Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

the whole class was more orderly in trying to follow | herself rather ill-used. She might have helped herself to Elfie's example.

some turnips quite easily in the morning, and that would This evening school was really pleasant to the poor have furnished them with a nice hot meal; but she had neglected little street girl, and she overcame her habit- resisted the temptation, believing that she should get ual restlessness so far as to sit quietly on the form as some work and be able to buy some. But the work had long as it was necessary, a thing more difficult to ac- not come, and they could only spend a penny of what complish than many might imagine. Elfie herself thought Susie had earned, for the other was needed to make up that as she had managed to do this, the victory over all the rent. They had got a week or two behind, in spite her bad habits was gained; but she found she had been of all their efforts to keep it paid; and the landlord had mistaken before long. The next day she did not earn a said they must leave, if some were not ready on Monday. single penny at the market, and Susie only earned two- The next day was Saturday, and they hoped to earn some pence, although she was walking about all day; and more; but they could not be sure of this. And so it was when they returned home late in the afternoon, tired, with a sad heart they went to school that evening, and Elfe cold, and hungry, and Susie said they could only have a had a hard battle to fight with herself before she could sit piece of dry bread before they went to school, Elfie felt still and give her attention to what was being taught.

Syrian Nissions.

BY REV. WILLIAM WRIGHT, DAMASCUS.

[ocr errors]

III.
MISSIONARY TOUR ON MOUNT HERMON.
S we passed this tableau vivant, we Dubieh has no history. It is the only trace of a

saw, on a rising ground to the right, human habitation by this inhospitable path for
heaps of gray stones and dark earth ; over fifteen miles. At best it must have been a

and by the edge of the path were lonesome home, and for centuries it has been pieces of very rude columns. The name of the abandoned to the wild beast whose name it bears. mound is Dubieh (the habitation of the bear). We soon entered the “ Castellated Pass” in the We lunched here on our return, and found the mountain; so called from the enormous castleruins of a village, covering about two acres. The like rocks that impend overhead on either side, ground is strewed and filled with broken pottery, or lie as they have fallen, deeply imbedded in the indicating an ancient habitation; and there were path. One huge stone, about eighteen and a many pieces of hand-millstones lying about, half feet square, that blocks the way, has become similar to that which the woman hurled on the gratefully associated in my mind with one of the head of Abimelech (Judges ix. 53). There was most comforting similes in the Bible. My duty no fountain at the village, but only cisterns in leads me over this path many times in the year; which they caught the rain-water; and these and for ten dreary hours, under a baking sun, now stand open-mouthed traps for straying sheep. there is neither water nor shade. This enorAll the cisterns are dry and broken; but on the mous block of stone,

cut out of the mountain side of the mountain above the ruin the flocks of without hands,” supplies the only shade in the the district are gathering to a fine perennial journey. It is the shadow of a great rock in a spring full in view. The founders of Dubieh weary land” (Isa. xxxii. 2). Many a time, when had left the fountain of living waters, and had breasting the fierce heat of a Syrian noonday, I hewn out to themselves cisterns in the gravelly have hurried on eagerly to this object, and then desert. The fountain, like the love of God, crept gratefully under its shade. To-day the flows on unceasing, and all the flocks can slake heat is not oppressive; but the mountain wind, their thirst in its waters; but the cisterns that mixed with sleet, is rushing down to fill

up

the men made are broken cisterns (Jer. ii. 13) that vacuum in the heated plain; and so the rock can hold no water, and the parched and weary that often shielded me from the sun becomes to find in them only the heated sands of the desert. a hiding-place from the wind and a corert

us

It was

from the tempest” (Isa. xxxii. 2). How clearly of water left on the stone by the last shower. Isaiah recognized the absolute sufficiency of The Moslem religion makes washing before Christ for all the needs of his people along the prayers obligatory. It is a good sanatory law; tempestuous and heated highways of life-the and Dr. Meshaka of Damascus declares that the “Yea and Amen” of all God's promises ! The average age of the Moslem is greater than that of positive answer (yea) to all the questionings of the Christians in consequence of these washings ; heavy heart and weary brain, and that answer and would be much greater, but for certain (amen) fixed and infallible truth.

debilitating vices to which the Moslems are As we rest in this gorge, the voice of a wrath- addicted. ful little bird rises above the piping of the wind. He spreads his ragged jacket by the side of It is a rare little bird the Syrian nuthatch the water as a praying carpet, and then begins (Sitta Europæa, Elton), a frequenter of most of his ablutions. There is not more than a quart the high mountain-passes in Syria.

of water on the stone, spread over a broad surcalled “ delor y cnau” by the ancient Britons, face, so that we need not expect the washing to and is still found in parts of England, but never be very effective. As we are zigzagging up the in Ireland or north of the Weser and Tyne. It mountain beside him, we can see every movebuilds in holes in rocks and banks, and I once ment he makes. First he folds up his sleeves, saw its nest in one of the rock-tombs of ancient and washes his hands three times ; then he Abila. It is of a gray, bluish colour, shading washes his mouth with his right hand three into rufous brown, and blending into chestnut on times. After that he throws a handful of water the flanks. I saw one, however, at Ma’aloula of up his nose, praying as he does so that he may very distinct colours —very bright blue above, never smell the fires of hell. Then he washes. with jet-black band from the bill to the sides of his face three times, and both his arms to the the neck, and a white throat. I have no doubt elbows. He next raises his turban with the the bright little creature was a new species of fore-fingers of his left hand, and draws his wet Syrian nuthatch ; but it swung and fitted about right hand across the top of his head. He then the precipices, and chattered and sputtered, re- combs his beard forward with his fingers; and gardless of the fusillade kept up by a specimen after that he puts his fore-fingers into his ears, collector, who blazed away at it from beneath in and making them pivots to turn on, passes his vain.

thumbs upwards round the outside of his ears. As we proceed up out of the Castellated Pass, Then he meets his fingers at the back of his we meet a number of small donkeys and mules neck, the palms of the hands outwards, and bringing charcoal to Damascus. The mules have draws them forward against the sides of his a sack of coals on each side, and the donkeys neck. And he finishes off by washing his feet, have one sack larger than themselves laid across taking care to pass his fingers between his toes. their backs. The muleteers are of three re- Each act is accompanied by a suitable prayer ; ligions: those with the grand white turbans are and the whole performance is completed in an Druzes ; those with the turbans of green, or incredibly short space of time. mixed with yellow, are Moslems; and those Ablution over, he mounts his jacket, and raiswith the bluish handkerchiefs about their headsing his two open hands till his thumbs touch the are Christians. But sometimes in times of fear lobes of his ears, he is about to begin, but he is you meet Christians wearing the Druze turban. looking towards Egypt, and not towards Mecca. The salutations are princely and cordial, for they He bows his thanks for being directed straight know us.

to the Holy City, turns his face in the right To our left, as we gain the rising ground, in a direction, and begins posturing with an elabovalley green and fresh with sprouting corn, one ration of detail and a dexterity that any Ritualof the Moslem muleteers has mounted a large ist might envy. That miserable ragged Moslem stone, and is preparing for prayers. He is at is a man of great expectations. It is not for tracted to that conspicuous position by a puddle nothing that he goes bobbing up and down there, pressing his forehead and lips to the stone. As we ascend among the mountains the landHis heaven is painted for him exactly to his scape becomes more pleasing. The sides of the liking, and he is in earnest to enjoy it. He hills are covered with scrub oak (Quercus pseudomight have performed that washing with sand. coccifera), and the little valleys between, clad It would be enough, according to his ritual, with corn, look beautifully green after the rain. to strike the palms of his hands on the ground, There is little to excite rapture; but the green and wipe his face with them, and then, striking is grateful to the eye, and a pleasant contrast to them on the dust once more, feign to wash his the Sahara through which we have passed. arms as far up as the elbows. That is sufficient Crossing the first low ridge, we pass a little when water is scarce. But that devotee will not winter lake on our left; but it is muddy and be satisfied with what is sufficient : he will run yellow, and full of frogs, and will soon dry up. no risk of missing the paradise which is so well Here our Rasheiya host, who is accompanying suited to his taste. He is often thirsty now, and us, hears that his mule has gone astray and is his law most wisely allows him nothing stronger lost. He resolves to turn aside to the village of than water to drink; but in paradise he will Rukhley to inquire, and we volunteer to go with have wine without stint, and the wine of para- him. Rukhley is a Druze village, shut in among dise, like the Syrian wine of modern fable, will the mountains, with apparently no resources ; not be intoxicating.

but on careful inspection we find that the bare The Arab ideal of perfect happiness is a feast mountains all around have at one time been where a sheep or camel has been slain and terraced, and were doubtless all once clothed roasted without the intestines being removed, with the vine. The village contains some masand where all reach forth their naked hand and sive ruins, and the larger structures are made up tear off meat in handfuls; but in that paradise of the older and more massive buildings. Several for which he is now working“ he will be waited Greek inscriptions are scattered about, and a on by three hundred attendants while he eats, broken eagle; but the finest piece of art in the and served in dishes of gold whereof three hun- place is a massive head (Helios ? Baal ?) exactly dred shall be set before him at once, each con- similar to the heads that are found on some of taining a different kind of food, the last morsel the ancient coins of Rhodes. It is now built in of which will be as grateful as the first.” That an outer wall, and the upper part of the face has is the bill of fare in the Moslem's paradise; but been blown off by gunpowder. it is not all. That simple muleteer will have As we approach we find a Druze digging in a eighty thousand servants to do his bidding, and garden, and he calls us over to him, as he thinks seventy-two wives of the girls of paradise, be he has stumbled on a "hid treasure.” He has sides the wives he may have had in the world, removed the covering flags of a little vault, which should he choose to have them. The girls of I take to be only a Moslem grave. A Moslem paradise will be of the same stature as Adam and grave must be so built and covered over as to Eve; that is, about sixty feet high. They will give room for the body to sit up. It is a Moslem have large eyes like gazelles, and they will re- doctrine which must be believed, that shortly main ever young, and never lose their tempers after death two dreadful angels, Munkar and or their good looks. He himself will be clothed | Nekeer, visit the body in the grave. The soul in green silk. He will have a tent spread of is then for a time reunited with the body, and pearls, jacinths, and emeralds ; and, the crown of the dead man is questioned as to his faith. The all Arab joy, as many children as he may desire. questions that will be asked and the responses Such is the heaven which the astute founder of that should be given are all well known; and Islam promised to his followers; and it is ex- before the funeral procession moves away actly the kind they long for. “Prayer,” he told the tomb, a Moslem sheikh instructs the corpse them, “is the key of paradise"—the key that what reply it is to give to the questioning opens the way to the plenary indulgence of all angels. The vault uncovered was suitable for the grosser appetites for ever and for ever.

such a scene.

from

The few Druzes of this village are very poor. such a lonely death-vault as that once entered They live as goatherds, and by the manufacture the Prince of Life, a lifeless, bleeding corpse, of charcoal for Damascus. They cut down a attended only by a few sad, dispirited followers. quantity of oak, break it up into small pieces, | They roll the wstone to the door. The watch place it in a heap, and set it on fire. When it is keeps guard to prevent the abduction of the about half burned, they cover it over with sods. body, and the stone is sealed to make fraud imThey then carry it in sacks to Damascus, and possible. Christ's murderers intended to break sell it for about one halfpenny per pound. We the seal after the third day, and show the body saw all the women of Rukhley. They had nearly to prove that he was an impostor, and that his all children mounted astride their shoulders ; predicted resurrection was only an empty boast. they all wore glass, or brass, or silver ornaments; In concert with these, the Destroyer of Life all drew the veil coyly over one eye; all were thought he had set his seal on the Fountain horribly tattooed, and all had old coins for sale. of Life, never to be removed. Never did so These were mostly of Constantine and Hadrian; momentous a period roll over the earth as the but I found among them two good Phænician three days in which Jesus of Nazareth lay in the coins. The greater part of the women asked for tomb of the Arimathæan. He had promised charms; and the men were importunate to be life to his people, but he himself has fallen before told where they could find pots of concealed the ruthless destroyer; and even the women, conmoney—for it is the firm belief of most of these stant in death, have turned away with bleeding, people that the numerous tourists who pass desolate hearts. Jesus has died as a malefactor, through the country are all in search of treasures. and his body is shut up in Joseph's sepulchre ! For sore eyes we recommended the charm of Then drape the universe in sackcloth. Banish clean cold water, often applied ; and to delvers faith and hope from the earth, and fill the void after concealed treasures we strongly recom- with blank despair. Let suns and moons withmended the removal of the heaps of dung, piled draw their mocking light. Let all the sweet up at their doors as high as the houses, to their analogies of resurrection be for ever branded as fields and vineyards. They did not think much tantalizing deceptions; for man's last hope of of our clairvoyance, but I hope they will profit life and immortality has become extinct in the by our advice. They neither would have our

grave of Christ.

But no! Time passes, and books, nor our schools, nor our teaching, nor the world's great Sabbath dawns, and the ribald anything we had, except backshish; and so soldiers, who enlivened their watch by crack and we went on our way, wondering at the mighty jibe, flee in terror before the divine manifestatemples the ancients raised to their gods, which tions that hurl back doubt to darkness; and were no gods, and wondering also if the present Christ who is our life lays aside the gravepigmy inhabitants of Rukhley are descendants of clothes, steps forth into eternity with our death the men who built such massive structures. trampled under and destroyed, and the germ of As we leave the village we see several rock- our lives in his bosom.

By his death he hewn tombs. These tombs are large chambers, abolished ours, and so, “because he lives, we with one or more loculi, or places hollowed out shall live also.” “For if we have been planted for the bodies. They are cut out of the solid together in the likeness of his death, we shall be rock, and are entered by small openings, some also in the likeness of his resurrection.” In such of which had stone doors that turned on pivots, a tomb as that, in the side of that garden rock, and others were closed by large smooth stones the last scene of Christ's humiliation closed, and rolled up against them. They are scattered his everlasting exaltation began where his humiabout in private gardens, and forcibly call to liation ended. From that momentous scene mind that new garden-tomo," hewn out of the spring our ineffably glorious hopes of the “life rock," where, in the presence of “Mary Magdalene, and immortality which Christ has brought to and the other Mary, sitting over against the light by the gospel.”

The risen and loving sepulchre,” they laid the body of Jesus. Into Head will not leave his members in the dust for

ever. We are said to be complete in Christ, but | him who looked at the desolation around, made Christ is also complete in us, and he will not his shallow joke, and passed away; but when we abandon to the powers of death “the Church examined minutely, we found that in every place which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth stones had been arranged by human hands, and all in all."

every foothold had been terraced. At Rasheiya, We now pass along the bare ridge of the a few miles further on, we see the vineyards still mountain, to the right of, and parallel with, the flourishing on such terraces; and from the known Damascus road. Out of consideration for the we can argue to the unknown-that these bare safety of our necks, we lead our horses along the terraces, from which lapse of time has worn away horrible path. Sometimes my poor desert mare the soil, were once laden with the vine, the looks at me with soft imploring eyes, groans highest emblem of prosperity and joy. Of this audibly, and then balancing herself on her hind- kind are most of the objections urged against the legs, swings round the corner of the rocks that Scriptures. On the discovery of important project over the precipices, and lights safely scientific facts in astronomy, geology, anatomy, down on the path below. We thus proceed over &c., men who view the facts merely from the flat rocks-worn smooth as glass by the feet of scientific stand-point, and believing that they animals—and by a series of wild leaps down have discovered in them a contradiction of Bible rocky ledges we gain the sultany, or king's high- statements, hastily seize these facts, and holding way. By this fine-sounding name we must not them up before the world, challenge the faithful suppose that we have reached a road where man harmony of God's word and works ; but in a and horse can proceed with comparative safety. short time it is found, by patient, honest inI once, in the great heat of summer, passed down vestigation, that the very facts which were emthis road by night, and my young Kurdistan ployed to destroy the credibility of God's Word, mare and I rolled down the rocks together six are powerful and irrefragable arguments in favour times. The path, however, shows much signs of of its divine origin, and prove that the Books of wear, as horses' tracks are sunk deeply in the Nature and Revelation are from the same divine rocks; but no tool has ever been lifted up against Source. it, for Shemitic people never made roads. The

It is very illogical to infer that because Syria Romans--the world's tutors in law, order, and is faded and desolate now, that therefore it has government—made roads over which to pass always been so. Before the battle of Hattinarmies, and the mercantile English make roads disastrous to the cause of the Crusaders--the for traffic; but the Turks only make toy roads Arab historian tells us that Salah ed Dîn set fire to delight the eyes of Europeans. The Govern- to the forests around Hattîn, and thus encircled ment English engineer, after five years in the the Crusaders with a dreadful wall of fire. Thus Turkish service, made fourteen yards of a road only a few centuries ago there were forests that at Damascus, which remains to this day his sole could be set on fire in the neighbourhood of monument in that department.

Tiberias; now there is scarcely a shrub. Once We now cross a series of undulating hills the cedar-forests of Lebanon seemed almost inabutting on Mount Hermon. Occasionally a exhaustible; now only a few groves, Greek partridge whirrs up out of our path, and far and wide over the mountains, confirm the here and there stunted bushes grow among the tale of the glory of their ancestors. With the rocks ; but the whole scene around is bare, bar- destruction of the forests, the moisture is no ren, and lifeless. Once when passing through longer attracted to the land, and war, and famine, this district with an English tourist, he began to and misrule have since combined to make the ridicule the Bible description of the country as country a

country a desert. The number of ruined “a land flowing with milk and honey.” But it villages that dot the country shows what the turned out that his attempted wit only exposed capabilities of the land must have been to his own superficial observation. True, the dis- support the teeming population that once intrict before us was no emblem of abundance to habited them. Thus the arguments of those

scattered

« PredošláPokračovať »