Page images
PDF
EPUB

SINGULAR CAVERN.

191

In the neighbourhood of the village of Eden we came to the silk-growing country. The mulberries were growing most luxuriantly.

After passing Eden we pitched our tent on a delightful spot, which seemed as if formed expressly to give the most beautiful point of view of the whole valley as it ran off towards the sea.

era.

In the perpendicular rock which formed the sides of this profound gulf are numbers of artificial grottoes, formerly used as dwellings by the army of anchorites who pervaded all the Eastern world during the first ages of the Christian One very singular natural cavern arrested our attention, the entrance of which was a noble arch apparently 80 feet high, with a span of 20 feet. In the interior was a beautiful cascade falling 50 or 60 feet before it touched the bottom, and then rushing in a torrent out of the mouth of the cavern. This is the vicinity so poetically and graphically described by Lamartine.

We left this garden of Eden very reluctantly; we could have passed many delightful days in it, had not circumstances forbidden our tarrying by the way.

The whole of the next day our road lay among the mountains, over paths as rough and precipitous as can well be conceived; many times there was scarcely a spot for our animals to place their feet upon without incurring the danger of breaking their own legs or our necks.

No care, whatever is bestowed upon the paths in this country. On the contrary, they are rendered even worse than nature made them, by the loose stones thrown into them from the cultivated ground. On the very pinnacles of some of the highest mountains, as well as on some of the most precipitous rocks, where scarcely seemed space for an eagle's nest, or footing for the mountain goat, were perched Catholic convents, of which it is said there are several hundred in all the Lebanon chain. We saw many grottoes cut

in the rocks at giddy and fearful heights from the ground, affording us matter of as much astonishment as speculation, by what means the occupants were enabled to effect their ingress and egress.

We rode this day eleven hours, our place of encampment being regulated, as usual, by the convenience of water, which is not always to be found at the moment most desired. Sometimes we were obliged to halt much earlier, and at others to prolong our rides much later in the day, than was convenient or comfortable for us.

Next morning we reached the seashore in two hours after starting, and the road for the remainder of the day lay along the coast, over the same stony country as we had been travelling through for some days past, and almost impassable for man or horse.

We passed through the town of "Gebal," the port where Hiram shipped the cedars for the architectural use of King Solomon.

In Ezekiel xxvii., 9, the inhabitants of Gebal are spoken of as skilled in ship-building. We noticed a number of Egyptian granite columns strewed about the place, which no doubt belonged to the earlier city.

The coast scenery which we passed to-day was extremely beautiful. We rode twelve hours, and, not being able to reach Beyrout, we encamped four hours distant from it, immediately on the seashore.

On our approach to Beyrout we sent tɔ apprize our consul, Mr. Chasseaud, of our arrival, with a request that he would come out to meet us, and give his advice as to our farther proceedings. He came, and recommended us to the place where we are now encamped, under the shade of that species of locust which produces the bean or fruit mentioned in the Bible, in the parable of the Prodigal Son, as the husks of which the swine did eat.

No doubt you, as well as myself, always considered these

193

"husks" as being the same thing with the green husks of our Indian corn.

This bean is no doubt the same also as the fruit alluded to in scripture by the name of locust and wild honey. Im. mense quantities of it grow in the East, and I have seen car. goes of it going to Southern Russia, from which they distil a sort of brandy.

*

*

GENERAL CHARACTER OF PALESTINE.

We have now completed our tour through the Holy Land. The time occupied has been about two months from the day of our departure from Beyrout; and you will have perceiv. ed, by my preceding letters (if they all ever reach you), im. perfect as they are, that we have performed the journey with all due diligence and very effectually. We have to ac. knowledge the favours we have experienced in never having been detained a single day by sickness, nor our course retarded by weather; and, besides, the wonder is that we have all returned safely here without the occurrence of some fatal accident.

We can truly say, with the great apostle of the Gentiles, that we have encountered "perils by land, perils by sea, and perils among false brethren." And we have escaped "the terror by night, and the arrow that flieth by day, and the pestilence that walketh in darkness;" for all which provi. dences our grateful acknowledgments are due to that Supreme Being who has mercifully afforded them.

The general character of the country through Syria and Palestine is mountainous and rocky, a great proportion of it exhibiting nothing but a scene of dreary desolation, with occasional tracts, however, of beautiful country. There are but few running streams, particularly in Palestine, and at this season of the year but little water of any kind. Hence the importance that has always, from the time of the patri. archs down to the present day, been attached to the wells and cisterns; and useless or disobedient servants have al VOL. II.-R

eye

ways been very appositely styled "Broken cisterns that hold no water." The country possesses no forests to relieve the from the tedium of dwelling continually on barren hills. The best land and handsomest country that came under our observation was that in the vicinity of Mount Tabor, or, say from the upper end of the Sea of Galilee, embracing Mount Tabor, and extending south over the plains of Esdraelon to the vicinity of Jezreel. This is all in the country of Galilee.

[ocr errors]

In Samaria there is some good land, but it struck us as very singular, that throughout most of Judea, that once favoured land, and even around the Holy City itself, the land is the poorest in all the country.

The principal productions of the soil, where it is now cultivated, are wheat, barley, lentils, some Indian corn, and an abundance of melons of various kinds. Tobacco is culti vated in every part, and is as essential to an Arab as his food. On the coast of Syria there are very extensive plantations of mulberry-trees for feeding silk-worms, and large quantities of silk are made and exported.

The country generally is thinly populated, and much even of the most fertile land is entirely uncultivated. The peo. ple look poor, and everywhere are seen the evidences of an oppressive government.

Intemperance from the use of ardent spirits is not a vice that exists in this country, although it has its share of many others.

If we are none the better for having made this tour of the Holy Land, I hope we are none the worse. We have cer. tainly lost nothing but a little time, some comforts, and a few piastres more or less. As regards comforts, we have had to put up with many privations, yet very few persons have probably ever made the same tour with as many ad. vantages as we carried with us. No pains or expense were spared by the gentlemen to make my position as comforta.

A.

195

ble as possible. Although we were but three principals, we never had less than ten men and seventeen horses, and often

more.

One advantage we shall derive from our journey; our future readings of the sacred volume will be made much more understandingly, and, it is to be hoped, to our greater edification.

TOUR OF THE HOLY LAND COMPLETED.

A pilgrimage to the tomb of the prophet at Mecca confers on a Mussulman the title of hadji; so also does a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem confer the same honour on a Christian. We therefore can now lay claim to the title of hadjies.

Our vessel will be ready to receive us in a day or two, when we shall take our final leave of the coasts of the Holy Land.

[ocr errors]

On what coast we shall next be driven, it is impossible for me to say; but, if we arrive in safety at Smyrna, I will there again address you. Until that perhaps distant period, I bid you an affectionate farewell,

LETTER XXXVII.

Chartering a Vessel.-Death in a Letter.-A Greek Coaster.-Pirates.Island of Cyprus.-More Quarantine.-A stormy Gulf.-Gulf of Macri.Dangerous Navigation.-An ingenious Stratagem.-Ruins of Telmessus. -Tombs and Inscriptions.-Perils of Travel.-Unwelcome Misgivings.

--

Gulf of Macri (Asia Minor), -. WHEN I wrote you last from Beyrout, I little thought that I should next address you from this deserted and remote southern coast of Asia Minor. Circumstances, however, which I will hereafter detail to you, induced us to make a port in this deep and dangerous gulf, and land upon its unhealthy

« PreviousContinue »