Imagini ale paginilor





MY DEAR FRIEND,-My last letter to you I left a few days ago at Nablous, in the hands of Auwdi, my Protestant friend, who promised to take the first safe opportunity of sending it to Jerusalem. Hoping that you have duly received it, I continue the narrative of my travels.

As soon as we arrived at Nablous, and had pitched our tent, I went to the Metzellim to ask for another guide. To my great surprise, I met at the gate Dr Eli Smith, who had just arrived with his American fellow-traveller. You can easily imagine how many questions we had to ask and to answer regarding our adventures since we saw each other in Jerusalem. It was curious to find that they had been treading on my steps, having visited Akrabeh, Jurish, and Daumeh. Our routes, however, had been entirely different, as they had travelled from Jerusalem in a north-eastern direction.

"And where do you intend to go now?" asked Dr Smith.

"I am just on my way to the Governor to ask for another guide to the north-eastern part of his district,

[ocr errors]



as I wish particularly to search for the ruins of Pella on the other side of the Jordan. May I ask what plans are?"


"They coincide very much with your own; we had intended to cross the Jordan in the neighbourhood of Beisan, which would take us to the very place where Pella must have been. Jabesh is also as yet undiscovered, and Dr Robinson is anxious to explore with the view to find it. What do you say to our making a joint excursion to that locality? You are aware that on the other side of the Jordan we shall be surrounded with Bedouïns who acknowledge no authority either of metzellim or pasha. It seems to me that it would afford additional security if we went together, there being less danger of attack when the company is large. And, besides, you are provided with a firman, which obliges the Metzellim to afford you as much protection as is in his power; you will have no difficulty in procuring an armed guide, which will be of advantage to us, while the addition of our caravan will strengthen yours. What do you say to this?"

The proposal was acceptable to me, not only for the reasons stated, but as it gave me the privilege of the society of travellers so celebrated. I replied, that I should be very happy, and that I would come shortly to their tents to talk the matter over, and forthwith hurried to the Metzellim.

The Metzellim, who, like most of the petty eastern despots, is disposed to take things easily, was invisible at this hour.

"He is in the harem," his attendants said, which meant, that his excellency did not wish to be disturbed.


[ocr errors]


Very well," said I, "tell the Metzellim that I shall call again this evening, because the business which I have to transact with him requires despatch."

At eight o'clock, a janissary came to tell me that the Governor would now give me an audience. I repaired immediately to the serai, and was ushered into the private apartments, where the old gentleman was enjoying his chibouk. After salutation, I told him that the guide whom he had given me to Akrabeh had been of great service to me, but that he had alleged his orders were to conduct me to Tûbas, and no further, so that I was under the necessity of coming to ask for another guide, with whom I might explore the more northerly parts of his territory. On hearing the nature of my business he stared at me, as much as to say, "Is it for this trifling matter you disturb my evening rest?" which was quite in keeping with his answer given me by Philip, in the following words, "The Governor says that he will send his people to-morrow to look for a guide."

"To-morrow!" I said, "I wish to start to-morrow at day-break; I have not a moment to lose, and therefore my request must be attended to to-night."

Not being at all accustomed to such urgent demands, the Governor could not restrain the expression of his astonishment. Philip faithfully translated his answer and also my reply, which was, that I was perfectly astonished at the manner in which he treated the commands of his lord and master, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire; that my return to Shechem was owing to the inadequate provision which he had made for my journey; that being in the possession of the most posi

[blocks in formation]

tive orders of the Sultan, I would not suffer one of his metzellims to offer any objections, much less to dismiss me with the command to call again to-morrow; that I would now leave him in consequence of his uncivil reception, and if he did not send that very night a proper guide to my tent, in compliance with the instructions contained in my firman, I would depart next morning without a guide, and then he would be responsible for all the consequences that might result from his failing to perform his duty. At the same time I rose, to shew him that I felt deeply offended by his conduct. You may think that in acting thus I shewed myself to be even a greater despot than the Metzellim; but, my dear friend, I must justify myself in assuming so dignified an attitude, by assuring you that it is impossible to get anything done by these petty tyrants if such a spirit be not manifested. Our Western formalities are out of place in the East. If you wish a metzellim or any other Turkish authority to pay proper attention to you, and to fulfil the obligations under which your firman lays him, you must never appear to doubt for an instant his implicit obedience to the commands of his master. One of two things is certain: he will either serve you; or if he sees that you will submit to his usurpation of independence, he will treat you with utter neglect. The higher the tone which he assumes, the higher must yours be in return.

My answer to the Metzellim, however out of place such language might be among us, produced the desired effect. At ten o'clock he sent me an apology by Auwdi, with the promise that an armed guide should be at my tent before sunrise, to conduct me wherever I desired



to go. The chayal was punctual; he was a cousin of the Metzellim, and had received special injunctions to attend to my wishes. It was, however, nine o'clock before we started, as the canteen and the provision chest had to be supplied with the productions of the bazaar; and Theodori, who is always slow in his movements, seems nowhere to be so lazy as in the marketplace. But even his delays had an end, and shortly after, our now doubled caravan rounded the foot of Mount Ebal, on its way to Tûbas.

My time permits me to give you only the general outline of this day's march. The road was partly the same by which I had returned the day before from Tamûn with Daoud, through the northern part of the Mokhna plain. This, while it is the high road from Shechem to Beth-shean, is at the same time the road by which the caravans pass from Jerusalem to Damascus, and which our blessed Saviour must have trodden on His way between Judea and Galilee.

In rounding the foot of Mount Ebal we passed the ruins of a village called 'Askar; possibly this is Iscariot the birthplace of Judas, which, as Halma and others conjecture, must have been somewhere in this locality. There is yet a rich fountain, round which we saw a number of people collected as we passed. The northern chain of hills descends gradually from Ebal. The road follows the eastern declivity of these hills, having on the right hand a wild chasm, which commences at Beit-fûrîk as a small breach in the ground, but gradually widens and deepens between frightful precipices. At the distance of an hour's ride to the north-east of Mount Ebal, this chasm, which is called Wadi-Bidan,

« ÎnapoiContinuă »