Page images
PDF
EPUB

141

conquered, though not without some honourable wounds, and loss of cotton garments destroyed by the enemy.

When I asked François what he did to stay the fury of the enraged element he had aroused, he replied, "Ma foi! Madame, j'etais si etonné de voir tant de belles sortir à la fois de ces tents là, que je craignais subir le sort de Telemaque dans l'isle de Calipse, et je me sauvais toute de suite." He would have been much nearer the truth had he said that he fled from the justly enkindled wrath of the daughters of Nox and Acheron. Had his carelessness caused much more damage, he would have found his belles Calypsos transformed into Megaras and Tisiphones, with their snakes and torches about his ears.

NOCTURNAL MUSIC.

The matter was satisfactorily arranged by a few presents from my wardrobe, and a draught upon the sugar and coffee stores of Monsieur François.

We retired to rest, but not to sleep; for the pastoral ser. enade with which we were regaled the livelong night by the multitude of quadruped performers around us, was enough to make one for ever eschew the rural harmony so much lauded by the poets. I ran down the gamut of all the pas. torals I had ever read, from the tripping treble measure of Delisle,

"Je chant les moissons, et je dirai sous quelle signe,
Il faut ouvrir la terre et cultiver la vigne,"

down to the Dead March of Grey,

"The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea,"

in order, if possible, to compel my rebellious nerves to vi brate in harmonious accord with those soul-stirring sounds and glorious symphonies of barnyard music. It was all in vain; neither was there "any sleep to mine eyes, nor slum. ber to mine eyelids." I still hear that pastoral charivari dinning in my ears; and, though it may not keep me awake this night, I fear that, ere you read my account of it, you will have fallen asleep over this epistle; I will therefore bid you another good-night.

LETTER XXXIII.

Jacob's Well.-An Oriental Abernethy.-A singular Proceeding.-The Doctor's Man.-Oaks of Bashan.-Accidents by the Way.-Meeting with a Compatriot.-Arrival at Damascus.-Convents closed against Women. -A Quarrel with the Turks.-Damascus the Beautiful.-System of Ir. rigation.-Luxuriance of Fruit.

Damascus,

BEFORE I introduce you to the Queen of Syria, permit me to go back to where I left you last on the banks of the Jordan.

The place of our encampment was at that point of the Jordan near where the river Jabbok comes into it from the east. Ramoth Gilead was situated on the mountains opposite to us, while the sites of Penuel and Succoth were nearer the plain of Jordan. On the morning after our uncomfort. able night among the Bedouins, we turned our backs upon the Jordan, and entered a defile in the mountains, through which ran the ancient road from Ramoth Gilead to Sychem; and, no doubt, the one by which Abraham and his followers entered Canaan when he "passed through the land unto the place of Sychem, unto the plain of Moreh." We procured a guide from the village, and felt ourselves most happy in thus escaping from the hand of the Philistines.

In a few hours we came in sight of objects quite familiar to us, being the same we had passed some days before on our way to Jerusalem. We halted at " Jacob's Well," where Christ held the memorable conversation with the woman of Samaria, while our people "were gone away unto the city to buy meat," and to pitch our tent in a convenient and pleasant place. We reposed here a while, and read the fourth chapter of St. John. When Christ said to the woman, "Give me to drink," she said to him, "Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep ;" and so we

143

AN ORIENTAL ABERNETHY.

found it. This has always been recognised as the identical well at which our Saviour halted; for it is situated beside the great north and south highway, leading from Jerusalem to Galilee, while Sychar is a short distance to the west of it. Travellers on this route, who had no particular business in the city, would naturally halt by this well, while their ser vants were gone to the city to buy provisions. Besides, it corresponds better with the account given of it, than any other well in the vicinity; for we saw, and could learn of, no other that was "deep.". The copious springs near, and the aqueduct behind the city, gave to it a plentiful supply of water, without requiring expensive and laborious excavations in the rock. In "the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph," there was need of water for the flocks and herds, and hence the occasion for a deep well. We saw the ruins of a portico or chapel which had once been erected over it. The well is about eight or nine feet in diam. eter; its depth we had no other means of ascertaining than by throwing stones into it. There was no water in it. Probably it had been filled up wantonly or in time of war.

Our object in making so early a halt at Nablous was to call in medical attendance for two of our servants, who had been several days on the sick list-one of the moukres and my boy Selim. We sent to the governor to ask permission for his physician to attend on our patients. As the visit of this modern Esculapius was somewhat singular, I shall attempt to describe it to you, though it is impossible to convey upon paper the appearance of the man and his retinue, and some of the curious incidents that occurred.

If the man himself be a specimen of the fraternity in these regions, it must be a wholesome calling, for I have seldom seen one of so hale an appearance or of such extreme corpulence. Indeed, the doctors of these Oriental countries would be fools if they did not make their compounds of the most palatable and nutritious ingredients, as custom obliges

them to partake of a portion of every dose they administer to their patients. This man did so in the present instance.

He came to the tent attended by three or four servants, not only to wait upon his person, but to carry his sacks of pills and powders. Old Galen himself was dressed in a long dark-blue cloth robe, with the usual ample nether gar. ments. On his head was an enormous turban of fine white muslin. His chief bottle-holder was robed in flaming scar. let, and he alone entered our tent with his master, while the other servants or students of medicine (whatever might have been their precise calling I know not) seated them. selves on the ground outside. Our practitioner was no San. grado, neither did he deem it necessary to feel his patient's pulse, or ask of any one the nature of his complaint, or how long he had been ill; but proceeded secundum artem (Arabian, of course) to administer his nostrums. He took his station in front of the patient; and his first operation was to take from a pouch at his side a small vial, from which he extracted some pungent powder, which he thrust into the nostrils of the sick boy, squeezing his nose with his fingers, in order to keep the powder from falling out. This aroused the weak patient, and put him in a situation to undergo the next operation. Without inquiring of us what we had pre. viously done for the boy, he drew forth a packet of powder, resembling oatmeal more than anything else; he then called for some water; and taking from the ample folds of his ca. pacious turban a silver spoon, he commenced stirring the dose; and after partaking of a goodly portion of it himself, he transferred the rest to the hands of the boy, and made him drink it. The fact was, the case, being a high intermittent fever, was beginning to yield to the remedies we had previously applied. On inquiring of this sapient Oriental Hakim whether any and what restriction should be put upon the boy's diet, he replied none at all; but that he might now eat as many green cucumbers and drink as much sour

THE DOCTOR'S MAN.

145

milk (the favourite summer repast of the Arabs) as he chose, which he took good care to do whenever he was out of our sight, and paid dear for it afterward. Another amusing scene took place when the fee was offered to the doctor of medicine. He drew up with great dignity, made us a polite salaam, and then stalked away with all the importance of majesty itself. The fee thus indignantly refused by the great physician of the noble governor of Nablous did not long remain unclaimed; for his Gil Blas in scarlet soon returned, and made known to us that, although his noble master could not take a fee from strangers, yet we might transfer it to his pocket as a reward for the very important services he and his master had rendered to us by curing so valuable a slave.

This incident reminded me forcibly of the history of the remarkable cure performed on Naaman by the prophet Elisha, as recorded in 2 Kings v., the scene of which was also in Samaria, and the holy physician would receive no recompense, not even a blessing. "But Gehazi (the man in blazing scarlet), the servant of the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the Lord liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him. So Gehazi followed after Naaman."

I never learned whether our Gehazi received the punishment of him that served the prophet of old, or whether he did not divide the spoils the "two talents of silver"— with this modern seer, his own master of medicine.

From Nablous to the Sea of Galilee we pursued nearly the same route that I described to you in a former letter.

We did not touch again at Tiberias, but passed a short distance to the west, and descended to the shore of the lake a few miles to the north of it, at the site of Magdala, the native place of Mary Magdalene. Riding along the strand, I observed many beautiful specks of mother-of-pearl, mingled VOL. II.-N

« PreviousContinue »