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bably by the trunks of trees, &c. some of which we saw rushing down with the recent rains, cleaves the stream in two. We found the waters of a lurid olive, extremely rapid and eddying ; the bottom a fine chalky soil, easily disturbed, and easily subsiding. In summer, the river is quite clear. The Arab who crossed was obliged to swim about one-third of the way: the stream was much swollen; at other times of the year, particularly during the hot anonths, it is easily fordable on foot. The banks on the west side are precipitous, on the opposite much broken by trees, &c.: their general height about fifteen or twenty feet; their breadth about one hundred and fifty feet, and depth about twelve. A little lower down, the river altogether loses this character. It is still confined by high banks, but they are quite bare both of trees and herbage: the river assumes a dead dim hue; a few scattered reeds are almost sufficient to impede its course, which is remarkably sluggish, and may remind the traveller of some parts of the Tyber. Whilst we were slowly riding along, wrapt up in mute meditation on its ancient glories, our Bedouins were not idle. They had observed a party of Arabs on the opposite side, prowling about, and instantly rode back in great alarm, and desired us to keep closer ranks. It turned out, however, to be nothing more serious than one of the usual encounters. On riding up, we found two or three naked men attempting to recall their horses from this side of the river. The sheep of their rivals had crossed over in return, and a parley ensured on the propriety of seizing them. “They belong to the Vizier,” says one of the disputants.—“ If they belonged to the Sultan,” retaliated the enemy,“ it is all the same to us : we are the Sultan, and we will seize them as we like.” After admiring this specimen of Bedouin law, which differs little in theory or practice from that of our own good Border ancestors, when “the strong hand uppermost”* was the beginning, middle, and end of all jurisprudence, we rode on, soon reached the embouchure of the river, bearing south-east, and caught the first broad view of the Dead Sea.+ The sea is discoloured by the waters of the Jordan for about two hundred yards, and, for at least four hundred feet up the stream, the water tastes extremely salt and brackish. The south side is covered with a quantity of low shrubs, and about one hundred yards from the river, a low line of sand separates its debordemens from the sea. Here, also, are a few trees, the greater part shrunk up and withered. We now proceeded to the shore. The view from this point is singularly striking. The mountains of Moab on the east, and the continuation of the chain Gebel Nasle on the west, form a vast basin. They appear, generally speaking, to run parallel,--are of the same character of soil-the western lower than the eastern chain-their forms much broken, affecting the conical, and running down in ridges, shivered and pointed, to the water. In some places they break off bluftly and unexpectedly, and are cloven by earthquake or time into perpendicular precipices. The colour of the eastern range, somewhat interrupted here and there by deep valleys, is of a dun red: no symptoms of wood, and very little of herbage, are to be seen. Each of these valleys are traceable by their openings towards the sea, and almost every opening is consecrated, in some manner or other, in the pages of sculpture. On the west, the hills stand like a confused crowd of tumuli, ploughed and torn and slashed by the action of inward fire, but with a great resemblance to each other, and of a whitish, chalky soil, here and there greened over with a scant and sickly herbage. A very near exemplification of the same appearances may be seen, both in the neighbour
* The motto of the armorial bearings of the O'Briens.
+ Bahr, a generic name for any large expanse of water-river, lake, or see. Thus, the Tiberias and Asphaltes may be called “ small," as the Hellespont has been called “ broad.” Before we pronounce on the propriety of the epithet, we must ascertain to what it is referred.
Most of the names of the five cities bear allusion to these appearances, or to the great event : they seem to have been given after it. Bara, burning ; Adan, red earth ; Gomorrah, rebel, &c.
hood of the Solfatara at Naples, and close to the city of Sienna. No plains of any extent intervene between the mountains and the sea. The sandy plains of Jericho stretch off, blank and waste, to the north. We sat down for a time, in silent astonishment, and gazed, strongly impressed by the sight, on the universal desolation which weighed like a curse on every thing around us. We were seated on a withered trunk, which had been carried down by the river and afterwards rejected by the sea. Large fragments of a similar kind lay scattered around us, half buried in the slimy sand; beyond these were long crusts, or shells of salt, glistening and cracking under the feet of our horses, that were wandering about in search of some sour herbage, and, finding none, had at last approached to where we were placed. A few sickly plants, half-smothered in the mud and salt of the frequent inundations, made a sort of wood. Near drooped one or two squalid knots of tulips, mixed with glaring yellow flowers; and we heard, from time to time, the melancholy song of a few lonesome birds on the stunted trees. After a short repose, we stripped, and rushed into the waters. They bore us up with great force as we advanced. We took precautions not to wet the head. The travellers who had preceded us had suffered from neglect in this respect. The water seemed tolerably clear until taken up in the hand, when it looked oily, and resembled brandy when first mixed with water. The general hue was a dead, palish green, approaching to blue; the bottom slippery and slimy, cleft strongly up and down for several feet together, and here and there scooped and sunk into pits and holes. This slime, on the shore, assumed the appearance and consistency of stone. The sensation on leaving the water was disagreeable in the extreme. It did not, indeed, produce that contraction of the skin mentioned by most writers, but we felt instead, a clammy, oily feeling, not unlike honey half washed off. I saw no asphaltum floating on the surface of the sea; but we picked up some particles (the largest not longer than an inch) and perfectly black, on the shore. The water tasted particularly salt, bitter, and poignant, and left a strong, sharp, stinging sensation on the tongue, nose, and eyes. The salt deposit, too, on our beards and skin was very considerable and most unpleasant. The whole scene was one of utter desolation. Not a human being was visible in the neighbourhood; not a single symptom or vestige of man. The few straggling birds I have mentioned, and the fragments of a few shells in the sand, were the only evidences of life. After an interval of about an hour, we resumed our journey. On leaving the lake, and crossing some brackish water at no great distance from the shore, we took a N.W. direction, and re-entered on the same description of desert mountain we had been traversing the day before. Here we dismissed our Jericho guard of honour, and sending on Sheikh Mohanımed (who, notwithstanding our prohibition, had, by a circuitous route, come up with us and joined us) to the Convent of St. Saba, to prepare for our reception, we continued our wanderings amongst the mountains. They were truly such: up and down the beds of torrents, with guides as ignorant as ourselves, striding on in a sling trot by our side, and every moment vociferating for help and water. The torrents were dry, and the wells distant, and the day advanced, and the whole party tired, and the greater part out of humour. In the height of these disappointments, we at last chanced on a truly scriptural-looking well, covered with a large misshapen stone. The rush to the spot was most exhilarating; the stone was hurled aside, and all bent down to drink in a moment. In the midst of this good fortune and enjoyment Sheikh Mohammed entered our ring with his long black face, and reported, in doleful guise, that his applications at the Convent had been totally ineffectual. “Those same sons of infidels,” said he, “the reverend fathers of Saint Saba, had refused all admittance, without a firmaun from the Dragoman of the Greeks at Jerusalem ; had we been sons of kings, they would not, at this hour, receive us." We were sore wroth at the refusal, but we .could not help thinking afterwards the monks were quite in the right. There could not be a more villainous face to send, by way of a letter of recommendation, than our friend Mohammed's; besides, the monks, after the man
ner of their brethren in Europe during the middle ages, had many an aceount still to settle with their troublesome neighbours. Mohammed kept his tribe constantly marauding in the neighbourhood, and the Punic faith and false pledges of these freebooters had been often experienced, and were well remembered. In this dilemma we held over the well a hasty council. Mohammed sitting on the stone, with his legs crossed, and his hand under his chin, quietly observed the changes of our countenance. After various suggestions, he offered to conduct us to the camp of one of his acquaintances in the neighbourhood, where, if our “ Highnesses” liked it, we might sleep for the night. There was not much choice. We had only to select a bed on a rock with a tent over us, or a bed on a rock without any tent at all. The danger was equal. We might be slain any where; and as for rubbery, we had nothing about us, “ cantabit vacuus,” &c. we were not worth the risk or the pains. In about half an hour we arrived at the camp. It consisted of a few black tents (the tents of Kedar) drawn up on the shelving side of a sandhill, immediately over a wadi, or the ravine of a torrent. We were received by a crowd of young turbulent Bedouins, mostly armed, amidst the barking of dogs, the screams of children, and the emphatic panegyrics of Mohammed. We spread our rugs, and slept satisfactorily, and soundly enough, until morning.
The next day we visited St. Saba. After some slight demur at the outer wicket, of no consequence to any one who has travelled amongst Austrians, we were admitted by the superior, a Syrian, who conducted us through the Monastery with many salaams, and a profusion of apologies. We were not Hadgis, so lightly to be despised; and then some of our party could speak Greek. The church is gaudy rather than gay; the whole impannelled with sprawling paintings of various epochs. In some of the more recent, groping attempts were visible at chiaroscuro—an alarming innovation amongst the orthodox, if we are to trust to the anecdote of Titian. The subjects which covered so much wood were of the usual kind-armies of gaunt and ghostlyvisaged saints, legends, disjointed portions of Scripture history, &c. Amongst the latter we noticed “ The Last Judgment.” It resembled a similar production, I presume by the same master, at the Armenian Convent at Jerusalem. They are painted much as men make tables and chairs. The superior stood in ecstasy before its beauties, and did not spare us one. On one side was Heaven, and then on the other Hell-well railed off from each other certainly, but rather too close for any comfort. The graves in front were yielding up their dead; and there was a gulf on the left hand of the Judge ready to receive them the moment they should appear. This gulf, on coming closer, was perceived to be an ill-favoured beast, with its mouth open, and with an immense appetite. The most conspicuous sinners (the Jewish High Priests) stood by, ready to be eaten up. The devil looked on, dressed in his ordinary costume. On the other side stood St. Peter, turning reluctantly the key of the celestial Jerusalem (not much more inviting than the terrestrial); and above, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the first literally opening his bosom for the reception of the hosts of the faithful, who were climbing up from below. All this was as coarsely executed as it was grossly conceived ; and does no great honour, either to the pencil, or the imagination of the good fathers. We noticed a few books in the church, and about three hundred volumes in a small chamber above. I saw some complete MSS. of the Gospels, handsomely illuminated on vellum, though of no great age; a fine MS. of St. John Chrysostom, another of St. John Climacus, and several others of the Ascetics. The only profane author which attracted my attention was a Cyropædia of the Thirteenth century. The printed books were principally bad editions of devotional works, and a few classics from Europe. From the library, if such it could be termed, we passed to the court below. Here is to be seen the chapel of St. Saba, a small domical building---the body of the Saint, somehow or other, has travelled, with several others, to Europe. To the east of this chapel there is another cut in the rock. The first chamber is supported by regularly-shaped piers, but the ceiling is left in the rough, neither painted nor pilastered, and altogether without the usual decorations. The second room is smaller, and has no other merit than that of being the shrine where repose the bones of fourteen thousand martyrs. They are shown by torchlight, through a narrow iron grating. Four of the skulls are exposed by way of specimen, close to this entrance, in a sort of wooden trough: I questioned the superior rather inconveniently on their number, and on the cause of their death. He turned a broad, excommunicating stare upon me, without answering a single word. Every one who falls here, be he Christian or Moslim, is sure to be a martyr; whether the cause be a sheep, or a tenet of the faith, it is very much the same. On leaving the chapel, we descended by a variety of doors and stairs, and at last by a ladder, into the brook Kedron, upon which St. Saba stands; and crossing it, which we easily did, for it was almost dry, we had a very striking view of the Convent. It hangs immediately over the bed of the torrent, and its irregular architecture follows the irregularities and inclinations of its exceedingly steep sides. The walls are high and solid—an adequate defence against the plunderers who infest the adjacent country. The church forms the centre of the mass. It is supported externally by heavy buttresses, and crowned by a dome. Two lofty square towers, one within, the other without the walls, and a long line of battlements, give it the appearance of a fortress. Below, a flight of grass-grown, disjointed steps, wind into the torrent. On all sides around are sheets of purple-looking rocks, dry and bare, dotted by deserted cells, some painfully dug into the clefts of the rocks, others loosely overhanging the precipices, and apparently ready every instant, with the entire ledge from which they are excavated, to crumble and crash below. There is no vegetation to rest the eye on, but clumps of wild tulips and rye-grass starting from the ragged cliffs, and a single palm tree in the court of the convent, the leaves of which just peep above one of the embrasures. All this contrasting with the gloomy glare of the white walls, the silent blue skies above, and the dreary bed of the torrent below, incumbered with huge masses of dry rock, &c. gives one of the most impressive pictures of monastic solitude and secret penance which the travelled eye can well behold. The bell tolled as we were silently gazing on the scene, and completed the effect. We now adjourned to the divan, or parlour of the monastery, and fared sumptuously on caviar, salad, cheese, and Bethlehem white wine. Heaps of small loaves were preparing near, for the pilgrims and the Arabs—the daily price which the monks pay for their forbearance to these Cerberi of the desert. There were about forty or fifty monks, at the time of our visit, in the Convent. They dated the origin of the building so far back as 1200 years, an antiquity to which few similar institutions in Europe can ascend. Their original institution was extremely rigorous. The superior shook his head at the degeneracy of the moderns; though to a less fastidious beholder, their pale and meagre physiognomy is satisfactory, and penitential enough. We left the Convent by a difficult ascent through an iron gate, and quitting the brook, continued our way back through the mountains to Jerusalem, On our route we met with a band of Greek and other pilgrims, amounting nearly to seventy or eighty, the greater part comfortably mounted. No women accompanied the caravan; they are not permitted to enter the sanctuary. These visits, at this time of the year, are frequent, and at all times acceptable. They break the dead blank, provide caviar for the monks, and fat purses for the Pasha. Towards evening we again saw the Holy City, majestically glittering in the setting sun, on its ancient mountain throne. We proceeded slowly up, through lanes of verdure, luxuriant hedges, groups of olives, mulberries, fig-trees, &c. to the gate of Jaffa, congratulating ourselves on having escaped the fate of the Levite, who went down from Jerusalem, though we also had passed through the hands of thieves. But we had other perils environing us, very nearly as bad as the Valley of Adummim. The Bedouin Mohammed rode beside us.
PASSAGES FROM A POET'S DREAM-BOOK, NO. III.
1.-A Street Dialogue.
ITALIAN AND ENGLISHMAN.
Engl. 'Tis but a player. These fellows ever claim
Steph. My mother taught me. Ah! she fed
Engl. Your mother was
Steph. Was! True, Sir, true, she's gone
Ital. I have seen her
Steph. Then you have wept beneath her power, Sir;
Steph. When she lived they worshipp'd her,
Ital. Peace! Respect the church.