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which is situated on the borders of the cultivated plains of Egypt. We remained here a few hours to lay in a stock of water and provisions. On leaving the village at 2 P.M., we were astonished at the picturesque appearance of the desert, which was covered with wild shrubs. The occasional hill and dale give a pleasing variety to the scene, very different from what we had been accustomed to in Nubia, where the desert deserves that appellation in the strictest sense, being nothing but a barren expanse of sand and rock, totally destitute of every sign of verdure or vegetation. This difference is to be attributed to the nightly dews in this more northern climate. Wells of brackish water are occasionally met with, which serve to sustain the numerous gazelles which we constantly see feeding in the distance. We frequently met with birds; and in some places the quail and partridge were in considerable numbers. We found that, although the camels are capable when grazing, and not in work, of going five, six, and even seven days without drinking, it is necessary that, when travelling, they should drink at least every third day; and our driver, whenever he met with water, even if they had drunk the day before, never failed to let them drink again, which always appeared to refresh them; for the heavy sand fatigues these animals greatly. They perspire but very little, which tends much to the retention of that moisture so necessary for their support: they were constantly feeding as they went along, the length of their necks allowing them easily to do so. We could not but notice the provident bounty of nature in planting the desert with vegetables of a succulent and nutritious kind. It is undoubtedly to the want of verdure in the Nubian desert, as well as throughout the interior of that of Lybia, that we are to ascribe the difficulty of exploring those parts of Africa, as every camel there must have another to carry provender. Our road, or rather our track, was tolerably good. At Selahieh we had been joined by several persons-a man with
asses, an Arab without a nose, a free negro, and six Muggrabins, one of whom was from Morocco, another from Algiers, and a third from Tunis, all bound on their pilgrimage to Mecca. By keeping with us they secured for themselves a supply of water, of which we had a good stock. They had separated from the great caravan from Morocco, consisting of 10,000 camels, which we met on our last expedition to the pyramids, when we learnt that the two sons of the emperor of Morocco were among the pilgrims. At the time we met it, this immense assemblage had been five months on its journey.
October 4.-We passed, on our left, the great lake, which is situated to the east of Damietta, and were obliged to cross several rivers and pools of salt water, sometimes up to the bellies of the camels, the Arabs and asses swimming across. In the afternoon we saw, on our left, the ruins of Pelusium, but they were too far distant for us to visit them, and too many pools and lakes lay between. In the evening the desert became more hilly, with occasional clumps of palm-trees in the valleys. In one of these we remained for the night, near a well of brackish water.
October 5.-To-day we had much the same country; the palm-trees, however, had disappeared. We saw many carcases and detached bones of camels and asses, which had probably dropped with thirst and fatigue. We also passed a few wells of indifferent water. This evening, Mahomet, our camel-driver, made some bread. He kneaded the dough in a leathern napkin, and, mixing a good deal of salt with it, made a flat round cake about half an inch thick, and_baked it on dried camel's dung. It was very
They asked backsheeish of us in a very rude manner, but we refused to give it, and determined to make the best possible display of our fire-arms for the future. I have little doubt that these people use their arms to commit robberies when opportunity offers, as much as to protect themselves. We still find the road strewed with bleached carcases of camels and asses. In the course of the day we were surprised to see a very fine hare.
it was not against us that he meditated hostilities, and galloped on. At El Arish are some Roman ruins: we noticed several marble columns. The village, which has a very fine well of good water, is situated on a slight eminence about half a mile from the sea, from which it is hidden by sand hills and clumps of palms. The principal part is inclosed within a high wall of considerable thickness, having loopholes all round for musketry. There is an octagon battery for cannon at each angle. Some ruined guns and old French ammunition boxes are all the warlike stores it contains. This place is remarkable for the treaty made between Sir Sidney Smith and the French army, for the evacuation of Egypt, which his superiors would not ratify. The land about El Arish is quite barren.
October 8.-Soon after midnight we left this place. The morning was cold and foggy till sunrise, about an hour after which we stopped to breakfast. We begged our camel-drivers to halt in a vale at some distance from the road, that our Tarabeen neighbours might not discover us. We had, however, scarcely unladen the camels, when one of them came and seated himself in the midst of us. We could not help being surprised at the way in which this fellow stuck to us, as we were now nine hours from the place where we had first met him. We re
October 7.-We passed over a plain of about four miles in length, covered with thick, hard salt, resembling in appearance sheets of firmly frozen snow.* The surface bore the weight of our animals without giving way. Whilst we were at breakfast, a man on horseback came and talked to the camel-driver a good deal, saying, he wished to know who we were; that he was a guard, and had orders to stop all Europeans travelling without a soldier of the pasha of Egypt. He also asked for backsheeish, but did not address himself to us. We took care to let him see our arms, and when he found that we took no notice of him, he retired. The road was now level, which relieved the poor animals a good deal, and we soon reached the sea beach. At three in the afternoon we arrived at El Arish. About an hour before we reached it, we stopped at some wells of fresh water, where we found a great assemblage of camels and many Tarabeen Arabs, who ap-quested he would take himself off, as peared to stop all passengers. They he could have no business with us. He entered into a violent dispute with our walked away, apparently disappointed conductors, which we did not under- at not meeting some of his companions stand, but they took no notice of us. to assist him in plundering us. They presently levied a contribution on desert was now much the same as at the Arabs who had joined us; and cer- first, the number of shrubs increasing. tainly we should have shared the same In the forenoon we passed an extenfate had it not been for the appearance sive plain, where there are wells of of our arms, as the chief followed us tolerable water, a sheikh's tomb, and a all the way to El Arish, surveying our Mahommedan burial-place. In the baggage with the most thievish inqui- afternoon we had occasional views of sitiveness. We were also passed by the sea. We met many flocks of sheep the horseman who had visited us at and goats, peasants, and several laden breakfast, but observing that we kept camels. The attendants were usually our muskets in our hands, he said that armed, and eyed our baggage with a muskets has always a tranquillising scrutinising look, but the sight of the effect on them. We saw some par
**He shall inhabit the parched places in the
wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited." Jeremiah, xvii, 6.
tridges, and a good many gerba, a sort of rat which jumps like the kangaroo. About four we passed a temple of considerable magnitude. Two pillars of grey granite are standing, with several prostrate fragments; and there is a large wall, constructed of antique remains. At sun-set we reached the village of Haneunis. It has a long square fortification, inclosing a mosque. The approach to this place is picturesque it is seated in a valley, and its environs are prettily laid out with gardens, trees, &c. There is but little land turned to agricultural purposes. We remarked both the houses and inhabitants to be cleaner and handsomer than those of Egypt. There are many marble fragments of columns, &c., which mark the site of a Roman town. We had often, before we left Cairo, inquired about the cheer we were likely to meet with in erossing the desert, and were always told of the hardships we should experience; such as want of water, the fatiguing motion of the camels, and the total privation of every accommodation. Bruce's narrative had also led us to expect very indifferent fare. With these unfavourable impressions, we were not a little surprised to find our journey a most pleasant one. The pace of the camels, though tedious, being little more than two miles an hour, we found very agreeable. The open air was the best sleeping-place during the night, and even then it was rather too warm; and as for water and provision, as we had taken care to lay in a good stock of both, we fared remarkably well. Indeed, if I except the heat, which about noon is certainly a fraction more than is agreeable (the skin of our noses being blistered off by it), I can truly say, I never made a more pleasant trip in my life.
the village, scattered about over an uncultivated plain, are some beautiful sycamore trees, similar to those in Egypt. We remained four hours under one of these trees for the purpose of drying all our things, which had been wetted by the salt water some days before, but we had not discovered it until now. While we were thus employed, a woman came hastily forth from the village, and seating herself on the ground, under a tree near us, bewailed most bitterly, throwing the sand over her head with frantic gesticulations which lasted about twenty minutes, when her husband, with whom we heard she had quarrelled, came, and with difficulty took her away.
There are some marble remains of antiquity at Esdier. We thought we perceived a decided change in the climate; the dews for some nights past had been very heavy. This morning the N.E. wind blew keenly, but the sky was fine and clear. From Esdier to Gaza, which latter place we reached at 4 P. M., there are fine extensive plains prettily cultivated; and the neighbourhood of Gaza itself is richly wooded with the olive, sycamore, mulberry, cedar, fig, and other trees. The country is inclosed by hedges of prickly pears, the hills gently rising to the view beyond each other, and the whole has a beautiful appearance. Excepting the less perishable materials, with which the houses are constructedstone being substituted for mud-the town partakes of the wretched appearance of those in Egypt. The rains in winter have forced the natives to roof their houses, whereas in Upper Egypt they merely lay some canvas across to shade them from the sun, that being the only inconvenience they have to guard against. We remarked that the inhabitants here were better looking October 9.-At daylight we pro-and cleaner, the women being dressed ceeded, the road leading through a barren country resembling a heath. In two hours we came to the village of Esdier, prettily situated, with a view of the sea. There is here some land well cultivated and artificially watered, with the sackey, as in Egypt. The principal produce is tobacco. Beyond
in a white or blue shirt, and a white shawl thrown loosely over the head, with which those who have no other veil occasionally cover their faces. Being tired, and having nine days' beard, we did not visit the town; we were further discouraged by our servant having been scoffed at on account
of his religion. This was the frontier town of the land of Canaan.*
October 10.-At A. M. we left Gaza; the road for two hours was through beautiful groves of olive trees. Then entering an open country, partly cultivated, we passed some villages on each side of us, and the dry torrent of the Escol over a bridge of two high arches. About noon we had on our left Majudal, a large village with a mosque, situated in a valley, surrounded by groves of olives. At three in the afternoon we arrived at Asdoud, the site of the Roman Azotus ; near it is an antique building in the form of an open square, which we at first took to be Roman, but as the Turkish khans for the accommodation of caravans and travellers are built much in the same manner, we are rather inclined to believe that it is one of them of very ancient date. Its inclosed court is entered by an arched passage, within which, on each side, are piazzas formed of five arches, two on each side of a larger one in the centre. On each side of the south entrance are chambers, with steps to ascend to the top of the building. The chamber on the left has evidently been used as a primitive Christian chapel, as appears by an altar and a cross; and there is an inscription in some Eastern language over the door. There are other arches in ruins, and partly buried, closer to the village, amongst which is a marble fragment, which would appear to have once formed the capital of a Corinthian column. The natives of this place flocked round us in numbers, looking at us, and everything belonging to us, with wonder and astonishment. After we thought they had sufficiently surveyed us, we begged them to retire. They showed no incivility, but said they merely came to look at us. Some women came also, with a sick young man, apparently in a consumption, asking medical advice. We assured them we were not hackim, which they did not believe, and we luckily recollected that our Maltese interpreter had some "balsam of
* Genesis, x. 19.
Mecca," which the friars say is an antidote for all distempers. We gave them some, which appeared to excite much gratitude. They, however, soon returned to beg some of our hair, saying that the smoke of Christian hair, burnt while the medicine was warming, would ensure a cure of the disorder.* We could not help laughing at their superstition, but they continued to entreat us. For my part I had little to spare, and Irby did not seem inclined to give away any of his. They at length retired without the desired remedy, and brought us some honey and bread by way of return. This we offered to pay for, but they would not accept anything. We had been advised by Sheikh Ibrahim to go from Gaza to Jaffa, by the way of Ascalon or Ashkelon, but our camel conductor could not be prevailed upon to go through that place, as it is not on the direct road, and he would be liable to a penalty if he deviated from the common route of the camels—a regulation intended, we suppose, to prevent smuggling, as Ascalon is on the sea-coast. At that place we should have seen part of a Roman amphitheatre, and some excavations made by Lady Hester Stanhope, in search of supposed treasure, which failed of success; but what we saw at Azotus in some measure recompensed us, and this we should have missed had we gone by the other route. It was at Ashkelon that Samson slew thirty men (Judges, xiv. v. 19). Asdoud is called Ashdod in the Old Testament (see Isaiah, xx. ; Jeremiah, xxv.; Amos, i., ib. iii.; Zechariah, xix. ; and Zephaniah, ii.). It is called Azotus in the Acts of the Apostles, and by the Romans. Palmyra, built by Solomon by the name of Tedmor, or Tadmor, is another instance, among many in Syria, of places having regained their original names. The Arabs in that neighbourhood know nothing of Palmyra, always calling it Tedmor.
October 11.-Before daylight, we quitted Asdoud; the country is open
*Mungo Park, at Dingyee, was requested by a foulah to give him a lock of his hair to make a saphie.
mount. The sepulchre consists of a
and little cultivated, though the soil is very rich. In the afternoon we passed some ruins, probably Roman; they appear to have been an aqueduct to convey water to the road-side, which is to the eastward of the tract we traversed. We also passed a well which our conductor told us contained poisonous water; on our right was Yabne, the ancient Jamnia, situated on a small eminence. About noon we crossed the nahr (or river) El Rubin, close to the ruins of a Roman bridge, one arch of which, and a part of. another, are all that remain. They are overgrown with bushes and weeds, which have a pretty effect; and certainly, to an amateur of the picturesque, the ruins of Syria must have a decided advantage over those of Egypt, where an arid climate totally prevents there being the least spot of verdure on a ruined fabric, be it ever so old. The traveller is, however, recompensed for this deficiency, by the comparatively high state of preservation in which he finds the Egyptian monuments, notwithstanding their superior antiquity; and I think that he who has once seen Egypt, will never feel equally interested in any other country. It is this feeling that has brought Mr. Bankes back to the Nile, after having explored Greece, Asia Minor, and the Archipelago; and he is now gone a second time to Thebes. The river El Rubin, above the bridge, is nearly dry, and filled with wild flowers and rushes. Below it there is a hand-be of some seven or eight days' growth, some winding sheet of water, the banks of which are likewise covered with various water-flowers, and many black water-fowl were swimming on its surface; the water is bad, but not salt. On the opposite side of this river, on a small eminence, is Sheikh Rubin's tomb, surrounded by a square wall, inclosing some trees. There are in Syria and Egypt numbers of these tombs, which the Arabs erect to the memory of any man who they think has led a holy life, for the title of sheikh is not only given to their chiefs, but also to their saints. These tombs are generally placed in some conspicuous spot, frequently on the top of a
and his back was ornamented with a plaited pig-tail, reaching down to his middle. It was difficult to refrain from laughing at the sight of so odd a figure, for his dress was all soiled with fat and the drippings of soup. He received us with a dignified reserve, and, uttering several "favoriscas," showed us into the apartment, which performed the office of a saloon. This room was filled with water-melons ; some English prints decorated the walls, and an old dirty sofa, without a
*"Ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which, within full of dead men's bones." Matt. xxiii. indeed, appear beautiful outward, but are v. 27.