Imatges de pÓgina



be less than lovely while they remain. But our guide beckons us onward, and with reason, for there is yet another hour to Sindiany, and this neighborhood has a villainous reputation.

"Every prospect pleases,
And only man is vile."

However, my experience enables me to trust the people of Sindiany, and there is a charming camp-ground just north. of the village. Take notice of this fountain of Subbarîn. We shall meet it to-morrow where one would least expect it.


April 2d.

I have had a delightful ramble this morning in these grand old forests, and now understand perfectly how Absalom could be caught by the thick branches of an oak. The strong arms of these trees spread out so near the ground that one can not walk erect beneath them; and on a frightened mule, such a head of hair as that vain but wicked son "polled every year" would certainly become inextricably entangled.

No doubt; and it is interesting to know that the region where that battle was fought is still covered with such forests-that "wood of Ephraim," with thick oaks and tangled bushes, and thorny creepers growing over ragged rocks, and ruinous precipices down which the rebel army plunged in wild dismay, horses and men crushing each other to death in remediless ruin. Thus 20,000 men perished in that fatal wood, which devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.1

The great heap of stones over the pit into which Absalom was thrown was not raised in honor of the king's son, but in detestation of the traitor's enormous crime; and you will find miniature heaps of the same kind and significance all over the country. It is a widespread custom for each one as he passes the spot where any notorious murderer has been buried, to cast a stone upon it. I have often seen this done, and, yielding to the popular indignation, have thrown my stone with the rest. I am reminded of all this by the conduct of my guide, who has actually dismounted to spit upon this heap, and add his pebble to the growing pile. He says the wretch who lies buried there was a notorious robber who infested this road, and committed many cruel murders, and he is using the incident to enforce his admonitions upon us to keep together in this part of our ride, which we will of course conform to as long as it suits our purpose. Yesterday I thought your description of this valley ex

12 Sam. xviii. 7, 8.


travagant, but withdraw the criticism this morning. When the early light began to reveal the character of the scene around' me, the country from north to south was buried under a dense, low-lying fog, which left the many-shaped hilltops peering above it like green islets in the bosom of a placid lake. I was breathless with surprise and admiration. When the sun arose, this gray silvery sea, as if startled by some invisible spirit, became agitated in an extraordinary manner, and vast pyramids of shining vapor burst up from beneath, swelling higher and higher among the oaks, until it escaped through their thick boughs, and vanished away in the clear vault of heaven. All this commotion and gorgeous display I found was owing to a brisk breeze which came up the valley from the sea of Cæsarea. Acting from below, and itself turned about by every bend and swell of the hills, it swayed and twisted the yielding waves of vapor according to its own eccentric will.

There was something of the kind in February last, and it is indeed singularly beautiful. Such fogs, however, are quite common on the great plains along the coast, as we shall see in the land of the Philistines. But let us follow our company down the valley, for we have a busy day, with just enough of danger to make it exciting That village on our left is called Khubbaizy, the Arabic name for the malva, the Hebrew nearly for the rose, and both malvas and wild roses adorn this sweet vale. Many other hamlets repose in the bosom of these glorious woods, but we can not load our memories with their obscure and ignoble names. Did you observe that the dew rolled off our tent this morning like rain? And now the early sunbeams "sow the earth with pearls and diamonds," as Milton's muse describes these pendent drops that glitter and sparkle from every leaf in the forest and blade in the field.


If I remember correctly, this place on our right bears the ominous name of 'Ain Maiety (Dead Fountain), and the tell east of it is sit Leila, a name more frequently heard in Arab song than any other. We now turn westward toward Cæsarea, leaving the main road, which keeps on southward

through the plain of Sharon to Lydd and Ramleh. The whole of this region is as fertile as beautiful, but most of it is uncultivated, and all infested with robbers. When at Sindiany last year, I wanted to send my baggage directly across to Tantûra, while I came round this way to Cæsarea, and I had to hire a guard sufficiently large not merely to protect my muleteers in going, but also the men themselves in returning. The people could not then venture from village to village but in companies and well armed. It is not so bad now, and we shall send our tents on to the mills of Zerka, three miles north of Cæsarea, where alone we can pass the night in safety. Left to ourselves for the day, with our faithful guard to watch for us, we will ramble about ad libitum among these remains of antiquity.

That large building some two miles to the northwest of us is the kŭsr we heard so much about from our friends at Sindiany, and to reach it we must pick our way through these bushes and tall reeds, over a country not a little infested with bottomless mud. Ignorant of these treacherous bogs, on my first visit I struck directly across the plain for the kusr, and was soon floundering in unsubstantial mire up to the belly of my horse, and was glad to get safely out again on the same side by which I entered. Here we are at one of these brooks, sluggish and black as ink, but the bottom is not very distant, and we can easily pass over.

Where does this stream come from? There was no water in the wady down which we have traveled this morning.

It is the joint contribution of many springs which rise out of this spongy plain in all directions, and we shall soon see more of them. Between this and the kusr are immense fountains, now called Miamas, the water of which was collected in a large pool, and then carried by an aqueduct to Cæsarea. These works are of course broken, and we must pass round them on the north in order to find a practicable path to the kŭsr.

There seem to have been many substantial buildings hereabout; and, indeed, we are floundering over the grasscovered ruins of a considerable city. The kusr itself must


have been an immense affair, and in a style of architecture quite peculiar.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]



K, K, K, Cunei separated scale.
FED F, Orchestra.
L, Postscenium.

It was doubtless one of Cæsarea's theatres, and the plan of a Roman theatre, which I brought along for the purpose, will enable you to comprehend at once the details of the edifice. It is semicircular, and the chord is a hundred and sixty-six feet. The seats are all gone, and the cavea much changed, but the vomitories and vaults beneath are in good preservation, and are now used for stables and granaries by the peasants. This tower on the southeastern corner, and these huts inside, are comparatively modern, and were erected probably when the building was turned into a Moslem castle. The prospect over the wooded hills of Samaria and the far-spreading plain of Sharon is very beautiful, and hither flocked the laughter-loving Greeks of Cæsarea to enjoy the excitement of theatric games and the pleasures of the open country at the same time. The topography of the place is decidedly interesting. Directly north of the kŭsr terminate the last spurs of Carmel in a bold promontory called Khushm en Nazûr. South of it is the great marsh Ez Zoar, fading out into the sandy downs and brushy slopes of the upper Sharon. The ruined villages of Em el 'Aluk

« AnteriorContinua »