תמונות בעמוד
[blocks in formation]

water they contained to the level of its final destination. The second is, that these springs were originally collected into one stream, which must then have formed a considerable rivulet, and running through this valley, finally discharged its waters into the Asphaltine lake.

It was beside these water-works that Ibrahim Basha suffered a defeat by the Arabs some years ago, when he made a sudden sortie from Jerusalem, and attacked the rebels there; but then their numbers more than doubled his. A garrison of five cavalry soldiers were stationed in the old castle.

On our return to the city we followed the track of the aqueduct as far as Bethlehem, and afterwards crossed it in several places on the road. It is very small, but the water runs in it with considerable rapidity, as we could perceive by the open spaces left in it here and there. From the very tortuous course this conduit takes in following the different sinuosities of the ground, being sometimes above and sometimes beneath the surface, it is difficult to persuade one's self that it does not run up hill, as many have supposed. Finally, it crosses over the valley of Rephaim, on a series of arches to the north of the lower pool of Gihon, and winding round the southern horn of Sion, is lost to view in the ruins of the city. It very probably supplied the pool of Bethesda, after having traversed a course of certainly not less than from thirteen to fifteen miles.

Having, on our return, gained the height on which the Greek convent of Mar Elias stands—the view of the Holy City that instantly burst upon our sight from this spot, was splendid in the extreme. It realized all I had previously conceived of its grandeur, but which had been dissipated on my first approach from Jaffa. From this point it is still a noble city, with tall arrowy minarets, vast domes, and several palaces, rising above its bold embattled walls, rendered more prominent by the valleys with which they are surrounded. Reining up our horses, we stopped to admire the glorious prospect. We could not but call to mind that it was from where we stood the first Crusaders viewed Jerusalem, and where the soldiers of the faithful Tancred first beheld the long-sought object of their wishes for which they had suffered fatigues, hardships, and privations, almost unknown before. We can well imagine their enthusiasm, when it burst upon their ravished sight, and conceive the groans, the

[blocks in formation]

tears, the tumultuous feelings of transport, joy, and thanksgiving, that the historian informs us then broke forth, and which afterwards formed so glorious a theme for the muse of Tasso.

In the evening we rode out again ; crossed the valley of Jehoshaphat, and skirting the southern side of the Mount of Olives, pursued our way to Bethany. The road is stony, and in many places rugged and precipitous. The miserable village of Bethany is about a mile and a half or two miles from the city; a few scattered huts, half in ruins, and an old mosque, still mark the place. But notwithstanding this desolation and wretchedness, it is a most romantic spot, beautifully situated on the brow of the hill, and commands an extensive and varied prospect of the surrounding scenery. The hour at which we visited it was favourable for viewing the scene, and well calculated to make a lasting impression upon us, for the sun was just going down behind the hills of Judah, to lave his burnished form in the waters of the midland sea, and the shades of night that in these climes follow quick upon his parting rays, were gathering from the distant desert, and sweeping over the dark surface of Gomorrah's lake. The birds were hastening to their nests, numerous crows, and large snowy storks winged their calm and noiseless flight above our heads, and the shepherds were conducting their flocks to places of security for the night.

One of these old shepherds offered to be our guide to the socalled tomb of Lazarus. This is a subterraneous vault, cut out of the rock, something like the tomb of the Virgin Mary, but much smaller. We entered by a low door, and descended a flight of steps which conducted us to a small chamber at a considerable depth below the surface, to the right of which, and still lower, is a grotto or crypt, with a bench on one side on which a body may have been placed. This is a dirty place, and in possession of the Arabs; but I see no reason to dispute

its antiquity. Probably it may have been a village sepulchre ;

for such were not uncommon in Palestine, The Christian will scarcely visit the spot where Mary and her sister dwelt, and where the scene of those many interesting events narrated in the Gospels oecurred, without calling to mind the many memorable circumstances and associations connected with it, and having brought before him, in all its vividness, the touching scene of the



resurrection of him whom Jesus loved. After examining the place, we returned to the city, and arranged for our departure on the following morning.

Having paid a last visit to my friends on Mount Sion, I retired to rest, I cannot say to sleep; indeed, during my sojourn in the Holy City I slept little, except what resulted from sheer bodily fatigue. So exciting were the scenes witnessed in the day, and so perfectly absorbed was my mind in the object of my visit, that it seemed as if I were insulated from the rest of the world. None—not the most thoughtless, apathetic, and indifferent-can reside there a single day without partaking more or less of this enthusiasm and excitement. Yes, there is a charm in Jerusalem that those alone can feel, or can appreciate, who have stood beneath its ancient portals, viewed it from its surrounding hills, and mingled with its mourning children, amidst the ruins of its prostrate grandeur ! Indeed it is almost universally admitted by travellers that so engrossing, so overpowering is the effect produced by the two or three first days' residence in Jerusalem, that they were for some time unable to view with composure even those places, and those scenes that they knew to be fictitious.

March 25th, we left Jerusalem. A circumstance occurred, which, as it is descriptive of the character of an Arab recruit, I

may here record. Having started a few minutes before my party, on passing through the Jaffa gate, in which there was a guard of young Egyptian soldiers, one of them threw at me, by way of sport, a small pebble, which hit me in the face. Although it did not hurt me very much, yet, as the act was accompanied by the reproachful epithet of Giaour, I let my wounded feelings get the better of my discretion, and in the heat of the moment I turned my horse round and gave the fellow two or three smart blows of my coorbag. He quickly retired into a small recess beside the gate, and on my urging my borse to follow him, the sentry presented his firelock and stood boldly in the way ; and the blow intended for the flying culprit, fell upon his shoulders. He instantly let the musket fall to the ground, skipt nimbly out of the way, and bolted after his companion. My friends now coming up in strong muster, and with a threatening attitude, the affray terminated by the whole guard betaking themselves to the innermost apartment of the gateway.


[blocks in formation]

doubt the more proper and judicious, but less humane measure, would have been to have reported the transaction to the governor, instead of taking the law into our own hands. But what then would have been the consequence? We should have had the horrid satisfaction of having this unfortunate man's ears cut off, or his being, perhaps, bastinadoed on the soles of his feet until the very nails dropt off. Under other circumstances the effects of this rencontre might have been attended with more serious results.

We performed the journey back to Ramla in six hours, unmarked by any adventure except that of encountering a sirocco wind, if such be an adventure. While upon the highest elevation of the hill country, we had perceived a certain sultriness of the air; the wind was then blowing from the S.E., and on looking behind us we could discover a peculiar haziness of the atmosphere, which momentarily approached us, while in front all was yet bright and distinct. Presently the sultriness increased, although the sun was not particularly hot, and there was rather more breeze than usual. In fact, this wind, which was no other than the sirocco, appeared to move as a stratum of the atmosphere, and for some time, even after it reached us, it did not descend and fill the valleys. The wind had been blowing from the S.E. for two days previous, and it had, in all probability, been for some time traversing the hot and arid Idumean desert, where it met no particle of vegetable life to modify its force; and where the sand, in all likelihood, had never cooled during the night. This wind also takes up, and holds suspended in it the minutest particles of sand, which, in the space of a couple of hours, we could perceive upon our clothes.

We now began to feel its full force, and its effect was most unpleasant, though difficult to describe. The air itself became a hot thick palpable haze, of a bluish-grey colour, rendering the outlines of objects indistinct, though it allowed us to see much farther than in an ordinary humid mist. I know no better resemblance of the character the air assumes under these circumstances than that peculiar appearance and quivering motion which the heat and smoke of a fire has when lighted in the open air, on a clear hot sunny day. Although it may be blowing hard at the time, yet the breeze is unrefreshing, and comes hot and sultry on the brow, producing at first a feeling of oppression and constric

[blocks in formation]

tion of the chest. This increases in time to a sickening sense of suffocation. There is a general dryness of the skin, the pores cease to throw out their secretions, the mouth becomes dry and parched, attended with urgent thirst, the vessels of the eyes become suffused, and headache and lassitude ensues. Finally, great prostration of strength is felt, which remains long after the exciting cause has ceased, and the other symptoms have been removed ; and above all, there is the most debilitating effect produced upon the mind by this sirocco-a feeling of good-for-nothingness.

This wind is one of the most trying things that awaits the invalid in his journeys through the Levant; and it is indeed trying to all, even the most healthy. The residents in those places subject to it, shut themselves up in their houses during its continuance, and close all their doors and windows. Its action is generally modified towards evening, though it may continue for two or three days together. For this reason people who live in eastern countries seldom travel, if they can avoid it, during the heat of the day. The depressing effect of the sirocco may be that alluded to by the Psalmist as “the arrow that flieth by day.”. (Psalm xci. 5.) Homer also appears to refer to this wind when he speaks of the contagion that appeared among the Greeks, and ascribed it to the “arrows of the god of light.” I may remark upon the subject of temperature generally in the Orient, that about two o'clock was the hour at which the mercury stood highest, and frequently it was higher at 10 A. M. than at noon.

Owing to the great difference of elevation in various parts of Palestine, the greatest dissimilarity prevails with regard to its temperature and climate. We were so fortunate as to visit it at the most favourable and healthy period of the year—the snows and cold of winter had just disappeared, and the rainy season had not yet commenced—a month or three weeks earlier we should have been travelling in some places with snow up to our horses' knees, while, at the same time, we would have endured a scorching sun overhead. * The rainy season in this country is very variable, both as to the quantity which falls, and

* For a table of the daily temperature on board our vessel during the Mediterranean cruise, see Appendix, 0.

« הקודםהמשך »