in this way to destroy the monopoly which M.
de Lesseps claims to possess of water communication between the
Mediterranean and the Red Sea across the Isthmus of Suez. As the
proposed canal does not touch the isthmus, the French company would have
no ground of complaint. As, however, great uncertainty still exists as
to the practicability of the scheme, a sum of £10,000 has been
subscribed by the promoters of the proposed company to make the
preliminary surveys, and to obtain the necessary permission from the
sultan to do so. According to the first accounts, his majesty set his
face against any survey of the kind proposed, but the latest advices
would go to show that he has changed his mind, and it would seem not
only that the requisite permission has been granted, but that the
surveying party are actually on their way to Port Said.

It will now be interesting to consider, by the light of our present
information, what are the chances of success, what is the nature of the
obstacles the scheme will have to encounter, and how it proposes to
overcome them, so far as they are known. In the first place, it does not
follow, because the sultan has granted permission for the survey, that
he will afterwards, supposing it to be found practicable, grant a firman
for the accomplishment of the work. The advantages he will derive from
it are: Easy access to his dominions in Arabia, which extend as far
south as Aden; an enormous sum of money, which will be paid to him in
compensation for about fifteen hundred square miles of land submerged,
chiefly government property, and a large annual income to be derived
from tolls on the canal, and the development of extensive tracts of
fertile country, especially to the east of the Jordan, which are now
inaccessible and unproductive. That such a canal would add immensely to
the resources of the empire, and be a source of great profit, there can
be no doubt. On the other hand, it would almost amount to the virtual
annexation of Palestine by England, whose influence in that country,
backed by the enormous expenditure of capital which would be involved,
would be supreme. It is a question, therefore, whether the sultan would
consider that the pecuniary advantage which he would gain would be
compensated by the political sacrifice which would have to be incurred.

In regard to the engineering difficulties, so far as they are known, the
only records of levels which we have of the elevation of the land
between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea are those made at different times
by three Frenchmen—Mons. Lartet, Mons. Vigne, and Mons. Luynes. These
only differ nineteen feet—the lowest being seven hundred and eighty-one
feet, the highest eight hundred; but it must be remembered that these
are not the result of actual survey, but of rough estimates, and there
may be depressions in the dividing ridge which may have escaped these
gentlemen's observation.^[2] The dividing ridge is said to be calcareous
rock—the summit level distant fifty-two miles from the Red Sea and
fifty-eight from the Dead Sea, which is nearly thirteen hundred feet
lower than the level of the ocean—and it is assumed that the engineering
work would be facilitated by the scour which would be caused by the sea
rushing down such a steep incline in a distance of one hundred miles. It
is not, however, proposed to let the full force of the ocean in from
this end. The operation of flooding the Jordan valley would be commenced
at Haifa; from this point to the sea-level in the Ghor is only
twenty-five miles. The highest point in the plain of Esdraelon is one
hundred and fifty-seven feet above the sea. Through this it is proposed
to cut a canal two hundred feet wide and forty feet deep. The volume of
water thus let in, it is calculated, would be regulated to an inflow
which would equal about twenty Jordans, and, allowing for evaporation,
it is estimated that in five years the Dead Sea and the whole valley of
the Jordan would be submerged to the sea-level.

The effect of this submergence would be, of course, to bury the Dead Sea
under twelve hundred feet of ocean, and to create an inland sea about
ninety miles long and from four to six wide. Jericho, Beisan (the
ancient Bethshean), and Tiberias would be the principal places
submerged, besides a few small villages. With the exception of Tiberias,
none of these are, however, of any importance. Tiberias contains a
population of over three thousand, chiefly Jews, and a Latin and Greek
monastery. Apart from the question of compensating this population, and
paying for the fertile lands which they occupy, a very important
political question enters into consideration. The French have been the
protectors of the Latin monastery at Tiberias from time immemorial, and
the Russians occupy the same position with regard to the Greek
monastery. Are these two powers, whose interests would be in different
ways vitally affected by the success of the scheme, likely to be induced
to consent to it by any proposal of pecuniary indemnification? Its
success would utterly ruin the Suez Canal and almost extinguish French
influence in Syria, while Russia, which now aims at the annexation of
Palestine and the occupation of Jerusalem, where her influence is at
this moment greater than that of any other European nation, would find
herself practically cut off from it by an inland sea, the private
property of her traditional enemy. In both countries the governments
could appeal to the religious sentiment of the people to support them in
resisting, even to a war if necessary, the flooding of the holy places
at Tiberias which they have guarded for so many centuries.

Nor would this sentimental feeling be confined to France and Russia.
Even in England and America there would be a strong objection to the
Lake of Tiberias, with the historic sites of Capernaum and the other
cities on its margin, which were the scenes of some of the most
remarkable ministrations of our Lord, being buried five hundred feet
deep beneath the sea. Curiously enough, the project is no less keenly
supported by one set of religionists than it is condemned by the other.
The former pin their faith to the prophecy contained in the
forty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel, eighth to tenth verses, where it is
predicted that “fishers shall stand upon the sea from En-gedi even unto
En-eglaim,” but even this would not be the case if the scheme were
carried out, for then En-gedi would be several hundred feet below the
surface of the sea.

The sanguine supporters of the scheme maintain that it can be
accomplished for eight millions sterling, while its opponents have
entered upon an elaborate calculation to prove that the lowest figure is
£225,573,648 and some odd shillings. Supposing, as seems not impossible,
that the one set prove too little, and the other too much, if it could
be done for fifty millions sterling it would pay a fair interest. The
last year's receipts of the Suez Canal, which cost twenty millions, were
£4,800,000. The whole length of the canal would be two hundred and fifty
miles, of which, however, only about one hundred and twenty would be
actual cutting, but cutting of a nature unparalleled in the history of
engineering. My own impression is that, both from a political and an
engineering point of view, it will be found to be impracticable; but who
can say in these days what science may not accomplish or what
combinations of the Eastern question may not arise to remove political
difficulties?

[2] Since the above was written the dividing range has been carefully
surveyed, and the lowest part found to be between six and seven hundred
feet above the level of the Red Sea.


                      LOCAL POLITICS AND PROGRESS.

Haifa, Nov. 27.—The native population here is in a high state of
excitement at news which has just reached us. The government, it is
reported, intends transferring the seat of the provincial government
from Acre to this place. This change has been recommended on the grounds
of the superior excellence of the harbour of Haifa, of its increasing
export trade and rapidly growing population, and, above all, of the
constantly augmenting influence of foreigners, which is the natural
result of the inflow of their capital and of their industry and
enterprise.

The old fortress of Acre, at present the residence of the governor, or
mutessarif, contains a population of about nine thousand, pent up within
the walls of the fort and crowded into an area of little more than fifty
acres. They are for the most part fanatic Moslems, which means a state
of stagnation in industry and commercial pursuits; and in consequence of
the military rule which prohibits any extension of the town outside of
the walls of the fortress within range of the guns, no expansion is
possible to the inhabitants. The population of Haifa, on the other hand,
is increasing with great rapidity, and the place seems to resound from
one end to the other with the clink of the stone-mason's chisel, as new
houses spring up in all directions. These considerations would not
alone, however, account for the resolution at which the government seems
to have arrived.

Three fourths of the population of Haifa are either Roman or Greek
Catholics; in other words, they are under the protection of the French
Consul when religious questions are concerned; and the policy of the
French government in Syria has been to extend its religious protectorate
into political and secular matters, to a degree which is constantly
giving rise to awkward questions and complications not devoid of danger.

A great part of the house property in the town of Haifa is owned by the
monks of Mount Carmel, who consider the whole of Carmel, from the
monastery at the western extremity of the mountain, to their chapel at
the Place of Elijah's Sacrifice at the other end, as a sort of private
preserve, and push their religious pretensions to such an extreme that
they look with the utmost jealousy upon any foreigner who attempts to
buy land in the mountain, and oppose any such proceeding with all their
energy.

The policy of the Turkish government, on the other hand, is to prevent
any foreigners buying land there, or, indeed, anywhere else in
Palestine, although they are entitled to do so by treaty; and in pursuit
of this policy the local authorities are instructed to throw every
obstacle in the way of foreign enterprise of all descriptions, but
especially to render it impossible for persons not subjects of Turkey to
acquire landed property. They have, on these grounds, used their utmost
endeavors to ruin the Jewish colony of Zimmarin, which is also in the
neighborhood of Haifa, by prohibiting the colonists from building houses
for themselves, on the ground that they have no right to the land. They
have based this claim on the allegation that the proprietor of the
property, who was an Austrian Jew, in whose name it was bought for the
colonists, died childless, and, according to Turkish law, landed
property reverts to the Turkish government under these circumstances;
and the government therefore claimed the property. It so happened,
however, that the owner did not die childless. Indeed, I know his son
myself, but the government refused to admit the evidence of any but
Moslems as to whether he had a son or not, a demand which, as the
deceased proprietor did not live in Turkey, it was naturally impossible
to comply with. The question has therefore been pending between Baron
Rothschild, who took over the property on the death of its nominal
proprietor, and the Turkish government for nearly two years; but I
understand that permission has at last been obtained for the erection of
houses by the colonists, and the affair has been arranged.

The fact, however, that foreign questions are constantly arising at
Haifa, either out of French pretensions or the claims of the German or
Jewish colonists, and that no such questions are possible at Acre, where
there is but a limited Christian or foreign population, has rendered it
desirable in the eyes of the Governor-general of Syria to suggest the
removal of the governor of the district to this place. The change has
not yet been sanctioned at Constantinople, and the inhabitants of Acre,
where property will suffer an immediate depreciation, have been pouring
petitions into Constantinople to protest against the change, urging as a
reason that they, who were loyal and devoted subjects of his majesty,
will suffer; while the population of Haifa, composed principally of
Christians and foreigners, will benefit. It is just possible, however,
that the government may consider that the loyalty and devotion of the
petitioners form the best reasons why the governor should be moved to a
place where the loyalty and devotion of the people are not so assured,
and should therefore be watched. At all events, there can be no doubt
that the change, should it take place, will cause an immediate rise in
the value of property here, and that there will be a considerable influx
of people from Acre to this town, which has the advantage in summer of
being a much cooler and more agreeable place of residence.

Meantime, advantage has been taken of this opportunity to remove the
present governor and replace him by a more intelligent and active
functionary, a change which has caused great satisfaction, both to
Moslems and Christians, as, in spite of his fanaticism, he had contrived
to make himself very unpopular with the former, while he altogether
failed to keep the peace at Acre between the rival sects of the latter,
who, though very limited in number, were constantly engaged in broils.
Moreover, it is not the habit of the Turkish government to retain its
functionaries, under any circumstances, long at the same post.

The only drawback to Haifa as the new seat of government is its limited
water supply. At present the town depends entirely upon its wells, and
although an abundance of water can be found at a trifling depth, it is
usually a little too brackish to be altogether palatable. Under these
circumstances it became of the utmost importance, in view of the
proposed change, to try and find a spring, sufficiently copious and near
the town to be utilized, and it occurred to a friend and myself that
such a one might exist at Rushmea, where are the ruins of an old
Crusading fort, which I have described in a former letter, distant about
an hour's ride from the town, at an elevation of about seven hundred
feet above the level of the sea. There is a well here called the Well of
Elias, into which I once descended, and found that it was supplied with
water which entered through a tunnel in the rock, but had no outlet; and
the shepherds told me that, however much they watered their flocks, the
water always remained at the same height, while in winter, although the
well was eight feet deep, the water rose in it so high as to overflow
the mouth. Under these circumstances it was evident that the well was,
in fact, a sort of back-water of some underground stream or rivulet,
which found a subterranean channel for itself. This we determined, by
excavation, to try and discover.

We therefore commenced digging near the well, and about two feet from
the surface struck the roof of a subterranean aqueduct. Uncovering this,
we found that the channel had become silted up with mud, which required
to be removed. We then found that we were in an arched tunnel, the sides
of which were roughly built with stone, while the floor was paved with
the same material, in which a channel had been cut, but it was four
inches higher than the water in the well. We were therefore obliged to
take it up, cutting, altogether, a trench thirty yards long and eight
feet deep. On drawing the water off by means of this channel, we
uncovered the mouth of the tunnel, by which it entered, sufficiently to
send in a man with a light. After wading through the mud for a few
paces, he came upon a vault beautifully cemented, thus proving that in
ancient times the stream had been utilized. It would have involved a
greater expense, however, to clear out than I was prepared to incur,
unaided by the community for whose benefit it would have inured. As it
was, the stream thus discovered was almost sufficient in volume to be
worth conveying to Haifa, a distance of three miles, and could doubtless
be much increased. In the course of our excavations we came upon several
large blocks of square stone, which had formed part of the ancient
tunnel.

The project of the railway from Haifa to Damascus, the concession for
which had lapsed in consequence of the combined greed and apathy of the
first grantees, is now revived under more favorable auspices, and I have
little doubt that the change of the seat of the government to this place
will give it a renewed impetus, so that before long it will be carried
out.

Meantime, unwonted energy is displayed by the government in improving
our communications. Having occasion a few weeks ago to ride to Beyrout,
I saw the surveyors at work tracing out a line for a carriage road to
connect that important city with Haifa. The distance is about eighty
miles, and there are no serious engineering difficulties in the way.
This road is sadly needed, especially now, when, owing to the cholera in
Europe, no steamer touches here on its way to Beyrout, although we are
visited once a fortnight by one coming from that place after it has
performed there a quarantine of five days. The habit, unfortunately, of
the government of making the road, and postponing to an indefinite
period the construction of the bridges, goes far to neutralize its good
intentions. The towns through which the road passes are heavily taxed,
and then, owing to the want of bridges, it is useless for a great part
of the year. Should this road be completed, Beyrout, Damascus, Jaffa,
Jerusalem, Nazareth, Haifa, Tyre, and Sidon will all be connected by
roads over which stages could run; and this would go far to facilitate
travel in Palestine, and enable tourists to dispense with that system of
tenting which now renders it so slow and expensive.


                  THE IDENTIFICATION OF ANCIENT SITES.

Haifa, Dec. 13.—The researches which I have been making into the oldest
authorities, with the view of identifying the sites of the numerous
ancient towns that once formed the homes of the extensive population
which in ages long gone by inhabited this coast, have only served to
reveal to me the enormous difficulty of the task. This difficulty is
created partly by the confusion introduced by the crusading nomenclature
and traditions, partly by the inaccuracy of the itineraries of early
pilgrims and travellers, and to the discrepancies existing in the most
primitive maps, and the contradictions in historical records. Thus
between this place and Tantura, a distance of fifteen miles, I have
visited the ruins of no fewer than nine ancient towns or villages, some
of them of considerable size, not one of which, with the exception of
Tantura, which is the Biblical Dor, has been positively identified. I do
not include in these the ruins of towns a mile or more inland, which
would double the number and convey some idea of the denseness of the
population which once inhabited this section of the country. At the same
time it is possible, from the varied character of these ruins, that some
were far more ancient than the others, and that they may have existed as
traces of a still more early people, when other cities, also now in
ruin, were rich and flourishing. Thus we have on this coast remains of
the early Phœenician period, of the Greek period, of the Roman or
Byzantine period, and, lastly, of the crusading period—the latter too
modern to be of any archæological interest. They consist merely of
constructions built from the materials of the civilizations which had
preceded it. Not content with using up these materials, the crusaders
gave the towns and forts which they built wrong names, refusing to adopt
the Saracen nomenclature, which was generally a corruption of the
original Canaanitish or Hebrew, and attempting to identify them
according to their own ideas of Biblical topography, or reading of Roman
history, thereby introducing inextricable confusion. Thus we have
William of Tyre, one of the crusading historiographers, gravely
informing us that “Duke Godfrey de Bouillon awarded, with his usual
magnanimity, to the generous and noble Tancred the city of Tiberias, on
the Lake of Genasereth, as well as of the whole of Galilee and the
sea-town of Kaypha (or Haifa), which is otherwise called Porphyria.”

The Carmelite monks still cling to this tradition, although modern
research has proved beyond a doubt that the site, at all events of one
Roman city of Porphyrion, was at Khan-Yunis, a ruin, eight miles north
of Sidon, and at least seventy miles from Haifa. To escape this
difficulty some have supposed there were two Porphyrions, and that one
was here, basing their argument on the fact that in the Onomasticon of
Eusebius and Jerome there is a city marked at the point of Carmel,
called Chilzon, and that Chilzon is the Hebrew for the murex, or
shellfish which produced the purple dye found there in great quantities;
hence Porphyrion, or the purple city.

In carefully examining these ruins, and remarking the great quantity of
carved porphyry which is peculiar to them, I have thought it furnished a
stronger argument in favor of what would seem an appropriate
appellation. The crusaders even confounded the Sea of Galilee with the
Mediterranean; thus they supposed a connection to exist between the town
of Caiapha, or Caiaphas (the modern Haifa), which Benjamin of Tudela
asserts to have been founded by Caiaphas, the high-priest, and Cephas,
the Greek name of Simon Peter. Hence near Haifa the crusading clergy
showed the rock where Simon Peter fished, called to this day Tell
el-Samak, or the Mound of the Fish. Laboring under a similar confusion
of idea, they built a fort out of the ruins of a place called at the
present day Kefr Lam, a name which, no doubt, dates back before the
times of the crusaders, and which they twisted into Capernaum, that
place being, as we all know, on the Sea of Galilee. The Capernaum of the
crusaders, however, is a village on the Mediterranean shore, thirteen
miles down the coast from here.

The itineraries of the pilgrims and early travellers are scarcely less
perplexing. They are generally careful to record the distances between
the various places they visit, but rarely with accuracy. Their remarks,
however, are naïve and amusing. I have just been reading the journal of
a certain Antoninus, the Martyr, who travelled in Palestine about the
year A.D. 530. Writing of Tyre, he says:

“The city of Tyre contains influential men; the life there is very
wicked; the luxury such as cannot be described. There are public
brothels, and silk and other kinds of clothing are woven.”

We do not altogether see the connection in this last sentence. Going on,
he remarks:

“Thence we came to Ptolemais (the modern Acre), a respectable city,
where we found good monasteries. Opposite Ptolemais, six miles off, is a
city which is named Sycaminus, under Mount Carmel. A mile from Sycaminus
are the hamlets of the Samaritans, and above the hamlets, a mile and a
half away, is the Monastery of Heliseus (or Elijah), the prophet, at the
place where the woman met him whose child he raised from the dead. On
Mount Carmel is found a stone, of small size and round, which, when
struck, rings because it is solid. This is the virtue of the stone—if it
be hung on to a woman, or to any animal, they will never miscarry. About
six or seven miles off is the city of Porphyrion.”

Now there are as many mistakes as there are sentences in this quaint
account by the holy man. It is a matter of dispute which are the ruins
of Sycaminus. Two ruins claim that honor, and one of these it
undoubtedly is. They are only two miles apart, but the nearest is
thirteen miles from Acre, instead of six, and the other fifteen. A mile
from Sycaminus, he says, are the hamlets of the Samaritans. These have
been identified beyond all doubt as a ruin called Kefr es Samir, two
miles and a half beyond one of the abovementioned ruins, and four miles
and a half beyond the other. The Monastery of Heliseus, the prophet, “a
mile and a half away,” I have described in a former letter. It is the
picturesque gorge and ruin called Ain Siah, but the place where Elijah
met the woman of Sarepta was, if we are to believe the Bible, “at the
gate of that city,” at least fifty miles distant from Carmel. There is
no doubt as to its site, between Tyre and Sidon. As to “the stone of
small size, which, when struck, rings because it is solid,” it happens
to ring because it is hollow. I have an interesting collection of these
geodes, found near Ain Siah, their peculiar shapes having given rise to
the legend that they were melons and other fruits which the proprietor
refused the prophet when he was hungry, and which the latter therefore
blasted with petrifaction. And then comes the final statement about the
unhappy Porphyrion, which he puts six miles off, thus probably
identifying it with Athlit, and making confusion worse confounded. First
we have the Jerusalem Itinerary, distinctly placing it to the north of
Sidon, a position confirmed by other authorities; then we have William
of Tyre identifying it with Haifa, and now we have Antoninus putting it
six miles off.

I will not inflict upon you all my reasons for coming to the conclusion
that the ruin at Tell el-Samak, the Mound of the Fish already alluded
to, is the site of Sycaminum, though I doubt whether a larger population
did not inhabit the city two miles nearer Haifa, where the porphyry
fragments abound. To judge by the fine carvings at both places, they
must have been wealthy as well as populous, and their most prosperous
period was in all probability during the first three or four centuries
of our era. The coins which I have found so far are of that epoch.
Exploring the ruins of what must have been the upper tower of Sycaminus,
distant about four hundred yards from the Fish Mound, and two hundred
feet above it, a few days ago, I came upon a cistern with four circular
apertures. Upon being let down into it I found it was seventy feet long,
hewn out of the solid rock, twenty feet broad, and twelve feet high from
the débris at the bottom, but in reality much deeper. The roof was
supported by three columns, four feet square, also hewn from the living
rock. The cement was still in some places perfect, and the cistern must
have been capable of containing a vast supply of water. It was about
fifteen yards from an angle of a wall composed of rubble, from which the
ashlar had been removed, about four feet thick, and still standing in
places to a height of four feet. In others the foundations of this wall
were easily traceable. As the whole ruin seems to have escaped the
observation of the Palestine Exploration Survey, I measured it, and
found the east wall to be one hundred and twelve yards long, the south
wall sixty-five, the west wall seventy, and an intersecting wall forty.
I could find no traces of a north wall. It was probably a fortress,
which was supplied by the cistern already mentioned. In the neighborhood
were some fine rock-cut tombs, two with six loculi, each in a good state
of preservation. I also picked up a piece of white marble on which was
an inscription in early Arabic characters, but only the word “Allah” and
two or three more letters remained on the fragment.

At Kefr Lam, the crusaders' Capernaum, which I had occasion recently to
visit, I discovered two very remarkable vaults, each forty feet long by
twelve broad and seven high. The roof was supported by five arches, each
arch composed of a single stone four feet broad, on the top of which
huge flat stones had been laid. I have never seen any constructions like
these vaults, and think they probably dated from a very ancient period.
In the immediate neighborhood the peasantry had recently opened an
ancient well, thirty-five feet deep, the water being approached by a
flight of steps round two sides of the well, the shaft of which was
about thirty feet square. There were no fewer than seventeen handsome
rock-cut tombs in the neighborhood of the village, and I regretted that
I had not time to prolong my investigations, as I feel convinced that
the vicinity would repay examination. As it is, I have obtained from the
villagers several good specimens of terra-cotta lamps, two curious
alabaster saucers, some coins, and other antiquities.


               THE SEA OF GALILEE IN THE TIME OF CHRIST.

Haifa, Dec. 26.—In reading the works of Dr. Kitto and other writers who
have endeavoured to present a picture of the manners and customs of the
population which inhabited Palestine in ancient times, I have been much
struck by the erroneous impressions which the descriptions of those
writers are calculated to convey in many important respects. This has
arisen from the fact that while they have portrayed, with tolerable
accuracy, the rude civilization of the original inhabitants and the
subsequent civilization grafted upon it by their Jewish conquerors, they
have left out of consideration the changes worked upon, and the
modifications introduced into, the social conditions thus produced by
that still higher and later civilization which resulted from Greek and
Roman invasions. Thus while they carefully trace back the habits of the
modern fellahin, and show that they differ slightly from those of the
peasantry of the country in the time of Christ, and invoke the testimony
of modern Bedouins as evidence of a mode of life which has undergone no
perceptible alteration since the days of Abraham, they leave out of
account altogether that magnificent Roman and Byzantine civilization,
traces of which still exist in such abundance as to astound the
traveller with its splendor and its richness, but which has passed away
like a dream, leaving nothing behind but the coarse barbarism which has
succeeded it, and which is almost identical in character with what it
supplanted. Hence it is that these writers have found those resemblances
between the modern and ancient manners and customs of the inhabitants of
this country by which they were so much struck, and which they have
given to the public as furnishing an accurate picture of what ancient
Palestine was like.

We are so much in the habit of confining our interest in this country to
its history before the time of Christ that it will probably strike many
with surprise to learn that the most flourishing epoch of its history
was subsequent to that time; that never before had the arts and sciences
reached so high a pitch; that never before had its population been so
wealthy and luxurious, its architecture so grand, its commerce so
flourishing, and its civilization generally so advanced. It is true it
had lost its independence, and was only a Roman province, but it is just
because it was one, and not a Jewish kingdom, that our impression of its
actual condition at the time of Christ is apt to be so erroneous.

This fact has been very forcibly brought to my notice in a recent trip
which I have made along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, more
especially along its little-explored northern and eastern coasts, where
the evidences of the wealth and luxury of the former inhabitants still
remain in unexampled profusion. In reading in the Gospels the narrative
of the works and life of Christ, so much of which was spent upon the
shores of the lake, in one of the cities of which he for some time took
up his abode, most of us have endeavoured, probably, to picture him to
ourselves amid purely Jewish surroundings and conditions closely
resembling those which we have been in the habit of associating with
that previous period of Jewish history with which we are familiar in the
books of the Old Testament. So far from that being the case, the part of
the country in which his ministrations were principally exercised, was
beyond all others a centre of Roman life, with all its luxurious
accompaniments. Nowhere else in Palestine was there such a congeries of
rich and populous cities as were crowded round the shores of this small
lake. Nowhere else could the Jewish reformer come into closer contact
with the rites of a worship alien to his own.

On the shores of this lake might be seen temple after temple rearing
their vast colonnades of graceful columns, their courts ornamented with
faultlessly carved statues to the deities of a heathen cult. Here were
the palaces of the Roman high functionaries, the tastefully decorated
villas of rich citizens, with semi-tropical gardens irrigated by the
copious streams which have their sources in the plain of Genesareth and
the neighbouring hills. Here were broad avenues and populous
thoroughfares, thronged with the motley concourse which so much wealth
and magnificence had attracted—rich merchants from Antioch, then the
most gorgeous city of the East, and from the Greek islands, traders and
visitors from Damascus, Palmyra, and the rich cities of the Decapolis;
caravans from Egypt and Persia, Jewish rabbis jostling priests of the
worship of the sun, and Roman soldiers swaggering across the
marketplaces, where the peasantry were exposing the produce of their
fields and gardens for sale, and where fish was displayed by the hardy
toilers of the lake, among whom were those whom the Great Teacher
selected to be the first recipients of his message and the channels for
its communication to after ages.

Thus it was, as I rode along the margin of the sea the other day, that I
was enabled to repeople its shores in imagination by the light of the
remains with which they are still strewn, and, overtaken in its
desolation by the shades of night, to fancy its now gloomy shores ablaze
with the scintillations proceeding from the lamps of at least a dozen
large cities, and the almost continuous street of habitations which
connected them, and to illuminate its now dark and silent waters with
countless brilliantly-lighted boats, skimming over its smooth surface,
containing noble ladies and gallants on their way to or from scenes of
nocturnal festivity, or indulging in moonlight picnics, with the
accompaniments of wine and song and music. That life in these cities was
profligate and dissipated in a high degree we may gather from Christ's
denunciation of Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum, which he declared to
be so much more wicked than Tyre or Sidon, or even Sodom, that it would
be more tolerable in the day of judgment for those cities than for the
three he was denouncing. That among these Capernaum was the one of the
greatest splendor, and was puffed up therefore with the pride of its own
pomp and magnificence, we may gather from the indignant apostrophe: “And
thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven.” It may have been
because he considered this city the wickedest, as it appears to have
been the largest on the lake, and therefore the most in need of his
ministrations, that he chose it for some time as his residence. Hence it
came to be called “his own city.” This circumstance invests it with a
special interest in our eyes.

Unfortunately, a violent contest rages between Palestinologists, if I
may be allowed to coin the word, as to the exact site of Capernaum. The
two places which claim this honor are now called Khan Minieh and Tell
Hum respectively. Until lately the weight of opinion was in favor of the
former site; latterly the researches of Sir Charles Wilson, on behalf of
the Palestine Exploration Fund, have convinced that accomplished
archæologist and careful explorer that the true site of this celebrated
city is to be found at Tell Hum. It would weary my readers if I were to
quote all the texts relied upon by the disputants to maintain each
hypothesis, supported by calculations of distance, the accounts of
Josephus, and of early pilgrim or Arab travellers. The subject has been
pretty well thrashed out, but I doubt whether it is even yet exhausted.
I incline strongly to the Tell Hum theory, but as Khan Minieh comes
first on our way as we glide from Tiberias to the head of the lake, as
it is unquestionably the site of what was once a city, and as it is a
highly picturesque spot, and one, moreover, full of Biblical interest as
being, if not Capernaum itself, within three miles of that city, and
therefore a spot which must have been the scene of some of Christ's
labours, will begin by describing it.

The plain of Genesareth, the unrivalled fertility and luxuriance of
which, though it is now uncultivated, I described in a former letter,
when I crossed it eighteen months ago on my way to Safed, is terminated
at its northern extremity by a mountain range, which projects in a lofty
and precipitous crag into the lake, and renders any passage round it by
land extremely difficult. This projection forms a little bay, or rather
rush-grown lagoon, running back into the head of the plain. Into it
falls a small stream, powerful enough, however, to turn a mill. It is
this building and the ruins of an ancient khan near it, which was itself
constructed from the remains of an ancient city about three hundred
yards distant, which is now called Khan Minieh. The true site of the old
city is not, however, where the khan now stands, but not far from a
fountain, shaded by an old fig-tree, from which the fountain takes its
name—Ain el-Tin, or the Fountain of the Fig-tree, which suggests the
idea that either the name is very new or the fig-tree very old. A
plentiful supply of water flows from it, slightly brackish, with a
temperature of 82° Fahrenheit. The water is crowded with fish and
surrounded with green turf. It appears to be one of the seven fountains
mentioned by Theodorus, A.D. 530, as being two miles from Magdala, the
city of Mary Magdalene, in the direction of Capernaum.

Near this fountain are some old foundations and traces of ruins, but
these for the most part cover a series of mounds where a few walls are
visible, but no traces of columns, capitals, or handsome blocks of
stone, and much smaller in extent than those of Tell Hum. Indeed, the
whole area is not more than two hundred yards long by one hundred broad,
and this is one reason for supposing that it cannot be the site of that
important city. The khan itself is at least as old as the twelfth
century, being mentioned by Bohaeddin in his life of Saladin. A road
from here leads up the steep hillside to Safed. The view from it, as we
ascend to some elevation above the plain, is very beautiful. That
fertile expanse which Josephus calls “the ambition of nature,” lies
stretched at our feet, with the waters of the lake rippling upon its
pebbly beach, while we look right up the gorge of Hammam, its beetling
cliffs on both sides towering in rugged cave-perforated precipices to a
height of twelve hundred feet above the tiny stream which, compressed
between these lofty walls of limestone and basalt, winds its way to the
lake.

But it is not up the wild mountain-side that our present way lies; so,
taking our last look at the crumbling walls of the old khan, at the
picturesque water-mill, the ruin-strewn mounds, and the grassy lagoon,
we prepare to skirt the rocky flank of the ledge which here dips into
the waters of the Sea of Genesareth, and by which we hope to reach the
ruins of Bethsaida.


   THE SCENE OF THE MIRACLE OF THE FIVE LOAVES AND TWO SMALL FISHES.

Haifa, Jan. 6, 1885.—If, as I stated in my last letter, students of
Biblical topography have been much exercised in their minds as to the
identification of the ruins on the northwest shore of the Sea of
Galilee, which indicate the site of the once famous city of Capernaum,
and have applied not only a great amount of antiquarian research and of
time in the way of minute local examination and literary labor in the
hope of definitely settling this knotty point, there is another upon
which they have no less anxiously expended their ingenuity. This is to
solve the vexed question as to whether there were, in the time of
Christ, two Bethsaidas or one. This question would never have arisen but
for the confusion introduced into the scriptural narrative by the
puzzling accounts given in all the four gospels of the miracle of the
feeding of the multitude with five loaves and two fishes, the scene of
which the four evangelists are unanimous in describing as having been in
a desert spot which must have been on the eastern side of the lake, for
immediately afterwards “they crossed over to the other side,” arriving
at Capernaum, which was on the western side. But according to one (Luke)
this desert place (on the eastern side) belonged to a city called
Bethsaida; and according to another (Mark) Christ, after the miracle,
“constrained his disciples to get into the ship and go to the other (or
western) side before, unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people.”
Hence the confusion; starting from the western side, they take ship,
cross over to a desert place belonging to Bethsaida; the miracle is
performed there, and the disciples are constrained by their Master to
take ship and cross the lake back again to what must be another
Bethsaida. Then the storm arises, he comes to them on the waters, and
they finally reach Capernaum in safety.

Reland, the learned geographer of the last century, was the first to
invent the second Bethsaida on the western side, which is not mentioned
by either Josephus or Pliny, the latter of whom distinctly puts it on
the eastern side; and I have not been able exactly to discover upon what
authority Reland hit upon this easy solution of the problem. The only
historical Bethsaida of which we have any certain record was a place at
the northeastern extremity, originally a village, but rebuilt and
adorned by Philip the Tetrarch, and raised to the dignity of a town
under the name of Julias, after the daughter of the emperor. Here, in a
magnificent tomb, Philip was himself buried. On the other hand, we have
indications of the existence of another Bethsaida in the mention of a
Bethsaida which was the birthplace of Peter and Andrew and Philip, which
Mark tells us was “in the land of Genesareth,” and therefore on the west
shore of the lake. Supposing Tell Hum to be Capernaum, and the western
Bethsaida to be on the site usually assigned to it, this hypothesis
would give us two Bethsaidas only six miles apart, not a very probable
supposition; or else we have to suppose that the land of Genesareth
extended across the Jordan to the east side, which we know to have had
another name, and to have been in another province; or to suppose, as
Dr. Thomson—who resolutely refuses to have two Bethsaidas—does, that
half the town was on one side of the Jordan and half on the other, and
that the half on the west side was called Bethsaida in the land of
Genesareth, though the plain of that name is five miles distant.
Moreover, there are no ruins conveniently placed to support the
presumption, which is very strained. Altogether the subject is one which
has puzzled every Biblical geographer hitherto, and, after a careful
examination of all their arguments, I find myself just as much in the
dark about it as when I entered upon the investigation. As, therefore,
after visiting all the disputed localities, I do not feel any the more
competent to enlighten your readers, I will confine myself to describing
the different places which have been suggested as the sites of these
cities, as well as of others which I visited in the section of country
to the east of the Jordan, some of which I was the first to discover,
and none of which have been positively identified.

Meantime, the scene, which the tradition of many centuries located
erroneously as the spot upon which the miracle took place, is exactly
above us as we wind along a rocky path cut in the precipice which
overhangs the Sea of Galilee. This huge impending crag is crowned by an
artificial plateau, which is two hundred feet long by one hundred broad,
and in the northwest angle are the remains of a wall and the ruins of a
building, probably a fortress of some sort. This spot was known in the
middle ages as the Mensa Christi, or Table of Christ. In olden time the
great Damascus high-road ran just below, and the fort above doubtless
commanded this pass; but it has become impassable, and the path now
follows the channel of an aqueduct hewn out of the living rock. For
about two hundred yards we find ourselves riding along the narrow floor
of this ancient watercourse. On our left the smooth rock rises
precipitously, and on our right it forms a wall from three to four feet
high, over which we could drop a stone perpendicularly into the waters
of the lake. The aqueduct which thus forms our singular roadway is about
three feet wide; emerging from it, after we turn the angle of the rock,
we find ourselves overlooking a little bay, into which rushes a brawling
torrent, the largest which enters the lake excepting the Jordan, and
which here turns a mill. It is, however, only a few yards long, as it
bursts from the ground in great force, in what is by far the most
powerful spring in Galilee, and is, without doubt, the celebrated
Fountain of Capernaum mentioned by Josephus as watering the plain of
Genesareth. This it did by means of the aqueduct which we had already
traversed, the distance from the fountain to the plain not being above a
mile. Besides the principal fountain, which is estimated as being more
than half the size of the celebrated source of the Jordan at Banias,
there are four smaller fountains, all more or less brackish, and varying
in temperature from 73° to 86°.

One of the special subjects of interest connected with these fountains
is the presence in them of the remarkable fish called the coracinus. The
only known habitats of this fish in the world are in the Nile, in a
fountain which I have also visited in the plain of Genesareth, called
Mudawara, and in this spring. Josephus accounts for its existence here,
as well as in the Nile, by a hypothetical subterranean water
communication with the great river of Egypt. Modern geologists point to
it as an evidence of the fact that in some long bygone period Palestine
might have been included in a great Ethiopian basin. However the
circumstance is to be accounted for, it is most remarkable, and was
doubted until Canon Tristram verified it twenty years ago by a somewhat
singular experience. Crossing the little stream which issues from the
fountain of Mudawara and flows into the lake, and which happened to be
very low at the time, he was surprised to observe a quantity of fish
wriggling along in single file, and so close together that the mouth of
one touched the tail of the one before it. In places there was so little
water that they had to flop across intervals of almost dry land; here he
caught them easily with his hand, and, as many averaged three feet in
length, he was not long in making a good bag. What surprised him most,
however, was to find that as soon as he laid hold of one it began
hissing and screaming like a cat. Making a bag of his cloak, he carried
them off in triumph to his camp, which was three hours distant, and
could hear them hissing and caterwauling in it all the way. He describes
them as being a most delicious fish to eat, something like an eel in
flavor, and possessed of extraordinary vitality, as some of them were
still living after they had been two days out of the water. The last
volume just issued by the Palestine Exploration Fund contains a print of
this extraordinary creature, which has a long, slender body, apparently
not much thicker than that of a good-sized eel, with two long fins, one
on the back and one on the belly. The mouth, with its long,
cartilaginous streamers (I do not know the ichthyological term for
them), somewhat resembles that of a catfish. I unfortunately had no
means of fishing for them on the occasion of my visit, and they did not
happen to be migrating to their spawning grounds, which they were
evidently doing when Tristram caught them; but my late experiences on
the shores of the lake have been so full of interest that I propose to
make another visit in the spring, when I hope to go supplied with
tackle, and to give you my own piscatory experiences.

There is a small tract of fertile land in the rear of the mill, but no
ruins except those connected with mills or water-works. Nevertheless, it
is impossible almost to conceive that a position so favored by nature
should not have been the site of a town, and it is on this spot that
many geographers place the western Bethsaida. There are no apparent
grounds for their doing so beyond the necessity of finding a spot
somewhere which should support their hypothesis. If, however, they must
have a second Bethsaida, I should rather put it a mile farther off, at
Khan Minieh, instead of so very close to Capernaum as this would be,
always supposing Tell Hum to be Capernaum, which is only two miles
distant from this spot. Dr. Thomson's theory that El-Tabghah, the modern
name of this place, was the grand manufacturing suburb of that large
city, from which its fountain took its name, seems to me rational. Here
were the mills, not only for it, but for all the neighbourhood; so also
the potteries, tanneries, and other operations of this sort would be
clustered around these great fountains, a theory somewhat borne out by
the name, Tabghah, which resembles the Arabic word Dabbaga, meaning
tannery.

There is no doubt that in this neighbourhood somewhere, probably on the
plain of Genesareth, was the location of a town far older than any of
those whose sites we are now discussing, and this is the Chinneroth
mentioned in the Old Testament, from which the lake, in days long
anterior to those of Christ, took its name, and which the Talmud renders
Ginizer, which is therefore doubtless identical with Genesareth. Indeed,
it may be noted as a curious fact, which has been forced upon me by
these investigations, that the towns noticed in the Gospels, excluding
the large cities, such as Jerusalem, Tyre, and Sidon, are almost all
places not mentioned in the Old Testament. Nazareth and Capernaum,
Bethsaida, and Chorazin and Tiberias are names never occurring in the
Hebrew Scriptures; and the scenery of the life of Christ lies, as a
rule, apart from the centres, religious or political, which reappear
again and again in the earlier episodes of Jewish history.


                        CAPERNAUM AND CHORAZIN.

Haifa, Jan. 20.—Perhaps the most interesting spot in the world to those
deeply under the influence of that charm which association lends to
places hallowed by the ministrations of the Founder of Christianity is
to be found in a desert, rock-strewn promontory on the northwest shore
of the Lake of Tiberias; for among these piles of hewn blocks of black
basalt still remain the ruins of a great synagogue, within whose walls,
the foundations of which may still be distinctly traced, were collected
the multitudes who flocked to hear the teaching of Christ. While modern
tourists resort in crowds to Jerusalem to visit the mythical sites which
are supposed, upon the vague basis of ecclesiastical tradition, to be
identified with episodes in the life of the great Teacher, scarcely one
ever finds his way to this remote locality lying just out of the beaten
track along which Cook leads his herds of sightseers; and yet it is
probable that the greater part of that period in the life of Christ, the
record of which is contained in the four Gospels, was spent at
Capernaum, which the most careful investigation, by the highest
authorities in such matters, has identified with these ruins of Tell
Hum, amid which I was just now standing. Here it was that Christ cured
Peter's mother-in-law, restored the paralytic, called Matthew, cured the
centurion's servant, raised Jairus's daughter from the dead, and
obtained the tribute of money from the mouth of a fish. It was here that
he spoke the parables of the sower, the tares, the treasure hid in the
field, the merchant seeking goodly pearls, and the net cast into the
sea. Sir Charles Wilson, whose researches on this spot led him to
identify it as being the site of the city of Capernaum, believes this
synagogue was, “without doubt, the one built by the Roman centurion
(Luke vii. 51), and, therefore, one of the most sacred spots on earth.”
It was in this building, if that be the case, that the well-known
discourse contained in the sixth chapter of John was delivered; and it
was not without a strange feeling, says the same explorer, “that, on
turning over a large block, we found the pot of manna engraved on its
face, and remembered the words: “I am that bread of life. Your fathers
did eat manna in the wilderness and are dead.”

This very synagogue was probably the scene of the healing of the
demoniac and of the delivery of many of those divine lectures on faith,
humility, brotherly love, and formality in worship, as we read at the
end of one of them: “These things said he in the synagogue as he taught
in Capernaum.” Perhaps it was in the little creek, where a boat was now
riding at anchor only a few feet from the shore, that Christ taught the
people from the boat so as to avoid the crush of the multitude. It was
doubtless in one of these inlets that James, the son of Zebedee, and
John, his brother, were mending their nets when, being called, they left
their ship and followed him; and it was on this coast that Andrew and
Peter were casting their nets when they were summoned to become fishers
of men. It has a higher claim to be called the birthplace of the
religion which has since revolutionized the world than any other spot
upon it; and it is a matter of some surprise to me that neither the
Greek nor the Roman Catholic churches, in their zeal to discover holy
places, which may serve as levers for political intrigue, have yet
thought of occupying this one, which would seem the holiest of all.
Perhaps it would lead to a comparison between their practice and the
teaching of which it was the scene, which might give rise to some
inconvenient reflections.

Apart from their associations the ruins themselves are not particularly
striking. They cover an area of about half a mile in length by a quarter
in breadth, and consist chiefly of the black blocks of basaltic stone
which formed the walls of the houses. The traces of the synagogue,
however, remain sufficiently for the building to be planned. Built of
white limestone blocks, it must have formed a conspicuous object amid
the black basalt by which it was surrounded. It was seventy-five feet by
fifty-seven, built north and south, and at the southern end had three
entrances. Many of the columns and capitals have been carried away, but
enough still remain to convey some idea of the general plan and aspect
of the building. The capitals are of the Corinthian order, and there
were epistylia that rested upon the columns and probably supported
wooden rafters. There are also remains of a heavy cornice and frieze.
The exterior was probably decorated with attached pilasters.

Two miles north of Capernaum are the ruins of Chorazin. There is no
difficulty in identifying the site, which may be determined partly by
the itineraries of early travellers, and partly by the similarity of the
modern name, Kirazeh. The path to them leads up the sloping, rocky
hillside, but, owing to the peculiar character of the masonry, which is
barely to be distinguished at one hundred yards from the rocks which
surround it, the extent and importance of these ruins have been
overlooked until quite recently. They cover an area as large as, if not
larger than, those of Capernaum, and are situated partly in a shallow
valley, partly on a rocky spur formed by a sharp bend in the Wady
Kirazeh, here a wild gorge eighty feet deep. From this spot there is a
beautiful view of the Lake of Tiberias to its southern end; and here,
too, are gathered the most interesting ruins—a synagogue with Corinthian
capitals and niche-heads cut, not, as at Capernaum, in limestone, but in
hard black basalt. The dimensions of this building are about the same as
those of the one at Capernaum, but the interior is a mass of ruins. Two
pedestals still remain _in situ_, and a portion of the wall. The
characteristic of this synagogue is an excess of ornamentation of rather
a debased kind. The niches are most elaborate, and remain as sharp as
when they were cut in the hard material used. The mouldings of the
door-posts are similar to those used in other synagogues, and there are
many stones cut with deep mouldings and pieces of classical cornices
strewn among the ruins.

Many of the dwelling-houses were until recently in a tolerably perfect
state, the walls being in some cases six feet high; and, as they are
probably of the same class of houses as that in which Christ dwelt, a
description of them may be interesting. They are generally square, of
different sizes, the largest, however, not over thirty feet square, and
have one or two columns down the centre to support the roof, which
appears to have been flat, as in the modern Arab houses. The walls are
about two feet thick, built of masonry or of loose blocks of basalt.
There is a low doorway in the centre of one of the walls, and each house
has windows twelve inches high and six wide. In one or two cases the
house was divided into four chambers.

We now pushed on to the point where the Jordan enters the lake, distant
about three miles, for it was only on the other side of that river that
my exploration of new ground might be said to commence. I had been
attracted hither by rumours which had reached me of a remarkable stone
which was said to be in the possession of an Arab, on which were
pictorial representations and inscriptions. As my information on the
point was somewhat vague, I rode up to a Bedouin encampment, near which
was also a collection of mud hovels occupied by fellaheen, which were
situated on the west bank of the river. They were naturally so
suspicious that I pretended at first to be merely anxious to have a
guide to show me the ford, but it was not until the old sheik himself
appeared that I could find any one willing to offer me the slightest
assistance. They gazed at me with open-mouthed stupidity, real or
assumed, and the sight of silver scarcely moved their stolidity. Far
different was it with the eagle-eyed old gentleman who, having seen the
group assembled round us, strode up from the Bedouin encampment, and at
once entered into the spirit of the thing. Not only was he prepared to
show me the ford, but, for adequate consideration, would take me to all
the ruins in the neighbourhood, with the positions of which he professed
an accurate acquaintance, if I would only wait until he went for his
horse. This I was only too happy to do, and in a few minutes he galloped
up with his _kufiha_ and _abbaye_ fluttering in the wind, a genuine son
of the desert. We forded the Jordan by following the little bar which it
makes on entering the lake, the water reaching to our saddle-flaps, and,
following the shore, here a grassy plain for half a mile, reached a
large square building, charmingly situated near some trees on the margin
of the water. This was the granary and storehouse of the great Arab
proprietor of the neighbourhood, the only building with any pretensions
for miles round; and it was the local agent of this man, himself a
resident in Damascus, whom I now found to be in possession of the relic
I had travelled so far to see. My disappointment may be easily conceived
when I was told that he had gone to Damascus, and would not return for a
week. My disgust, as I squatted beneath the walls of this detestable
building, making a lunch off hard-boiled eggs, and revolving burglarious
schemes of entry, all of which came to naught, may easily be imagined.
The fact that the building itself was surrounded by ruins was small
consolation, for these consisted only of large hewn blocks of black
basalt, and the foundations of houses which were clearly to be traced,
but the area they covered was not extensive, and I could not find any
indications of any public building. The name of the spot is El-Araj,
which signifies The Lame, but I was unable to identify it with any
Biblical locality.


                   DISCOVERY OF AN ANCIENT SYNAGOGUE.

Haifa, Feb. 2.—I narrated in my last letter the disappointment I
experienced when, after making a pilgrimage to the north end of the Lake
of Tiberias for the express purpose of seeing some stones covered with
inscriptions and pictorial representations, said to be in the possession
of the agent of a rich Arab proprietor, I found their owner gone and the
relics locked up in a building of which he had taken the key, and all
ingress to which was impossible. The Bedouin sheik whom I had picked up
as a guide at a neighboring encampment, seeing my chagrin, comforted me
by the assurance that if I would only follow him he would take me to a
place where I could find others which were quite as good. I mounted my
horse, therefore, in somewhat better spirits, as from his description of
the locality I knew it must have escaped the attention of all former
travellers, and consoled myself by the reflection that a discovery of
some importance might still be in store for me.

Our way took us due north across the fertile plain of the Butêha, an
alluvial expanse about two miles in length by one in breadth, formed by
the detritus which, in the course of ages, has been washed down the
Jordan, and the winter torrents which rush into the plain down the wadys
that descend from the elevated plateau of Jaulan.

The Butêha is not unlike the plain of Genesareth. Both are well watered
and extremely fertile. Butêha has the largest and most prominent brooks,
Genesareth the most numerous and abundant springs. The old traveller,
Burckhardt, says that the Arabs of the Butêha have the earliest
cucumbers and melons in all this region. It was on this plain, at the
foot of the hill or “tell” we were now approaching, that Josephus fought
the Romans under Sylla, concerning which battle he says: “I would have
performed great things that day if a certain fate had not been my
hinderance, for the horse on which I rode and upon whose back I fought
fell into a quagmire and threw me to the ground, and I was bruised on my
wrist and was carried into a certain village called Cuphernome or
Capernaum.”

The tell which rises from this plain, about a mile and a half from the
lake, is thickly strewn with ruins, consisting of hewn blocks of black
basalt, with which, in the ancient times, all the houses in this region
were constructed; but as yet no traces of any large building have been
discovered. It has, indeed, been very rarely visited, but it is
considered by many to be the site of Bethsaida-Julias and the scene of
the miracle of the loaves and fishes. At present all we know for certain
is that one of the Bethsaidas was somewhere in the Butêha; that Josephus
in his descriptions advanced it to the dignity of a city, both by reason
of the number of inhabitants it contained and its other grandeur; and
that inasmuch as the plain of the Butêha contains many heaps of ruins,
none of any very great extent, any of them may be Bethsaida, while if it
were a large city in our modern acceptation of the term, the whole plain
would not be large enough to contain it.

Indeed, one is much struck in exploring the ruins of the country by the
limited areas which they cover. I am afraid to say how many sites of
ruined towns I have visited in Palestine, certainly not less than forty;
and I think one could crowd them all into the area occupied by the ruins
of one large ancient Egyptian city—Arsinoë in the Fayoum, for instance;
but then the ruins of an Egyptian city are composed mainly of mounds of
potsherds, while these consist of large blocks of building stone, either
limestone or basalt, measuring generally two feet or two feet six one
way, and a foot or eighteen inches the other. Then they are usually
comparatively near together; all around the Lake of Tiberias, and in the
country in its vicinity, they are generally not more than from one to
three miles apart; so that this section of country must have been very
thickly peopled. The ruins of Et-Tell are now built over by the Arabs,
who live in a squalid village among the basalt blocks which formed the
mansions inhabited by the more highly civilized race which occupied the
country in the days when all this region was the favourite haunt of
Christ and his disciples.

Leaving Et-Tell on our left, we followed the east bank of the Jordan for
more than a mile. This river is here very rapid, and, splitting into
numerous streams, whirls past the small islets they form. It is the very
ideal of a trout stream, on which on some more propitious occasion I
propose to cast a fly. Meantime, even had I been provided with the
requisite tackle, I should have been obliged to forego the temptation.
It was on the steep rise of a hill, about a hundred yards from the
river, that my guide suddenly stopped. Here was a small collection of
Arab hovels, recently constructed, and it was in their search for stone,
last summer, that the natives had for the first time uncovered the ruin
which now met my delighted gaze.

I found myself in the presence of a building the character of which I
had yet to determine, the walls of which were still standing to a height
of eight feet. The area they enclosed was thickly strewn with
building-stones, fragments of columns, pedestals, capitals, and
cornices. Two at least of the columns were _in situ_, while the bases of
others were too much concealed by piles of stone to enable me to
determine their original positions. My first impression, from the
character of the architecture which was strewn about, was that this was
formerly a Roman temple; but a further and more careful examination
convinced me that it had originally been a Jewish synagogue, which at a
later period had been converted to another use; probably it had been
appropriated by the Byzantines as a basilica, or Christian church. This
was the more probable, as the existing walls had evidently been built
upon the foundations of a former structure. The massive stones were set
in mortar, which is not the case with the synagogues hitherto
discovered; and I should doubtless have been completely at fault in
classing this building had my attention not been already directed to the
remains of the synagogues brought to light recently by the exertions of
the Palestine Exploration Fund.

I was now fortunately in a position to compare the dimensions,
ground-plan, and architectural fragments which were strewn about, with
those which distinguish the synagogues already discovered, in regard to
whose original character there can be no doubt, as the Hebrew
inscriptions and sacred Jewish symbols carved on the lintels prove it.
The building measured forty-five feet by thirty-three, which is exactly
the measurement of the small synagogue at Kefr-Birim. The columns were
exactly of the same diameter. The floor was depressed, and reached by a
descent of two steps, which were carried around the building in benches
or seats each a foot high, the face of the upper one ornamented by a
thin scroll of floral tracery. These features occur in the synagogue at
Irbid. There was a single large stone cut into the shape of an arch,
which had evidently been placed on the lintel of the principal entrance,
like the one which stands to this day over the doorway of the great
synagogue at Kefr-Birim. The niches, with the great scallop-shell
pattern which distinguishes them, almost exactly resemble those of the
synagogue of Kerazeh or Chorazin; while the cornice, which was extremely
florid, and not unlike what in modern parlance is called “the
egg-and-dart pattern,” though differing in some respects from the
cornices hitherto observed, was evidently of the same school of design.
The capitals were two feet three inches high, and Corinthian, in the
same style and of the same dimensions as those of the small synagogue of
Kefr-Birim, and there was the upper fragment of two semi-attached fluted
columns, with Doric capitals, the ditto of which is to be found at
Irbid. The two columns in situ exactly answer in position those of
several of the synagogues, and though the position of the door, which
was in the centre of the western wall, was somewhat unusual, this was
accounted for by the fact that the building had been excavated from the
hillside, so that the top of the east wall, nine feet of which was still
standing, was level with the surface of the slope of the hill.

The only convenient entrance was in the wall of the side immediately
opposite to it. The name of this most interesting locality was
ed-Dikkeh, a spot hitherto unvisited by any traveller. Indeed, if it had
been visited, it would have been passed unnoticed, for its antiquarian
treasures have only been revealed for the first time a few months ago.
The word ed-Dikkeh means “platform,” a name, considering its position,
not inappropriate; but I have not been able to identify it with any
Biblical site.

The area of ruins apart from those of the synagogue itself was not very
large, but the situation was highly picturesque. Half a mile to the
north of where we stood the Jordan forces its way through a gorge which
I hope some day to explore, while immediately below us it rushed between
numerous small islets. Opposite the hills swelled gently back from its
western bank, behind us they rose more abruptly to the high table-land
of Jaulan, while to the southward stretched the plain of Butêha, with
the Lake of Tiberias in the distance.

Meantime the few wild-looking natives who inhabit this remote locality
clustered around me, as they watched me measuring and sketching, with no
little suspicion and alarm. “See,” said one to another, “our country is
being taken from us.” My request for old coins only frightened them the
more. They vehemently protested that not one had been found, an
assertion which, under the circumstances, I felt sure was untrue; nor
did the most gentle and reassuring language, with tenders of
backshish—which was nevertheless greedily accepted—tend to allay their
fears. I have forgotten to mention what was perhaps the most interesting
object of all, and this was the carved figure of a winged female waving
what seemed to be a sheaf in one hand, while her legs were doubled
backward in a most uncomfortable and ungraceful position. It was on an
isolated slab about six inches thick, and two feet one way by eighteen
inches the other.

The area of the hillside all around was strewn with the blocks of
building-stone of which the town had been built. It had apparently not
been a very large place, but as the villagers will probably continue
their excavations for their own purposes next summer, it is not at all
unlikely that they may bring some more interesting remains to light. I
earnestly impressed upon them the necessity of preserving these,
promising another visit next year, when I would reward them in
proportion to the carvings, coins, or other antiquities they could
provide for me; but they listened to my exhortation with such a stupid
and suspicions expression of countenance that I did not derive much
encouragement from their reluctant consent.


              CHARACTERISTICS OF THE RUINS OF SYNAGOGUES.

Haifa, Feb. 16.—I described in my last letter the discovery of the ruins
of an ancient Jewish synagogue at a spot on the east bank of the Jordan,
about three miles north of the upper end of the Lake of Tiberias. As the
question of ancient Jewish synagogues is one of great interest, in
regard to which considerable misapprehension prevails even among
archæologists, I may be excused for entering upon a short disquisition
upon the subject, as I am not aware that the great light which has been
thrown upon it by recent Palestinian research has yet been distributed
in a popular form to the general public, and the old and recognized
authorities are often misleading. For example, “Smith's Dictionary of
the Bible” contains a long article on Jewish synagogues which has
hitherto been considered the great authority on the subject, in which I
observe that it states under the sub-head “Structure:”

“Its position, however, was determined. It stood, if possible, on the
highest ground in or near the city to which it belonged. Its direction,
too, was fixed. Jerusalem was the Kibleh of Jewish devotion. The
synagogue was so constructed that the worshippers, as they entered and
as they prayed, looked towards it.”

This may have been the case in respect of the earlier synagogues, long
anterior to the time of Christ, the traces of which have been lost, but
in the case of eleven which have been discovered by the officers of the
Palestine Exploration Fund, since the above was written, no such rules
have been adhered to. These all date either from the time of Christ, or
shortly before it, to three centuries after it. We know they were
synagogues, and can approximately calculate their dates, from the Hebrew
inscriptions found on some of them, and from the emblems with which they
were ornamented, such as the pot of manna, the seven-branched
candlestick, and other purely Jewish devices. In the cases of these
synagogues, many of which I have seen, the builders have by no means
selected the most prominent positions; the existing remains have, with
two exceptions—at Irbid and at ed-Dikkeh, where the ground would not
admit of such an arrangement—their doors on the southern side, so that
every Jew entering would have to turn his back on Jerusalem. The ark, if
there was one in these synagogues, would necessarily, in that case, be
placed at the northern end, and the worshippers would therefore have to
pray with their backs to Jerusalem.

We know, besides, how abhorrent to the Jews were the figures of animals,
and the popular impression has been that none such were permitted to
decorate their synagogues; yet in these synagogues we find them
prominently carved in stone in six out of the eleven. The carved figure
I found at ed-Dikkeh makes a seventh, and they probably existed in the
others and in greater quantities than those already noted, but have been
destroyed by the Mohammedans as contrary to their religion. As may be
supposed, as they were all built at nearly the same period, there is a
great similarity in the architecture of the synagogues recently
discovered. It is of an extremely florid and somewhat debased Roman
type. In all of them the same class of mouldings is observable. There is
a great resemblance in the niches and cornices, while the capitals show
some variation, being Corinthian, Doric, and Ionic. There is also a
great similarity in the ground plan and in the position of the columns.
In the case of a Roman temple these are all in colonnades outside the
building, in cases of synagogues they are all within it. There should be
no possibility, therefore, of confusing a synagogue with a Roman temple,
even though it abounds with Roman architecture; but it is not always so
easy to distinguish it from an early Christian church, or basilica,
where the columns were also inside. The reason that the architecture of
these latter synagogues was so purely Roman in character is to be found
in the conditions under which they were built. Shortly after the
destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, the Jewish Sanhedrim was
established at Tiberias, under a patriarchate whose authority was
recognized by the foreign communities at Rome and in Asia Minor, and
large numbers of these came to live in the district, while alms poured
into the treasury at Tiberias from all directions. It thus became very
wealthy, and the centre of a great Jewish population. It was recognized
by the Romans, and by them granted many indulgences, and, during the
reign of Antoninus Pius, A.D. 138–161, increased in power and influence.

At the beginning of the third century the Jews were in high favor with
the Emperor Alexander Severus, who was even called the Father of the
Synagogue, and this name may have been given him from his influence over
the erection and architecture of these buildings. It seems, therefore,
almost a certainty that the Roman emperors aided and inspired the
erection of these synagogues. They were built by Roman labor, for the
Jews, being immersed in commercial pursuits, by using Roman workmen,
obtained much finer results than we are led to think they would
themselves have been capable of. No synagogues of the kind have been
found in other countries, though there were many in Babylon and in the
colonies of the Jews, and this type has never been perpetuated in later
works, while we have seen how many points in their religion were
disregarded in their design and ornamentation. We may therefore suppose
that they were forced upon the people by their Roman rulers at a time
when they were completely submissive to their power, and directly they
were able they deserted such pagan buildings as a disloyalty to their
religion. It is stated that Rabbi Simon, son of Jochai, is the founder
of many of these buildings. Indeed, it is related that he built with his
own money twenty-four synagogues in this part of the country. As he was
a most fanatical teacher of the law, it is evident that if he erected so
many buildings in such violent contradiction to many points of his own
religion, he must have done it under great pressure. These synagogues
built under Roman auspices were probably only an alternative evil; they
had to choose between having them or none at all. With the exception of
one on Carmel, and a problematical one at Shefr-Amr, about six miles
from Haifa, all the synagogues hitherto found have been within the
immediate limits of what was formerly the patriarchate of Tiberias. The
fact that the building at ed-Dikkeh would be included in this district
is an additional reason for assuming it to have been one of this class
of synagogues, and, if so, we should probably be accurate in fixing its
date at somewhere in the first or second century after Christ.

From ed-Dikkeh I proceeded under the guidance of the old sheik, who was
much pleased at the satisfaction which I evinced at his successful
leadership thus far, in an easterly direction to another place, where he
assured me that the villagers had also been at work getting out stone
during the summer, and had unearthed some more old ruins. Our way led us
along the flank of the Jaulan hills, with the plain of the Butêha on our
right, and, after a ride of about an hour, we reached a village of huts,
in the midst of which was the anticipated excavation. I could not quite
expect such another stroke of luck as that which had befallen me at
ed-Dikkeh, but yet I had no reason to be dissatisfied. Here, upon a
terrace built of large blocks of basalt about five inches in height, I
found a curious condition of things. The villagers had laid bare,
eighteen inches below the surface of the earth, the cement floor of an
old chamber about twenty feet in one direction. I could not tell how far
it went in the other, as it was still covered with earth, but where it
abruptly terminated it revealed, about eighteen inches beneath, another
floor of some building of much older date, across which it had been
built diagonally. This floor was of stone. It, too, had been cleared for
some distance by the natives, and upon it was standing, at intervals of
six feet apart, five solid cubes of stone, measuring two feet each way,
which had probably been the foundations or lower stones on which had
been placed the pedestals of columns. As this lowest floor was three
feet below the present surface of the ground, the top of these stones
was one foot below it, and the line of them may have continued, though
only five had been uncovered. I have no means of conjecturing what the
building may have been. I found many fragments of columns and capitals
strewn around among the ruins, which covered a larger area than those at
ed-Dikkeh, and which, like them, are a new discovery, though what its
results may be must depend very much upon further excavation. I
impressed upon the villagers here, as I had already done at ed-Dikkeh,
if, in the course of their excavating for stone, they came upon any with
inscriptions or pictorial representations, to preserve them; but I felt,
as I did so, that my words fell upon deaf or rather unwilling ears. They
gazed at me with alarmed stolidity, either not understanding or not
caring to understand, and evidently dominated by the fixed impression
that my proceedings implied in some way the future ownership of the
soil. I looked from here wistfully up a valley, at the mouth of which
this ruin was situated, and at the head of which others were reported to
exist, but circumstances prevented me at the time from pushing my
explorations in this direction. Indeed, travel in this part of the
country is attended with many difficulties, some political and some
material, among the latter the chief one being, if one is unprovided
with a tent, the question of where one is to spend the night. If, on the
other hand, one is provided with a tent, it involves a much larger
retinue, increased expense, excites even more distrust among the
natives, and becomes sometimes dangerous from arousing their cupidity,
and this necessitates having guards and escorts, which are the cause of
endless quarrels and annoyance, as the more people you have with you the
less are you your own master to go where you like, and the more
difficult it is to provide for man and beast. It is a choice of evils at
best of times, and the worry and discomfort can only be compensated for
by good luck in obtaining results, and this is by no means always to be
secured, though thus far on this particular journey I had had no reason
to complain. I now propose to tempt fate on the highlands to the east of
Lake Tiberias, with what success remains to be seen.


              A NIGHT ADVENTURE NEAR THE LAKE OF TIBERIAS.

Haifa, February 28.—The tourist who follows the ordinary track of
Palestine travel from Jerusalem to Damascus inevitably passes Tiberias.
Standing on the flat roof of the convent, where, if he is not one of a
Cook's party, he is compelled to lodge, he has a splendid view of the
lake and of the precipitous cliffs opposite, which descend abruptly to
its margin from the elevated plateau behind, that averages two thousand
feet above the level of the lake. That sheet of water being nearly eight
hundred feet below the sea-level, the only engineering problem which
presents itself to the consideration of the surveyors who have been
engaged in tracing a railroad line between Haifa and Damascus is how to
ascend from this depression to the highlands above.

The solution of the problem is to be found in a large wide valley called
the Wady Samak, which is exactly opposite Tiberias, and up the unknown
recesses of which our tourist looks with longing eyes. Practically this
wady is a sealed book to the Palestine traveller. To explore it he would
have to obtain special permission from the government, with a guard, and
be exposed to all manner of extortion from his dragoman, who would take
advantage of his ignorance to magnify the dangers and add to the already
existing obstacles. Indeed, one of the most singular characteristics of
Palestine travel is the close proximity of unknown and unexplored
districts to beaten tracks. Just as it often happens in a large city,
that in the immediate neighborhood of one of the most frequented
thoroughfares there are back slums inhabited by thieves and criminals,
into which no respectable person penetrates, so, in Palestine, within
ten miles of a place like Tiberias, there are spots as yet untrodden by
the foot of the explorer; but these are all to the east of the lake and
of the Jordan. Almost every inch of western Palestine has succumbed to
the exhaustive researches of the Palestine Exploration Fund.

It was on a gloomy winter afternoon that I found myself skirting the
eastern shore of the lake with the view of attacking the mysteries of
this interesting valley—interesting from a practical point of view,
because I wanted to look at the possible gradients which it might offer
for a railway, and still more interesting from an archæological point of
view, because I felt sure that in searching for gradients I should find
ruins. But the search was undertaken under difficulties. I was without a
tent, because my journey partook of the nature of an exploratory dash,
and a tent would have been an encumbrance. I was without a guide,
because my guide had deserted me in consequence of one of those
misunderstandings which are not uncommon between travellers and their
guides; but I had two companions, baggage animal and servant, and an
amiable soldier, upon whom, in case of trouble, it was supposed we
should be able to rely for protection and aid.

Owing to a variety of causes, principally arising from a desire to find
ruins where there were none, and to map certain wadys which are
incorrectly laid down in the maps, we were about two hours later than we
should have been when we reached the mouth of the wady. The clouds were
lowering ominously, there had been no sun all day, and now that luminary
seemed to have given up the attempt to shine upon us in despair, and to
have made up his mind, in a fit of disgust, to retire permanently to
rest. I felt, considering the journey up the unknown wady, which we
still had to perform without a guide before I could hope to reach a
resting-place (I did not look forward to its being much of a
sleeping-place), that it had no business to get dark so early. However,
it was still broad daylight, and we took our bearings by compass as
carefully as was possible, and were encouraged by observing that the
track we were on was a broad and well-beaten one, and which, as the
formation was white limestone, would show plainly even when it got dark.
The valley I knew to be about seven miles long. The village we were
bound for, the only village in it or near it, was at its head. We had
only to keep going straight up, and the path we were on would surely
lead us to it.

This fond delusion I hugged to my soul as we pushed on as rapidly as our
wearied steeds, which had been travelling since daybreak, would allow
us. The breadth of the valley in a bee-line from one edge of the plateau
above us to the other was not less than two miles. It was a broad
valley, with many shoulders running into it from both sides, and
terraces here and there of cultivated land, the crops the property of
wandering Bedouins, who come here in winter to sow them, and come back
in spring to gather them. Down the centre of the valley brawled, over a
rocky bed, a mountain brook, even in the dryest season a respectable
trout stream, and often after heavy rains an impassable torrent. On the
present occasion, however, it was behaving itself respectably, and gave
us no trouble. It was fringed with oleanders, and here and there
received tiny tributaries, which all helped to produce more vegetation
than is usual in Palestine valleys, and to enhance the beauty of scenery
the natural features of which were strikingly picturesque. As long as it
was light I could see natural terraces on the flanks of the valley, up
which it would be easy to take the line. Then I saw where long curves
must be taken, winding up lateral hollows, through which we could twist
the line up the two thousand feet it had to ascend, and lengthen out the
seven miles of the wady to a distance which would suffice for the
required gradient.

Assuredly when that long-looked-for and much-to-be-desired line is made,
the stretch up the Wady Samak will be one of the most romantic and
interesting sections upon it, while its well-watered slopes will
doubtless tempt the speculative agriculturist or stock-farmer to intrude
upon domains now appropriated by a few wandering Arabs, whose scanty
flocks might be increased tenfold without consuming half its pasture,
and who do not cultivate a tithe of its fertile soil.

While thus indulging in airy imaginings of the future, darkness
gradually closed in, and I became suddenly aware, as so often happens in
this world, that all my calculations would have been sound in regard to
my finding my way if they had not been based upon thoroughly delusive
premises. The cause of my error may be summed up in the one word,
basalt. I had forgotten one of the most remarkable geological features
of this part of the country, and this is, that only the lower stratum of
the range which rises from the east shore of Lake Tiberias is of
limestone. All the rest is basaltic, and this formation is of vast
thickness. The whole of this district is, indeed, an immense volcanic
field, consisting of irregular heaps of amorphous lava and
disintegrating scoriæ, with mounds of globular basalt. So that when
darkness came on everything below me, as well as all above, seemed
suddenly to have become as black as night. The path had disappeared as
if by magic, and I called a halt, and we found ourselves on a patch of
black rock, with exactly similar patches of black rock all around us.
The outlines of the hills had vanished, the path had led us up from the
bed of the torrent, so we no longer had that to guide us. To attempt to
descend to it would have been madness, as we might have fallen over a
precipice in the darkness; indeed, we were afraid to move, except with
extreme caution, in any direction. We had a compass and matches, and
knew that by keeping due south we might, if no accident befell us, and
the rocks permitted a passage, ultimately reach the plateau; but we also
knew that the direction of our night-quarters was due cast; but here we
ran the greater risk of tumbling into unknown transverse gorges with
precipitous cliffs. We cautiously worked south, but our progress soon
became barred by thorny brushwood, and we had to face the alternative of
a night out-of-doors without water or anything to drink, and a very
limited supply of food.

We were just bracing ourselves to this unpleasant prospect, when, in a
southwesterly direction, we suddenly saw a gleam of light; it lasted for
a moment, then seemed to go out. But that one ray was one of hope, and
we steered cautiously for it. We had been scrambling by compass in the
dark for about half an hour, and were just beginning to despair, when
the bark of a distant dog put new energy into us, and not long after,
around the shoulder of a hill, we came upon an encampment, and were
greeted by the furious yells of the mob of noisy curs which infest the
tents of the Bedouins. It was a startling apparition to burst upon these
nomads in their remote retreat—horsemen of a type they had never seen
before, and an armed soldier. Such children as were awake set up a
dismal squalling, the women cowered tremblingly over their camp-fires
under the pent roof of black camels' hair. All the side of the tent
being open, its whole internal economy was exposed to view, and enabled
us to judge of the slight protection in the way of bedding or clothing
or covering of any sort which was provided against the inclemency of the
season.

Meantime the men had gathered round us, half timidly, half
threateningly. The presence of the soldier suggested fear and suspicion,
while the smallness of our party encouraged the bolder ones to look
defiant. As far as I could make out in the darkness there were about a
dozen tents here in all—apparently the fag end of an insignificant tribe
whose name I forget. It was at first impossible to induce any one at
that late hour to act as guide. Even abundant offers of backshish failed
to shake their suspicion, which was to the effect that we wished to
decoy one into durance to act as a hostage until some arrears of taxes
which they owed the government should be paid up.

The other alternative was that we should take up our quarters in the
sheik's tent, whether he liked it or not, which, with a piercing wind
blowing, accompanied by sleet, was not a very pleasant prospect. He
seemed to relish it as little as we did, and finally consented to be our
guide as we made some silver gleam in the firelight. As he seized his
eighteen-foot lance and mounted his ragged steed he looked like some
Arab Don Quixote; and as the camp-fire threw its ruddy glow upon a group
of wild-looking women, with dishevelled hair and tattooed chins,
crooning over a pot like the witches of “Macbeth,” and upon barelegged
men, as they flitted to and fro between the black tents, I thought I had
seldom gazed upon a more weird and unreal-looking scene.

How our guide could find his way up the rocky hillside and across the
prairie remained a mystery during the long two hours that we followed
him. Of this I feel sure, that we scrambled up places in the dark that
we should never have thought of facing by daylight. The very horses
seemed to have become desperate, and to have abandoned themselves to
their fate. At last we dismounted and scaled the rocks like goats, every
one, man or beast, doing the best he could for himself on his own
account, and so at last, wearied and half-starved, for we had fasted for
about ten hours, we reached the goal of our endeavour, too tired to see
what an utterly miserable hole it was.

I passed a wretched night in a room in the middle of which a fire had
been built, which filled it with smoke, for it had no other exit but the
door, which it was too cold to keep open. Around the fire were stretched
fifteen Arabs, who quarrelled with a government official, whom they were
compelled to entertain, about their taxes, until they exhausted
themselves, and then they exchanged their discordant wrangling for no
less discordant snoring. After replenishing exhausted nature with the
eggs which was all that my host could provide me with, and a tin of
canned meat, I vainly tried to follow their example, but was too busily
occupied in scratching to think of anything but fleas, and so tossed and
tumbled and longed for the morning, when I proposed to enter upon a new
field of exploration, for this was the village of El-Al, where I had
heard that ruins existed; and as I had every reason to believe that in
ancient times this neighbourhood had been the centre of a large
population, I felt sure that they had left interesting traces, which
were yet to be discovered.


                                KHISFIN.

Haifa, March 15.—There is no part of ancient Palestine which offers a
more fertile field for antiquarian research than that portion lying to
the east of the Jordan, which fell to the share of the half-tribe of
Manasseh. In Biblical times a part of it was called Golan, and its
modern name of Jaulan is almost identical with its ancient appellation.
It is to this day the finest grazing land in all Palestine, as it was in
the days of old, when Job fed his vast flocks and herds upon its more
eastern pastures, but it is now very sparsely inhabited. The sedentary
population has all been driven away by the wandering tribes of Bedouins
who have appropriated the country; the very few villages that remain are
squalid and miserable, and the inhabitants live in terror for their
lives, for they never know what day, or rather night, the Arabs may not
be down upon them, and carry off their stock. They surround their
houses, therefore, with large yards enclosed by stone walls, and it was
in one of these that I found a lodging on the night that I had so nearly
been obliged to spend in the wilds of the Wady Samak. Attached to these
yards are large stone vaults, capable of containing great herds of
cattle, and some of them apparently of great antiquity. In the one in
which I staked my horses I found, on examining it in the morning, part
of a Corinthian column, still _in situ_, standing to a height of about
six feet. I failed to discover any more, but the vault was so dark that
my examination was carried on with difficulty, and I had no time to
spend over it. The sheik's house in which I lodged, and to which this
vault belonged, was evidently, however, built on the site of what had
formerly been a building of some importance, for in the yard, to my
surprise and delight, I came upon a prostrate statue of a woman, life
size. The head was severed from the body, and the feet had been broken
off at the ankles, but it was a fine specimen of Greek statuary. Both
the features and the drapery were beautifully executed. The feet I found
_in situ_, the ankles just appearing on a level with the ground. On
clearing this away I laid bare the feet, which were still firmly fixed
on the original pedestal, which it would have required a great deal of
labour to disinter. It is not improbable that the pedestal is covered
with carving in _basso-rilievo_, and I promise myself at some future
time to dig it up. In the meantime both feet and pedestal cannot be
safer than where they are, more especially as my companions secured the
head. This the sheik was induced to part with for $3. The body was too
cumbersome to carry away now, as a camel would have been needed for its
transport, and, as it is not of much value without the head, it may be
considered secured by the possession of that portion.

The statue apparently represented Artemis, as the left arm clasped what
seemed to be a quiver for arrows. The right arm was unfortunately broken
away, otherwise the statue would be perfect when put together. The
pedestal, without doubt, contains an inscription describing the statue
and the goddess represented upon it. I was sorely tempted to devote a
day to its examination, but, in that case, I should have been compelled
to give up visiting some other spots of interest which had never before
been investigated, and the hardships and discomforts of these
preliminary dashes into the wilds, more especially in the depth of
winter, are so great that one is not tempted to prolong them—my present
object being rather to know where to go at some future time, when the
conditions, political and otherwise, may be more favourable than they
are now. I therefore did not linger longer than was absolutely necessary
at this place. I had seen enough to prove to me that it would, in all
probability, amply repay a fuller investigation, and I determined
without delay to push on to a village called Khisfin, which I was
extremely anxious to examine, as it has hitherto escaped the careful
attention of all former travellers. And yet, from the records which I
have been able to examine in regard to it, it must have been a place of
considerable importance in mediæval history, though hitherto my efforts
to trace it back to an earlier date than the beginning of the tenth
century or to identify it with any Biblical site have been in vain.
Yakubi, an Arab geographer, who lived about the year 900 A.D., mentions
it as one of the chief towns of the province of the Jordan. In his day
Syria was divided into three provinces, namely: The province of
Damascus, the province of the Jordan, and the province of Palestine.
Yakut, in the thirteenth century, mentions it as a town of the Hauran
district, below Nawa on the Damascus road, between Nawa and the Jordan.
Khisfin was also at one time a fortress of the Saracens, as it is
further mentioned as the place to which Al Melek Al Adil, Saladin's son
and successor, fled after having been routed at the battle of Beisan by
the Crusaders, who advanced upon him from Acre. As it is mentioned as
being one of the chief towns of the province, so long ago as 900 A.D.,
it is probable that its importance dates from a much older period, as
indeed was indicated by some of the ornamentation which I found there.

Securing my host, the sheik, as a guide to a locality which promised to
be so full of interest, we started at a brisk pace across the plateau,
in the teeth of a bitterly cold east wind and driving sleet, and, after
riding an hour, came to the ruins of Nab, situated on a small mound.
They consist of blocks of basalt building-stone, some traces of
foundations, some fragments of columns and capitals, and a tank, dry at
the time of my visit, but which evidently held water at some time of the
year. It had, apparently, been much deeper at a former period, only the
two upper courses of masonry being new visible. It was oval in shape,
and measured sixty yards by thirty. This place does not appear to have
been previously visited or described. Shortly after leaving it I
observed masses of black stone, which, on nearer approach, proved to be
the walls of a fortress that, my guide told me, was Khisfin itself. It
loomed strikingly up from the grassy plain, and gave rise to pleasing
anticipations as I galloped impatiently up to the base of the walls,
and, jumping off my horse without even waiting to tether him, in my
excitement, scrambled up a breach to see what was inside. I looked down
upon a ruin-strewn area, but, alas, no columns, nor capitals, nor signs
of Roman remains. This had evidently been in turn a Saracen and a
Crusading construction. The outer walls measured sixty-eight yards one
way by fifty-four the other. They are nine feet in thickness, and are
eight courses of stone in height, the stones being from one foot to one
foot six inches square; but some are much larger. Within the fort are
the traces of a second or inner wall, forming a sort of keep in the
centre; but the whole area was too much encumbered with ruin for any
accurate plan to be possible in the limited time at my disposal.

A little beyond the fort stood the village itself. All the intervening
and surrounding fields were thickly strewn with the large hewn blocks of
black basalt of which the houses of the former population had been
constructed, and which, to judge from the area which they covered, quite
justified the description of Yakubi, that in his day this was one of the
chief towns of the province, and the centre of a very large population.
The present squalid inhabitants, few in number, seemed to live in a
perfect quarry of these old building-blocks. No difficulty had they in
finding material wherewith to build their houses, their large cattle
vaults, and enclosing yards. They simply piled the tumbled masses of
stone in a little more regular order, one above another, to make walls
of any height or thickness they chose, without mortar or cement, and had
houses that would last forever. As all the stones were beautifully
squared and shaped, they had far more symmetrical walls, thanks to the
ancients, than if they had been left to themselves. These black, massive
huts all jumbled together with their vaults and yards, without regular
streets or lanes, formed one of the strangest looking villages I ever
saw. In some cases the walls were formed of stones placed diagonally, in
others horizontally, in others perpendicularly. The very roofs were of
stone, with earth on the top of them to fill up the cracks. Where hewn
stone is so abundant and wood almost impossible to obtain, it is
astonishing what uses the former can be put to. And now came a search
which I would willingly have protracted over days instead of over
minutes, which were all I had to give to it. To “do” Khisfin thoroughly
one ought to examine carefully every stone in every house, besides the
acres of stones by which the present village is surrounded. As it was, I
went into as many houses as I had time for, and made sketches of what
ornamentation I found. The natives had evidently used as lintels for
their doorways the stones which had served the ancients for the same
purpose. These were usually four or even five feet long, and many of
them were ornamented with curious devices. They were in part Crusading
and in part Saracenic. There were the tablets with half-effaced
escutcheons, rosettes, bosses, crosses, and other Crusading emblems,
which left no doubt in my mind that this must have been at one time an
important Crusading fortress, though in the only book relating to the
crusades which I happen to have by me no mention is made of it. There
were several of those curious carvings, difficult to describe, which
characterize Saracenic architecture as an evidence that the Moslem
conquerors of the crusaders had also had a hand in its adornment; but
what was more interesting, there were floral wreaths and carved devices
which are a feature in Byzantine art, which gave clear evidence that
before the conquest of this province from the Byzantine empire in the
seventh century it had been an important city of that civilization which
immediately succeeded the Roman.

The important question which I could not determine was whether, in the
old Roman times, it had been a place of note. There can be little doubt
that a future examination, of a more minute character than I was able to
give, would determine this point, and it is not at all impossible that
upon the old stones might be found seven-branched candlesticks, pots of
manna, or emblems of a still older date, which would carry it back to
Jewish times. Meanwhile I looked anxiously, but in vain, for an
inscription which might throw some light on the subject, and it is
certain that amid such a mass of ruin such are to be found. All my
inquiries for old coins only tended to alarm the villagers, who looked
on my proceedings with their usual suspicion, and associated my visit
and my desire for old money with their taxes, which is the only idea
that the fellah of Palestine seems able to connect with the visit of a
prying and inquisitive stranger. The whole of the country which
surrounds Khisfin is susceptible of the highest degree of cultivation;
the land is eminently fertile and almost a dead level, capable of
producing abundant crops, if there were any people to cultivate it. As
it is, it is allowed to run to waste. It affords pasture to their
flocks, but these are scanty, through fear of the Arabs, and the people,
unable to rely upon the government for protection, and, indeed, being
only aware that there is a government through its tax-gatherers, are
sullen and suspicious and discouraged, and utterly without energy to do
more than provide themselves with the barest necessaries of life.


                   FURTHER EXPLORATION AND DISCOVERY.

Haifa, March 31.—From Khisfin, the ruins of which I described in my last
letter, I struck off in a westerly direction under the guidance of the
sheik who had been my host the night before, and who, now that he was
convinced that I had nothing to do with tax-gathering, and was only
possessed by what must have seemed to him an insane desire to find old
stones and make pictures of them, took an evident pleasure in
ministering to such a harmless form of insanity; in fact he became quite
a bore on the subject. As he was naturally unable to appreciate any
distinction between one old stone and another, he was constantly making
me ride out of my way to look at some weather-beaten piece of basalt
which had a fancied resemblance to a wild animal; or to a mound, the
ruins on which belonged to a village that had been deserted within the
last twenty years. Still I never could afford to treat his assurances
with indifference, as there was always the possibility, until I
satisfied myself to the contrary, that the stones to which he was
guiding me might possess interest; and indeed on one occasion they did,
for they turned out to be the ruins of a Roman town, where a few
fragments of columns and capitals still remained to bear testimony to
the particular civilization to which they belonged, and which, although
they did not present any striking architectural features—indeed, the
remains were somewhat insignificant—it was always a satisfaction to have
been the first to discover. The name of these ruins was Esfera.

Near them a very singular and unpleasant accident occurred to me. I rode
my horse to drink at what seemed a muddy puddle, which was about ten or
twelve feet in diameter. Instead of being content to drink at the
margin, he took two steps into it, and suddenly disappeared head first;
that is, his head disappeared, his hind-quarters remained for a moment
poised above the water just long enough to enable me to throw myself off
backward into about two feet of puddle. We had walked into an overflowed
well. When his hind-quarters at last went down into it his head came up,
or, at all events, as much of it as was required for breathing and
snorting, which he did prodigiously, evidently in a panic of terror,
while I stood drenched and shivering on the bank in the cold east wind
and sleet, wondering how we were ever to get him out. The poor beast was
out of his depth, but the dimensions of the well were too limited to
enable him to swim, or even to scramble freely. Fortunately I had sent
on my saddlebags by my servant, or the animal would have been hopelessly
weighted down. As it was, it was only by the united efforts of the party
tugging at the bridle and stirrup-leathers that, after many futile
efforts, at the end of each of which he fell back and for a moment
disappeared altogether, we ultimately succeeded in extricating him.
Meantime my own plight was in the last degree unenviable, the more
especially as I was not in very good health at the time, a consideration
which induced my companion, with a truly commendable devotion, to take
off his nether garments and insist on my wearing them instead of my own,
while he performed the remainder of the day's journey in the slight
protection which he wore beneath them.

It was in this guise, and while still discussing my strange mishap, that
our attention was suddenly arrested by finding ourselves surrounded by
what are perhaps the most interesting of antiquarian objects, a number
of dolmens. In a very limited area—none of them were over two hundred
yards apart—I counted twenty. The subject of these rude stone monuments
of a prehistoric age is so interesting that I will venture on a few
words in regard to them.

The most remarkable point about Syrian dolmens is, that while they have
been found in numbers to the east of the Jordan, not one has been
discovered in Judea or Samaria, and only two or three in Galilee; and
those are doubtful specimens. Indeed, it is only of late years that they
have attracted the notice of explorers east of the Jordan; but since
attention has been specially directed to the subject, we have constantly
been having new discoveries. Six years ago I found one of the first at a
spot not more than twenty miles from the hitherto unknown field I had
now come upon. That dolmen stood alone, and being previously unaware of
their existence in this part of the world, I examined it with the
greatest interest. Since then Captain Conder, during his hurried survey
in Moab, has found above seven hundred in that part of the country, and
the result has been that the controversy as to the purpose for which
they were designed has been reopened with renewed vigor.

The dolmen, which usually consists of three perpendicular stones forming
three sides of a small chamber, with a single huge covering slab as its
roof, is found in almost every part of the world except America, though
I saw a notice in a paper the other day of one having been discovered in
Missouri. There are stone monuments in Central America, I believe,
somewhat resembling them, but I am not aware that the point has been
satisfactorily determined, and it is of the highest interest that it
should be, as it would establish the existence of general contact
between the universal families of that ancient stock which preceded both
the Aryan and Semitic races, and which belonged, therefore, to the
illiterate and prehistoric age of the use of bronze and of flint.

Dolmens have been found in almost every country in Europe. They are
numerous in the British Isles, France, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Prussia,
and the south of Russia. I have myself found them in the mountains of
Circassia, and they exist in Italy, Spain, and Portugal, in great
numbers in Algeria and the north coast of Africa, in Asia Minor and
India, and we have recently heard of them in Japan! Wherever they exist
are generally to be found menhirs, or single monolithic stones, and
stone circles, such as Stonehenge in England, or long rows of standing
stones, such as those to be found at Carnac in Brittany, or smaller
stone circles, such as are common to the east of the Jordan. Those found
in Syria are generally placed in a position commanding an extensive view
and in close proximity to water. They are either “free standing,” that
is, quite alone and isolated, or they are covered by cairns of stones;
or they are, as the majority were in this instance, perched upon piles
of stones.

It has been hitherto supposed that in all these cases they were
sepulchral monuments, but it has been recently suggested that those
alone beneath the cairns may have served this purpose, and those which
were free standing or on cairns may have been used as altars. The basis
for this conjecture consists in the fact that the flat covering stones
of the Syrian dolmens are very often provided with cups or hollows,
which may have served to hold sacrificial oil; and, moreover, the free
standing dolmens are often on smooth rock, so that it would not be
possible to inter a body beneath them. I have seen the covering slab to
be as large as eleven feet long by five wide, though those in the field
I was now examining were much smaller, some of the covering stones not
being above five feet by three or four; this was probably owing to their
being of basalt, which is much heavier than ordinary stone. Nearly all
were trilithons, the covering slab being sometimes held in position by
pebbles inserted under it; and in many instances they appeared to have a
slight slant which was not the result of accident.

The natives here call them “Jews' burial-grounds,” showing that the
local tradition is in favor of their being sepulchral monuments, though
it is very certain they date from a period long anterior to the Jews.
Indeed, the probability is that the disappearance of these monuments
from western Palestine, where they no doubt existed, is due to the
command to destroy heathen monuments. Thus, in Deuteronomy, we find
again and again repeated injunctions to overthrow the Canaanite altars,
and to break or smash their pillars. These exhortations we find carried
into practice by Hezekiah and Josiah in Judea, and as the Book of
Deuteronomy was held sacred by the ten tribes as well as by the two, we
are justified in supposing that they carried out the order in Samaria
and Galilee. But the land to the east of the Jordan always contained a
mixed population, over which the kings of Israel and Judah exercised but
little control. Baal worship was rife in Bashan, Gilead, and Moab in the
days of Jeremiah, and the reforming zeal of Hezekiah did not affect the
land where Chemosh and Ishtar, Baal, Peor, Nebo, and Meni yet continued
to be worshipped. This accounts for dolmens not having been found,
except with a few doubtful specimens, in Galilee to the west of the
Jordan.

With the exception of the roughly excavated hollows in the covering
slab, these rude stone monuments of Syria have, so far as is known,
neither ornamentation nor rune nor other mark of the engraver's tool. In
comparatively few instances they are made of hewn stone, very roughly
cut, but generally they are of natural blocks and slabs entirely
unformed. Thus, if there be any comparative scale of antiquity on which
we can rely connected with the finish of the monument, the Syrian
dolmens may claim to be considered among the oldest of their kind.

The word “dolmen,” usually rendered table-stone, should, according to
Max Müller, be more properly translated “holed” stone, implying either a
gateway, such as is formed by the trilithon, or else applying to menhirs
and dolmens pierced with a hole, as in the case of the Ring stone, the
Odin stone, and a peculiar class of holed dolmens. The one I saw in
Circassia was of this latter category. Instead of three stones
supporting the covering slab, as is almost invariably the case in Syria,
there were four, and in the centre of the fourth was a circular hole,
about eighteen inches in diameter, or just large enough to allow a thin
man to squeeze through. Some have supposed these holes to be connected
with some sacrificial rite, others to be due to the superstition that
the dead could not rest in peace in tombs without an inlet for air. But
the whole subject is encompassed with mystery, and affords material for
endless conjecture.

So also do the sacred stone circles, of which I have seen several to the
east of the Jordan. They are held in the greatest veneration by the
Arabs, who can give no rational explanation of the sacred character they
possess, except that they have been sacred from immemorial time. Here,
again, these may either have originally had a sepulchral character, or
they may have had reference to that peculiar and most ancient worship of
which the menhir or monolith was the emblem, for in some instances
menhirs are placed in certain fixed positions in regard to the circles,
or they may have had an astronomical significance. It is singular that
to this day the reverential attitude of the Arab is outside of the
circle with his face to the rising sun, while in India the same circles
are to be found among the Khonds in connection with the worship of the
rising sun, the tallest member of the circle being towards the east.

The conclusions at which we may proximately arrive with reference to
these interesting monuments are—according to Captain Conder, to whose
researches I am indebted for many of the foregoing remarks—that the
menhir is the emblem of the earliest religious idea suggested by the
creative potency; that the circle may either have a sacred significance
connected therewith, or be a sepulchral enclosure; that the dolmen, when
free standing, is more likely to have been an altar than a tomb, but
when buried beneath a cairn it may have been sepulchral; that the cairn
is not always sepulchral, being sometimes a memorial heap; and that all
are relics of a long-buried past.


                    THE DISCOVERY OF UMM EL-KANATAR.

Haifa, March 20.—When we had sufficiently satisfied our curiosity with
regard to the dolmens, which I described in my last letter, the sheik
who was our guide disappeared suddenly over the edge of the plateau on
which they stood, down what seemed to be a precipice of black basalt.
His reply to our anxious inquiry as to whither he was leading us—“to
very old stones, with writing on them”—was a talismanic utterance which
at once overcame all hesitation. On such occasions there rises in the
mind of the cold and weary and half-starving traveller (and I answered
to this description at the moment) visions of possible Moabite stones,
trilingual inscriptions, and all the other prizes which reward
successful Palestine research. I felt, therefore, ready to make any
plunge into unknown depths that he might choose to suggest, but
certainly this was a bad one. Some two thousand feet below us, distant
not more than seven miles, gleamed the still waters of the Sea of
Galilee. We stood on the upper edge of one of the branches of the Wady
Samak, which leads down to it. To our left, scarce a mile off, we could
see the old crusading ruin of the Kasr Berdawil, or Baldwin's Castle,
perched on a promontory the sides of which are sheer precipices, thus
offering to the old warriors a position of magnificent strength. It is
one of the least known of the Crusading strongholds, but I was assured
by a friend, who, so far as I know, is the only traveller who has
visited it, that beyond a few crumbling walls there was absolutely
nothing to be seen, so, as I had better game in prospect, I did not turn
aside to it, as I had originally intended, but resolutely prepared to
risk my neck amid the basalt blocks of the cliff down which the sheik
was now disappearing. Fortunately, though it was a bad descent, it was
not a long one. I never could understand how my horse managed it, for I
had left him to take care of himself, finding my own legs a safer method
of descent; but in these lonely regions the instinct of not getting
separated from the rest of the party is as strong with animals as with
men, and they may generally be trusted to follow their companions.

After scrambling down about five hundred feet we came to a sort of bench
or narrow plateau, on the flank of the ravine, and on turning round a
huge rock of black basalt came suddenly upon one of the most delightful
scenic surprises which it was possible to imagine. Here in this wild,
inaccessible spot, in ages long gone by, the ancients had evidently
contrived a secure and enchanting retreat, for it was provided with the
first requisite of beauty and of pleasure—a copious fountain of water.
It lay in crystal purity in a still, oblong pool, beneath the
perpendicular black rock. Against the rock, and projecting from it, were
two large arches which had been constructed of solid masonry, with
blocks of stone of immense size. One of these arches was almost
destroyed, but the other was still in perfect preservation. It measured
twenty-three feet in breadth, sixteen feet in height, and six feet six
inches in depth, this being therefore the width of the fountain, which
was also twenty-three feet long and about two feet deep. To my
astonishment it contained numbers of small fish, which was the more
surprising as it possessed no apparent outlet; but it was too cold and
fresh and sparkling to be anything but a living stream, and probably
disappeared by a subterranean passage through a large crevice which I
observed in the rock.

The wide-spreading branches of a venerable oak which grew directly in
front of the arch threw a delightful shade over it, while delicate ferns
clothed the sides of the grotto, which seemed to woo us to a repose and
indolence which was, alas, under the circumstances, denied to us. On the
keystone of the arch there was a partially effaced inscription. Though
it was sixteen feet overhead, and therefore inaccessible, I should not
have abandoned some attempt to decipher it had I not felt sure that,
even if I were close to it, it was too much defaced by the storms of
ages to be legible. I feel little doubt, however, about its having been
in the Greek character; while on a slab of stone at the side of the
spring I found carved the figure of a lion, which was in good
preservation, and of which I made a sketch.

The sheik was so impatient to take me somewhere else that he scarcely
allowed me time to avail myself of this tempting spot to take the
refreshment of which I stood much in need. He told me the name of the
place was Umm el-Kanatar, or, being interpreted, “the place of arches,”
a name evidently derived from its most striking feature, and he said
there was a ruin close by. This turned out to be not a hundred yards
distant, and consisted of walls still standing to a height of about
seven feet, composed of three courses of stone, the blocks averaging
about two feet one way by two feet six the other, but being in some
instances much larger. These walls enclosed an area of about fifty feet
by thirty-five, which was covered by a mass of ruins which had been
tossed about in the wildest confusion. It was quite evident that it had
been the work of an earthquake. Six columns, varying from ten to twelve
feet in height, rose from the tumbled masses of building-stone at every
angle. It was impossible without moving the huge blocks which encumbered
their bases and hid their pedestals, and balanced them in all sorts of
positions, to tell whether they were _in situ_ or not. The huge moulded
stones which formed the sides of the entrance, though still one above
the other, had been shaken out of position, but they bore all the
character of carving which is peculiar to Jewish architecture, and at
once led me to conclude that here, as at Eddikke, I had discovered the
ruins of an ancient Jewish synagogue, dating probably from the first or
second century A.D. This impression was confirmed as I came to examine
the ruin more narrowly. Here was the large stone cut in the shape of an
arch, which had probably stood upon the lintel of the principal
entrance; and here was a fragment of a handsome cornice of the same
peculiar pattern I had found at Eddikke, resembling the egg-and-dart
pattern of modern ornamentation. Here were the columns inside the walls
of the building instead of outside, which would have been the case had
it been a Greek temple, and here were the massive stones, not set in
mortar, which would have been the case if it had been an early Christian
basilica or church. Here, too, was a stone on which was carved the
representation of an eagle, in deference to the prejudices of the Roman
conquerors under whose auspices these synagogues appertaining to the
Jewish Patriarchate of Tiberias were built, the work having evidently
been executed by Roman workmen.

I could find no inscription, but it would take days to examine all the
stones thoroughly, and it is most probable that a careful investigation
of them would reveal something which would throw a still more definite
light on the character and period of the building, though I confess I
entertain very little doubt in respect to either. Altogether I regard
these ruins of Umm el-Kanatar as the most interesting discovery I have
yet made, and as being well worthy another visit and a more minute
examination than I was able to bestow upon them.

The sheik now appeared to think he had done his duty, and expressed his
intention of returning to his village and of leaving me to find my way
down the Wady Samak by myself. This I did not object to, as there was
still plenty of daylight, and I could, in fact, make out from where I
was now standing the position of the ruins of Kersa on the margin of the
lake, whither I had despatched my servants and baggage animals direct
from my last night's quarters, with orders to await my arrival there.

It was up the branch of the wady that I was descending that the
projected railway from Haifa to Damascus would have to be led, and it
was some satisfaction to see that it offered facilities for the ascent
of the line. The scenery was in the highest degree picturesque, the
sides of the valley sometimes sloping back for some distance to the foot
of the basalt precipices which formed its upper wall; at others these
approached and formed projecting and overhanging promontories, like that
on which the Kasr Berdawil was situated. We scrambled down by a rugged
path to the small stream at the bottom with the view of following it, if
possible, to its outlet on the lake, but this we soon found to be
impracticable, and were assured by a Bedouin, whose hut we finally
reached on its margin, that we must cross it, and make an ascent on the
opposite side. This led us by a roundabout, hilly, but picturesque route
across numerous and intersecting wadys, and past one ruin, of which
nothing remained but the black blocks of hewn basalt. I was fortunate
enough, however, to meet a man who told me the name, which I added to my
list of unknown ruins, and so, after much scrambling, we reached at last
the white limestone strata, and the purling brook again with its fringe
of oleanders, and could see in the distance the one large solitary tree
which we had given as our rendezvous, and beneath which our servants
were standing, that marks the site of the ruins of Kersa, or the Gergesa
of the Bible, where Christ healed the two men possessed with devils, and
suffered those malignant spirits to enter into the herd of swine.

There is a discrepancy in the accounts of the Evangelists in their
narrative of the incident. Mark and Luke, in our version, locate it in
the country of the Gadarenes, but Matthew states it to have taken place
in the country of the Gergesenes. The Vulgate, Arabic, and others that
follow the Vulgate read Gergesa in all the Evangelists, and there can be
no doubt that this is the correct reading, for the simple reason that
the miracles could not have taken place in the country of the Gadarenes,
a district which lies south of the Yarmuk, and at a long distance from
the lake, the principal town, Gadara, the modern Um Keis, about the
identification of which there can be no doubt, being at least eight
miles from it. Now the account says that “when he came out of the ship
immediately there met him a man,” also that the herd ran down a steep
place violently into the sea. To do this, if the incident had taken
place at Gadara, they must have descended twelve hundred feet to the
Yarmuk, swam across that river, clambered up the opposite bank, and then
raced for about six miles across the plain before they could reach the
nearest margin of the lake. Scarcely any amount of insanity on the part
of the devils would account for such a mad career, but in point of fact
it does not tally with the Scripture record, according to which they
rushed down a steep place into the sea. This is exactly what they could
do at Kersa. The margin of the lake is here within a few rods of the
base of the cliff, where there are ancient tombs, out of which may have
issued the men who met Christ on the plateau above; and it is easy to
suppose that the swine, rushing down the sloping cliff, would have
enough impetus to carry them across the narrow slip of shore at its
base. The remains now only consist of long lines of wall, which may
easily be traced, and of a considerable area strewn with
building-stones, which show that it must in old time have contained a
considerable population. This is the more likely to be the case as it
was the chief town of a district which was called after it. In fact,
this picturesque and interesting Wady Samak, with its evidences of a
former civilization, and its “place of arches” and handsome synagogue,
was, in fact, “the country of the Gergesenes;” and there can be little
doubt that to Christ and his disciples the remote corners of it, which I
had been one of the first to explore, were intimately known.^[3]

The ruins of Kersa are a good deal overgrown, and in the cover which is
thus afforded I put up a wild boar. He dashed away so suddenly, however,
that a bullet from a revolver, which was sent after him, failed to
produce any result. I have little doubt that the old Roman road turned
from the lake at this point up the Wady Samak, as there are traces here
and there indicating such a probability. It will be a singular
commentary on the progress of events if it turns out that it has taken
the best gradient, and if, upon its ancient track, the scream of the
locomotive may in the near future be heard waking up the long-silent
echoes of the country of the Gergesenes.

[3] The greater part of the Wady Samak and the surrounding country had,
immediately prior to my visit, been most accurately surveyed by Mr.
Gottlieb Schumacher, the son of the American vice-consul at Haifa, whose
admirable and exhaustive surveys are embodied in the proceedings of the
English and German Palestine Exploration Societies, and who was my
companion on the occasion of our discovery of the ruins of Umm
el-Kanatar.


                      THE ROCK TOMBS OF PALESTINE.

Haifa, April 26.—The fact that I am laboring under a peculiar phase of
insanity, which takes the form of descending with a light into the
bowels of the earth with a measuring tape, and writing down cabalistic
signs of what I find there, whether it be in a cistern or a tomb, or a
natural cavern, has become pretty widely known among the inhabitants of
the neighbouring villages, and the consequence is that from time to time
I receive information which may minister to this harmless monomania. The
other day, for instance, a stonecutter whom I had employed on some
building operations came to me with the intelligence that while he and
some villagers had been getting out stone for a house at a place about
twenty miles distant they had unexpectedly come upon a series of
subterranean chambers. His account was so tempting that, though prepared
by experience for disappointment when acting upon purely native
information, I nevertheless thought the possible results worth an
effort, and proceeded therefore to the village in question, which was
situated in the centre of the Plain of Esdraelon. The sheik was at first
somewhat reluctant to show me the spot, as the fellahin have an inherent
suspicion of all investigations of this nature, believing them to be
mysteriously connected with the discovery of treasure, which, when
found, they will be accused of having concealed, and punished for it. He
finally consented, however, to lead the way, and brought me to an
opening in the earth, from the surface of which a flight of nine stone
steps led down to a small paved court, about six feet square, which had
now been emptied of the soil which had previously concealed its
existence. The sides of this court, which were about twelve feet high,
were formed of massive masonry, the blocks of stone being each from
eighteen inches to two feet square, set in mortar. A short vaulted
passage, three feet long, two feet six wide, and five feet high, led
from it into a subterranean chamber of fine workmanship, and in such a
high state of preservation that it was difficult to realize that from
fifteen hundred to two thousand years had elapsed since its stone floor
had been trodden by the foot of man. It was fourteen feet long, eight
broad, and eight feet six in height, with a vaulted roof, the walls
consisting of plain chiselled stones set in mortar, in courses of from
two feet to two feet six inches in height. On the left of this chamber
was a single koka, or tunnel, hewn in the rock for the reception of a
dead body. The roof was vaulted and of solid masonry. On the side
opposite the entrance was another vaulted passage, which was seven feet
six in length, and led into a chamber hewn out of the solid rock, twelve
feet by ten feet six, and six feet six in height. This contained three
kokim and a loculus under an arcosolium; but the side of the loculus, as
well as those of the kokim, had been much injured. The villagers, who
had opened these tombs for the first time only a few weeks before, told
us they had only found human bones in them, but I strongly suspect they
had found ornaments which they were afraid to exhibit, though I offered
them money. One or two glass bottles and earthenware jars they also said
they had found and broken.

Not far from these tombs was another smaller excavation, the entrance to
which presented the appearance of an ordinary cave, but on entering it
we found ourselves in a small, circular, rock-hewn chamber, the floor so
covered with rubble that it was not possible to stand upright. In the
centre of the roof was an aperture eighteen inches square, opening to
the sky, carefully hewn, and from it led a passage of masonry, the
stones also set in mortar, two feet six broad, and about five feet to
the point where it was completely choked with earth. Had I had time to
excavate I should no doubt have found that it led into a tomb. The
entrance to this passage was almost completely blocked by the capital of
a handsome Ionic column; the column itself was eighteen inches in
diameter. How it ever came to be wedged down in this underground passage
I cannot conceive. Among the stones in the vicinity which had been
unearthed by the natives I found one on which was carved a
seven-branched candlestick, another of Jewish moulding, a sarcophagus,
several fragments of columns, and a monolith standing ten feet from the
_débris_ at its base, with grooves and slots similar to others which I
have seen on Carmel, but taller. I can only imagine it to have formed
part of some olive-pressing machinery. In the neighbouring rocks were
hewn vats and wine-presses.

The discovery of this tomb, with the peculiar characteristics which
marked its construction, and the objects which surrounded it, afforded a
fertile subject of conjecture. In order that my readers may understand
the considerations to which it gave rise, I must enter a little more
fully than I have hitherto done into the subject of the ancient Jewish
methods of sepulture. These consist of sundry varieties, and it has been
attempted to fix their dates from the variations which have been
observed, as well as to discriminate by them between Christian and
Jewish tombs. So far as my own investigation goes, I have been unable to
fix any positive rule in the matter, my experience being that one no
sooner forms a theory based upon observation, than one makes some new
discovery which upsets it. Roughly, the tombs which I have investigated
may be divided into the following categories: 1. Rock-hewn tombs
containing nothing but loculi; 2. Rock-hewn tombs containing nothing but
kokim; 3. Rock-hewn tombs containing both; 4. Masonry tombs containing
either loculi or kokim, or both together; 5. Sarcophagi; 6. Rock-sunk
tombs. A rock-hewn tomb is an excavation made in the solid rock
(advantage generally has been taken of a natural cavern), and round the
sides of the chambers so formed, which vary in dimensions, are ranged
the receptacles for the dead. In some cases these are more than one
chamber. In Sheik Abreikh, for instance, I counted fifteen opening one
into another. Sometimes these are one above another, and one has to
enter them from below through a hole in the stone roof which forms the
floor of the upper chamber. A koka is a rectangular sloping space cut
into the rock, tunnel fashion, extending six feet horizontally,
sufficiently wide and high to admit of a corpse being pushed into it. A
loculus is a trough cut laterally into the rock, which is arched above
so as to form what is called an arcosolium. This trough is generally
about six feet long, two feet six broad, and two feet deep. It is thus
separated from the chamber by a wall of rock two feet high. A large tomb
will contain as many as twelve loculi ranged around it.

At first it was supposed that the kokim tombs were the oldest; then it
was found that loculi and kokim were sometimes found in the same tomb;
and, indeed, there seems now to be no reason to suppose that one kind is
older than the other. That the Christians used both is certain from the
fact that Greek inscriptions with Christian ornaments are to be found
over the doors of tombs containing kokim as well as loculi. Masonry
tombs are only found in Galilee, where they are very rare. Indeed, so
far as I am aware, this is only the sixth that has been discovered; but
what gave it a special interest in my eyes is the fact that the stones
were set in mortar, which is not the case with any of the others,
ancient Jewish synagogues, as well as their masonry tombs, being built
without cement. I therefore had made up my mind that this was a
Christian tomb, the early Christians having evidently continued the
Jewish method of sepulture, more especially as it is oriented, which is
not the case with Jewish tombs; and, indeed, the character of the
masonry and the fragments of columns and capitals lying about induced me
to place it in the Byzantine period, possibly as late even as the fourth
or fifth century A.D. But then I stumbled upon the stone with the
seven-branched candlestick, an unmistakably Jewish emblem, which threw
the date back. It is true that this stone was not built into the tomb,
and might have formed part of a building of a date long anterior to it.
Indeed, we know that on this spot, which is now called Jebata, and which
is undoubtedly the Biblical Gabatha, was formerly a Jewish town of some
importance, and its remains have doubtless got mixed up with those of a
later Byzantine period, to which I still think it probable that the tomb
which I discovered belongs.

It differs from any I have yet seen in the imposing character of its
entrance. Its flight of nine handsome stone steps, leading down the open
court, and the vaulted passage, with its massive masonry, give it quite
a peculiar character. The entrance to the rock-hewn tomb is usually
through a small doorway from three to four feet in height, just large
enough to permit a man to squeeze through without very great
inconvenience, and it is usually closed by a circular stone like a
millstone, which runs in a groove, and can be rolled across it, though
sometimes the door consists of a huge curved slab. The sarcophagus is
too well known to need description. The most remarkable collection of
them which I have seen is at Umm Keis, the biblical Gadara, where there
are at least two hundred, many of them ranged in two rows on either side
of the way leading out of the city. They are of black basalt, and are
often beautifully carved and highly ornamented. I do not think they were
so much used by the Jews as by Christians, though sometimes sarcophagi
are found placed in loculi. At all events, they were not the original
Jewish method of burial, and, if used by them at all, the habit was one
which they probably adopted from their Roman conquerors.

The sunk tombs are common in various parts of Galilee—especially in the
rocky hillsides of the range upon which Nazareth is situated. They
consist of rectangular troughs, sufficiently large to contain a human
body, sunk into the surface of the living rock, and covered with a huge
lid of stone, sometimes flat, but more often cut conically, so as to
have a high central ridge. I have more than once endeavoured to remove
these from the tombs, which had never been opened, where they were still
_in situ_, but never happened to be accompanied by a sufficient number
of men or to have adequate leverage appliances with me. As these stones
are generally about seven feet long, three broad, and from two to three
feet thick, they require the application of no little force to remove
them. They vary in size, however, and I have seen sunk tombs for babies
not above eighteen inches long. Apart from the interest which attaches
to the whole question of rock sepulture in Palestine, the most
interesting relics of antiquity are generally found in the tombs, while
not uncommonly valuable inscriptions are met with. Many of them are
ornamented with pictorial representations, which have been laid on with
coloured pigment, and the designs are often curious and interesting.
Altogether, although the investigation of these mortuary chambers is
often attended with great difficulty and discomfort, they frequently
furnish results which compensate for the fatigue that they involve.


                 GENERAL GORDON'S LAST VISIT TO HAIFA.

Haifa, May 10.—The interest which attaches to the memory of the late
General Gordon must be my apology for devoting a letter to my personal
reminiscences of one whose singularly pure and lofty character attracted
me to him at a time when he was comparatively unknown. Nothing is in
fact more remarkable than the suddenness of the notoriety into which he
sprang, a notoriety from which he of all men would have the most shrunk,
and of the knowledge of which, by the singular fatality which isolated
him from the world in his beleaguered garrison, he was to the last
unconscious. Owing to his own modesty and love of retirement, and to the
fact that his life had been largely spent abroad and in the service of
foreign governments, he was personally almost unknown in London society.
His friends consisted chiefly of his brother officers and a few
congenial spirits whose acquaintance he had made in various parts of the
world. By the public at large he had only been heard of as “Chinese”
Gordon, and few cared to inquire what manner of man he was.

It was just twenty-nine years ago since I first met him in the trenches
before Sebastopol. He was quite a young and unknown officer at that
time, and I should have forgotten the circumstance had we not again come
across each other three years afterwards in China, and upon comparing
notes found that we had already met in the Crimea. He had not then been
appointed to the command of the “ever victorious army,” and was still a
junior Captain of Engineers. I left China before he entered the Chinese
service, and almost immediately after his arrival, so that I saw very
little of him. Still, I had seen enough to make me watch his subsequent
career with great interest, but our paths had not again crossed until
one day, about two years ago, I received a letter from Jaffa signed C.
G. Gordon, asking for information in regard to Haifa as a residence, and
expressing his intention of possibly paying me a visit. As I have many
friends of the name, I was puzzled for the moment. The writer did not
mention anything in the letter to give a clew to his identity, though it
was addressed as from one old friend to another. It was only
accidentally that the same afternoon the vice-consul here asked me if I
knew anything of a General Gordon, as some letters had arrived to his
care for an individual of that name. I at once perceived who my
correspondent must be. I immediately addressed him a cordial invitation
to pay me a visit, which he promptly responded to, and we spent a few
very pleasant days together. The Hicks disaster in the Soudan had not
then occurred, so that the affairs of that country and its Mahdi had not
yet acquired the notoriety they were destined so soon to attain; but
Gordon's intimate knowledge of the country induced him to express his
opinion in regard to its condition.

He deprecated strongly the whole course adopted by the British
government in Egypt from the beginning, warned me that they underrated
the nature of the movement in the Soudan, to which country he was then
in favour of granting independence under native rulers, was entirely
opposed to English officers at the head of Egyptian troops, thrusting
themselves into the mess, and maintained that the whole affair should be
settled by a civil commissioner, who should at once be sent by England
to the Mahdi to arrange with him the terms upon which the Soudan should
be rendered independent of Egypt. As at this time the English had not
come into violent hostile collision with the Mahdi, Gordon declared his
conviction that such a mission would be favourably received, and that a
state of affairs might be arranged which, although not so favourable to
the Soudanese as he could have wished, would leave them better off than
under Egyptian rule. His idea was that if the Mahdi did not show himself
amenable to reason, he might be threatened with a rebellion of the local
Soudanese chiefs, who, he felt convinced, could easily be induced to
combine against him. In fact, before going to the Mahdi he would have
sounded the feeling of these chiefs, with a view, if necessary, to
organizing a revolt against him.

In a word, his view was that the Soudan question should be settled by
the Soudanese alone, that no Egyptians should be mixed up in the affair;
and I have no doubt that if the British government had thought of
availing themselves of Gordon's services at this juncture, the question
of the Soudan might have been arranged satisfactorily to all parties,
except, perhaps, the Egyptian and Turkish governments. He was at that
time particularly strong on the necessity of a railway from Suakim to
Berber, the concession for which was being then applied for by English
railway contractors, who were sanguine of success. He assured me that
they were wasting their time; that it was a concession the Egyptian
government would never grant, as they were afraid if they did that the
whole trade of the Soudan would be diverted to Suakim instead of, as
now, coming down to Cairo. “It is a short-sighted policy,” he remarked,
“for without that railway Egypt will one day not only lose the trade of
the Soudan, but the Soudan itself.”

Not long afterwards there was a report that the concession had been
granted, and he wrote me a long letter of many pages, which began with
warning me not to believe the report, as it was quite impossible that it
could be true, his knowledge of the Egyptian government convincing him
that they would make promises, but that nothing would ever induce them
to consent to this railway being made, unless they were coerced into it
by the British government. He felt equally convinced that the British
government had no intention of using their authority in this direction,
as, in his opinion, they should do, and that the report, therefore, was
without foundation. This, in fact, turned out to be the case.

General Gordon, after spending a few days at Haifa, returned to
Jerusalem, promising to bring his tents two months later and pitch them
next to mine at Esfia on the summit of Carmel. I was eagerly looking
forward to his companionship in the delightful wilderness of this
mountain, and had even marked out in my own mind a spot for his
camping-ground within fifty yards of my own, when, to my great
disappointment, I received a letter from him saying that he was so
deeply interested in biblical studies at the Holy City that he felt it
his duty to change his mind, as he might never again have an opportunity
of verifying the correctness of the views he entertained in regard to
the typical nature of its configuration.

Not long afterwards I received another long letter from him on the
subject of the Jordan valley canal scheme, in which he took a warm
interest. This led to a correspondence, as I entirely differed from him
as to its practicability. Towards the end of the year he wrote, saying
that he was suddenly summoned to the Congo, and bidding me adieu.
Curiously enough, in my reply I said that I did not say good-bye, as I
felt sure I should see him again before he left the country. A few days
afterwards he once more turned up at Haifa. He had embarked at Jaffa for
Port Said in a country sailing craft, and he had been driven by stress
of weather so far out of his course that his crew finally ran in here
for shelter.

At this time affairs in the Soudan were in a very acute stage, and we
again discussed them at great length. His views had naturally undergone
a change, as the policy which had been possible seven or eight months
previously was impracticable now. He felt great doubt whether, if he
went to the Soudan, he could succeed in achieving now what he was
convinced he could have accomplished then, or whether the policy he had
sketched out was longer feasible. “If it were not for the Soudanese,
whom I love,” he said, “the easy way out of it for the English
government would be to invite the Turks to go, but it is not probable
that they have the sense to make the proposition, or that the Turks
would be such fools as to accept it.”

He refused altogether to anticipate the possibility of his being sent to
the Soudan, partly because he felt bound in honour to go to the Congo
for the King of the Belgians, and partly because he had already had too
many differences with the heads of departments under which he had
served, and was regarded with too little favour, on account of his
refusal to look at every question through official spectacles, to be a
_persona grata_ to the English government. He was detained here a week,
during which time we not only discussed fully the Egyptian and Soudanese
questions, but talked over old times in China, when he gave me many
graphic descriptions of incidents in his Chinese campaigns, which have
probably never been heard of, and which I now regret I did not record.
His modesty was such that I could only compel him to narrate his own
adventures by a process of severe cross-examination.

One of his marked peculiarities in conversation was his employment of
phrases which he had himself coined to represent certain ideas. Thus he
would say of a man: “So-and-so is a very good fellow, but he would never
break his medal,” by which he meant that he was ambitious. Gordon
himself, when the Emperor of China gave him, in return for his services,
a very valuable gold medal, fearing that the sense of gratification he
derived from it might prove a snare to him, broke it up and gave away
the pieces. Hence the allusion.

Again, he would say, if asked if he knew so-and-so. “I only met him once
and then he rent me.” From which I understood that he had felt it his
duty on that occasion to give the individual in question a word of good
advice, and that the only thanks was that the man resented it, or, in
Scripture phraseology, “turned again and rent him.”

One day I observed him writing notes on a slip of paper. He asked me the
Christian names of two friends who were staying with me. I told him, and
feeling, I suppose, that my curiosity ought to be gratified, he said, “I
am writing them down on my prayer list.”

Another day, after using some very strong language in regard to a very
high personage who shall be nameless, he added quickly, “but I pray for
him regularly.” All this without a vestige of cant. If there was a thing
he detested it was hypocrisy, and I trust I may not be suspected of it
when I say that the thought of Gordon at Khartoum, and the knowledge
that I was on his prayer list, was calculated to produce a lump in my
throat. He was full of fun and a most cheery companion with those he
knew intimately. He never forced a conversation in a religious channel.
He brought with him from Jerusalem a raised model which he had made, to
carry out his theory that the hill upon which the greater part of the
city was built was in the form of a woman. Taking the mound commonly
identified as “the place of the skull” as the head, the lines of
topographical configuration certainly bore out the resemblance in a very
remarkable manner. He was far more full of this than either of the
Soudan or the Congo, and was taking it with him to Brussels to show the
King of the Belgians. “I suppose, as you are the king's guest, you will
go and stay at the palace,” I remarked. “No, certainly not,” he replied;
“I shall go to a hotel. I don't want the king's servants to see my old
comb.” He left here on the 18th or 19th of December, 1883, and walked to
Acre, twelve miles, to meet the steamer that was to take him direct to
Marseilles. He sent his luggage in a carriage.

His last words as we parted were that he felt sure we should never meet
again. I said he had been wrong once when he told me that he should not
see me again, and I hoped he was wrong now. He said no, he felt that he
had no more work to do for God on this earth, and that he should never
return from the Congo. Within a month he was in upper Egypt.

It was characteristic of the man that scarcely any one in Haifa knew who
he was. Seeing a very handsome garden belonging to a rich Syrian, near
Acre, he strolled into it, and was accosted by the proprietor, who asked
him who he was. He replied, “Gordon Pasha,” on which my Syrian friend,
who told me the story, laughed incredulously, and politely showed him
out. Gordon meekly departed without attempting to insist on his
identity. The proprietor told me that he felt convinced that he was
being imposed upon, because Gordon, when spoken to in English, would
answer in bad Arabic, and because, when asked his name, he took his
card-case half out of his pocket, as though to give his card, and then,
on second thought, put it back again and answered verbally. So my friend
lost his chance of entertaining an angel unawares, which he has never
ceased to regret, the more especially as his friends take a pleasure in
teasing him about it.

My last letter from Gordon is dated Khartoum, the 6th of March. Now that
he is gone, and his name has become a household word in almost all
countries, and among the professors of all religions, the few among the
natives who knew him here treasure up every trait of his marked
individuality, and are fond of narrating anecdotes, which grow by
repetition. His instinct of retirement and extremely unassuming manner
concealed him, so to speak, from general observation; but his
simplicity, purity, and absolute singleness of aim made him a sort of
moral magnet, irresistibly attractive to those who came directly beneath
the sphere of his influence. The potency of his virtue in life has been
proved by the imperishable moral legacy which in death he has bequeathed
to humanity.


           THE CONVENT OF CARMEL _versus_ THE TOWN OF HAIFA.

Haifa, May 25.—It was from Carmel that in times of old a small cloud was
seen rising not bigger than a man's hand, which overcast the heavens,
and it is not impossible that a political incident which has just
occurred here may prove the diplomatic commencement of a storm of
another kind pregnant with untold issues. If we look back through
history at the origin of some of its greatest events, we often almost
fail to discover them, on account of their insignificance. When the
moral atmosphere is charged with electricity, it needs but a spark to
produce the shock; and so it is just possible that the upsetting of a
few stones, on a barren hillside, may open up a question which may
assume proportions of very considerable magnitude, as it involves the
most dangerous of all elements in a dispute, that of religious
fanaticism. The Monastery of Carmel, as your readers are doubtless
aware, is situated on the spur of the mountain which projects in a point
at an elevation of about five hundred feet above the sea. From this
point the mountain gradually rises until it attains a height of about
nine hundred feet, immediately behind the town of Haifa and the German
colony. The mountain here spreads into an elevated plateau of some
extent, affording extensive pasture-ground and good arable and vineyard
land. For some years past the claim of the convent over a large area of
this plateau has been a matter of dispute, but it only reached an acute
stage the other day, when the towns-people were called upon to pay taxes
on it. They naturally objected that they ought not to pay taxes on land
the use of which they did not enjoy, and access to which was forbidden
to them by a wall which had been built by the convent as the boundary to
its possessions. In order to bring the matter to an issue, some thirty
of the German colonists and as many of the Moslem inhabitants of the
town went up in a body and proceeded _vi et armis_ to tear down the
wall. While thus engaged some of the monks emerged, armed with spiritual
weapons alone. One of them, elevating his cross, pronounced a solemn
curse, first in German and then in Arabic, upon the profaners of their
sacred soil. The convent being under the protection of the French
government, a formal complaint was lodged against the action of the
Germans in the matter, and a deputation, consisting of the German and
French vice-consuls, were sent down from Beyrout to inquire into it.
Meantime the Turkish government interfered, as it had a right to do,
seeing that many Ottoman subjects had participated in the act complained
of, and decided that the right of the convent to erect the wall was a
matter for the local tribunals to decide upon, as well as the question
of the validity of their title to the part of the mountain claimed by
them. In the meantime instructions were given that, pending the decision
of the court, the wall should be replaced in exactly the same position,
and of the same dimensions, as before its removal. Advantage was taken
of this order to rebuild the wall much more solidly, and to increase its
height far beyond the limits prescribed in the order, and the result was
the removal of the local governor for negligence in not seeing that the
instructions were properly carried out. Meantime the town instituted a
lawsuit against the convent, calling upon them to substantiate their
legal title to the land.

Now, one third of the population of Haifa is Moslem and Jews, and about
two thirds are Christian. The Christians are all under the direct
influence of the convent, and the spirit of religious fanaticism runs
high on both sides. On measurement being made of the land claimed by the
convent it was found to amount to an area of about twelve square miles.
According to Turkish law the whole of this would originally belong to
the inhabitants of the town for their common use, unless the town
council had at some time or other legally parted with it for an adequate
consideration. This it was denied on the part of the municipality that
they had ever done, and search was consequently made in the records for
the act of sale, which would have been registered. On the other hand,
the monks had a duly-signed document under which they claimed, but
which, on further investigation, was found to be practically a fraud, as
none of the formalities had been complied with, and the seal had been
affixed illegally by an officer who had been induced for a certain
consideration to perform the act. It is not contended that the monks
were a party to this irregularity. They seem, indeed, rather to have
been the victims of their agent at the time, who perpetrated it, leaving
them under the delusion that they possessed a valid title, but the
discovery left the court no alternative but to pronounce judgment
against them. Against this judgment they have appealed to
Constantinople, and it would be difficult to see how it could be
reversed, were it not that the interests involved are of such a peculiar
character that the purely legal side of the question may be overlooked.

The prestige which the order of barefooted Carmelites enjoys in all
Catholic countries is so great that the most powerful influences will be
invoked, and possibly not invoked in vain, in their favor. Strong
articles have already appeared on the subject in the Continental press
of Europe. The Emperor of Austria has, I understand, been personally
appealed to, while the pilgrims, who, to the number of about four
hundred, have already visited the sacred shrine this year, are every one
of them missionaries who will be so many Peter the Hermits, invoking
once more the faith of the true believer to protect the sacred mountain
from the grasp of the infidel. But there is an element in the affair
which removes it from the simple category of Cross _versus_ Crescent,
and that is, that the interests of some three hundred Germans are
involved. As forming part of the population of Haifa, they enjoy equal
rights with the rest of the towns-people, and Prince Bismarck is not a
man to see their rights tamely abandoned to the monks. It is true that
the question is one which affects exclusively the Turkish government,
and there can be no doubt that it would not willingly deprive an Ottoman
population of twelve square miles of mountain if they are legally
entitled to it, but the united pressure of Catholic Europe might be too
powerful a force for the Porte to resist single-handed. It is a
different matter when they have the German government at their back, and
this quarrel over a right of way and a patch of hillside may yet be
pregnant with important consequences. Had the convent entered upon large
agricultural operations, their rights over land thus brought into
cultivation could not be disputed. The complaint of the population is
that they neither cultivate it themselves, nor allow others to cultivate
it, or even to graze their flocks upon it. The exclusive possession thus
claimed has deprived the German colonists of one of the most important
desiderata for the success of their colony.

A retreat from the heats of summer is almost essential to the health of
the colonists. If they had the right of way claimed they could, with
ease, construct a wagon-road to the top of the hill overhanging the
colony, where, at an elevation of nine hundred feet, they would be in
full enjoyment of the sea breezes, while only half an hour distant from
their homes. The money necessary for the construction of such a
sanitarium was provided under singular circumstances a few weeks ago. I
was riding just outside the town, on the Nazareth road, when to my
surprise I met a foreign lady riding by herself, accompanied only by an
Arab, an unusual sight in this country. Following her was a covered
litter. On returning to the colony an hour later I found that the litter
contained the body of the husband of the lady I had met. He had died in
it on the road from Nazareth a couple of hours before I met the poor
widow, a perfect stranger and unable to speak a word of the language,
forming the solitary attendant of her husband's corpse. These painful
circumstances enlisted the warmest sympathy on the part of the
colonists, whose kindness and consideration so overwhelmed the lady, who
was herself a countrywoman, that before leaving she presented the colony
with a check for $7500. These simple people had no idea when they were
lavishing their kindness on the widow that she was a lady of large
fortune, and this was their unexpected reward. And it is with this money
they hope to build their sanitarium.


                      PROGRESS EVEN IN PALESTINE.

Haifa, June 7.—I was glad to avail myself of an opportunity to revisit
Jerusalem after an interval of six years, and by a journey through a
part of Judea to see the changes within that period. The attention which
has of recent years been directed towards Palestine has perhaps produced
more marked results in this province than in Galilee, and in some
respects its progress has been more rapid. This is partly owing to the
fact that for the past eight years it has been under the administration
of a more than usually enlightened pasha, who exercises his authority
independently of the Governor-General of Syria, and partly because its
holy places prove more attractive both to Jews and Gentiles than do
those of Galilee. Hence there has been a larger inflow of capital and of
immigration.

Three miles from Jaffa lies the German colony of Sarona, which, like the
one at Haifa, was founded some years ago by the Temple Society. It
resembles the one there in the character of its buildings and general
plan. There is a wide central street with neat stone and tiled roofed
houses, and two rows of shade trees, with a short cross street, church,
and schoolhouse, and that general air of cleanliness and comfort which
Germans understand so well how to impart to their settlements. It is far
inferior to Haifa, however, both on the score of salubrity and beauty of
position, being situated on a grassy, rolling country destitute of
woods, some miles from the sea and the mountains. There is therefore
something forlorn in the solitude of its position. The inhabitants
suffer a good deal from fever, and many deaths took place last year,
which was unusually unhealthy. On the other hand, the fertility of the
soil and its proximity to so large and prosperous a town as Jaffa, which
now numbers close upon twenty thousand inhabitants, enables the settlers
to do somewhat better financially than those at Haifa. They are engaged
in extending the area of their orange-groves and vineyards; and as the
general experience is that the climate of this country improves under
the influence of husbandry, it is to be hoped that a few more years will
work a change in this respect, as they certainly must in the general
attractiveness of the place. The Temple Society has also a small colony
actually in the suburbs of Jaffa, the members of which are engaged in
commercial pursuits in that town, and are doing well.

Since I last visited this place emigrant Jews from Russia and Roumania
have established no fewer than four colonies in its neighbourhood,
which, however, are scattered in different directions at distances of
several miles apart. The circumstances under which my journey was made
prevented me, unfortunately, from inspecting them as thoroughly as I
could have desired. Two of these are under the protection of Baron
Rothschild, and enjoy such pecuniary support from him as will secure
their future, in spite of the obstacles which, owing to government
opposition and other local difficulties, they have had to encounter. So
far as energy, industry, and aptitude for agricultural pursuits are
concerned, the absence of which has always been alleged as the reason
why no Jewish colony could succeed, the experience of more than two
years has now proved that such apprehensions are groundless, and that
with a fair chance Jews make very good colonists, and are likely, in
fact, to succeed better in this country as agriculturists than in
America, where they have the skilled industry and indomitable energy of
the American farmer to compete with, instead of the helpless ignorance
and ingrained indolence of the native fellahin, who are their only
rivals here.

Besides these two colonies there are two others, one of which has been
struggling on unaided for the last seven years, and which has latterly
almost succumbed to the methods which have been resorted to by the
government to extinguish it, but which has within the last month derived
fresh aid and encouragement from the visit of Dr. Adler, the Grand Rabbi
of London, and Mr. Wissotsky, the delegate of a society which has
recently been formed in Poland, called “The Lovers of Israel.” The visit
of these two gentlemen marks a new era in the fortunes of the Petach
Tikveh colony, as it is called, as it resulted in the substantial
donation of a sum of £300, and in bringing it to the knowledge of the
public. One of the chief drawbacks of the colony has been the
unhealthiness of its site, and the purchase of a healthy hill-top, about
half an hour distant, has been attended with so much difficulty that it
is only now that the colonists have at last secured their title to it
sufficiently to warrant the building of houses upon it.

Besides these four Jewish and two German colonies there has been for
fifteen years established in the neighbourhood of Jaffa a large Jewish
agricultural college, which was founded by the Israelite Alliance, for
the purpose of educating Jewish youths in agricultural pursuits. It is a
handsome and extensive building, standing a little to the right of the
road from Jaffa to Jerusalem, amid groves of trees and gardens, and
surrounded by a fine tract of arable land. Here are avenues of eucalypti
and of bamboos, both trees unknown in this country, and which, from
their novelty, form a striking feature in the plantations near the
house. For many years this establishment was a source of permanent
expense to its founders, and it was feared that the results would never
justify the original outlay. Their perseverance has, however, met with
its reward. The increase of the annual income last year amounted to
$5000. One of the principal sources of revenue are the ethrogim, or
gigantic citrons, which are used by the Jews all over Europe at some of
their religious festivals, and which, if they can be guaranteed as
coming from the Holy Land, command a fictitious price. Besides these
they export oranges and vegetables, and have engaged in the manufacture
of wines and brandy, for which they find a good sale. It is to be hoped
that as Jewish colonies in Palestine increase, and the demand for
skilled Jewish agriculturists conversant with the local methods of
cultivation and familiar with the language is augmented, a better
opening will be found for the youths who have received their education
in this establishment. Hitherto the young men, after receiving a good
education, of which agricultural science only formed part, have
generally seen their way on leaving the college to engage in some more
profitable and congenial pursuits than tilling the land. As a rule,
middle-aged men with a limited education and large families make better
agriculturists than ambitious and well-educated youths.

There is a fifth colony in Judea, which is nearer to Jerusalem than
Jaffa, formed of Jews who have apparently been hired to become
Christians, by being provided for as colonists; but so far it has proved
a failure. The government has refused all permission to build. They are
at present living in a large wooden shanty, and are said to be reverting
to their old faith, as they find that the new one does not pay.

I have also heard of a sixth colony which is in process of formation, so
that adding to these three which are in Galilee, there are altogether
nine Jewish colonies now in Palestine— all of which, with one exception,
have been established within the last two years and a half, in spite of
difficulties which would have discouraged people animated by no higher
sentiment than that of merely finding a living. However slow and
uncertain their progress may be now, these first settlers may console
themselves by the reflection that their experience as pioneers will be
of incalculable value to their successors, when altered conditions may
arise, which shall offer increased inducement to emigration.

Meantime, it is as well that intending immigrants should not be misled
by the delusive reports which are promulgated from time to time of a
change in the policy of the government in this respect. Practically the
opposition to Jewish colonization on the part of the authorities is as
stringent as ever, and any action taken upon a contrary hypothesis will
only lead to disappointment.

This increasing tendency to flock into the Holy Land is not confined,
however, to Jews alone. There is an annual augmentation in the number of
pilgrims who invade it, of nearly all the Christian sects, besides those
who establish themselves here under the influence of various religious
hobbies. Thus the foreign and Jewish population of this province is
constantly increasing, and the effect of this influx is more strikingly
marked at Jerusalem than elsewhere; but it is natural that Jaffa, as the
port of Judea, should also largely have benefited by its influence, and
I was much struck by the growth of the place and the signs of its
increasing prosperity. This is, no doubt, due also in some measure to
the excellent carriage-road which now connects it with Jerusalem. I saw
several large gangs of men at work upon those sections which still
remain of the old rough track, which in former days made the journey
between these places upon wheels a positive torture. It is true that
many excruciatingly rough places still remain, but another year will
remove them, and it is the intention of the present governor to extend
the road from Jerusalem by way of Bethlehem (it is now almost completed
to the latter place) to Hebron, and also to connect the rich country
east of the Jordan with Judea by a carriage-road which is in immediate
contemplation from Jerusalem to Jericho.

The rapidly improving facilities for travelling in Palestine, the annual
increase in the number of tourists who each year visit it, the numerous
ecclesiastical and charitable establishments which have been already
constructed and are yearly extended, the influx of foreign capital
resulting therefrom, and the increase of the foreign population, both
Jew and Christian, all tend to give Palestine an exceptional position as
a province in the Turkish empire. It is the only one, indeed, where the
evidences of progress are steady and substantial; and there can be no
doubt that one of the most marked results of this progress will be the
importance which the Holy Land is destined to assume in the event of the
Eastern question being reopened, for there is no province in the empire
upon which political and religious interests of so varied and universal
a nature are concentrated.


                     THE RECENT DISCOVERY OF GEZER.

Jerusalem, June 23.—I was much struck on my way from Jaffa to this place
the other day by contrasting the different systems which are resorted to
by the varied races of foreigners who are invading Palestine. There is
the Jew, with curling ear-locks and greasy gaberdine, and wallet slung
over his shoulder, trudging painfully along the dusty road. He has had
hard work to slip into the country at all, and has only succeeded
probably by means of backshish and a false passport. He has undergone
discomfort and privations innumerable to win the privilege, which, to
judge by his wan and sickly face, is not likely long to be denied him,
of dying in Jerusalem.

As he plods on, leaning wearily on his long staff, he is almost run over
by a bright yellow barouche dashing along the road, with four horses, in
a style which shows how rapidly Western civilization is striding into
the East. It is an English duke “doing” Palestine. He is followed by a
motley group of his own country men and women, mounted on horses and
donkeys, the women for the most part apparently old maids in straw hats,
green spectacles, and veils, while a large proportion of the men are
evidently parsons, who wear clerical coats and waistcoats and unclerical
pith hats and jack boots. The whole party, consisting of about thirty
persons, white with dust, are preceded by an elaborately attired
dragoman, whom they are about to follow over the country like a flock of
sheep, for they are the last batch of the season of Cook's tourists.

But they were not to be compared for picturesqueness or singularity of
appearance with the next _cortège_ which I overtook, and the aspect of
which, from a distance, puzzled me excessively. There appeared in front
of me a large object of some sort, which was being slowly dragged along
by a crowd of people who were evidently not natives of the country. On
reaching it I found that it was a huge bell, weighing seven or eight
tons, most elaborately ornamented with scriptural and sacred designs in
_basso-rilievo_, and which, placed on a truck with low wheels, was being
hauled by about eighty Russian peasants, more than half of whom were
women. Looking on this singular group of rugged-featured people, with
their light hair and Kalmuck countenances, one felt suddenly transported
from the hills of Palestine to the Steppes of Southern Russia. The men
wore high boots, baggy trousers, long full-skirted coats, tight at the
waist, and flat caps, and the women the sombre and dowdy habiliments
common to the Russian peasant class. They were all yoked by the breast
with ropes to the truck, tugging it slowly but cheerfully along, and
when I stopped and tried to stammer out the few words of Russian which I
still remembered, they greeted my attempts with loud shouts of laughter,
and made explanations which my knowledge of the language was too limited
to enable me to comprehend. But my curiosity was destined to be
satisfied at a later period on the arrival of this precious burden at
Jerusalem. Meantime I could not but regard with interest the eager
devotion of these poor people, and especially of the women, who were
thus satisfying a religious instinct by exercising the functions of
draught animals, and toiling up the road they deemed so sacred to the
holy city, which is invested with a higher sanctity to the adherents of
the Greek rite than to those of any other Christian communion. I found
afterwards that it took them just a week to drag their bell up to
Jerusalem, many falling ill by the way, and one dying, and
reinforcements had to be sent from Jerusalem to assist them.

Had it not been for the various houses which have been built for the
accommodation of travellers the mortality would probably have been
greater, but the increase of travel along this road has multiplied the
number of rest-houses, and there are now four or five of various degrees
of excellence, to say nothing of Greek and Catholic convents, more or
less far from the road, to which pilgrims can resort. The new hotel
which has just been put up by a German colonist at Ramleh is among the
most conspicuous of these improvements; and here, as the place is one of
some archæological interest, and I thought the enterprise of my host
deserved to be encouraged, I stayed to pass the night.

In the centuries immediately subsequent to the crusades, Ramleh is often
mentioned by the old chroniclers, for it was then, as now, a favorite
resting-place for travellers and pilgrims on their way between Jaffa and
Jerusalem. But it gradually fell into decay, and three hundred years
ago, when the traveller Belon was there, he found it almost deserted,
scarcely twelve houses being inhabited, and the fields mostly untilled.
It is now one of the most go-ahead places in Palestine, containing a
population of at least five thousand, and is surrounded by extensive
gardens and olive groves, above which the lofty tower erected by the
Sultan Bibars, in the thirteenth century, conspicuously rears its
graceful proportions.

By far the most interesting spot, however, in the whole of this section
of country lies about two miles to the right of the road from Ramleh to
Jerusalem, an hour after leaving the former place, which places it as
much out of the track of tourists as if it were a day's journey. It is a
mound called Tell el-Gezer, at the village of Abu Shusheh. This village
is the property of a Mr. Bergheim, a Jew banker of Jerusalem, who owns
an estate here of about five thousand acres, from which I may say, _en
passant_, that he derives a very large revenue.^[4] Apart from the
interest of the fact of a Jew being so large a landed proprietor in
Palestine, Abu Shusheh has claims upon our notice which have only
recently been discovered, and which to those who have been bitten with
the enthusiasm of elucidating the ancient topography of Palestine, and
identifying its antique sites, is replete with the highest importance.

Among those who have devoted themselves to the study of Palestine
geography and antiquarian research the French savant Monsieur Clermont
Ganneau ranks second to none. One of the problems which has for many
years excited the interest and curiosity of Palestine explorers was the
whereabouts of the ancient city of Gezer. We gather from the Biblical
record that this was an important town prior to the arrival and
settlement of the Israelites in the country. In the book of Joshua it is
classed among the royal cities of Canaan. Its king, Horam, was defeated
by Joshua while attempting to relieve Lachish, which was besieged by the
Israelites. Later it was included in the territory of the tribe of
Ephraim, and assigned to the Levitical family of Kohath. It is mentioned
several times during the wars between David and the Philistines, and
during Solomon's reign one of the Pharaohs made an expedition against
it, which resulted in the capture and burning of the town. It afterwards
became part of the dowry of Pharaoh's daughter when she became Solomon's
wife, and he rebuilt it. The last we hear of it was in the wars of the
Maccabees, when it reappears under the name of Gazara. Taken by assault
in the first instance by the Jews, it passed successively into the hands
of the two contending parties, who attached equal importance to its
possession. John Hyrcanus, the Jewish commander, made it his military
residence.

It was during his study of the old Arab geographers that M. Clermont
Ganneau came upon the name Tell el-Gezer, and finding that it met all
the topographical requirements of the Bible, he went in search of it at
Abu Shusheh. Here he found that a mound on Mr. Bergheim's property was
known to the natives by that name, though it was too insignificant ever
to have figured on any map. On making minute investigation, he
discovered, to his delight, a bilingual inscription; the first word, in
Greek characters of the classical epoch, was the name of a man, “Alkio,”
immediately followed by Hebrew letters of ancient square form, the
translation of which was “limit of Gezer.” This settled the question,
and the English Palestine Exploration Fund at once sent a special
mission to verify Monsieur Ganneau's discoveries. This they did most
completely, finding four other inscriptions, besides making a most
complete survey of the place. As is not uncommon with such very ancient
remains, the first aspect of the spot is disappointing. There are, in
fact, no ruins visible, with the exception of a few terraces on the
Tell, consisting of large blocks of unhewn stone. The Tell itself, on
which part of the city appears to have stood, is a sort of ridge about
six hundred yards long, one hundred across, and two hundred and fifty
feet above the surrounding rocky valleys. The foundations of the ancient
houses may be traced possibly in the numerous rock-cuttings with which
the place abounds, but it is difficult to distinguish them from cuttings
for quarrying stone on the old method, and certainly many of the
cuttings were those of quarriers. There are the remains of what was
apparently an old fortress at the eastern end of the Tell, but the most
remarkable features are the numerous wine-presses, which number about
thirty, some of them in an excellent state of preservation. There are
also some tombs, but these are rare and scattered, which is to be
accounted for by the fact that this was a Levitical city, within the
limits of which no interment was allowed. There are numerous chips of
stone, some apparently basaltic, and much broken pottery all over the
Tell, and many flints, some of which were worked, have been discovered.
While he was building his house, which is just under the Tell, Mr.
Bergheim found a deep cistern about forty feet square, lined with small
stones and covered with two coats of cement, which was hard and white;
the walls were about two feet thick, and it seemed to have a niche in
its eastern wall, as though it had at one time been used as a chapel. In
the niche a cross was found, painted red, and beneath it a stone altar,
which has been removed; but all this points to an early Christian
occupation. Mr. Bergheim has since converted the cistern to its original
use. He also found a curious idol in hard red pottery. The fellahin say
that many of these “dolls,” as they call them, used to be picked up, and
were given to the children as playthings. Flint instruments, earthenware
weights, and rubbers in composition, for use in cementing cisterns, have
been found in ploughing on the Tell, and near its southwest extremity a
number of skeletons were discovered, apparently of persons slain in
battle; one had a sword-cut on the skull. An aqueduct cut in the rock is
also traceable along the hillside.

Altogether the place is a good deal more interesting than it looks at
first sight, and had its owner been an antiquary he would doubtless have
had splendid opportunities of making a valuable collection. That the
spot has always had a semi-sacred character in the eyes of the country
people is evident from the traditions which attach to it. One is that
the city of Noah stood upon the hill here, and that the deluge came from
a place called Et Tannar, which is a cavity with an old well on the east
slope of the hill. The modern name Abu Shusheh, or “Father of the
Topknot,” is said to be derived from a dervish who prayed for rain in
time of drought, and was told by a sand diviner that he would perish if
it came. The water came out of the earth and formed a pool, into which
he stepped and was drowned. The people, seeing only his topknot left,
cried, “Ya Abu Shusheh” (O Father of the Topknot).

It is a pity that, with the exception of the one deciphered by Monsieur
Ganneau, the inscriptions are so much effaced that, although certain
characters can be made out, they have hitherto defied translation. Some
of them appear to approach to the later Hebrew forms, while others bear
some resemblance to Cufic.

There are other sites of interest which lie more or less distant from
the road from Jaffa to Jerusalem, but I had not time to visit them,
though the comparatively more advanced state of civilization of this
province and the good accommodation to be found on the road would
facilitate the explorer's task. On the other hand, the examination of
this part of the country has been so thorough that he cannot hope for
the rich rewards that are to be found in more inaccessible districts.

[4] Since the above was written Mr. Bergheim has been brutally murdered
by the peasants on his estate.


                    TRADITIONAL SITES AT JERUSALEM.

Haifa, July 20.—It is a melancholy reflection, and one by no means
creditable to the Christianity which prevailed in the fourth century
after Christ, that the Jerusalem of the present day, the Holy City of
the world par excellence, should contain within its walls more sacred
shams and impostures than any other city in the world. The
responsibility for the gross superstition which prevails in regard to
sites and localities mainly rests with the fourth century, and chiefly
with the Empress Helena, who was principally instrumental in inventing
them, and the Christian churches, especially the Greek and Latin, find
it in their interest to foster these transparent frauds, for the
enormous pecuniary advantages which accrue from them.

The extraordinary amount of research and investigation of which
Jerusalem has been the subject during the last twenty years, the extent
of the excavations which have been made, involving an expenditure of
about $100,000, and the conscientious impartiality and profound
acquirements of the explorers, have demolished the whole superstructure
which early and mediæval Christianity had reared upon the credulity of
its votaries; and which the churches of the present day, despite all the
evidences to the contrary, find it in their interest to perpetuate. Thus
it has now been proved to demonstration that, wherever the tomb in which
Christ was laid after his crucifixion may have been, it could not have
been in the cave over which the gorgeous edifice called the Church of
the Holy Sepulchre now stands; for we now know by recent examination the
position of the walls which enclosed the city in the time of Christ,
though some still deny the correctness of the latest conclusions which
have been arrived at. We also know that Calvary, or Golgotha, where he
was crucified, was “nigh at hand” to the sepulchre; that Golgotha was
“nigh to the city,” and not in it, and that Jesus “suffered without the
gate,” and that all tombs, saving those of David and Huldah and eight
Jewish kings, were without the walls, while the cave over which the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre is built is within them. As, however, even
the churches do not go so far as to maintain that any tradition had been
preserved among Christians during the first three centuries after the
death of Christ of his place of burial, they have had to resort to
inspiration as the means of its discovery. Some of the early writers
maintain that it was the Emperor Constantine himself who was divinely
inspired to find it; others that it was his mother, the Empress Helena.
This is a trifling discrepancy. Whichever it was, the fact of the
inspiration remains, and scientific investigation has, ever since the
days of Galileo, been bound to give way before ecclesiastical
inspiration and infallibility. So, no matter whatever evidences exist to
the contrary, crowds of pilgrims will continue to crawl over those
sanctified stones, wearing them hollow with their kisses, as long as the
sacerdotal organization of which it is the representative remains to
impose upon them its authority.

With considerate ingenuity, and possibly with a view to lightening the
labors of the pilgrims as much as possible, the early Church crowded as
many sacred stones together under the roof of the holy edifice it could
with decency. Thus we have the Stone of Unction, on which Christ's body
was laid for anointing, but it was getting so worn that the real stone
lies below the marble slab, which, however, answers the purpose for the
pilgrims. Close by is the Circular Stone, where the Virgin stood while
the body was being anointed; also the stone on which Jesus stood when he
appeared to Mary Magdalene, and the stone on which she stood, and the
column to which he was bound when scourged; and your devout guide will
show you, if you have the patience to attend to him, the exact place
where Jesus was stripped by the soldiers, the place where the purple
robe was put on him, the place where the soldiers cast lots for his
raiment, the rent in the rock made by the earthquake, the place where
his body was wrapped in linen cloths, the place where he indicated with
his own hand the centre of the world, and so on, _ad nauseam_.

Sometimes another Church commits a burglary and steals some of these
stones. The Armenians have been especially guilty in this respect. They
have stolen from the holy sepulchre the stone on which the angel sat,
that had been rolled away from the door of the sepulchre, which they now
display in the chapel of the Palace of Caiaphas; also a piece of the
true cross, which was originally discovered under inspiration by Helena,
as well as that of the penitent thief, who is now canonized under the
name of Dimas. I don't know what authority they have for calling him
Dimas, whose reputed birthplace is, for political reasons, going to be
converted into another holy place. There is something rather appropriate
in the idea of the power that is waiting for a chance to despoil the
Turkish empire of Syria erecting a shrine in worship of the penitent
thief.

The most remarkable sites are those which illustrate the parables. Thus,
pilgrims are shown the window which was the post of observation of
Dives, and the stone, now worn by the kisses of the faithful, where
Lazarus sat when the dog licked his sores. I asked my guide where the
dog was, but he said he was dead, and added, with a smile, “I don't
believe any of these things.”

I asked him why not.

“Oh,” he replied, “I'm a Jew.”

After that the glibness with which he pattered off all the Christian
traditions was very edifying until my patience was exhausted, and I
said, “Well, supposing, as we neither of us believe in any of these
invented sites, we go and try and find something that is real.”

He had been in the service of some of the recent Jerusalem explorers,
and I afterwards found him an intelligent companion.

It is a striking illustration of Moslem religious toleration, as
compared with that shown by Christians in Jerusalem towards Jews, that
while this man could accompany me into the Mosque of Omar, that most
beautiful and sacred of Mohammedan temples, he was not allowed even to
enter the street in which stands the Christian Church of the Holy
Sepulchre.

So far as Christian rites are concerned, it may, then, be taken as a
fact that the interest which attaches to Jerusalem has but a very
slender relation to them. The great natural features, of course, must
always remain. Bethlehem, Bethany, and the Mount of Olives are as they
ever were, but there are two Gardens of Gethsemane, one claimed by the
Latins and one by the Greeks. When we descend to more minute details
they are either purely mythical or at best only matters of vague
conjecture. One of the best illustrations of the purely mythical is
Christ's footprint on the rock from which he ascended into heaven, which
is a good deal smaller than that of Buddha, which I have also seen on
the top of Adam's Peak in Ceylon, or of Jethro, which the Druses showed
me in the Neby Schaib.

Among those open to conjecture, the position of Calvary and the tomb of
Joseph of Arimathea are points upon which research may still throw
light. Every indication goes to show that Golgotha, or Calvary, was a
knoll outside the Damascus gate, exactly in the opposite direction to
that affixed by Christian tradition, and which would do away with the
Via Dolorosa as a sacred thoroughfare, the street shown as that along
which Christ bore his cross on his way to execution. It is only probable
that Calvary was the ordinary execution ground of Jerusalem, which is
called in the Talmud “the House of Stoning” about A.D. 150, and which
current tradition among the Jews identifies with this knoll, a tradition
borne out by the account of it contained in the Mishnah, or text of the
Talmud, which describes a cliff over which the condemned was thrown by
the first witness. If he was not killed by the fall, the second witness
cast a stone on him, and the crowd on the cliff or beneath it completed
his execution. It was outside the gate, at some distance from the
Judgment Hall. The knoll in question is just outside the gate, with a
cliff about fifty feet high. Moreover, we are informed that sometimes
“they sunk a beam in the ground, and a crossbeam extended from it, and
they bound his hands, one over the other, and hung him up.” (Sanhedrim
vi. 4.) Thus the House of Stoning was a recognized place of crucifixion.
It is curious that an early Christian tradition pointed to this site as
the place of stoning of Stephen, the proto-martyr. The vicinity has
apparently always been considered unlucky. An Arab writer in the Middle
Ages pronounces a barren tract adjoining accursed and haunted, so that
the traveller should not pass it at night.

The Valley of Judgment (or Jehosaphat), which the Arab calls the Valley
of Hell, passes not far east of the knoll, the Arab name of which is
Heirimayeh, probably from a cave in the knoll called Jeremiah's grotto.
The idea that this was in fact the Place of the Skull was warmly adopted
by the late heroic defender of Khartoum, General Gordon, who spent the
year before he went on his fatal mission to the Soudan in investigating
points bearing on these subjects as tending to uphold theories which he
held in regard to them, and which he explained to me at great length.
Before leaving England he sent some notes on these to the Palestine
Exploration Fund, and in their last quarterly statement these are
published. They are full of pathetic interest now. In regard to the
Place of the Skull, General Gordon says that “the mention of the Place
of the Skull in each of the four Gospels is a call to attention.
Whenever a mention of any particular is made frequently we may rely
there is something in it. If the skull is mentioned four times, one
naturally looks for the body, and if you take Warren's or other
contours, with the earth or rubbish removed, showing the natural state
of the land, you cannot help seeing that there is a body, that the
conduit (discovered by Shick) is the œsophagus, that the quarries are
the chest, and if you are venturesome you will carry out the analogy
further. You find in the verse in the Psalms, ‘Zion on the sides of the
North,’ the word ‘pleura,’ the same as they ‘pierced his pleuron, and
there came forth blood and water.’ God took a pleuron from the side of
Adam and made woman. Now the Church of Christ is made up of or came from
his pleura. The stones of the Temple came from the quarries, or chest of
the figure, and so on. So that fixed the figure of the body to the
skull.”

This theory led to Gordon's forming a singular and mystical conception
of the emblematic character of the city as typifying in actual
configuration the New Jerusalem, the divine bride.

The most interesting fact, however, in connection with this knoll is the
recent discovery upon it of a tomb, which has excited considerable
interest as being, from its position, more likely to be the tomb of
Joseph of Arimathea, in which never man had been laid before Christ,
than any hitherto known. From the knowledge we have now acquired of
rock-cut tombs in Palestine we are able to judge from its appearance and
construction its probable date, and these all go to prove that it
belongs to the later Jewish period, or that which terminated with the
destruction of Jerusalem. The appearance of this tomb so near the old
place of execution, and so far from the other tombs in the old
cemeteries of the city, is very remarkable. A careful plan of the site
and tomb has been made by Lieutenant Mantell, R. E., and sent to
England, where the subject has lately afforded matter for discussion.
The reason why the tomb was not found by the early Christians in their
search for it at the time of Constantine is easy to be accounted for by
the fact that, about ten years after the crucifixion, the “Women's
Towers” were built by Agrippa upon the rock over the tomb, and it must
have been hidden beneath or within the new building. Under these
circumstances the sepulchre could no longer be visited, and in course of
time its existence was forgotten, until the Empress Helena destroyed the
temple to Venus which the Romans had built on the present site of the
Holy Sepulchre Church, and “beyond all hope” (as Eusebius words it),
discovered the rock-cut Jewish tomb, which the faithful accepted as the
tomb of Christ.

A peculiar interest does nevertheless attach to these extremely ancient
tombs in the Holy Sepulchre Church, one of which is now appropriated to
Nicodemus, the nature of which I will discuss in my next letter. It is
extremely probable that either Constantine or Helena heard that tombs of
a high sanctity stood beneath the Venus temple, and they thought they
could not do better than take the most sacred tomb to which tradition of
any sort attached, and call it the holy sepulchre. Modern
iconoclasticism and love of truth have, however, proved too strong for
fourteen hundred years of unfounded tradition. If the churches had only
taken half as much trouble to preserve the moral truths which are to be
found in the teachings of Christ, as they have to preserve a cave in
which he was never buried, the world would have been so much the better
instead of so much the worse for their exertions.


              TRADITIONAL SITES AT JERUSALEM—_Continued_.

Haifa, August 3.—The discoveries which have been made in Jerusalem
during the last few years, and the conclusions at which those who have
most deeply studied the subject have arrived in consequence, render it
extremely desirable that a new or revised description of the Holy City
should be inserted in the tourists' hand-books for Syria and Palestine.
Travellers should be warned against dragomans who waste their time
taking them to see Christian sites which have no relation to the facts
they are supposed to commemorate, and possess no interest of any kind
beyond the philosophical one that they illustrate the extraordinary
credulity and superstitions which exist among the professors of
Christianity in the nineteenth century, and which are certainly not
exceeded, even if they are paralleled, by those of any heathen religion.

A Jerusalem hand-book, to be of any interest, should deal with the
conclusions resulting from the excavations and researches of Sir Charles
Wilson, Sir Charles Warren, Captain Condor, M. Clermont Ganneau, and
others, during the last twenty years, and leave the traditions of the
Latin and Greek churches almost out of the question altogether. Their
researches have settled nearly all the topographical questions connected
with ancient Jerusalem, which had previously been the subject of so much
controversy and error, the doubts and difficulties connected with them
arising from the fact that the city had been more or less destroyed and
built over so many times that the original foundations of its walls and
Temple could only be determined by extensive and laborious excavations;
and in the course of these many collateral discoveries were made.

We learn from the publications of the Palestine Exploration Fund that
these excavations were carried on under difficulties of every kind, in
face of the opposition of the local government and in spite of continued
fevers and lack of funds. The mines were driven to extraordinary depths;
one at the southeast angle of the Haram being eighty feet deep, and
another, near the northeast angle, being one hundred and twenty feet
beneath the surface, where it reaches the solid rock. In consequence of
the great depths, the scarcity of the mining frames, and the treacherous
character of the débris through which the shafts and galleries were
driven, the work was one of unusual danger and difficulty, requiring
much courage and determination. Sir Charles Warren and the
non-commissioned officers of his staff worked constantly with their
lives in their hands, and often undertook operations from which the
native workmen recoiled. The prudence and discipline of the party,
however, secured valuable discoveries without an accident; and it is
generally acknowledged that the results are of an importance which fully
repays the labor and difficulty of the operations.

Sir Charles Warren was the officer who so courageously entered the
desert of Sinai after the late Egyptian war, when he succeeded in
capturing the murderers of Professor Palmer, Captain Gill, and
Lieutenant Sharrington, and bringing them to justice. The result of his
labors in Jerusalem, and that of his fellow-explorers, is a magnificent
atlas, published last year by the Palestine Exploration Fund, containing
a most elaborate series of maps, plans, elevations, and engravings,
which reproduce the sacred city in all its most striking features,
accompanied by a handsome volume of descriptive matter. We are thus able
to base an account of the ancient topography of the city on data more
exact than any previously acquired, and to read the ancient historic
accounts by the light of ascertained facts, instead of guessing at
probabilities by the aid of descriptions, which, however carefully
written, are still, as all descriptions must be, vague where the student
requires most exactitude, and deficient where he most wishes for
details.

With the assistance of these publications a guide-book might be compiled
which would enable the tourist to order his dragoman to take him
straight to the places worth seeing, instead of—following on the track
of exploded tradition—going with him like a sheep to those that are not.
Much could be done to clear away existing confusion and prevent the
perpetuation of error by a change in the received nomenclature, whereby
things should be called by their right names so far as they are known,
instead of by misleading appellations, derived from the records of early
pilgrims or the later crusaders. I will take a few examples as
illustrations. Not far from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre the guide
shows the traveller an immense reservoir, now being filled up. This, he
says, is the Pool of Bethesda, but it has only been thus designated
since the fourteenth century. In the twelfth this pool was supposed to
be a cistern near the Church of St. Anne, and in the fourth the site of
Bethesda was shown at the twin pools, northwest of Antonia. The fact is
that there are only two sites which may be regarded as possible for
Bethesda, one being the spring of En-Rogel, which has an intermittent
ebb and flow, and which is still frequented by the Jews, who bathe in it
to cure various diseases. The other is the curious well immediately west
of the Temple enclosure, now called Hamman Esh-Shefa, or the Healing
Spring, a long reservoir reached by a shaft nearly one hundred feet
deep. None of the pools which have at various times been selected by
tradition have any supply of living water, and none can well be supposed
to have any intermittent rise and fall, such as we understand by the
moving of the waters.

Again, take the tombs of Absalom and St. James. There is nothing
whatever to connect the first with Absalom. The singular style of its
architecture shows that it cannot be the pillar “Absalom reared up for
himself during his lifetime in the king's dale.” M. Clermont Ganneau has
made excavations uncovering the bases and pedestals of the columns, all
of which are purely Greek. Indeed, it is only since the twelfth century
that it was called the tomb of Absalom at all. The author of the
Jerusalem Itinerary calls it the tomb of Hezekiah, and Adamanus, in the
seventh century, calls it the tomb of Jehoshaphat. It is possibly the
monument of Alexander Jannæus spoken of by Josephus. So, too, the tomb
of St. James has nothing to do with St. James; for there has lately been
discovered on the façade an inscription in square Hebrew in so
inaccessible a position as to have been only probably cut before the
façade was completed, which mentions that the family of the Beni Hezir
are buried there. This family of priests is mentioned in the Bible (1
Chron. xxiv. 15). The inscription seems to date from the first century
before Christ.

The so-called tomb of David is a vault over which has been built a room,
called the chamber in which the Feast of the Passover prior to the
crucifixion is supposed to have taken place. Close to it is the Palace
of Caiaphas, and in it is shown the spot where Peter stood when he
denied his Master. Near it is the rock upon which the cock roosted when
he crew. The “rock,” the “spot,” the “palace,” the “Cænaculum,” and the
“tomb” all rest upon equally invalid authority. As regards the tomb of
David, we know that it was within the walls, together with those of
eight other Jewish kings. That the place was apparently well known as
late as the time of Christ we gather both from the Acts and Josephus. It
is remarkable that one undisputed Jewish tomb still exists in such a
position as to have been certainly within the city of David. This is the
so-called tomb of Nicodemus, and it is yet more remarkable that in its
original condition, before it was partly destroyed, this tomb must have
been just made to contain nine bodies, placed in kokim, or graves cut
according to the oldest arrangement employed by the Jews. Josephus
mentions as a peculiarity of the tombs of the kings that some of the
coffins were buried beneath the surface, so as to be unseen even to
those standing within the monument. Just such an arrangement exists in
the tomb under consideration, the floor of which is sunk so that the
graves on one side are on a lower tier. It seems, therefore, quite
possible that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre preserves the monument of
the nine chief kings of Jerusalem. Of course, tradition, with its usual
ignorance, places “the tombs of the kings” on the hill of the upper
city, where your guide takes you to see them, and where there are no
ancient tombs at all, the tombs there being of a date not earlier than
the first century before Christ. A fine sarcophagus, with an Aramaic
inscription, stating that it held the body of a certain Queen Sara, was
discovered in them. Though called by a wrong name, they are,
nevertheless, well worth visiting. As it is supposed by some authorities
that Helena, Queen of Adiabene, was also buried here, they might more
properly be called the tombs of the queens.

But the really great work which recent investigation has accomplished
has mainly reference, not so much to such details as these, which must
always remain more or less matters of speculation, as to the settlement
of controversies affecting the topographical questions connected with
ancient Jerusalem. First, in regard to points upon which all are now
agreed. There is no doubt about the Mount of Olives and the brook
Kedron. It is agreed that the Temple stood on the spur immediately west
of the Kedron, and that the southern tongue of this spur was called
Ophel. It is also agreed that the flat valley west of this spur is that
to which Josephus applies the name Tyropæan, though there was a
diversity as to the exact course of the valley, which has now been set
at rest by the collection of the rock levels within the city. It is also
agreed by all authorities that the high southwestern hill, to which the
name of Sion has been applied since the fourth century, is that which
Josephus calls the upper city, or upper Market Place. The site of the
Pool of Siloam is also undisputed, and certain natural features have
been determined, which serve as data on which to construct the walls of
the ancient city and fix the site and area of the Temple enclosure in
the time of Herod. There is still some controversy in regard to the
exact position and course of the city walls prior to its destruction by
Titus, but this is chiefly maintained by those who are fatally affected
in their religious sentiments. There is also a difference of opinion in
regard to the area of the Temple building. Practically, however, this
point has been settled by the great weight of authority on one side,
which affirms that the present Haram enclosure, in which are situated
the mosque of Omar, and the sacred stone, represent the area of Herod's
Temple, only one or two standing out for a restriction of this area. If
the Turkish government would only allow explorations to be made under
the platform of the dome of the rock, the very rock upon which Abraham
is supposed to have been ordered to sacrifice Isaac, and if the
examination of the closed chambers known to exist on the north and east
sides of this platform could be carried out, the controversy might be
set at rest by actual discovery. Of the Temple of Solomon little is
known, though it is possible that the great scarps in the present
British cemetery may be as old as the time of David, or the eleventh
century before Christ. They are, without doubt, the oldest existing
remains in Jerusalem, and formed part of the ramparts of the upper city.
Meantime, the most interesting spot which it contains, whether for Jew,
Christian, or Mohammedan, is that mysterious dome of the rock, with its
gorgeous mosque covering the sacred stone, which Christ himself must
have regarded with as much veneration in his day as the adherents of the
two other religions, so widely opposed to the one of which he was the
founder, do now.


                         PROGRESS IN JERUSALEM.

Haifa, August 10.—There is probably no city in the dominions of the
sultan which has undergone more change during the last few years than
Jerusalem, and as any change which implies progress, implies also the
increase of foreign influence, and is always viewed with suspicion by
the Porte, the march of events in Palestine is watched by Turkish
statesmen with a jealousy which finds its expression in a persistent
effort to oppose it. As, however, the basis of the movement to which
Jerusalem owes its increase during recent years is a religious one, and
is founded upon a sentiment which proverbially thrives by opposition,
all efforts to retard the influx of population and capital into the Holy
City have proved unavailing. Owing to increased facilities of travel,
the pilgrimages both of the Greek and Latin churches have been more
numerous. A new feature is that some of the richer pilgrims from time to
time establish themselves here. This is especially the case with the
Russian members of the Greek Church. The influx of Jews has also been
increasing to a remarkable extent. The Protestant sects are constantly
enlarging the field of their operations, and new charitable and
educational establishments are springing up from year to year. An
American society of Second Adventists has been resident here for some
years, while isolated religious cranks find in the Holy City an
appropriate dwelling-place, for reasons known only to themselves.

The result of all this is that whereas when I was last here, six years
ago, only a very few houses had been built on the Jaffa road outside the
walls of the town, now there is an extensive and constantly increasing
Frank suburb. The price of land has risen fifty per cent., and is still
constantly rising. New hotels and shops have been opened to meet the
increasing demand. Within the last twenty years the population of the
Holy City has certainly doubled, the increase consisting entirely of
Jews and Christians. Apart from its sacred associations the city has no
attractions as a residence of any kind, but quite the reverse. This fact
possesses a highly important political significance, because it is
evident that in the degree in which the vested interests of rival sects
and religions accumulate upon this spot it is destined some day to
become a bone of contention between them. It is probably the only city
in the world where the same amount of capital and enterprise is expended
on objects which are in no sense remunerative, while in proportion to
its size there is none where a larger sum is annually given away, either
in the form of charitable or religious donations. Nothing strikes one
more than the proportion of buildings having some sort of public
character or other to private dwellings, and these buildings are
constantly increasing. This year the estimated expenditure of the Greek
and Latin churches will be over $600,000 for building purposes alone.
The number of Russian pilgrims who visit Jerusalem annually is about
five thousand, and it is constantly increasing. They are all
accommodated in the extensive premises belonging to the Russian
government, in the centre of which the Russian consulate is situated,
and which forms a sort of Russian suburb to the Holy City. Here one
feels transported for the time to the dominions of the czar, as he hears
on all sides the Slav tongue, and finds himself jostled by men and women
in the peasant costume of their own country, chaffering over wares which
the more enterprising of their number have imported to sell to their own
country people, while they squat in stalls and booths which they have
roughly extemporized for the purpose.

When you consider the amount of foreign money which is annually expended
in Jerusalem by these hosts of pilgrims—those of the Latin Church,
however, do not equal in number those of the Greek—by the tourists and
general influx of sightseers who flock here during Easter week, and by
the churches and societies in building operations, you cannot wonder
that many persons have of late years become wealthy, and that many
natives of Syria and the Levant are attracted to the town in the hope of
becoming so. The tide having thus set in, it goes on increasing, and the
rivalry of the Latin and Greek churches imparts, as it were, a stimulus
to the whole jumble of creeds and nationalities which cluster round the
sacred shrines.

Among the latest and most interesting arrivals are a number of Jews from
Yemen. Hitherto these little-known people had only been heard of, or at
most seen, by one or two enterprising travellers who have penetrated
from Aden into the southern deserts of Arabia Felix. I was told that
they consider themselves as belonging to the tribe of Dan. They have
lately arrived as refugees in Jerusalem from Yemen, where they have
suffered great misery during the recent wars between the Arab tribes
which inhabit that province and the Turkish troops. Finding themselves
ultimately reduced to starvation by the plunder of which they were the
victims from both sides, they determined to seek shelter in the Holy
City, where they arrived in rags in a starving and destitute condition.
They have since been provided for by subscriptions among their
co-religionists raised in Europe. I met some of them one afternoon, down
at the Place of Wailing, and was much struck by the mild and gentle
expression of their countenances. They are reputed to be well versed in
their own religious lore, and to be devout without being hypocritical,
which is more than can be said for Palestinian Jews generally. Although
they were themselves engaged in sedentary and commercial pursuits in
Sana and other towns in the fertile oases of southern Arabia, they
report that among the nomads of these deserts are wandering tribes in no
wise, so far as their external appearance goes, to be distinguished from
Arabs, but who are nevertheless purely Jewish.

I also met while in Jerusalem a black Jew from Cochin in India, where
Jews have been established from time immemorial, but he seemed somewhat
vague as to his ancestry.

Among all these different nationalities and sects, which as a rule hold
each other in holy abhorrence, it is singular that they all have one
view in common, or rather, perhaps, it should be said that they all seem
to labour under one impression, or presentiment, and that is that before
very long the Holy City will undergo a change of some sort. The nature
of this change naturally takes the form peculiar to the national or
religious tendency of thought. With the Russians and French it is
reduced to a very simple political expression, which may be summed up in
the word annexation. This idea is more firmly fixed among the Russians
than the French. Indeed, the Holy City plays a greater part in the Greek
religion than it does in the Latin, and the affections of the orthodox
are centred on these shrines to a degree unknown among Christians of any
other denomination. There is hardly a village in Russia in which there
is not to be found a bottle of Jordan water, and the devotional
instincts of the peasantry, which are very strong, are directed by the
Church, which is in Russia synonymous with the government, upon the holy
places in Palestine, as shrines which have a spiritual value not
recognized by other churches to the same extent, and which, therefore,
when the day comes, should entitle it to their temporal and territorial
proprietorship. In other words, there is not a Russian pilgrim who
visits Jerusalem who does not hope that he may live to see the day when
it will become a Russian city, and who does not long for the call to a
holy war, the object of which should be the exclusive possession by
Russia of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and of the city in which it
stands.^[5]

In France there is no such religious enthusiasm, except with a section
of society, and, although the conquest of Syria and Palestine enters
into the programme of the government, and their religious protectorate
over the Latin Church and its interests gives them a strong point of
departure, it is weakened by the fact that the government is professedly
anti-Catholic, and that, even were it not so, the sentiment for the holy
places is not so strong among the Latins as among the Greeks. With the
Protestants there is a large class who base their belief in an
immediately pending alteration in the political conditions under which
Jerusalem now exists, upon their interpretation of prophecy. They
profess to find it clearly indicated in Ezekiel, Daniel, Revelations,
and elsewhere in the Bible, that the protectorate of Palestine is to be
vested in England. Among the Jews there are many also, though they
interpret the prophetic writings in a totally different sense, who
believe that the fulfilment of the prophecy which is to restore to them
their ancient country, with its sacred city, is at hand, and all Moslem
tradition points to the present time as one critical to the fortunes of
Islam, with which the fate of Jerusalem, which is to them also a holy
city, is inextricably interwoven.

Whether we have any sympathy with any of these views or not, the mere
fact that so many nations and races of diverse religions, from one point
of view or another, centre their political and religious aspirations
upon this spot, makes it the most interesting city upon the earth's
surface, because there is none other which, when its possession comes to
be disputed, will excite such powerful or such conflicting ambitions,
superstitions, and passions. These considerations become doubly
interesting when we connect them with the events which are now
transpiring in the East.

One day while I was in Jerusalem the huge bell which I had seen dragged
by Russian pilgrims along the road from Jaffa arrived. It was destined
for a new Russian church which has lately been built upon the Mount of
Olives. Anxious to witness the ceremony of its reception, I set out for
the Mount and reached the summit just in time to see the bronze monster,
which I calculated weighed about eight tons, arrive at its destination.
A large crowd of Russian men and women, headed by two priests of the
Greek Church in full canonicals, and chanting sacred songs, were
dragging it to the platform from which it was to be finally elevated
into the belfry prepared for it. When, after much pulling and hauling,
it was at last placed upon the platform, a solemn religious service took
place. Every individual man and woman in the crowd pressed forward to
kiss the uplifted crucifix which the priest presented for their
adoration, crossing and prostrating themselves, and crowding also around
the bell to kiss the various sacred groups of figures represented upon
it in _basso-rilievo_. At last, after a final melodious chant in which
all joined with great earnestness, the officiating priest gave the
signal for three cheers, which was responded to with heartiness, and the
ceremony was over.

I now went to examine the interior of the new church which it was
intended to decorate, and was glad to find that the accident which had
led me to come here to witness the arrival of the bell was the means of
introducing me to a new and interesting discovery of recent date. The
Russians, in excavating for the foundations of their new church, came
upon the pavement and other remains of an ancient building, which they
have been careful to preserve. Many of the most interesting objects
found are placed in a cabinet. In the hall of the priest's house
adjoining the church is a beautiful tessellated pavement, representing
animals, fish, apples, and geometrical patterns, with an inscription in
Armenian formed of colored tesseræ. East of the gate into the garden,
and close to the house, is a rock-cut chamber, with a vault of modern
masonry. It measures about twenty-four feet by fourteen, and contains
sixteen sarcophagi, arranged in groups of four, with a passage between.
These were closed by slabs, and on three inscriptions were dimly
discernible. North of this were the foundations of a building,
apparently a chapel, with a tessellated floor and a row of piers about
two feet square. Near by is a cave with a modern vaulted chamber, and an
iron door which has apparently been placed there to protect a long
inscription in old Armenian characters, formed also of colored tesseræ,
but I have no means of knowing what it signifies. Beneath the floor of
the house are said to be other tombs, which can be reached through a
masonry trap-door. It is not unlikely that all these remains belong to
an Armenian mediæval monastery. The site, which has recently been
acquired by the Russians, is some hundreds of yards distant from the
highest part of Olivet, where the Latin chapel stands, usually visited
by tourists who go there to see Christ's footprint. It commands a
magnificent view, and the new Russian edifice will make an important
addition to their rapidly growing collection of sacred buildings.

Nothing is more aggravating to the members of either the Greek or Latin
churches than to find the rival sect in solitary possession of a holy
place. It is the immediate signal for the purchase of another site as
near as possible to the one already occupied, and the erection upon it
of an opposition building. No greater piece of luck can befall the owner
of a piece of land than to stumble upon remains which show that it had
been in the occupation of the early Christians. He can then name his own
price, and, like the fortunate proprietor of the land on which St.
Stephen's Church is now about to be built by the French, may get a
thousand napoleons for what he had a very short while before only paid
fifty.

Before bidding adieu to Jerusalem, it may be interesting to my readers
that I should notice some of the more important discoveries that have
been made there within the last year or two, and which are not,
therefore, to be found in any guide-book. For many of the details I am
indebted to the Palestine Exploration Fund publications. Among these
have been many tombs, some of them of much interest, but none equal to
that to which I have already alluded, as being the most likely of any
which have yet been discovered, to be the tomb of Christ. I have given
at length the reasons in a former letter in support of this presumption.
It is approached by a court cut in the rock seven feet square, and two
stones in this are so placed as to give the idea that they may have held
in place a rolling stone before the door. On the right is a side
entrance leading into a chamber with a single loculus, and thence into a
cave eight feet by ten. If, instead of turning into this, we go straight
on, we descend two steps into a chamber six feet by nine; from either
side wall, and in the back wall of this chamber, are three low passages;
they lead into three other small chambers, each about seven feet long by
six wide, and on each side of each are stone benches on which bodies
could be placed, with a narrow passage between them; so that, in fact,
the whole tomb could contain six bodies. Whether it be the real Holy
Sepulchre or not, it is interesting from the fact that it is the only
Jewish tomb that has ever been found so close to the ramparts of the
modern city on the north, and to the spot which may, with comparative
certainty, be identified with Calvary. It stands not very far distant
from a piece of land which a man bought a year or so ago for fifty
napoleons. On beginning to excavate for the foundations of his house he
came upon some tessellated pavement, carvings, and all the evidences of
remains of some importance. He lost no time in making his discovery
known, and, finding that it stood upon what must have been the site of
the early Christian Church of St. Stephen, to commemorate the spot of
his martyrdom, the Roman Catholics gave the man a thousand napoleons for
his land, and have laid bare the remains with a view to building another
church over them. I examined them with some interest, as it was such a
recent discovery, though the historical interest only dates back to the
year A.D. 460, when it was built by the Empress Eudoxia. The crusaders
found it in ruins, since which time it had become buried, and its site
lost. The whole plan of the church can now be distinctly traced, its
pavements in many places remaining perfect, with the foundations of its
side walls, fragments of columns, etc. The two most interesting features
in connection with it, however, are a slab of fine limestone on which
are the figures of the twelve apostles, each surrounded by a sort of
canopy. They stand six each side of a central figure of a throned
Christ. The figures are rather stiffly drawn and have long robes;
although they were very distinct when first discovered, instead of
moving the slab under shelter, it has been left exposed to the storms of
winter; the result is that the outlines, which were in colour, can now
scarcely be distinguished, and another year will completely efface them;
besides this there is an inscription which has so far puzzled experts,
though it is in Greek characters, but a good deal of it is effaced.
There are also tombs in the vicinity, but though rock-cut they are
evidently Christian.

Recent excavations within the city have also exposed a vast area,
depressed considerably below the present level of the surface, which
once formed the extensive establishment of the Knights Hospitallers, or
Knights of St. John. It was given some time ago by the Turkish
government to the Crown-Prince of Germany; since then the whole place
has been cleared out with a view to its restoration on a grand scale,
and it will doubtless form, when completed, one of the finest
architectural monuments of modern date in Jerusalem. Several very deep
and finely-vaulted cisterns, with arches fifty feet high, have been
brought to light, besides cloisters, corridors, and vaulted chambers
hitherto unknown. Some idea of the scale of the establishment which
these celebrated knights possessed in Jerusalem may be gathered from the
character and extent of the ruins, which cover an area of one hundred
and seventy square yards, of which only half, unfortunately, belongs to
the German government.

But the latest discovery, which has excited the greatest interest, is
that of the inscription in the tunnel which connects the Virgin's Fount
with the Pool of Siloam. The exploration of this tunnel, which is about
six hundred yards long, involved great danger and difficulty. Colonel,
now Sir Charles Warren, gives a most graphic picture of the horrors of
his experience. For some distance the passage was only one foot four
inches high, and as there was one foot of water, the explorers, who were
crawling on their stomachs, naked, were submerged to their chins, having
only four inches of breathing-room, with the additional danger of being
drowned by the rising of the waters, which does not take place
regularly. Often their mouths were under water, and a breath of air
could only be obtained by twisting their faces up. To keep a light
burning, to take measurements, and make observations under these
circumstances was a work of no little difficulty; and yet, after
crawling through mud and water for four hours, the honour of finding the
inscription was reserved for a naked urchin of the town, who, some years
after, announced he had seen writing on the wall. Whereupon Professor
Sayce, and Herr Schick, and Doctor Guthe plunge naked into the muddy
tunnel with acid solutions, and blotting-paper, and everything necessary
to make squeezes, and emerge shivering and triumphant with the most
interesting Hebrew inscription that has ever been found in Palestine,
about which pamphlets and articles have been written, and scholars have
wrangled, but which is now admitted to be as old as the time of Solomon,
and it is agreed on all hands that the interpretation thereof is as
follows:

“Behold the excavation. Now this is the history of the Tunnel. While the
excavators were still lifting up the Pick towards each other, and while
there were yet three cubits to be broken through, the voice of one
called to his neighbour, for there was an excess in the rock on the
right. They rose up. They struck on the west of the excavation. They
struck, each to meet the other, pick to pick. And there flowed the
waters from their outlet to the Pool, for a thousand two hundred cubits,
and . . . of a cubit was the height of the rock over the heads of the
excavators.” From this it will appear that there were two
working-parties, working from opposite ends, and the indefatigable
explorers have actually discovered the spot where the “excess” in the
rock occurred and where they probably met. Most people who have not got
Palestine exploration on the brain will, however, be content to take
their word for it without going to see for themselves. Still it cannot
be denied that an engineering work, executed in the time of Solomon, and
an inscription describing it, is of the greatest interest. The date of
the inscription can be determined with tolerable accuracy by a
comparison of the letters with those on the Moabite stone and other of
the most ancient inscriptions known.

[5] RUSSIA IN PALESTINE.—The St. Petersburg correspondent of the _Daily
News_ says, “In Palestine, the orthodox religion and Russian influence
seem to be increasing. Some days ago ‘The Orthodox Palestine Society’
celebrated its anniversary. It was made known on this occasion that the
society—which is protected by the government, and which has one of the
emperor's uncles, the Grand Duke Nicholas Nicolaievitch, as
president—numbers already six hundred and fifteen members, and that its
reserve capital amounts to about 90,000 roubles. The society has
constructed a church at Nazareth, is constructing a church at Mudshile,
and has bought a piece of ground at Jerusalem. The leaders of the
Palestine Society assert that their researches have proved in ‘the most
indubitable’ manner that Christ, on his way to Golgotha, ‘passed just
over the ground which has been bought by the society.’ One of the
society's tasks is to facilitate Russian pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
The emperor has recently given his sanction to the establishment of
branches of this society in all cities of the Russian Empire.”


                          THE THREE JERICHOS.

Haifa, Sept. 2.—The signs of progress to which I have alluded in former
letters as being manifest in Judea are not confined to Jaffa and
Jerusalem. The contemplated carriage-road to Jericho will be an immense
boon to the crowds of pilgrims who flock annually to the Jordan. The
first evidence of activity in this direction was at the Khan el-Ahmah.
Here are the ruins of an old building. Fragments of walls and broken
arches remain, and a deep well indicates that in former days it was
inhabited—probably as a half-way house of entertainment. Whether this be
so or not, I was glad to see a large force of stone-masons and builders
actively engaged, under the superintendence of a European, in erecting a
handsome khan or rest-house, which, considering that there is not at
present a single habitation between Jerusalem and Jericho, with the
exception of Bethany, distant only two miles from the former city, is
much needed.

This place has always had an evil reputation for thieves since the days
when the Good Samaritan performed his charitable offices to the
plundered and beaten wayfarer. Indeed, it is at this very place that the
spot is shown to the credulous pilgrim where the incident in the parable
is said to have occurred, and the guide-books solemnly warn the tourist
that he must be careful to be provided with an escort, because an
English traveller, Sir Frederick Henniker, was attacked here by
Bedouins, stripped, wounded, and left for dead in 1820. This is imputing
stagnation to the Turkish government with a vengeance. It moves slowly,
it is true, but the state of security has improved somewhat in
sixty-five years. Six years ago I rode alone with a friend from Jericho
to Jerusalem with no thought of danger. The Bedouins find it to their
interest to keep up the traditions of the guide-books, and travellers
continue to pay Bedouin sheiks blackmail which they might with perfect
confidence keep in their pockets. I consider the road from Jerusalem to
Jericho in the present day as safe as Broadway, at all events in the
daytime.

It might not be safe to venture along it quite alone at night, but the
same might be said of roads in other far more civilized countries.
Nevertheless, the road in places is so wild and desolate that it may
well appal the imagination of the timid traveller, notably so where it
enters the Wady Kelt, a deep, narrow gorge, flanked by precipitous
cliffs, honeycombed with caverns, above which rise white chalk hills,
presenting a tangled network of narrow water-worn torrent beds with
knife-like ridges between. Hundreds of feet below the path rushes a
mountain torrent, which is none other than the traditional brook
Cheritt. Here, if we leave the regular track, and make up our minds to
follow a dizzy path cut out of the precipitous cliff, which winds back
up the gorge, soon disappearing in the depth of its gloomy recesses, we
plunge into one of the wildest and weirdest scenes that the ingenuity of
nature has conceived in any country, so fantastic are the crags and so
labyrinthine the gorges. The only travellers who ever thus diverge from
the beaten route are Russian pilgrims, whose devotional instincts lead
them to pay their homage to every accessible shrine, and to the credit
of the Greek Church it must be said that it has contrived to perch
shrines on spots which nature only intended for eagles.

One of the most notable of these is the monastery which commemorates the
cave, to which the path we are now following will lead us, in which
Elijah is said to have been fed by the ravens. The monastery is
literally hung on to the face of the precipice, and consists of a series
of cells, and a hall supported on vaults through which lies the
entrance. A few Greek monks live, like birds perched on the edge of a
nest, in this singular abode, to which a chapel pinnacled on a rock is
attached, dating, if we may judge from the character of the masonry,
from about the twelfth century. Perhaps the little side chapel, with
rock-cut chambers, and the vault containing ancient bones, to which a
corridor covered with frescoes representing the Last Judgment leads, is
the oldest part of these buildings, which were apparently constructed at
three different epochs, as two layers of frescoes cover the wall, while
the newest is in its turn covered by the piers supporting the ribs of
the roof. Numerous caves, now inaccessible, are visible in the face of
the cliff, which for a distance of about thirty yards is covered with
frescoes now almost entirely defaced. In front of one of the cells is a
heavy iron bar, from which, no doubt, in former days a ladder depended,
the only means of access when these caves, now almost deserted,
contained quite a population of hermits. This curious place is well
worth a visit, and though lying so close to the tourist's route, I have
not seen it described in any guide-book.

On reaching the base of the hills where the Wady Kelt debouches into the
Jordan Valley, we find ourselves in the immediate presence of four
ancient sites. Three of these are the sites of three different Jerichos,
and one is the site of Gilgal. It is certain that the Jewish, the Roman,
and the Byzantine Crusaders' Jericho occupied three different positions.
The first has been identified with tolerable certainty as having existed
where mounds of rubble mark its site, near the spring called in old
times the Fountain of Elijah, and known now as the Ain es-Sultan. This
was the Jericho of Joshua, and these mounds of rubble may contain the
débris of the identical walls which fell to the sound of his trumpet. We
pitched our tents at the beautiful and copious spring which must have
supplied the old town with water, so as to have an opportunity of
examining the neighbourhood at our leisure. The spring comes out beneath
the mound on the east, and has on the west a wall of small masonry in
hard cement. In this wall there is a small semicircular niche, probably
intended to hold a statue of the genius of the spring. The reservoir
from which the water gushes forth is about twenty by forty feet, and,
though shallow, forms a delightful bath, with temperature slightly
tepid. The high tumuli behind had been excavated by Sir Charles Warren,
and I examined the traces of his cuttings. The mounds are formed for the
most part of a light yellow clay, which, on being touched, crumbles into
an impalpable powder. In some cases no strata could be discerned in the
clay, in others, layers of brick, stone, and mortar were clearly
visible. In another large mound, a little to the south, graves were
found six feet below the surface. All these except one were of sun-dried
brick. Bones appeared to have been thrown into these after the
decomposition of the bodies. Altogether Sir Charles Warren dug trenches
through no fewer than eight of the mounds, which form a conspicuous
feature in the plain in which the ancient cities of Jericho were
situated, as they stand to a height of about sixty feet above it; and
the result at which he arrived was that they are formed by the gradual
crumbling away of great towers or castles of sun-burned brick. Although
in some cases shafts were sunk to a depth of forty feet, nothing was
found except pottery jars, stone mortars for grinding corn, and broken
glass. In one were found, eight feet below the surface, the remains of a
large amphora, the neck, handles, and base of which were entire, and
which must have stood about five feet high. Sir Charles Warren's working
party consisted of one hundred and seventy-four men, and he thoroughly
exhausted the subject.

Near the spring is a ruin which may have been that of a small Roman
temple, a portion of an aqueduct, for the waters of the spring evidently
irrigated a large extent of the plain, and near by traces of ruins,
apparently Byzantine. Here are pillar-shafts, cornices, capitals, and
other indications of a city of later date than those we have been
considering.

The site of the Jericho of Herod, which existed at the time of Christ,
was at the mouth of the Wady Kelt, deriving its water supply from that
stream, and more than a mile from Ain es-Sultan. Here there are the
remains of a bridge, foundations of buildings which were evidently Roman
work, and two large artificial mounds, in one of which was found a
rectangular chamber, the outer wall built of sun-dried bricks, and the
interior of undressed stones cemented over.

The site of the third, or Crusading Jericho, was probably identical with
that on which the modern village of Jericho now stands; but no ruins of
importance remain there, though the whole surface of the plain between
the sites of the three Jerichos is covered with remains which attest the
denseness of the population which once inhabited it. That this should
once have been a large inhabited centre must ever appear an astounding
fact to the modern traveller who has suffered from the heat of the
plain. Except during the winter months all this region is not only
unbearably hot, but most insalubrious. The very Arabs desert it for the
hillsides. It is possible that neglect and inattention to irrigation
works may make the climate much less healthy than it was in former
times, but nothing can be changed in the matter of temperature, and
either the population must have deserted it for the mountains during
summer or they must have been far better able to bear heat than their
degenerate descendants. Sunk nearly twelve hundred feet below the level
of the sea, and shut in from all breeze by lofty ranges of barren
mountains on both sides, Jericho in summer must be one of the hottest
places on the earth's surface. Even Jerusalem, which is four thousand
feet above it, is pretty warm. On the other hand, Josephus vaunts the
wonderful fertility of the place, and calls it “a region fit for the
gods.”

Its magnificent and extensive palm groves were celebrated, but these
have disappeared since the eighth century, and there is only one
date-tree left. Still the abundance of the water, the richness of the
soil, and the warmth of the climate, wonderfully adapt it to the growth
of all tropical produce. All kinds of vegetables are in season all the
year round. Grapes, which are trellised on high poles, as in Italy, grow
to enormous size; indigo, cotton, and sugar would all flourish, but
there are no people to cultivate them.

The remains of the old aqueducts testify to the skilful manner in which
the ancients used their abundant water supply for the irrigation of this
extensive plain. I counted altogether nine different ancient aqueducts.
One or two of these are still utilized, and of late years a handsome
bridge has been built in connection with one of them, but the
engineering skill of the ancients holds its own with our more modern
constructions. Many of the bridges by which these aqueducts span the
ravines are very handsome. Some are on two tiers of arches, one above
another. In places they are tunnelled through the hills. One bridge of
massive masonry of large stones is one hundred and twenty feet long and
thirty-five feet high, with pointed arches. There is one aqueduct eight
miles long, consisting of a cemented channel two feet broad, and
terminating in a handsome cemented cistern. It is carried over several
bridges, one fifty feet long and thirty feet high.

I mention this system of aqueducts because I have never seen any account
of Jericho in the records of travellers or in guide-books which does
justice to them. They are important as showing how much money must have
been spent in developing the resources of this plain, and what a garden
it must have been in old times. So late as the thirteenth century we
hear that the sugar-cane was cultivated around Jericho, and I believe
that at this day there are few spots on the earth's surface which could
be turned to more profitable account. Here all the products of the
tropics could be raised without having to go to the tropics for them,
and many fruits could be conveyed from here to a European market, which
it would be impossible to preserve for the length of time which is now
required to transport them from the tropics. At a comparatively small
expense the ancient system of aqueducts could be repaired and the
abundant water supply utilized, which is now left to stagnate in marshes
and breed fever and pestilence. It is, in fact, impossible to appreciate
the magnificent capabilities which this plain possesses and not feel
convinced that in these days of civilized enterprise the question of
their development is only one of time.


                      JERICHO—A NEW WINTER RESORT.

Haifa, Sept. 15.—When I last visited Jericho, six years ago, it
consisted of a miserable village of mud huts, containing a population of
mixed negroes and Bedouins, amounting at most to three hundred souls. I
was astonished now to find that, of all places in the world, it was
going ahead. There was a sort of boom going on; a very minute boom, it
is true, but still it was progress, and there is no saying what it may
lead to.

It is due entirely to the Russians, and I think that a progressive
Jericho, owing to Russian enterprise, is a phenomenon worthy of remark.
Indirectly it may be attributed to the passion Russian pilgrims have for
bathing in the Jordan and carrying away bottles full of the water of
that sacred stream. This passion for holy ablutions is one which a wise
and far-seeing government has turned to profitable political account. It
was only in obedience to the most ordinary instincts of humanity that
some sort of accommodation should be provided for the pious crowds,
consisting largely of old and frail women, who trudge thirty miles in a
broiling sun to bathe in the Jordan, and who could not find a roof to
shelter them, or a place in which to be fed, until they got back to
Jerusalem. So a large, handsome, red-stone building, not unlike a state
lunatic asylum, has been erected for their accommodation at Jericho.
Here not only the Russian pilgrim, but the ordinary travelling lunatic,
can find first-class accommodation.

The protection which so handsome an establishment afforded was all that
was required to give a start to the place. Devout Russians, always
acting under the auspices of a pious, intelligent, and paternal
government, are beginning gradually to make Jericho a place of winter
resort. They build little cottages there, surround them with gardens
which supply them with most delicious fruit and vegetables, spend their
summers in Jerusalem, and come down here in the winter and bathe in the
Jordan to their hearts' content. In other words, in a religious and
quite unostentatious way, Russia is quietly colonizing Jericho. The
obnoxious word colony, so hateful to Turkish ears, is never pronounced,
but I counted no fewer than twelve neat little whitewashed cottages,
where a few years ago there was not one.

One of my travelling companions, who was an English medical man of some
eminence, was so much struck with the climatic advantages of the place
as a winter resort for consumptive patients that, now that good
accommodation is to be found there, he has decided to advise invalids to
try the effects of its air. Hitherto when one told a person “to go to
Jericho” it was a polite way of intimating to him that he might go
somewhere else, Jericho being the next hottest place known to that more
distant region; but now we may tell our friends to go to Jericho in a
spirit of benevolence, in the hope that it may restore them to health.
What an unbearable place, by the way, Jericho would be if all the bores
who have been metaphorically sent there had literally gone. As it is, I
cannot imagine a more agreeable place for a person not absolutely
dependent upon society to go to and spend a month or two in winter.

There is a peculiar softness and balminess in the air, not to be found
elsewhere in the world, for there is no other place in the world eleven
hundred feet below the sea-line. There is a wide, level, open plain to
scamper across on horseback in all directions; there are thickets of
tamarisk and nebk and bamboo swarming with wild boar, deer, gazelle, and
other animals, some of them not to be found elsewhere, to delight the
sportsman. There is the Jordan handy, with first-rate fishing to satisfy
the most ardent angler; there is the Dead Sea to bathe in and boat on
(only there are no boats) for persons whose tastes are aquatic. There is
a flora which would be a source of never-ending interest to the
botanist, for it is peculiar to this region; and the same remark
applies, to some extent, to its ornithology and entomology. There are
ancient ruins in all directions to satisfy the most inveterate
archæologist, while the explorer has only to cross the Jordan, and in a
few hours he will find himself in a region almost untrodden by the foot
of the tourist, with all manner of interesting discoveries awaiting him.
Then he is still comparatively in the world, for a smart ride of five
hours will take him back to Jerusalem, and he need not be afraid of
having to suffer hardship, for the fare in the Russian hospice is
reported excellent, especially in the matter of milk and vegetables. My
advice, then, to the invalid, the sportsman, the man of natural history,
and the antiquarian, who may be looking out for a new winter resort, is,
“Go to Jericho!” There is no particular reason that I can see why the
Russians should have a monopoly of this charming spot, though we should
be very much obliged to them for making it habitable. No doubt when the
partition of “the sick man's” property, for which they have been waiting
so long, takes place, they will put in a claim for Jericho.

Meantime I am glad to see that the government seem to be put upon their
mettle. Not only have they built a handsome aqueduct across the ravine
on which the modern village stands, but they have cleared a large
expanse of the plain on the other side with a view of bringing it into
cultivation and irrigating it by means of the said aqueduct. This plain
extends in an unbroken level to the Dead Sea, and affords a pleasant
six-miles scamper. It is the grazing-ground generally of large herds of
camels, and on a hot and thirsty day they come in very opportunely. They
are ever-ready if not ever-willing fountains, and there is nothing more
refreshing than a drink of warm camels' milk. It is not easy to milk
them, as they don't like strangers, and one is apt to get charged by a
savage mother who mistakes one's intentions. Moreover, it requires some
dexterity to milk a camel into a tumbler. In fact, this is difficult
with any animal. I have had a battle with a nanny-goat on a bare
Palestine hillside when I was thirsty, which ended in my utter
discomfiture. The only plan is to backshish the goatherd or camelherd.
It is an odd sight to see a young camel tugging away at one side of its
mother and the camelherd tugging away at the other, and the resigned old
female chewing her cud between them; it suggested to me a design for a
picture which I sent to an artist friend, to be called “The Rivals.”
With the Dead Sea and the burning hills of Moab for a background, I
think it would make rather an effective picture.

However often I might visit the Dead Sea, I would always bathe in it, in
spite of its stickiness afterwards. The sensation of floating without
the slightest effort for an indefinite time when one is hot and tired is
infinitely soothing.

The government intend building a bridge over the Jordan, and on my way
back from visiting its proposed site I passed the much-disputed position
of Gilgal, where the Israelites made their first camp in the Promised
Land. This has but recently been identified by the ever-to-be-lamented
Palestine explorer, Mr. Tyrwhitt Drake, who fell a victim to his zeal in
the Jordan valley. Nothing is to be seen there now but some mounds, in
which have been found pottery, broken glass, and tesseræ. It was for
long the resting-place of the Ark and the Tabernacle. It was somewhere
on this plain that Sodom and Gomorrah, “the Cities of the Plain,” were
situated, and not to the south of the Dead Sea, as was formerly
supposed, but their sites have been looked for in vain.

The great events of which the plain of Jericho had in early times been
the scene, together with its traditional connection with the temptation
of Christ on the Mount, which rises abruptly behind the Spring of
Ain-es-Sultan, and actual interest with regard to his baptism in the
Jordan and other events, attracted the Christians of a very early age to
this part of the country. Hence from Justinian's time the plain began to
be covered with monastic edifices, and the gorges and precipices of the
enclosing mountains to be burrowed with hermit's caves and sacred
shrines and chapels.

There is a tendency, on the part especially of the Greek and Armenian
churches, to reoccupy some of these. Certainly of all the uncomfortable
and dreary and broiling monasteries I ever saw, that of Kusr Hajlah,
near the Dead Sea, now inhabited by half a dozen monks, claims
pre-eminence. It is placed just on the edge of the saline plain, which
exhales in summer a pungent heat that must render life almost
insupportable. Nevertheless, it bears all the marks of having been an
important mediæval monastery. The old walls still exist on three sides,
and measure about forty yards by sixty. These contained two chapels
above ground and one beneath in the vaults. The walls are still covered
with frescoes, the designs of which are distinctly visible, as well as
the inscriptions in Greek beneath them. They are evidently of Crusading
times. There is a large cistern here, thirty feet by ten and twenty-four
deep, which is in good preservation. So is another at the monastery of
El-Yahud, thirty feet deep, with piers and arches also almost perfect.
This monastery is distant about half an hour from the Jordan, and dates
from the twelfth century. It stands on the site of one which was called
the Monastery of St. John on the Jordan, but which was destroyed by an
earthquake. The interest attaching to these monasteries, however, is
comparatively slight. Upon archæological grounds they exhibit no very
striking features, while from a religious point of view they are
significant chiefly as showing how soon the religion of Christ became
degraded into a system of useless asceticism, and, considering the
tendency which is exhibited to return to it, the lamentable reflection
is forced upon one that the true spirit of Christianity is as little
understood now as it was in those days.

The monks who inhabit these buildings are in one sense as interesting as
the buildings themselves, for one has only to converse with them to be
transported to the Middle Ages. They are probably the only class of men
who have remained absolutely unaffected by nineteenth-century
civilization or modes of thought. They are like the toads that have been
locked up for centuries in stone, and might in so far as their religious
views are concerned be the identical individuals who, in the time of the
crusaders, used to inhabit the cells they now occupy. From a
psychological point of view, then, it is curious to converse with them
on matters of faith and religion, for unless one has had personal
experience of the degree of ignorance and superstition which are still
to be found in a recluse of the Armenian Church, for instance, one could
not credit the fact that such a being exists; and still represents a
considerable class in the days in which we live.

The Arabs around Jericho are of a tribe called Abou Nuseir. They
venerate a place called “The Place of Sepulchre of Dawar.” This
personage was their ancestor, and the Abou Nuseir bury their dead in the
tombs of the Dawar people. Arabs of any other tribe passing this spot
make use of the expression, “Permission, oh, Dawar,” and the valley is
sacred, and ploughs, grain, and other articles are deposited here for
safety. The usual votive offerings—sticks, rags, bracelets—are found
near the tombs. This tribe is scattered about in tents among the thorny
bushes that cover the plain, amid which their flocks find good pasture.
They are reputed to have a bad character, but we made great friends with
them, owing to a circumstance which secured their gratitude.

While sitting by the fountain one afternoon we saw a number of Arabs
carrying a man on a litter. This excited our doctor's curiosity, and we
immediately hailed the procession. They told us they had a wounded man,
and we replied we had a doctor, and they waited till we came up. In
fact, an elderly man had just received a bullet in the leg from a friend
with whom he had had a quarrel, which splintered the bone a little below
the knee. The ball was still lodged in the leg. The doctor, who had made
five military campaigns, and had probably dressed as many gunshot wounds
as any man alive, was in his element. Instantly the man was taken to the
nearest tents, splints of bamboo and bandages of flour and the white of
an egg were speedily extemporized, while a large audience of
wild—looking men, women, children, and dogs crowded around to watch
operations.

The ball was probed for, not with any surgical instrument, for we were
unprepared for any such emergency, but with the finger. The only
instruments forthcoming were a penknife and a razor. The question was
how to get the ball out with such appliances. The occasion was one which
called for a display of genius, but the demand was not made in vain;
with that simplicity which is its most marked characteristic, the doctor
cut into the opposite side of the leg with the razor, and then pushed
the ball clean through with his finger. The astonishment of the audience
was excessive at the appearance of the crushed bullet, and the wounded
man, a weather-beaten old Semite, who had bellowed lustily while the
operation was going on, kissed the doctor's hand effusively, and
consoled himself with coffee and cigarettes, in which we joined, while
the bandaging and splinting was in progress. For a couple of days after
this the doctor visited his patient twice a day amid the warmest
expressions of gratitude on the part of the tribe, who forthwith brought
all their sick to be cured, and the blessings which were invoked upon us
echoed in our ears when we took our departure, till they died away in
the distance.


                  A SHORT CUT OVER AN UNKNOWN COUNTRY.

Haifa, Oct. 1.—About half a mile in rear of our camp, at Ain-es-Sultan,
rose a precipice a thousand feet high, which culminated in the lofty
crest of a mountain called Quarantul. It derives its name from a
tradition which identifies it with the mount upon which Christ was
tempted for forty days in the wilderness. Of course, it is not the
mountain at all, or, at all events, there is not the smallest particle
of evidence to prove that it is, but that is a trifle where sacred sites
are concerned. The face of this precipitous cliff is honeycombed with
the black mouths of caverns. Sitting round our camp-fire at night we
observed lights gleaming from the sheer side of the rock. Otherwise
there was nothing to lead us to suppose that any of these caverns could
be occupied by human beings. But these fires excited our curiosity, and
we determined to pay the cave-dwellers perched so high above our heads a
visit.

The operation turned out a more dizzy one than I had anticipated. No
guide was necessary, for we could see the track winding like a thread up
the face of the precipice. For the first three hundred feet or so it was
all plain sailing, but then the ledge became horribly narrow.
Occasionally the path was so steep that it dwindled into rock-cut steps.
A false step would have sent you thundering hundreds of feet down into
the abyss. At one place the height was so dizzy, the foothold so slight,
that my nerve, which for this sort of work is not what it once was,
began to give way, and I ignominiously squatted down, with my face
turned to the rock, and tried to steady myself by forgetting that six
inches behind me was a yawning chasm, from which a pebble might have
been dropped plumb to the bottom. Retreat was as bad as advance, and
more humiliating. For the rest of the way I went on my hands and knees,
to the amusement of my companion, whose brain was not similarly
affected. I don't know anything more disagreeable than the irresistible
impulse which overtakes one sometimes to pitch one's self headlong over
a precipice of this kind.

At last, to my inexpressible relief, I reached the mouth of a cave, into
which I sprawled, panting, with thankfulness, but oppressed nevertheless
with the horrible consciousness that I had the return voyage still to
make. However, I dismissed this painful consideration for the moment,
and applied myself to the examination of the curious grotto which we had
reached. It was a sort of ante-chamber to a tunnel in the rock, passing
through which we came upon some dreadful steps out on the face of the
rock; but here there was a slight, rickety balustrade of wood, and at
the top stood a greasy old monk, a sight which, under the circumstances,
produced a more soothing effect upon my mind than such a sight usually
does. This ecclesiastical worthy received us with gracious smiles, and
led us through another tunnel into a sort of vestibule, which opened
into a chapel which had been constructed at the mouth of a cave, so that
the front facing the precipice was of masonry. Looking out of the window
which had been constructed in this wall, a stone might have been dropped
at least five hundred feet without touching anything till it reached the
bottom. This chapel was gorgeously fitted up, thanks to the
contributions of pilgrims whose heads must have been steadier than mine
was. It had a handsomely decorated screen covered with sacred designs
richly gilt. The apse was six feet in diameter, and the total length
from the inside of the apse to the back of the cave about twenty-five
feet, the breadth being about twenty. A door led out of this chapel into
a narrow passage and up two or three steps into another cave, or niche,
where there was a figure of a saint.

As far as I could understand from the monk, who spoke Greek, and very
bad Italian, somewhere here was the spot where Christ stood when he was
tempted. The walls of the chapel were covered with frescoes. The large,
cavernous vestibule was the dwelling-place of the monk, with whom was
associated a younger sort of acolyte, who lived in a cave overhead,
which was reached by a flight of stone-cut steps from the back of the
vestibule. There was also a small inner cave, fitted with a door, in
which they kept their stores. The old man told me he had lived here like
an eagle in an eyrie for ten years without even descending to the plain
below. I wondered how he kept his health without taking exercise. All
hermits who live on the sides of precipices should, I think, have
treadwheels of some kind fitted up for them, or rotating cages like
those in which Italian white mice take their exercise. I don't think our
old friend, however, led a very ascetic life, so far as eating and
drinking are concerned. He insisted on our staying to drink some
excellent coffee, after which he produced a bottle of very good mastic,
or spirit made from corn and flavored with anise-seed. I observed some
fresh green salad and cauliflower on his side-table, which the Arabs
bring him from their gardens at the foot of the hill. He had also an
abundant supply of good Arab bread. His water is supplied from a
cistern, of which there are several attached to the caves. He told me
that eight of these were at present inhabited, but most of them were
higher up. He was the spiritual superior of them all, and although there
was another chapel in ruins, his was the only one in which service was
performed. He invited me to continue my explorations to the caves higher
up, but my mind was so much occupied with thinking how I was to get down
as to exclude from it any idea of going higher up. Altogether this
hermit was a jolly, hospitable old fellow, and it would be as cruel to
pick him out of his hole and drop him into the busy world as it is to
pick a periwinkle out of his shell with a pin.

Partially shutting my eyes and presenting my rear to the enemy, I
crawled backwards down the giddy steps, and just at an uncomfortable
corner came upon a jet-black man in a sort of priestly garb, who turned
out to be an Abyssinian hermit. He has no connection with the
establishment I had been visiting, having his own cell and his own
church all to himself. His bosom was stuffed with manuscripts in
Ethiopian characters. Under any other circumstances I would have
endeavored to converse with so rare a specimen of ecclesiastical
humanity; but how can a man engage in a theological discussion in an
unknown tongue, hanging between earth and heaven on six inches of
slippery rock? I felt rather inclined to say _vade retro Satanas_—not an
inappropriate remark, considering the mountain I was on; and yet the
poor man meant well, and, indeed, gave me an arm. He does not stick to
his perch, however, like the old raven I had been visiting above, but
usually resides in Jerusalem, visiting his cave during the forty days of
Lent and at other stated periods.

We now determined to bid adieu to Jericho and the Mount of the
Temptation and to strike across country into Samaria. This would take us
over an unbeaten track and show us a country very imperfectly known. We
trusted to finding our way by asking it, or by picking up local guides
when we were utterly at a loss. By this means, although one runs a
considerable risk of being benighted, or of having to scramble over
almost impracticable mountain paths, you get a better chance of
stumbling upon objects of interest than by following a more trodden
route. For more than two miles we skirted in a northeasterly direction
the base of the lofty cliffs of the Jebel Quarantul. On our right a
copious steam, which has its rise in a fountain called Ain Duk,
irrigated an extensive tract of land, which was green and well
cultivated. If there had only been population enough to develop it
properly it would be a most productive region. There were all the
evidences that in ancient times its resources were not thus neglected.
Everywhere the remains of stone watercourses and aqueducts were visible,
one bridge in particular having no fewer than three tiers of arches one
above another. The construction was ingenious and peculiar. At the
bottom or narrowest part of the ravine which it spanned was one huge
pointed arch. Immediately over this were four pointed arches, while at
the side of them was a fifth, double the height of the others, the
foundations of which were in the steep side of the ravine. Above these
again were six more pointed arches which supported the aqueduct. Thus
there were altogether twelve arches, and of these only two were the same
size. The old Roman masonry of which they were composed was still in a
very good state of preservation. Near this aqueduct were also the
substantial remains of an old Roman road.

We now crossed, for about three miles, a fine undulating country covered
with rich herbage, upon which large herds of cattle were feeding, and
followed most of the way an ancient cemented channel, about four feet
wide, which had formerly conveyed the waters of another stream to swell
those which had their origin at Ain Duk, and all of which were carried
over the aforementioned high level bridge. The stream which we were now
approaching was also surrounded by cultivated and irrigated land. The
whole of this plain in its richness and wealth of water far surpassed
anything my expectations had led me to anticipate. Near the base of the
mountains from which this fine stream issues are the remains of an
ancient fortress situated on a high mound or tell, called Khurbet el
Aujeh. The stream bears the same name. This is the sixth large stream
which I have counted gushing from these mountains in a distance of about
eight miles. My compass now told me that I must get up into the
mountains if I intended to strike the Jerusalem and Samaria road at the
point which I proposed. From information which I had taken before
starting I expected to find the track in question ascending the valley
from which the Aujeh issues, but we looked in vain for signs of any such
track. Indeed, on forcing our way up it a little distance, we found that
its precipitous sides closed in on us in a manner which effectually
barred all further progress. We were wondering what to do in our
dilemma, when, fortunately, we observed some peasants making some
irrigating channels, and from them, after much chaffering, we obtained a
guide. It is a singular thing that these poor peasantry, whose day's
labor in the fields cannot be worth more than ten cents to them, will
refuse fifty rather than leave what they are about and act as guides. On
this occasion it was with great difficulty that I bribed a man with a
dollar. To our surprise he took us straight to the base of an apparently
impracticable cliff and proceeded to climb up it. As my experience of
Palestine horses has convinced me that they can go almost wherever a man
can, provided you leave them to find their own way, we proceeded to
breast the limestone crags without misgiving, the only hardship being
that the day was hot and we had to climb them on foot. To scramble up a
thousand feet on a stretch by a path which was generally quite invisible
is no slight operation, and one which, in this instance, it would have
been impossible to perform without a guide, such impassable barriers did
the rocks seem to present until the guide showed us the way to
circumvent them. When we did reach what we fondly hoped was the summit,
it was only to find a barren, undulating wilderness stretching before
us, every now and then involving more climbing, for the elevation at
which we were destined to arrive before the end of our day's journey was
more than four thousand feet higher than the level from which we
started.

If the scenery by which we now found ourselves surrounded was rugged, it
was wild and grand in the extreme. Gloomy and precipitous gorges
intersect these mountains in every direction. Not a sign of a habitation
is visible anywhere, and with the exception of a single goatherd we did
not meet a human being for hours. The vegetation was also very sparse,
relieved, however, by great quantities of the fragrant white broom in
flower, and cyclamen and scarlet anemones. Even in the days of the
ancients it must have been a barren, uncultivated tract, but I was
repaid for the scramble across it by one or two evidences of extreme
antiquity of the greatest interest. The first of these consisted of four
huge prostrate slabs of stone. They were evidently the blocks which had
once formed a dolmen that had been overturned. Now, the interest of this
lies in the fact that no dolmen, or signs of a dolmen, has ever yet been
discovered in Judea, though eagerly searched for. There is only one
doubtful one in Galilee, but they are abundant to the east of the
Jordan. The reason assigned for this is that the tribes to the east of
the Jordan did not obey the command, when they entered the land of
Canaan, to “overturn the tables of stone,” to destroy the Canaanitish
altars, and to break or smash their pillars; while the tribes to the
west, especially Judah and Benjamin, were very particular in this
regard.

Here, I think, is the only evidence which has yet been found in Judea of
this interesting fact. This region was apparently one much dedicated to
Baal worship. I saw many stone circles and one or two alignments of
large stones, but the most curious was an enclosure about twenty-four
yards square, formed of rough, unhewn stones, each weighing a ton or
more, piled to a height of two or three upon each other. In the centre
was a circle, eight feet in diameter, of large stones, with a single
stone in the middle of it. This was a monument which evidently existed
from pre-Judaic times; but, although I attempted hurriedly to take its
bearings, I am afraid that in that wilderness of stone I should never be
able to find it again.

We were pretty well worn out when we reached at last the village of
Mugheir, the first inhabited place we had seen since leaving our camp
near Jericho, and where we proposed to call a halt for the refreshment
of man and beast. Meantime, as our tents and baggage had been sent by
another road, we began to feel extremely doubtful as to when we should
ever see them again.


                       EXPLORATIONS IN PALESTINE.

Haifa, Oct. 7.—The village of Mugheir, where we halted to rest after our
long and weary scramble from the Jordan valley, is one of the most
out-of-the-way places to be found in Palestine. It is not on the way
anywhere, but a sort of _Ultima Thule_—the last spot where ground fit
for cultivation is to be found. It stands on the margin of a charming
little plain, where there is a fine olive grove. Indeed, looking
westward, the prospect is cheery enough, but eastward it is wild rock,
black, gloomy gorges, or less precipitous but equally barren valleys.
The sheik received us with great cordiality, albeit quite unused to the
visits of travellers, and spread before us such fare as he could, flat
Arab bread, roasted eggs, curdled goat's milk, and figs, butter, and
honey. I mention the last three together because you eat them together.
You first dip your dried fig into the butter, you then dip it into the
honey, and then put it into your mouth. I never tried the combination
before, but it is not bad. He also gave us a hot compound of flour and
sugar boiled together, which he seemed to think a great deal of, but,
beyond being sweet and sticky, it had no especial merit. His wife was
the fairest woman I ever saw for a pure-blooded fellahah peasant. In
fact, she could not have been fairer had she been a blue-eyed,
light-haired Swede or German.

After satisfying my hunger I went to look for antiquities, and found
several rock-cut tombs and cisterns, a fine rock-hewn wine-press, and
four towers all in a good state of preservation, and three of them
inhabited. They measured thirty feet square and as many in height. The
basement stones were massive enough to be the masonry of a former
period, but exactly of what date I am unable to say, possibly not
earlier than the crusades; though I found some foundations of walls
which I am inclined to ascribe to a much older date. There has been
probably a town or village here from time immemorial, though I am unable
to identify it with any Biblical site.

The sheik insisted upon accompanying us himself as guide to a place
called Singil, which we had fixed upon as our night quarters. Our way
led us through a small, depressed plain. After passing some remains of
no special interest we reached a very remarkable ruin, called El-Habs.
It is a tower on a rocky scarp, with walls built partly of masonry,
partly of rock, which measure about sixty feet by thirty. The stones of
which these walls are composed are of immense size, measuring from
twelve feet up to eighteen feet in length, with a height of from three
to four feet each. The masonry is thus quite equal to the average size
of the temple stones in Jerusalem. The tower has two entrances. Near it
are the remains of another large building of about one hundred feet
square outside measurement, and with walls six feet thick. Its interior
is divided into four parallel chambers, running east and west, of
various breadth. One of the partition walls has archways through it,
with piers between. All round these buildings are the foundations of
ancient walls and houses and bell-mouthed cisterns. The whole place
bears the marks of extreme antiquity. It has been examined by the
officers of the Palestine Survey, but is not mentioned in any
guide-book, and I am unable to form any conjecture in regard to it.

Our road now lay through a fertile plain, called The Meadow of the
Feast, possibly in some connection with the yearly feast which used to
be held by the Jews in old times at Shiloh, from which historical site
we were not far distant. It is a comfort now and then to come upon a
Biblical site about the identity of which there is not the slightest
doubt, and such is the case with Seilun, the modern name for Shiloh. It
stands in an extremely retired valley, and on our way to it we put up
the third batch of gazelles we had started in one day. This was the spot
where the Tabernacle was first permanently set up in Canaan, and where
the Israelites assembled to allot the Promised Land. They were probably
encamped hard by on The Meadow of the Feast, across which we had just
been riding, and it was probably on this meadow, while the maidens were
dancing at the festival in honour of the ark, that the remnant of the
Benjamites concealed themselves among the vineyards on the hillsides and
carried off two hundred maidens. At present it is impossible to be
certain whether any of the remains now visible existed at the time when
the Tabernacle was there. The ruins which first strike the eye on the
hillside are evidently those of a comparatively modern village, with
here and there fragments of masonry which may date back to Crusading
times. Then there is a low, square building supported by two rows of
columns, which has been used as a mosque, but in early times may have
been a Christian church; but the most remarkable monument is a square
building of which only the walls remain. It is apparently of three
architectural periods, and it is just possible that the oldest may have
been Jewish. The original walls have been added to by a sloping scarp
having been built against them, so that the wall, which is about
fourteen feet high, is nine feet thick at the bottom, and about three
feet thick at the top. Inside are some fragments of columns, capitals,
and a door lintel, which has recently fallen from the principal
entrance, on which are carved two wreaths, flanked by two double-handled
pitchers, and in the centre an amphora.

There are no inhabitants at Shiloh now, so we pushed on to Singil, a
village situated about three thousand feet above the sea-level, and
commanding a most magnificent view. The villagers here showed me some
foundations of what they said had been an old castle built by a certain
King Sinbil, but I strongly suspect that they substituted the b for a g,
as the village takes its name from a certain Crusading hero, who was
afterwards canonized and became St. Gilles, and that here he built
himself a castle. The natives also sent me into a cave on a wild goose
chase after an inscription, which, after much scrambling with lighted
tapers, I failed to find.

We had now left Judea, and were entering ancient Samaria, which is
governed, not from Jerusalem, but Damascus, the seat of government being
Nablous, a large town of about twenty thousand inhabitants, whose
principal industry is the manufacture of soap, with which they supply
almost the whole country. The town is squeezed in between the lofty
hills of Ebal and Gerizim, both of which are over three thousand feet
above the sea-level. This is the valley of Shechem. Nothing can exceed
in picturesqueness the situation of this place and the beauty of its
surroundings, especially when the almond and peach trees are in bloom in
the valley. The steep hillsides seem to be a mass of huge cactuses;
these are used to line the terraces of the vineyards as hedges, but as
they are great absorbers of vitality from the soil, I should think they
must impoverish the land. In the autumn these ungainly plants are
thickly covered with fruit about the size of a large fig, when ripe of a
bright red. They are full of small seeds, but sweet and refreshing. The
natives gorge themselves upon them, as they are esteemed wholesome, but
they are traps to the unwary and inexperienced of the most painful kind,
being covered outside with diminutive and almost invisible prickly
hairs. The first time I ever tried to eat one I filled my mouth with
these unpleasant little spikes, and spent half an hour with my tongue
out, while a friend was engaged with a pair of tweezers extracting each
individual irritant, but then he only partially succeeded, and for the
rest of the day I felt as if I had tried to swallow half a chopped-up
hair-brush. The natives pick the fruit by digging a pronged iron into
them, with which they twitch them off the stalk; they then roll them on
the ground, so as to get the hairy prickles off, and then carefully peel
them. The great green leaves have spikes like pins half an inch long
upon them, which inflict a most vicious and poisonous prick. I once
tumbled into a cactus bush, and really suffered severely for many hours.
Under these circumstances it is something amazing to see camels munching
these leaves, prickles and all, with apparent relish; a donkey eating
thistles is a joke to it.

Nablous is also surrounded by extensive olive groves, and the oil is
celebrated throughout Palestine; it also exports cotton of native
growth. In fact, for a Moslem city, it may be considered an enterprising
and go-ahead place. At present it lacks the prime necessity of a
carriage road to the sea-coast. All its exports and imports have to be
conveyed on the backs of camels. If the long-projected railway from
Haifa to Damascus could ever be consummated, a wagon road could easily
be constructed in connection with it, and Haifa would then become the
port of Nablous, instead of Jaffa, which is slightly nearer to it. With
the exception of the long central street, which forms the principal
bazaar, the streets as a rule are more gloomy and tunnel-like than most
Oriental towns, though there are many handsome stone houses, and the
building of new ones afforded evidence of the growing wealth of the
inhabitants. The consequence is an improvement in the reputation of the
population, who have in former times been notorious for their turbulent
fanaticism, but of late years the Turkish government has succeeded in
establishing its authority on a firmer foundation and making its
exercise felt. Indeed, the superficial traveller in the Turkish empire,
who only sees the defects of the existing system of administration, is
hardly a fair judge of the progress that has been made in a certain
direction unless he is able to compare it with what has been.

There can be no doubt that during the last twenty years a great change
has been worked in the establishment of law and order and in the
security of life and property. If oppression has the disadvantage of
grinding the people and making their lives miserable, it, at all events,
has the merit of intimidating them and restraining them from acts of
violence and crime. If the unjust judge and extortionate tax-gatherer
are taking the heart out of the people, they are taking the pluck out of
them, too, and one result is that the stranger can now travel in safety
through regions where he was once sure of being plundered and possibly
murdered, and walk unmolested through Moslem crowds, where formerly he
might have been subjected to insult. Nor is this due to the direct
action of any foreign power or to the exercise of any diplomatic
pressure in favor of reform. On the contrary, the influence of foreign
powers was never so low as it is at present, and I am convinced that all
attempts on the part of foreign powers to enforce reforms on Turkey only
hinder them. The influence of the sultan and his government is not to be
maintained throughout Islam by any action in obedience to the dictates
of Christian powers. They resent it, just as the South used to resent
the interference of the North in the matter of slavery; but this does
not prevent their being alive to any advantages which accrue to the
empire by enforcing, as far as may be, a respect for law and order; and,
so far as it is possible, to develop its resources without being
beholden to foreign capital, or increasing the power and influence of
the native Christian population. The difficulty is that the instinct of
the Moslem is not in favor of progress, and that he is always
outstripped in the race by his Christian neighbour.

Again, the country can only be developed through the education and
enlightenment of the people; but where an administrative system is in
itself corrupt and unenlightened, the education and illumination of the
masses means their endowment with the faculty of perceiving abuses, and
possibly with a determination to resist them; and this danger is so
great that it must be averted, even at the cost of the national
prosperity. For this reason the government sets its face against the
education of Moslems in Christian schools, not because they are afraid
of the Moslems being converted to Christianity—there is not the
slightest danger of that—but because they are afraid of their imbibing
Western ideas of social and political life, which are opposed to the
conditions which characterize the existing administration of affairs. In
fact they are not opposed to reform, but it must be a reform not
suggested from without, nor imposed upon them from within; it must
neither be in obedience to diplomatic pressure nor to popular clamour;
it must be a reform of their own initiative, and as any such reform, to
be effectual, must begin by the authorities with whom it is to originate
reforming themselves, the process seems almost hopeless. Still, as I
have already remarked, there has distinctly been change, and change for
the better, so far as security for life and property and the extension
and enforcement of official authority are concerned, during the last
twenty years—security of property to the people, be it understood, from
their own mutual plundering propensities. Whether this security extends
to the demands of the tax-gatherer, and how far it has conduced to their
own material welfare and happiness, is quite another question.


                       SACRED SAMARITAN RECORDS.

Haifa, Oct. 15.—The chief interest connected with Nablous lies in the
fact that it is the residence of the remnant of those Samaritans who
were colonized here by Shalmaneser, King of Assyria, when he carried
away the children of Israel captive. From the Biblical record (2 Kings
xvii.), it would appear that the new settlers were drawn from mixed
nationalities and various cities within his dominions. Some came from
Babylon itself, some from Hamath, a town between Damascus and Aleppo,
and others from Cuthah—probably the Kutha of Arabian geographers, a town
and district between the Tigris and Euphrates—some from Ava, which has
been identified with the modern Hit, and some from Sepharvaim, once the
famous city of Sippara, both cities on the Euphrates, in lower
Mesopotamia.

We are also told that the new colonists petitioned the King of Assyria
to be taught the religion of the Jews, and that he sent them a Jewish
priest to teach it to them, and that they added it on, after a curious
fashion, to the various forms of idolatry which they had imported from
their different localities, and hence established a mongrel sort of
worship, which became afterwards purified, but which nevertheless
rendered them especially obnoxious to the Jews of Judea, all the more so
because they intermarried with the remnant of the tribes of Israel which
had escaped the captivity, thus forming a race as mongrel as their
religion. It is about twenty-six hundred years since this event took
place, but the ancient worship of the Samaritans exists to this day; so
also does the bitter antagonism which they and the Jews entertain for
each other.

This is the oldest national feud, probably, in existence, but is as
fresh as if it only originated yesterday. Like the Jews, the Samaritans
have managed to survive all the vicissitudes of fate, but with the
difference that a small remnant has clung through them all to the
locality in which they were originally established, though they have
dwindled in numbers to one hundred and sixty souls. As an ethnological
fraction of antiquity they are, perhaps, the most interesting group of
people extant. The first one I ever made acquaintance with was a young
man who called upon me in a mysterious manner one day in Haifa. He
handed me a document in Arabic, in which, after stating that for certain
reasons, which he implied were by no means discreditable to him (he was
an outcast from his own people), he implored charity, and requested me
“to cast upon him a regard of compassion and benevolence.” The document
further said:

“All that I have inherited from my parents and ancestors is a manuscript
written in ancient Hebrew, nine hundred years old, containing two
chapters of the Bible, including the commandments, which I beg to offer
you, in the hope that you will recompense me in return by a sum which
will relieve my distress.”

He signed himself “Shellabi, the son of Jacob, the Samaritan.” Now, I
knew that Jacob es Shellabi was once the spiritual head of the sect, for
he had been in London under the title of “The Prince of the Samaritans,”
and the romance which attended his style and dignity had, it was
reported, even captivated a fair Englishwoman, who was willing to become
a Samaritan for his sake. Fortunately for her “the Prince” was already
married, a fact which I believe he only divulged on his return to his
native land.

Anyhow, here was the son of a prince in distress, and here was an
extremely ancient and curious manuscript for sale. The youth looked such
a scamp, however, that he did not enlist my sympathies. I suspected that
he had lost his money by gambling, which proved afterwards to be the
case; so when he said he considered the manuscript worth ten dollars I
offered him one dollar, on which he retired indignantly. A few days
later, however, he reappeared, took his dollar thankfully, and I retain
possession of the manuscript. It is on coarse parchment of a
yellowish-brown color, two feet six long, and fifteen inches wide. It
was evidently originally longer, but has been torn off. One edge has
been subjected to the action of fire. The writing is in transverse
columns, each column thirteen inches long by five wide, and containing
from sixty to seventy lines. The characters are of the old Samaritan
type, small, rude, and irregular, differing in many important respects
from the ancient Hebrew, and illegible to a good modern Hebrew scholar
to whom I have shown it. I have no doubt, however, that it could be
deciphered by an expert in such matters, who would also be able to
establish from the formation of the characters its antiquity.^[6]

This incident excited my interest in the Samaritan question, and when I
was at Nablous I visited the synagogue, examined the ancient Thorah, or
book of the law, and have since looked into the subject generally. The
ancient synagogue was appropriated by the Moslems some centuries ago.
The modern building is a small, unpretentious, oblong structure. The
walls are rough and whitewashed, and the roof is vaulted with two little
domes in the centre. The mizbah, or altar, is about five feet square,
covered with a veil of yellow silk. Within are receptacles for the
sacred books. Of these the most valuable are never shown to strangers.
One or two persons have, however, seen the most ancient, which the
Samaritans claim to have been written by Abishua, the son of Phinehas,
thirty-five hundred years ago. It is only seen by the congregation once
a year, when elevated above the priest's head on the Day of Atonement.

The Thorah was rolled round a cylinder of wood similar to those used in
ordinary Jewish synagogues, and I was gratified to observe that it
exactly resembled the fragment in my possession. It was evidently very
ancient. The priest who showed me the synagogue was a remarkably
handsome, dignified-looking man about forty years old. I asked him
whether he was the chief priest. He said he was, and that Jacob Shellabi
no longer had any position among them. I then said I had obtained a
piece of manuscript from his son, to which he made no reply, but at once
turned the subject. I suspect the youth was a _mauvais sujet_, who
committed an act of sacrilegious theft before leaving the paternal
mansion, and who did not, therefore, deserve more than he got.

Now, with regard to the sacred books which I did not see: They are in
some respects in the highest degree interesting, as throwing light upon
the Biblical record. In the first place, from what is known of the most
ancient version, claiming to be by Abishua, Gesenius and other great
scholars have given it as their opinion that if it could be collated, it
would be found in many cases to preserve the sense, which has been lost
in the Jewish version. This opinion is founded upon the results of such
collation as has been possible with Samaritan texts which have fallen
into the hands of scholars.

Besides the most ancient roll there are three other books known to be in
the possession of the Samaritans.^[7] These are the Samaritan book of
Joshua, the Samaritan Chronicle, and the so-called “Fire-tried
Manuscript.” The Samaritan book of Joshua probably dates from the
thirteenth century. It was published at Leyden about forty years ago
from an Arabic manuscript in Samaritan character, and is thought to have
been compiled from an early Samaritan and three later Arabic chronicles.
It is invested with a peculiar interest from the fact that it helps to
supply a remarkable lacuna in the Biblical record, which does not appear
to have received the attention it deserves from Biblical students. It
is, in fact, evident that a large portion of the present book of Joshua
is missing. That book purports to be an account of the conquest of
Canaan and its allotment among the twelve tribes. Under these
circumstances it is most remarkable that we have no account of the
conquest of Samaria, though the campaigns in the south, including the
siege and taking of seven cities, and the invasion of Galilee, and the
defeat of the league of six kings of Northern Palestine, are fully
described. Then we have no list of royal Samaritan cities, though all of
them in the other parts of the country are carefully enumerated. We have
no description of the boundaries of the two tribes to which Samaria was
allotted, nor any list of the cities awarded to them. Some of the
Levitical towns mentioned in Chronicles as belonging to Samaria are not
to be found in Joshua. It will be found also that, taken as a whole,
there are only about forty Samaritan places noted out of some four or
five hundred places in Western Palestine.

The Jewish hatred of the Samaritans rose in the early Christian period
to so great a pitch that the Mishnic doctors avoided even mentioning the
name of Samaria. Thus, in the Talmud only some half-dozen Samaritan
towns are noticed. In describing Palestine the Mishna divides it into
Judea, Galilee, and Peræa, leaving out all mention of Samaria. It is
just possible that long before this an omission may have been purposely
made by the early transcribers of the Biblical book of Joshua in regard
to Samaria. At all events, the meagre record which it contains is richly
supplemented by the Samaritan book of Joshua, which brings down the
history of Israel from the date of the conquest to the time of Samuel,
whose predecessor, Eli, was, from a Samaritan point of view, the
earliest schismatic, and the founder of a new and heretical temple at
Shiloh in opposition to that built by Joshua on Mount Gerizim. The
divine glory rested upon Gerizim for two hundred and sixty years, or
during the reign of nine successors of Joshua, the schism between the
children of Judah and the orthodox, as the Samaritans call themselves,
dating from the time of Sin, after the death of Samson.

The book opens much in accordance with the Biblical narrative, but no
less than four chapters are devoted to the history of Balaam and his
death, being an enlargement of one Biblical verse. The conquest of
Shechem by Joshua contains an account of the miraculous discomfiture of
the enemy, and of a letter sent by him announcing it to Eleazar, the
priest, fastened to the wings of a dove. It contains also the account of
a new league against the children of Israel under a king called Saubac,
in conjunction with the kings of five other towns, which can all now be
identified. A thrilling narrative of the battle which takes place
between Joshua and these kings at El-Lejjun, on the ancient Megiddo
(Armageddon), is also given. With this episode the history of the war
ends. The chief value of the book lies, however, in the light it throws
upon the ancient geography of Samaria. Out of a total of thirty-one
places mentioned in it, thirteen are within the confines of Samaria, and
most of these are not to be found in the Bible.

The Samaritan chronicle goes back to the beginning and gives the
astronomical reckoning from Adam. Some of its topographical details are
of much value. Thus it contains a list of twenty-two towns where the
high-priest who succeeded Tobiah resided, all being apparently in
Samaria as far as they can be identified. It is known that in the second
and third centuries the Samaritans were in a very flourishing condition,
and had colonies in Egypt, and even a synagogue in Rome. The chronicle
gives their possessions in Palestine as allotted by the High-Priest Baba
the Great, about one hundred and sixty years after the destruction of
Jerusalem. This description is interesting, as it seems to include all
Palestine, with the exception of Judea proper, to the mountains of which
the Jews are confined.

At a later period the chronicle gives a list of those towns which were
inhabited by the Samaritans after the Hegira. This is a period when very
little is known of this nation. The places mentioned extend nearly over
the whole of Palestine outside of Judea, and colonies are also mentioned
in Damascus, Cairo, and Baalbek. There is a ruin about five miles from
Haifa called Kefr Samir, or the town of the Samaritans, which I
occasionally visit to grub for inscriptions, which was one of their
colonies. Those at Gerar and Gaza lasted till the present century, but
none are to be found now outside of Nablous. It is only to be expected
that the chronicle should centre all the holy places of the Samaritans
at Shechem or Nablous.

The fifth article of the Samaritan creed was the assertion that Gerizim
was the chosen abode of God upon earth. Here Adam and Seth raised
altars; here Melchisedec, servant of the Most High God, was met by
Abraham—for Gerizim the Samaritans hold to the present day is the
highest mountain in the world, the only one not covered by the flood.
Here Abraham offered up Isaac, the very spot being shown on the eastern
brow of the mountain; and, indeed, as Dean Stanley has argued, it is as
likely to be here as at Jerusalem, as Josephus and the Talmudists
affirm. Gerizim was also the site of Jacob's vision, and, finally, it
was on Gerizim, and not on Ebal, just opposite, as stated in the Bible,
that, according to the Samaritans, Joshua erected, first an altar,
afterwards the tabernacle, and lastly a temple.

The fourth and last of the known ancient sacred books of the Samaritans
is the fire-tried manuscript. It consists of two hundred and seventeen
leaves, containing the law from the twenty-ninth verse of the first
chapter of Genesis to the blessing of Moses in Deuteronomy. It is much
worn; the letters are not so small as those of Abishua's roll, nor as
large as those of the later roll. The hand is steady and uniform, and
the character of the letters indicates that it is of very ancient date.
A note at the end of the book of Numbers connects the manuscript with a
story in the Samaritan book of Joshua. It runs:

“It came out from the fire by the power of the Lord to the hand of the
King of Babel in the presence of Zerubbabel the Jew, and was not burned.
Thanks be to the Lord for the law of Moses.”

[6] This MS. has since been examined, and is pronounced to be part of
the Pentateuch in Samaritan characters of the fifteenth century.

[7] I am indebted to the researches of the Palestine Exploration Fund
for these details.


                          THE TEN LOST TRIBES.

Haifa, Oct. 25.—In my last letter I gave some account of the ancient
literature of the Samaritans, which is still extant and in their
possession. The people themselves, however, are such an interesting
ethnological fragment of a remote past that there are many points
connected with their origin and history which are worthy of
consideration, the more especially as they bear upon a problem which
has, of late years, exercised a singular species of fascination over a
certain class of minds. I refer to the so-called “lost” ten tribes. It
may be a disappointment to the Anglo-Israelites to suggest that they are
more likely to be found in the neighbourhood of the country they were
carried from than in England; but, under the circumstances, it is
certainly a more rational and less strained hypothesis, as I think may
be clearly shown by a reference to existing traditions, facts, and
records.

It would appear from the recently discovered cuneiform tablets which are
now under the investigation of Assyrian scholars, that, while they
substantially afford a remarkable confirmation of Biblical history,
there are certain discrepancies in regard to the capture of Samaria and
the carrying away of the Israelites into captivity, which make it
somewhat difficult to determine the exact date and nature of that event.
The complete recovery of the records of Shalmaneser (IV.), who no doubt
did besiege Samaria, will clear this up, and throw light upon the
records of his successor, Sargon, who seems to have succeeded to the
throne about the time of the capture of the city, after a three years'
siege, and who in that case would be the monarch who actually carried
off the Israelites. If this were so, then, according to the date of his
accession, the captivity must have occurred before the invitation which
Hezekiah sent out through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh inviting
Israelites to the Passover at Jerusalem, where we are informed that
large numbers attended it (2 Chron. xxx. 18); and it would put beyond a
doubt, what is in fact most probable, that Sargon, in carrying away the
Israelites captive, did exactly what Nebuchadnezzar also did not long
afterwards, when he carried off the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and
left a large population of the poorer classes behind, who were not worth
taking.

Indeed, when one comes to consider the population which we know to have
inhabited Samaria and Galilee at this time, it seems incredible that any
conqueror would have burdened himself with a host which must have
numbered at the lowest estimate over a million souls and probably a
great many more; and this conjecture is borne out by the fact that we
read, in Jeremiah xli. 5, that a deputation of fourscore Israelites came
to Jerusalem after its destruction, or more than a hundred years after
the captivity of the Israelites. That the Israelites thus left
intermarried with the colonists sent from Assyria on the adoption by
these latter of the Jewish religion, under the instruction of a priest
sent for the purpose, is extremely probable. The Samaritans themselves,
however, deny all intermixture with the colonists, and maintain they are
pure-blooded Israelites; and in confirmation of this we may mention
their marked Jewish type of countenance, their possession of an ancient
text of the books of Moses, and their observance of the Jewish Passover
according to the most ancient forms of that rite.

The Samaritan account of their origin and composition is, as may be
supposed, diametrically opposed to that contained in the books of Ezra
and Nehemiah. They assert that at the time when the two tribes returned
from the captivity a large number of the ten tribes also returned to
Samaria under Sanballat, called by Nehemiah a Horonite, but the
Samaritans call him a Levite. The Samaritan account goes on to state
that while the two tribes under Zerubbabel repaired to Jerusalem, the
rest of the congregation, three hundred thousand in all, besides youth,
women, children, and strangers, were led to Gerizim, where they
established the Temple. Then came the quarrels between the Jews at
Jerusalem and the Israelites at Samaria about the building of the
Temple; and the accounts contained in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah and
the Samaritan records are not very discordant. Making allowance always
for the fact that the Biblical books do not admit that the Samaritans
were Israelites at all, though they admit that Sanballat's son was
married to the daughter of Eliashib, the Jewish high-priest, while this
latter is stated to have allied himself with Tobiah, who was a Samaritan
priest. This caused great displeasure to Nehemiah, and increased the
schism, but it goes, too, far to confirm the supposition that Sanballat
and Tobiah were Israelites.

The Samaritans are, indeed, in the peculiarities of their doctrine,
almost identical with the original Jewish party—the Karaite and
Sadducean sects. They are even called Sadducees in Jewish writings, and
their denial of the resurrection was, like that of the Sadducees, based
on the declaration that nothing was to be found in the law of Moses on
the subject. Again, their version of the law is closely similar to that
of the Septuagint, which was a translation authorized by a Sadducean
high-priest from a text differing from that finally established by the
Pharisees. It is often supposed that the Samaritans borrowed their
doctrine from the Sadducees, but it seems more rational to admit that
they were a sect originally identical, because originally Israelite. The
animosity of Josephus, who was a Pharisee; the fierce denunciation of
the Talmud, written by Pharisees; the destruction of the Gerizim temple
by Hyrcanus, also a Pharisee—all combine to indicate that the Jewish
hatred had nothing to do with any foreign origin of the race, but was
rather roused by the religious differences of a people whom they knew to
be their own kith and kin.

If we adopt this theory the fate of the ten tribes is no longer a
mystery. As we know that before the captivity they were addicted to
strange gods and strange marriages, it is not improbable that a large
proportion lost their tribal identity while in captivity by
intermarrying with the people by whom they were surrounded, and became
merged with them. It is also probable that a certain number, according
to the Samaritan chronicle three hundred thousand (but it need not be so
large a number), returned from their captivity at the time when the two
tribes received permission from Cyrus to return. It is also likely that
others who still retained their religion did not return, and are the
ancestors of certain Hebrew nomads still wandering in the desert. The
Jews from Yemen, for instance, assert that they are of the tribe of Dan,
while there are Jewish shepherds in Mesopotamia whose ancestry seems not
distinctly traceable to the two tribes.

The fact that those who returned to Palestine have dwindled numerically
to so small a number is no reason why they should not have been at one
time a considerable nation, as indeed we know they were from their
subsequent history. They made serious revolts against the Romans in the
time of Pilate, and again during the reigns of Vespasian and Severus,
but under Hadrian they assisted the Romans against the Pharisees. In the
sixth century they attacked the Christians and put the Bishop of Nablous
(or, as it was then called, Neapolis) to death, being at that time
spread over Egypt and the whole of Palestine, except the hills of Judea.
Clinging to the unity of God, they hold Moses to be the one messenger of
God, and Gerizim to be the earth's centre, as it is the shrine of their
faith. In this they are supported by the fact that while blessings and
curses are invoked on the two Samaritan mountains in the books of Moses,
there is no mention in those books of Jerusalem.

They also believe in a state of future retribution, and of angels and
devils as ministers of God in the unseen world. They look for a Messiah
who is to be of the sons of Joseph, and they hold that he is now on
earth, though not yet declared. His name is to begin with the letter M.
His titles are Taheb, “the restorer,” and El-Mahdi, “the guide.” Under
his direction the congregation will repair to Gerizim. Under the famous
twelve stones they will find the ten commandments, and under the stone
of Bethel the golden vessels of the Temple and the manna. After one
hundred and ten years the Prophet, who is considered inferior to Moses,
is to die, and be buried beside Joseph, whose tomb they show in the
valley. Soon after, on the conclusion of seven thousand years from its
creation, the world is to come to an end.

The Samaritans keep the Feast of the Passover on Gerizim, near the ruins
of the ancient temple; here they pitch their tents, and at sunset they
slay sheep and bake them for several hours in a huge oven in the ground,
which is lined with stone. The men are girded with ropes, with staves in
their hands and shoes on their feet, as though prepared for a journey.
They generally eat standing or walking. After the women have eaten, the
scraps are burned and a bonfire kindled and fed with the fat. The rest
of the night is spent in prayer, and the following day in rejoicing.
Besides this, the Feast of Tabernacles is also held on the mountain,
where they construct arbors of arbutus branches. The Feasts of Pentecost
and of Purim and the Day of Atonement are also observed.

The mountain is very barren, rising abruptly to a height of one thousand
feet above the valley in which the town is situated. The ruins which are
to be found upon it are described in the guide-books, so I shall only
allude to what is new in regard to them. Considerable excavation was
carried out here by Captain Anderson under the auspices of the Palestine
Exploration Fund, and plans made of what remains of the Fortress of
Justinian, which is one of the most valuable monuments of Byzantine art
in Palestine, and of the church said to have been built by Zeno. The
twelve stones, traditionally said to have come from the Jordan, were
also excavated, and found to be large, unhewn masses of rock placed upon
two other courses of stone rudely dressed and not squared. Some paved
platforms were also laid bare. These, together with the twelve stones,
may possibly have formed part of the temple built by Sanballat on
Gerizim. Curiously enough, there is a sacred rock here, with a cave
under it, not very unlike the rock and cave over which the Mosque of
Omar is built in the Haram at Jerusalem, and with the same traditions
attached to them. There is also a large ruin on Mount Ebal, enclosing an
area ninety-two feet square, with walls twenty feet thick; but the
excavations which were made here were attended with no result, and
conjecture is at fault as to what it may have been.

Perhaps the most interesting spots at Nablous are Jacob's well and
Joseph's tomb, but this from the point of view purely of association.
Where sites which can be identified with any certainty are so rare,
these two spots stand out preeminently as places about which there is a
unanimity of agreement and force of tradition which go far to confirm
their authenticity. They are venerated by the members of every religious
community in Palestine. Here also we may look with almost positive
certainty upon the position taken up by the Israelites when they stood
“half over against Gerizim” and “half over against Ebal,” to listen to
the reading of the law. Great pains have also been taken to discover the
position of “the great stone” which Joshua “set up under an oak that was
by the sanctuary of the Lord” when he made his covenant with the people
in Shechem immediately before his death, and not altogether without
success. The exactitude with which the tombs of Joshua, Eleazar, and
Phinehas are described in the sacred record enables us to regard the
ancient sepulchres which are still pointed out as theirs with far less
skepticism than usually accompanies our notice of such memorials of the
dead.

Altogether, the extreme antiquity of Shechem as a site, and the
important events of which it was the scene in the earliest period of
Jewish history, invest it with an interest denied to every other
locality in Palestine, excepting Jerusalem itself, while the well of
Jacob must ever be memorable—if, as was most likely, it was the spot
where Christ met the woman of Samaria—for perhaps the most remarkable of
all his utterances. When we remember the religious fanaticism which
characterized both Jew and Samaritan, and the bigoted prejudice which
envenomed the inveterate hatred they felt for each other, and which
turned principally upon the rival claims for sanctity of Jerusalem and
Gerizim, it seems almost incredible that a Jew could have been found,
and he a carpenter, gifted with such lofty courage and such high
spiritual intuition that he should dare to say: “Woman, believe me, the
hour cometh when ye shall neither on this mountain, nor at Jerusalem,
worship the Father. They that worship him must worship him in spirit and
in truth.”


                         RESEARCHES IN SAMARIA.

Haifa, Nov. 3.—While at Nablous I received information that a large
piece of ancient sculpture had been discovered by a man in excavating
some foundations. I procured a guide, and proceeded to his dwelling. It
was evidently the residence of a man of means, and stood in a large
courtyard, at the entrance to which I knocked for admittance. After
hammering for some time a voice from within asked who I was and what I
wanted. On my shouting a reply, I was abruptly told to go away, and all
was silent. Now, the accounts I had heard of this antiquity stimulated
my curiosity to such a degree that, in addition to the indignation I
felt at this treatment, my desire to see the relic overcame my
forbearance, and, seizing a stone, while I ordered my attendant to take
another, we made the quarter ring with our blows. After a time the voice
was heard again: “Why don't you go away. I won't open the door.”

“I won't go away, and I will break open the door if you don't open it,”
I shouted.

“But I am the chief of the police.”

“I don't care who you are; open the door,” and bang went a stone against
it.

There was silence for a moment, and then another and a milder voice:
“Wait a moment. I will let you in,” and the door opened and revealed an
empty courtyard and a youth.

“My father was angry because you disturbed him so early,” he remarked,
apologetically, and I then observed many signs betokening a recent rapid
evacuation on the part of the female members of the family.

Now that I was in, with a large fragment of a beautifully carved frieze
staring me in the face, I could afford to be civil. I was profuse in my
apologies, and promised to disturb no one if I were only shown the
antiquities. But I was destined to experience another reaction of
disappointment when the mild youth informed me that this was all there
was left. The others had been sent to the museum at Constantinople.
Fortunately antiquities, especially when they are massive, travel slowly
in this country, and as I had an opportunity of seeing these before they
left Haifa, and made such careful copies of them as time permitted, I
will describe them.

The peculiar interest which attaches to these remains, which evidently
belong to the Græco-Roman period, arises from the fact that they may
possibly have formed part of the great pagan temple which is represented
on the Greek imperial coins of the ancient Acropolis. The main objection
to this theory is that the temple, it is supposed, was erected on Mount
Gerizim, and the coins show that it was approached by a handsome flight
of steps, whereas these remains were found not far from the base of the
mountain, though sufficiently on its slope to warrant the approach of a
flight of steps. The fact that the subjects of the tableaux are all
taken from Greek mythology would indicate that there must have been a
large population in Samaria in those days, who, so far as their worship
was concerned, were not Samaritans.

Besides two draped figures, unfortunately without their heads, one
life-size and one fifty inches in height, there was a pedestal forty
inches high, triangular in shape, and on each face were two tableaux in
bas-relief, making six carved representations in all, in a very perfect
state of preservation, with inscriptions in Greek above them, of which,
however, I have only been able to make out the general tenor in some
cases. Besides copying the inscriptions, I made such sketches as I was
able of the tableaux. Where many figures are crowded together this is a
very difficult operation. The first scene represents a chariot drawn by
serpents, in which is a robed female, while on the left a woman is
crouched down under a tree. The second consists of Artemis, Apollo, and
Leto, with their names inscribed above them, while on the right is the
serpent Python, his head pierced by an arrow. The third represented an
infant struggling with a serpent between two draped female figures,
evidently Hercules strangling the serpents sent against him by Hera; for
above were the words, “_Trophoi Erakles_.” These formed the upper
tableaux. Below them were three other tableaux, illustrating the legend
of Theseus, the inscription being “_Theseus gnorismata_,” above a
tableau in which he is represented raising a stone under which are
hidden the sword and shoes of his father Aigeus. In the second he is
kneeling on one knee in a struggle with the Minotaur, while behind him
are a group of boys whom he came to save. In the third he has slain the
robber, who is lying prostrate at his feet. Theseus is nude and leaning
on his club, with three other persons all robed standing by him.

There can be little doubt that had any one been present when this
discovery was made, a fuller excavation would have been amply repaid,
and that the house of the ill-tempered old Moslem stands on a site of
the highest interest. I have carefully noted its position, in the hope
that at some future day conditions may exist which would render possible
an examination of his garden, which is now surrounded by a high wall. It
would require little digging to determine whether this was the site of
the celebrated temple or not.

I now left Nablous for the purpose of visiting the ruins of the ancient
city of Samaria, distant about five miles, and formerly the political
capital of the country. It is placed in a most commanding position, and,
from a strategical point of view, was well chosen. Nothing can exceed
the beauty of the prospect of the surrounding country which is obtained
from it. We first inspect the Crusading church of St. John the Baptist,
which must have been a beautiful edifice in its day. The walls alone are
now standing. In an underground crypt, now held sacred by the Moslem
peasantry, the saint is supposed to have been beheaded. The tradition,
though erroneous, is ancient, and existed in 380 A.D. It has some
colour, from the fact that the wilderness in which John preached is near
this, and not near Jericho, as is generally supposed. It can be pretty
well identified by the description “Onon, near to Salem,” where John was
baptizing, “because there was much water there.” Both these places
retain their names, and there is an abundant supply of water, which
flows hence into the Jordan. The fact that Bethabara must be placed much
higher up the Jordan valley than the position usually assigned to it by
tradition makes it pretty certain that the Wady Far'ah, the head of
which is near Samaria, in which are Onon and Salem, and which flows into
the Jordan not far from the probable position of Bethabara, was the
scene of John's ministrations.

The most interesting ruins, however, are those of Herod's Colonnade, to
the west of the modern village. It seems to have run round the hill on a
flat terrace, in the middle of which rises a rounded knoll, on which the
temple dedicated to Augustus, and stated by Josephus to be in the middle
of the town, presumably stood. The remains are most perfect on the
south, where some eighty columns are standing. These are mainly
monolithic. The width of the cloister was sixty feet, and the pillars
are sixteen feet high and six feet apart. The whole length of what must
have been a most imposing colonnade was about two thousand yards, or
nearly a mile and a quarter. Josephus makes it nearly two miles, but
this is exaggerated. There is another street of columns at the bottom of
the hill running in a line oblique to the sides of the upper colonnade.
The colonnade was entered by a gateway, flanked by small towers, the
scarps of which still remain.

Samaria is not to be compared in antiquity with Shechem, its most
flourishing time being, probably, during the reign of Herod, when, in
fact, all Palestine enjoyed a period of architectural magnificence
greater than anything it had previously known. If, instead of following
the ordinary road from Samaria, we ascend, from the large village of
Burka, a steep hill, we burst upon a view which is well worth the climb,
which has also the advantage of being a short cut. We look down into a
fertile basin covered with olive groves and villages, and in the
distance can see a considerable extent of coast line near Cæsarea, while
the familiar outline of Carmel to the northwest closes the prospect.
Then we plunge down into the gardens of the village of Fendakumiyeh,
where there is a sacred cave worth visiting, containing two recesses,
before which there is a detached block of stone like an altar. It may
probably have been an ancient rock-cut chapel. Close to this village is
another called Zeba, which I was sorely tempted to visit, as I had
received an invitation to do so from the sheik who lives here, and who
is one of the richest and most powerful sheiks in the country. He had
already called upon me in Haifa, and represents the great family of
Jerrar, who once exercised an almost independent rule in this district,
setting the Turkish government at defiance, and levying blackmail on the
inhabitants, while they were in perpetual feud with rival families who
claimed a like local supremacy in other parts of the country. The whole
of this system was broken down during the Egyptian occupation of the
country by Ibrahim Pasha. When, by British intervention, it was handed
back to the Turkish government, the latter succeeded in preventing its
recurrence—not, however, without the application of force. More than one
of these local sheiks can point out to you a hole in the wall of his
house which was made by a Turkish cannon-ball. They are by degrees
submitting to the influence of civilization, and, finding that it is no
longer possible to compete successfully with the officials in plundering
the peasantry, are making friends with these latter, so as either to go
shares with them, or to obtain their favor and assistance in their own
agricultural operations, and thus avoid being robbed themselves.

Thus in the immediate neighbourhood of this village there is a plain
called the Drowned Meadow, from the fact that during a great part of the
year it is a marsh, and therefore unavailable for crops. Could it be
drained it would add some thousands of acres of arable land to the
village to which it belonged. Not long ago I was consulted in regard to
the possibility of its being drained, and an engineer even went so far
as to make an estimate of the probable cost of the operation. Although
the sum charged was very moderate, it was more than the capitalists
could venture upon, but the very fact that they could entertain such an
idea was a marked evidence of progress on the part of men whose only
notion of drainage heretofore had been confined to their neighbours'
pockets.

Although probably I should have seen a splendid specimen of a native
magnate's establishment, I found that a halt at Zeba would have lost me
a day, and I therefore pushed on without allowing the sheik to suspect
my proximity to his hospitable abode, still keeping to bypaths instead
of following the beaten track to Jenin, the ancient Engannin, or Spring
of Gardens. From thence, in a day's journey across the plain of
Esdrælon, I reached Haifa.


                      A DRUSE FATHER'S VENGEANCE.

Daliet-el-Carmel, Nov. 7.—An incident so highly characteristic of Druse
life and manners has just occurred here that it seems worthy of
narration. About three months ago I was invited to be present at the
ceremony of the betrothal of the son of the richest man in the village,
by name Sheik Saleh, with the daughter of a neighbour called Kara, whose
wife was a sister of Sheik Saleh. The affair came off in the house of
the former, a small mud-built cottage situated in a court, with the
usual arched roof, and floor of a rough kind of cement, on which were
spread rugs and mats for the guests who crowded in to witness the
ceremony. This took place at nine o'clock at night, and was performed by
the khateeb, or spiritual sheik. It consisted in his joining the hands
of the future bridegroom and bride's father—the bride herself was not
present—and in his repeating several formulas in Arabic, among which I
detected some of the verses of the Koran. A small sum of money was then
paid over to the family of the bride, the khateeb took his fee out of
it, refreshments were brought in, and the rite was over.

It was a relatively tame performance, and not to be compared with an
actual wedding of another couple which took place shortly afterwards,
when the festivities lasted three days and nights, during which time the
bride, loaded with her dowry, which consisted chiefly of silver coins
formed into a head-dress and breastplate, danced incessantly in the
centre of admiring circles of girls who danced round her, while the men
were also making the night resound with their discordant clamour to the
utter destruction of slumber, firing off guns, making bonfires, and
singing. In fact, at the end of the three days the whole village, but
especially the bride, were utterly exhausted by their protracted
gaieties. At the end of this time she was put upon a horse and marched
in solemn procession to the door of every house in the village, followed
by a bevy of damsels screaming and clapping their hands. Each house was
expected to contribute a small sum—make a wedding-present, in fact, to
the newly-married couple. In this way she was finally conducted to the
bridegroom's house, where he was waiting for her with a capacious
mantle, in which, on her arrival, he enveloped her, and then carried her
into his house triumphant.

To go back to the episode of the betrothal. It is the Druse custom for
the father of the bridegroom to pay a sum of money to the bride's
family—in other words, he buys his son a wife. Now, in this case,
although I saw some money pass on the occasion, it was a mere formality.
The father of the bride had, in a fit of generosity, probably
interested, refused a sum of 2000 piastres, or about $75 for his
daughter. He proposed instead that he should form a partnership for
agricultural operations with Sheik Saleh, who, being rich, would be an
advantageous partner. This Sheik Saleh agreed to, and the arrangement
was completed, when it was objected to by Sheik Saleh's wife, who, being
a woman of character and resolution, induced her husband to break it
off. This made Kara furious. He is a man of ungovernable temper, and he
determined that his daughter should never wed Sheik Saleh's son. But a
betrothal of the kind I had witnessed is a very solemn ceremony, and the
only person who can break it is the betrothed bridegroom. The girl and
her family are powerless in the matter. Kara was so maddened by what had
occurred that, rather than let his daughter marry the son of the man by
whom he felt himself to have been outraged, he determined to kill her.
This was an odd resolution to arrive at. One would have thought he might
have gratified his vengeance better by killing Sheik Saleh or his son.
Druse passion, however, runs in curious channels, and he appears to have
been exasperated because his daughter did not share in his fury against
her cousin.

So he led her out to slaughter, riding his horse and armed with his gun,
and driving the poor girl, who was weeping and wailing bitterly, before
him. Many of the villagers saw him, and were well aware of his
intention, but shrank from interfering. The place which he had selected
for the execution was just at the bottom of the hill upon which my house
is situated, and the hour at which he was bent upon this bloody errand
was eight in the evening. Now, it so happened that I have a Druse
servant who has been with me for more than a year, a powerful man, a
splendid sportsman, a most courageous fellow, and, what perhaps was of
more importance, a near relation of Kara's. He chanced to be passing at
the time, and knowing his relative's furious temper, and perceiving that
he really intended to murder his daughter, he interfered at the risk of
his own life, and succeeded in rescuing the girl. Kara, however, was
still too angry to be reasonable. He returned to his house foaming with
passion, and finding his wife—who had lived with him for many
years—weeping bitterly over the whole occurrence, he accused her of
sympathy with her brother's family, and in the heat of the moment
pronounced the fatal words which, according to Druse custom, constitute
a divorce.

The trouble about a Druse divorce is, that the sentence which bids a
woman return to her family, once pronounced by her husband, is
irrevocable. Not only can he never take her back again as his wife, but
he can never, in this life, so much as even speak to her again. If he
sees her at the other end of the street he must turn away to avoid
meeting her. Nor may he enter a house in which he has reason to think
that she is. A man may, therefore, in a moment of passion ruin his own
happiness for life, and this is what Kara did. The whole occurrence only
happened two days ago, and Kara has been in the deepest distress ever
since. Had he killed his daughter, he said, it would not have mattered.
He would scarcely have missed her, and if she were to marry Sheik
Saleh's son she would be dead to him any way; but to be deprived of a
wife, against whom he had never had a complaint to make, who had loved
him and served him faithfully all these years—this was a loss that
nothing could replace.

When I heard that he had spoken in this cold-blooded way about his
daughter, and had alluded to the intention, which he admitted he had
entertained, of killing her, without a shadow of compunction, I half
regretted that he had not been allowed to die the other day of a leech
which he had in his throat. He sent word that he was dying, and a
medical friend who is staying with me went to see him, and found him in
the last stages of exhaustion from a leech which had been sixteen days
fastened too far down his throat to be liberated. These cases are not
uncommon, and are due to the water of some of the springs in the
neighbourhood. We have had five cases this year, but none so bad as
Kara's, which was the first. Salt and all the usual means were tried in
vain, and, as the doctor was anxious to get some leeches to experiment
with, Kara's wife and daughter, who both exhibited the greatest
distress, were despatched to a spring three miles off to get them. The
alacrity they displayed in his service were ill requited by his
subsequent conduct towards them. Here I may remark that large doses of
turpentine, taken internally, proved completely successful. There is
little doubt that, had the leech not succumbed to this treatment, in two
days more Kara must have succumbed to the leech.

The daring with which Druses resort to acts of violence is to be
accounted for by the fact that they can always escape justice. The
moment a Druse commits a crime he flies to the Hauran, which he can
reach with hard travel in eight-and-forty hours. Here he takes refuge
among his coreligionaries of the Jebel Druse Mountain, over whom the
Turkish government exercises only a nominal authority, and where pursuit
is impossible for any Ottoman official.

Meantime there is to be a great gathering of the village elders to
consider whether it is possible to arrange the feud between Sheik Saleh
and Kara. One of the uses to which Druse Khalwès, or places of worship,
is put, is to discuss every question which is of interest to the
village. For instance, should I desire to buy a tract of land from the
village held by many proprietors, they would hold a secret council in
the Khalwè to discuss the best method of cheating me. What passes at
these meetings is considered absolutely secret, and the minority are
bound to accept the opinion of the majority, and afterwards to act with
it. This imparts a wonderful unanimity to all their proceedings with
outsiders, though they quarrel very much among themselves, and these
Khalwè meetings sometimes lead to serious feuds and bloodshed. It seems
likely to do so in this case, for it has been reported to me that Kara
announced that if the decision of the meeting went against him, he would
commit such an act as should prevent it—in other words, murder either
his own daughter or her betrothed.

I was considering how I could best interfere to prevent such a
catastrophe, when I received a few hours ago a visit from Kara himself.
The purport of it, as usual, was to borrow money. I told him I could not
possibly lend money to a man who first decided to kill his own daughter,
and then for no cause divorced his wife. He replied that when he had
committed these acts he was possessed of the devil and unconscious of
what he was doing. I told him that to lend money to a man who was
subject to such demoniac possession was like lending money to the devil
himself, and this I declined to do. He assured me that the devil had
left him so completely that there was no fear of his getting hold of it.
I said I required proof of this, and he could furnish me with it by
assuring me of his readiness to allow his daughter to marry her
betrothed. He said that was a matter in the hands of Allah. “Then,” I
said, “under these circumstances you are prepared, I presume, to accept
the decision of the village as the decision of Allah.”

“Yes,” he replied, “if they decide also that Sheik Saleh is to pay me
fifty Turkish pounds for my daughter.”

“I am sorry,” I remarked, “that Allah has just decided that I am not to
lend you the money you want to borrow from me, and it will depend
entirely upon the extent to which you allow the devil to influence you
against the will of Allah how I treat you for the future.”

With that he took his departure; but I saw enough of his cowed temper
for the present to hope that the matter may be arranged with a little
judicious financial management. It does not give an encouraging view of
human nature to discover how potent a factor money is in its affairs,
even in a primitive Druse village.

In many respects Kara is a superior man, decidedly better than his
enemy, Sheik Saleh, who will also have to be dealt with, and who behaved
badly in backing out of an arrangement which had already been concluded,
for no valid reason. Owing, however, to the position which I occupy
financially to the village, they are all more or less under control, and
I have it in my power to exercise a pressure which even the Khalwè would
find it difficult to resist.

Unfortunately, I shall be obliged to leave instructions with regard to
this delicate matter, as my stay in Palestine for the present is about
to draw to a close, and with it must terminate this record of my
experiences in a country which, in spite of its many drawbacks,
possesses in my eyes superior attractions as a residence to any other in
which my lot has been cast.

                                THE END.



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    4/87.



                          Transcription Note


The following printing mistakes were corrected:

  • p. 8, l. -1: cantalever → cantilever
  • p. 9, l. -3: shiek → sheik
  • p. 73, l. 4: Jochanau Sandelar → Jochanan Sandelar
  • p. 93, l. 24: although they none of them cover → although none of
    them covers
  • p. 94, l. 20: lintels elaborately carved, → lintels elaborately
    carved;
  • p. 104, l. 21: langour → languor
  • p. 107, l. 4–5: about two two miles → about two miles
  • p. 210, l. -3: circumtances → circumstances
  • p. 251, l. 8: _basso relievo_ → _basso-rilievo_
  • p. 275, l. -1: Madhi → Mahdi
  • p. 276, l. 20: the Soudan itself. → the Soudan itself.”
  • p. 310, l. 8: this spot is it destined → this spot it is destined
  • Catalogue, p. 17, entry MURDOCH, l. 3: Cessios → Cessions

Variant forms like _co-religionist_ / _coreligionist_, _sea-coast_ /
_seacoast_, _Esdrælon_ / _Esdraelon_, etc. have been left as in the
original. Missing punctuation in entries of the Catalogue has been
silently rectified.





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