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The only structure which attracts attention is the “ Tomb of Abel,” said to have been erected over the spot where the first subject of the “ king of terrors” fell under his power, and to have given the name of Abilene to the adjacent country. In the way, we overtook a man walking by the side of his donkey. Both were bowed under the weight of many years; but the old man's soul seemed to be groaning under a heavier load, the load of grief ; and we sought a participation in his
He was going for the fourth time to Damascus to see his son, recently pressed into the army. The lad would soon leave the capital, and the aged parent could not expect again to embrace the long-cherished prop of his declining years; for leave of absence is seldom, or never, granted to a soldier, and enlistment is a virtual banishment from home for life. “My son,” said the sorrowing parent, “is no longer mine; and, a short time since, my daughter went to see her brother; the snow was on the ground and she perished : thus am I bereaved of my children !” We thought of Jacob, and sympathized with the aged sufferer.
For the last two hours the road skirts the banks of the Chrysorrhoas, now called Barra
ABANA AND PHARPHAR.
da, which rises near the town of Zebedanee, flows through the capital of Sennacherib, is almost entirely consumed in irrigating the numerous gardens which deck the plain of Damascus, and then forms a dull stagnant pool to the east of the town, called Behr ool murj, or the “ Lake of the meadows." This river presents a singular appearance. It flows with great rapidity over a bed so rocky and uneven, that it is driven back and forms by the rebound waves in a direction contrary to the current: in the early part of its course, the water is of a dirty grey tinge, muddy, and unfit to drink; and so it continues till met, a few miles from Damascus, by a beautifully clear stream gushing with great force out of a rock. This is supposed to purify and sweeten the Barrada. Thus united in one channel and under one name, the two rivulets pass through the crowded city, cleansing and fertilizing, and affording on the banks many a cool and shady retreat to the citizens who love the vicinity of these rivers of waters. Possibly, these mingled streams were the Abana and Pharphar referred to with such pride by the Syrian leper ;* for the Hebrew word Abana, derived from Aben,
* 2 Kings v. 12.
ABANA AND PHARPHAR.
signifies a stone, * and the characteristic of the river supposed to communicate its virtuè to the Barrada is that it gushes violently out of a stony rock; and further, in the word Barrada, or Pharatha, we trace a resemblance to the original name Pharphar; while the natural union of the two streams and the virtue said to be infused by the less into the greater would lead to their almost necessary association in the mind of Naaman. It may be added that, with the exception of a shallow rivulet called the Torah and another equally insignificant, there is none besides the Barrada in the neighbourhood of Damascus ; and Naaman speaks of “rivers of Damascus,” not rivers of Syria.
* Thus Aben-ezer, or Eben-ezer, is The stone of help, or The stone set up to commemorate God's help afforded
First view of Damascus.- Salkhiah.— Interior of city.- Destruction of houses.— Conscription.— Tragic scene.
David's abhorrence of oppressors. — Converted Jew. — Antiquity of city.- Population.- Mosque. - Tomb of Saladin. -House of Ananias. — “Street called Straight.” — St. Paul's window.—Moslim tradition.—Site of Saul's vision. -Greek caravan. Leprosy and lepers. — Hobah.- Elijah's hiding-place. — Elisha's tomb. — Jewish custom. Burzee. — Abraham's birthplace. — Subtlety regarding Ur of the Chaldees. Walls. Baths. · Three Persian princes.—Variety of languages.—Native Indians.—AngloIndian government.- Frank privileges.— Rights of English consul vindicated.- Despotic act. - Shereef pasha. Syrian government.
Condition of Moslims and rayahs. - Estimate of Mohammed Ali's character.
The first view of the capital from the heights of Anti-Lebanon is very imposing. It stands in the midst of a vast luxuriant valley,
VIEW OF DAMASCUS.
situate two thousand feet above the level of the sea and covered for many miles with gardens abounding in eastern trees and flowers which acquired a peculiar beauty at the time of our visit from thousands of apricot and almond trees in full blossom crowned with their elegant wreaths of pink and white. Through these the mingled streams of Abana and Pharphar wind their sinuous course, till lost in the silent “ Lake of the meadows." On either side, the sacred Lebanon and her twinsister gently swell from the vale ; then, more boldly rising, outtop the clouds, and look down complacently upon their favored child; who, as if to meet their gaze, throws upwards a forest of light and tapering minarets with massive domes and graceful cupolas.
Descending into the plain, we passed four old sepulchral buildings: beyond these is Salkhiah, the residence of the English consul; and a mile further the wall which encircles the city. Damascus is beautiful at a distance, but its interior will not bear examination. All that can be said in its favor is that the bazaars are extensive and well furnished with goods from Aleppo, Bagdad, Constantinople, and India; but the streets are narrow and dirty, with the exception of one, which is very long, broad,